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26 Oct, 2022 16:25

Germany unveils recreational marijuana plan

The substance will be sold in licensed stores and produced locally under the Health Ministry’s proposal
Germany unveils recreational marijuana plan

Germany has agreed to legalize the possession and supply of small amounts of marijuana in a “licensed and state-controlled framework,” German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach revealed at a press conference on Wednesday.

Under the federal cabinet’s plan, licensed businesses will be allowed to produce cannabis domestically, to be sold in authorized stores and pharmacies. Adults can keep between 20 and 30 grams of the dried plant material – and up to three actual plants – for their own supply.

Young adults under 21 would not be forbidden from buying marijuana entirely, but could be limited to lower-strength products, the health minister suggested, noting that the existing drug policy had failed to “ensure” the protection of young people. 

The trend is in the wrong direction and we also have a flourishing black market, which of course comes with criminality,” Lauterbach observed. The aim is for the legal, taxable market to undermine the black market by offering competitive prices with comparable strength and quality, with the latter regulated by Berlin. However, the government does not plan to set prices itself, and has not decided whether a separate “cannabis tax” on top of sales tax should be applied.

Advertising cannabis will be prohibited, and packaging must be “neutral,” while shops selling the drug must be located away from schools and cannot also sell alcohol or tobacco. Consuming cannabis where it is sold is unlikely to be permitted, though Lauterbach said the government was still looking at that question.

While he did not give a timeline for when Germans will be able to buy cannabis at their local pharmacy, Lauterbach estimated that legalization could take effect by 2024. Approval by the EU’s executive commission is required to move forward, he acknowledged.

If given the green light, he said, the German example “could be a model for Europe,” replacing the existing tangle of often-contradictory and selectively-enforced restrictions. Lauterbach stressed he did not want Germany to follow the example of the Netherlands, where the legal market is not heavily regulated. The government will re-examine the “social effects” of legalization four years on.

Some four million Germans reported using cannabis last year, Lauterbach said, with a quarter of those between 18 and 24 having tried it. Medical cannabis has been legal for sale and use in the country since 2016.

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