Germany Legalizes Cannabis

Written by Henrik Rothen

Mar.22 - 2024 1:55 PM CET

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Photo: Shutterstock.com
Photo: Shutterstock.com
As of April 1st, cannabis is legal in Germany.

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Germany's Federal Council has approved the legalization of cannabis, marking a historic shift in the country's drug policy. Despite significant opposition from some federal states and warnings of dire consequences, the legislation will take effect as scheduled on April 1st. This is reported by German, Welt.de.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach heralded the decision as "groundbreaking."

The decision came after a contentious debate in the Federal Council, where representatives from several states expressed grave concerns about the potential negative impact of cannabis legalization. However, their efforts to delay the law's implementation through a mediation process failed to garner enough support.

Under the new law, adults will be allowed to consume cannabis and possess and grow it in limited quantities. The legislation was pushed through by the traffic light coalition, comprising the SPD, the Greens, and the FDP, aiming to change the course of drug policy in Germany.

Despite the law's passage, Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Brandenburg, and Saarland had called for a mediation committee, hoping to stall the legislation. Other states, faced with internal disagreements among coalition partners, opted to abstain from voting. A notable moment occurred when Saxony's inconsistent vote, due to a split between coalition partners, was declared invalid, highlighting the divisive nature of the issue.

Health Minister Lauterbach criticized the previous decade's cannabis policy as a failure, pointing to increased consumption among youth, a rise in drug-related deaths, and the expanding black market as indicators of the need for a new approach. He anticipates that the new law will significantly reduce the black market's presence.

Critics, such as Bavaria's Health Minister Judith Gerlach, argue that the law is misguided and will impose substantial administrative and enforcement costs on the states. Saxony's Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer expressed a fundamental opposition to drug legalization, emphasizing the personal and central nature of the issue.

The police union anticipates challenges and an increased burden on law enforcement, expecting officers to face numerous conflicts with citizens due to uncertainties surrounding the new regulations.

Under the new rules, adults over the age of 18 can possess up to 25 grams of cannabis for personal use and store up to 50 grams at home. Home cultivation of up to three plants is allowed, and from July, cannabis clubs will be permitted to grow and sell the drug on a limited basis. Public consumption is restricted, particularly near children's and youth facilities and sports grounds, with smoking in pedestrian zones allowed only after 8 p.m. The legislation strictly prohibits cannabis for minors.

Germany's cannabis legalization represents a significant shift in drug policy, aiming to curb the black market and address the failures of past regulations. However, the move also raises concerns about its implications for public health, law enforcement, and societal attitudes toward drug use.

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