Germany’s new law legalizing limited adult-use cannabis market now in force

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Germany’s cannabis law took effect Monday, making it the second Group of Seven country to legalize and regulate adult-use cannabis nationally.

Canada became the first G7 nation to legalize in 2018.

Germany’s recently approved law legalizes cannabis possession for adults of up to 25 grams (0.88 ounces). It also:

  • Allows for the cultivation of up to three plants per household.
  • Removes cannabis from the narcotics list.
  • Sets the stage for “cannabis clubs” to open later this year.

While the law was heralded as legalization and marks a significant milestone by ending prohibition, it stops short of laying a legal foundation for the commercial provision of recreational cannabis to consumers.

Unlike American-style legalization and regulation of marijuana, which generally leans heavily into commerce and relies on capitalist systems, Germany chose a different path – for now.

The law isn’t expected to open any meaningful commercial opportunities on the recreational side of the industry.

Instead, it lays the legal groundwork for so-called “cultivation social clubs” – nonprofit organizations where members can be provided cannabis for recreational use.

While the personal possession, home cultivation and narcotics list provisions of the law entered into effect April 1, Germany’s cannabis clubs won’t be accepting members until July 1.

Adults will be allowed to join the nonprofit clubs, which will be limited to a maximum of 500 members.

A monthly distribution limit of 50 grams per member will apply, or 30 grams for people younger than 21.

The clubs will be subject to strict rules governing membership, location and how they operate.

The government wants cultivation and processing duties to be collectively shared among each club’s 500 or so members.

According to the law, “… members of the cultivation association must actively participate in the collective cultivation of cannabis. Active participation is particularly evident when members of the cultivation association personally contribute to collective cultivation and activities directly related to collective cultivation.”

It stipulates that a club’s members may be supported in the cultivation process only by adults engaged in “minor employment” by the association – meaning workers earning about 538 euros ($581) per month.

Membership fees will offset production costs.

Any commercial opportunities from the new law are expected to come on the medical side of the industry.

Medical cannabis will no longer require a narcotic prescription form, which experts said will simplify the process for doctors and the supply chain.

“Germany’s reform brings significant advancements in patient access to medical cannabis and a much-needed liberal approach to cannabis that we have advocated in favour of,” Aurora Europe’s head of external affairs, Dirk Heitepriem, said in a statement.

“With cannabis de-scheduling, more patients gain access to treatment, reinforcing our dedication to patient outreach and comprehensive access to quality medical cannabis. Today’s improved access underscores our commitment to see progressive change.”

Germany has said it intends to pursue a “second pillar” of legalization, which would focus on regional pilot projects with commercial supply chains.

However, it’s unclear if the government has the time and political capital to achieve the second pillar before the next elections, slated for October 2025.

Matt Lamers can be reached at