Future Legalisation Plans for Recreational Cannabis in Germany

Germany has been slowly but steadily moving towards legalising cannabis for adult use, following the lead of other European countries such as the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, and Switzerland. While medical cannabis has been legal since 2017 and has been prescribed to thousands of patients, recreational cannabis is still prohibited and can lead to fines or imprisonment, depending on the amount and context of possession. However, several political parties, civil society groups, and experts have advocated for a more liberal approach to cannabis, arguing that it could generate tax revenue, reduce crime and health risks, and respect personal freedom.

Current Situation and Debates

According to the Federal Narcotics Act of 1971, cannabis is classified as a “narcotic” drug and is subject to strict regulations, including criminal sanctions for possession, cultivation, sale, and transportation. However, since 1994, possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use (up to 6 grams) has been decriminalised, meaning that offenders are not prosecuted but may still face fines or confiscation of the drug. Moreover, several German states have introduced pilot projects or guidelines that allow adults to buy and consume cannabis in licensed cafes or clubs, under certain conditions such as age verification, quality control, and no public nuisance. These initiatives, however, are limited in scope, duration, and legal status, and have faced opposition from conservative politicians and law enforcement agencies.

In recent years, the debate on legalising recreational cannabis has gained momentum, fuelled by various factors such as the global trend towards cannabis legalisation, the failure of drug prohibition to curb supply and demand, the emergence of a legal cannabis industry in other countries, and the changing attitudes of the public towards drugs and health. Some argue that legalisation would bring several benefits, such as reducing the black market, increasing quality and safety standards, facilitating research and innovation, and enabling social justice and equity. Others warn of the risks of legalisation, such as promoting drug use, exacerbating health problems, exposing vulnerable groups to harm, and undermining international drug control treaties.

Future Legalisation Plans

Despite the controversies and uncertainties, the prospects of legalising recreational cannabis in Germany seem to be increasing, as several political parties have included it in their election manifestos or programmes. For example, the Green Party, which has gained popularity in recent years and is part of the ruling coalition, has proposed a comprehensive regulation of cannabis that would legalise possession, cultivation, sale, and consumption for adults over 18 years old, while imposing taxes, quality controls, and prevention measures. The Left Party, which is the third largest in the parliament, has also called for legalisation and has emphasised the social and economic benefits of a regulated market, such as job creation, public health, and human rights. The Social Democratic Party, which is the second largest and has been in power for most of the post-war period, has not yet endorsed legalisation but has shown openness to discussing it and has supported some pilot projects.

However, the main obstacle to legalisation remains the Christian Democratic Union, which is the largest party and has been in power for most of the past decade, either alone or in coalition with other parties. The CDU has traditionally opposed cannabis legalisation and has expressed concerns about the health and safety of citizens, especially young people, and the compatibility with international law. Nevertheless, some CDU politicians have recently softened their stance and have called for a more nuanced approach that takes into account the social and economic factors of cannabis use, as well as the experiences of other countries. For example, the Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, has proposed a model that would allow cannabis use for medical and scientific purposes, while maintaining the ban on recreational use but reducing the penalties for possession or consumption.


In conclusion, the future legalisation plans for recreational cannabis in Germany are still uncertain but seem to be moving towards a more liberal direction, driven by the demand for personal freedom, social justice, and economic growth. While there are risks and challenges associated with legalisation, there are also opportunities and benefits that could be realised through a well-designed and implemented regulatory framework. The debate on legalisation is likely to continue and to involve various stakeholders, such as politicians, scientists, civil society groups, and the public, who have different perspectives and interests. Ultimately, the decision on legalisation will depend on the political will and the balance between public health and individual rights.

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