The global gaze on Germany’s cannabis legalization

Cannabis for recreational use is now legal in Germany, albeit with some rules to follow: the aim is to combat the illegal market

Germany’s landmark decision to legalize recreational cannabis use has sparked a mix of reactions, igniting a lively debate both domestically and internationally. The law, seen as a progressive shift for Germany—a country already allowing medicinal cannabis since 2017—charts a new course in Europe’s cannabis policy landscape.

What the new law entails

Under the new regulations, adults are permitted to carry up to 25 grams of cannabis and cultivate up to three plants for personal use. The legislation not only allows personal possession and cultivation but also introduces the concept of non-profit clubs, capped at 500 members, and pilot programs for commercial distribution.

A significant aspect of the law is the review process for cannabis-related convictions, leading to a potential amnesty. Convictions for cannabis offenses will need to be re-examined, with many expected to be overturned.

However, the law sets boundaries: smoking cannabis in playgrounds, near schools, sports facilities—including football stadiums—and children’s facilities is banned, as is public consumption from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM. Driving under the influence remains strictly prohibited.

Mixed reactions and celebrations

The introduction of this law has not been met with universal acclaim. Some regional authorities express concerns over the judicial system’s potential burden and the implications for youth health and wellbeing. The German Medical Association has also voiced skepticism about the legalization’s impact on young people’s health.

Despite the criticism, the German government defends the legislation as a strategy to combat the illegal cannabis market and ensure a safe, regulated product. With an estimated 4.5 million regular cannabis users in Germany, the government aims to curb illicit dealings and enhance public safety.

Public celebrations marked the law’s enactment, with approximately 1,500 people gathering in Berlin at the Brandenburg Gate. Armed with joints, the crowd participated in a “smoke-in,” mirroring the sit-in protests of anti-prohibition advocates, signaling strong public support for cannabis liberalization.

International implications

Germany’s move could set a precedent, influencing cannabis policy in other countries. As debates continue, the world watches closely to see the long-term effects of Germany’s progressive stance on cannabis legalization.

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