Good news for all those who have been longing for the decriminalisation of cannabis for a long time: although negotiations in the traffic light coalition stalled this month, the SPD, FDP and Green parliamentary groups were finally able to reach an agreement with the Federal Ministry of Health on some amendments to the planned Cannabis Act (CanG).
It is planned that the law will now be discussed by the Health Committee in mid-December and passed by the Bundestag in the same week.
The regulations on decriminalisation are to come into force on 1 April 2024, while the regulations on the planned cultivation associations (The decriminalization of cannabis – “Legal, but…”) will not come into force until July 2024.
The debate within the traffic light coalition resulted in some important innovations:
Firstly, the FDP and Greens were able to push through some relaxations to the law.
Firstly, the permitted amount of cannabis from home cultivation has been raised to 50 grams, whereby the permitted weight should explicitly relate to the dried quantity. As a result, the permitted amount of cannabis for possession in public places is 25 grams and 50 grams at the place of residence or habitual abode.
In addition, possessors who slightly exceed the amount of permitted cannabis (up to 30 grams in public places and up to 60 grams at home) will no longer be liable to prosecution, but will only commit an administrative offence.
In line with the principle of proportionality, the range of fines has also been reduced from 30,000 euros to 100,000 euros to 10,000 euros to 30,000 euros.
The possibility of public consumption has also been liberalised in order to reduce the burden on the police. Consumers no longer have to keep a distance of 200 metres from schools, kindergartens, playgrounds and growers’ associations; it is now sufficient to stay out of sight (regularly approx. 100 metres away).
The requirement of neighbourly consideration for private cannabis cultivation, which is specifically standardised in the Consumer Cannabis Act (KCanG), has been repealed. Possible disputes resulting from an odour nuisance must therefore be resolved using the existing provisions of the Civil Code.
On the other hand, some tightening of the law is also planned:
In particular, the protection of minors has been given even greater focus.
The incitement and aiding and abetting of minors by adults to cultivate or purchase cannabis will in future be punishable by a prison sentence of three months to five years. With regard to the commercial supply of cannabis, the minimum prison sentence will be increased from one year to two years. Anyone who encourages young people or children to act in a gang-like manner or to use firearms or other dangerous objects will also face at least two years in prison.
In this context, the Narcotics Act (BtMG) has also been amended: in future, Section 30 I No. 5 BtMG will punish the intentional supply, administration or transfer of narcotics (i.e. not only cannabis) for direct consumption by adults to minors with at least two years’ imprisonment if the offender at least recklessly endangers the development of the minor.
In addition to these substantive tightening of the law, the prosecution authorities will also gain far-reaching investigative powers, which are to be included in Sections 100a, 100b, 100j, 104 para. 2, 112a para. 1 and 443 para. 1 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
At the request of the Federal Council, covert investigative measures may be taken in the case of serious cannabis-related offences.
In addition, in certain cases of serious cannabis offences, there is a risk of recidivism, meaning that the accused can be ordered to be remanded in custody.
The seizure of assets and the search of premises at night will also be authorised by law in some constellations.
Last but not least, a working group is to propose a THC limit value for driving motor vehicles in road traffic by 31 March 2024, which is then to be laid down by the legislator in the Driving Licence Ordinance.
It is still unclear how to proceed with the planned project on the production, distribution and sale of cannabis products in licensed specialist shops (The decriminalization of cannabis – “Legal, but…”) Originally, a draft was to be available by the end of the year – but so far not even a corresponding key issues paper has been presented.
The implementation of this part of cannabis legalisation will therefore most likely be postponed well into 2024.
NEWS 05.12.2023: NO CANNABIS DECISION IN 2023
The adoption of the decriminalisation of cannabis planned for this month was prevented by the SPD.
The final resolution on the Cannabis Act planned for the last sitting week of the year will not take place because the SPD parliamentary group has expressed reservations about its implementation, according to Dirk Heidenblut (MP), the health politician responsible for cannabis in the SPD parliamentary group.
The reasons for the SPD parliamentary group’s concerns are not yet known.
It remains to be seen whether the law will come into force on 1 April 2024 as planned – this would require a resolution to be passed in February 2024 at the latest.