Here’s the latest on Germany’s slow path toward a Legal High

Here’s the latest on Germany’s slow path toward a Legal High

Germany Paves the Way: Europe's Shifting Attitude Toward Cannabis Legalization.

German ‘gras’ it’s the most commonly consumed illicit drug in Europe, but apart from prescribed medicinal use, a handful of growers clubs, and coffee shops in the Netherlands, the shift toward legalization of cannabis across the continent has been slow.

Germany wants to change all that. Under a proposed plan, German adults in the European Union’s biggest economy will be able to possess as much as 25 grams of cannabis — also known as ‘gras’ or ‘haschisch’ in Germany — and grow as many as three marijuana plants for private consumption. Aficionados can join small cooperatives, or cannabis clubs, and grow marijuana with others — as long as it’s not for profit.

As is often the way, Germany’s decriminalization dream had started out much bigger. The original plan was to allow any German adult to grow pot at home or in a club, or buy it from licensed shops and pharmacies. However, as fears emerged about rising consumption among young people and the potential extra burden on the police, the creation of a commercial pot supply chain will now only be addressed at a later stage.

The revised draft law marks a turning point in Germany’s attitude to cannabis — and maybe the rest of Europe’s too.

Already, the move in Germany has kickstarted talk on legalization in neighboring Belgium. Late last month, Deputy Prime Minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne resumed the debate to free up pot rules, citing developments in Germany and the need for a “smarter approach.” Dermagne is a member of the Socialist Party which believes legalization has a host of benefits — not least of which would be a chunky €660 million ($707 million) for the state in excise duties.

The Belgian parliament will hear the Socialist Party’s proposal next month. Industry observers will also be closely watching Germany’s proposal as it progresses through parliament, where advocates of legalization hope that some of the increasingly restrictive rules being suggested are pared back. A plan for regional trials of commercial sales still needs to be considered by lawmakers as well, but that will likely only take place after the summer break.

Germany’s size and awkward path to legalized marijuana could potentially transform how the continent approaches pot and addiction policies forever. This is a region where nearly 20% of adults aged 15-24 are estimated to have used cannabis in the last year, according to the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).

But while Germany gets all the attention, it’s not the first EU country to move toward liberalizing cannabis regulation.

That honor belongs to Malta. The tiny island country passed a law in 2021 allowing limited cannabis cultivation at home and in registered nonprofit growing clubs that are capped at 500 members. Malta also set up an authority to oversee responsible use of the drug.

Luxembourg also brought in a law in July that allows households to grow as many as four cannabis plants, provided they are not visible from the outside or consumed in the presence of children. Failure to comply could result in a fine of as much €250,000 — or even a prison sentence.

Amsterdam, famed for allowing small quantities of marijuana to be sold in coffee shops to adults for decades, recently banned its outdoor smoking as part of a wider crackdown in the city’s red-light district. However, the Netherlands aims to test regulated production and sale of cannabis at some coffee shops by the end of the year.

And it’s no surprise that the Czech Republic is debating rules for self-cultivation, social clubs and a regulated cannabis supply: It’s home to some of the heaviest marijuana users in the 15-to-34 age range in the bloc, according to the EMCDDA.

Switzerland also wants in on the action, kicking off the first of a number of pilot trials in Basel in January. These allow the purchase of cannabis for non-medicinal purposes from selected pharmacies. The outcome of the test could create the basis for future regulation, with findings expected next year.

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Region: Germany