Germany is inching toward legalizing recreational cannabis as the government seeks to have the process completed by the end of 2022, reported U.S.News.
Germany decriminalized medical cannabis in 2016 and in November 2021, leaders of the incoming parties stated they had a formal agreement to legalize marijuana.
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Now, the Health Ministry plans to kick off with five expert hearings on various aspects of the issue on Tuesday. The hearings, which will be held by the end of the month will focus on the best ways to protect young people and consumers’ health, said drug czar Burkhard Blienert.
“Like many others, I have worked for years toward us in Germany finally ending the criminalization of cannabis consumers and beginning modern and health-oriented cannabis policy,” he said.
The governmental health department announced Monday that over 200 representatives from the medical, legal and other fields will participate, as well as various government officials and international experts.
The push to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana in licensed shops is part of a series of reforms proposed in last year’s coalition deal between three socially liberal parties in the government led by Olaf Scholz, who took over from Angela Merkel as chancellor in December.
The plan also includes the examination of the ‘social effects” of the new legislation after four years.
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The legislation is poised to be drafted in the second half of 2022, once the hearings with experts wrap up.
The German Health Minister, SPD-affiliated Karl Lauterbach said earlier that he wants to put cannabis reform on the summer legislative agenda.
Quoted in German media, Lauterbach said he’s “changed his mind about this in the past two years…I’ve always been an opponent of cannabis legalization, but I revised my opinion about a year ago.”
This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.