Germany refers cannabis legalisation proposals to the European Commission 

Article by Fair Trials

The German government has set out its plan to make it legal for adults to buy and grow cannabis for personal use and provide for the legal production, supply and distribution of cannabis. Under the proposed plan, over 18s would be able to own up to 30g of cannabis for their own consumption and grow up to three plants. Fair Trials supports the decriminalisation of controlled substances and urges the European Commission and EU Member States to pursue a health-focused approach to EU drug policy, which is informed by the experiences and expertise of impacted people and civil society.

It’s welcome that more and more countries like Germany are decriminalising or legalising cannabis. It’s also important that reform redress for the harms caused by prohibition by ending ongoing criminal proceedings and sentencing, releasing people who are in prison, erasing past criminal records and taking steps to eliminate any negative consequences from past convictions.

The German Government has now referred the law to the European Commission, which will determine whether the plan is compliant with the Council Framework Decision 2004/757/JHA of 25 October 2004, which lays down minimum provisions on the constituent elements of criminal acts and penalties in the field of illicit drug trafficking and 1988 United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances that may be applicable under EU law.

Under the German proposal, cannabis and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) will no longer be listed as narcotics, which means that cannabis for human consumption, medicinal cannabis and commercial hemp will be excluded from the scope of the Narcotics Act. Investigations and criminal prosecutions of drug offences that will no longer be punishable will be terminated and convictions for those offences will be erased from the federal register.

The criminalisation of controlled substances has a devastating impact on people who use drugs and their families, reinforcing stigma and perpetuating discrimination and the marginalisation of certain groups. In feedback provided earlier this year to the European Commission, Fair Trials strongly recommended the complete decriminalisation of drug use and possession for personal use, which should not be subject to coercive processes or sanctions in any form. The International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) has been consistently advocating for the removal of all forms of sanction for all activities related to drug use as a ‘gold standard’ for drug policy.

Instead, states must invest in appropriately trained and equipped services for people who require care, although treatment should never be a legal obligation. Fair Trials is part of the global initiative Support. Don’t Punish, which reinforces the need to focus on harm reduction, health, and well-being.