By / August 17, 2023

German Government Signs Bill Legalizing Cannabis Possession and Cultivation

The German government approved on Wednesday a plan to legalize recreational use of cannabis, paving the way for adults to purchase and possess small amounts. While the proposal has been well-received by the tripartite coalition, it still has to be approved by Parliament. If passed, Germany will become the first major European country to legalize cannabis.

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German Government Support From Health Minister

“It’s an important law that will signify a long-term shift in drug policy,” said Karl Lauterbach, the health minister for the German government, during a Wednesday press conference.

However, the bill signed today by the German government is a stripped-down version of the original proposal. The initial plan envisaged the distribution of cannabis through commercial shops, but this was rejected after opposition from the European Commission.

Cannabis Clubs: An Alternate Solution

Instead, the German government now envisions the establishment of licensed private associations — cannabis clubs — with a limit of 500 members each. Members would be able to purchase up to 25 grams of cannabis daily with a monthly cap of 50 grams. These facilities would not be permitted within 200 meters of a school, and each city or district could only have one club for every 6,000 residents.

“Cannabis becomes legal. A turning point in failed drug policy. Consumption is increasing, as is crime and the black market. Often there are toxic additives. It simply couldn’t continue like this,” wrote Karl Lauterbach, German government health minister, on Twitter.

German Government Plans Regional Pilot Programs

Additionally, the German government plans to introduce regional pilot programs allowing the sale of cannabis in a limited number of licensed specialty stores.

The pilot programs are in response to concerns raised by the European Commission regarding the earlier proposal put forward by the German government to allow cannabis sales in shops. Similar pilot schemes have been launched in the Netherlands and Switzerland.

Concerns and Criticisms

Despite enthusiastic support from some quarters, there are critics. Opponents argue it might pose risks for young people. Although the proposal prohibits cannabis possession for those under 18, young adults aged 18-21 can purchase up to 30 grams a month in cannabis clubs.

Yet, Health Minister Lauterbach remains optimistic, believing that criticism from all sides is a good sign.

Supporters of the bill within the ruling German government coalition, hoping for it to be enacted by the end of the year, argue that the country’s current drug policy concerning cannabis use has reached its limits and that the new law will minimize the black market.

German Government Is Reflecting a Global Trend

The proposal by the German government to legalize cannabis in Germany reflects a global trend toward shifting attitudes to cannabis. Whether Germany will join the countries that have opted for such a change or stick to its current stance remains to be seen in the coming months.

(Featured image by Jorge Royan (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons)

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