Actually, the traffic light had long since agreed on cannabis release. Then concerns came from the SPD. Now the coalition is letting white smoke rise – figuratively speaking.
After a long struggle, the traffic light coalition factions have agreed on the final details for the legalization of cannabis. “The law can therefore come into force on April 1st,” said the deputy group leaders of the SPD, Greens and FDP responsible for drug policy on Thursday evening after a final round of negotiations in Berlin. “The regulations are a real milestone for a modern drug policy that strengthens prevention and improves health, child and youth protection.”
White smoke – in a figurative sense – after lengthy negotiations. The law is now scheduled to be passed in the Bundestag in the week starting February 19th. With the agreement between the group experts, approval is considered to be somewhat certain, although not yet completely. Individual SPD MPs announced on Friday that they would vote no. However, the traffic light coalition has 49 more seats in the Bundestag than are necessary for an absolute majority.
The Federal Council is expected to deal with the draft on March 22nd. However, his consent is not necessary. The regional chamber can only lodge an objection. Since at least one traffic light party is represented in every state government except the Bavarian one, this is considered unlikely. It is therefore almost certain that it will come into force on April 1st.
Cannabis ban falls after more than 40 years
On this day, the cannabis ban that has been in force for more than 40 years will most likely come to an end. Sales and cultivation were prohibited by law in the 1970s and early 1980s. Now cannabis is to be removed from the list of banned substances in the Narcotics Act on April 1st. Home cultivation and possession of certain amounts of the drug will be permitted for adults from April 1, 2024. Clubs for collective cultivation should be possible on July 1st.
The government factions had actually already agreed on the draft law at the end of November. Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) sees this as a “new approach to keep adolescents away from the drug as much as possible, to curb the black market and to control the substances.”
First review of the law after just one year
However, SPD domestic politicians expressed concerns shortly after the agreement. This involved, for example, smaller minimum distances from schools and daycare centers when consuming cannabis.
However, the legislative package was not reopened in the coalition talks. Only the review of effectiveness has been narrowed down. Instead of only after four years, it should now take place gradually. There will be an initial evaluation after a year, and the results are scheduled to be published at the end of September 2025. There is a second review after two years and a final review after four years.
The expertise of the Federal Criminal Police Office should also be included. The main issue is whether the regulations for child and youth protection are effective. If necessary, it should be sharpened.
Dobrindt sees “serious attack on youth and health protection”
However, the agreement in the coalition means that the debate about one of the most controversial traffic light projects is far from over. CSU regional group leader Alexander Dobrindt criticized the draft law on Friday as a “serious attack on youth and health protection in Germany.” Legalization will lead to more addiction and less security, especially for young people.
Hesse’s Interior Minister Roman Poseck assumes that dealers will not be deterred from doing their business. “Since they do not have to adhere to state controls and tax requirements like legal producers, they can bring their products onto the market more cheaply and therefore profitably for them,” says the CDU politician. He cites the illegal cigarette trade as an example. Increased cannabis consumption could also affect road safety, even if there are limits for consumption, as is the case with alcohol.
Bavaria’s Health Minister Judith Gerlach (CSU) announced a restrictive interpretation of the law by the Bavarian state government. “Bavaria is determined to use all its might to oppose this irresponsible policy.” Planning for a “central Bavarian control unit” is in full swing. “We want to curb the consumption of this dangerous drug through the most restrictive enforcement of the cannabis law – and prevent it as much as possible.”
FDP politician sees adaptation “to the reality of life”
In the traffic light coalition, however, the chances of the law are emphasized. FDP MP Kristine Lütke said on Friday that with the lifting of the ban, the legislation would be “adapted to the reality of life and consumers would finally be decriminalized.” More opportunities and new economic opportunities would also be created for the cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes.
The SPD right-wing politician Carmen Wegge said that legalization would deprive the black market of customers. “In addition, we will massively expand prevention and educational work.”
SPD MPs announce no in the Bundestag
But the law also remains controversial within the coalition. The SPD MP Christian Fiedler – a criminal investigator by profession – announced in the “Rheinische Post” (Saturday) that he would vote against legalization. He cannot agree to a law that would lead to the “decriminalization of dealers and pointless extra work for the police.” “Organized crime is laughing its head off.”
The SPD domestic politician Sebastian Hartmann also does not want to agree in the Bundestag. The coalition agreement originally provided for the controlled distribution of cannabis in certified shops, he told “Zeit online”. “But the current law shifts this tax into the private sector and thus into uncontrollability.”
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.