Germany’s CanG Bill Under Growing Threat of Further Delays and Possible Amendments


Germany’s landmark CanG bill, which is scheduled to legalise the consumption and possession of cannabis from April 01, is looking increasingly likely to be delayed until at least October. 

As Business of Cannabis reported last month, while the CanG bill was passed in the German Parliament (Bundestag) with a strong majority, is it not yet home and dry. 

CanG will still have to be approved by the German Federal Council (Bundesrat), which doesn’t have the power to block the bill entirely, but could enable the bill’s growing list of opponents to delay its rollout.

Local media reports now suggest that this is becoming an increasing possibility, with a growing number of interior and state ministers making it clear they require more time to discuss the bill’s core points, pushing instead for an October rollout. 

What’s happening?

Even before Pillar 1 of Germany’s cannabis initiative was passed in the Bundestag on Friday, February 23, 2024, speculation was growing that it could be significantly held up in the Bundesrat, the German upper house that represents the country’s 16 states at a federal level. 

Speaking to Business of Cannabis ahead of the bill’s vote in the Bundestag, Cannovum Cannabis AG’s CEO, Klaus Madzia, explained that while the Bundestag vote would ‘itself mark a historic milestone… there is somewhat of a caveat’. 

This is because of a stipulation in the CanG bill that prison sentences and fines that have historically been imposed, and would no longer be punishable under the new law, would need to retroactively be waived. 

With thousands of cases needing to be addressed in each of Germany’s individual 16 Federal States from April 01, those expected to deal with this monumental administrative headache are pushing back. 

“Law enforcement agencies and the courts are saying, because it’s a retroactive law, we have to look at a couple of thousand cases of people being fined or jailed because of possession of cannabis and have to grant them amnesty,” Mr Madzia explained. 

He added that justice ministers across the country are calling for the implementation of the bill to be delayed beyond April, in order to avoid overloading the criminal justice system entirely. 

In a public statement published today, the board of LEAP Germany (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition), said that it was under the ‘impression that legally untenable and sometimes unobjective arguments are being used to prevent the CanG from coming into force at the very last minute’, despite it being clear for months that the judiciary would be required to process these cases. 

“Of course, when the law changes, everyone involved has an increased burden, be it the courts, the public prosecutor’s office, the police or the defense lawyers and lawyers involved as organs of the administration of justice. 

“This is inevitable with any reform. If the CanG is now postponed for another 6 months, there is a great risk that the law will no longer be passed at all. Corresponding demands are already being loudly raised again by conservatives and some interior ministers of the federal states.”

Mediation Committee

Representatives from the 16 member states are now due to vote on the CanG bill on March 22 in the Bundesrat. 

While they cannot block the bill entirely, they have the option to vote to bring in a ‘mediation committee’, which would launch a mediation process between the Bundesrat and Bundestag that would not only delay the bill but could result in major changes to its content. 

“Until this is resolved, the bill cannot go into effect,” Mr Madzia said, adding that if no consensus is reached, it would take a ‘tremendous amount of political capital’ from the coalition parties to push this through.

Furthermore, he suggested that the bill’s political opponents could use the concerns of the judicial system as an excuse to delay the bill. 

Of the 69 members of the Bundesrat, only a simple majority (35) will need to vote in favour of bringing in the mediation committee. 

Whether this threshold will be reached depends on who you ask, but it’s clear that the vote is expected to come down to the wire. 

According to German news publication Table Media, its sources suggest ‘a majority is in favor of appointing a mediation committee’. 

This was echoed by the Legal Tribune Online, who said its sources confirmed the mediation committee was a ‘foregone conclusion’. 

Speaking to the Rheinische Post, German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, the architect of the bill, said: “I remain confident that the law will take effect on April 1st.”

He suggested that this would also ‘be in the interest of the judiciary’, as a postponement would create even more legal uncertainty and place further pressure on the judicial service to carry out prosecutions it knows will be overturned imminently. 

“Anyone who calls for changes now risks failure,” he warned.


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