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Where are the laws on cannabis in Europe?

Green light for cannabis in Germany.

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Where are the laws on cannabis in Europe?

Green light for cannabis in Germany. From April 1, 2024, the consumption of this plant for recreational purposes is legalized in the country, after the adoption of the law on February 27 in the German Parliament.

This regulation provides for authorizing the purchase of cannabis (limited to 25 grams per day) through non-profit associations. The law also allows up to three plants to be grown for the personal use of Germans.

The cultivation and distribution of cannabis will however only be possible from July 1, via associations called “Cannabis Clubs”. These clubs will be able to sell a maximum of 25 grams per day and no more than 50 grams per month to their members, 500 people at most. Only adults can become members. Between 18 and 21 years old, they will only be able to obtain 30 grams per month of cannabis with a level of active ingredient THC limited to 10%. These clubs will also be responsible for distributing cannabis seeds and cuttings to their members for home cultivation, up to a maximum of seven seeds or five cuttings.

On the other hand, possession and consumption of this drug remain strictly prohibited for those under 18 years of age. Consumption also remains prohibited near minors, daycare centers, schools or even sports facilities. The reform should, according to the government, make it possible to fight more effectively against the black market, a point contested by the conservative opposition, the police unions and certain SPD deputies.

Recognizing that overconsumption of cannabis could be “dangerous” for young people, whose brains develop up to the age of 25, the Minister of Health nevertheless announced that an awareness campaign would be put in place.

Germany thus becomes the third European country to decriminalize the recreational consumption of cannabis, after Malta and Luxembourg, in 2021 and 2023 respectively. Denmark could soon follow suit: in 2022, a proposal aimed at achieving to an experiment in the legalization of cannabis over five years was presented to Parliament, but the text has not yet been voted on. Across the Atlantic, Canada and Uruguay have already taken the plunge. The possession of cannabis for recreational use, however, remains mostly prohibited in the member states of the European Union, but the severity of the penalties incurred differs greatly from one country to another.

Furthermore, the thresholds determining a quantity of cannabis said to be for “personal use” also vary depending on the country. In the Netherlands, for example, possession of cannabis for personal use is not legal, but tolerated. In fact, having up to 30 grams of cannabis on you for personal consumption is not subject to legal action.

In France, the largest consumer of cannabis in Europe, the penalty for using cannabis can be up to 1 year's imprisonment and a fine of 3,750 euros. If the offense is subject to a fine of up to 280 euros in Latvia, this carries up to eight years of imprisonment for the perpetrator in Cyprus.

Despite this majority ban, many EU countries draw a distinction between recreational and medical cannabis. The use of this drug for therapeutic purposes is authorized in 21 of the 27 states of the European Union, but remains illegal in France to this day.

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