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Germany agrees on plan to 'legalise recreational cannabis'

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AFP/The Local - [email protected]
Germany agrees on plan to 'legalise recreational cannabis'
A man smokes at the 'Global Marijuana March 2022' at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Soeder

Germany on Wednesday paved the way to legalising the purchase and possession of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use, as well as its production.

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"The federal cabinet today agreed the key points for the controlled distribution of cannabis to adults for recreational use," Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said at a news conference.

According to the plan, cannabis and the active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) would no longer be legally classified as narcotics.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany sets out plans for cannabis legalisation

The supply and use of the drug would be "permitted in a licensed and state-controlled framework", Lauterbach said.

Under the proposals, people over 18 years old would be allowed to keep between "20 and 30 grams" of dried cannabis, which would be sold in authorised stores and pharmacies.

Germany would allow the domestic production of cannabis by licensed businesses, as well as giving adults the possibility to keep up to three plants for their own supply.

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Advertisements for cannabis would be banned under the proposals, while packaging for cannabis products should be "neutral".

Cannabis products sold to young adults under 21 years old could have a maximum strength but a general limit would not apply under the plans.

Current cannabis policies had failed to "ensure" health and youth protection aims, Lauterbach said.

The traffic-light coalition of the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and FDP says it wants to create a safer alternative to cannabis sold on the black market and prevent money being funnelled into organised crime.

"The trend is in the wrong direction and we also have a flourishing black market, which of course comes with criminality," the health minister said.

European approval

Germany will present its plans to the European Commission for approval before moving ahead with any rule changes.

"We are in the process of checking whether the key points we have laid out today are compatible with international and European law," Lauterbach said, a point which would be discussed with officials in Brussels.

The minister expressed his confidence that the legalisation plans would be approved but said he did not want to "downplay" the risks of an EU stop.

Lauterbach did not provide a detailed timeline for the draft proposals to be turned into law but estimated that legalisation could come by 2024.

Were the reforms put through, Germany would join a short list of countries to have legalised cannabis, including Malta, Canada and Uruguay.

In the Netherlands, seen as a pioneer on cannabis policy, the sale, possession and consumption of small amounts of the drug has been tolerated by authorities since 1976.

Legalisation of cannabis was one of the flagship policies agreed by Germany's coalition partners -- the Social Democrats, Greens and the liberal FDP -- when they formed a government at the end of last year.

For a long time, the Social Democrats opposed a change to the law, with Lauterbach himself admitting to changing his mind on legalisation.

The opposition conservatives, however, described the government's plans to legalise cannabis as "wrong and dangerous".

The health risks associated with cannabis were "not sufficiently considered" in the draft paper, the conservatives' parliamentary spokesman for health Tino Sorge told the Funke media group.

 

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