Last year, the coalition government discussed introducing the legislation during its four-year term to allow the controlled distribution of cannabis in licensed outlets, yet Lauterbach did not give a timeline for the plan. Many other countries in Europe have already legalised cannabis for limited medicinal purposes, while other have decriminalised its general use.

With the new measure, acquiring and possessing 20 to 30 grams of recreational cannabis for personal consumption will be legal, while private self-cultivation would be permitted to a limited extent.

A special consumption tax is also in the works, alongside the development of cannabis-related education and abuse prevention programmes. Meanwhile the decision has stirred a mix of reactions across Europe’s biggest economy with Germany’s pharmacists association warning of alleged health risks that will come with the measure.

The European Commission will have the final say

Germany will present the paper to the European Commission for pre-assessment and will only draft a law once the Commission approves the plan. “If the EU Commission says no to Germany’s current approach, our government should seek alternative solutions. Not just say: Well, we tried our best,” said Niklas Kouparanis, chief executive Bloomwell Group, one of Germany’s largest cannabis firms.

The legal status of cannabis “varies wildly across the globe,” and while in some countries it may be subject to strict regulations, in others it is still fully banned. Canada legalized the substance for recreational use in 2018, while Uruguay had already done so five years earlier. An article on Drug Policy Reform Foundation Transform, discussed the situation in Europe.

Germany’s neighbour, Switzerland, a country renowned for a long history of pioneering drug policy, two national referendums on cannabis legalization have taken place so far. As a result, sales of CBD have been allowed for some years, and cannabis for personal possession was decriminalized in 2012. Moreover, the country may become the first European nation to fully legalize cannabis production for non-medical adult use.

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