Drugs: Cannabis cultivation clubs can start – but how?

Drugs: Cannabis cultivation clubs can start – but how?

The controversial legalization of cannabis has so far lacked one important part: opportunities to grow it on a larger scale. Special clubs can now take action to achieve this – but not just like that.

Smoking weed has been legal for adults in Germany for three months – with numerous restrictions and requirements that also allow cannabis cultivation in a private home. But only limited to three plants at a time. From Monday, clubs that want to produce larger quantities together can now also start. However, there are also requirements for this, and those interested must first complete official applications and a few other preparations. It will probably be several weeks before planting, harvesting and the first joints can be smoked.

The controversial law, which allows adults to possess and grow the drug for personal consumption, has been in effect since April 1st. And the stated aim is to push back the criminal black market, where cannabis is traded with additives and high concentrations. Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) argues that a sufficient amount of legal substance is needed – in the future, this could also come from special cultivation facilities.

What exactly are the cultivation associations?

“Cultivation associations,” as they are officially called, are now permitted. Something like clubs for adults in which up to 500 members cultivate cannabis non-commercially and distribute it to each other for personal consumption. They must be organized as registered associations or cooperatives – they cannot be organized as foundations or companies. According to the law, the purpose also includes being able to pass on cannabis seeds and cuttings and to provide information about addiction prevention.

What are the requirements?

Members must live in Germany for at least six months, and membership must be for a minimum period of three months. According to the ministry, this is intended to prevent drug tourism. Board members must not have a criminal record for drug-related offenses. The cultivation area must not be a residential building and must not have conspicuous signs. Advertising is taboo, as is cannabis consumption on site and within 100 meters of the entrance. There must be a distance of at least 200 meters from schools, playgrounds and other children’s and youth facilities.

What can clubs do now?

Cultivation associations can now begin applying for an official permit. They must provide information such as the number of members, location and size of the cultivation areas, expected annual cannabis quantities, security measures and a health and youth protection concept. The permit is then valid for a limited period of seven years and can be extended after five years. Applications can be expected to take three months to process, according to information from several countries.

Where can clubs submit applications?

The German Association of Cities complained that just a few days before the start it was not yet clear who was responsible for permits and controls. The states are to determine this, and so there are now various places for applications – from the Chamber of Agriculture in Lower Saxony to the Regional Council in Freiburg for the whole of Baden-Württemberg to the State Office for Social Affairs, Youth and Welfare in Rhineland-Palatinate. There is still no regulation in the state of Berlin. The “catch-all responsibility” initially lies with the districts, according to the Senate. It was initially unclear which specialist department in the districts should be responsible.

How much cannabis do members get?

The quantities are limited. A maximum of 25 grams per member per day and a maximum of 50 grams per month. 18- to 21-year-olds are allowed 30 grams per month with a maximum of ten percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the substance with the intoxicating effect. The clubs are also not allowed to grow as much as they want. The permit applies to fixed annual quantities that are based on the members’ own needs. Any more must be destroyed. Only members are allowed to grow, water, fertilize and prune plants – not paid employees. Members are not allowed to pass the cannabis on to others; this is only permitted for seeds.

What other requirements are there?

To get cannabis, you have to collect it in person on site, present your membership card and an official photo ID. Only pure cannabis is permitted: as dried flowers and leaves close to flowers (marijuana) or secreted resin (hashish). Mixtures with tobacco, nicotine or food are prohibited. The packaging must be neutral. An information sheet must list the weight, variety, average THC content and information about the risks of consumption. A purchase price may not be charged; the clubs are to finance themselves through their membership fees. Documentation requirements for the clubs and regular official inspections are also regulated.

Will many cultivation associations be created?

It remains to be seen how large the demand will be. The Federal Drug Commissioner Burkhard Blienert (SPD) spoke of “high interest” among clubs that are being founded and are preparing. According to feedback he has received, at least a high three-digit number of clubs could be created. The Ministry of Health based a cost estimate in the draft bill on the fact that 1,000 clubs could be created in the first year and 500 in each of the second to fifth years.

What happens next?

At the request of the states, the federal government has tightened up a few regulations to prevent the creation of large cannabis plantations. The states can also use the option provided by law to limit the number of cultivation associations in a district or city to one association per 6,000 inhabitants. The Federal Council is expected to approve the last law with cannabis regulations for drivers on July 5. In future, a limit of 3.5 nanograms per milliliter of blood will apply for THC while driving – similar to the 0.5 per mille limit for alcohol. The law, including fines for violations, is expected to come into force this summer.

Source: Stern

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