German Minister Signals End of ‘Senseless’ Intoxication Clause in Potential Boon For Hemp Industry

Story written by BEN STEVENS in ‘BUSINESS OF CANNABIS’ May 17 2024*

Are the politicians finally doing something useful and halting the violent hemp prosecutions ordered by German prosecutors? About time.

Article below : Written by Ben Stevens

Germany’s Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture has suggested that the country’s controversial ‘intoxication clause’ could soon be scrapped.

During a parliamentary event earlier this week, hosted by the German Cannabis Business Association (BvCW), Cem Özdemir signalled that work is underway to delete the clause, in what will come as long-awaited and welcome news for the country’s hemp industry.

This ‘incomprehensible clause’, which was not scrapped in the recent Cannabis Act despite continued calls from across the industry, means that farmers are only able to produce industrial hemp with a THC content of 0.3% or below if misuse for intoxicating purposes is ruled out.

Effectively, misguided fears that hemp could be used for recreational purposes have meant it remains strictly regulated, despite Germany now allowing the home cultivation of high-THC cannabis.

BvCW managing director Jürgen Neumeyer said in a recent press release: “Imagine if dealers and producers of non-alcoholic beer were subjected to raids and punished because they could distill schnapps from the residual alcohol.

“In practice, such a complex extraction does not take place with industrial hemp either. This senseless intoxication clause in recent years has increasingly caused economic damage and bankruptcies. Its abolition is urgently needed, and we are therefore very pleased!”

What happened?

During the annual parliamentary event, which welcomed industry leaders, policymakers, and regulators, Mr Özdemir said the abolition of the clause was ‘long overdue’.

In a speech, he praised hemp for its long history of use across the world and for its potential as a sustainable and climate-friendly crop.

He spoke of his intention to remove the intoxication clause, along with raising the THC limit for the cultivation of industrial hemp, another move that the industry has long called for.

The current reluctance to deal with the topic is – according to Özdemir – “almost as if one were avoiding bakeries or the entire bakery trade just because poppy seed cakes are offered there.”

However, due to the ongoing reluctance from those who ‘cringe in horror’ at the word cannabis, he said the plans to remove beauractratic hurdles around hemp production would be taken step by step.

This represents the first time a government minister has confirmed plans to address the issue, and has been hailed as a ‘big step towards making better use’ of hemp in the future.

Since it became clear the clause would not be removed from the CanG bill, leading stakeholders have repeatedly highlighted it as an unnecessary and nonsensical barrier preventing a potentially huge industry from flourishing.

Speaking at the International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) Berlin last year, industry veteran and President of EIHA Daniel Kruse said: “I would simply cancel this clause. All stakeholders will advocate for its abolition.

“The debate about the ‘misuse of hemp’ needs to be brought to an end. Hemp has huge potential if the clause is abolished. Industrial hemp would lead to more sales than medical and recreational put together in Germany.”

Kai-Friedrich Niermann, cannabis lawyer and industry expert, told Business of Cannabis in November 2023, that its continued inclusion effectively meant ‘the German market for consumable industrial hemp products has thus been dealt the death blow!’.

“The legal situation for CBD products and industrial hemp should continue to apply in the new law, according to the will of the legislator. This means that misuse for intoxication purposes must continue to be ruled out for industrial hemp products.

“According to German law enforcement, including the Federal Court of Justice, this abuse is not ruled out for CBD flowers and hemp leaf tea. These products are at risk of being permanently excluded from the German market.”

7.5g THC limit

In another similar quirk of Germany’s new cannabis regulations, which appears to push directly against the overall aims, the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled in April that the legal determination of a ‘significant amount’ of cannabis will remained unchanged.

Since April 01, 2024, Section 3 of the Cannabis Act states that the possession in public of up to 25g of cannabis, or 50g at home, will no longer carry a criminal penalty.

Despite this widespread decriminalisation, the BGH ruled that the 30-year-old determination of a ‘not-small’ amount of cannabis would remain the same, as they did not assume a ‘changed risk assessment’ that justified an increase in the limit, much to the disappointment of many legislatures.

Their decision was based on the assumption that the average amount of THC to intoxicate a person by inhalation was 15mg, and therefore 7.5g of THC would continue to result in a penalty.


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