The German Federal Narcotics Act defines schedules of narcotic substances, the framework and procedure for legal turnover and prescription of narcotics, criminal and administrative liability and alternative measures for drug-dependent offenders. Use of drugs is not mentioned as an offence.
Unauthorised possession of drugs is a criminal offence punishable by up to five years in prison. However, the law affords various possibilities other than prosecution when only small quantities of narcotic drugs for personal use are involved, in line with a general trend in Europe to reduce the severity of punishments for such offences. Important criteria on which such a decision is based are the amount and type of the drugs involved, the involvement of others, the personal history of the offender and whether or not public interest would be served by prosecution. Most of the Länder have defined values for ‘small amounts’ of cannabis and a few have established amounts for heroin, cocaine, amphetamine and MDMA/ecstasy; for methamphetamine, a federal ruling limits ‘non-small’ amount to 5 g of the active substance. When a sentence is imposed, the principle of ‘treatment instead of punishment’ still allows — under certain circumstances — a postponement or remission of the punishment if the offender enters treatment.
The illicit supply, cultivation and manufacture of narcotic drugs carry penalties of up to five years’ imprisonment. This increases to 15 years if there are aggravating circumstances, which include ‘not insignificant’ quantities of narcotic drugs; an adult supplying narcotics to a person under the age of 18; a person trafficking narcotics ‘professionally’ or as a member of a gang; or carrying a weapon when committing a serious drug-related offence.
Legal penalties: the possibility of incarceration for possession of drugs for personal use (minor offence)
NBYear of data 2015.
Reported drug law offences in Germany
NBYear of data 2015.
Until recently, new psychoactive substances (NPS) were controlled by their introduction into Schedules I to III of the German Federal Narcotics Act. However, the amendment procedure is deemed lengthy. Therefore, from October 2016, a new law prohibits supply-related actions involving NPS that belong to groups of amphetamine-type stimulants, including cathinones and synthetic cannabinoids; these offences are punishable by up to three years in prison or up to 10 years’ imprisonment in certain aggravating circumstances.
In 2011, cannabis was transferred from Schedule I to Schedule III of the Narcotic Act, which, for the first time, enabled cannabis- containing proprietary medicinal products to be manufactured and prescribed, following clinical testing and licensing by the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM).
Drug law offence (DLO) data are the foundation for monitoring drug-related crime and are also a measure of law enforcement activity and drug market dynamics; they may be used to inform policies on the implementation of drug laws and to improve strategies.
In Germany, a slight rise in the level of drug law offences has been reported in since 2013, due to the increase in general drug law offences, including consumption and possession. Drug use-related offences committed against the Narcotic Act (unauthorised possession, purchase and distribution of narcotic substances) dominate the drug law offences and more than half of the annually reported offences are related to cannabis, followed by amphetamines.