April 13, 2024

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The German Parliament approves a recreational cannabis law amidst controversy

The German parliament has passed legislation permitting the recreational use of cannabis, marking a significant shift in drug policy. The new law grants individuals over the age of 18 the right to possess considerable amounts of cannabis, although stringent regulations will limit its sale.

Starting April 1st, smoking cannabis in many public areas will be legalized. Individuals will be permitted to possess up to 25 grammes of cannabis in public spaces and up to 50 grammes in private residences. While some regions, like Berlin, have been tolerant of public consumption, recreational cannabis possession remains illegal under current laws.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, the driving force behind the reforms, aims to combat the black market, safeguard users from contaminated products, and disrupt organised crime networks profiting from illegal cannabis sales.

However, the new legislation does not pave the way for widespread cannabis cafes across the country. The debate over cannabis decriminalisation has raged for years, with concerns from medical professionals and conservative groups about potential increases in drug use.

Despite opposition, the law passed with 407 votes in favour and 226 against. Critics, including Simone Borchardt of the conservative CDU, lambasted the government for pushing through what they deemed an unnecessary and chaotic law.

Minister Lauterbach defended the legislation, citing a doubling in cannabis consumption among 18- to 25-year-olds over the past decade. He emphasised the law’s objective to dismantle the black market and rectify past failures in drug policy.

The approved legislation, while complex, imposes restrictions on cannabis use near certain areas like schools and sports facilities. The sale of cannabis through licenced shops and pharmacies was abandoned due to concerns about drug exports, with “cannabis social clubs” authorised to cultivate and distribute limited quantities of cannabis.

Additionally, individuals will be allowed to grow up to three marijuana plants per household. While regular users may benefit, occasional consumers and tourists may find legal access challenging, potentially bolstering the illicit market.

The government plans to assess the law’s impact in the coming years and may consider licencing cannabis sales in the future. However, opposition conservatives have vowed to repeal the law if they come to power next year, indicating ongoing uncertainty surrounding Germany’s cannabis legislation.