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Germany Just Became the 3rd EU Country to Legalize Adult-Use Cannabis

Germany Just Became the 3rd EU Country to Legalize Adult-Use Cannabis

Germany’s coalition government just passed a bill that will legalize cannabis following a long-awaited consensus in parliament.
Hayley Smith
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A long Journey that may alter Europe’s view on cannabis

After a difficult journey, The Greens, Liberals and Social Democratic party that make up Germany’s coalition government have finally reached a deal which will alter the legal landscape of cannabis throughout Europe and the world.

Germany Just Became the 3rd EU Country to Legalize Adult-Use Cannabis

What do these changes look like for Germany?

The new laws will enable adults to grow up to fifty grams for personal use, which is a significant rise on the initial proposal. Plus, licensed premises will be able to sell cannabis and cannabis-related products to adults for recreational use. 

The legislation also includes provisions to look out for young people. For example, cultivation is not allowed within one hundred meters of a school, as well as other highly concentrated areas of young people.. 

There will be a further vote at the end of the month and, if all goes to plan, decriminalization will start as soon as the 1st of April with the opening of the regulated market following later in the year. 

The coalition has struggled to reach an agreement in previous attempts to pass new legislation due to disagreements around the details, particularly around the sale of cannabis in the private market. Some party members remain opposed to the new legislation, which means it is possible there will be small amendments before the law comes to pass. Nonetheless, this is a hugely progressive move for Germany.

Where does Germany stand in relation to other EU nations?

If policy changes go ahead as planned, Germany will become the third EU state to legalize cannabis.

Malta was the first EU state to legalize cannabis in 2021 – allowing adult possession of up to seven grams and cultivation of four plants. The country has placed an emphasis on a non-commercial approach to sales which requires consumers to have a membership card to a not-for-profit cannabis club. 

In June 2023, Luxembourg legalized the possession of cannabis and cultivation on a small scale. However, the use, transportation or purchase of cannabis in public spaces remains illegal. Luxembourg has plans to have publically owned dispensaries in the future, but are currently focusing on the importance of the market remaining high quality in the interest of public health. 

When we think of cannabis in Europe, The Dutch Coffee Shop is likely the first image that springs to mind, however, cannabis technically still remains illegal in The Netherlands. It is merely tolerated within certain regions. Recently, The Netherlands released a pilot experiment with the aim of achieving a system within which coffee shops will sell licensed, regulated cannabis only. 

What benefits are Germany seeking from Policy changes?

  • Germany’s key emphasis is on improved public health, safety, and a reduction in the underground drug market. 
  • A regulated market means the government can better monitor the cultivation of cannabis and therefore, increasing consumer protection.
  • Germany will see an increase in revenue for things like schools, education and public health through taxation of cannabis.
  • Public health, taboo and rehabilitation related to substance use should improve.
  • Less pressure on the criminal justice system in all areas as drug-related crime is set to reduce. 
  • The criminal justice system will have more time to focus on other, more serious crimes. 
  • Increased tourism is likely, especially as Germany is one of few European countries with such progressive laws. This will see increased revenue within the tourism and hospitality industries.

A brief comparison with legislation in the United States

Germany is following the global trend of a more relaxed approach to cannabis and has had some time to observe the triumphs and pitfalls of other nations and states. Let’s take a look at how the proposed legislative changes compare to those within the United states…

  • Germany holds similar objectives to the US in terms of the proposed regulated market that provides better consumer protection, has benefits to public health and protects the youth.
  • Whilst this regulated market is similar in some ways to that of many states in America, the German policy does not allow for the marketing of cannabis-related products (in the US marketing is allowed within a legal framework). 
  • Unlike many states in the US, the changes propose the sale of products in speciality stores with varying consumption options. This is more in line with the Dutch model of weed coffee shops. 
  • The US continues to face challenges with regards to US federal law, whereas, Germany has struggled with managing the changes amongst EU law and international treaties. 

The changes in Germany signify a huge cultural and legal shift taking place over the globe. Many other European nations will be watching closely to see how Germany implements this change and the impact that follows. Germany is on the brink of a new venture which will hopefully demonstrate to the rest of Europe that there is an alternative approach to drug policy which better cares for its people and enables the benefits of marijuana to be embraced.  

Cited

Sinclair, Sarah. YouTube: Home, 02 2024, https://www.forbes.com/sites/sarahsinclair/2024/01/31/where-is-cannabis-legal-in-europe-a-guide-to-the-latest-policy-changes/?sh=613d0e166453. Accessed 20 February 2024.

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