Germany set to compete with the Netherlands? The future ruling coalition wants to legalize cannabis, a measure likely to bring billions of euros to the state but which raises the concern of addictologists and police unions.
This liberalization, which would make Germany the second country in the European Union after the Netherlands to choose the route of supervised sales, is one of the flagship measures of the coalition contract, unveiled on Wednesday, of the three parties (SPD , Greens and Liberals) who will succeed Angela Merkel in the next few weeks. Cannabis would be sold in licensed stores. Germany already has less restrictive legislation than many of its European neighbors, with the possibility in some cities such as Berlin to hold a few grams for personal consumption. The use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes was also authorized in 2017.
The future places of sale could be tobacconists, “coffee-shops” or pharmacies. The site is now on the right track, especially for public health reasons, argue the three parties. Cannabis sold in the street is in fact often cut with other substances such as hairspray, sand or even Brix, a synthetic adhesive intended to artificially inflate the weight of the grass. The health authorities are also alarmed by the circulation of new synthetic cannabinoids with a very high THC level which poses health risks, in particular to the youngest.
Over-the-counter cannabis could also represent a windfall for the state coffers and turn into “green gold” as in Canada or in the American states which allow recreational use of hemp. A recent study estimated the public finance savings from legalized cannabis to be around 4.7 billion euros. A tax on cannabis identical to those on tobacco or alcohol alone would bring in 1.8 billion each year. Savings of around one billion euros could also be made on criminal prosecutions targeting consumers and small dealers, according to this study, which estimates the number of jobs created by legalization at around 27,000.
But legalization retains many opponents in Germany. Stephan Pilsinger, spokesperson for the CDU in the fight against drugs, accuses the coalition of carrying out an “experiment on the health of our society and of our young people”. Police unions say they fear a “trivialization of cannabis consumption”. Addictologists warn them against the possible impact on the mental health of the youngest and the risk of cancer.
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