Germany is heading toward the legalization of marijuana

Germany marijuana

A 74-year-old resident of the German city of Bonn grew two cannabis plants on his balcony. Until the police arrived. At the beginning of August 2023, the man was sentenced to pay a fine of more than 8,000 euros. The man was ahead of his time, since if the German government coalition finally gets its way,  hemp cultivation will be exempt from punishment. In the future, every adult will be able to grow up to three plants for personal use and possess up to 25 grams of marijuana for personal use.

On the other hand, those people who are not good at gardening, but want to smoke marijuana, can join an association. These types of associations may supply their members with cannabis products from their own cultivation.

First step: decriminalization

The Federal Council approved on Wednesday (16.8.2023) the bill for the decriminalization of cannabis. It will enter into force no later than January 1, 2024, provided it is also approved by Parliament. Liberalization would affect one in twenty Germans: according to German government figures, 4.5 million adults used cannabis at least once in 2022.

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach of the Social Democratic party SPD told reporters that the law represents a change of direction in drug policy, a necessary turn for three reasons. First of all, because, despite the ban, consumption has been increasing for years, also among children and young people. Secondly, this situation of illegality is associated with widespread drug-related crime. And thirdly, on the black market, there is a risk of damage to health due to toxic mixtures and changing concentrations of the active substances.

Tax Income and Savings

The Ministry of Health took over the coordination of the project to legalize cannabis together with the five federal ministries that also have a say on this issue and organized conferences with experts.

Julius Haucap, an economist from Düsseldorf who has been advocating for the legalization of cannabis for years, was one of the speakers. In an interview with DW, the economist estimates the value of the cannabis market between four and five billion euros. To this, we must add the possible income from taxes and social security contributions, as well as savings in the police and judicial systems, which Haucap estimates at almost five billion euros per year.

The expected boom in cannabis cultivation and distribution after legalization could even lead to a new job: In North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous German state, there could be training courses as a “specialist cannabis grower”.

Growing resistance

On the other hand, resistance to legalization plans is growing. In a joint statement, five associations of medical professionals for children and adolescents have warned of the possibility of “jeopardizing the mental health and development opportunities of young people in Germany“.

The police union is also against the bill. And the German Association of Judges has warned of additional work for the judicial system, due to the many small regulations regarding cannabis clubs and drug dispensing. There are even deputies from the liberal FDP party, a partner in the government coalition, who speak of a “bureaucratic monster”.

For their part, politicians from the CDU Christian-Democratic party denounce the plan as “irresponsible from a medical point of view” and call it an “attack on the protection of youth and health.”

There are also discontent among the advocates of legalization, who denounce that the new regulations are too small. The Minister of Health, Lauterbach, considers it a good sign that there is criticism from one another and speaks of a “law with a sense of proportion.” The Social Democratic politician wants to counter the criticism, among other things, with a large-scale education campaign among children and young people about the dangers of smoking weed.