Germany Becomes First Major European Country to Legalize Weed

Germany has legalized possession and home cultivation of recreational marijuana, but will only allow sales through non-profit “social clubs” with limited membership. The Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, voted 407-226 today in favor of the legalization measure.

The law, when it takes effect, will allow possession by adults (age 18 and over) of up to 25 grams of cannabis in public spaces, and up to 50 grams in private homes. Up to three plants can be grown in each household.

Possession and use could be legal as early as April 1, although that date may be pushed back, according to Marijuana Moment. The bill now goes to the Bundesrat, the German legislative body that represents German states, and it could be referred to a mediation committee, which would delay final adoption of the law.

Despite the good news, German cannabis enthusiasts shouldn’t expect a large legal marketplace anytime soon. The bill’s sponsors were forced to curtail plans for sales in licensed dispensaries and pharmacies because of European Union concerns, according to the BBC.

The bill instead creates a plan for non-profit “cannabis social clubs” that will grow and distribute cannabis to a maximum of 500 members per club. These clubs could begin operations as early as July, depending on progress of the bill in the Bundesrat.

According to Marijuana Moment, there are plans to introduce another bill that would establish pilot programs for commercial sales in some German cities. That legislation must first be reviewed by the EU’s European Commission. Conservatives in the Bundestag have said they will scrap legalization altogether if they take power in next year’s elections, according to the BBC.

Germany will become the ninth country to legalize recreational cannabis use, and just the third European Union member (Luxembourg and Malta are the others). Canada, Georgia, Mexico, South Africa, Thailand and Uruguay have also legalized marijuana possession and use. Twenty-four U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and three territories have legal weed.

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