Your latest cannabis business info from Europe

Your latest cannabis business info from Europe

2024-03-03

Federal states want a six-month delay in cannabis legalisation

federal states want delayed cannabis legalisation

As Germany gears up for what was expected to be a historic moment in drug policy, the planned legalisation of cannabis on April 1st is facing significant hurdles from several federal states. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has issued a stern warning to these states as they seek to delay the implementation of the new law by six months.

Concerns from a few states

The concerns raised by the interior and justice ministers of various states cast a shadow over the imminent cannabis legalisation. Ahead of the Bundesrat’s deliberation on March 22nd, these ministers are mobilising their resistance in a bid to either postpone or altogether halt the reform already passed by the Bundestag.

“I cannot preempt the voting behaviour in the Bundesrat, but as far as I am concerned, the cannabis law in its current form must be stopped”

Remarked Michael Stübgen, the Interior Minister of Brandenburg (CDU).

The Bundestag passed the law concerning the partial legalisation of cannabis for personal use last Friday, with the majority support of the Ampel coalition. However, dissenting voices, primarily from the Union and the AfD occured. Moreover, criticisms from the states have been persistent. Although the law does not require approval from the Bundesrat, the states retain the option to invoke the mediation committee. This could potentially lead to further adjustments to the law and another round of voting in the Bundestag.

Stübgen, who also chairs the Conference of Interior Ministers of the states, further criticised the law proposed by Health Minister. He said that from a purely professional standpoint, the cannabis law is complete nonsense. According to his views, it strengthens the black market, leaves uncertainties regarding safety and health, and furthermore, introduces regulations that cannot effectively come into force. Party lines share this sentiment, by all interior ministers of the federal states.

Justice ministers and cannabis legalisation

In addition to the interior ministers, also justice ministers raised the concerns. The law includes a retrospective provision for amnesty on convictions for offences that would be permissible under the new legislation. Kathrin Wahlmann, the Justice Minister of Lower Saxony (SPD), expressed her apprehension, stating:

“In Lower Saxony alone, we anticipate over 16,000 files due to the proposed amnesty, which will need to be manually reviewed by our already overburdened staff – nationally, this figure is significantly higher.”

Wahlmann, who also chairs the Conference of Justice Ministers, called for a six-month delay in the enactment to provide prosecutors and courts with more time to implement the amnesty. Similar sentiments come from Benjamin Lambach, the Justice Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia (Greens).

If the states invoke a mediation committee, alongside the concerns of the interior and justice ministers, additional requests for amendments could surface. Karl Lauterbach cautioned against the uncertainty that a delay could bring and the potential failure of the reform. He said that he will remain confident that the law will come into effect on April 1st. This is, incidentally, in the interest of justice. He claimed that the delay would create new legal uncertainty.

As the debate intensifies, the fate of cannabis legalisation in Germany hangs in the balance. With diverging opinions among federal states and the federal government, the road ahead remains uncertain. Whether the law will come into force as it should or face a delay, will be clear in the coming weeks as the Bundesrat deliberates on this contentious issue.

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