Cannabis sales license: What are the rules in Germany?

There is no question that cannabis is not only illegal at the street corner dealer, but often also cut or of inferior quality. Cannabis legalization is currently planned for 2024, and Health Minister Karl Lauterbach is personally advocating it. But what happens after that? What are the consequences of cannabis legalization in Germany? Who will be allowed to sell the coveted commodity and who will not? It already seems clear that there will be no online trade, at least at the beginning. And anyone who wants to sell will need a cannabis license. You can find out where to get one and which requirements have to be met here!

Medical cannabis is already legal - who is allowed to sell it?

Legal cannabis products are currently (2023) available in Germany only on prescription. The controlled dispensing of cannabis for medical reasons has been legal since 2017. In the so-called EU-GMP is defined, which guidelines the products must meet.

The Cannabis Agency in Germany is responsible for the entire process up to dispensing. It includes wholesalers as well as pharmaceutical entrepreneurs. The prescribed cannabis flowers can only be dispensed in pharmacies, they are also the only institutions that can order medical products with THC from the Cannabis Agency.

Federal Health Minister promises legalization - how will it go?

From the Netherlands, you may be familiar with the so-called coffee shops, where weed consumption is legal. If cannabis legalization comes to Germany, a similar procedure is conceivable. Christian Lindner and his counterparts have already spoken of “specialty stores” that could be responsible for distribution once cannabis is legalized. But can just anyone open such a specialty store?

So far, we do not know conclusively how the traffic light coalition envisions recreational pot smoking. It is assumed that the sale of cannabis will take place in stores opened specifically for this purpose. A key points paper from the federal government confirms these plans.

Here, a similar concept is presumably being followed as with gaming arcades. For example, only adults may have access to the stores and a minimum distance from schools, kindergartens and youth centers must be maintained. It is being discussed whether pharmacies should also be allowed to sell cannabis in addition to licensed stores.

Smoking pot at home or also on site? Questions that have not yet been answered

The classic coffeeshop from the Netherlands provides that buyers can also consume directly there. Whether the traffic light coalition will also allow cannabis for consumption purposes in licensed stores is still unclear. After all, the topic is being discussed and it is conceivable that there will be a corresponding regulation before cannabis legalization in Germany.

The discussion about whether online trade will also benefit from legalization seems to be problematic. It has already been shown in the CBD market that many people prefer to order directly from the store instead of buying from a local store. Even though the German government initially refused to act on this front, the pressure on Karl Lauterbach is growing visibly.

The danger seems high that a bill without online retailing will lead to problems. If it is easier for consumers to continue buying weed from dealers, this may continue to fuel the black market. One argument in favor of online retail availability is that medical cannabis can also already be ordered virtually. A prescription is required, and the original must be available, but then ordering is no problem. Why this method of delivery should change now is inconclusive, especially for the FPD’s drug policy.

Cannabis home cultivation - Will we soon be allowed to grow hemp on the balcony?

An important issue also relates to home cannabis cultivation. The coalition’s plan is to draw an upper limit between 20 and 30 grams (possession). However, this only refers to purchase and possession. In fact, the key points paper provides that also in the area of cultivation should be relaxed. Since cannabis will no longer be classified as a drug in Germany after legalization, adults will be allowed to possess up to three plants. This means that there is nothing to stop people from growing on their balconies.

Selling cannabis yourself - who gets the coveted cannabis license?

According to the traffic light government, a license is required to sell cannabis. Already today, only pharmacies are allowed to sell and provide medical cannabis. The situation will be different after cannabis legalization. Then it will be possible for cannabis to be dispensed in specialty stores as well. And who will be allowed to work there? So far, there are only clear guidelines for the sale of medical cannabis. To be allowed to distribute it, a wholesale license or an import license is required.

Entrepreneurs wishing to apply for such an import license must comply with all pharmaceutical and narcotic regulations. It is also necessary that a person with appropriate expertise (trained pharmacist or physician) works in the business. A third requirement is that the company must have a suitable narcotics warehouse.

Requirements for the license to sell cannabis

There are clear requirements for a business or individual to qualify as an applicant for a cannabis license. These include:

  • Proper documentation as to how safety is ensured in manufacturing and production. The more comprehensive the document, the better the chances.
  • Any suitable applicant must hold a previously obtained narcotic license.
  • The applicant must be allowed to legally manufacture medical products.
  • No other subcontractors may be employed in the business.
  • The cannabis agency must declare its harmlessness regarding the production facility and agree to licensing.

License after cannabis legalization - can anyone open a store?

When the legalization of cannabis is decided in Germany, the desire to open their own coffee shop burns under the nails of many stoners. A similar phenomenon appeared shortly after the popular e-cigarette hit the market. There were new stores everywhere, “vapers” turned their hobby into a profession.

Unlike the legalization of cannabis, however, no license was needed for a vape store. Even though questions are still open, it seems clear that cannabis can only be sold in Germany with such a license. We have, of course, already speculated a little and summarized a few approaches to what could come to future operators and owners of cannabis licenses. The following points are only speculations so far:

  • Evidence of a suitable concept for the protection of young people and people at risk of addiction.
  • Available safe to safely store a larger quantity of cannabis.
  • Trained sales staff, dispensing only by certified sellers.
  • Only sale of permissible flowers grown under EU regulations.
  • Training to recognize hazardous cannabis use to reduce addictive patterns.
  • Only selling goods purchased through licensed wholesalers.
  • Clear criminal record, especially previous convictions for cannabis offenses could have a negative impact on licensure.

To what extent the above points apply and what further data will be required for the granting of a cannabis license is currently not foreseeable.

Cannabis release according to coalition agreement - which key points are known?

All of Europe is looking to Germany, with the exception of the Netherlands and the Canary Islands. There, cannabis has long been legal, and cultivation is possible for private individuals. However, many other countries are eager to see how the German federal government will implement the legalization stipulation in the coalition agreement. As of 2023, there are so far only a few facts that have been published as key points.

Basically, the classification of cannabis as a drug is to be dropped altogether. People over the age of 18 are allowed to possess cannabis in the amount of personal use (20 to 30 grams), with a special focus on the age group between 18 and 21. Here, the amount of THC is limited to 10% to prevent damage to the brain.

In order to prevent a black market that continues to flourish, the traffic light coalition is examining whether it will also be possible to dispense online after legalization.

As things stand, only plants that have been grown in Germany are to go on sale. According to EU law, imports are prohibited and are therefore out of the question.

Conclusion: Much is still unclear, but preparation helps

Are you planning to become a dealer yourself after cannabis legalization in Germany? Then keep yourself up to date and prepare yourself. As soon as there is news and the legalization takes concrete shape, you should be ready. You will certainly have to apply for licenses and it is worthwhile if you already have some knowledge of the matter. Topics that you can already deal with are addiction prevention and cultivation of cannabis.

You can expect numerous people to apply for a license. Whether you will be able to fulfill the dream of your own cannabis store will become clear at the latest at the time of legalization. And if not, at least you will have the possibility to buy legally and in good quality!