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It’s official: Germany has legalised weed

As of April 1, the country liberalised its rules on possession of cannabis, but some worry the high won’t last too long

Liv Kelly
Written by
Liv Kelly

There’s not many countries where you can walk around with a pocket full of weed, but the list is steadily growing. Uruguay legalised it back in 2013, and Canada did so in 2018. Some states in the US allow it, while others don’t, and then of course there’s the Netherlands – with Amsterdam in particular renowned for its smoke-filled coffeeshops – where it’s been legal since 1976. 

To add to that list, Germany has just liberalised its rules on possession of Mary Jane. That’s right: after years of campaigning, a law was passed by the current coalition of the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Free Democrats, and it came into force yesterday, on April 1. 

The German Cannabis Association, a major campaigner, staged a ‘smoke-in’ at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate when it became official at midnight, and similar gatherings took place outside Cologne Cathedral, and in Hamburg, Regensburg and Dortmund. 

So, what exactly are the new rules? Well, anyone over the age of 18 is now allowed to possess up to 25g (about the weight of a packet of crisps) of cannabis in public. Up to three plants can be grown per household (by adults), but no one is allowed to smoke ‘in sight’ of schools, sports centres or ‘pedestrian zones’, between 7am and 8pm. 

What’s more, from July, ‘social clubs’ will be established. Also known as growers associations, these groups can include up to 500 members who can grow and distribute weed on a strict, not-for-profit basis. Smoking at these clubs isn’t allowed, but Marcel Ritschel, who spoke to the BBC, described them as ‘a gardening club but for hemp.’

‘Every gram that goes from the cannabis social club is one gram that’s not on the black market,’ he continued. And the aim of killing the black market and improving quality control is one of the main arguments made by supporters of the new law. 

However, the police aren’t so sure this will be effective. Alexander Poitz, from the German Police Union, believes criminal networks will infiltrate these clubs, and those under the age of 18 will still rely on illegal dealers. There are also concerns that previous cannabis-related convictions, which are set to be reviewed, will overburden the judicial system. 

What’s more, curbing the black market still hasn’t been achieved in places where weed has been legal for a long time. ‘It’s a marathon, not a sprint,’ said Dr Hofmann, an assistant professor for criminal law and criminology at Maastricht University. 

And we don’t even know how long this high will last. The Christian Democratic Union Party, which halted the law’s progress while it was in power, has already pledged to revoke the law should it be re-elected in 2025. 

So, the lifespan of this law looks a little uncertain, but for now, ‘beer land’ is cannabis-friendly. 

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