German plan to liberalise cannabis rules clears final parliamentary hurdle

The German government’s plan to liberalise rules on cannabis has cleared its final parliamentary hurdle, paving the way for the possession of limited amounts of the drug to be decriminalised on April 1.

In a second step, “cannabis clubs” that will be allowed to grow the substance for members’ personal use will be permitted to start work on July 1.

The legislation, a prominent reform project of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government, was approved by parliament’s lower house last month.

But its fate in the upper house, which represents Germany’s 16 state governments and where Mr Scholz’s socially liberal coalition lacks a majority, is unclear.

The upper house could have delayed it by sending it to a committee that mediates disputes between the two houses, a move that backers feared would give the centre-right opposition an opportunity to stop the project altogether.

However, opponents of the plan failed to muster a majority to call on the committee.

The bill foresees legalising possession by adults of up to 25 grams (nearly one ounce) of cannabis for recreational purposes and allowing individuals to grow up to three plants on their own. That part of the legislation will take effect on April 1.

German residents age 18 and older will be allowed to join non-profit “cannabis clubs” with a maximum 500 members each starting July 1.

Individuals will be allowed to buy up to 25 grams per day, or a maximum 50 grams per month – a figure limited to 30 grams for under-21s.

Membership in multiple clubs will not be allowed. The clubs’ costs will be covered by membership fees.

The legislation also calls for an amnesty under which sentences already imposed for cannabis-related offences that will no longer be illegal are to be reviewed and in many cases reversed.

Regional authorities worry that the judicial system will be overburdened by thousands of cases.

Opposition leader Friedrich Merz vowed in an interview with the Funke newspaper group ahead of Friday’s vote that his party would reverse the legislation if it wins national elections expected in the autumn of 2025.

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