German cabinet approves bill to legalize use of cannabis

Govt hopes the law will curb black market, protect consumers against contaminated marijuana.

BERLIN: Germany’s cabinet passed a contentious bill to legalize recreational marijuana use and cultivation.

The legislation, which still has to pass parliament, would allow adults to possess up to 25 grams (0.88 oz) of the drug, grow a maximum of three plants, or acquire weed as associates of non-profit cannabis clubs.

The centre-left government of Chancellor Olaf Scholz hopes the law will curb the black market, protect consumers against contaminated marijuana and reduce drug-related crime.

A key pillar of the plan, which removes the taboo around cannabis use, is also a campaign to raise awareness about the risks, which should ultimately curb consumption, said Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, of Scholz’s Social Democrats (SPD).

Such a campaign would not gain the same level of attention if it were introduced without a change in the law, he said.

“With the current procedures we could not seriously protect children and young people, the topic has been made a taboo,” Lauterbach told a news conference in Berlin to present the law.

“We have rising, problematic consumption, we couldn’t simply allow this to go on,” he said. “So this is an important turning point in our drug policy.”

The number of adults in Germany aged between 18 and 25 years old that consumed cannabis at least once nearly doubled in 2021 from the previous decade to 25%, according to the health ministry.

Young adults are considered more vulnerable to the health risks of cannabis.

The new legislation will limit the amount of cannabis young adults can buy to 30 grams a month, compared to 50 grams for older adults.

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