The federal cabinet has agreed on key points for the planned legalization of cannabis. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) presented the details in Berlin on Wednesday. Accordingly, the purchase and possession of cannabis is to be permitted within limits in the future. According to the minister, however, a concrete bill will only be drafted when it becomes clear that there are no legal objections to cannabis release from the EU - which is by no means certain.
Lauterbach commented, "I think we are well prepared. I think a hanging game like with the toll is out of the question." In his view, the German government's plan "could be a model for Europe." As for the timetable, he said, "I can well imagine that legality will be achieved in 2024." Preparing the law, however, will be no small task, he added.
Presenting the key points, Lauterbach said the government is concerned with decriminalization and with achieving better protection for children and young people, as well as better health protection. "We want to create clear conditions," the health minister said. At the same time, he pointed out that no complete legalization was planned - he spoke of "narrow limits." Lauterbach said, "We want to strictly regulate the market, make sure that dispensing does not go to children and adolescents. We want to control the entire market." He added that lessons had been learned from bad experiences in the Netherlands.
The details at a glance:
- Cannabis and the active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are no longer to be legally classified as narcotics.
- The purchase and possession of a maximum of 20 to 30 grams of "pleasure cannabis" for personal consumption should be exempt from punishment - regardless of the specific THC content. A THC limit is to be dispensed with because of the great expense involved in possible criminal prosecution.
- Private cultivation will be allowed to a limited extent - "three female flowering plants per adult". These must be protected from access by children and adolescents.
- Sales are to be allowed in "licensed specialist stores" - access only from the age of 18 - and possibly pharmacies. Advertising of cannabis products will be prohibited. The amount that can be sold per customer will be limited. Initially, there will be no mail-order trade. Trade without a license remains punishable by law.
- "Because of the increased risk for cannabis-related brain damage in adolescence," it is to be examined whether there should be a THC cap for buyers under 21.
- In addition to sales tax on sales, a separate "cannabis tax" based on THC content is planned. The goal is a retail price "which is close to the black market price".
- Cannabis products for smoking and inhalation or for ingestion in the form of capsules, sprays or drops are to be approved for sale. So-called edibles, such as cookies or sweets containing cannabis, will not be permitted for the time being.
- Education, prevention, counseling and treatment services are to be expanded. In particular, it is necessary to "introduce low-threshold and comprehensive early intervention programs to reflect on consumption for young people who use cannabis," according to the key points.
- At the same time, data will be collected and analyzed on the social effects of cannabis release. After four years, the regulations are to be evaluated and, if necessary, adjusted, especially with regard to health, child and youth protection, and road safety.
Bavarian government voices criticism
Meanwhile, the Bavarian state government reiterates its criticism of the plans of the traffic light coalition. "The federal government's legalization plans represent a dangerous signal not only for Germany, but also for all of Europe," Health Minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU) told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper. "Cannabis has a strong mood- and perception-altering effect," he warns. Consumption poses "substantial and in some cases irreversible health and social risks."
Holetschek also expresses fears that legalization in Germany will attract cannabis fans from other European countries. "Therefore, the federal government must ensure that no incentives are created for drug tourism to Germany."
Photo by Shelby Ireland