banner of cannabis legalization in Germany

Germany’s Green Wave: Cannabis Legalization and European Stance

Aug 25, 2023


Berlin, Germany--Germany's cabinet recently approved a proposal that could make it the European country with the most lenient cannabis laws

Once passed, adults could possess up to 25g of cannabis for personal use and cultivate up to three plants. However, the legislation awaits approval from the Bundestag. 

The move follows Malta, the first EU country to permit recreational cannabis use.

Cannabis Policies in Europe

Per a Euronews article, the following has been done so far across Europe with cannabis policies.

Malta: Adults can possess up to 7g of cannabis and grow four plants at home since 2021. Public consumption remains prohibited.

Netherlands: Often mistaken for being marijuana-friendly, the Netherlands still prohibits the cultivation, sale, and possession of marijuana. However, the sale of cannabis up to 5g is tolerated in coffee shops.

Portugal: Since 2001, cannabis possession and consumption have been decriminalized and treated as administrative offenses.

Spain: Consuming cannabis privately isn’t penalized, but public consumption could result in fines.

Luxembourg: Private consumption and cultivation of up to four plants were decriminalized recently. Public possession has also been decriminalized.

Despite these liberal stances, some EU regions treat cannabis possession as a punishable offense.

Cannabis laws, as pointed out by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), often revolve around the THC content.

Progress and Hurdles in Medical Marijuana

Medical cannabis accessibility is increasing across Europe, but its market development is slower compared to North America. Some countries have launched pilot programs:

Denmark (2018): Introduced a pilot program permitting doctors to prescribe previously illegal cannabis products.

Ireland (2019): Initiated a five-year pilot program offering access to cannabis for medical use in specific conditions.

France (2021): Embarked on a cannabis pilot project, with its medicines agency defining production rules.

While countries like the Czech Republic and Germany allow medical cannabis reimbursements, others expect patients to cover the entire cost. Mikael Sodergren from Curaleaf International stated that Europe remains behind countries like Canada, Australia, and the U.S. in adopting medical marijuana.

International Shifts in Cannabis Perception

In 2020, the UN's Commission on Narcotic Drugs removed cannabis from Schedule IV of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, recognizing its potential therapeutic benefits. 

Hungary was the sole EU country opposing this removal. In contrast, the European Commission took Hungary to court over this stance. Even in countries that allow medical marijuana prescriptions, access can vary and is sometimes limited.

Business Opportunities in the Green Sector

Global cannabis giant Curaleaf anticipates selling recreational cannabis in Germany by 2024's end, following Germany's potential legal shift.

A report published in the Financial Times stated that this decision aims to suppress drug crime and illicit cannabis trading.

However, challenges persist. 

In Canada, where marijuana is legal, companies often struggle to rival black market pricing and services. 

Curaleaf's profits, despite garnering significant revenue, have yet to be achieved due to regulations and nascent industry challenges. Experts also predict potential delays in the rollout of Germany's cannabis plans.