After 16 years, the Angela Merkel era is coming to an end this September, when German national elections are to be held. This turning point at one of the pillars of the German political structure gives hope of an increasing support for a cannabis control bill that brings this plant out of the black market and puts an end to criminalisation of growing and possessing cannabis for individual use.
Cannabis Consumption in Germany
In Germany, marijuana possession is illegal. Under the country’s Narcotic Drugs Act, marijuana possession may be charged with up to 5 years in prison. Still, the use of marijuana is not a criminal offence under German law, which gives people found with little amounts of marijuana the chance to go into treatment instead of a punishment. However, this is subject to the person’s criminal history, criminal relapse, and whether his or her actions affect others—deemed as substantial matters in this country to determine whether the user should receive a punishment, undergo a criminal procedure or just a rehab treatment.
Medical Cannabis and the Road to Legalisation
Just as other European countries, Germany passed a law in 2017 governing the growth and possession of medical cannabis. Medical marijuana prescription reimbursements for the year 2020 account for compelling evidence that the steady German market is still capable of considerable growth. In May 2020, Prohibition Partners, a European research company focusing on the cannabis industry, published the first edition of “The Germany Cannabis Report,” a 58-page study analysing the current outlook of the marijuana market in Germany.
With the largest economy in the region and medical marijuana legalisation, this country is expected to become the main player in the budding European cannabis market in the years to come, according to this company. Meanwhile, those patients in need of medical cannabis face drug shortage and turn to the foreign market, causing costs to rise.
The road to success is a long one, especially in the case of legalisation of marijuana: the most widely used illegal drug in the world and in Germany. Almost four million Germans have acknowledged using cannabis at least once since 2018, and experts estimate this number is significantly higher as the stigma around consumption makes data harder to collect.
New Challenges for German Politics
As political winds change, experts highlight the performance of some political parties such as the Greens. Several polls have recently indicated that the Greens are ahead with around 27 percent voting intention, while Angela Merkel’s conservatives stand at 24 percent. A Green win would break with the German politics tradition, as post-war governments—first West Germany and then a reunified Germany—have been led by one of the two major political parties of the country: CDU/CSU conservatives and SPD social democrats.
Kirsten Kappert-Gonther, in charge of Greens’ drug policy at the Bundestag, is a committed supporter of cannabis legalization. “We must bring cannabis out of the black market and under State supervision, comprising cultivation, distribution and sale,” stresses Kirsten. In this regard, the party had already introduced a “Cannabis Control Bill” into the Bundestag in February 2018. In mid-September, this bill was rejected by coalition parties CDU, CSU, and SPD, as well as by AfD.
Kappert Gonther expects drug policy to play an important and decisive role if the Greens enter coalition negotiations after national elections in October 2021—which seems likely, according to the latest polls showing strong support for this party.
The entire German medical cannabis market was estimated to be valued at 73 million euros in 2018. Prohibition Partners expects this figure to reach 7.5 billion euros by 2028. For the time being, recreational and productive uses of cannabis are not allowed, but this company believes that legalization is on its way and may arrive in the incoming years, pushing the marijuana market in Germany up to 16.2 billion euros by 2028.