Germany approves plan to legalize recreational cannabis

Germany approves plan to legalize recreational cannabis


Germany on Wednesday paved the way to legalizing the purchase and possession of small amounts of recreational marijuana, a move that would give Germany one of the most liberal cannabis policies in Europe.

The emblematic project still has to obtain the approval of the European Union and the German Bundestag before it is expected to be included in the code in 2024.

But the move marks a turning point in the drug debate in the EU’s largest economy, and amounts to a compromise between advocates of widespread legalization and critics who raise public health concerns.

According to the draft plans, the production and supply of cannabis would be “allowed within a licensed and state-controlled framework,” Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said at a press conference.

Consumers would be limited to buying between “20 and 30 grams” of dried cannabis leaves for their personal use, with supplies distributed through a network of authorized shops and pharmacies, under the draft approved by Cabinet ministers.

The major reform of German drug policy is aimed at “better youth and health protection,” said Lauterbach.

The current legal framework is inadequate, he said, which has led to a “thriving black market” and the promotion of crime.

– “Societal Impact” –

“A repressive drug policy has failed,” said Justice Minister Marco Buschmann.

Legalization means “better quality products and thus better health protection and relief for our law enforcement agencies so that they can focus on more important things,” Buschmann wrote on Twitter.

The unregulated trade in cannabis would be “suppressed” by the introduction of a framework for legal distribution, Lauterbach said.

Licensed companies are allowed to grow cannabis plants and manufacture products in Germany, and their sale is taxed. Adults also have the option of keeping up to three plants for their own sustenance.

Advertising for the drug should be banned, packaging should be kept “neutral”.

The government would also look into a possible limit on the maximum strength of cannabis products sold to adults under the age of 21 due to concerns about health effects for younger users.

However, a general limit on the concentration of THC, the main psychoactive substance in the plant, would not apply.

Any eventual decriminalization of cannabis would be reviewed after four years to assess its “societal impact,” according to the draft proposals.

– European approval –

Germany will submit its plans to the European Commission for approval before proceeding with rule changes.

“We are currently examining whether the key points that we formulated today are compatible with international and European law,” said Lauterbach, a point that is being discussed with those responsible in Brussels.

The minister expressed confidence that the legalization plans would be approved but said he did not want to “downplay” the risks of an EU freeze.

Lauterbach did not provide a detailed timeline for implementing the bills, but estimated that legalization could happen by 2024.

If the reforms were implemented, Germany would join a shortlist of countries that have legalized cannabis, including Malta, Canada and Uruguay.

In the Netherlands, considered a pioneer in cannabis policy, the sale, possession and use of small amounts of the drug has been tolerated by authorities since 1976.

The legalization of cannabis was one of the leitmotifs that the German coalition partners – Social Democrats, Greens and FDP – agreed on when they formed their government at the end of last year.

The Social Democrats have long opposed changing the law, with Lauterbach himself admitting to having changed his mind on legalization.

However, opposition Conservatives have called the government’s plans to legalize cannabis “wrong and dangerous”.

The health risks associated with cannabis are “not sufficiently taken into account” in the draft bill, said the CDU’s health policy spokesman, Tino Sorge, of the Funke media group.

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