German cabinet supports cannabis legalization project – POLITICO

The German government has backed a plan presented by Health Minister Karl Lauterbach on Wednesday to legalize cannabis, but the European Commission will have a say in whether it becomes legal.

The fate of the reform is being closely watched in Europe where only a few countries, such as Portugal, have already liberalized the rules governing pot – and by the North American cannabis industry, which has sniffed out a market opportunity.

Lauterbach told reporters that the so-called foundational document details the conditions under which cannabis can be legally produced and sold, and how to regulate possession. He added that he did not want to sell this document as a « major breakthrough in drug policy » because it has yet to be confirmed that it complies with international and European law.

“We want to decriminalize the use of cannabis in order to achieve better protection for children and young people, but also better protection for health,” Lauterbach told a press conference, saying that the increase in consumption was made possible by a flourishing black market.

The plan approved by Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s cabinet would decriminalize possession of 20 to 30 grams of cannabis by adults. It would also be legal to cultivate up to three cannabis plants home, which is more than a previous article that leaked last week offered.

Additionally, a 15% limit on the psychoactive substance THC that was included in the previous leaked draft has been dropped. Instead, the document now says a limit on THC content would only be set for 18-21 year olds, citing increased risk of cannabis-related brain damage in adolescence.

The cannabis would be sold in licensed stores and, potentially, in pharmacies. Also under consideration are « specialty stores with drinking options » – or Dutch-style cafes. Germany has allowed the sale of medical cannabis in pharmacies since 2016.


The plan proposes that demand will be met by production in Germany, which may disappoint North American producers looking to source from their existing production.

Lauterbach also raised concerns that legalizing cannabis would violate Germany’s European commitments, part of a broader agenda that has so far aimed to curb the illicit narcotics trade and drug tourism.

He said the plan would be sent to the European Commission for a preliminary review to see if it complies with EU law. “If this preliminary examination clearly showed that this path would not be viable for the European Commission, then we would not draw up a draft law on this basis either,” said Lauterbach.

Depending on the outcome of this review, a draft law could be prepared in the first quarter of next year, he said.

Lawmakers in Scholz’s Social Democrat-led coalition government said the latest draft was an improvement over the previous version. Kirsten Yet Kappert-Gonther, deputy chair of the Greens’ parliamentary health committee, also warned in emailed comments to POLITICO that excessive restrictions on sales risk encouraging a strong cannabis black market.

Kristine Lütke, drug policy spokesperson for the Liberal Democratic Party (FDP), was less positive, saying the draft « does not provide effective and good protection for young people, health and consumers, while controlling the black market. ”

Stephan Pilsinger, from the Bavaria-based conservative opposition party Christian Social Union, said the government’s plan would miss its goal of stamping out the black market and predicted the European Commission would oppose it.

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