Germany: Draft of a cannabis law for the further legalisation of cannabis in Germany

Published on Sep 26, 2023

Medical cannabis no longer a narcotic drug

The draft of the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) of a "Law on the Controlled Use of Cannabis and on the Amendment of Further Regulations" (Cannabis Law – CanG) contains regulations on the private use of cannabis (Consumption Cannabis Law ¬– KCanG) as well as regulations regarding cannabis for medical and medical-scientific purposes (Medical Cannabis Law – MedCanG). The draft of the MedCanG provides that medical cannabis should no longer be classified as a narcotic in the future.

According to the plans of the legislator, medical cannabis would be completely transferred from the Narcotics Act (BtMG) to the MedCanG. In this way, the legislator intends to simplify the dispensing of medical cannabis by eliminating the bureaucratic burden of the dispensing receipt procedure and the prescription on a narcotic prescription for doctors. At the same time, access to medical cannabis is to be simplified for patients.

According to the BMG's explanatory memorandum, medical cannabis, in contrast to cannabis for consumption, is not about enabling responsible consumption, but about the care of patients who may be affected by a larger quantity of medical cannabis and who therefore need to be subject to stricter standards of safety and control. Therefore, according to the MedCanG, there will still be a licensing procedure as well as obligations to keep records, to make reports and to carry out monitoring measures that correspond to those of the Narcotics Act (BtMG).

No more narcotic prescriptions

According to the Narcotic Drugs Internal Trade Ordinance (BtMBinHV), the dispensing receipt procedure would no longer be applicable. This means that the six-monthly notification would be replaced by an annual notification, the requirement of prescription on a narcotic prescription would be dropped and special security measures would be waived in the future. According to estimates of the BMG, medical practices could be relieved by about 452,000 euros, assuming about 400,000 cannabis prescriptions per year, a time expenditure of two minutes for documentation and average wage costs in the health and social sector of 33,90 euros. A relief of a similar order of magnitude would result for manufacturers, wholesalers and intermediaries, but not for pharmacies, as their trade in cannabis for medical purposes represents at most 5 percent of the total narcotics traffic.

Cannabis for consumption purposes shall not be subject to the provisions of the BtMG

Due to the changed risk assessment for cannabis, cannabis for comsumption will be removed from the annexes of the BtMG and transferred to the new KCanG. This means that in future cannabis will no longer be classified as a narcotic and would therefore no longer be subject to the provisions of the BtMG. The consequence of this would be that the production and cultivation of cannabis in limited quantities and under the exclusion of under-aged persons would be permissible and would also not be subject to authorisation. The production and marketing of synthetic cannabinoids, on the other hand, would continue to fall under the prohibition of the BtMG. Since cannabis is a narcotic substance according to the International Narcotics Convention, the import and export of cannabis would be subject to authorisation and licensing.

Privileging of associations

Non-profit cultivation associations with the appropriate permit may collectively cultivate cannabis for consumption purposes and distribute it to their members for their own consumption. The BMG justifies the privileged treatment of registered associations by stating that the non-profit-oriented approach with a self-cultivation of cannabis for personal consumption by primarily voluntary structures with the active participation of the members is oriented towards the narrow framework of the existing regulations under international and European law. According to critics, however, there is a danger that the current black market dealers could take over the reins in the associations.