Unexpectedly, the state of Saxony’s federal government has started a program to promote the growth of cannabis cultivation—but not for recreational use. Instead, this program aims to boost medical cannabis production—a goal that appears to be dominated by Germany’s impending legalisation of cannabis use for recreational purposes.
Saxony: plans for medical cannabis
The proposed law allows adults to possess up to 25 grams of cannabis and grow up to three plants for personal use. It also creates room for organisations devoted to cultivating cannabis non-commercially. However, the stringent regulations that govern medical cannabis remain the same. The limitations include pricing and quantity caps and are subject to oversight by a federal agency.
Surprisingly, Armin Schuster, the Federal Minister of Internal Affairs, addressed the Federal Council that the cannabis legalisation bill sets inappropriate priorities. Instead of legalising recreational cannabis, Germany should adapt the legal framework for medical cannabis. He argues that Germany should provide patients with the best care with more German production.
That is why Saxony is taking over to deal with this problem. The state has submitted an initiative to the Federal Council (Bundesrat) to amend the “Cannabis as Medicine” law, which has been in effect since 2017, in line with the anticipated legalisation of recreational usage.
What stays behind new Saxony’s requirements?
In fact, Germany is becoming more and more in need of medical cannabis. In 2020, three years after the introduction of the production authorization, producers sent 7.2 tons of cannabis flowers to pharmacies. This number doubled to 14.8 tons the next year. Furthermore, according to data from the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices, 24.8 tons of cannabis were imported in 2022 for use in research and medicine.
However, local production remains severely limited in Germany. The government tender states that 2.6 tons of cannabis flowers can be grown and purchased annually. Demecan, coming from the Ebersbach, neighbourhood of the Meissen region, is can only transport a maximum of 990 kg and two strains. The rates for imported cannabis are always growing, but they were set during the 2019 contract process and haven’t altered.
Saxony’s Interior Minister Armin Schuster is normally against the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use. However, he has taken up the case of local cannabis growers in the Federal Council because of the above situation. He issued the proposal to the Federal Council’s Internal Affairs Committee. He asks the Federal Government to consider measures to strengthen the legal framework. The Minister argues that it is crucial to guarantee patients with the finest possible supply of medical cannabis.
New approach towards medical cannabis: next steps
The Saxony Interior Ministry says that lifting cultivation restrictions and removing government price controls are necessary. It might adequately reduce the rapidly increasing imports of medical cannabis in favour of domestic production of appropriate quality. Additionally, the changes would create more opportunities for local businesses and have positive effects for patients.
Although the future of medical cannabis production in Germany is unclear, Saxony’s proactive approach may offer a means of ensuring patient access while also assisting local enterprises. It is unclear if this tactic will lead to a more optimistic future for medical cannabis in Germany.