Health minister: Germany taking safety-first approach to marijuana legalization

The focus of Germany’s upcoming adult-use marijuana legalization will be safety and the protection of youth from negative health effects, according to Germany’s health minister.

Ministry of Health Karl Lauterbach didn’t mention Canada, but his comments suggest Germany might follow some aspects of the Canadian example, which is generally a more restrictive, health-focused regulated system that doesn’t favor big business.

Lauterbach made the comments at the ministry’s hearings on recreational cannabis legalization, where hundreds of experts shared views on addiction, law, business, governing, industry and others, according to a report in Der Spiegel, the largest German news site.

Lauterbach confirmed that the government is aiming to have a draft law completed by the end of this year, but the health minister offered no new details on when the legislation could be approved and regulations published.

Lauterbach said about 4 million adults in Germany consume cannabis, which is less than the 6.2 million Canadians who consumed cannabis over a three-month period in 2020.

However, some studies put the number of potential cannabis consumers much higher.

A 2018 survey found that 16.9% of young adults (ages 15–34) consumed cannabis in the past 12 months.

Lauterbach said he used to be against legalization but has since changed his mind.

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“The repressive approach to cannabis has failed,” he said during the hearings.

“The risks of (prohibition) are greater than what could be achieved with controlled (sales).”