German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, left, listens to Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, center, during the cabinet meeting in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023. Germany’s Cabinet is set to approve a plan to liberalize rules on cannabis, setting the scene for the European Union’s most populous member to decriminalize possession of limited amounts and allow members of “cannabis clubs” to buy the substance for recreational purposes.(AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Geir Moulson, The Associated Press
Published Wednesday, August 16, 2023
BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s Cabinet on Wednesday approved a plan to liberalize rules on cannabis, setting the scene for the European Union’s most populous member to decriminalize possession of limited amounts and allow members of “cannabis clubs” to buy the substance for recreational purposes.
The legislation is billed as the first step in a two-part plan and still needs approval by parliament. But the government’s approval is a stride forward for a prominent reform project of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s socially liberal coalition, though significantly short of its original ambitions.
The bill, which the government hopes will take effect at the end of this year, foresees legalizing possession of up to 25 grams (nearly 1 ounce) of cannabis for recreational purposes and allowing individuals to grow up to three plants on their own.
German residents who are 18 and older would be allowed to join nonprofit “cannabis clubs” with a maximum 500 members each. The clubs would be allowed to grow cannabis for members’ personal consumption.
Individuals would be allowed to buy up to 25 grams per day, or a maximum 50 grams per month — a figure limited to 30 grams for under-21s. Membership in multiple clubs would not be allowed. The clubs’ costs would be covered by membership fees, which would be staggered according to how much cannabis members use.
The government plans a ban on advertising or sponsoring cannabis and the clubs, and consumption won’t be allowed within 200 meters (656 feet) of schools, playgrounds and sports facilities, or near cannabis club premises.
Officials hope their plan will help protect consumers against contaminated products and reduce drug-related crime. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said he expects the system to produce “very competitive” prices, “so we think that we can push back the black market well with these rules.”
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