Germany on Wednesday laid out plans to legalize cannabis, a move that the government of Chancellor Olaf Scholz said would make the country one of the first in Europe to do so.
Health Minister Karl Lauterbach presented an initial document on planned legislation to regulate the controlled distribution and consumption of cannabis for recreational purposes among adults.
The acquisition and possession of between 20 and 30 grams of recreational cannabis for personal use would also become legal.
The coalition government reached an agreement last year to introduce legislation during its four-year term to allow the controlled distribution of cannabis in licensed shops.
Many countries in the region have already legalized cannabis for limited medicinal purposes, including Germany since 2017. Others have decriminalized its general use, but have not legalized it.
According to the document, private self-cultivation would be allowed in a limited way. In addition, ongoing investigations and criminal proceedings related to cases that are no longer illegal will be terminated.
The Government will also introduce a special excise tax and develop cannabis abuse prevention and education programs.
Cannabis legalization could bring the country annual tax revenue and cost savings of about 4.7 billion euros ($4.7 billion) and create 27,000 new jobs, according to a survey conducted last year.
Germany will submit the document to the European Commission for prior evaluation and will only draw up a bill when the Commission approves the plan, the minister added.
“If the EU Commission says no to Germany’s current approach, our government should look for alternative solutions. Not just say: Well, we’ve done everything we can,” said Niklas Kouparanis, CEO of Bloomwell Group, one of the largest German cannabis companies.
Germany’s pharmacists’ association warned of the health risks of cannabis legalization, saying it would put pharmacies in a medical conflict.