Marlborough Express

Plan to legalise cannabis ‘a model for Europe’


Germany’s health minister has presented a plan for the ‘‘most liberal legalisati­on of cannabis in Europe’’ to the cabinet of Olaf Scholz.

Karl Lauterbach said Germany could be a ‘‘model for Europe’’ and that ‘‘we want to control the whole market’’.

Approved by the centre-left government of Scholz, the plan proposes that cannabis and its active substance, tetrahydro­cannabinol (THC), are no longer legally classified as narcotics.

The purchase and possession of up to 30 grams of cannabis is to be exempt from punishment and private cultivatio­n will be permitted to a limited extent. The sale is to take place in ‘‘licensed specialist shops’’ and possibly also pharmacies.

The plan, which would make Germany the second European Union country to legalise the recreation­al use of cannabis after Malta, is aimed at curbing the black market.

The policy was by flagged by the ruling Social Democrats, Greens and liberal Free Democrats in their coalition agreement last year. However, it could yet founder on European rules on the handling of cannabis.

The health ministry acknowledg­ed that the internatio­nal legal framework offered ‘‘limited options for implementi­ng the coalition’s project’’.

But Lauterbach said that if legal objections could be overcome, the scheme could become law in 2024.

Legalising cannabis could have implicatio­ns across Europe. Germany’s population of 83 million could create the world’s largest legal market for recreation­al cannabis – greater than that of Canada or those US states that have legalised the drug.

Many European countries, including Germany, have already legalised cannabis for limited medicinal purposes.

Others have decriminal­ised its general use, while stopping short of making it legal.

According to Lauterbach, private self-cultivatio­n would be limited to three plants per adult. These must be kept out of reach for children and adolescent­s. Investigat­ions and criminal proceeding­s connected to activity no longer considered illegal would be terminated.

The government also plans to introduce a special consumptio­n tax and develop cannabis-related education and prevention work. – The Times

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