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Recreational cannabis legalized in Germany

Photo: John MacDougall Agence France-Presse At midnight, the time of the first “legal” joints, several hundred people celebrated the change in law in plumes of smoke in front of the emblematic Brandenburg Gate, in the heart of Berlin.

Céline Le Prioux – Agence France-Presse in Berlin

March 31, 2024

  • Europe

After Malta in 2021 and Luxembourg last year, Germany on Monday became the largest country in the European Union to legalize the recreational use of cannabis, with a reform which is attracting as much attention expectations than fears.

At midnight, the time of the first “legal” joints, several hundred people celebrated the change of law in plumes of smoke in front of the emblematic Brandenburg Gate, in the heart of Berlin, noted an AFP journalist.

In the middle of a young and joyful crowd, Niyazi, a young man of 25, says he sees decriminalization as “a little extra freedom”.

Possession of 25 grams of dried cannabis is now permitted in public places, as well as cultivation at home, up to 50g and three plants per adult.

An approach diametrically opposed to that of France and different from that of the Netherlands, where the consumption of hashish is not legal, but tolerated, notably through “coffeeshops”.< /p>

Paradoxically, you will have to wait another three months in Germany to legally buy drugs via a “Cannabis Social Club”.

Hence the warning in the meantime from Georg Wurth, representative of the German Hemp Federation: despite legalization “the consumer must not tell the policeman where he bought his cannabis » in the event of a check on the street.

“Because from April 1 we can in principle only obtain drugs illegally,” he said in an interview with AFP.

The situation will really change on July 1st with the clubs. These non-profit associations will be able to sell to their members a maximum of 25 grams per day and no more than 50 grams per month.

Shared cannabis gardens

These clubs, a sort of shared cannabis garden, will be able to cultivate the drug on land outside, in a greenhouse, in an uninhabited building.

Monitored at least once a year by the authorities, each association will be able to accommodate, in return for a contribution, a maximum of 500 people who have been residing in Germany for at least 6 months.

According to the government, the new legislation, ardently desired by environmentalists and liberals in the coalition of social-democrat Chancellor Olaf Scholz, should make it possible to fight more effectively against trafficking.

Believing that the policy of prohibition has failed, the Minister of Health, Karl Lauterbach, regularly argues that countries like Canada, which have implemented legalization, have been able to reduce the black market .

But many medical associations fear an increase in consumption, particularly among young people.

Until the age of 25, cannabis consumption carries increased risks for the brain that is still forming, according to experts, who point out in particular the danger of developing psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.

Forbidden to under 18s

For Katja Seidel, specialist in addiction prevention at the Tannenhof Center in Berlin, the new law is “a catastrophe”.

The German Minister of Health has promised increased means to educate young people about the dangers of cannabis, without announcing precise amounts.

The authorities argue that cannabis remains prohibited for those under 18. Its consumption is also within a radius of 100 meters around schools, nurseries, playgrounds.

The police are also up in arms against what they consider to be a “bureaucratic monster with a lot of piecemeal regulations”, according to the president of the branch union, Rainer Wendt.

“From April 1, our colleagues will find themselves in conflict situations with citizens, because uncertainty reigns on both sides,” explains the vice president of the police union, Alexander Poitz.

For its part, the Federation of German Judges (DRB) anticipates additional work: due to the amnesties resulting from the law for cannabis-related offenses, more than 200,000 cases will have to be re-examined.

This will prevent criminal justice “from devoting itself to other tasks for weeks and months”, points out Sven Rebehn, of the DRB.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116