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Germany set to join legal cannabis club

file photo: "world stoner day" in berlin
People meet for 'World Stoner Day', a demonstration for the immediate decriminalisation of cannabis, in Berlin, last April

Germany’s parliament is expected to pass a law on Friday legalising the cultivation and consumption of a limited amount of cannabis, regularising the behaviour of the 4.5 million Germans estimated to use the drug.

Under the proposals brought by the Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s ruling three-party coalition, cultivating up to three plants for private consumption and owning up to 25 grams of cannabis would be legalised.

Larger-scale, but still non-commercial cannabis production, would be allowed for members of so-called cannabis clubs, which could have no more than 500 members, all of whom would have to be adults. Only club members would be allowed to consume their output.

“The aim is to crack down on the black market and drugs-related crime, reduce the amount of dealing and cut the number of users,” said Health Minister Karl Lauterbach.

The move would make Germany the ninth country to legalise recreational use of the drug. It is also legal in some jurisdictions in the United States and Australia.

Many more countries allow its medical use as a painkiller, a practice Germany plans to regulate in a separate law.

Cannabis would remain illegal for minors and highly restricted for young adults. Consuming it near schools and playgrounds would be illegal.

“This restriction is necessary because cannabis is particularly damaging for the still-growing brain,” Lauterbach said. “Nobody should misunderstand this law: cannabis consumption is being legalised, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous.”

The opposition conservatives oppose the new rules, which they say are too complicated for authorities to enforce and could lead to greater consumption.

“Instead of protecting children and young people, the coalition is acting like a state drug dealer,” said Christian Democrat legislator Tino Sorge.

Some experts doubt the new regulations would have much impact on dealing, since those who are unwilling to grow their own cannabis or join a cannabis club may still prefer to buy the drug.

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