'Up in smoke': Germany presents scaled-back cannabis legislation proposal

The leaves of a growing cannabis or hemp plant stand in a box at the Cannabis Museum in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, April 12, 2023.
The leaves of a growing cannabis or hemp plant stand in a box at the Cannabis Museum in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, April 12, 2023. Copyright Markus Schreiber/AP Photo
Copyright Markus Schreiber/AP Photo
By Euronews with AP, AFP
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Germany has revised its plan for cannabis liberalisation following talks with the European Union.

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Germany's health and agriculture ministers presented scaled-back plans on Wednesday for cannabis liberalisation.

The proposal unveiled includes decriminalising limited amounts of the drug, with health minister Karl Lauterbach saying that the country's "previous drug policy has failed".

It is a different plan from the one presented in October, which would have introduced some of the most liberal cannabis legislation in Europe.

The proposal was revised following talks with the European Commission. Lauterbach had cautioned that the German government would only proceed with its original plan if it got the green light from the EU.

He said at a press conference that the initial objectives of the proposal had not changed, with the government aiming for safer consumption, stopping the black market and better protection of young people.

The first part of the plan would create non-profit associations whose members could cultivate the plant for personal use under the supervision of public authorities. The creation of these "cannabis clubs" will be the subject of a bill that will need to be passed by MPs.

The legislation would allow individuals to possess up to 25 grams of cannabis for personal use and be able to grow three plants per adult.

Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir said that draft legislation will be finalised this month and that "consumption will become legal this year already".

The plans will need the approval of the German parliament's lower house, but officials said an endorsement is not needed from the upper house. That chamber represents Germany's 16 state governments, many of which include the country's main centre-right opposition bloc, which has opposed liberalising cannabis laws.

The plans on Wednesday faced criticism from opposition politicians, who criticised Chancellor Olaf Scholz's coalition government of Socialists, Greens, and Liberals, known as the "traffic light" coalition.

"The traffic light is fundamentally on the wrong track. Drug legalisation is just the wrong approach," tweeted Bavaria's minister-president Markus Söder and leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU) party there.

CSU secretary-general Martin Huber added that the government's cannabis plan would "particularly endanger children and young people," adding that there should be no legalisation.

Özdemir, meanwhile, argued that the government's new proposal was "coherent and pragmatic".

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