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SDP Leadership: German Legalization Vote Expected In Early 2024

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As 2023 continues to wind down, cannabis advocates and policymakers in Germany are turning their focus to 2024 with hopes that it will prove to be the year that a long-awaited national adult-use cannabis legalization measure is finally passed and implemented in Europe’s largest economy.

The parliamentary group leader of Germany’s Social Democratic Party recently indicated that a legalization vote “will come at the beginning of 2024.” Rolf Mützenich, chairman of the SPD parliamentary group, made the statement in a recent interview with Rheinische Post.

Germany’s ongoing cannabis policy modernization saga has experienced a lot of highs and lows, even as recently as this month. At the start of December, it appeared that a long-awaited legalization vote in the Bundestag would not happen until 2024.

Then, in a surprise turnaround, it was announced that the governing coalition reached an agreement to update certain provisions of the measure and that a vote would take place before the end of the year.  That expected vote was then unceremoniously pulled back, and now we are essentially back to where we started at the beginning of December.

“It also remains unclear whether the SPD parliamentary group leadership has a problem with the content of the law or whether the timing of its adoption just before Christmas seems inappropriate to them in times of budget crisis. And the SPD press spokeswoman’s “confidence” or not: it doesn’t seem impossible that the law might even be stopped completely “on the home stretch.” Legal Tribune Online stated in its reporting at the time.

In his recent wide-ranging interview with Rheinische Post, chairman of the SPD parliamentary group Rolf Mützenich stated (translated from German to English), “We are taking a close look at the concerns. But we have agreed on this project in the coalition and it will come at the beginning of 2024. I assume so.”

Fellow Social Democratic Party member Burkhard Blienert, who initially introduced the cannabis legalization measure being considered by Bundestag members and continues to lead ongoing talks with the European Union, recently urged his fellow lawmakers to take action:

At this point, no one can count their metaphorical German legalization eggs until they actually hatch. As we have seen over the course of the last two years, the political process can be full of delays and setbacks.

For the sake of compassion, logic, and good stewardship of public resources lawmakers in Germany need to get the ball rolling as early as possible in 2024. What is currently being proposed is already found elsewhere in Europe at this point, albeit in smaller nations.

Malta and Luxembourg already permit adult-use cultivation and possession. Additionally, Malta has now licensed five entities to operate noncommercial cannabis clubs. Limited adult-use cannabis trials are underway in both Switzerland and the Netherlands. With that in mind, Germany now has some catching up to do, and hopefully that happens sooner rather than later.