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Germany: Bundestag begins discussion on bill to legalize cannabis

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After a first postponement, the German parliament (or Bundestag) began discussion on the bill that aims to legalize cannabis throughout the country last Wednesday, October 18th. This fundamental debate, led by Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, seeks to address the failures of the current cannabis prohibition and take a significant step towards reforming cannabis law in Germany. Read the main highlights of the debate here.

During a 45 minute debate, Carmen Wegge, deputy of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), highlighted the urgency of change. She argued that the current situation, where illegal cannabis prevails, is unacceptable. Not only is the unregulated market a breeding ground for organized crime, it also puts young people at risk. Illegal cannabis often lacks quality control, which leads to potential health risks.

A path to progress

Wegge, along with other progressive voices in the Bundestag, supports the new bill as a way forward. He expressed the need for a courageous course that stands with consumers, emphasizing a shift from state oppression to a policy that educates and grants freedom. This new approach envisions the legalization of cannabis for adults, allowing them to possess and cultivate a limited number of plants for personal use. Furthermore, the bill proposes the creation of social clubs for the distribution of cannabis, ensuring safer access for responsible consumers.

Address concerns and move the process forward

Recognizing the emotional nature of the issue, MPs such as Kristine Lütke from the Free Democratic Party (FDP) highlighted the importance of focusing on the facts. Lütke highlighted some essential measures of the bill, such as the need to maintain a minimum distance between cultivation facilities and sensitive areas such as public schools. Although the current bill is not final, there is optimism about the possibility of new adjustments being introduced during the legislative process.

Counter the opposition

Despite the progressive dynamics, opposition parties have expressed concerns. The Union (CDU/CSU) expressed its concern about the increase in cannabis consumption and calls for greater prevention and education. In response, Health Minister Lauterbach highlighted the increase in cannabis use among young adults, even under the current criminal prohibition. The legalization of cannabis, he argued, would provide safer and more regulated alternatives, meeting concerns raised by the opposition.

A safer future

Members such as Kirsten Kappert-Gonther of the Green Party have highlighted that prohibition exacerbates the dangers associated with cannabis. Illegal sellers do not provide information about the quality or potency of the product, making consumption more risky. Legalization, on the other hand, guarantees quality control and restricts access to adults by requiring identity verification. By offering legal alternatives, Germany aims to replace the thriving illegal market with safe, regulated options for responsible consumption.

the way forward

As the legislation progresses, it will move to the committee discussion phase for in-depth analysis. The Health Commission is expected to evaluate the proposal on November 6, where experts will provide valuable information. Subsequently, the bill will undergo a second and final reading on November 16, marking a crucial moment in the evolution of Germany's drug policy.

Germany's journey towards cannabis legalization signifies a bold shift towards progressive drug policies. By prioritizing education, safety and responsible consumption, the nation aims to create a safer future for its citizens. This step not only aligns with Germany's reputation for progressive policies, but also sets an example for other countries to follow.

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