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Germany: Lauterbach outlines cannabis legalization plan

October 26, 2022

An adult would be allowed to carry 20 to 30 grams of cannabis for their own consumption, details of the plan show. However, the legislative process could be a long one.

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach speaking at a press conference on the legalization of cannabis
German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach called the plans the "most liberal legalization" within EuropeImage: MICHELE TANTUSSI/REUTERS

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach presented his plans on the legalization of cannabis to the cabinet of Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Wednesday. 

Lauterbach, of the ruling Social Democrats (SPD), presented a survey which estimates that about 4 million adults use cannabis in Germany. The data suggests there is a huge black market and organized crime involved in the trade. 

What does Lauterbach have planned? 

Lauterbach said that Germany's drug policy had to be renewed because the current policies weren't successful in limiting consumption. His aim was to evoke better health policies as well as increased protection for minors. 

The health minister commented that cannabis consumers were "falling into an undertow of crime."

He made clear that Germany was not trying to imitate the Dutch model, as the country didn't have a regulated market. 

Rather, the plan signified "the most liberal legalization of cannabis in Europe", while also entailing "the most regulated market" in the EU. This approach could become a model for Europe, Lauterbach stated. 

However, before it can be taken forward, the European Commission has to check whether the plan was viable under European and international law.

Lauterbach wants to allow the acquisition and possession of up to 20 to 30 grams of cannabis for personal recreational consumption. The plans further show that he wants to legalize the production, supply and distribution of cannabis within a regulated and state-controlled framework, he said at a press conference. 

The cultivation of cannabis by individuals would be permitted to a limited extent. Three plants per adult person are to be allowed, according to local media reports. Lauterbach said in the press conference that the regulated production of cannabis in Germany would be part of the legalization, too.

Sales would occur in specialist shops and possibly pharmacies. According to the plans, advertising for cannabis products will be prohibited. 

Long legislative process expected

The Green Party, who govern in coalition with the SPD and the business-friendly Free Democrats (FPD), has stated that these are important points for a legislative draft on the legalization of cannabis. The party has long been an advocate for the legalization of cannabis. 

Germany's Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) had said last month that cannabis could potentially be legalized by 2023.

However, federal Drug and Addiction Commissioner Burkhard Blienert had suggested in July that it was questionable if such a law could be implemented before 2024. 

The governing coalition is expected to present a draft law at the end of this year or the beginning of next year. 

However, a specific bill will only be drafted after the EU has no legal objections to the planned legalization. The plan detailed on Wednesday can still change drastically in the course of the legislative process.


Germany's cannabis rush 

los/es (AFP, dpa, KNA)

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