Germany launches harm reduction campaign around cannabis

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Last week, members of the German government passed the bill that will see the country take its first steps towards cannabis reform.

The Bill, which still needs to be approved by Parliament, plans to remove cannabis from the Narcotics Act and regulate it under the new Cannabis Act (CanG), thus implementing the first phase of Germany’s revised two-pillar approach to legalizing cannabis use by adults.

The first pillar of the Cannabis Act will focus on allowing private, non-commercial cultivation for adult personal use and through Cannabis Social Clubs, associations for the cultivation of cannabis.

It provides for the legalization of private cultivation of up to three plants, with possession of up to 25 grams no longer considered a criminal offence.

Cannabis consumption will remain prohibited for people under the age of 18, with restrictions on quantities and levels of THC for people aged 18 to 21.

To read : Cannabis legalization project in Germany: the key points

This bill seeks to address the country’s failed drug policy, reducing drug-related crime and curbing drug use, while ensuring the long-awaited decriminalization of those who choose to use.

Federal Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir commented on the decision: “Today this coalition has taken an important step towards a progressive and realistic drug policy: the private cultivation, possession and consumption of cannabis become legal for adults. The law guarantees the long-awaited decriminalization of the many people who only use cannabis for their own use and, at the same time, finally strengthens the protection of minors. In this way, we are removing the business base of the street corner dealer and creating safe, controlled and legal access to cannabis for adults with Cannabis Clubs. »

“At the same time, we will prioritize prevention and health protection to educate our young people in particular about the risks and consequences of cannabis use. With the law, we create a balance between individual freedom and public provision”.

Health Minister Professor Karl Lauterbach and Federal Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir gave a press conference on Wednesday. Photo: Phoenix/YouTube

“Legal, but…”

The protection of children and young people should be a central element of legislation.

With the government’s decision, the Federal Department of Health launched its first prevention campaign to educate youth and young adults about the potential harms of cannabis use, particularly to the developing brain.

The campaign, which is based on the slogan “Legal, but…”, will be broadcast on the ministry’s digital channels in order to highlight the “apparent contradiction” between legalization and the risks associated with consumption.

Materials made available on the Department of Health website include phrases such as: “Cannabis: Legal, but…not in the mood for a panic attack”; “Cannabis: legal, but… I prefer broccoli” and “Cannabis: Legal, but… dangerous”.

Health Minister Professor Karl Lauterbach said: “The Cannabis Act marks a turning point in what has unfortunately been a failed cannabis policy. The aim is to reduce the black market and drug-related crime, curb the trade in adulterated or toxic substances and reduce the number of users. Consumption remains prohibited for young people and should only be possible to a limited extent for young adults. »

“This restriction is necessary because cannabis is particularly harmful to the growing brain. In order to prevent teenagers from using drugs despite everything, we are already starting an information campaign. No one should misunderstand the law. Cannabis use is legalized. It is no less dangerous.”

A new era for cannabis

The news has been welcomed by many in the European cannabis industry as a “bold step forward”, although some fear that restrictions on associations – such as being limited to “industrial areas” – will be “impossible”.

Niklas Kouparanis, CEO and co-founder of the German cannabis company Bloomwell Group, reacted to the news: “The Council of Ministers did not hold any big surprises, but one thing is clear: Europe’s largest economy, located in heart of the European Union, opens a new era for cannabis. The legislation presented today marks a turning point in the regulation of cannabis within the EU and sets a positive example of what is possible for the rest of Europe and the world. »

The bill will now go to parliament, where the government will vote on whether to pass it. However, with the three-party coalition government in power, Mr Kouparanis hinted that this was a mere formality.

He added: “Now that we have really started the movement, all that remains for the Bundestag is to pass the law. With Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s three-party coalition government, passing the law is expected to be a mere formality, although heated debates are expected in the days and weeks to come. But if the statutory cannabis clubs open early next year, that will be the point of no return – policies to legalize adult use must continue.”

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