Germany legalises weed while UK stuck in 20th century

  • Post last modified:March 23, 2024
  • Reading time:4 mins read

Germany has just voted to legally regulate non-medical cannabis for adult use. This adds yet another country to an ever-growing list of states which have opted to legalise and regulate their cannabis market – including Canada, Uruguay, and Malta. However, campaign groups in the UK say we’re falling “behind the curve” with our draconian laws on weed.

Germany: making cannabis legal

Under the new act, personal cannabis possession (up to 25g) will no longer be criminalised, private cultivation of up to three plants for personal use will be permitted, and people will be able to access legal cannabis through non-profit membership clubs. The new laws come into effect on 1 April.

As Al Jazeera reported:

The new law, which still prohibits possession and use of the drug for anyone under 18, will leave Germany with some of the most liberal cannabis laws in Europe.

Malta and Luxembourg legalised recreational use of the drug in 2021 and 2023, respectively. The Netherlands, known for its liberal cannabis laws, has been cracking down on sales to tourists and non-residents in recent years.

The cannabis law has been the subject of bitter wrangling within the coalition of Chancellor Olaf Scholz‘s Social Democrats, the Greens and the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP). In their coalition agreement, the three parties had pledged to go further and allow cannabis to be sold in shops, a move slapped down by the European Union. They are now planning a second law to trial the drug’s sale in shops in certain regions.

The UK still criminalising weed

Of course, in the UK you can’t legally smoke a spliff. Some cannabis-related products and extracts are legal, like some containing CBD. However, THC (the part of weed that makes you high) is still illegal in anything but miniscule quantities.

Meanwhile, medical cannabis has been legal in the UK since 2018 – yet is still rarely available on the NHS. As of March 2023, it had only issued five prescriptions for it – the other 90,000 were private.

As the Times Literary Supplement asked (then answered):

Why are we so out of step with the rest of the Western world? The answer is complicated and multifactorial, a mixture of politics, commercial pressures from the alcohol and pharmaceutical industries, media exploitation and scientific misunderstandings.

But surely now it’s time for a change?

Time for a change on UK cannabis laws

Ester Kincová, public affairs and policy manager at Transform Drug Policy Foundation, said:

This is a game changer for cannabis reforms in Europe. Germany has read the prohibition receipts and decided legal regulating cannabis is the sensible way forward. It’s high time the UK recognised this is what’s needed to ensure a safer market and take the power away from organised crime.

Jane Slater, campaign manager at Anyone’s Child: Families for Safer Drug Control, said:

Making drugs illegal isn’t keeping our children safe, it’s putting them in danger. We need this Government to take control of this market, which is currently run by organised crime, so that our families can be better protected.

Featured image via ThamKC – Envato Elements

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