Germans celebrate the legalization of cannabis with a “joint party”. Opponents expect an increase in smokers

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German cannabis users are celebrating. A new law has entered into force that legalizes the possession of up to 25 grams of dried cannabis by adults as of April 1, and they can grow up to three marijuana plants at home for personal purposes, writes The Guardian newspaper. Cannabis will be available in licensed non-profit clubs with a maximum of 500 members. Their products can then be consumed exclusively by their members. At home, it will be legal to possess up to 50 grams at a time, CNN clarifies.

So at midnight, people gathered at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate to “chow down” together and welcome the new rules, which were introduced after a highly heated debate. “We can finally show ourselves, we don’t have to hide anymore,” Henry Plottke, a member of the German Cannabis Association, told DW at the Berlin meeting.

In the debate that preceded the law, the government argued that decriminalization would have a negative impact on the black market and reduce the spread of contaminated cannabis, thereby protecting young people.

“Cannabis use already existed yesterday,” German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said Monday, suggesting that its criminalization has had little effect on marijuana smoking. “Now he’s getting out of the taboo zone. It is better for real addiction help, prevention for children and young people and to fight the black market for which there will soon be an alternative,” he said in a post on social media.

Experts expect an increase in users

Justice Minister Marco Buschmann, on the other hand, sees the advantage of partial legalization in that it will relieve the judiciary and the police. Despite their arguments, there was strong criticism against the change in approach to this light drug.

It is the relieved justices that the opponents are attacking. A potential problem is that the law will retroactively declare amnesty for cannabis-related offences, which will create an administrative “headache” for the legal system, France24 writes. But the main target of criticism is the increasing number of users.

How is it with the use of marijuana in the Czech Republic?

“From our point of view, the law as written is a disaster,” Katja Seidel, a therapist at the Tannenhof Berlin-Brandenburg drug addiction center, told AFP. “This product will become easier to access, its image will change and it will become more normal, especially among young people,” she said.

She added that “at least initially” she expects an increase in cannabis use. And this despite the fact that the use of the drug will still be illegal for minors.

The new legislation also contains some safeguards to protect young people, including a ban on smoking cannabis within 100 meters of a school, nursery school, playground or sports centre. Lauterbach promised a large-scale campaign to educate young people about health risks and strengthen prevention programs.

However, the planned media campaign did not convince the critics. “It doesn’t resonate with them, it will never work,” said Boris Knoblich, spokesman for the Tannenhof Berlin-Brandenburg organization. “It would work if someone came up to them, talked to them over coffee without the teacher being there,” he added.

How does criminalization work?

Lauterbach also promised a stronger approach to prevention. The Federal Center for Health Education, linked to the Ministry of Health, told AFP that it would “take up its responsibility by expanding the offer of prevention”. The southern state of Bavaria, for example, is trialling online training for teachers on how to approach the topic in the classroom.

According to official statistics from 2021, 8.8% of German adults aged 18-64 reported having consumed cannabis at least once in the previous 12 months. Among 12-17-year-olds, that number rose to nearly 10%.

The article is in Czech

Tags: Germans celebrate legalization cannabis joint party Opponents expect increase smokers

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