BERLIN — Last month, Germany's health minister unveiled a plan to decriminalize cannabis. The program would allow for the possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana and the sale of cannabis products for adult use in a regulated market.
Berlin will need final approval from the European Union's executive commission to see if this new proposal is in line with EU laws. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said the plan would proceed to legislation only if it gets the green light.
Lauterbach is confident the new regulations could serve as a prototype for the rest of the European region. However, they would only take effect in 2024 at the earliest.
According to Lauterbach, the plan outlines how marijuana should be cultivated under license and sold to adults at registered retail shops to mitigate black market cannabis. Individuals would be permitted to cultivate up to three plants and to purchase or possess 20 to 30 grams of cannabis.
According to Lauterbach, if the legislation goes as planned, it would be Europe's most liberal marijuana legalization program and the most tightly regulated market.
A long-time skeptic of cannabis legalization, the minister stated the flourishing illegal market and rising consumption as evidence the current system isn't working. Accordingly, over four million people in Germany, a nation of eighty-three million, consumed marijuana last year, and twenty-five percent of 18- to 24-year-olds have consumed it.
Lauterbach stated Germany didn't want to model their program after the Netherlands, Germany's northwestern neighbor, which combines decriminalization with minimal regulation of the market.
According to Lauterbach, Germany will determine whether marijuana can be consumed in retail spaces, but it doesn't plan to follow that course of action. Cannabis edibles would not be allowed, either.
Shops that sell marijuana would not be permitted to sell tobacco or products or alcohol and would not be located near schools.
According to the health minister, the government plans to set quality requirements but does not plan to set prices. However, he left the door open as to whether a "marijuana tax," beyond the standard sales tax, would be used to fund education on the drug's risks. Despite the additional tax, the product wouldn't be made too expensive that it couldn't compete with the illegal market.
The marijuana plan is one of a series of recent reforms outlined in last year's alliance deal between the socially liberal parties in the government of Chancellor Olaf Scholz. They concluded that the social ramifications of the new legislation would be reexamined after no less than four years.