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German Lawmakers Will Consider Changes To Marijuana Legalization Law Related To Social Clubs And Impaired Driving This Week



German lawmakers are set to consider amendments to a marijuana legalization law that took effect last month, with committees of the nation’s parliament scheduled to begin debate on changes related to cannabis cultivation at social clubs and impaired driving this week.

One of the proposals set to be taken up by the Bundestag on Friday would give individual German states greater authority to set restrictions on cultivation at cooperatives that will be able to start dispensing cannabis to members in July. It is slated to be referred to the Health Committee.

Currently, adults can possess and grow marijuana for themselves, but there’s no sales model in place yet.

A separate measure scheduled for initial debate on Friday would set a per se THC limit for impaired driving. The legislation—which is expected to prove more controversial given a lack of scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of such policies—would make it so drivers would be considered impaired if they have more than 3.5 ng/ml of THC in their blood. It is expected to be referred to the Transportation Committee.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, who has led the government’s cannabis legalization efforts, had committed to lawmakers that the legalization law could be amended in certain ways after enactment—a compromise that helped avert a delay in implementation.

Meanwhile, this comes as the government is simultaneously moving forward with the second phase of marijuana legalization to create a pilot program for commercial sales—through an administrative process, rather than having lawmakers pass a separate bill to enact the reform as was initially expected.

Lauterbach told members of the Bundestag in December that “we are currently examining” the commercial sales plan. But with legalization in effect, there’s been increased pressure to expedite that process.

The Bundesrat representing individual states previously tried to block the now-enacted legalization proposal last September but ultimately failed.

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While Germany’s Federal Cabinet approved the initial framework for a legalization measure in late 2022, the government also said it wanted to get signoff from the EU to ensure that enacting the reform wouldn’t put them in violation of their international obligations.

Officials took a first step toward legalization in 2022, kicking off a series of hearings meant to help inform legislation to end prohibition in the country.

Government officials from multiple countries, including the U.S., also met in Germany last November to discuss international marijuana policy issues as the host nation works to enact legalization.

A group of German lawmakers, as well as Narcotics Drugs Commissioner Burkhard Blienert, separately visited the U.S. and toured California cannabis businesses in 2022 to inform their country’s approach to legalization.

The visit came after top officials from Germany, Luxembourg, Malta and the Netherlands held a first-of-its-kind meeting to discuss plans and challenges associated with recreational marijuana legalization.

Leaders of the coalition government said in 2021 that they had reached an agreement to end cannabis prohibition and enact regulations for a legal industry, and they first previewed certain details of that plan last year.

A novel international survey that was released in 2022 found majority support for legalization in several key European countries, including Germany.

Meanwhile, the United Nations’s (UN) drug control body recently reiterated that it considers legalizing marijuana for non-medical or scientific purposes a violation of international treaties, though it also said it appreciates that Germany’s government scaled back its cannabis plan ahead of the recent vote.

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