Germany’s much-anticipated cannabis legalization bill faces a significant setback as the final vote, initially planned for this week, is now postponed to next year. The delay stems from concerns raised by leaders of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), creating uncertainties about the timeline for implementing this landmark proposal.
Dirk Heidenblut, an SPD member responsible for the party’s cannabis policy, highlighted the need for approval from parliamentary groups. He expressed that if the measure advances by the end of January, the delay may not substantially impact the scheduled rollout of legalization, including home cultivation for personal use, set to commence in April if the bill is passed.
This postponement marks the latest in a series of delays that have slowed the bill’s progress through parliament. Initially, the first debate on the legislation was delayed in October, citing conflicts in Israel and Palestine. Subsequent delays, including a vote scheduled for last month, were attributed to efforts to enhance the bill.
While the specific concerns from SPD leaders were not detailed, recent criticisms in the Bundestag suggested ongoing hesitancy about the proposed policy change. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, addressing lawmakers, countered arguments against legalization, emphasizing that child and youth protection would be maintained through education.
Lawmakers have made several adjustments to the bill, including increasing possession limits and eliminating the possibility of jail time for slight possession over the allowable limit. The legislation also introduced a phased approach to implementation, making possession and home cultivation legal for adults from April. Social clubs for marijuana distribution would open in July.
The latest delay raises questions about the SPD’s stance on cannabis legalization. Some speculate that the delay could be due to the SPD faction’s internal disagreements or concerns about focusing on cannabis issues during a budget crisis shortly before Christmas.
The bill is expected to be taken up by the Bundestag in January, potentially on January 18 or 19, or in February, according to reports. The postponement has drawn criticism from various quarters, with the German Hemp Association launching a protest urging lawmakers to pass the bill without further restrictions.