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Germany Celebrates First Day of Legal Recreational Weed

Cannabis enthusiasts across Germany took to the streets at midnight early Monday morning to smoke joints and celebrate as the European nation’s legalization of cannabis took effect on April 1. German lawmakers gave final approval to a recreational weed legalization plan known as CanG late last month, making the country the largest in Europe to take the step.

In the German capital of Berlin, weed enthusiasts gathered at the iconic Brandenberg Gate to smoke weed and celebrate their new freedoms. Other events were held throughout Europe’s most populous country, including one in front of the Cologne cathedral and others in the cities of Hamburg, Regensburg and Dortmund.

“We can finally show ourselves, we don’t have to hide anymore,” Henry Plottke, a member of the German Hemp Association (DHV), told the news agency DPA at the celebration in Berlin.

The legalization of cannabis in Germany was supported by the three-party ruling coalition led by Social Democrat Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach extolled the virtues of the beginning of cannabis legalization in a social media post.

“Cannabis use already existed yesterday, but it’s increasing. Now it’s exiting the taboo zone,” he wrote on X on Monday, according to a translation from CNN. “This is better for real addiction help, prevention for children and young people and for combating the black market, for which there will soon be an alternative.”

Under Germany’s CanG legalization plan, adults aged 18 and up are permitted to possess up to 25 grams of weed and public and up to 50 grams at home. The new law also allows adults to grow cannabis at home, with a cap of three plants. Public consumption of weed including smoking is also allowed, although there are restrictions on using cannabis near children and sports venues.

Beginning on July 1, adults will be allowed to join cannabis clubs, which will each provide access to weed for up to 500 members. For-profit commercial cannabis ventures are not permitted by the plan. Niklas Kouparanis, co-founder and CEO of Germany-based medical cannabis company Bloomwell Group, said that the cannabis club model could eventually lead to broader legalization of adult-use cannabis. 

“The provision allowing for cannabis clubs is an important step towards the de-stigmatization of cannabis use, as adult consumers will no longer be criminalized for simply smoking or ingesting the plant,” Kouparanis said in a statement to High Times. “Of course, our ultimate goal in Germany remains to legalize the entire value chain for a full-fledged adult-use market, going beyond the nonprofit, members-only cannabis clubs and creating a commercial market that can be accessed by all adult consumers.”

Opposition Vows To Repeal Legalization

Although legalizing cannabis was approved by both chambers of Germany’s bicameral parliament, the plan does not have universal support. After the plan was adopted, the conservative opposition vowed to repeal the CanG legislation if they can form a coalition government after next year’s national elections.

“In our view, drugs policy, particularly with respect to protecting young people, is an issue of such central significance that we will revoke the legalization of cannabis in the event we take power,” lawmaker Thorsten Frei told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper, Yahoo News reported on Saturday.

“In any possible coalition talks, [the rolling back of the legislation] will be a firm standpoint for us,” added Frei, the parliamentary leader of the alliance of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU).

The legalization of weed in Germany is also opposed by groups representing police officers, who fear the new legislation will be difficult to enforce. The law includes public consumption exclusion zones and exemptions, which could result in disagreements about where people can freely use cannabis.

“From April 1, our colleagues will find themselves in situations of conflict with citizens, as uncertainty reigns on both sides,” said Alexander Poitz, vice president of the GdP police union, according to a report from the Daily Mail.

The CanG plan also includes provisions to review past cannabis convictions, a process that opponents say will overwhelm the courts. Justice Minister Marco Buschmann, however, said it would mean less work for the judiciary and police in the long run.

“The changeover will mean a one-off increase in workload, but in the long term the police and judiciary will be relieved,” Buschmann told the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland media group on Monday. “They will then be able to focus on even more relevant crime.”

Neighboring Austria Not On Board

While German weed enthusiasts celebrated cannabis legalization, neighboring countries have taken notice. In Austria, officials said they have no plans to follow Germany’s lead on cannabis policy reform and would implement measures to deter trans-border trade.

“The police will conduct intensified checks, particularly in areas near the border, to take addictive substances and drivers under the influence of drugs out of circulation,” Interior Minister Gerhard Karner said in a statement. “This is about the protection of all road users.”

The Interior Ministry added that plainclothes police officers and specialists trained to recognize signs of impairment would be deployed to the border in an effort to thwart smuggling attempts.

The post Germany Celebrates First Day of Legal Recreational Weed appeared first on High Times.

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