Germany Decided to Legalize, But When?

The new cool thing in Europe seems to be talking about impending cannabis legalizations, which are not backed by anything other than a promise, and which come with no upcoming date. Germany just joined Switzerland and Luxembourg in claiming it made the decision to legalize recreational cannabis, but apparently we’ll have to wait a little longer to find out when.

Germany stated its set to legalize cannabis, but what backs this up, and when will it happen? This publication focuses on cannabis and psychedelics stories, bringing you everything going on in these changing landscapes today. Follow along by subscribing to the THC Weekly Newsletter, and also get first-place access to deals on a catalogue of cannabis products like vapes, edibles, and smoking devices. Along with that, we’ve got deals on tons of cannabinoid compounds like the super popular delta-8 THC. Please keep in mind, *cannabinoid products are not everyone’s first choice. We support customers only buy products that they are fully comfortable with using.

The latest in Germany

When a government is in the midst of doing something, and it isn’t putting out direct information for its citizens, it means it’s probably not going to, even if asked. I think we’re all aware that governments are good at giving government lines, wherein, questions are often ignored, in place of restating obvious lines. On one hand, populations seem so used to this treatment, that an ignored question and standard answer, actually make for coverable stories these days. On the other hand, perhaps if no formal statement is made, we shouldn’t expect an answer to the question anyway.

In early May, Germany’s Health Minister Karl Lauterbach confirmed to German newspaper Handelsblatt that he supports that the country legalize cannabis, saying “I’ve always been opposed to cannabis legalization, but I revised my position about a year ago.”

Earlier then that, on April 6th, Marco Buschmann, the Justice Minister announced that he was in the midst of strategizing a legalization in conjunction with the Ministry of Health, which would involve a consultation process. This process would included talks involving representation by federal, state, and local governments, along with other organizations. The conversations are set to start this summer, with a formal bill hoped for by late 2022.

On the same day, via Twitter, Finance Minister Christian Lindner also confirmed – in a way – that the country was undertaking the legalization process, saying cannabis would be legal soon.

As you can see, none of this gives any real information about what to expect, or when. In fact, it sounds like a bunch of government ministers not wanting to say anything, or having nothing yet to say. So little has actually been confirmed, that it brings up the question of whether we’re sure Germany will go through with this. As of last fall, Germany made what sounds like an official decision to legalize, but how official is a decision with no legal backing?

Germany’s decision to legalize

Why do we keep looking to Germany’s government to give us more information on a legalization? Technically this decision was made back in October 2021 by the new government coalition ruling Germany, made up of three pro-legalization parties: Social Democrats (SPD), Green Party, and Free Democrats (FDP). By November 2021, it was said that a bill was in progress.

The decision was to create “the controlled sale of cannabis to adults for recreational purposes in licensed shops.” This would make cannabis accessible to adults 18 years and up. Whenever it comes out, a new Cannabis Control Law would regulate licensing for cultivation, and general rules of sale.

For years, Germany was ruled over by right-leaning coalitions, headed by Angela Merkel of the Christian Democrats. Cannabis reform was repeatedly blocked by these parties, even as Germany itself became more acclimated to the idea of it, with more of the population in agreement with its legalization. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that Angela Merkel stepped down, understanding that a new era is here.

In the last Bundestag elections in 2021, it was already known that Merkel, the chancellor since 2005, would step down. The resulting election saw the longstanding center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) lose its upper hand in favor of the Social Democrats, a coalition partner to the CDU which is pro-weed, but which was constantly stifled by the CDU. This time around the SPD took the most seats, and left the Christian Democrats out of any coalition, instead forming one with two other pro-legalization parties. In fact, one of the first topics of business, was the agreed upon legalization of cannabis.

Germany elections

At that time, an anonymous representative explained to die Funke Mediengruppe publication, “We’re introducing the controlled distribution of cannabis to adults for consumption in licensed stores. This will control the quality, prevent the transfer of contaminated substances and guarantee the protection of minors. We will evaluate the law after four years for social impact.”

The new European trend of legalization

Usually in politics, we wait for bills to come out before coming to the understanding of a legal change. The reason for this, is that a lot of things are often said on a political stage, and not all (or even much) is actually relevant in the end. Tons of bills that get introduced, pushed hard, and lobbied for, die anyway. Simply having a bill, isn’t a direct lead-in to a new law. Statements without published laws behind them suffer under the weight of not having official backing, and in very few instances do we simply trust a statement when there is nothing to show for it.

The new trend in Europe is for countries like Germany to make statements about their decision to legalize cannabis, but with no approved legalization measure in sight. Does this mean that a measure must go through? Not exactly. We know something will go through, but as none of the specifics have been worked out, and nothing voted on, we really don’t know what.

Having said that, the statements themselves are essentially marketing lines, letting the world know the interests of these governments. It suffices to say that the reason these statements are trusted, is because the leadership of these countries have indicated a strong desire to reap the rewards of a cannabis market. So no, these are not official policies, but realistically, they almost certainly will go through.

Germany joins other countries in making promises to its citizens about an upcoming bill to legalize cannabis. The first to do it was Luxembourg. Back in September, 2021, Luxembourg became the first European country to make such a statement, while the bill it spoke of was merely a proposal. Under the proposal, Luxembourg would allow adult-use for 18+, and for private residents to grow up to four plants in a home. As stated, a lot of bills come up, and they don’t always go through, so even though Luxembourg pushed a story of being the first legalized country in Europe, it really is just pushing a standard bill.

Switzerland also got in big on making announcements for things that haven’t happened yet. In September 2021, it too declared the decision to legalize via the Social Security and Health Commission, which is a part of the Council of States, also known as the upper house of the Federal Assembly; Switzerland’s parliament. The council took a vote, with nine out of 11 members voting to change laws (not to directly legalize). The next move is for parliament to draft a bill, which means no laws are close to changing yet, and there is no guarantee for how they will.

legalize cannabis

On the other hand, Malta didn’t just make statements. It went all the way, actually becoming the first European country to pass a measure. It did so with Bill no. 241, on December 14th, 2021. The final vote for passage was 36 to 27. The new law permits cultivation and use, but does not set up a regulated sales market. Adults 18+ can have up to seven grams on their person, and up to 50 grams stored.

The country is looking to set up ‘associations’ in the place of a legal sales market, whereby non-profit organizations will grow and distribute plants and seeds. This sounds similar to Spain’s cannabis clubs, but whereas Spain’s clubs function off a legal loophole, Malta’s would function in an above-board fashion.

Conclusion

The world is moving in a very specific direction when it comes to cannabis legalization, even if it doesn’t always move fast. In fact, it’s moving so directly, that several countries are stating their future plans, without having the legislation to back them up. Luckily, since it’s a competitive market, and everyone wants money, Germany is expected to fulfill its intention to legalize, just like Switzerland and Luxembourg, as well.

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Malta Becomes First in the EU to Legalize Recreational Cannabis Use

In a sign that things are absolutely at a tipping point in Europe, the Mediterranean island of Malta became the first country in both Europe and the European Union (EU) to legalize recreational cannabis cultivation, possession and use. Luxembourg announced similar plans (and a similar model) about a month ago, but this will be (at least initially) limited to the public sale of seeds. 

While the bill still needs to be signed by the President, this is a small detail. In the words of the lawmaker who introduced the legislation into the Maltese Parliament, Owen Bonnici, this is in fact a “ground-breaking” moment. It also marks the first time a European legislative body has enacted recreational cannabis reform at a federal level. 

Despite a greater federal involvement in the regulation of the industry in Holland, even the Dutch have not gone this far. Switzerland is not in the EU.  Portugal and Germany are poised to move forward but have not yet. Luxembourg has come out of the shadows, but only to create a public seed market (for the time being).

Indeed, given the timing of such announcements, it is very likely that the Luxembourgian market and the Maltese one will develop along very similar timelines if not industry constructs.

The only difference of course is that in Malta, there is no grey area left. Cannabis specific outlets will be allowed to operate—albeit at a suitable distance from schools and youth centers.

Beyond this, consumers will be able to carry seven grams in public, grow up to four plants and keep up to 50 grams of cannabis at home.

The Birth of the European Recreational Cannabis Market

This development was only a matter of time. In the past months, recreational cannabis reform has been on the top of the docket all over Europe—even if not moving quite so quickly as in Malta. Most significantly, the new coalition government in Germany, Europe’s largest economy, has announced plans to legalize recreational use as early as next year. 

Luxembourg and Switzerland are both moving forward with limited trials. Portugal is also very likely to follow suit. Italy is also hovering around the edge of this question, with over half a million signatures gathered this summer to force the issue forward at the legislative level.

If there was a parallel, this is now a time very much like 2012 in the United States. Reform is now formally being accepted at a legislative level (although here it is at a sovereign rather than at the state level). In two years, there could be as many as five or six recreational reform states up and running.

What Does this Mean for the Industry?

Now is a very good time for American investors, in particular, to begin staking out a presence here. While flower and product cannot cross the Atlantic (at least not easily and without a few detours), investments can. The British are also circling. While reform has not (and probably will not come) as fast as it has on the continent, the equity markets in London are already a go-to place for those on the hunt for investment.

What has begun as a trickle this year is likely to become a veritable flood within the next six to 12 months.

German firms, particularly those who have managed to get into the medical space with an operational distribution license, have a clear advantage at the moment, across the region, simply because of the benefit of an early organizational head start.

Change at the EU Level

While such developments are clearly exciting, don’t expect all of this to be smooth sailing. There are still several big impediments that remain before the industry can operate more normally. While individual countries will begin to move in the recreational direction, the topic still needs to be addressed at a regional level. So far, the only place this has happened is with CBD (which still has not been adopted by many countries).

This will be an issue in (at least) the cross-border trade of cannabis—and for that reason, EU GMP is likely to play a much larger role, at least at first. German pharmaceutical specialty distributors will also have a clear advantage in the coming market—and not just in one country, but across the region.

Regardless, real cannabis change is finally coming. It just happened in Malta first.

And while it may still not make it into the top 10 most significant events in Maltese history, this development is certainly a marker of great change—and further, not limited to just this one, small European island.

The post Malta Becomes First in the EU to Legalize Recreational Cannabis Use appeared first on High Times.

Loophole in Malta’s Cannabis Law Interferes with Personal Use

Sometimes loopholes in cannabis laws provide positive ways for people to get around the legislation, but sometimes loopholes work the other way, limiting a right that they’re supposed to give. Malta’s cannabis regulation does just this.

The Republic of Malta, generally referred to simply as Malta, is a country made of a grouping of islands that lie south of Italy and East of Tunisia in the Mediterranean sea. With a population just shy of 500,000, Malta is one of the smallest countries in the region, and has the smallest of any EU capital city -Valletta – by land size.

Malta is a republic with a two-party system which is strongly dominated by the Nationalist Party and the Labour party. Malta has got some lovely beaches, beautiful weather, and is a tourism hotspot.

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Cannabis and Other Drugs in Malta

Cannabis in Malta is a narcotic substance and subject to the country’s laws on narcotics. This makes it federally illegal, however with a certain amount of personal right limits.

There are three main pieces of legislation that deal with drugs in Malta, the Medical and Kindred Professions Ordinance which relates to psychotropic substances, and the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, and 2014 Drug Dependence (Treatment not Imprisonment) Act that deal with narcotic substances.

Interestingly, the illegal use of illicit drugs is not definitively recognized under Malta’s drug laws, however when proven in court can incur a sentence for possession or trafficking. Possession is seen as being in two categories: personal use (simple possession), and not for personal use only (aggravated possession).

How does this relate to cannabis?

The Drug Dependence (Treatment not Imprisonment) Act of 2014 specifies that a person found with a small amount of drugs meant for personal use only would be tried before a Commissioner of Justice and generally receive a small fine if found guilty, the amount of which depends on the drug in question.

The Legal Landscape Of CBD Hemp Flower In Europe

A second offense within two years means a mandatory trip to the Drug Offender’s Rehabilitation Board for further review and possible treatment. Part of the small amount of drugs for personal use stipulation is that a person can have one cannabis plant in their home without incurring a mandatory jail term if found.

Where’s the loophole?

The law states that a resident can have up to one cannabis plant in their home for personal use. What this means is that if a person has two plants in their home, even if both plants are strictly for that person’s own personal use, it is no longer covered under personal use rights. A recent lawsuit in Malta brought this inconsistency to light.

In October of 2019, Marie Claire Camilleri was sentenced to prison after being found with more than one cannabis plant in her house. She claimed it was all for her own personal use to deal with anxiety, and was even agreed with by the magistrate overseeing the case that it had been cultivated only for personal use.

That same magistrate claimed her hands were tied by the wording of the law that stipulated that over one plant incurs a 6-months jail sentence. The funny thing is that they are more concerned with the number of plants than the actual output, meaning one large plant could produce more than six small ones together, and yet still be regarded legal whereas the six together are not.

Some loopholes work out more positively. Think of Spain, and how cannabis clubs were put together to give people a way to freely use weed (within the confines of their clubs) by poking through some legal loopholes relating to personal use, and clubs, and memberships, and property and building rights. Unfortunately, Malta represents the opposite. Rather than getting away with a little more, simply having one extra plant, even when following the laws of personal use, is enough to be put in prison.

What about medical cannabis in Malta?

In March of 2018, medical cannabis was officially legalized in Malta, which was followed by the Production of Cannabis for Medicinal and Research Purposes Act a month later with all the stipulations for growing, processing, using, and importing therein. Updates to the Drug Dependence (Treatment not Imprisonment) Act of 2014 were also made. Apparently Malta celebrated legalizing medical cannabis with a 15 kilo import meant strictly for medical purposes.

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The new updates permit doctors to write prescriptions for patients who can receive non-smokable forms of cannabis using a control card issued by the Superintendent of Public Health. Originally, the three main approved reasons for using medical cannabis were: to help with side effects from chemotherapy, for pain management, and for issues of spasticity in multiple sclerosis.

Does this include CBD?

CBD is an interesting one when it comes to Malta. There isn’t any distinction in the regulation between ‘hemp’ and ‘marijuana’, meaning that regardless of the THC level in the plant, they are being treated the same way. CBD – cannabidiol – is a non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant which has recently made headlines by showing up as a major contender for dealing with a menagerie of health problems like multiple sclerosis, pain management, insomnia, and so on.

Its lack of psychoactive abilities have allowed it to be accepted more readily than the entire cannabis plant, and in places where marijuana is strictly illegal, there will often be allowances for cannabis oils – like CBD – with only a small percentage of THC (the EU standard is .2%) in them.

Since there isn’t a distinction between the low and high THC forms of cannabis, CBD (and hemp in general) are left in a gray area. CBD can be medically prescribed, but it’s not been made officially legal. Most CBD products sold in regular shops are not licensed, and therefore not legal. But in a way, also not illegal to have. The new personal use laws should protect a person with a small amount of cannabis, so technically they should protect a person with a small amount of CBD oil. As Malta amps up its medical cannabis program, kinks like these are likely to be worked out, with more clear and specific regulation brought in to keep up with the changing cannabis world.

Conclusion

Malta is certainly not the most restrictive country when it comes to cannabis regulation, and it’s not the most lax either. It lies where a lot of countries do, in a middle ground, slowly liberalizing with personal use laws, or medical programs.

Legislators should take care in the future not to leave loopholes that will get their citizens in trouble (and bring negative feedback to their legislation), and to fix the loopholes that exist. It’s great to relax a little with personal use laws, but those laws should make sense, and not create more issues for residents who are technically following them.

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German Medical Cannabis – A Model For Europe, As Prices Fall

The success of the robust German medical cannabis program is an example for the rest of Europe, claims a newly-formed lobby group.

As patients in other European jurisdictions struggle to access cannabis medicine, Germany is leading the way with over 142,000 prescriptions written in 2018. It is also leading the way in cutting prices with a new wholesale prices of 2.3 euros per gram set to substantially reduce the current cost of medical cannabis, reports the Mjbizdaily website.

Sita Schubert, secretary general of The European Medicinal Cannabis Association (EUMCA) says the positive example of Germany can change perceptions when discussing an EU regulatory framework for medical cannabis, reports the Euractiv website.

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Black Market Dangers

Its members include larger firms such as Tilray, Panaxia and Materia Ventures, smaller companies like Cannaflos, and a large German pharmaceutical association.

It wants to ensure all drugs comply with The European Medicines Agency guidelines and European GMP standards. In the absence of an EU-wide framework, more patients could be forced on to a dangerous black market, warns the EUMCA.

Prices Plummet

The Czech Republic, Italy, Malta, and the Netherlands have all adopted medical cannabis programmes and the one in the United Kingdom has been far from successful with just a handful of patients securing prescriptions through the NHS.

Meanwhile the German federal government has announced it will buy at least 650 kilograms of medical cannabis flower from domestic producers for approximately 1.5 million euros ($1.66 million) per quarter, which sets the average wholesale price at 2.3 euros per gram.

With a mandated  pharmacy markup of 100% this will substantially reduce the current retail prices of medical cannabis in Germany which is about 20 euros per gram. Meanwhile, CBD use in Germany continues to grow, although a new report from New Frontier Data shows that German public are slightly less aware of, and exposed to, CBD than the European average.

It says that Germans are reportedly confident about CBD’s medical applications, although few have used products other than oils and tinctures, and many are uncertain about dosing.

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