Germany to Legalize Cannabis for Adults by April 2024

Germany to Legalize Cannabis

Germany is set to become the first European country to legalize cannabis for recreational use among adults, following a deal reached by the coalition government of the Social Democrats, the Greens, and the Free Democrats. The law, which is expected to come into force on April 1, 2024, aims to protect public health, curb the black market, and reduce criminality associated with cannabis.

The Details of the Cannabis Act

The Cannabis Act, which still needs to be approved by the parliament and the European Commission, would allow adults over 18 to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis for personal use and to grow up to three plants at home. Licensed shops and pharmacies would be authorized to sell cannabis products, subject to strict regulations and quality controls. The law would also create a cannabis tax, which would be used to fund prevention and education programs, as well as research on the effects of cannabis.

The government plans to designate some districts and cities as model regions, where the implementation and impact of the law would be monitored and evaluated for five years. The law would also allow for the establishment of cultivation associations, also known as cannabis social clubs, where members could obtain homegrown cannabis, but not consume it on the premises or within 200 meters of schools, day care centers, or kindergartens.

The Rationale Behind the Legalization

The coalition government, led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz of the Social Democrats, has argued that the current prohibition of cannabis has failed to protect public health, especially among young people, and has fueled a thriving illegal market that exposes consumers to harmful substances and violence. According to government figures, about 4.5 million adults in Germany used cannabis at least once in the last year, making it the most widely consumed illicit drug in the country.

Germany to Legalize Cannabis

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, who presented the draft bill on Wednesday, said that the legalization of cannabis was a “turning point” in drug policy, but also warned that the drug was not harmless. “No one should falsely understand the law. The consumption of cannabis will be legalized, but it remains dangerous,” he said. He added that the government would consider imposing a limit on the maximum strength of cannabis products sold to adults under 21, based on the level of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in the drug.

Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir, who is also the leader of the Greens, called the draft legislation “a significant step toward a progressive, reality-based drugs policy.” He said that the law would serve to decriminalize the many people who used cannabis solely for private purposes, as well as increasing the protection of children and young people. He also said that the law would create new opportunities for the agricultural sector and the cannabis industry, which could generate jobs and revenue.

The Reaction from the Opposition and the Public

The legalization of cannabis has been a long-standing demand of the Greens and the Free Democrats, who have advocated for a more liberal and evidence-based approach to drug policy. However, the proposal has faced opposition from some conservative lawmakers, who have expressed concerns about the potential health and social risks of cannabis use, as well as the legal and practical challenges of regulating the market.

The Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the former ruling party that is now in the opposition, has criticized the draft bill as “irresponsible” and “dangerous.” The CDU’s spokesperson on drug policy, Karin Maag, said that the legalization of cannabis would send the wrong signal to young people and would increase the consumption and addiction rates. She also said that the law would violate the international drug conventions that Germany has signed, and would create legal uncertainty for travelers and cross-border commuters.

The Alternative for Germany (AfD), the far-right party that is also in the opposition, has also rejected the draft bill as “a disaster for Germany.” The AfD’s spokesperson on health policy, Detlev Spangenberg, said that the legalization of cannabis would lead to more accidents, violence, and mental health problems, and would undermine the rule of law and public order. He also said that the law would benefit the drug cartels and the cannabis lobby, and would harm the German culture and identity.

The public opinion on cannabis legalization in Germany is divided, but has been shifting in favor of reform in recent years. According to a survey conducted by the polling firm Infratest Dimap in November 2023, 51% of Germans supported the legalization of cannabis for adults, while 44% opposed it. The support was higher among younger, urban, and more educated respondents, and lower among older, rural, and less educated respondents. The survey also found that 69% of Germans favored the legalization of cannabis for medical purposes, which has been allowed since 2017.

The Implications for Europe and the World

Germany’s move to legalize cannabis for recreational use could have significant implications for the rest of Europe and the world, as it would make it the largest and most influential country to do so. Germany is the most populous and the largest economy in the European Union, and has a strong political and cultural influence in the region and beyond. Germany’s decision could also put pressure on the European Commission and other EU member states to review and harmonize their drug policies, which currently vary widely from country to country.

So far, only Malta has legalized cannabis for recreational use in the EU, while the Netherlands has a policy of tolerance that allows the sale of small quantities of cannabis in “coffee shops.” Several other countries, such as Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg, and Switzerland, have decriminalized the possession of cannabis or allow for some forms of medical or personal cultivation. However, none of them have established a legal and regulated market for cannabis products, as Germany intends to do.

Globally, Germany would join a growing number of countries that have legalized cannabis for recreational use, such as Canada, Uruguay, Mexico, South Africa, and New Zealand. In the US, 19 states and Washington DC have approved cannabis for recreational use, while 37 states have legalized it for medical use. However, cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, creating legal and logistical challenges for the industry and the consumers. The World Health Organization has also recommended the rescheduling of cannabis under the international drug conventions, but the UN has not yet adopted the proposal.

By Ethan Mitchell

Ethan Mitchell is the visionary founder of CBD Strains Only, a leading online platform dedicated to providing premium CBD products and information. With a passion for holistic wellness and a deep understanding of the benefits of CBD, Ethan's mission is to empower individuals to enhance their well-being through high-quality CBD strains.

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