Germany’s Cannabis Law: A Step Forward or a Leap Backwards?

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In a world where the conversation around cannabis is shifting from criminalisation to legalisation, Germany’s proposed cannabis law has sparked a heated debate.

The draft, recently presented by the German Ministry of Health, has been met with a mixture of hope and scepticism.

The proposed law, while a step towards liberalisation, still holds onto the vestiges of prohibition, raising questions about its effectiveness in achieving its stated goals.

The 25 Grams Limit: A Step Too Far?

The draft law, spearheaded by Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, proposes that possession of more than 25 grams of cannabis would remain a criminal offence.

This restrictive exception has been criticised as being too stringent, especially when compared to the regulations around alcohol and tobacco, substances that are arguably more harmful and cause around 200,000 deaths in Germany each year.

The Spirit of Prohibition Lives On

The proposed law, spanning a hefty 163 pages, continues to embody the spirit of prohibition, a strategy that has been widely criticised as ineffective.

The upper limit of 25 grams has been labelled as absurd, especially when compared to the lack of possession limits for alcohol and tobacco. The law, in its current form, seems to be a far cry from the paradigm shift in drug policy that many had hoped for.

Distance Limits: Practical or Impractical?

The draft law also introduces the concept of ‘distance limits’. It proposes that the public consumption of cannabis should be prohibited within a distance of up to 200 metres from the entrance area of cultivation associations, schools, children’s and youth facilities, playgrounds, and sports facilities, as well as in pedestrian zones.

This provision has been met with scepticism, with critics questioning its practicality and constitutionality.

Fines and Penalties: A Step Backwards?

Furthermore, the draft law introduces a wide range of punitive measures.

For instance, those who do not protect privately grown cannabis, as well as seeds and cuttings of the plants from third-party access through appropriate security precautions, could face a fine of up to 100,000 euros.

This provision has been criticised as being overly punitive and not in line with the spirit of decriminalisation.

The Judiciary’s Concerns

The German Association of Judges has also voiced concerns about the proposed law. They warn that the law, in its current form, could lead to a high control effort, numerous new disputes, and many additional procedures before the courts.

This could potentially undermine another goal of decriminalisation, which is to relieve the burden on the judiciary.

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A Ray of Hope: Progressive Ideas

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. The proposed law has its advocates too. Carmen Wegge (SPD), Kirsten Kappert-Gonther (Greens), and Kristine Lütke (FDP) have put forth more progressive ideas than those presented in the draft law.

They advocate for significantly higher possession limits and the permitted dispensing of edibles. They also propose allowing consumption within the cultivation associations.

The Future of Cannabis Law in Germany

The proposed cannabis law in Germany is a step in the right direction. However, it is clear that there is still a long way to go. The draft law, in its current form, falls short of the paradigm shift that many had hoped for.

The conversation it has sparked is a positive sign. It shows that the debate around cannabis is changing, and that there is a willingness to reconsider old, ineffective policies.

As the debate around the proposed law continues, one can only hope that the final law will reflect a more progressive and compassionate approach to cannabis.

The goal of any drug policy should be to protect the health and wellbeing of the public, and it is clear that the old approach of prohibition has failed to achieve this.


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