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Germany Legalizes Marijuana

After a heated debate, the Bundestag, Germany's federal parliament, passed a bill on Friday that allows for the controlled legalization of cannabis for recreational purposes, including cultivation and consumption.
The legislation, approved with a vote of 404 to 226, will enable adults and cannabis clubs to grow and possess limited quantities of the drug. The upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, is expected to consent to the law on March 22. The cultivation and possession of small amounts for personal consumption by adults will be permitted starting April 1, and for cannabis clubs from July 1.

The bill's approval in the Bundestag on Friday was preceded by intense discussions, after Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, the previous day, described the legislation as "an important step forward in drug policy." According to Lauterbach, its adoption could reduce the black market as well as provide more effective protection for children and young people in Germany.

During Friday's debate, Lauterbach reiterated his views, stating that despite the ban, cannabis consumption has steadily increased over the years, not only among minors and young adults, but also with the emergence of unknown or dangerous products in the black market.

Kristine Lütke, the health policy spokesperson for the Free Democratic Party (FDP), the smaller coalition partner, declared the law as "a historic turning point towards an approach that reflects social reality."

Opposition politicians from the Christian Democrats and the Alternative for Germany (AfD) criticized the coalition's draft, with some labeling it an "economic stimulus package for organized crime" or a "gift," and "a law that cannot be controlled." Simone Borchardt, health policy spokesperson for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), claimed that "child and youth protection is no more than lip service in their law."

According to the bill passed last year by the coalition government led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz, adults over the age of 18 will be able to possess a maximum of 25 grams of cannabis for personal use only. Each residence can grow up to three cannabis plants, also strictly for personal use, and can hold up to 50 grams. Another legal form of cultivation will be cooperatives with a maximum of 500 members. However, non-commercially operated so-called cannabis clubs will only be able to supply their members with cannabis, capping the total at 50 grams per person per month.

A survey conducted by YouGov found that 42 percent of Germans asked said they fully or somewhat support cannabis legalization, while 47 percent were somewhat or fully against it. Eleven percent of the respondents were undecided or chose not to express an opinion on the issue.

With the expected implementation of the new law, GERMANY WILL BECOME THE NINTH COUNTRY TO LEGALIZE THE RECREATIONAL USE OF MARIJUANA. Estimates suggest that around 4.5 million people use cannabis in the country.

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