On Wednesday, the cabinet of Germany unanimously approved a controversial plan to legalise recreational marijuana use and growing, making it one of the most liberal cannabis laws in Europe. This legislation has the potential to create further impetus for a trend that is comparable elsewhere in the globe.
Adults would be permitted to possess up to 25 grammes (0.88 oz) of the substance, cultivate a maximum of three plants, or obtain marijuana as members of non-profit cannabis clubs if the law were to pass parliament. However, parliament still needs to approve the measure.
The center-left administration of Chancellor Olaf Scholz is hopeful that the legislation would limit the size of the illegal market, safeguard consumers from purchasing marijuana that has been tainted, and cut down on criminal activity linked to drugs.
According to Scholz’s Social Democrats (SPD), Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, one of the important pillars of the plan is also a campaign to promote knowledge about the hazards, which should eventually decrease use. This campaign is a fundamental component of the strategy, which eliminates the stigma around cannabis use.
According to what he had to say, a campaign of this kind would not get the same degree of attention if it were launched without a change in the legislation.
According to the health ministry, the percentage of people in Germany between the ages of 18 and 25 who had used cannabis at least once increased to 25% in 2021, marking a significant increase from the previous decade when it stood at 15%.
Cannabis use is thought to increase the risk of certain health problems, particularly in young people. The new laws would restrict the quantity of cannabis that may be purchased by young individuals to 30 grammes per month, while older persons will be able to purchase up to 50 grammes.
Strong opposition has been voiced against the proposed legislation, with conservative officials in particular expressing concern that it would normalise the use of marijuana and that the new laws will make the job of law enforcement even more difficult.
In March, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) issued a report stating that initiatives by countries to legalise marijuana for recreational use have resulted in increasing usage as well as health issues associated to cannabis.
However, Lauterbach said that Germany had learnt from the errors committed by other nations.
After discussions with the European Union in Brussels, the initial intentions that Scholz’s administration had to allow the mass sale of cannabis in licenced stores had already been whittled down.
Instead, it announced it will begin a pilot project for a small number of licenced stores in specific areas to assess the consequences of a commercial supply chain of recreational cannabis over the course of five years. This initiative would be limited to certain locations. In a subsequent step, it will be necessary for them to offer separate legislative proposals for this purpose.
The Netherlands and Switzerland both have or are about to start up programmes that are quite similar to this one.
Since 2017, Germany is one of the several European nations that has joined the ranks of those who have decriminalised cannabis for restricted medical use. Others have removed it off the list of illegal substances.
Late in the year 2021, Malta made history by becoming the first nation in Europe to legalise the limited production and possession of cannabis for personal use. If this were to take place, Germany would be the first significant nation in Europe to do so.
The law that was introduced on Wednesday contains stringent requirements for the cultivation of pot. Cannabis clubs with up to 500 members are required to have doors and windows that are resistant to break-ins, and greenhouses must be walled off. It won’t be tolerated if Associates light up a joint within the clubs or anywhere near educational institutions, child care facilities, play areas, or athletic fields.
The hemp organisation in Germany said that the regulations were “unrealistic” and that the only way the illegal market could be effectively combated was by legalising cannabis for sale in retail outlets.
Kristine Luetke, the parliamentary drug policy spokeswoman for the Free Democrats, who are a junior coalition member, accused Lauterbach of perpetuating a “prohibition policy” and creating a “bureaucratic monster.”