The anticipated final vote on the legalization of cannabis in Germany, initially scheduled for this week, has been postponed due to concerns raised by leaders of the Social Democratic Party (SPD). SPDP member Dirk Heidenblut, who is in charge of the party’s marijuana policy in the Bundestag, stated in an Instagram post that parliamentary group consent is essential and that a vote cannot move forward if a faction leader, in this case the SPD, expresses concerns.
Despite the delay, Heidenblut reassured that as long as the measure progresses by the end of January, it should not significantly impact the timeline for implementing legalization. If the bill is passed, the initial stages of reform, including home cultivation for personal use, could commence as early as April.
This delay is the latest in a series that has hindered the bill’s progress through parliament. Initially, lawmakers postponed the first debate in October, citing the conflict in Israel and Palestine. Another delay occurred last month as supporters worked on refining the bill.
Heidenblut’s recent comments did not delve into the specifics of SPD’s concerns or provide further details on the delay. However, critics in the Bundestag have expressed ongoing hesitancy about the policy change.
During a recent meeting, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach defended the legislation against opponents who argued that legalization might send the wrong message to youth and increase underage consumption. Lawmakers have made several adjustments to the bill, primarily aimed at easing restrictions that faced opposition in the Bundestag. The revised legislation would stagger the implementation of the reform, making possession and home cultivation legal for adults in April, with social clubs that could distribute marijuana opening as soon as July. A complementary second measure is expected to be introduced later, establishing pilot programs for commercial sales throughout the country.
The current delay’s reasons are unclear, with some speculating whether the SPD faction leadership has issues with the law’s content or if focusing on cannabis issues during a budget crisis before Christmas seems inappropriate to them. The Bundestag could revisit the measure in mid-January or early February, according to reports. Some SPD politicians have expressed dissatisfaction, with domestic politician Sebastian Fiedler stating that there was no agreement with domestic SPD politicians.
An SPD spokesperson expressed confidence that the law would pass promptly in the new year. Members of other parties, such as the Green Party and the Left Party, have expressed disappointment and frustration over the delay.
The German Hemp Association has launched a protest, urging lawmakers to proceed with the legalization bill. Supporters are encouraged to write letters to their representatives, emphasizing the urgency of passing the bill without further restrictions. The association warns that the SPD faction’s delay not only jeopardizes the country’s legalization timeline but also contradicts the alleged agreement on the bill’s content among other parties.
Once the bill undergoes its final reading in the Bundestag, it will move to the Bundesrat, a separate legislative body representing German states.
Internationally focused marijuana industry companies such as Tilray Brands Inc. (NASDAQ: TLRY) (TSX: TLRY) are likely to follow the progress of this bill because it would set a precedent for other major economies within the European Union bloc.
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