By / October 20, 2023

German Deputies Debate Cannabis Legalization for the First Time

Postponed by a few days due to events in Israel and Palestine, German deputies have just completed the first reading of the cannabis legalization project in Germany, at the Bundestag, the German parliament.

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Proposed Legislation Details

The bill debated by German deputies would initially allow adults to possess cannabis and grow up to three plants. It would also allow the creation of Cannabis Clubs, and cultivation associations that would distribute the harvest of their plants among association members. A second phase, not on the agenda, may eventually allow the retail sale of cannabis in specialized stores.

“With this bill, we describe a new path, a courageous path, a path that stands on the side of those who consume it. We have spoken out against state oppression and in favor of a progressive drug policy that educates and grants freedom,” declared Carmen Wegge, of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), after recalling that cannabis prohibition has failed.

German Deputies Split: Opposition and Support

Among the German deputies, Kirsten Kappert-Gonther, a member of the Green Party, said that cannabis prohibition makes it even more dangerous. “The prohibition of the black market increases the risk,” she said, noting that illegal sellers do not provide verified information on the ingredients or potency of the product.

“Legalization would also better prevent children’s access thanks to identity control requirements,” she added.

“Instead of a flourishing illegal market, we are now creating legal alternatives that adults can consume,” said the Green Party deputy.

German Deputies Share Different Perspectives

Another of the German deputies debating the bill, Kristine Lütke from the Free Democratic Party (FDP) acknowledged that the current bill is not final, but said it includes essential provisions such as the minimum distance between cultivation facilities and public schools and other sensitive areas.

Ms. Lütke said she hoped legislators could refine the bill during the legislative process.

“I know the subject is very emotional, but I think we can now get back to a factual level,” she said, noting that the key points of the proposal were unveiled almost a year ago and that “the cannabis bill is now available.”

Opposition Parties’ Motions

German deputies from opposition political parties filed two motions before Wednesday’s debate. The first, filed by the Union (CDU/CSU), asks legislators to put an end to cannabis legalization, which, it believes, leads the country “in the wrong direction” and will result in an increase in cannabis consumption.

“The federal health ministry is working on the law to legalize cannabis while warning against the dangers of consumption. Instead of the planned legalization, it is necessary to strengthen prevention and education on the dangers that can arise from cannabis consumption.”

Responses on Social Media

On social networks Wednesday, Mr. Lauterbach, the health minister, responded to the opposition put up by German deputies representing the CDU/CSU. In response to the party’s claim that “young people up to 25 years old are particularly at risk because their brain development is not yet complete,” Mr. Lauterbach noted that cannabis consumption among young adults “has been increasing for years” due to the prohibition currently in place for adults.

“At the same time, the toxic concentrations of THC are increasing, and there are more additives,” he wrote, suggesting that legal cannabis sources would be safer for consumers than unregulated sources. “Should we complain about the problem and do nothing?”

Other Suggestions Shared by German Deputies

Another motion put forward by the German deputies, this time coming from the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, argues that legislators should instead focus on cannabis, which, it believes, “enjoys a good reputation among the population.” The party maintains that the Bundestag should abandon the legalization of adult-use and instead draft a new law to incorporate therapeutic cannabis into a national healthcare law, which would allow addressing the “benefits and risks openly” and might reduce costs for patients.

Next Steps

The bill will then be examined in committee. The health committee is expected to examine the proposal on November 6, when lawmakers should gather expert testimonies on the proposal.

A second and third (final) reading by the German deputies is scheduled for November 16.

(Featured image by Diego Delso (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Wikimedia Commons)

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