"International and European law stand in the way of Germany's legalization"

The German government plans to legalize the consumption of cannabis for adult-use purposes. According to the new government coalition, the product will soon be sold to adults in licensed stores. Germany, thus, follows an international legalization trend initiated by Canada, Uruguay and the USA, for example. In recent years, some EU countries have established various models of decriminalization and tolerance of cannabis.

Based on the Dutch tolerance policy, a recent study by Dr. Robin Hofmann (Maastricht University) analyzes different options for legalization and examines to what extent they can be implemented in Germany. He explains that a comprehensive legalization of cannabis under German law remains difficult. "The principle of mandatory prosecution is an obstacle to any attempts of a far-reaching tolerance policy towards cannabis cultivation. After all, international and European law clearly stand in the way of a total legalization, particularly of the cultivation and trade." According to the study, Germany faces a dilemma. "Should it take the path of legalization, which is reasonable from a criminological point of view, and accept breaking international and European law? Or should the ambitious plans shrink to a legalization-light, limited to the private cultivation of cannabis for personal consumption?"

The study mentions the neighboring Dutch model as a possible example for Germany. "In the Netherlands, the signs are already pointing to change. After half a century of a ban on cultivation, the government launched the so-called 'coffee shop experiment' in 2017. Seven Dutch businesses are to supply the coffee shops in ten municipalities with cannabis from controlled cultivation. After years of delay, the test phase began at the end of 2021. The title 'experiment' is probably no coincidence: according to this, cultivation is likely to fall under scientific purposes and thus in line with European law. However, it is also clear that experiments are limited in time. This would also be a possible model for Germany: to bridge the time until the longed-for jolt is finally given to international drug policy. Or until the next government introduces such a project that is phased out without much commotion."

Hofmann, R. (2022). Deutschlands Cannabis Dilemma. Zeitschrift für Internationale Strafrechtswissenschaft, 1(2), 191-200. 

Click here to read the complete study.

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