Will Germany legalize adult recreational marijuana before the United States?
It almost seems impossible that the land of the free is losing a race to freedom to the once fascist-controlled Germany, but, according to a plan unveiled by Germany's health minister on Wednesday, the German government is considering doing away with their prohibition on adult recreational marijuana.
The plan is currently in its earliest stages but, if approved, would allow adults to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana – slightly over an ounce – and purchase recreational cannabis legally. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, a German scientist and politician of the Social Democratic Party, explained that Berlin must first check with the European Union’s executive commission to ensure that Germany’s plan is in line with the EU’s current drug laws, and will move forward with the plan if they receive the green light.
The plan, which likely go into effect in 2024 if greenlit, will permit licensed outlets to sell cannabis for recreational use and allow adults to grow up to three personal plants. Lauterbach noted that the key goals of the plan are “better youth and health protection,” and hopes that Germany’s plan will serve as a model for the rest of Europe.
Lauterbach has not always been an advocate for legalizing marijuana and still remains skeptical, but he recognizes that the current system of laws is not working. According to the health minister, over four million individuals used marijuana in the past year, with Germany’s entire population of only 83 million. A quarter of all 18-24-year-olds has also experimented with cannabis, allowing the black market in Germany to flourish.
There are many regulations included in the plan. Currently, onsite consumption of marijuana at outlets that sell it is off the table, and cannabis outlets will not be permitted to also sell alcohol or tobacco products.
In line with the health minister’s child safety initiative, cannabis outlets will not be permitted within a certain distance of schools, and the social effects of marijuana legalization will be examined after four years of the law going into effect.
Germany is on the path to legalization, while the United States continues to fumble on our approach. While states across the country have legalized both medical and recreational use, Germany’s cannabis laws might soon be more progressive than they are in the land of the free.