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Is Weed Legal In Germany? Germany’s Recreational Cannabis Program Explained


In Germany, the verdict about changing the complex laws surrounding cannabis has finally come to a conclusion. While cannabis has long had a presence in Germany, it was not legal recreationally. However, that taboo status has very recently changed.

Here is everything we know about the legalization of recreational marijuana in Germany.

Germany’s Complex History With Cannabis

Germany has had a complex legal system when it comes to cannabis. Just like many of the states in the USA, it was illegal in Germany to possess and cultivate cannabis — with a few exceptions. 

For example, starting in 2017, cannabis could finally be used for medical purposes. Patients with severe illnesses could be prescribed a narcotic prescription for cannabis given by a licensed medical practitioner. 

However, even with this medical cannabis program in place, it was still illegal to possess marijuana recreationally. 

But despite its illegal status, if someone was caught with small amounts of cannabis, it was tolerated to a degree in the federal states. Especially in areas like Berlin, police often turned a blind eye to those who smoked in public, even though it could be prosecuted at the time.

Because of this, there was a lot of confusion, inconsistency, and complex issues when it came to the enforcement of cannabis policies and procedures. 

It was this very situation that pushed Germany to reconsider its cannabis laws and declassify marijuana as a narcotic substance. 

The Legalization of Recreational Marijuana in Germany

Last month, everything changed for Germany. 

This was a controversial topic and national debate. The government heavily weighed the pros and cons before its decision on what to finally do about the possession and use of cannabis. 

In an effort to reduce black-market sales of cannabis and prevent youth from consuming marijuana, the legislation finally moved in favor of recreational marijuana legalization. 

On April 1, 2024, Germany officially approved legislation that legalized cannabis for adult, limited recreational use, with 407 votes to 226 votes in parliament. They are the third European country, along with Luxembourg and Malta, to legalize the use of recreational cannabis. 

Cannabis users across Berlin celebrated, with many gathering at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate to smoke cannabis at midnight on April 1st after the legislation passed. 

This was a huge win for reasons like combating the black-market marijuana sales, which have proved dangerous since the drug could be contaminated, laced with other substances, or involved with gang and criminal activity. It’s also going to help with other issues such as addiction help. 

However, the way Germany will be handling the recreational use of marijuana is a bit different than what we see in the U.S.

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German adults over the age of 18 can now possess small amounts of cannabis for recreational use. Once this legalization became official in April, the legislation immediately began allowing the cultivation of up to three plants for personal use, the possession of up to 50g at home, and up to 25g of cannabis in public. 

Smoking cannabis in public spaces is also legal as of April 1st. However, cannabis cannot be smoked or used within 100 meters (328 ft) of schools, playgrounds, or sports grounds, as it is still illegal to do so. 

As far as the former rules for medical cannabis, Germany will no longer require a narcotic prescription and will instead allow standard prescriptions. 

Chronic diseases will also no longer be required to obtain a cannabis prescription. It’s expected the medical cannabis market will increase significantly in the next few years because of this change. 

Since the barrier to obtaining a medical card is now low, a surge in demand will more than likely lead to more cultivation and importation of medical cannabis in Germany. 

Another benefit of this new recreational marijuana legalization was that old criminal convictions for possession or cultivation of marijuana, now unpunishable by law, will also be expunged and deleted from the criminal registrar. 

Cannabis Clubs

In America, we are used to cannabis being sold at dispensaries recreationally once it’s made legal. In Germany, they are handling things much differently. 

Starting on July 1st, 2024, non-profit social cannabis clubs and associations with less than 500 adult (18+) members will be allowed to grow and supply marijuana to their members. 

The clubs will still operate under supervision from local authorities and have a number of legal requirements, such as limiting the distribution to 50g a month for 21+ members, and 30g a month for its 18-year-old to 20-year-old members. Members are prohibited from cannabis consumption onsite, however. 

The location, and the collectively shared duties of cultivation and processing, will also be strictly enforced. 

Essentially, members of these cannabis clubs must actively participate in these cultivation duties and will be considered “minor employees” by the club association, earning about 538 euros ($581 US dollars) a month. The fees members pay will offset these cannabis production costs. 

Advertising or sponsorship of any kind will be prohibited for these cannabis clubs, along with distributing marijuana in conjunction with things like food, alcohol, tobacco, or additives like flavoring. 

The Future of Recreational Cannabis Sales in Germany 

While originally Germany considered allowing licensed shops to sell cannabis, this idea was thrown out with the concern that it could lead to a spike in drug exportation. 

These new recreational rules are very beneficial to regular cannabis consumers, but they do make things trickier for occasional users who may struggle to source it legally. At this time, tourists are also excluded from legally buying cannabis. 

But over the next few years, the German government will assess the impact of the new law, and they tentatively plan to introduce licensed sales of cannabis in the future. 

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