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German Government Proposes 15% THC Limit on Recreational Cannabis, According to Leak

By Leo Bear-McGuinness

Published: Oct 19, 2022    Last Updated: Oct 19, 2022
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When it came to power last November, Germany’s coalition government promised to legalize and regulate recreational, adult-use cannabis.

Now, thanks to a leaked document, the country’s health minister has given a preview of the regulations the drug would be put under.

Policy details

Several departments within the German government have been charged with coordinating the country's cannabis legalization policies. 

However, the RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND) news group, which first reported on the leaked policies, attribute many of the proposals to the country's health minister, Karl Lauterbach. 

These proposals include that the amount of THC in legal cannabis products shouldn’t exceed 15%. Those aged between 18 and 21 will be further limited to products with a maximum content of 10% THC, in order to prevent “cannabis-related brain damage”.

All adults will be limited to possessing up to 20 grams of the drug, regardless of its THC content.

Self-cultivation of up to two cannabis plants will be allowed.

Cannabis advertising, however, will not be permitted. This principle extends to cannabis packaging, which must be plain with no promotional designs.

Anyone under the age of 18 caught with cannabis won’t be given a criminal record. Instead, their cannabis will be confiscated and they may be obliged to take part in prevention courses.

Like in many US states, dispensaries will also be limited in where they can set up shop. Minimum distances from schools and youth facilities will be enforced. Dispensaries (and perhaps pharmacies) will also need to be licensed. The sale of “synthetic cannabinoids” will remain prohibited.

A cannabis tax has also been proposed, one that will likely be tied to THC content. However, Lauterbach and his colleagues suggest that the tax shouldn’t be too burdensome to keep the legal market competitive with its illicit counterpart.

In a paper proposal leaked and then seen by the RND news group, Lauterbach reportedly stressed that all legal cannabis must be grown in Germany, too, to avoid issues with EU law.

When approached by the RND group for comment, Lauterbach reportedly didn’t confirm or deny the proposed policies. Instead, he said that a full draft law for cannabis legalization will be unveiled by the end of the year.

Analytical Cannabis reached out to the German health department for comment and received the following from a representative:

“The Federal Ministry of Health, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, Federal Foreign Office and Ministry of Justice are currently working to implement the coalition agreement. A coordinated key issues paper is not yet available.”


While these leaked policies are far from the final laws and regulations that will govern Germany’s legal cannabis market, they have nonetheless attracted some global reaction.

In a statement, Lily Temperton, head of analysis at the UK-based legal cannabis advisory firm Hanway Associates, warned that the 15% THC cap could deter consumers from parting with their illicit dealers.

“While health concerns about high potency products should be heard, capping legal products below the strength that most consumers are accustomed to will alienate heavy cannabis consumers in particular”.

“In the words of the State of Vermont’s Cannabis Control Board, ’high THC cannabis makes up the majority of products sold in medical cannabis and illicit marketplaces. Lowering the THC cap to 15% [from 30%] would merely perpetuate the unregulated market and force consumers to purchase untested, potentially contaminated products.’”

Writing on Twitter, Steve Rolles, a senior policy analyst at the UK-based Transform Drugs Policy Foundation, remarked that the policies seemed “fairly sensible” but that the 20g possession limit was quite low.


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