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Germany Legalises Recreational Cannabis

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In a landmark move, Germany has officially become the largest member of the European Union (EU) to legalise recreational cannabis, setting a precedent that has been met with both celebration and criticisms.

As of Monday, adults over the age of 18 are now permitted to possess up to 25 grams of dried cannabis and grow a maximum of three marijuana plants at home. This initiative positions Germany alongside Malta and Luxembourg one of the European countries with the most lenient cannabis laws.

 

Despite the groundbreaking legislation, the country has faced significant backlash from opposition politicians and health experts who fear potential negative impacts on society, especially among younger populations. Critics argue that the legalisation could lead to increased cannabis use among teenagers and young adults, potentially harming their developing brains and increasing the risk of psychosis and schizophrenia.

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“From our point of view, the law as it is written is a disaster,” expressed Katja Seidel, a therapist at a Berlin cannabis addiction center for youth.

 

However, supporters of the law gathered in hundreds by the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin to celebrate the enactment, viewing it as an extension of personal freedom. Niyazi, a 25-year-old participant, described the moment as “a bit of extra freedom.”

 

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The legislation also introduces “cannabis clubs,” a new model for obtaining cannabis legally starting July 1. These clubs can have up to 500 members and distribute up to 50 grams per member per month. This step comes after the initial proposal for cannabis to be sold in licensed shops was abandoned due to opposition from the EU, though a trial for shop sales in pilot regions is still under consideration.

 

The German government, led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats, believes that legalisation will help curb the burgeoning black market for cannabis. Nonetheless, concerns have been raised about the enforcement of the new laws and the potential burden on the legal system due to a retroactive amnesty for cannabis-related offenses, which could affect over 200,000 cases.

 

While Health Minister Karl Lauterbach acknowledges the dangers of cannabis, especially for young people, the government has pledged to launch a comprehensive information campaign to educate the public about the risks associated with cannabis use.

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Opposition to the law remains strong, with conservative leader Friedrich Merz vowing to repeal the legislation if his party comes to power in the 2025 elections. In contrast, Finance Minister Christian Lindner defends the legalization as a “responsible” move away from the black market, assuring that it “will not lead to chaos.”



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