Germany will permit adults to purchase and possess up to 30 grams (a little over an ounce) of Cannabis for adult use, reports Bloomberg. The ruling coalition is fulfilling its promise to legalize weed.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s cabinet on Wednesday approved a proposal allowing controlled cultivation and distribution of marijuana. Germany, with Europe’s biggest economy, wants to discourage the illegal (and untaxed) market for the herb.
The coalition government last year struck an agreement to introduce legislation allowing distribution of Cannabis in licensed shops.
The plan would also allow home cultivation of three marijuana plants per adult, reports the BBC.
“It Could Be A Model For Europe”
“If this law comes to pass, it would be the most liberal project to legalize cannabis in Europe, but also the most regulated market”, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said in Berlin on Wednesday. “It could be a model for Europe,” he said, reports The Guardian.
“We don’t want to expand cannabis consumption but to improve the protection of youth and health,” Lauterbach said. With about 4 million people in Germany having tried cannabis at least once over the last 12 months, he said, prohibition “isn’t working”.
The Netherlands hasn’t gone as far as the German plan, reports the BBC. Under Dutch law, the sale of small quantities of weed in “coffee shops” is illegal, but ”tolerated.”
Medicinal Cannabis Already Legal
Many EU nations, including Germany, have already legalized Cannabis for limited medicinal purposes. The use of marijuana for medicine has been legal in Germany since 2017. Other European nations have decriminalised its general use, whilst stopping short of full legalization.
Germany plans to allow limited private home cultivation. Ongoing investigations and criminal proceedings connected to cases no longer illegal will be terminated.
The government also plans to introduce a special consumption tax. Government offices are developing cannabis-related education and abuse prevention work.
The move was promised in the coalition government’s manifesto, announced last year. The Social Democrats (SPD) lead the coalition. The Greens and the liberal Free Democrats are their partners.
$4.7 Billion In Revenues And Savings
Legalizing marijuana could bring Germany annual tax revenues and cost savings of about 4.7 billion euros ($4.7 billion) and create 27,000 new jobs, according to a 2021 survey.
About 4 million people consumed Cannabis in Germany last year. One quarter of those were between ages 18 and 24, Lauterbach said. The Chancellor added that the legalization would squeeze out the illegal market.
Germany will present the paper to the European Commission for pre-assessment and will only draft a law once the Commission approves, Lauterbach said.
Pharmacists Hate It; Bavarian Health Minister Is Against It
The decision has already stirred a mix of reactions across Europe’s biggest economy.
Germany’s pharmacists association didn’t welcome the competition. The group gave the idea a chilly reception, warning of the supposed ”health risks” of cannabis. The group claimed it would place pharmacists in medical conflict.
And the legalization plan hasn’t been welcomed in all German states. Bavaria’s health minister darkly warned that Germany shouldn’t become a “drug tourism destination” in Europe.
“Consumption entails significant and sometimes irreversible health and social risks – and any form of trivialization is completely irresponsible,” Bavarian Health Minister Klaus Holetschek told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper.
Germany’s Green Party and Cannabis Companies Like It
But Germany’s Greens said decades of prohibiting weed have only worsened the risks. The Greens added that legal trade will better protect youth and health.
“Because too restrictive conditions for the legal market only promote the black market for particularly strong cannabis,” lawmaker Kirsten Kappert-Gonther said on Wednesday.
Lars Mueller, CEO of German cannabis company SynBiotic, exulted that Wednesday’s step was “almost like winning the lottery” for his company. “When the time comes, we will be able to offer franchise-like models for cannabis stores in addition to our own stores,” a delighted Mueller said.
The Netherlands has not gone as far as the German plan – under Dutch law, the sale of small quantities of cannabis in “coffee shops” is tolerated.
The German plan would also allow home cultivation of three cannabis plants per adult.
The plan still requires approval by the European Commission and German Parliament, reports the BBC. Lauterbach said it could become law in 2024.