Germany has yet to legalize recreational cannabis, but is there room for more medical cannabis growers in their market?
Germany is thought to be a template for cannabis regulation in Europe. Their medical marijuana products must be produced under GACP and EU-GMP standards for pharmaceuticals. But getting a cannabis cultivation license in Germany remains very difficult. To start, they do not actually issue licenses. Instead, the government works with cannabis growers through contracts. Continue reading for a comprehensive guide to help you become a licensed cannabis producer in Germany.
In 2019, orders for a total of 10,400 kg were awarded for four years in a Europe-wide award procedure.-from “Cannabis Agency” by BfArM
Cannabis Legalization in Germany
Medical cannabis in Germany was legalized in 2017. The 2017 legislation expanded options for prescribing medical cannabis in the form of dried flower and cannabis extracts. German cannabis products must be produced to meet pharmaceutical quality standards that are set out in the European Good Manufacturing Practices (EU-GMP). Cannabis cultivators must also follow Good Agricultural and Collection Practice (GACP). The Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) has a “Cannabis Agency” that oversees the contacting, production, and distribution of cannabis in Germany.
November 2021 Legal Update: Recreational Cannabis in Germany
This November, the new German government has announced its plans to legalise the sale of marijuana nationwide. Current laws allow for the use of cannabis but not its sale. As of now, the plan is to allow the sale of cannabis strictly within licensed dispensaries with strict quality control measures. There is no timeline yet on when recreational cannabis legalisation in Germany with go through. Keep up GrowerIQ for more info on global cannabis markets.
August 2023 Legal Update: Limited Legalization of Recreational Cannabis is Approved by the End of the Year
After a series of research initiatives and discussions, the German Cabinet has finally approved a draft law, which will allow the recreational usage of cannabis in Germany. The law will come into force by the end of 2023 and will legalize the possession and consumption of cannabis for adults, subject to some restrictions, which are:
- Cultivation and distribution will be made possible through non-profit cultivation associations or cannabis clubs, such as those already permitted in some regions of Spain and Malta.
- The cultivation associations are allowed to give out a maximum of 25 grams of cannabis per person per day to their members, but a maximum of 50 grams in total per month. They are allowed to pass on a maximum of seven seeds or five cuttings per month to their members for their own cultivation.
- The minimum age for membership is 18 years, a maximum of 500 members are allowed per club.
- If members are under 21 years old, they receive a maximum of 30 grams per month; the cannabis must not exceed a THC content of ten percent.
- The clubs must appoint youth protection, addiction and prevention officers and are not allowed to advertise. They must also maintain a minimum distance of 200 meters from schools and other children’s and youth facilities as well as playgrounds.
- Membership in multiple clubs is prohibited.
- The consumption of cannabis on-site in the cultivation associations is not permitted.
- Cannabis consumption is prohibited near schools, daycare centers, playgrounds and public sports facilities. According to the draft law, smoking cannabis is prohibited in pedestrian zones between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.
- Anyone caught driving a car or motorcycle under the influence of cannabis will be classified as unfit to drive, similar to alcohol consumption. However, unlike alcohol, there are no consumption limits or minimums for cannabis. Even the slightest detection of THC is enough for an administrative offence, which will include:
- A fine of €500
- A month-long driving ban
- Two points in the Flensburger Konto (keep in mind, the maximum points in the Flensburger is 8 accumulated points, after which the driver will have to hand in their license permanently).
- In the worst case, the revocation of the driving license
Drug Scheduling of Cannabis in Germany
Anlage I controlled substances are not allowed to be traded, sold, transported, or produced without special permission from the German government. Marijuana is classified under Anlage I except for medical cannabis. Medical cannabis is classified as Anlage III which means that you need a prescription to obtain it.
Personal Use Cannabis Regulation in Germany
Outside of Germany’s medical marijuana program, cannabis is considered to be illegal and punishable, until the restricted legalization by the end of 2023. Anecdotally until recreational usage is legalized, as of now, there are claims that possession of small amounts of illegal cannabis in Germany may be let off. However, there are hefty fines and jail time that could be faced if you are caught. Prosecutors and courts have some discretion but the amount of leniency can change depending on which German state you are in.
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Medical Marijuana in Germany
There are three current companies contracted to produce cannabis for Germany. Those are Canadian firms Aphria and Aurora, and German company Demecan. They are allowed to produce three types of cannabis:
- Type 1: 18% to 22% THC with less than 1% CBD
- Type 2: 12% to 16% THC with less than 1% CBD
- Type 3: 5% to 9% THC with 5% to 9% CBD
Medical Marijuana Regulation
According to a press release from BfArM in 2019, German cannabis growers must follow GACP and EU-GMP regulations in addition to the requirements of the monograph of the German Pharmacopoeia “Cannabis Flowers” (DAB). When contracted cannabis growers produce cannabis products they are sold to the German Cannabis Agency that operates under BfArM. The agency sets the price of cannabis and is responsible for its sale and distribution to processors, manufacturers, wholesalers, and pharmacies. In order to grow cannabis in Germany, BfArM must grant you a contract to cultivate cannabis for them. BfArM is not allowed to generate any profits or surpluses.
[Germany] has created the Cannabis Agency (in German “Cannabisagentur”, a subdivision of the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices – BfArM), which controls cultivation, harvesting, processing, quality control, storage, packaging and distribution to wholesalers and pharmacists or manufacturers. -from “10 Q&A’s related to Medical Cannabis in Germany (in English)” by Margret Knitter and Dr. Ilja Czernik, April 27 2020
How to Get a Cannabis License in Germany
You may be surprised to learn that Germany does not issue actual cannabis cultivation licenses. Instead, they work through a system of contracts. The Cannabis Agency is a division of the BfArM department of Special Therapies and Traditional Medicines. Here is an overview of their contracting process:
- BfArM holds a Europe-wide “public tendering process” (contract bidding)
- BfArM issues “delivery contracts” for limited quantities and periods of time
- The Cannabis Agency of BfArM purchases the cannabis, it cannot have excess amounts
- The Cannabis Agency sells and distributes the cannabis; the Federal Opium Agency oversees cannabis importation
- Until the next bidding opportunity, only the previously selected contractors can cultivate or manufacture cannabis
You need to meet many requirements to bid on German cannabis contracts. Below is a summary of what the German Cannabis Agency is looking for in contractors.
Cannabis Contract Bidding Requirements
- Applicants cannot subcontract
- Applicants must provide documentation to show that they are qualified to manufacture cannabis and that they have sufficient security
- Applicants must have authorization to manufacture medicinal products under sec. 13 of the German Medicinal Products Act (AMG) and have a license for handling narcotic drugs
- Applicants must be authorized to use the land where their site is located
The Cannabis Agency considers the applicant’s industry knowledge and professional experience, as evidenced by its suitability and contract requirements.
If approved, the applicant must follow requirements for safety measures (sec. 15 BtMG), record keeping (sec. 17 BtMG), and notifications to authorities (sec. 18 BtMG) in addition to GACP, EU-GMP, and specified monographs
Cannabis Market Size in Germany
Medicinal cannabis demand in Germany has been steadily increasing year-over-year. In fact, in 2022, nearly 25,000 kilograms (27.6 tons) of cannabis were imported into Germany for medicinal or scientific purposes, which is a 19% increase over the cannabis imports in 2021.
Strong Potential for the Recreational Cannabis Market in Germany
According to a recent survey, approximately 8.8% percent of Germany’s population consumed Cannabis at least once during 2021. This means there were about 7.3 million Germans who smoked Cannabis in 2021 alone – at a time when recreational cannabis was not legally allowed.
With that being said, the domestic recreational cannabis market in Germany will be enormous, given the size of the nation’s population – 83.31 million people in 2023. To get a sense of the size of the Cannabis market in Germany, we can look to the Canadian market. As of 2022, it’s estimated that 27% of Canadian consumers had consumed cannabis. Accordingly, if we apply the same per-capita consumption to Germany, it’s estimated that the market would be 22.5 million people. That’s huge!
What Does Your Seed-to-Sale Platform Need to Track?
The fact that you found your way to this article is remarkable, we’re sure that you’re an ambitious grower. The oppourtunity in international trade does not end here. We have written guides on getting your cannabis license for more countries, such as Australia, Mexico, New Zealand, and South Africa. Check out our guides over here: How to get your Medicinal Cannabis License in Australia, How to Get a Cannabis License in Mexico, How to get a Cannabis License in New Zealand, and How to get a Cannabis License in South Africa.
If you are cultivating cannabis in Germany (or plan to), you’ll be relieved and excited by the innovative GrowerIQ seed-to-sale software! EU-GMP has very strict recordkeeping requirements and quality assurance standards that need to be met. GrowerIQ seed-to-sale software has everything you need, including tracing and tracking cannabis material, storing reports and documents, and the ability to have built-in quality assurance checks. GrowerIQ is cultivation software, quality management software, recordkeeping software, and an ERP all wrapped into one software suite. While it has made a splash in the thriving Canadian cannabis market, it is robust and capable of meeting the high standards of EU-GMP as well.
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