01 Apr 2024, 16:11

Germany gives controversial green light to cannabis

BERLIN, April 1, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - Germany on Monday became the biggest EU 
country to legalise recreational cannabis, despite fierce objections from 
opposition politicians and medical associations.

Under the first step in the much-debated new law, adults over 18 are now 
allowed to carry 25 grams of dried cannabis and cultivate up to three 
marijuana plants at home.

The changes leave Germany with some of the most liberal cannabis laws in 
Europe, alongside Malta and Luxembourg, which legalised recreational use in 
2021 and 2023, respectively.

The Netherlands, known for its permissive attitude to the drug, has in recent 
years taken a stricter approach to counter cannabis tourism.

As the law took effect at midnight, hundreds of people cheered by Berlin's 
iconic Brandenbrug Gate, many of them by lighting up joints in what one 
participant, a very happy 25-year-old Niyazi, called "a bit of extra 

As the next step in the legal reform, from July 1 it will be possible to 
legally obtain weed through "cannabis clubs" in the country. 

These regulated associations will be allowed to have up to 500 members each, 
and will be able to distribute up to 50 grams of cannabis per person per 
Until then, "consumers must not tell the police where they bought their 
cannabis" in the event of a street check, Georg Wurth, director of the German 
Cannabis Association, told AFP.

- 'Disaster' -

Initial plans for cannabis to be sold via licensed shops have been ditched 
due to EU opposition, though a second law is in the pipeline to trial the 
sale of the drug in shops in pilot regions.

The German government, a three-way coalition led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz's 
Social Democrats, argues that legalisation will help contain the growing 
black market for the popular substance.

But health groups have raised concerns that legalisation could lead to an 
increase in use among young people, who face the highest health risks.

Cannabis use among young people can affect the development of the central 
nervous system, leading to an increased risk of developing psychosis and 
schizophrenia, experts have warned.

"From our point of view, the law as it is written is a disaster," Katja 
Seidel, a therapist at a cannabis addiction centre for young people in 
Berlin, told AFP.

Even Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, a doctor, has said that cannabis 
consumption can be "dangerous", especially for young people.
The government has promised a widespread information campaign to raise 
awareness of the risks and to boost support programmes.

It has also stressed that cannabis will remain banned for under-18s and 
within 100 metres of schools, kindergartens and playgrounds.

- 'Responsible' -

The law has also led to criticism from police, who fear it will be difficult 
to enforce.

"From April 1, our colleagues will find themselves in situations of conflict 
with citizens, as uncertainty reigns on both sides," said Alexander Poitz, 
vice-president of the GdP police union.

Another potential issue is that the law will retroactively declare an amnesty 
for cannabis-related offences, creating an administrative headache for the 
legal system.

According to the German Judges' Association, the pardon could apply to more 
than 200,000 cases that would need to be checked and processed. 

Conservative opposition leader Friedrich Merz has said he would "immediately" 
repeal the law if he and his party formed a government following nationwide 
elections in 2025.

But Finance Minister Christian Lindner, from the liberal FDP, said 
legalisation was a "responsible" move that was better than "directing people 
to the black market".

The new law "will not lead to chaos", Lindner told public broadcaster ARD. 

  • Latest News
  • Most View