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Berlin celebrates legal cannabis possession

April 1, 2024

Adults in Germany can now carry up to 25 grams of cannabis for their own consumption and store up to 50 grams at home. Smokers gathered at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate to celebrate.

Crowds gathered at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate to celebrate the law coming into effect
Crowds gathered at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate to celebrate the law coming into effectImage: Sebastian Gollnow/dpa/picture alliance

Cannabis users in Germany's capital, Berlin, gathered at Brandenburg Gate on Monday to welcome a new law decriminalizing the personal use of the drug.

At midnight, it became legal for adults in Germany to carry up to 25 grams of cannabis and cultivate up to three marijuana plants at home.

"We can finally show ourselves, we don't have to hide any more," Henry Plottke, a member of the German Hemp Association (DHV), told dpa at the Berlin gathering.

The event was organized by the Berlin chapter of the DHV and was registered with the police.

Germany partially legalizes cannabis

What does the new law allow?

Adults aged 18 and over will be allowed to carry up to 25 grams of cannabis for their own consumption.

Public consumption will be allowed, so long as it is not within sight of children or near sports facilities. It will also be prohibited in pedestrian zones between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Adults will also be allowed to store up to 50 grams of the drug at home, as well as keep three plants for home cultivation.

Special cannabis clubs will be allowed to grow and purchase the drug on a limited basis from July 1. The clubs can have up to 500 members.

Cannabis will remain prohibited for minors.

A man smokes in front of a sign that reads 'We don’t want to be criminals' at Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, April 1, 2024.
Gatherers lit up joints and danced to reggae music at midnight, celebrating the coming into effect of the new lawImage: Christian Mang/REUTERS

The law, which has been met with some criticism amid concerns for the health of German youth, makes Germany among the most liberal countries in Europe in regard to cannabis consumption.

Germany is, however, not the first European country to relax cannabis regulation. The use of small quantities of cannabis has long been decriminalized in Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Belgium, and the Netherlands, though there too, certain rules remain in place.

German Police Union voices concerns

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach was a strong proponent for the new law, arguing the country's previous drug policy had failed and led to a black market.

German parliament legalizes cannabis

Justice Minister Marco Buschmann said it would mean less work for the judiciary and police.

"The changeover will mean a one-off increase in workload, but in the long term the police and judiciary will be relieved," Buschmann told the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland media group on Monday. "They will then be able to focus on even more relevant crime."

The German Police Union (GdP), however, on Monday again voiced concern over the implementation of the new law, with the union's deputy federal chairman, Alexander Poitz, expecting problems with controls.

"From April 1, our colleagues will find themselves in situations of conflict with citizens, as uncertainty reigns on both sides," said Poitz.

The union is concerned about regulating the consumption of cannabis within the permitted distance to certain facilities. Poitz also pointed out the lack of precision scales or other instruments police would need to make sure the law was not being abused.

"The burden of implementing the law lies on the shoulders of the federal states and local authorities. The federal government has ordered, the federal government must pay," said Poitz. He referred to the urgent need for further training and equipment.

rmt/lo (AFP, dpa)

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