Germany’s Cannabis Industry Association (BvCW) has issued guidelines to hemp companies for how to respond if police agencies raid their establishments.
The Association said that while it expects a much anticipated federal Cannabis Act will once and for all clarify that hemp products are legal in Germany, the existence of an outdated “intoxication clause” currently on the books means traders and farmers must continue to be careful in how they respond to searches of business premises by police and customs agencies.
Deletion of the intoxication clause, which describes the theoretical possibility that a person can become intoxicated by consuming large quantities of industrial hemp, would relieve stakeholders of persistent headaches from German enforcement agencies, which have often instituted bans, raids and criminal lawsuits regarding hemp foodstuff and hemp-derived products such as CBD.
‘Alien to life’
“Although even after asking all state criminal investigation offices, all state interior ministries, the Federal Criminal Police Office and the Federal Interior Ministries, to date there is not a single case known in which industrial hemp was actually abused for intoxicating purposes,” said Jürgen Neumeyer, Managing Director of the BvCW, which has been calling for urgent action to shield hemp processors and marketers from police actions since at least 2021.
“This is a bit like prosecuting the manufacturers and dealers of ‘non-alcoholic’ beer because you could theoretically make schnapps from the alcohol it contains. This is all alien to life,” Neumeyer said.
Unique in Europe, the intoxication clause puts German hemp stakeholders at a competitive disadvantage, according to BvCW. Until its removal, companies, traders and farmers can protect themselves by following the recommended protocols for “the most legally compliant behavior possible,” the Association said.
Change appears imminent
“We advocate for clear regulations in favor of legal trade. This includes in particular that hemp products no longer be subject to the Narcotics Act and traces of THC in industrial hemp should not cause criminal proceedings, especially since the risk of misuse is practically impossible,” BvCW said in a press release.
The Association said almost all political parties in the Bundestag support the deletion of the intoxication clause, which has already been stricken from a previous draft of the Cannabis Act. Also, an expert committee of the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices recommended abolishing the provision as far back as 2021.
The Association said striking the clause could be done in a separate industrial hemp law which could be passed immediately. That would avoid any delays caused by the ongoing discussions over the final shape of the Cannabis Act, complicated and broad legislation that would legalize the private possession and cultivation of cannabis for adults, establish a regulated market for cannabis sales, and set up a system to ensure quality control and taxation.
Stakeholders have said rules for hemp-derived food products and extracts, particularly cannabinoids such as CBD, are urgently needed to give producers security in their business planning and set Germany’s food makers on a par with other markets around the world.