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Lauterbach gives a rough schedule: Cannabis approval still needs Brussels’ blessing

Lauterbach gives a rough schedule
Cannabis clearance still needs Brussels blessing

The cornerstone paper for cannabis legalization in Germany is in place. In order for it to be implemented, however, the EU Commission must give the green light. Health Minister Lauterbach is optimistic and predicts when it could be.

The federal government only wants to continue its plan for the legalization of cannabis on the basis of the key points that have now been developed after a positive vote by the EU Commission. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach announced this at a press conference to present the key points. These would be forwarded to Brussels with a request for a “preliminary check”. “If such a preliminary check would clearly show that this path is not viable for the European Commission, then we would not develop a draft law on this basis,” said Lauterbach. If there were any concerns, the plans would be adjusted.

The cornerstones approved by the cabinet envisage making it possible to purchase and possess “up to a maximum amount of 20 to 30 grams of cannabis for personal consumption in private and public spaces” without being punished. Private cultivation is permitted to a limited extent. “The production, supply and distribution of recreational cannabis will be permitted within a licensed and government controlled framework.” There should be no upper limit for the THC content for the sale of cannabis to people over the age of 21, such a measure is being examined for younger adults.

Controlled delivery is intended to strengthen the protection of minors

According to the plan, sales are to take place with age checks in licensed specialist shops and, if necessary, pharmacies. Lauterbach called expertise as a requirement. Also, the shops should not sell alcohol or tobacco products and should not be near schools and kindergartens. Advertising for cannabis products should be banned. In addition, a “cannabis tax” is planned.

“The introduction of a controlled sale of recreational cannabis to adults aims to contribute to improved youth protection and health protection for consumers and to curbing the black market,” says the key points. According to Lauterbach, the federal government wants to refer to this when dealing with the EU Commission.

Lauterbach: “Fighting with an open visor”

“We interpret the content of the existing contracts in such a way that the objective of the existing contracts can be better pursued with our approach,” he said. This “interpretation solution” is to be presented in Brussels. “We’re fighting with an open mind,” he said. If the examination is carried out quickly enough, the coalition will be able to present a draft law in the first quarter of 2023. “I can well imagine that if everything goes well, legality will be achieved in 2024,” said Lauterbach, who is implementing a project from the coalition agreement with the proposal.

The Union faction sharply criticized. “The serious health risks of cannabis consumption are only insufficiently taken into account in the key points,” said their health policy spokesman Tino Sorge of the Funke media group. Irreversible damage would be accepted with approval. “Here, ideology comes before health.” There are also glaring gaps in the protection of children and young people, Sorge explained. How to prevent children from having access to the cannabis plants in the case of home cultivation without punishment remains completely open. “Cannabis is apparently the glue that holds the traffic light coalition together,” he said.

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