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Germany scales back cannabis legalization plans to focus on home cultivation

Germany scales back cannabis legalization plans to focus on home cultivation

Under the scaled-back plan, adults will be able to grow up to three plants at home and buy weed in clubs of up to 500 members.
German cannabis users will have to rely on home cultivation and cannabis social clubs for their supply rather than licensed shops or pharmacies as initially foreseen, according to a scaled-back cannabis legalization plan presented Wednesday by German health minister Karl Lauterbach.

The announcement comes after months-long discussions with the European Commission on the feasibility of Germany's preliminary plan to legalize cannabis. The outcome was long awaited by politicians, businesses and users who were itching to hear how far the Commission would tolerate Germany's ambitions.

After talking to the Commission, "we came to the conclusion that the draft [legalization plan] at that time would not take us any further in pursuing our goals," said Lauterbach at a press conference in Berlin.

Under the scaled-back plan, seen by POLITICO, adults will be able to grow up to three cannabis plants at home and buy weed in clubs of up to 500 members, which must not be profit-oriented. Cannabis clubs already exist in Spain and Malta.

In addition, possession of up to 25 grams of cannabis is to be made legal. However, there will be a ban on advertising the drug, a limit on THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, a psychoactive substance in cannabis) for under 21-year-olds, and consumption will be restricted to specific areas.

Lauterbach said that home cultivation and cannabis clubs form the first of two pillars in Germany's push to legalize.

"Our goal with pillar one is that we don't have to notify Brussels [to check that national laws don't violate EU laws]," German agricultural minister Cem Özdemir added. A draft law on the legalization will be presented in April, he said.

The second pillar is regional model projects to build up commercial supply chains, which will take five years and will be evaluated constantly.

"This will be accompanied by a concerted effort by the German government to find supporters in Europe for this progressive, prevention-oriented cannabis policy," Lauterbach said.

A government spokesperson told POLITICO German Chancellor Olaf Scholz welcomed the progress on implementing the coalition agreement.

But in response to the revised plan, German lawmaker Kristine Lütke from the business-friendly Free Democrats said she rejects "strict THC ceilings in cannabis clubs" for young adults "as they drive consumers to the black market."

Tino Sorge, from the opposition center-right CDU, said today's announcement is "nothing more than the admission that [Lauterbach's] old key points from the fall were simply not feasible."

However, Carmen Wegge from Lauterbach’s Social Democratic Party defended the plan, saying that "the German government is opting for the path that is safe in terms of European law."

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