Germany decides to regulate: Hope for cannabis social clubs

Germany cannabis legalisation raises new hope

The most exciting news coming out of Europe is Germany’s pathway to full adult cannabis legalisation. The model will allow people over 18 the right to possess cannabis, grow cannabis at home and become a member of a cannabis social club. UKCSC looks at what legislation will look like for cannabis consumers in Germany. 

Germany has decided to take the bold steps needed to end the harms of cannabis prohibition and legalise possession, cultivation, and regulate supply in a multiphase approach over the next decade.

Karl Lauterbach, Germany’s health minister, said, “The previous cannabis policy has failed,” as he presented the German government’s new two-phase approach to legalising cannabis at a press conference in Berlin. “Now we have to go new ways.”

After pushback from the European Union, which had a council agreement signed in 2004 to “inhibit the sale and supply of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, including cannabis”, using criminalisation as a persuasion tactic, Germany had to scale back their ambitions of a fully recreational cannabis market. However, the EU does allow member states to make up their policies, so long as the drug is only made available for personal use. 

The EU operates by the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961, which seeks to limit member nations’ possession, use, trade, distribution, import and export from having commercial cannabis trade outside of medicine. Cannabis social clubs offer a way for nations to softly regulate cannabis without breaking international conventions by limiting the scale of a club’s economy.

Germany will roll out their legalisation in a two-phase process. Phase one will allow adults to start a cannabis social club, possess cannabis and grow a small amount at home. Phase two will look at a trial lasting five years selling cannabis through shops and pharmacies in order to establish secure and effective supply chains.

Let’s look at how cannabis regulation will look in Germany in 2023. 

  • Adults in Germany can possess 25g of cannabis without punishment. 
  • Grow THREE female plants without a licence if you are at least 19.
  • Non-profit cannabis social clubs can cultivate cannabis collectively and distribute it to their members, who must be adults and residents of Germany.
  • Cannabis social clubs cannot advertise and must appoint a “youth protection, addiction and prevention officer” to the organisation. 
  • Cannabis social club members over 21 can buy 25g in one day and up to 50g monthly. Members between 18 and 21 have a maximum of 30g per month. Potency restrictions limit under 21s.
  • Labels must display the package’s weight, harvest date, best-by date, and cultivar as well as THC and CBD content.
  • Members cannot consume products at a cannabis social club or within 200 m of the premises.
  • Cannabis social clubs do not permit alcohol. 
  • Cannabis social clubs and cannabis consumption must be 200 m away from a school or daycare centre. 
  • The premises of the cannabis clubs, cultivation facilities, and storage sites need to be fenced off with burglar-proof doors and windows.
  • Clubs must keep membership records, including inventory, amounts distributed and to whom, the number of plants grown, and how much product gets weighed or destroyed.
  • The three-plant limit includes clones and seedlings.
  • Cannabis oils and extracts remain prohibited
  • One cannabis social club can exist for every 6000 people. 
  • The policy permits adults to smoke cannabis in public after 20:00.
  • Adults with a previous conviction for possessing up to 25g or cultivating cannabis will have the charge expunged from their criminal record. 

Politics in motion

A European nation adopting a national cannabis social club model has sent hopes out to cannabis consumers worldwide. There is greater hope that government and politics catch up to the legislation news and take similar action.

This progress for cannabis consumer rights is wonderful news. Adults in Germany who find cannabis enjoyable will have the autonomy to join a membership cannabis social club. Adults may also grow their own without fear of arrest. Even walking down the street with your favourite nugs in a jar in your bag won’t be a worry.

The German government is keen to make cannabis supply chains safe from potentially harmful products for consumers, furthermore, they want to ensure organised crime gangs are not making profits without paying taxes. 

Germany’s agricultural minister of the Green Party said, “The people who won’t be happy about today’s news, that’s the illegal ones, the criminal dealers,”. He added, “In the future, no one should buy from a dealer without knowing what they are getting”.

Thoughts about German legalisation

There are some oddities to the new cannabis policy that don’t make sense. The suggestions can only come from people that do not understand cannabis cultivation or use. The goal of cannabis regulation is to stop people from resorting to black market supply chains, policy must take consumer habits into consideration more carefully.

Home cultivators can possess up to 25g of cannabis at a time. Growers who produce more than over 25 grams must destroy it. To anyone that grows their own cannabis, this idea sounds quite outrageous and very impractical. A single cannabis plant grown in a 10 litre pot can produce four times the personal possession amount in Germany. 

Cannabis plants take three months to flower and dry. If you can grow three plants (presumably one at each stage of growth, clone, veg, flower) but only store 25 grams at home, and you use 2.5 grams a day as you can if you are a club member, it forces cannabis consumers to rely on cannabis social clubs for their supply to remain legal. 

How personal possession quantities will be policed is another question raised. 

What will punishment be if you are found with 26 or 30 grams? 

Cannabis prohibition in Germany hasn’t ended, but the policy is much better than the last and still leaps ahead of the UK. 

Does it look attractive? UKCSC thinks we can do better in Britain. 

How will supply work?

We still have questions, though. Where will cannabis social clubs be permitted to legally grow their member’s cannabis allowance? 

Clubs can have up to 500 members. Members can have 50g of cannabis per month. Cannabis social clubs could therefore grow 37.5 kilos per harvest (if each crop takes three months to produce). Cultivation on this scale could indeed require around 30 – 40 lights per flower room. Grows this size are the perfect size to produce good, high-quality craft cannabis. 

The population of Germany is 83.2 million. One club for every 6000 people could mean over 13,000 cannabis social clubs in Germany. 

What do you think? 

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