The legalization of recreational cannabis products is fast approaching. On Thursday, at the end of a series of expert hearings, Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) spoke out clearly in favor of a sanction-free, controlled delivery of the intoxicant – this is intended to implement an agreement from the “traffic light” coalition agreement. The most important principle in the release must be: “Safety First”, said the minister – i.e. “safety first”.
The focus of the planned new regulation must be the protection of children and young people, said Lauterbach. Because cannabis abuse can “destroy a life in young people before it has really started”.
The final specialist conference on Thursday was preceded by four expert hearings organized by the Federal Ministry of Health. There, more than 200 experts from various disciplines exchanged views on the pros and cons of cannabis legalization.
The results of the consultations should now be evaluated and introduced into the legislative process, said the Federal Government Commissioner for Addiction and Drug Questions, Burkhard Blienert (SPD). “We received exactly the valuable input in the hearings that we had hoped for.”
Lauterbach admitted he had “long thought that cannabis shouldn’t be legalized.” But he changed his mind: “The repressive approach to cannabis has failed,” he said. “The risks of current practice are greater than what could be achieved with a controlled levy.”
According to Lauterbach, there are currently more and more harmful contaminants in illegally traded cannabis. In the case of a legal levy, however, the quality can be controlled. In addition, the illegal cannabis market is becoming “more and more aggressive”; People are introduced to the drug at a young age.
The minister made it clear: “What we do not want is that we play down cannabis.” Cannabis is always associated with health risks, from which children and young people in particular must be protected. Young people in particular could “very often fall by the wayside in terms of school and professional training” when consuming cannabis, said Lauterbach.
Lauterbach referred to his own childhood experiences with cannabis in his environment: “Good friends of mine became addicted, later switched to other drugs and died.”
The traffic light parties had agreed on the controlled release of cannabis in their coalition agreement. They want to present a bill by the end of the year; the results are to be evaluated after four years. Most federal states already waive criminal prosecution for the possession of small amounts of cannabis.
According to the Federal Ministry of Health, experts from addiction medicine, addiction help, law, business and associations as well as representatives of the federal states, municipalities, federal ministries and federal authorities were involved in the expert hearings that are now coming to an end.