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Germany is legalising weed: What does it mean for Berlin?

After years of discussion, Germany is moving forward with the (semi-)legalisation of cannabis. We look at what this means for the weed smokers of Berlin.


What is changing?

The government plans to puff puff pass the new legislation by early 2024. At that point, anyone over the age of 18 will be permitted to carry up to 25 grams of cannabis without fear of punishment. Weed will also become available for purchase at newly minted “Cannabis Social Clubs” (more on them later). This is a concept currently active in Spain, where self-run organisations with names like “kush house” and “gusto green”’ distribute maijuana. 

What can’t you do?

When you’re at the wheel, you gotta get off the grass. Driving while high is illegal with close to zero tolerance. Other no-nos include smoking in the presence of minors, smoking within 200 meters of schools or playgrounds and smoking in pedestrian zones between 7:00 and 20:00. (The latter could be a bummer for outside consumers of the devils lettuce, since 4:20 pm falls into that timeframe, but as the saying goes: “It’s 420 somewhere in the world”).

Photo: IMAGO/imagebroker

What are Cannabis Social Clubs?

This is a whole new concept, so it’s worth breaking down in some detail. Growers associations of up to 500 people will obtain licenses from authorities to grow hemp plants and sell weed to their members. They can sell a maximum of 25 grams per person per day, and a maximum of 50 grams per person in a month. Although in Spain it’s allowed to smoke inside, German Cannabis Social Clubs will not allow this. In fact, it will be forbidden within 200 meters of the front door. At the same time, in Spain it’s illegal to smoke weed outside, but Germany will allow this in most areas. Seems like the grass is always greener on the other side.

Spanish Cannabis Social Club @relaxbarcelona in Barcelona. Looks similar to dutch-style coffee shops. Photo: @relaxbarcelona

Will weed dealers disappear?

Probably not. The US has legalised weed to an even greater extent (Snoop Dogg has his own cannabis brand) but the black market still represents 75% of sales. Good news for dealers in Gorlitzer park! Then again, another example is provided by Canada where resitrictions on weed are especially light, which seems to work. There, only 4% of pot smokers bought their weed from illegal sources.

What the future holds

Photo: IMAGO/photothek

The big question is: will cannabis remain in this semi-legal state, or will we go full neo-liberal weed capitalism? If the FDP get their way, Germany would surely be headed towards the rise of “Big Weed” and would pass the Dutch as Europe’s biggest weed economy within a year. For a glimpse of that future, see Berlin-rapper turned weed entrepeneur Sido, who is dressing like a tech-bro and working on his cannabis brand “Kejf”. 

But perhaps Berlin will keep things more chilled out. After all, we’re two decades into the 21st century and this city still hasn’t been able to get any decent system of digitalisation. A massive influx of weed is unlikely to help.