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Germany's Legalization of Cannabis

Updated: Mar 28

Legislation allowing partial legalization of cannabis for personal use has been approved by German

lawmakers, the new law permits individuals to possess up to 50 grams of cannabis for private

consumption and cultivate up to three plants, in public, adults are allowed to carry up to 25 grams of

cannabis. The vote, held on Friday 23. February, sets the stage for the legislation to take effect on the

first of April, though potential delays by the Bundesrat and the requirement for presidential approval

could impact the timeline. The draft law garnered support from 407 MPs, with 226 voting against it

and 4 abstaining. The legislation not only sanctions non commercial cultivation but also regulates the

controlled distribution of the drug through cannabis clubs, which would have a limit of 500 members.

In certain German regions, like Berlin, police generally ignore public weed smoking, even though

recreational use is illegal and can lead to legal consequences. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach is

driving reforms aiming to tackle issues like the black market, protect cannabis users from laced

products and disrupt revenue streams for organized crime groups. However, the envisioned scenario

does not involve an immediate launch of legal weed stores across the country. The debate around

decriminalizing cannabis has been intense in Germany, with concerns from doctors groups about the

impact on young people and conservative groups arguing that such policies could encourage drug


Minister Lauterbach emphasized the urgency for change, pointing out the doubling of cannabis

consumers aged 18 to 25 over the past decade. The approved law in Germany is complicated,

maintaining the illegality of smoking cannabis in certain areas like those near schools and sports

grounds. The market will be closely regulated, making the purchase of the drug a controlled process.

Original plans for licensed shops and pharmacies to sell cannabis were abandoned due to EU

concerns about potential drug exports.

The government plans to assess the impact of the new law over the next few years and eventually

introduce licensed cannabis sales. However, given the culture war debate that it is, the future remains

uncertain. Conservatives assert that if they come into power next year, they would scrap the law


What does this mean for the rest of Europe? While we might think, and some may hope, Germany

could trigger a domino effect, the european elections are forecasted to tilt conservative whose

agenda is not on the side of legalization. But quite a few countries, such as France, Ireland, Denmark

and the Czech republic, have launched pilot programmes to explore expanded access to medical

marihuana for its recognized therapeutic benefit. The only country in the EU to legalize the

recreational use of cannabis is Malta in 2021. While we might think of the Netherlands as very lenient

on cannabis, the possession of up to 5 grams is merely decriminalized as it is in Portugal and Spain.

Although in modern culture and modern science cannabis is seen nowhere near as damaging as other

drugs, its legal standing still remains gray, beetwen recreational smokers, patients, cannabis lobbies,

conservative groups and big pharma there is a long way to go.


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