Germany is set to legalise the sale of recreational marijuana, in a landmark move likely to increase pressure on the British government to follow suit.
The German authorities aim to have legislation ready later this year which will allow licensed shops to sell cannabis to users.
The country is far from the first place to legalise certain drugs – most notably marijuana – with various states in the US as well as Canada and Mexico among those to legalise it. Marijuana sales are decriminalised in various other places, including the Netherlands, while its use for medical purposes is legal.
The move comes after Thailand legalised weed last week.
The health ministry said it will begin expert hearings on the issue tomorrow.
It added that more than 200 representatives from medical, legal and other fields will take part, along with numerous international experts and officials from various levels of government.
The policy was part of a pledge in a coalition deal between three socially liberal parties in Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government, which took office in December.
Controlled sales of the substance – classified as a Class B drug in the UK – will be allowed for adults.
The German Government said the plan would ensure quality control while also protecting young people, and agreed that the ‘social effects’ of the new legislation would be examined after four years.
In early May, health minister Karl Lauterbach said he planned to draw up draft legislation in the second half of the year, following the hearings with experts.
The five hearings, which will be held this month, will look at the measures needed to ensure the best protection for young people and the health of consumers, according to government drug tsar Burkhard Blienert.
‘Like many others, I have worked for years toward us in Germany finally ending the criminalisation of cannabis consumers and beginning a modern and health-oriented cannabis policy,’ he said in a statement.
The move is among a series of socially liberal initiatives being rolled out in the country.
The government says it plans to end a ban on doctors ‘advertising’ abortion services.
It also wants to lift restrictions on dual citizenship and reduce the minimum age for voting in national and European elections from 18 to 16.
Elsewhere, Chancellor Scholz’s administration aims to scrap 40-year-old legislation that requires transsexual people to get a psychological assessment and a court decision before officially changing gender.