Could German marijuana legalization happen soon? Near term political needs in Berlin could impact the trajectory of the matter.
Last year, the German cabinet unanimously approved medical marijuana legislation. As Forbes reports, however, cannabis reform might not stop there for the European Union’s most populous country.
The law, which went into effect in March, lets “seriously ill” patients get the drug on a case-by-case basis. The country started with 10 licensed medical marijuana producers, and will import cannabis from numerous Canadian suppliers until domestic suppliers can meet demand. According to a recent report, the legislation has already vaulted the fledgling German marijuana market to the top spot among all European countries. The market has a current value of €10.2 billion ($11.9 billion), and could reach an estimated €14.7 billion ($17.14 billion) if Germany legalizes recreational marijuana and hemp.
While German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that she does “not intend to make any changes” to the country’s current medical-only marijuana legislation, voters’ unprecedented support for German marijuana legalization, as well as Merkel’s record of making surprising political moves, could set the stage for even bigger cannabis reform.
Despite garnering the most votes in Germany’s September election, Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and its ally, the Christian Social Union, actually lost seats and currently do not have a clear majority. Needing the support of other parties in order to actually be able to govern, they are negotiating the formation of a coalition government with the Free Democrats and Greens. Part of that negotiation appears to be a deal to fully legalize marijuana.
If the deal goes through, German newspaper Stuttgarter-Zeitung reports, recreational marijuana would be fully legalized and made available for sale in pharmacies and licensed dispensaries. Fritz Becker, Chairman of the German Pharmacists Association, says the nation’s pharmacies are ready to distribute cannabis, adding that the regulated storefronts would provide “advice on risks and side effects, good customer service and ensure clean goods.”
As Marijuana.com notes, Merkel’s political aspirations have traditionally outweighed her adherence to dogmas. As long as she can benefit politically, the site points out, she is more than willing to abandon conservative positions.
With cannabis reform now more popular among German voters than in all former election campaigns, expect Merkel to make another (not-so-)surprising move.