Germany publishes bill confirming plans to downgrade cannabis as a narcotic

German Health Ministry unveils cannabis legalization bill

The German Ministry of Health has officially published its draft law for the "first pillar" of its plans to liberalize access to cannabis for adult use. German adults aged 18 and over would be allowed to possess up to 25 grams of cannabis for personal use and grow up to three plants, according to the country's bill to legalize cannabis, released by the ministry of Health last week, reports Forbes. The law would also establish cannabis growers' associations that would allow members to obtain 25 grams of cannabis per day or 50 grams per month for personal use, and the associations could provide each member with up to seven seeds or five cuttings of plants per month.

Alongside the 163 page project, the government published a question-and-answer document revealing that the law does not require the approval of the Bundesrat, “it is planned to come into force at the end of the year 2023”.

While the draft is largely focused on establishing the arrangements for the operation of the proposed cannabis clubs (which Business of Cannabis will explore in the coming days), it crucially confirms the government's plans to withdraw "all active substances related to cannabis” from the list of narcotics.

Niklas Kouparanis, co-founder and CEO of Bloomwell, underlined the potential of this change since the announcement of the new framework in April: “It is now official: The Ministry of Health no longer wants to classify cannabis as a narcotic. With this reclassification, a new era of progressive and solution-oriented drug policy opens in Germany after decades of stigmatization.
“Enormous growth” on the horizon

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While the first pillar, which focuses on rolling out culture clubs across the country, has been criticized for leaving little room for businesses to thrive as they intended, this key change should not only result in a significant growth of the medical cannabis market, but also an end to the legal proceedings against CBD sellers throughout Germany.

Speaking at ICBC Berlin last week, the managing director of German grower Demecan, Dr Philipp Goebel, said he believed the market was "poised for huge growth".

“I think there will be a major shift with that first pillar, and getting (cannabis) out of the Narcotics Act will definitely grow the market in terms of medical cannabis.”

Asked if he had solid numbers on his growth rate forecast, Dr Goebel added: “I don't have more precise estimates, but the estimates are between a factor of three and ten.

“I think doctors will also need to be trained better, but that will definitely lead to growth.
Obstacles will fall

Narcotics ("Betäubungsmittel", BtM), as defined by the German Narcotics Act ("Betäubungsmittelgesetz", BtMG), are the substances and preparations listed in Tables I to III of the Narcotics Act.

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As Dr. Goebel explained to the audience, prescribing and handling narcotic substances at all levels of the supply chain is currently “a nightmare”.

“A narcotics prescription is a serialized prescription, so doctors have to ask for it to get it.

Doctors must therefore apply it to obtain it. "So they're very limited on how to prescribe medical cannabis right now. And in pharmacies, the workload for dealing with narcotics is also enormous. And for us, too, we have to do a full inventory twice a year. It's a real nightmare.

"I think that by removing this issue from the Narcotics Act, many barriers that currently exist in the market will fall and we will be able to serve more patients adequately."

Peter Homberg, of Dentons, echoed these remarks in an earlier session, saying there were "some barriers, at least psychological" for doctors prescribing narcotics, due to the additional levels administration required.

“We know that in the medical market, doctors are hesitant to prescribe cannabis for medical purposes.

The bill must first be approved by the Ministry of Health before being submitted to the German parliament. If approved, Germany would join Malta and Luxembourg as the only European nations to legalize cannabis for adult use.

Tags : GermanyConsumptionLawPolicy

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