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Germany’s parliament won’t have an opportunity to put the first phase of the country’s pending cannabis legislation to a vote this year.
It’s the latest setback for a draft law that has experienced several delays and revisions in recent months as lawmakers sought to revise and improve the bill.
Earlier this year, Germany backpedaled on its initial plan to implement nationwide recreational cannabis legalization, instead opting for a two-phase, scaled-down approach with limited commercial opportunities.
The latest delay doesn’t necessarily mean the law’s expected April 2024 launch is in jeopardy, some German politicians say.
Dirk Heidenblut, a member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Committee on Health, said in an Instagram post that the delay would have no effect on the April timeline, provided a vote takes place by the end of January.
According to the German news magazine Der Spiegel, the latest plan calls for:
- Decriminalization of cannabis.
- Home cultivation and possession starting April 1, 2024.
- “Cultivation clubs” that would launch sometime next summer.
The draft law still leaves little room for potential profit for publicly traded cannabis companies such as Tilray Brands, a Canadian licensed producer, and U.S. multistate operator Curaleaf Holdings. Curaleaf bought a controlling stake last year in German producer and distributor Four 20 Pharma.
Prompting the latest postponement of the draft law, German media reported that SPD party leadership had expressed unspecified concerns.
The SPD is part of the ruling “traffic light coalition,” a group that also includes the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the Greens.
The new setback appeared to surprise SPD allies in the Bundestag.
On X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, Kirsten Kappert-Gonther, a Bundestag member and chair of the Health Committee, called the delay until 2024 “extremely unfortunate.”
However, she also said the law’s expected entry into force, planned for April 2024, could still be achieved if the bill is approved early next year.
The latest delay comes days after the draft law’s architects made concessions.
Under the original draft law, consumption couldn’t occur within 200 meters of schools, kindergartens, playgrounds or cannabis clubs.
The new rule proposes to change that to “within sight” of the entrance area of those respective buildings.
German media also reported that membership in a growers association would require a stay in Germany of at least six months.
In addition, Germany is looking to double to 50 grams the amount of cannabis that is allowed to be stored at home from the cultivation of three plants.
The rule had been heavily criticized because significantly more dried cannabis than 25 grams can be harvested from three plants.
However, public possession would still be limited to 25 grams.
The second phase of the legalization effort involves the creation of regional retail pilot projects with commercial supply chains.
The aim of these trials would be to collect data to support future public policy.
It’s unclear if the current government can achieve the second phase of its legalization plan before its mandate expires.