SPD Win Election in Germany, Is Recreational Cannabis Next?

Germany is going through changes. Not only did the country just elect new government officials yesterday in a national election, but longstanding Chancellor Angela Merkel already stated she’s stepping down. Possibly due to this, Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union lost to the Social Democrats in the election, signaling a political change in Germany, which could lead to a recreational cannabis legalization.

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Germany and cannabis

As with nearly every European country (with the strange exception of Georgia), recreational cannabis is illegal in Germany. Having said that, Georgia did legalize the recreational use of cannabis, but without legalizing cultivation, sale, or a regulated market, meaning there is no actual industry. If Germany were to pass a recreational legalization bill, it would still be the first European country to set up a regulated market, and the first EU country to do either a legalization, or a regulated market. But, we’re not there just yet.

In Germany, cannabis is recreationally illegal at the moment, and is regulated through the German Federal Narcotics Act. Simple possession can incur up to five years in prison. Weirdly enough, there’s no law against actual use, so those caught using are more likely to be put in a program than face a more serious punishment. This is not always the case past a first offence, however, and is also dependent on the person being caught with a ‘small quantity’ only.

How much is a ‘small quantity’? The term isn’t defined specifically, and varies throughout different parts of Germany. It can be anywhere from 6-15 grams depending on location, although, in Germany, it’s not just about the amount in weight, but the amount of THC within, so the potency can help determine the amount.

cannabis reform Germany

As there is no regulated market, sale and supply crimes are illegal, and offenders can incur up to five years for more basic crimes, and up to 15 years depending on extenuating circumstances. Cultivation crimes are also illegal and are punished with the same jail time as sale and supply crimes.

Medical cannabis has been legal in some capacity since 1998, with a major expansion in 2017 to cover more illnesses, start domestic production, and allow for more imports and exports.

Germany has the largest cannabis market in Europe at the moment. In 2019, it was 2nd in the world for cannabis oil imports, and 4th in the world for cannabis oil exports. Prohibition Partners estimates that as of March 2020, Germany had approximately 128,000 patients that receive medical cannabis per year, though BfArM – The Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices, was not able to give more specific information.

In Q4 of 2020, Germany imported 3,264 kilograms of cannabis, for a total of 9,249 kilograms for 2020. The import market has seen a 100% year over year increase between 2018-2020. Germany is just starting its domestic supply market, which is expected to filter another 2,600 kilograms into the market.

National elections

The new government which is being put together from the election, is the key to Germany and a cannabis legalization. On September 26th, 2021, Germany held National Bundestag elections to institute a new government. The announcement of current-Chancellor Angela Merkel’s stepping down means that after many years, Germany is about to introduce new leadership.

Merkel has been Chancellor of Germany since 2005, making for a 16-year reign. Her party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU/CSU), which itself is a partnership between the Christian Democrats and the Christian Social Union in Bavaria, has led a coalition government for just as long. Perhaps Merkel stepped down because she felt tides turning. Or perhaps the election outcome was a result of the knowledge of her impending departure. Either way, after many years of the same thing, Germany voted for something new.

elections 2021

The Social Democrats and the Union were a part of the same government coalition prior to the election. Now that they are no longer part of the same coalition government, they are not necessarily voting partners anymore. The two parties have differing beliefs on many topics, like cannabis, and how it should be handled. Whereas the Union is for keeping cannabis illegal, the Social Democrats are for legalization, along with other parties like the Greens. Of the three top parties in the election in Germany, two are pro-legalization for cannabis, the Social Democrats, and the Greens. THe 4th is the Free Democratic Party, and it supports legalization as well.

How did things just change?

The Social Democrats (SPD) and the Union have been voting partners in the past, which is the reason a legalization bill didn’t pass last year, despite there technically being enough support to pass it. In the past, the Union was the biggest party, beating out the SPDs. This time around, the outcome flipped.

In this election, the Social Democrats (center-left) narrowly beat out the Union (center-right), 25.9% to 24.1%. The Social Democrats won 206 parliamentary seats, the Union got 196, The Greens (left) took 118, the Free Democratic Party (FDP, liberal) won 92, Alternative for Germany (AfD, right-wing populist) got 83, the Left (democratic-socialist) got 39, and South Schleswig Voter’s Association (SSW, social-liberals) got 1. Since there is no majority here, a coalition government must be formed.

Since 2005, the Christian Democrats have formed coalitions with different parties. In 2005 it was a grand coalition with the Social Democrats, in 2009 with the Free Democratic Party, in 2013 and 2017, it formed grand coalitions with the Social Democrats again. Some see it as stabilizing to have a government of the two top parties, some see it as a threat to have such a homogenous government. It is quite possible that the two parties will partner once again, but there is also the chance that other things could happen. It’s expected this could be a long and difficult process given how close the votes were.

Its’s also quite possible that for the first time in a while, the Union could be shut out. If a coalition government is formed between the Social Democrats, Greens, and Free democratic Party, this would mean a very different government than the past eight years. In a situation like this, all parties are pro-cannabis. Whether it would actually happen or not though, is hard to say.

However, even if this full coalition doesn’t happen, the Social Democrats have apparently already signaled that they would like to partner with the Greens. Even two strong pro-cannabis-reform parties together could do it. If those two parties partner up, cannabis legislation can be expected. Because of the strong showing for the Free Democrats, this goes for them as well, making several different ways in which this election can lead Germany into passing recreational cannabis legislation.

Election Germany cannabis

What happened last time?

A cannabis legalization bill was put forward last year that would have instituted a regulated adult-use market. On October 29th of the year, it was rejected in parliament, and this was mainly due to the coalition between the Union and the Social Democrats. Though the Social Democrats are for legalization, the Union is heavily against. Since the two parties voted together, the Social Democrats voted against legalization. If they are no longer paired in the future, a future vote could turn out very differently.

At the time the bill died, the Social Democrats held 152 seats, the Union held 264, and the Greens held 67. Looking at the most recent election, and things have certainly shifted in Germany, opening the door wider for topics like cannabis reform. Given that the Union had a 41.5% majority in 2013, and is down to around 24% now, it shows a change in thoughts and opinions. It’s not shocking the bill died last year, as the government wasn’t constructed to allow it to pass.

Since the time the Union was so strong in 2013, public sentiment has gone in a different direction concerning marijuana. The German Hemp Association conducts polls yearly on legalization. In 2014, when it started, the percentage for pro-legalization was 30%, and went up to 46% within only a few years. The organization stopped polling for opinions on decriminalization in 2018, when the percentage reached 59%.

Conclusion

Germany is the biggest country in the EU, with the strongest economy. Its already a dominating factor in the international medical cannabis industry. A legalization there could create a large, and strong cannabis market. As the election results are still rather raw, its impossible to know how things will pan out. Politics involve many things we don’t see as private citizens, so to a certain degree we’ll have to be patient, and allow things some time to work themselves out. In the coming months, there should be a lot of talk coming out on this, and the conversation about legalization should get even stronger.

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Merkel Is Leaving, Will Germany’s Medical Cannabis Market Expand to Recreational?

Right now, there is no legal recreational cannabis market in Europe (though there is one recreational legalization). Out of all of Europe, Germany’s medical cannabis market is by far the biggest, and quickly growing. Does this growing acceptance of cannabis mean that a recreational legalization is next? A failed initiative from last year was a setback, but with elections at the end of the month, and Chancellor Merkel standing down, a recreational legalization could come sooner rather than later.

Germany’s medical cannabis market is the biggest in Europe, and it looks like a changing political dynamic could lead to recreational legalization. This is good for consumers everywhere, as more legalized countries mean more and better products. Think about it, until the recent cannabis boom, products like delta-8 THC didn’t exist at all, and now this alternate form to delta-9, which causes less anxiety and couch locking, is available all over the place. Interested parties can check out our large selection of delta-8 THC, thcv, thcp, thco, hhc and delta 10 deals along with plenty of other compounds. The world of cannabis is growing, don’t miss out.

Germany and cannabis law

Germany is a recreationally illegal country when it comes to cannabis. Under the German Federal Narcotics Act, an offender can be sentenced to up to five years in prison for possession. This only covers possession, as there is technically nothing stated legally about use, meaning being caught using is likely to incur civil penalties or some kind of program, so long as the quantity is considered a ‘small amount’.

What’s a small amount? This is actually not specified, and is judged not just by physical weight, but by delta-9 THC content. Different regions of the country have their own limits, ranging anywhere from 6-15 grams. Cultivation and suppling cannabis are predictably illegal, and offenders generally receive up to five years in prison. Supply crimes can vary, with the possibility of garnering anywhere from 1-15 years in prison, depending on circumstances.

Germany approved the use of Dronabinol in 1998, officially allowing a small amount of medical use from that time. A full medical cannabis bill passed in 2017, expanding greatly on the original legalization. At this time, all medical cannabis was imported into the country, mainly from the Netherlands and Canada. This changed in 2019, when Germany legalized the production and exportation of medical cannabis products, thereby entering the global medical cannabis market.

Germany's medical cannabis market

Since that time, Germany has had the biggest cannabis market in Europe. The first German medical cannabis company to enter the Düsseldorf Stock Exchange is Cannovum AG, which entered this past May, 2021.

How big is Germany’s medical cannabis market?

On March 4th, 2020, a list of questions was posed by left party Die Linke to government officials in parliament. According to BfArM – The Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices which oversees the regulation of the cannabis industry in the country, in regards to number of users, a survey performed by the agency showed 13,343 complete records. In its write-up and translation of the article, leading cannabis market intelligence firm Prohibition Partners estimated there were approximately 128,000 patients a year who received medical cannabis from the government, at that time. The government was not able to give a more specific number.

In terms of cannabis imports to Germany, Q4 of 2020 saw 3,264 kilograms enter the country, which is the highest of any quarter so far. This brought the year’s total to 9,249 kilograms. Germany’s import market grew so quickly that there was over a 100% increase in 2018 and 2019, though only 37% in 2020, possibly due to the corona pandemic. In the past, Germany imported mainly from Canada and the Netherlands.

Germany now accepts imports from Portugal, Israel, Uruguay, Spain, and Australia. It’s expected that countries with lower production costs, like Uruguay and Portugal (and likely the legalized African countries soon), will be major providers in the future. Besides imports, Germany is starting to produce itself, with the expectation of domestic suppliers providing 2,600 kilograms a year, or more. This broadening of countries to buy from has had a big effect on one of Germany’s biggest suppliers, the Netherlands, which saw a decrease in exports of 5% for the year, the first time this has happened.

Prior to 2020, Germany’s medical cannabis market was already very large, with statistics from 2019 showing Germany as both the biggest importer and exporter of cannabis oil for Europe, and being a main contender globally. For imports that year, according to worldstopexports, Germany imported $240 million worth of cannabis oil, second only to the US which imported a massive $893 million worth that year. The next European country to make the list was France, in 5th place, with $152.7 million worth of imports. Germany accounted for 7.8% of all cannabis oil imports that year.

In terms of exports, Germany was still the top European provider, coming in fourth place globally with $229.8 million worth exported. The next European country on the list was Spain, with $190.5 million for the year. Topping the list were China at just under one billion, India at $320.8 million, and the US with 309.7 million. All these numbers apply only to cannabis oil, and do not account for other products like cannabis flowers, other concentrates, tinctures, creams, patches, or capsules.

cannabis exports

Obviously, the flower market should be examined as well, and Germany is not lacking here, either. In July, 2020, according to BfArM, Germany saw increases in imports in Q1 and Q2 at 16% and 32% respectively for that same year. How much do these increases mean in cannabis weight? In 2018, cannabis flower imports totaled about 3.1 tonnes, which went up to 6.7 tonnes in 2019. In 2020, it rose to the aforementioned 9,249 kilograms, or 9.249 in tonnes.

Will Germany pass a recreational legalization?

This is a great question. Germany’s medical cannabis market is huge, but will this help spur on further expansion by way of a recreational legalization? This has actually come up already. On October 29th, 2020, a recreational bill was rejected in parliament, and not because it didn’t have ample support. The rejection was more due to coalitions, than the idea of mass opposition to it. In Germany, there are six main political parties, as well as other smaller ones. Two of those main parties, the Social Democratic party of Germany, and the Union, (which itself is the combination of two parties including the Christian Democrats led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel) have a coalition.

The Social Democratic party holds 152 seats and is in favor of legalization. However, the Union holds 264 seats and is against legalization. The Social Democrats generally vote alongside the Union members, meaning that together they hold enough seats to derail legalization attempts, even though many of those seats are held by politicians looking to legalize, and other political parties also promote legalization. This is what happened to last year’s proposed bill for an adult-use market. It makes for quite the odd pairing considering how opposite the two parties are on many issues, including cannabis.

The thing is, when you see a government that has a large percentage leaning in a certain direction, strategic coalitions will only last so long, especially as public opinion changes. At a certain point, in order to remain in office, these politicians will have to succumb to the will of the people. This is the same thing that can be seen in North Carolina where republicans are now leading the charge for medical legalization with the understanding – stated by them directly, that they don’t have a choice anymore.

Another main party, the Green party, which currently holds 67 seats, has been gaining support and was vying with Merkel’s Union coalition earlier this year for the top spot in opinion polls. This September there are Bundestag Elections, in which the federal parliament is elected. As Angela Merkel will not be running this year as per her announcement in 2018 to stand down as Chancellor and leader of the Christian Democrats, this certainly opens the door for general change.

A lot has changed since 2005 when Merkel first came to power. The German Hemp Association, which has been conducting polls since 2014, saw 30% in favor of legalizing in their poll that year. This number went up to 46% for legalization within just a few years. In terms of decriminalization, 59% backed it in 2018, and no further poll on the matter has been taken since this time.

cannabis in parliament

Co-founder of Cannovum, Pia Marten (the Berlin based-company which just became the first publicly listed cannabis company in Germany), had this to say: “Looking at the General Election I am excited to see what happens, it could introduce some changes in legislation; recreational would have an impact on our business and we are keeping a close eye on this… If we get a government with a liberal approach, it could happen, then it could make way for recreational use.”

Some are more sure of themselves, like cannabis lawyer Kai-Friedrich Niermann, who stated, “We have had medical cannabis since 2017 and we are now preparing for the big cannabis reform in September.  The Federal elections are taking place and we are assuming the Green Party will come into power and legalize cannabis from next year.”

While Prohibition Partners has stated it believes approximately 28,000 people receive medical cannabis a year in Germany, the same firm also believes that there are upwards of four million cannabis users in the country, which means if Germany has a big cannabis market with only medical, it could be massive with recreational. We’ll find out how ready Germany is to embrace this idea at the end of the month.

Conclusion

Many countries are getting closer to recreational legalizations, so its not surprising that the country with the largest cannabis industry in Europe, would be looking to expand further. Germany’s medical cannabis market has been booming since 2017, and with a huge change coming in the political scene what with the end of Merkel’s reign, the former opposition to a legalized recreational market, might finally be taken over by a push to legalize.

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DisclaimerHi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

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Germany Rejected Its Recreational Cannabis Bill

The people of New Zealand just voted down a measure to legalize cannabis through a referendum. New Jersey just legalized it recreationally also through its own referendum. Germany didn’t put the question to its people, but last month the government of Germany rejected its recreational cannabis bill.

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A little about Germany and cannabis

As per the title, recreational marijuana is not legal in Germany. In fact, possessing it at all can garner a person up to five years in prison according to the German Federal Narcotics Act, though conversely, it’s not technically illegal to use it, since there is no stated law against it. If caught with small amounts, offenders are usually put in a program over anything more serious, at least for first-time offenders. The term ‘small amount’ is not very well defined, though, and can mean anywhere from about 6-15 grams depending on where in Germany the possession takes place. Plus, the amount is judged by quantity and potency over actual weight, meaning the THC content helps define the amount in the end.

Sale and supply crimes are predictably illegal, and offenders can receive up to about five years in prison. This sentence goes up from 1-15 years depending on the circumstances of the case. Cultivation on a personal level is also illegal and garners the same punishment as sale and supply crimes.

Germany rejected recreational cannabis

In terms of CBD, while Germany already had been permitting it, the recent decision of the CJEU (Court of Justice of the European Union) in the case of France vs the EU, makes it that much more clear. EU standard has now been found to trump local member state laws when it comes to the import and export of CBD between member states. As per EU standards, Germany does not allow more than .2% THC in CBD oil preparations.

Technically, the medical use of a cannabis drug has been legal since 1998 in Germany when dronabinol was rescheduled. It wasn’t until 2017, however, that Germany further legalized medicinal cannabis. As of 2017, new legislation opened the door for more disorders and sicknesses to be relevant for treatment.

What about Germany’s market?

The thing about Germany is that it already has one of the biggest cannabis markets in the EU, and even in the world, though right now it’s all a medicinal market. In 2019, for example, Germany was the biggest importer and exporter of cannabis oil in the EU. Though the country can’t compete just yet with the US in terms of imports – the US for 2019 imported approximately $893 million worth of cannabis oil making it the clear leader, Germany did get the #2 spot with $240 million worth of oil imported that year. When it comes to exports, Germany led the EU with about $230 million worth of cannabis oil exports, but that was only 4th place in the world. Topping the export list was China, sitting pretty with just under $1 billion worth of cannabis oil exports that year.

Cannabis oil is only part of it. Most of the legal cannabis world still revolves around dry flowers, and Germany just happens to have a massive cannabis flower market as well. And one that is only looking to grow and expand out more. In July, Germany released data on its medical cannabis imports for the first two quarters of the year. While Q1 showed an increase of 16%, Q2 showed a massive 32% increase, and this at the height of the Coronavirus pandemic measures being taken all over the world. To give an idea of what this means via comparison, in 2018, Germany imported about 3.1 tons of cannabis flowers, this was increased to 6.7 tons in 2019, and it looks like it will go much higher than that by the end of 2020. During this time, Germany had such an issue with supply problems that it requested extra cannabis flowers from the Netherlands to help close the gap. Part of the reason for the need for more medical cannabis is simply the increasing number of Germans receiving it as treatment. As of June 2019, about 60,000 Germans were registered with the medical marijuana program in the country, and that number is sure to be way higher by now.

parliament vote

Up until recently, Canada and the Netherlands were Germany’s two biggest and main suppliers of cannabis flowers. However, more recently, it looks like Germany has received flowers from Uruguay (through a secretive back-door move using Portugal to import), and Spain via Linneo, a Spanish cannabis producer. Canada, however, is still the main importer to Germany, with several new companies opening shop in Germany, or planning new exports to the country. To give an idea of how out-of-whack prices have gotten in Germany, consider that the current retail price of a gram of cannabis is about €20. Then consider that this is a medical price, not even a recreational price.

What’s the deal with recreational?

Everything so far should give some idea of how big Germany’s cannabis market is, and how quickly it’s growing. As the biggest market in the EU, it’s not that surprising that the question of a recreational legalization would come up, since, obviously, Germany is pretty okay with use of the plant. However, this sentiment did not come through as a recreational legalization as last month Germany rejected its recreational cannabis bill.

Germany has six main political parties. The Left (holds 69 seats and is in favor of legalizing), the Social Democratic Party of Germany (about 152 seats, technically in favor of legalization, but voted with coalition partner instead – the Union, which includes the Christian Democrats led by Angela Merkel), the Union (two parties making up 264 seats, against legalization), the Greens (67 seats, and in support of legalization), the Free Democratic Party (holds 80 seats, but did not vote on the measure), and Alternative for Germany (somewhere in the neighborhood of 89-94 seats, and against legalization).

On October 29th, the proposed bill for an adult-use recreational cannabis market in Germany was firmly rejected in parliament, despite having plenty of support from different factions of Germany’s parliament. One of the big reasons for this is the coalition between the Union and the Social Democratic Party of Germany. The Union is itself is a coalition between the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (led by Angela Merkel) and the Christian Social Union in Bavaria. The Social Democratic Party of Germany, which though technically is in favor of cannabis reform, tends to vote with its coalition partner, the Union. Together they hold enough seats that any initiative will fail without at least some of their support. In this way, by having the two parties paired together, Germany rejected its recreational cannabis bill squarely.

recreational marijuana

In a way, the coalition is a strange one. The Union, is known as a center-right party associated with Christian movements. The Social Democratic party is center-left. Technically, the two groups have very different stances, and while they might overlap on some issues, they actually seem quite at odds when it comes to cannabis, making their vote together a bit of a headscratcher. Nevertheless, by being joined together, the Social Democrats voted with the Union making for an unbeatable force.

What’s next for Germany?

In the wake of the fact that Germany rejected its recreational cannabis bill, it’s hard to imagine what the next step will be. Unlike with a country like New Zealand, it was not the people of the country who voted the measure down, but rather, parliament on its own. This means the people of Germany are not necessarily on board with this decision, and that could mean new measures arising in the near future. It is, after all, already one of the biggest cannabis markets in the world. The step to legalization gets smaller and smaller as Germany gets more and more saturated with cannabis. Personally, I expect something will happen very soon that will tip the balance in the other direction.

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Resources

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Fly with Cannabis – Which Countries Let You Do It Newest Cannabinoid Powerhouse – CBC – What Can It Do for You?
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The CBD Flowers Weekly newsletter (your top resource for all things smokable hemp flowers)
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The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter (All you need to know about Delta 8 thc) and the Best Black Friday Delta 8 THC Deals 2020. Cannabis Election Results – Best Black Friday Delta 8 THC Deals 2020
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