Germany on Wednesday unveiled plans to legalize cannabis, potentially making it one of the first countries in Europe to make marijuana legal.
Presenting his plans to the cabinet of Chancellor Olaf Scholz, German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said the proposal aims to achieve “the most liberal cannabis liberalization in Europe, and, on the other hand … the most tightly regulated market.”
Germany’s federal Cabinet reportedly approved the plan, kicking off a lengthy process to legalize growth, cultivation and distribution of the plant.
German laws must comply with European legislation, and under the proposal, the government would regulate cannabis production, sale, and distribution as part of a controlled, legalized market, said Lauterbach, describing the reform as a possible “model” for other European countries.
Although many European countries have decriminalized small amounts of cannabis for recreational purposes, only one, Malta, has fully legalized it.
The proposed plan would also legalize the acquisition and possession of 20 to 30 grams of cannabis for personal consumption, cultivation of up to two or three plants per person, and sales through specialized stores. Use of cannabis would remain prohibited for anyone under 18.
According to the plan, the government would also introduce a special consumption tax and develop education and abuse prevention programs, while ongoing investigations and criminal proceedings connected to cannabis would be terminated.
Legalizing cannabis would push out Germany’s cannabis black market and could increase annual tax revenues, create 27,000 new jobs, and generate cost savings of about $4.7 billion, according to a report by Reuters.
Wednesday’s announcement was met with mixed reactions throughout the country. A national pharmacists association warned of potential health risks of legalizing cannabis, while some regional officials expressed concerns that Germany would become a drug-tourism destination, similar to the Netherlands, where some coffee shops are allowed to sell cannabis under strict conditions.
According to The Guardian, Germany’s health minister said the Dutch system “combined two disadvantages: liberal use but not a controlled market. What we have learned from the Dutch experience is that we don’t want to do it that way. We want to control the entire market.”
Some information from this report came from Reuters.