CBD Law in Germany: Law Vs. Reality

On paper, CBD is legal in Germany unlike cannabis, which remains generally prohibited. In practice, however, there are nuances to be noted. What the law says and what the police do are indeed two separate things across the Rhine. Moreover, beyond the official texts, customs are quite different than in France with an openness desired by certain political camps… but not necessarily by the population. Back to the CBD legislation in Germany and on the particularities of the country compared to the French case.

CBD in Germany: what the law says

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For once, the German CBD law is quite simple. As in the rest of Europe, the latter is 100% legal. However, it remains forbidden to market, buy or consume a CBD product whose THC level (the psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis) exceeds 0,2%. On this subject, the last CAP (for Common Agricultural Policy, at the level of the European Union) proposed a law providing for an increase of this rate to 0,3% by 2023. In the meantime, c 'is the usual rate of 0,2% THC which applies, including in Germany.

In France, for example, there is still doubt about the ability of retailers to sell CBD flowers in the long term. In Germany, a bar had also been concerned because it was selling hemp tea. In March 2021, the German Federal Court of Justice decided to overturn the conviction of the bar managers, relying on two main arguments:

  • Selling cannabidiol (CBD) rich hemp flowers is not illegal.
  • The bar has not been proven to have any objective of intoxicating its customers by selling cannabis products.

Legal update on cannabis in Germany in general

Highlight, 63% of Germans [in English] are opposed to the legalization of cannabis. An overwhelming majority therefore, far from french figures (78% in favor of therapeutic cannabis and 51% in favor of complete decriminalization).

However, the law on cannabis is not harsher in Germany, on the contrary.

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Personal consumption

Officially, the possession of cannabis is illegal in Germany and possession of drugs is punishable by penalties of up to 5 years imprisonment. However, recreational cannabis is decriminalized and the use of cannabis is not considered an offense. Without a history, with a small amount (variable depending on the region) and without the involvement of other people, the risk of sanction is therefore low. Otherwise, prison sentences are usually dropped if a consumer agrees to receive treatment.

Sale of cannabis in Germany

The sale and supply of cannabis, on the other hand, is still considered to be offenses, otherwise relatively serious. Selling cannabis therefore remains punishable by five years in prison, with the possibility of extending the sentence up to 15 years in the presence of aggravating circumstances (sale to minors, involvement of minors in trafficking, use of weapons, organization of gangs in particular).

Hemp cultivation

From 1982 to 1996, the cultivation of hemp was outright banned in Germany. Faced with pressure from farmers, supported by the scientific sphere, prohibition did not hold and it is now possible to grow hemp low in THC and therefore potentially rich in CBD. However, cultivation for sale of cannabis remains prohibited. and subject to the same penalties as the sale.

Medical cannabis: legal in Germany since 2017

Medicinal cannabis has been authorized in Germany since 2017. Legislation has also enabled the country to become the biggest medical cannabis market in Europe. In 2017, only 1 patients were allowed to enter the program. In 000, the figure rose to 2018 people. In 40, Germany decided to no longer systematically import treatments and therefore to grow your own medical cannabis. Doctors can therefore prescribe it, even if many are still reluctant to this idea and some health insurance funds (a good third) still refuse to cover the costs.

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So, like elsewhere in Europe, CBD is legal, but cannabis is not. A few differences with other countries, and in particular France, are however to be underlined, mainly due to the uniqueness of the German political system.

A separate political system

The German political system is quite different from what we know in other European countries. This implies in particular the organization of the country in autonomous regions, Countries, Germany being a federal state, like Switzerland for example. These Länder are run by a Government… which itself has its own particularities. We explain to you what this implies for CBD.

The "problem" of German federalism

France and a unitary state: to put it simply, the Government decides for the whole country. In Germany, federalism implies that each region decides for itself a number of things. For CBD, this does not change much since everyone agrees on the absence of danger that it represents. For cannabis in general, however, this means that, despite a common law, some federal states are more tolerant than others. So, being checked with personal consumption in Berlin is generally less of a problem than in Bavaria (in southern Germany), much stricter (around 15 grams tolerated against 6).

Governing with several parties

Another German specificity is that the Federal Government must have the majority of seats in the Bundestag. To keep it simple, this means that after an election two or three parties must agree to govern together. So when we talk about the “Jamaican coalition”, that doesn't necessarily mean that the government will suddenly become more open to hemp, cannabis or even CBD. On the contrary, in terms of political “colors”, it corresponds to an alliance of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU, black), the Liberal Democratic Party (SPD, yellow) and the Greens (Die Grüne, green). However, if the majority of German parties are today open to decriminalization or legalization of cannabis, this is not the case for two of them: the CDU, which is one of the main parties, and the AFD (far-right party).

This operation can be explained historically, but seriously slows down the German political machine.