Germany’s New Coalition Supports Adult-Use Cannabis Legalization

The three parties that will likely replace Chancellor Angela Merkel as Germany’s next governing coalition support adult-use cannabis legalization, and regulators have a lot to learn from not only the nation’s existing medical cannabis market, but also adult-use legalization in other countries, according to Niklas Kouparanis, CEO of Frankfurt-based cannabis holding company Bloomwell.

The Social Democrats (SPD), the Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens plan to introduce legislation to legalize cannabis, which would be sold to adults through specialized shops like the dispensaries in the United States, as soon as the parties sign formal coalition papers to officially become the new government after Germany’s elections in September.

The Road to Legalization

Germany legalized medical cannabis in 2017, and all the nation’s physicians, barring veterinarians and dentists, can prescribe pharmaceutical cannabis to their patients.

“We had a very dramatic increase of patients, and … we needed to supply these somehow,” Kouparanis told Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary. “We had a supply shortage in the beginning days.”

Bloomwell was founded in 2020 as a holding entity for multiple companies, including Ilios Sante, a medical cannabis wholesaler and distributor, and Algea Care, a telemedicine provider that has more than 70 specialized doctors on its platform to treat Germany’s with medical cannabis.

Supply and demand regulated over time, Kouparanis said, and while domestic cannabis production totals only about 2.6 tons annually, multiple companies are now importing cannabis into Germany for medical use.

As SPD, FDP and the Greens negotiate the coalition papers—which are expected to be signed by Dec. 6—the parties have agreed to legalize adult-use cannabis, which will likely cause another supply shortage in Germany’s market.

“If the rec market opens up, we expect … [a demand of] 100 to 200 tons annually, immediately,” Kouparanis said. “So, with 2.6 tons [domestic production capacity], it will not be sufficient to actually satisfy the rec market and that we need to supply.”

With a population of roughly 83 million, Germany would be one of the largest adult-use cannabis markets in the world. By comparison, Canada, which legalized adult-use in 2018, has a population of 38 million, while Uruguay, which legalized cannabis in 2013, has a population of 3.5 million.

“It’s a big opportunity, of course, for the cannabis industry, but on the other side, there are still a lot of questions,” Kouparanis said.

Once the coalition papers are signed, the new government must draft formal adult-use cannabis legislation, which must then pass the German Parliament, called the Bundestag. Kouparanis said he does not anticipate full legalization to happen until at least 2023.

“Still, these are, for the cannabis industry, very exciting times,” he said. “Another market is very likely to open up, and … for our company, it’s very interesting times.”

Lessons Learned

Germany has much to learn from other countries that have legalized adult-use cannabis, Kouparanis said, pointing to Canada as an example.

“I think the issue in Canada back in the day and still, actually, is that a lot of bureaucracy … hindered legalization to take place and encouraged the black market instead of

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