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The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany upholds the ban on cannabis

According to a recent decision by the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany, the ban on cannabis continues to exist. Almost 30 years ago, the Federal Constitutional Court was of the opinion that the relevant provisions of the Narcotics Act were constitutional.

The background to the decision was judicial referrals from various district courts. The district courts suspended several criminal proceedings initiated for violations of the Narcotics Act due to the handling of cannabis products. This was because the courts considered the ban on cannabis in Germany to be unconstitutional.

In particular, the district courts argued that the cannabis prohibition disproportionately interfered with various fundamental rights. In addition, the use of cannabis had proven to be far less dangerous than originally assumed. They also argued that the addictive potential of cannabis is significantly lower than that of nicotine or alcohol.

The Federal Constitutional Court has rejected the judges' referrals by the district courts as inadmissible. In the view of the Federal Constitutional Court, the judges' referrals had not revealed any new factual or legal situation. Against this background, a new referral was not necessary.

In the court's view, it is not sufficient that other countries are striving for a more liberal approach to cannabis products. The German legislator had wanted to protect young people, among others, by making cannabis consumption a punishable offense. The Federal Constitutional Court concludes that the use of cannabis is less dangerous overall than previously assumed. Nevertheless, it has not yet been proven that consumption is completely harmless. There is also no constitutionally protected "right to intoxication". Finally, it is the task of the legislative body to adapt "penal norms to social developments".


Karin Deichmann

Dr. Karin Deichmann

Senior Associate

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Margret Knitter

Margret Knitter


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