Germany Waters Down Cannabis Legalization Plans After EU Discussions
Germany has watered down plans to legalise cannabis, presenting legislation that would allow private cultivation and distribution through non-profit groups but not widespread sales of the drug in shops.
Friederike Heine for Reuters
Under the new law, individuals would be allowed to acquire up to 25 grams of recreational cannabis per day and a maximum of 50 grams per month. For young people under the age of 21, the monthly allowance will be capped at 30 grams.
“The previous cannabis policy has failed – now we have to go new ways,” Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said.
Wednesday’s announcement (12 April 2023) by the health, justice and agriculture ministries came after Berlin held talks with the European Commission on a cornerstone paper the German government issued in October 2022.
The paper outlining the plans mentioned a provision to regulate cannabis sales in licensed shops in the most populous European Union country, but this appears to have been dropped following the talks with the EU executive.
The bill does however foresee a pilot project for a small number of licensed shops in some regions to test the effects of a commercial supply chain of recreational cannabis on public health, the protection of minors and the black market.
Many European countries, including Germany, have already legalised cannabis for limited medicinal purposes. Others have decriminalised its general use, such as the Netherlands, while stopping short of making it outright legal.
Germany’s police union (GdP) called the plan a political manoeuvre in the face of impatient pressure from cannabis users.
“Regarding the illegal cannabis trade on the black market, the Lauterbach draft will have no significant impact. This also applies to risky cannabis use by minors,” Alexander Poitz, head of the GdP, told the RND news outlet.
Speaking during a press conference alongside Lauterbach, Agriculture Minister Cem Ozdemir said recreational use of cannabis would be legal in Germany by the end of the year.
“The cannabis project is taking the next step today so that cannabis use will become legal this year,” Ozdemir said.
The ministers said the legislation foresees amnesties for people who have fallen foul of laws criminalising cannabis use in the past, but declined to specify who would be eligible.
They said they would work with other EU countries seeking to legalise cannabis to craft a common policy across the 27-member bloc.