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Germany Legalizing Cannabis But Purchasing Will Be Difficult

The German parliament has approved a new law allowing for the recreational use of cannabis, marking a significant shift in the country’s drug policy landscape.

Under the new law, individuals over the age of 18 will be permitted to possess substantial amounts of cannabis, though stringent regulations will make its purchase challenging. Starting from April 1st, smoking cannabis in many public spaces will be legalized.

In terms of possession, individuals will be allowed to have up to 25g of cannabis in public spaces, equivalent to numerous strong joints, while the legal limit in private homes will be set at 50g. Although certain parts of Germany, like Berlin, have turned a blind eye to public smoking, recreational use of the drug remains illegal and punishable by law.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, who spearheaded the reforms, aims to tackle the soaring cannabis use among young people, undermine the black market, and safeguard consumers from contaminated products, ultimately disrupting revenue streams for criminal organizations.

However, the introduction of legal cannabis cafes across the country is not expected to happen immediately. The debate surrounding the decriminalization of cannabis has been contentious, with concerns raised by doctors’ groups about its impact on youth, and conservatives warning of potential increases in drug use.

Following a heated session in the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, the law was passed with 407 votes in favor and 226 against. While opposition members criticized the government for pushing through what they deemed a “unnecessary and confused law,” Minister Lauterbach emphasized the urgent need for change, given the doubling of cannabis consumers aged 18 to 25 over the past decade.

The approved law, however, comes with complexities. Smoking cannabis near certain areas like schools and sports grounds will remain illegal, and the market will be tightly regulated to deter easy access to the drug.

Initial plans to allow licensed shops and pharmacies to sell cannabis were scrapped due to concerns from the European Union about potential drug exports. Instead, non-commercial cannabis social clubs will be responsible for cultivation and distribution, with strict membership limits and onsite consumption prohibited.

Additionally, individuals will be permitted to grow up to three marijuana plants per household. While this allows for possession of significant quantities of cannabis, legal acquisition remains challenging, particularly for occasional users and tourists, which critics fear could perpetuate the black market.

The government plans to assess the impact of the new law over the coming years and potentially introduce licensed cannabis sales in the future. However, given the complexity of the issue, uncertainties remain about the future trajectory of Germany’s cannabis policy. Opposition conservatives have pledged to overturn the law if they come into power next year, indicating that Germany is unlikely to emulate Amsterdam’s cannabis-friendly reputation in the near future.

“Germany Legalises Cannabis, but Makes It Hard to Buy.” Www.Bbc.Com, 28 Feb. 2024, www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-68378807. Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.