Germany to decriminalize recreational cannabis News
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Germany to decriminalize recreational cannabis

The German Bundestrat approved the Cannabis Act Friday to decriminalize limited personal cannabis consumption and cultivation, allowing the act to go into effect on April 1. The act was previously approved by the Bundestag in February.

The act seeks to better regulate cannabis consumption and combat organized crime. The act requires a cultivation association to apply for a permit to engage in cannabis cultivation. Licensed cultivation associations may only charge membership fees and cannot operate for profits.

The act also seeks to protect minors. Firstly, cannabis consumption is prohibited in the immediate presence of minors, anywhere near children’s and youth facilities and in pedestrian zones in the daytime. Cultivation associations are also not allowed to sell cannabis to minors. In addition, the act also increases the minimum sentence to two years upon a conviction of intentional commercial distribution or supply of cannabis and other narcotics to minors.

The Federal Minister of Health, Karl Lauterbach, welcomed the approval, stating that bans alone are insufficient to enhance health protection. He added that the act makes the black market undesirable and protects users from tainted drugs and higher-than-expected concentrations.

The act has not been without controversy. The main concerns center around the effectiveness of the act in relieving the burden on the police and protecting minors. Opposition lawmakers have expressed worry that the lack of controlled distribution in licensed associations might not stop organized crime. They also raised concerns that police may not have the resources to enforce the law.

According to government statistics, 4.5 million adults in Germany have used cannabis at least once.