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Germany Legalizes Marijuana

Germany legalizes Cannabis

The German Parliament today passed the law that will regulate cannabis with THC.

Germany takes a historic step by passing a law that will allow self-cultivation as well as the distribution of marijuana through cannabis clubs for personal use of the plant. The regulation will come into force on April 1, 2024.

This initiative comes from the German coalition government, known as the “Traffic Light” coalition, which is composed of the Social Democratic Party, the Free Democratic Party and The Greens, who have finally reached an agreement on the regulation of cannabis for adults. Cannabis legalization was included in the political agenda of this coalition after its victory in the September 2021 elections.

With the new regulation, it will be legal to possess and consume marijuana(cannabis with THC) in the country, and new cannabis partnerships could be possible as of July 1, 2024.

“In the negotiations we have agreed on a paradigm shift in drug policy with regard to psychoactive cannabis, expressly recognizing the social reality,” declared the health spokespersons of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), The Greens and the Freedom Party (FDP) of Germany. The initiative received broad support with 407 votes in favor, 226 against and four abstentions.

The approval of the German Parliament or Bundestag by a majority gives the green light to the law that will remove cannabis with THC from the list of substances prohibited by the country’s Narcotics Act, and would allow joint cultivation through cannabis clubs.

How does marijuana legalization work in Germany?

The legalization of marijuana in Germany focuses exclusively on personal use, not on retail or over-the-counter sales, as in the marijuana dispensaries in the United States, or as in the coffee shops in Amsterdam.

The German government has proposed the creation of cannabis social clubs, which would be non-profit associations with a maximum of 500 members. These members, who must be over 18 years of age and resident in Germany, may purchase up to 50 grams per month and a maximum of 25 grams per day. This model of clubs is very similar to the cannabis associations in Spain. In fact, the Germans were advised by the Confederación de Federaciones de Asociaciones Cannábicas (ConFAC) of Spain.

Controlled access and self-cultivation

The bill decriminalizes the possession of up to 50 grams of marijuana and allows the self-cultivation of up to three plants per person.

The German Parliament or Bundestag.

Marijuana clubs and controlled prices

The law will allow citizens over the age of 18 to purchase a maximum of 25 grams of cannabis, with a limit of 50 grams per month, through licensed cultivation associations, known as “marijuana clubs”, whose operation is reminiscent of Spanish cannabis associations.

There will be no free sale of marijuana in stores of any kind, headshops or grow shops. Associations licensed for cannabis cultivation will be in charge of distributing the substance at prices close to cost, guaranteeing its quality. Each association may have a maximum of 500 members (who must be of legal age and have their domicile or habitual residence in Germany) and cannabis-related advertising will be prohibited on the exteriors of these premises. Only someone whose “reliability has been verified” will be allowed to run these cannabis clubs, and consumption will be prohibited inside these establishments.

Restriction of consumption in public spaces

The law prohibits the consumption of cannabis in the vicinity of schools, kindergartens and playgrounds during the day, the restricted area for consumption being 100 meters away.

Less severe sanctions

Penalties for cannabis possession have been relaxed. Possession of amounts ranging from 25 to 30 grams in public spaces and 50 to 60 grams in private spaces will be considered an administrative infraction. Criminal offenses will apply only to possession of amounts in excess of those amounts.

Potential fines for cannabis-related offenses are expected to decrease from a maximum of €100,000 to a maximum of €30,000, for reasons of proportionality.

Legalization objectives

Minister Lauterbach has emphasized that this measure represents a “long-term shift in German drug policy” and aims to combat the black market for cannabis in the country, avoid the toxicity of a product handled without control, and curb young people’s access to other drugs that are more harmful to health.

Risk awareness

This historic legislative decision will be accompanied by an extensive awareness campaign that will alert the population to the risks of THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive component of marijuana, especially in children and adolescents. According to Lauterbach, young people will be informed about the dangers associated with regular cannabis use, which include damage to the brain, an increased risk of psychotic breaks and non-reversible attention disorders.

Controversy over legalization of cannabis for adults

The recently passed law generated controversy in Germany, as some cannabis consumer groups believe it sets too strict limits, while the opposition Christian Democratic Union (CDU) warned of a “loss of control” as a result of legalization.

According to the survey, 45% of Germans are against the legalization plans, while 40% are in favor, and 15% are undecided. Analysis by age group shows significant variations. Among people aged 18 to 39, almost half support legalization, while among those over 65, only one-third support the measure. These generational differences indicate that perceptions of legalization vary considerably by age.

Despite criticism, the bill was approved today by the German Parliament and will come into force this coming spring 2024.

Impact of cannabis legalization in Germany

The bill, passed in August 2023, was based on the economic study conducted by researchers at the Heinrich Heine University of Düsseldorf according to which, it was estimated that the consumption of 400 tons of cannabis per year would generate around 4.7 billion euros in annual revenue for the German state.. These revenues would come primarily from cannabis taxes, but would also include other taxes, social contributions and jobs related to the cannabis industry.

Opinions on the legalization of marijuana

This decision marks a shift in Germany’s drug policy and joins a growing list of countries that have decriminalized or legalized recreational marijuana use. In practice, regulating cannabis will mean that it will be taxed, and that production, distribution and consumption will be controlled by a state regulatory framework. Another important change is that it will allow advances in the field of medical cannabis.

Some people do not advocate legalization, but rather the decriminalization of cannabis and the repeal of prohibitionist laws.

There is still a way to go towards the normalization of consumption and the repeal of prohibitionist laws, understanding that the real problem is not marijuana itself, but the punitive and criminalizing approach, and the resulting stigma, adopted by society and the state. We talked about it in the post about the legalization of marijuana in Europe.

In any case, the legalization of cannabis in Germany represents a major shift in drug policy in the country and in Europe, and is expected to have a significant impact on the German economy and society. We will keep an eye on how the situation develops!

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