Cannabis to be legalised in Germany in 2023: What you need to know

Cannabis to be legalised in Germany in 2023: What you need to know

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach and Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir have announced the German government's two-pillar plan to legalise cannabis. A draft law is to be published in April and marijuana is expected to be made legal by the end of 2023. 

German government will publish marijuana draft law in April

At a press conference in Berlin on Wednesday Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) and Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir (Greens) announced that initial plans for weed to be sold in Cannabis-Shops and pharmacies would be scrapped. The government will instead establish so-called Cannabis Social Clubs as part of the law’s first, speedy pillar, the Schnellesäule, before creating commercial supply chains as part of the second pillar.

Legalisation has been on the political agenda in Germany since it was written into the federal government’s traffic light coalition agreement back in 2021. Since then, German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) has been tentatively announcing details of how cannabis will be made legal. Now, a draft bill is expected in April and marijuana will be legalised for those over 18 in Germany by the end of the year.

Goals remain the same as the coalition agreement suggested, Lauterbach says

At the press conference, Lauterbach stressed that the German government was sticking to the politics of prevention, explaining that legalisation will seek to offer more safety for adults who choose to consume cannabis, regulate the toxicity of cannabis, reduce drug-related crimes and hopefully render black market cannabis sales obsolete. 

When asked about whether Lauterbach and Özdemir had looked to the Netherlands to formulate their plan, the health minister said that they had rather used the neighbouring country as an example of what not to do. Much cannabis in the Netherlands still contains toxic chemicals and cannabis is still widely sold on the black market, Lauterbach explained.

What will the 2023 cannabis draft law include?

So-called “Cannabis Social Clubs” (CSC) lie at the heart of the government’s plan, an element which the SPD believes has the potential to prevent cannabis tourism from becoming a problem in Germany. At a CSC, a maximum of 500 members would supply themselves and their fellow CSC members with marijuana grown from their own plants. This exchange would be limited to a maximum of 25 grams at one time and 50 grams per month, and non-members would not be allowed to take part in such exchanges.

In previous outlines, Lauterbach announced that sales would take place in licenced “Cannabis-Shops” and pharmacies. But the supply plan will initially be dropped, as the German government wants to establish a “state-controlled supply chain” from cultivation to delivery and sale. However, the government will test commercial sales in specific regions, and once this has been successfully trialled, does plan to allow commercial sales as part of the law's second pillar.

Previously, Lauterbach was pushing for anyone over the age of 18 to be able to buy and carry up to 30 grams of Genusscannabis (recreational cannabis) without facing any criminal punishment by the police. According to RND, this will be reduced to 25 grams. The “three flowering plants per person of legal age” for at-home cultivation as mentioned in previous government plans will remain on the agenda.

According to a report by Heinrich-Heine University in Düsseldorf, legalising cannabis could generate around 4,7 billion euros every year in public funds, as well as create around 27.000 jobs. Lauterbach has previously explained that, on top of standard VAT (Umsatzsteuer), a special “cannabis tax” will be applied to sales.

Thumb image credit: Pe3k /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan

Editor for Germany at IamExpat Media. Olivia first came to Germany in 2013 to work as an Au Pair. Since studying English Literature and German in Scotland, Freiburg and Berlin...

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