Cannabis Regulation and THC Driving Limits Under Scrutiny in German Hearings

Cannabis Regulation and THC Driving Limits Under Scrutiny in German Hearings

Germany's Bundestag to Vote on Cannabis Law Amendments and Road Traffic Act Changes on June 6, 2024.

On Monday, 4th April 2024, two expert hearings were held regarding the laws ‘to amend the Cannabis Consumption Act and the Medical Cannabis Act’ and the ‘Sixth Law to Amend the Road Traffic Act and Other Road Traffic Regulations’. Both proposed amendments were previously discussed in their first Bundestag hearing on the 16th May 2024. In both hearings, experts and parties provided their opinions to the respective committees on the amendments to the laws.

Regarding road traffic amendments, the majority sought to increase the THC limit for drivers, except for the conservative Union Fraction (CDU/CSU) which brought forth a motion against increasing the THC limit.

The discussion regarding the CanG and MedCanG law amendments continues to be heated. Professionals and industry experts criticised the overregulation of cannabis cultivation associations as it could strengthen the illicit market. The Police union (Gdp) voiced its concerns as it sees cannabis legalisation in the country as an immature project and medical associations called for more targeted prevention initiatives to protect children and youth.

Cannabis Cultivation Association Amendments 

The Health Committee held a hearing to discuss the CanG law amendments, with a significant focus on cannabis associations. During the hearing, the German Hemp Association (DHV), the German Cannabis Business Associations (BvCW) and the Federal Working Group of Cannabis Cultivation Associations (BCAv) criticised the law and its amendments specifically regarding banning the offering of bundled services such as heat, electricity, energy and the ban of multiple cannabis cultivation associations sharing the same location.

The industry professionals pointed out that by placing further restrictions on cannabis cultivation associations the law would strengthen the illicit market as it would increase inefficiencies, costs and time, thereby repelling the formation of many would-be cultivation associations.

During the hearing, the German Police Union (Gdp) highlighted concerns, however, these were associated with the immature nature of the country’s legalisation plans and the issues related to controls of cannabis cultivation associations by federal states that may differ by state and may be too relaxed.

Additionally, the medical associations German Medical Association (BÄK) and the Professional Association of Paediatricians (BVKJ) voiced their concerns regarding youth protection and called for more targeted prevention measures.

Road Traffic Amendments

In regards to the ‘Sixth Law to Amend the Road Traffic Act and Other Road Traffic Regulations’, the Transport Committee and experts discussed the plan to introduce a uniform legal THC limit of 3.5 ng/ml tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in blood serum while driving. An increase of the THC limit was predominately approved by experts; however, the German Police Union and the Union Fraction held an opposing stance as they feared that an increase would lead to higher traffic accidents.

During the hearing, the President of the German Automobile Association (ADAC), Gerhard Hillebrand, highlighted that the current limit of 1ng/ml was too low and produced too many false positives. Therefore, a 3.5 ng/ml limit would be sufficient. Stefan Tönnes, head of the Forensic Toxicology Department at the Institute of Legal Medicine at the University Hospital Frankfurt am Main, also shared the same sentiment.

Although many experts supported the increased limit, some believed that it was still too low, with Fabian Steinmetz, senior toxicologist at Delphic HSE, stating that there has been an unequal treatment of cannabis compared to alcohol and advocated a THC limit of 10 ng/ml as a counterpart to the 0.5 per mille limit for alcohol.

On the other hand, the amendment to increase the THC limit saw opposition from the German Police Union as well as the Union Fraction. Marco Schäler, the Managing Director of the Traffic Commission at the German Police Union pointed out that using saliva tests and additional screenings would be too costly and that the current limit of 1ng/ml is moderate and valid.

It must also be noted that the Union Fraction, comprised of the conservative parties CDU and CSU, put forth a motion on April 25, 2024, entitled “For ‘Vision Zero’ and against raising the cannabis limit in road traffic,” which aims to stop the THC limit increase, thereby imposing a driving ban for cannabis users.

Next Steps

Following the hearings on Monday, the Bundestag will vote for both CanG and Road Traffic amendments and the Union Fractions motion to stop the increase of THC driving limits on Thursday, June 6, 2024.

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Region: Germany

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