Cannabis: What applies after legalization in Germany

Cannabis: What applies after legalization in Germany

Marijuana and hashish should become legal for adults. But the Bundestag’s decision is not that simple. What will apply to cannabis in the future.

The supporters could hardly wait, many critics warn of a historic mistake: after decades of debate, the Bundestag decided on Friday to legalize cannabis in Germany. The traffic light coalition’s legal plans do not provide for complete release, but rather a controlled release with various rules. Adults will probably be able to smoke the first permitted “joints” from April 1st. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) is committed to limiting risks and pushing back the black market – but the whole project is not without controversy.

Why is legalization even happening?

It is a turning point in drug policy. This finally recognizes the reality of many people’s lives and ensures more practical health protection, argued the Federal Drug Commissioner Burkhard Blienert (SPD). So far, consumption has been increasing, especially among young people, despite the existing ban on purchasing and owning, according to the draft law. Cannabis from the black market is also often affected by contamination and additives. But Lauterbach also 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.

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.

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. You should be able to store up to 50 grams in your private apartment. 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.

What should 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 in one day and a maximum of 50 grams per month. For 18 to 21 year olds 30 grams per month should be permitted with a maximum of ten percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), 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 rules should apply to transport.

What other requirements are there?

To get community-grown cannabis, you have to collect it in person on site and present your membership card and an official photo ID. 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 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.

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.

How widespread is cannabis use actually?

Cannabis is currently the most commonly used illegal drug. According to the Ministry of Health, there is no valid data yet on how much is consumed annually for non-medical purposes. According to a 2021 study, 4.5 million adults said they had 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.

Questions and answers: Bundestag approves cannabis: who is allowed to do what now

What regulations still exist with legalization?

At the same time, the 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. Expert suggestions should be available by the end of March. Sanctions are also regulated: adults who have up to 30 grams of cannabis with them or up to 60 grams at home are committing an administrative offense. If there are more, you are still committing a criminal offense. However, after the law comes into force, there will be an amnesty of convictions for cases that will be permitted in the future. Those affected can then request that the corresponding entries in the Federal Central Register be deleted. This is relevant, for example, for certificates of good conduct.

What’s next?

According to the Bundestag resolution, the law will go before the Bundesrat on March 22nd. 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. It will probably be necessary to set up cannabis clubs in advance. A planned second pillar of legalization is currently on hold: model projects for the distribution of cannabis in licensed shops, as is also stated in the coalition agreement.

Source: Stern

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