Germany is known for its friendly populace, hearty food, and top-notch beers, but what about marijuana? Is weed legal in Germany? The good news is that medical marijuana is legal in Germany, but the bad news is that it is still illegal to possess or consume for recreational purposes. For those that are heading to Germany, be it for Oktoberfest, a cruise down the Rhine River, a summer abroad or anything else, we recommend becoming familiar with the country's cannabis laws first.
What Are Germany's Marijuana Laws?
In March of 2017, Germany's Health Minister Herman Grohe passed a resolution that made medical marijuana legal in Europe's largest economy. Although there was a lot of fanfare, the truth is that the resolution really only legalized marijuana for those classified as “seriously ill”. In fact, only 1,000 patients were given medical marijuana permits when the law was passed in 2017 (Same Source). By 2018, there were nearly 95,000 prescriptions for medical marijuana however, and the demand has tripled in just two years. Medical marijuana prescriptions are now included in the free health care system of Germany and recent reports show that over $80 million US dollars worth of cannabis was covered by the state in 2018 alone.
Despite this, the medical marijuana market remains tightly controlled and limited to those who not only have a serious medical condition but can also prove that they have exhausted other means of treatment and are using medical marijuana as a last resort. Germany's medical marijuana laws have been harshly criticized lately, with the German News Site “The Local” claiming that patients still face obstacles like supply shortages, high prices and social taboos against consumption. And that's for the legal patients. Those who want to consume marijuana outside of the medical marijuana framework in Germany still face outright prohibition. But it's actually not as bad as it might seem.
Is Marijuana Possession Illegal is Germany?
Yes, possession of marijuana is illegal in Germany, but there is a loophole for those that only posses enough for personal use. In 1992, the country passed a reform to the Narcotics Law that allowed those found with “small amounts” of possession to avoid prosecution. But this is still left up to the criminal prosecutor. Confusing, we know. But it does open up the doors for cannabis consumption by anyone without worrying about being arrested or facing criminal charges.
According to Deutsche Welle, Germany's international broadcaster, while the federal government has not decided what constitutes a “small amount”, most German states have set their own limits on how much cannabis an individual can possess without facing prosecution. The amount ranges from 6 grams in states like Bavaria and cities like Hamburg, to up to 15 grams in cities like Berlin. While this does not mean that marijuana is legal in any of those states or cities, it does mean that the possession of less than the amount indicated should be free from legal problems.
Will Marijuana be Legalized in Germany?
Major news sources like Vice have predicted that Germany will legalize cannabis by 2025, and some predict that the country will become the largest marijuana market on the continent when that happens. - or even sooner. According to MJ BizDaily, the German medical marijuana market is being led by older patients seeking relief from real medical conditions. In fact, the 50-59 year old demographic has actually become the largest cannabis-using group across Europe.
No longer just a recreational tool for younger people, cannabis is fast becoming legitimized as a wellness and lifestyle enhancer for a wide swath of the population. This is exactly what happened in places that pioneered the legalization movement, like California, and Germany does boast several areas where cannabis use is common and has established roots.
Does Germany Have a Cannabis Culture?
Several cities in Germany have long histories of cannabis use, especially Berlin, the country's capital and largest city. As Civilized reported recently, cannabis prohibition in Berlin is “a joke”. Cannabis is bought and sold openly on the street in several areas of the city and the sweet smell of fired up flower perfumes the air as well. Even All About Berlin, an English language guide to visiting and living in the famously progressive city hosts a full page article aimed at helping foreigners purchase cannabis while in town. Back in 2016, a coalition of left-leaning politicians and political parties announced a plan to semi-legalize marijuana in Berlin, but it has yet to be implemented.
What Happens if I Am Arrested For Marijuana Possession in Germany?
Because marijuana remains illegal in Germany and different areas have different approaches to how much you are allowed to possess without possibly facing prosecution, it is still possible to be arrested for marijuana possession in Germany. However, even an organization of police officers in Germany called the Association of German Criminal Officers have called for the complete decriminalization of the plant, stating that “In the history of mankind there has never been a society without the use of drugs. This is something that has to be accepted”.
Is German Weed Any Good?
German actually does not produce much marijuana but instead imports most cannabis products from countries like Canada. This of course means that visitors can expect to find marijuana in Germany of similar quality to what is found in many parts of North America that have medical marijuana legislation. Recently, however, several large companies have been granted contracts to cultivate cannabis in Germany, meaning homegrown weed in the land of Wienerschnitzel is just around the corner!