Employment Law28.12.2021 Newsletter

Coalition agreement & labour law: legalisation of cannabis - everything easy, man?

The coalition agreement defining the government's work envisages the legalisation of cannabis. Bob Marley would certainly have wanted this, but whether employers will all be happy about this is more than questionable. This is today’s topic in our series on the coalition agreement.

Current situation

In 2001, the single "Wir kiffen" (we smoke pot) was released. 20 years on and this is now the case. Page 78 of the coalition agreement states: "We are introducing the controlled dispensation of cannabis to adults for consumption in licensed stores. This will control quality, prevent the transfer of contaminated substances, and ensure the protection of minors." The political motivation behind this may be irrelevant here, be it to actually to control the sale and consumption of cannabis or to possibly relieve the burden on the judiciary or perhaps even the hope of more tax revenue. As far as companies are concerned, they face the question of what this legalisation means for them and whether there is a need to take action.

Focus on occupational health and safety

Many employers already see the risk of an increase in accidents at the workplace and economic damage to the business.

Occupational health and safety legislation requires companies to take the necessary occupational health and safety measures (§ 3(1) of the German Occupational Health and Safety Act [Arbeitsschutzgesetz - ArbSchG]). This is supplemented, among other things, by the obligation to provide instruction in accordance with § 12 ArbSchG. A legalisation of cannabis thus requires that existing instructions be reviewed and updated. Further measures will also have to be taken, such as a general ban on the use of cannabis at the workplace. In the case of individual measures, the involvement of the works council within the framework of § 87(1) No. 7 of the German Shop Constitution Act [Betriebsverfassungsgesetz - BetrVG] (occupational health and safety) will also be required, for example when revising a shop agreement on addiction prevention.

For companies that have a Code of Ethics or the equivalent, this will also include the task of reviewing the documentation. All too often, such documents still differentiate between "alcohol", "legal drugs" and "illegal drugs". "Legal drugs" are meant to exclusively mean medicines, but would then soon also include cannabis.
Fact is: if cannabis is legalised, companies will have to plan for additional outlay. In this case, it is highly likely that the standard repertoire of the works doctor will then also include THC rapid tests.

Back to list

Jörn Kuhn

Jörn Kuhn

PartnerAttorneySpecialized Attorney for Employment Law

Konrad-Adenauer-Ufer 23
50668 Cologne
T +49 69 707968 140
M +49 173 6499 049