The German federal cabinet has approved a draft law to legalize marijuana and give the country some of the most liberal cannabis laws in Europe.
Under the plans announced by Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, the Cannabis Act would allow consumers to legally possess up to 25 grams of cannabis for recreational use, grow up to three cannabis plants at a time for personal use, and join “cannabis clubs” of up to 500 members where the plant can be grown and the drug acquired.
“We have just passed the Cannabis Act in the Cabinet and I am glad that this could be achieved. It is an important law that will be a long-term turning point in German drug policy,” Lauterbach told journalists during a press conference on Wednesday.
“The concept we are presenting here is a concept of controlled legalization.
“This is a health policy decision because, with the current procedures, we cannot seriously pursue child and youth protection. The subject is taboo. We have increasing consumption, problematic consumption. It just couldn’t have gone on like this,” he added.
The draft law still needs to be debated in the German parliament and voted on by lawmakers, and there is plenty of opposition to the controversial reforms.
“The harmful effect of cannabis on mental development has long been known,” said Andrea Lindholz, the deputy chairwoman of the opposition CSU parliamentary party. “This draft law makes Germany more insecure,” she added.
The conservative Alternative for Germany (AfD) also strongly opposes the plans.
“By legalizing cannabis, the state is promoting the transition to harder drugs – young people in particular will be introduced to the gateway drug cannabis in the future,” stated Martin Sichert, the party’s health policy spokesman.
“This has fatal consequences for the health of young people in particular. We, therefore, continue to strictly reject the use for recreational purposes and private possession, as well as the promotion of cannabis cultivation associations,” he added.
Even senior members within the governing parties have expressed concern including Hamburg’s Interior Senator Andy Grote, a member of the SPD, who told the Bild newspaper: “If we don’t need anything now, it’s this law in this form.
“We really have a few other problems in Germany at the moment, with enough tasks for our administration and especially for our police,” he added.
The bill is expected to be debated in the Bundestag after the summer recess.