As hearings in parliamentary committees continue, the text legalizing cannabis in Germany is expected to return to the plenary assembly for a second and third reading on November 16, when lawmakers will vote on the formal adoption of the law.
The measure received a first reading in the Bundestag, Germany’s federal parliament, last month.
What does the legalization of cannabis mean in Germany?
The legalization measure, presented by Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, would allow adult Germans to legally possess cannabis and cultivate a maximum of three plants for personal use. It would also create Cannabis Clubs that could cultivate and distribute cannabis to their members, with purchase limits for those over the age of 21 of 25 grams of cannabis per day – up to a total of 50 grams per month. People aged 18 to 21 would be subject to a lower monthly limit of 30 grams.
German authorities are planning a second phase of legalization that would launch a pilot program for the regulated commercial sale of cannabis. There will therefore be, initially, no retail sales as exists in the United States, Uruguay, Thailand or Canada.
“With this bill from the federal government, we can help improve health protection, strengthen education and prevention related to cannabis and curb the illegal cannabis market while strengthening the protection of children and young people,” explained Kirsten Kappert-Gonther, a member of the Green party, during a committee meeting last week.
“The federal government says that current developments show that cannabis consumption, despite existing prohibition rules, is increasing, especially among young people,” said Ms Kappert-Gonther. “Cannabis purchased on the black market is often associated with a higher health risk because the THC content is unknown to those who consume it and it contains toxic impurities and synthetic cannabinoids which can be very dangerous and whose effects are not known. not valued by those who consume them. »
Is the legalization of cannabis in Germany popular?
The legalization of cannabis in Germany is supported and supported by the government and a majority of the political spectrum.
However, a number of associations have spoken out against the legalization of cannabis in Germany, including the Federal Medical Association, the German Association of Judges and police and medical organizations. They are among three dozen institutions and individuals who submitted statements ahead of last Monday’s hearing.
The German Association of Judges, for example, said in written testimony that “the assessment underlying the project that it would significantly reduce the burden on the judicial system is incorrect”, because the legalization proposal still provides for offenses for the sale of cannabis, international importation and other activities. »
The German Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine argued that if the proposed reform did not allow minors to have access to cannabis, it was not clear whether the protective measures were sufficiently enforceable to prevent young people’s access.
The Federal Chamber of Psychotherapists, for its part, was also skeptical. The group called for strong protections for young people and said it was unclear whether decriminalization would address stigma enough for people with substance use disorders to be able to apply for help sooner.
Another motion, from the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, says lawmakers should instead focus on medical cannabis, which it says “enjoys a good reputation among the population.” The party argues that the Bundestag should abandon legalization of adult use and instead draft a new law to integrate medical cannabis into a national health care law, which would better take into account the “benefits and risks in an unlimited manner” and reduce costs for patients.