Germany Passes Law Legalizing Personal Use Of Cannabis

Germany Passes Law Legalizing Personal Use Of Cannabis

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(Bloomberg) — German lawmakers approved a controversial bill legalizing personal use of cannabis, paving the way for controlled consumption of the drug from April 1.

The legislation introduced by Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government —  a first step toward a planned broader legalization — was supposed to take effect at the start of the year but got held up amid resistance from some lawmakers in the ruling coalition.

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It has also prompted sustained criticism from Germany’s main opposition conservatives, who argued that legalizing cannabis — Europe’s most common illicit drug — will harm young people’s health and increase the burden on police. The government said the aim is to shrink the black market, tackle drug-related crime and prevent the sale of contaminated products.

Under the new rules, adults can possess a maximum of 25 grams (0.88 ounces) of cannabis for use in public and grow as many as three plants for private consumption. From July 1, cultivation in nonprofit cannabis clubs limited to 500 members will also be allowed.

Germany is following countries including Canada, Uruguay and Malta, as well as around 20 US states, which have introduced similar mechanisms.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said before Friday’s vote that the government is pursuing two main goals: to tackle the illegal sale of cannabis and to better protect the health of young people.

“The situation that we are currently in is in no way acceptable,” Lauterbach said in a statement to the Bundestag in Berlin. “We have to face the problems and the approach we are taking here is a good approach.”

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The law doesn’t require the backing of the Bundesrat, or upper house, according to the health ministry.

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