Hot Takes from GPS’s International Experts

Germany’s Expected Direction for Legal Cannabis Remains Stunted

Featured 5 min

When it comes to a fully legal cannabis market in Germany, it seems “the dream of a billionaire market that will make millionaires tomorrow is over.” New updates coming from Germany’s Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach reveal a change of plan, which is “apparently due to the fear of colliding with European law and being dismissed by the EU Commission.” [Hanf Journnal]

Full legalization of cannabis is unlikely to come to pass in Germany during the current legislative session, although German lawmakers expect the draft law to be introduced within two weeks. [ICBC] 

Instead, experts foresee a direction that is currently followed by Spain, Portugal and the Benelux countries, one where non-commercial hemp cultivation is decriminalized, and the ownership of small quantities of hashish and marijuana for personal use is permitted.

Here are the key characteristics of the most likely scenario for Germany’s market as reported by Hazel Norman for ICBC:

  • Cannabis commerce involving adult-use sales will not be entirely prohibited under the reported first phase of German legalization. The measure will reportedly involve a two-faceted approach to adult-use legalization in Germany, with the first phase involving home cultivation, ‘noncommercial’ cannabis clubs, and the suspension of cannabis prohibition enforcement as it pertains to personal use, possession, and cultivation.
  • Local pilot programs are expected to launch, like what is underway in Switzerland, albeit presumably on a much larger scale.
  • The first facet of the reported pending legalization measure will involve a possession limit that may be as much as 50 grams per adult.
  • The plant limit for home cultivation will likely end up being between 3-5 plants per adult household.
  • Gifting cannabis between adults will likely also be permitted according to the reported measure, with the legal age being set at 18 years old. 

The change of direction to forgo legalization and experiment with model projects first is apparently due to the fear of running afoul of European law and being rejected by the EU Commission. Cannabis legalization will only become German law when the EU gives it the green light. [Hanf Journal]

Hot Takes from GPS International Thought Leaders

Jamie Pearson, President, Holland Group | International Consultant, GPS 

“The impact of Germany on the cannabis industry worldwide cannot be overstated, which makes this announcement and the ripple effect important to follow. I will be watching closely how hard they push to decriminalize the plant in the near term, and am anxious to see when and how quickly Germany rolls out the planned adult-use pilot programs. Those of us who have been in the industry for a long time can effectively predict those outcomes will be better than the government anticipates. In my opinion, this news coming out of Germany is a positive step toward cannabis legalization in Europe and ultimately in North America.”

Arnau Valdovinos, Consultant & Market Researcher | CannaMonitor

“While dispelling the most ambitious predictions of a 400-tonne market emerging in the near term in Germany, the scientific pilot project model, already underway in some Swiss cities, presents some interesting opportunities:

  • The possibility to source product internationally under the same narcotic control treaty regulations as medical cannabis can provide incremental opportunities for licensed producers around the world which would otherwise be excluded from shipping to Germany.
  • A more favorable look by regulators in other EU member states compared to the full legalization scenario is to be expected, opening the door to the generalization of this type of localized schemes throughout the continent.
  • A more limited recreational scheme, coupled with criminal reform and a deepening of the ongoing cultural change, can provide a boost in prescription rates for medical cannabis and particularly medical flower, currently accessed through hundreds of pharmacies in Germany.”

Deepak Anand, Head of International Consulting | GPS

“Medical is unaffected by any of this,” says Anand, pointing to recent data from Germany’s Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM), which shows a record amount of marijuana imported for medical and scientific use in 2022. Commenting to MJBiz on April 3, Anand said, “This data does not in any way reflect or mirror sales to patients in Germany. All it does is point to the fact that the import of cannabis into Germany for medical and scientific purposes is increasing.”

According to the German National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds, reimbursements of medical cannabis in Germany have been relatively flat since 2020. (Reimbursement data does not account for people who paid for legal medical cannabis out of their own pockets.) [MJBiz Daily]

“For companies interested in targeting the German market, patient and physician education is paramount. It is also interesting to point out that product innovation – apart from the focus on high-THC flower – will prove vital,” says Anand.


Gateway Proven Strategies has the combined experience of working on over 600 licenses nationwide. Our strategic expertise has taken clients from the license procurement phase to business maturity to exit. We take pride in our team of best-in-class consultants serving best-in-class clientele in navigating the volatility of worldwide cannabis markets. Reach out today for a complimentary consultation to determine how GPS can save your business time and money in achieving long-term success.