On this day almost 100 years ago, the Opium Act came into force in Germany. Because of this, cannabis was also made illegal and has since then only been legally available for medical purposes. If the coalition agreement of the “Ampel” (SPD, Greens and FDP) is implemented as currently presented, cannabis would be available again for consumption purposes for the first time since 1929.

After the debate on a worldwide ban on opium was initiated by the USA and Great Britain in 1909, international opium policy was bindingly regulated for the first time at the first Opium Conference that followed. The German Reich, however, did not implement this until it was forced to do so by the Versailles Treaties after the First World War. But this so-called Law for the Implementation of the International Opium Agreement, which came into being in 1920, complied with the demands rather informally.

At the Second Opium Conference (1925), Germany signed a revised agreement on drug trafficking, which was put into force three years later. At Egypt’s insistence, not only drugs such as heroin and cocaine were added to the list and put on an equal footing with opiates, but also cannabis. India objected on cultural and religious grounds. Similarly, Germany saw no reason to include cannabis. As a result, Egypt threatened to restrict cocaine and heroin. This prompted Bayer AG (which imported heroin from Egypt) to pressure the German government, so cannabis was banned after all. This was recorded in a new version of the Opium Law on December 10, 1929.

Since that day, cannabis has been legally available in Germany exclusively for medical purposes. Thus, cannabis officially received a similar classification as opium, for example. In 1971, the current prohibition of cannabis was implemented by the complete transfer of the Opium Act into the Narcotics Act.

The current coalition agreement between the SPD, the Greens and the FDP proposes the “controlled distribution of cannabis to adults for consumption purposes”. If implemented, this proposal would make cannabis legally available for non-medical purposes for the first time in almost 100 years.