After overcoming internal disagreements and fine-tuning details surrounding cannabis legalization in Germany, the coalition government appears to have achieved a consensus, marking a significant stride in modern drug policy.
Leaders of the Traffic Light Coalition, comprising The Greens, the Social Democrat Party (SPD), and the Liberals, declared last week that they had struck a deal on cannabis legalization following prolonged debates over legislative particulars. The bill is slated for a vote this month, with the goal of legalization taking effect in April as initially planned.
This breakthrough paves the way for the legalization of cannabis for personal use, positioning Germany to become the third European Union member state to do so, trailing Malta and Luxembourg.
Nevertheless, remnants of dissent linger within the center-left SPD party despite the coalition leaders’ official agreement on legalization.
Sebastian Fiedler, an SPD MP, voiced his opposition to the proposed law, expressing concerns about potential decriminalization of dealers and additional burdens on law enforcement.
Similarly, Sebastian Hartmann, the domestic policy spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group, indicated his refusal to support the reform in the Bundestag, citing concerns over the shift of cannabis supply to the private sector and away from certified stores.
The path to cannabis legalization in Germany has been strewn with obstacles, including revisions to comply with EU laws, opposition from rival parties, and internal disagreements, notably from the SPD.
For the government coalition, the move towards cannabis legalization underscores a commitment to prevention and enhanced protection measures for children and youths.
Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, the architect of the proposed legislation, hinted at potential revisions to address SPD concerns, focusing on bolstering monitoring and reporting obligations to tackle the illicit market.
Recent amendments to the bill have aimed at easing restrictions, including raising possession limits and eliminating the threat of imprisonment for minor infractions.
Furthermore, plans are in place to introduce pilot programs for commercial sales following submission to the European Commission.
With the final Bundestag reading scheduled for the week of February 19 to 23, the legislation is anticipated to sail through, proceeding to the Bundesrat on March 22 with little resistance.
Come April 1, the cannabis ban is poised to be lifted, enabling adults to cultivate cannabis at home and possess limited quantities, with cannabis clubs set to be permitted from July 1.
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