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German Cabinet Passes Adult-Use Bill That Looks Nothing Like Original Framework

The German cabinet passed a bill to legalize adult cannabis use and cultivation. While it is still awaiting approval from parliament, this landmark legislation marks a significant shift in policy towards cannabis in Germany. Under the bill, adults would be allowed to possess up to 25 grams of cannabis, grow up to three plants, and purchase cannabis from non-profit clubs.

However, this is a far cry from the original proposal, which would have allowed for the sale of cannabis in legal dispensaries nationwide. The revised plan includes a pilot program allowing a limited number of licensed shops in some areas; however, some believe it still needs to be more comprehensive to combat the illicit market.

Furthermore, the bill sets arbitrary age restrictions for cannabis consumption that have been criticized as unrealistic and overly restrictive.

Age Restrictions for Cannabis Consumption

If the German parliament passes the new law, Germany’s age restrictions for cannabis consumption will vary based on age. Young adults aged 18-21 years old will be limited to purchasing up to 30 grams of cannabis per month, while those aged 21 and over will be able to purchase up to 50 grams of cannabis per month.

Critics have pointed out that these limits are arbitrary and unrealistic. For example, young adults over the age of 18 are legally allowed to purchase alcohol and cigarettes, which can have far more damaging effects on health than cannabis. Furthermore, research has shown that legal access to marijuana does not lead to an increase in use among youth; thus, there is little justification for stricter age restrictions on cannabis use when compared to other substances.

Cannabis Cultivation & Private Distribution Rules

The revised plan for adult-use cannabis in Germany includes stricter regulations for the cultivation of marijuana. For instance, greenhouses must be equipped with burglar-proof doors and windows. Additionally, only a limited number of people are allowed to cultivate weed at once – no more than two adults or four minors per household.

Cannabis clubs are also allowed under the new plan, albeit with some restrictions. These clubs are limited to 500 active members and must be a non-profit organization. Furthermore, smoking cannabis is prohibited in the vicinity of schools, nurseries, playgrounds, or sports grounds.

The revised plan for cannabis cultivation and distribution represents a shift away from the original proposal, which would have allowed for the commercial sale of cannabis in licensed dispensaries. Under the original proposal, there would have been no restrictions on who could cultivate marijuana or how it was distributed; however, these freedoms have now been limited under the revised plan.

Pilot Project for a Small Number of Licensed Shops

The German cabinet has included a pilot project in its revised legislation that would allow for a small number of licensed shops in specific areas throughout the country. This project is designed to test the effects of a commercial supply chain of cannabis on public health and safety.

It has been argued that this step is in the right direction, as it will help to normalize the market for cannabis in Germany and regulate its usage more effectively. However, some critics have pointed out that more is needed to beat out the illicit market if additional measures, such as reducing taxes and expanding the number of licensed shops, are taken. According to Reuters,

Germany’s hemp association said the rules were “unrealistic” and the illict market could only truly be fought with the introduction of cannabis sales in shops.

The parliamentary drug policy spokesperson of junior coalition partner the Free Democrats, Kristine Luetke, accused Lauterbach of continuing a “prohibition policy” and creating a “bureaucratic monster.”

Ultimately, Germany’s new legalization bill of adult-use cannabis is far from how the original plan was envisioned – with revised age restrictions, stricter rules for cultivation and private distribution, and a much smaller pilot program for licensed shops. While this legislation marks an important milestone in German cannabis policy, it does not go far enough to provide access to legal cannabis for adult-use truly.

The age restrictions set by the bill seem arbitrary and unrealistic. At the same time, the limited number of cannabis clubs will not provide adequate access or incentivize people to move away from the illicit market. Furthermore, while the pilot program may offer some insight into how a regulated cannabis supply chain can work in Germany, it is not yet enough to truly combat the illicit market.

It is clear that Germany still has a long way to go before its cannabis policy catches up with other European countries that have taken more comprehensive approaches to legalization. Only time will tell if the new legislation can make a significant difference in providing access to legal, safe, and regulated cannabis for adult-use. Hopefully, it will be a step in the right direction.

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