Cannabis Legalization Moving Forward In Germany; Gaining Traction Elsewhere Worldwide
Cannabis legalization has been a major focus of debate in recent years in the U.S. Now the conversation is taking place on a global scale as more countries consider the potential benefits of the policy change.
From medical to recreational use, from Timbuktu to Kalamazoo, cannabis is becoming a more accepted and regulated substance. Today, we’ll look at the latest trends and developments in the global cannabis industry.
Germany Set To End Cannabis Prohibition
We’re kicking off with Germany, which is expected to make headlines sooner rather than later, at least according to Health Minister Karl Lauterbach‘s recent announcement about favorable feedback from the European Commission on his proposal to legalize cannabis for adult use and establish regulated sales.
Lauterbach indicated that the plan he revealed to Chancellor Olaf Scholz in October (a week after the measures were leaked!) will be officially presented in the coming weeks.
The draft proposal allows for possession of up to 20 grams of cannabis for those older than 18 and home cultivation of up to ten plants for personal use.
Canadian cannabis giants Tilray Brands Inc and Aurora Cannabis are well positioned to jump on the new opportunity given their presence in Germany’s medical marijuana (MMJ) market. Cantor Fitzgerald’s analyst Pablo Zuanic said he’s “more comfortable” recommending the latter for investors looking to venture into the space.
Legalization Happening Elsewhere Throughout Europe…
Keeping in mind that the majority of Europeans (55%) support legal, government-regulated marijuana sales to adults over 18 according to a recent survey of more than 9,000 people, let’s shift to a small island in southern Europe where legalization efforts have been ongoing.
Malta’s Parliament approved a proposal in December 2021 that legalized possession of up to 7g of cannabis and home cultivation of up to four plants for adults over 18. President George Vella signed the bill into law shortly after.
The latest update to the cannabis law in Malta is related to a measure allowing users to buy their weed at non-profit cannabis clubs.
Other European countries like the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, France, the UK, Switzerland, Spain and the Czech Republic, to name a few, are heading in the same direction.
Lawmakers kicked off 2023 by canceling its ban on the sale of CBD flowers after it was suspended in 2022 as well as a proposal to the government to discuss legalization, which resulted from a 2022 call from 31 senators to launch the consultation process on the issue.
The recreational use of marijuana is considered illegal and is classified as a Class B drug, though there’s a push from the Conservative Party to re-classify cannabis as a Class A drug that would create stricter penalties for possessing and selling it. Still, new trials to investigate cannabis-based medicines for a myriad of conditions are underway.
To that end, the UK’s Food Standards Agency moved 2,692 CBD isolate products from a consortium of the European Industrial Hemp Association to the “validated” category on its register, the second stage of a three-stage approval process for new foods.
Just last month, the government said it’s considering legalization of recreational cannabis use and sales in Zurich, following in Basel’s footsteps, as part of a new trial set to launch this summer. It builds on a 2021 amendment to the Federal Narcotics Act that came into effect in Switzerland, allowing pilot trials involving dispensing cannabis for non-medicinal purposes.
Meanwhile, Israel – one of Switzerland’s largest trading partners in the Middle East and North Africa – is considering full decriminalization of the recreational use of marijuana. President Isaac Herzog and former Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar announced last year they were considering expunging criminal records of personal possession or cannabis use cases. Companies like Clever Leaves Holdings Inc. CLVR and Aleafia Health Inc. AHALEAF are among the many taking their fair share of Israel’s burgeoning medical cannabis industry.
Africa Follows Suit
Heading further south, those living in sub-Saharan Africa are fighting their battles to have more access to cannabis. Indigenous South African cannabis growers have been camping in front of the President’s office in Pretoria since 2018 for their right to cultivate cannabis and enjoy their way of life.
Malawi’s former Minister of Agriculture has encouraged cannabis growers to form cooperatives to increase their bargaining power. During a training workshop for farmers in 2021, Minister Lobin Lowe said he favors cannabis farmers co-aligning to increase their influence and prices.
Zimbabwe legalized medicinal marijuana and cannabis production for medical and scientific purposes in 2018. A push to remove industrial hemp from the list of “dangerous drugs” and increase the THC limit for industrial hemp from 0.3% to 1% is gaining momentum.
Cannabis Road To The Far East
Among countries in the Far East, Thailand took the spotlight as the first Southeast Asian country to decriminalize marijuana last year, nearly four years after legalizing medical cannabis. The country’s lawmakers are still reviewing full legalization while authorities keep up with regular inspections of Bangkok’s cannabis stores.
Philippine lawmakers are a few steps behind Thai officials, as they are still reviewing a bill to decriminalize the production, sale, and use of cannabis.
What’s Happening In Australasia?
The countries of Australasia seem to be keeping up with the rest of the world.
Like in the US, cannabis rules differ from state to state in Australia, even though David Shoebridge, a Green Party senator and justice spokesperson, said last year that recreational cannabis could be fully legalized. “Legal advice obtained by my office shows that the Greens can pass a bill to legalize cannabis nationally and all state legislation criminalizing its legal use, possession and sale can be overridden,” he Tweeted earlier.
In New Zealand, the Ministry of Health authorized the home cultivation of medical cannabis in 2022, enabling patients to access their medicine locally. New Zealand has had a medical cannabis program since 2017, although with some limitations.
Recent Legislative Developments In South America
Over seven thousand miles away, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia seem to be racing to get their amended policies on cannabis enacted.
Argentina‘s recently established agency is regulating cannabis programs and coordinating with various provinces and the industrial sector. In May 2022, the Congress approved a law to create a regulatory framework for public and private investments in producing hemp and cannabis products.
Meanwhile, in Colombia, a measure that would legalize recreational cannabis is advancing through the legislature, with members of the First Committee of the Chamber being the latest to approve it recently in a 26-6 vote. The legislation is now headed to the floor. If passed, it will return to the Senate for final consideration.
Last but not least, a recent historic ruling to legalize cultivation recently made headlines in Brazil. The Superior Court of Justice (STJ) made its intentions public to reach a final decision on a case that would set a precedent nationwide. While Brazil greenlighted both sales and production of cannabis products, businesses are still obliged to import some of the ingredients, given that growing Cannabis sativa L is forbidden. This ban has resulted in high costs for the final product.
This article was originally published on Benzinga and appears here with permission.