In recent weeks, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has introduced groundbreaking marijuana legislation for the country’s growing cannabis market. The country’s progressive government has reaffirmed its commitment to legalizing recreational marijuana for adult use.
The German approach to widespread adult-use legalization represents a progressive attitude which many other European countries are likely to adopt as well, the Guardian reports. The anticipated ruling is the product of several public hearings with various experts to better prepare the German government to pass a marijuana bill at some point later this year.
Germany is among the first of several places that have adopted more relaxed policies in terms of adult recreational marijuana use, but whether or not the German government will be able to maintain a secure grasp of the cannabis trade remains unclear. In other places like California and Uruguay where cannabis products have been legalized, the black market continues to thrive, despite local and federal governments’ efforts to create a municipally-sanctioned marijuana marketplace.
In fact, there are many aspects of the upcoming legislation which remain unclear for the time being, as Germany is among the first European countries to adopt this attitude towards legal access to marijuana products. While other European countries like Spain and the Netherlands have decriminalized cannabis products and regard them in a far more relaxed way, no other member of the EU has attempted as broad a legalization campaign as Germany.
Although the recent push for legalization is being celebrated by many cannabis advocates around the country, it’s also economically advantageous to the German government, who will be able to better control the cannabis market and regulate the sale and distribution of marijuana products under the proposed legislation.
The way these products are taxed will largely define whether the public chooses to acquire them legally or illegally. Officials have stated that they hope to tax marijuana products no more than 25 or 30%, as lower taxes allow for a bigger and more accessible market.
Dispensaries that are seeking benefits from the German government are currently lobbying for lower taxation on their products, as higher tax rates create a more advantageous framework for illicit dispensaries.
Although the German government will be adding legislative measures to create broader access to recreational marijuana, there is little guarantee that this legislation will eradicate the illegal market or even do anything to hinder it. In order for the German government to compete with the cannabis being sold on the black market, they will have to consider the way the product is taxed and priced on a federal scale.
There are several ways for the government to ensure this, the most significant being allowing licensed stores to distribute cannabis products with the same authority that pharmacies have enjoyed since Germany’s legalization of medical marijuana. If the country’s upcoming legislation were to account for the expansion of the market, they would likely have fewer concerns to address over the illicit marijuana market.
The country has long dealt with issues in the way it deals with the regulation of the cannabis trade. In 2017, Germany legalized marijuana for medical use. Since then, over 85% of the nation’s medical marijuana has been internationally sourced. The upcoming legislation is expected to significantly reconstruct the German government’s approach to the trade and import of cannabis products.
In the five years since Germany legalized marijuana products for medical use, the country has relied almost entirely on pharmacies and licensed specialty stores for its distribution. While these points of sale are important parts of Germany’s expanding cannabis market, the nation’s government will likely have to pursue other distribution options if they hope to foster a healthy and competitive domestic marijuana market.
Some have suggested that the German government’s upcoming cannabis legislation should create provisions for the legalization of online sale and distribution of marijuana products. This would create a more competitive marketplace, as dealers could participate regardless of factors which may limit their physical location.
In order to introduce legislation that best represents the needs of the people and the growing cannabis market, Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Burkhard Blienert, the Commissioner for Addiction and Drug Issues, are holding expert hearings. These forums will allow over 200 of Germany’s experts on health, ecology, economics, law, and marijuana distribution to come together and discuss practical ways for the government to regulate and control the sale of marijuana for recreational adult use.
In his statements on the upcoming legislation, Blienert has reiterated the government’s commitment to eliminating the health risks that the legalization of cannabis products poses to children and others. The government, according to Bleinert, is considering the safety of consumers and young people their top priority as they roll out these new bills.
In their discussions regarding the country’s upcoming legalization of cannabis, German lawmakers and other officials have addressed the legal age at which citizens will be permitted to buy and use cannabis products. Officials worry that regardless of what the legal age is, those under the federal limit will access marijuana products via illegal means. To combat this, the government is committed to enforcing its distribution laws, which will work to foster a competitive market while simultaneously trying to curb illegal underage use.
Another key part of the government’s aims to keep marijuana products out of underage hands is the way cannabis is marketed. Just as many countries have spent time and money creating campaigns to endorse responsible alcohol consumption, countries like Germany will have to consider the way it presents cannabis products to the public– particularly younger citizens.
The German government is likely to face many difficult questions in the days and months ahead as they work to achieve a policy on legalized recreational marijuana which best represents the wants and needs of the German people. With their upcoming expert hearings and goals of providing broad access to cannabis products while also protecting those at risk of drug abuse, German lawmakers are the officials to watch as the country becomes one of the first in the EU to adopt such policies towards cannabis products.
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