German Opposition Leader Lobbies EU To Nix Country’s Cannabis Proposal

Germany’s health minister introduced the plan last month.
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A leader of Germany’s main opposition party took aim at the country’s proposal to decriminalize marijuana on Wednesday, asking the European Union to step in and block the plan. 

Klaus Holetschek, the health minister for a conservative-led state government in Germany, “met the EU’s director-general for migration and home affairs in Brussels on Wednesday to urge an EU veto,” according to the Associated Press.

The proposal was offered up late last month by German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach. If it were implemented, the new law would “decriminalize the possession of up to 30 grams (about 1 ounce) of cannabis and to allow the sale of the substance to adults for recreational purposes in a controlled market,” the Associated Press reported

As the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported in June, “legalizing and regulating the cannabis market was one of the progressive reforms promised by Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government when his [Social Democratic Party of Germany] signed a coalition agreement with the neoliberal Free Democrats (FDP) and the Green Party last year.”

Lauterbach, a member of the Social Democratic Party, said in June that he had “always been opposed to cannabis legalization,” but that he revised his “position about a year ago.” 

He stated “his desire to have a new set of cannabis laws to present to Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, in the second half of the year,” Deutsche Welle reported at the time

But those plans hit a snag in September, when the coalition government of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the Greens and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) expressed concern that the proposal they had prepared may not be approved by the European Union courts.

“There is a degree of caution about promises of a breakthrough before the end of the year,” a German government official said at the time. “The complexity of all is starting to sink in, and there’s a sharper awareness of the risks involved. We don’t want another autobahn toll debacle,” a reference to a plan to build a toll road that was abandoned when the European court of justice ruled it violated an anti-discrimination law because it would disproportionately affect foreign drivers.”

Last month, after unveiling his decriminalization proposal, Lauterbach said that the German government would “check with the European Union’s executive commission whether the plan approved by the German government is in line with EU laws and would proceed with legislation ‘on this basis’ only if it gets the green light,” the Associated Press reported at the time.

Under the proposal, cannabis could be “grown under license and sold to adults at licensed outlets to combat the black market,” according to the AP, while individuals “would be allowed to grow up to three plants, and to buy or possess 20 to 30 grams of marijuana.”

Holetschek blasted the coalition government’s proposal on Wednesday, and urged the European Union to block the measure.

Per the Associated Press, “Holetschek said he told the EU official, Monique Pariat, that ‘the German government’s planned cannabis legalization doesn’t just endanger health, but I am convinced that it also violates European law,’” and  he “argued that two EU agreements oblige Germany and other member countries to criminalize the production and sale of drugs such as cannabis.”

Although marijuana is decriminalized in a number of European countries, full-fledged legalization is still fairly rare across the continent. 

Last year, the tiny state of Malta became the first country in the European Union to legalize pot. The new law allows individuals to posses as many seven grams and to grow up to four plants in their residence. 

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