Cannabis legalization in Germany: 8 questions and answers

Cannabis legalization in Germany: 8 questions and answers
Possession of up to 25 grams of cannabis for personal use should be permitted. (symbolic photo)
Image: AFP

The Bundestag is supposed to approve the traffic light coalition’s legal plans this Friday – it’s not about a complete release, but rather a controlled release with numerous rules. Adults are expected to be able to smoke the first “permitted” joints from April 1st. But the whole project is far from being without controversy.

  • You might also be interested in: Cannabis legalization: “Passau must not become Amsterdam”

1. Why is legalization even happening?

“We have to adapt cannabis drug policy to social reality in order to combat the black market and protect children and young people in particular,” says Green Party health expert Janosch Dahmen. “Beyond some indignant rhetorical clouds of smoke, the sober numbers unfortunately show that a pure ban does not lead to fewer people consuming cannabis – on the contrary, consumption among young people in particular is increasing.” At the same time, Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) emphasizes the message: “It will be legal, but there are problems.” Until now, many parents did not know how harmful consumption was. Young adults in particular should be made aware of the increased risks.

2. How is legalization implemented?

Cannabis is removed from the list of prohibited substances in the Narcotics Act. In future, dealing with it will generally be prohibited by law – but with three specified exceptions for people aged 18 and over. These concern the ownership of certain quantities, private cultivation as well as cultivation and distribution in special associations. In general, personal consumption is not one of the prohibited activities according to the international legal framework, as stated in the draft law. The use of cannabis and consumption in the military areas of the Bundeswehr should remain taboo.

3. What exactly should be possible for adults in the future?

The possession of up to 25 grams of dried plant material for personal consumption should be permitted, which can also be carried in public spaces. Possession of up to 50 grams should be permitted in private homes. Three plants can also be grown there at the same time. Anything beyond this must be destroyed immediately. Harvesting may only be done for personal consumption and not for passing on to others. Seeds, plants and harvested hashish and marijuana must be protected against theft and access by children – for example with lockable cupboards and rooms.

  • Also read: “Absolutely irresponsible”: German medical president against cannabis legalization

4. What should the cannabis cultivation clubs look like?

“Growing associations” should also be permitted. So something like clubs for adults, in which up to 500 members who live in Germany grow cannabis together and distribute it to each other for their own consumption – a maximum of 25 grams of cannabis per member per day and a maximum of 50 grams per month. For 18 to 21 year olds 30 grams per month with a maximum of ten percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are permitted, which is the substance with the intoxicating effect. The clubs must be organized as non-commercial associations and require a permit that is valid for a limited period of time. The attached building may not be an apartment and may not have conspicuous signs. Advertising is taboo, including cannabis consumption directly on site. Cultivated areas and warehouses must be secured, and there are rules for transport.

5. Which requirements still apply?

To get community-grown cannabis, you have to collect it in person on site – and present your membership card and an official ID with photo. Only cannabis in its pure form is permitted, i.e. as dried flowers and leaves close to the flowers (marijuana) or secreted resin (hashish). Mixtures or compounds with tobacco, nicotine or food are prohibited. The packaging must be neutral. An information sheet must list, among other things, the weight in grams, the variety, the average THC content in percent and information about the risks of consumption. A purchase price may not be charged; the associations should finance themselves through their membership fees. Documentation requirements and official controls are also regulated.

6. What about children and young people?

The purchase, possession and cultivation of cannabis remains completely prohibited for minors, as the Ministry of Health emphasizes. Passing it on to children and young people is a punishable offense. Consumption “in the immediate presence” of people under 18 should be prohibited, as well as in pedestrian zones from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Smoking weed is also prohibited in playgrounds, schools, children’s and youth facilities, sports facilities and within sight of them – i.e. within 100 meters of the entrance area as the crow flies. Initially 200 meters were planned.

  • Also read: To smoke weed legally over the bridge – dangerous proximity?

7. How widespread is cannabis use actually?

According to the Ministry of Health, there is still no valid data on how much cannabis is consumed for non-medical purposes. According to studies, 4.5 million adults say they have used cannabis at least once in the past twelve months – 10.7 percent for men and 6.8 percent for women. Consumption was most widespread in the 18 to 24 year old age group. According to experts, there is a particular risk of psychological, physical and social impairments up to the age of 25 due to the brain’s ongoing maturation process.

8. What happens next?

After the intended Bundestag resolution, the law will finally go to the Bundesrat. It doesn’t require approval. In principle, the state chamber could call the joint mediation committee with the Bundestag and thus slow down the plans. In addition to legalization, the German Ministry of Transport is currently examining how a THC limit could be set for cannabis while driving – similar to the 0.5 per mille limit for alcohol. After the law comes into force, there will also be an amnesty for convictions for cases that will be permitted in the future. A planned second pillar of legalization is currently on hold: model projects with licensed shops.

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