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Cannabis in Germany

Country profile

  • Population: 82.2 million
  • Number of Cannabis Users: 3.3 million
  • Ruling Government Party: Coalition (Social Democratic Party, Christian Social Union and Christian Democratic Union)
  • Party Stance on Cannabis: Recreational legalisation is unlikely before 2022, but in favour of medical legalisation overall

Landscape and policy

Germany, Europe’s largest economy, is the forerunner of Europe’s cannabis industry after the introduction of new medical cannabis legislation in March of 2017, coupled with the creation of 11 product licenses.

Germany permits the sale of many cannabis-based medicinal products including Nabilone, Dronabinol and Sativex. The country also allows the use of cannabis flowers for medicinal use and has done so since 2017, when medical cannabis was concurrently legalised. This legalisation meant that where there were previously only 1000 accepted applications for medical cannabis from patients, in 2018 Cannamedical Pharma (a leading provider for German patients) estimated that 30,000 patients would be served.

Germany’s medical cannabis programmes, which are expected to be among the most robust in Europe, are still being developed.

Recreational cannabis use is still illegal in Germany. Nonetheless, with shifting attitudes in the country, punishments have become increasingly lenient in this regard.

Although much smaller than France’s, Germany’s industrial hemp production industry is rapidly growing and places the country in the top 5 producers within Europe.

Importing cannabis

To meet the ever-increasing demand for medicinal cannabis from patients, Germany relies upon importing medical cannabis from abroad. Indeed, from September 2017 to March 2018, 2100 kg of medical cannabis was imported by the country, which equaled the maximum amount allowed by the initial legislation that was in place at the time.

Since September 2017,applications to increase annual quotas to 10,900 kg have been issued by existing import permit holders. A vital requirement for the import into the country is that the cannabis is traceable back to its original source, which should be a licensed medical producer which is under the exporting state’s control.

Germany is expected to be importing cannabis until 2020.

The future of cannabis in the country

Due to a well-established advocacy community and research environment in the country, decriminalisation seems likely in the not too distant future. However, a regulated market for adult use still seems unlikely to be achieved before around 2022.

The legal framework for the use of CBD is also highly dubious at the moment. Despite the fact that hemp and its derivatives seem to be treated as legal in the country, the German Hemp/Cannabis Association believes Germany’s legal framework is currently so unclear that it suggests not trading in hemp flower at all.

It is also still hard for patients to actually obtain a medical cannabis prescription despite the promising covering of cannabis medication by public health insurers. This may be because physicians are often wary of giving out medical cannabis prescriptions due to increased scrutiny from insurance agencies and regulatory bodies.

The German government has prioritised funding for research and development into cannabis-based epilepsy treatments, with epilepsy affecting around 540,000 Germans.

Summary

As one of the leading countries in the European cannabis industry, Germany is expected to push decriminalisation relatively soon, although when this will result in a regulated market for adult use is currently unknown.

The country can also be seen as far more progressive than others in Europe with the already legal nature of pharmaceutical cannabis products like Sativex, Dronabinol and Nabilone as well as CBD and hemp products with under 0.2% of THC.

For more in depth information on different regulations in various countries and how this affects healthcare options, we recommend accessing our in depth modules.

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