Should cannabis legalization in Germany include social equity clauses?

There’s a lot of excitement in the air aus Deutschland after the German newspaper Handelsblatt reported last week that Health Minister Karl Lauterbach wants to prioritize recreational cannabis reform as early as this summer. This after repeated rumors earlier in the year that legalization was on a slow legislative track – post COVID, Ukraine and any other more politically compelling crisis.

According to Lauterbach, not only has he changed his mind about reform over the past year, but beyond that, he thinks the status quo actually does more harm than a properly regulated legal market.

The question now is how this could be achieved, particularly in a country where the initial cultivation quotas as well as the monopolistic distribution license for them have been allocated in a highly discriminatory, if not problematic way beyond for other reasons.

Completely reset a new normal

There are many debates and many ideas currently swirling about the “best” form of reform. This includes how to enable dispensaries to operate and what form they might take. But one that hasn’t been mentioned (until now at least) is the idea of ​​social equity. And for whom.

In the United States, partly to compensate for decades of racial targeting brought on by the War on Drugs and the rising percentages of arrests and prosecutions for people of color, the idea of ​​sidelining these communities within of the cannabis industry was part of the debate. for most of this decade. This is slowly becoming a reality as more and more states embrace the reform. Here is the basic premise behind these considerations: people and groups who have been unfairly and unduly targeted and punished by prohibition should have a real opportunity to reset their lives, but additionally, receive early support within this new industry. legal to do so successfully.

In Germany, the dynamic is not quite the same. However, there are clearly groups that have been disadvantaged for decades who could benefit from layoffs, affirmative action, special funds, and targeted hiring as the new industry becomes legit.

Here are a few :

German Jews (and their descendants)

Until 2020, most Jews who managed to escape the country during the Third Reich (and their descendants) were shamefully prevented from re-obtaining German citizenship by a variety of administrative court rulings just after the Nazi era. . These legal precedents prohibited most survivors from returning to the country and discouraged their children from doing so as well. Beyond that, reparations were a pittance compared to what was actually lost. It was also the Jews who initiated the first research on the plant in the 1930s, as they and cannabis were banned from public and scientific life.

After an extensive immigration lawsuit decided by the Supreme Court (2BvR 2628/18) and the actions of the Bundestag last year to change the citizenship law accordingly, this path to regaining citizenship is now open for the first time since the end of the Second World War. New crops, distributions, research and even set asides for store licenses across the country would certainly signal that the German government is finally beginning to accept the longer term responsibility of relocating this population and further giving them an opportunity immediate onboarding as well as financial and other assistance to get started in a lucrative new industry in their long-lost Heimat (country).

Other ethnic minorities

Germany is not the United States, but there is racism of the “other” species here, and there is certainly an even less studied correlation between arrests for drug offenses and skin color as well as ethnicity. Certainly, upon legalization, these people should automatically have their records expunged, if not given special consideration for at least basic employment in the industry. This could include set aside considerations for cultivation, distribution, B2C sales licensing, and even government funding.


Although there are certainly a handful of well-paid and senior women in the German and European industry, until now the German government as well as cannabiz have almost completely ignored the subject of gender equity despite the legislative mandate currently in place for the country. biggest companies to at least create gender representative councils. This is especially true for migrant and ethnically diverse women and those over the age of 40. The vast majority of start-ups that have received funding, as well as all of the biggest companies in the sector that have obtained special distribution and cultural licenses, are all owned by white men of Canadian or German birth. Moreover, these individuals are from the upper classes and the elite.

The long-term unemployed

This is an exciting new industry. As recreational cannabis stores open in cities across the country, layaways specifically dispersed via job centers (where most foreigners and ethnic minorities also hang out) could ensure that the most disadvantaged have a chance of finding a job, perhaps even if “just” self-employment as an employer and a new type of training to get them out of unemployment and reintegrate them into the labor market.

Cannabis patients

Many cannabis patients have both drug arrests on their records and, of course, are generally poorer than the rest of the population due to their disability and discrimination or exclusion from employment opportunities. job. Many patients want to try their hand at legal cultivation and/or be part of non-profit distribution and sales efforts, even if they don’t dream of going public with the German cannabis equivalent of Aldi or from Lidl (not to mention BMW).

Legalization and standard setting in a world of GMP and ISO

This kind of deliberate diversity only gets lip service in Europe in general and in Germany most certainly. So far, there have been no concrete plans to address this within the legalization industry. This was the case for public tenders for culture and distribution. This also appears to be the case in early reports of how recreational dispensaries will be set up.

Here’s how that could change quickly: GMP and ISO are quality and procedural standards that already guide the establishment of the industry. If both were modified in practice to target a diverse workforce (which also included older employees), that would be a good start. After all, is a lab, distributor, or dispensary truly compliant with best practices if most, if not all of its owners, founders, and senior employees are white, male, and under a certain age?

In a country where gender diversity, including on corporate boards, is now the law, it will be interesting to see how deliberately diversity (and far beyond gender) will be created for the industry – and in what time frame. Otherwise, however exciting the upcoming revolution may be, it will, under the status quo, look overwhelmingly masculine, pale and elitist here too.

James R. Rhodes