German draft law on legalizing cannabis likely by end of year

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German draft law on legalizing cannabis likely by end of year

Germany's coalition government is moving forward on the planned legalization of cannabis, with Health Minister Karl Lauterbach saying a draft law is scheduled to be ready by the end of the year, reported dpa.

Speaking during a series of expert consultations in Berlin on Thursday, Lauterbach said that the legalization of cannabis was "a long-awaited step for many," but several issues still needed to be clarified, including the protection of minors but also aspects concerning the criminal code, as well as tax and road traffic law.

Germany's three-party governing coalition between the Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and the Free Democrats (FDP) committed to the "controlled distribution of cannabis to adults for consumption purposes in licensed shops" in their coalition agreement, with Lauterbach making it clear that he had revised his original stance against cannabis legalization.

Lauterbach said that it wasn't the government's intention to promote an expansion of cannabis consumption.

"It must always be taken into account that cannabis – even when regularly used for pleasure – is associated with health risks," he said. Therefore health concerns, particularly regarding minors, would be a central pillar in the process, he said.

However, the risks of the current restrictions were greater than those of legalization, Lauterbach said. "Cannabis use in moderation, well secured, of high quality and without acquisitive crime is something to be accepted and is part of a modern society."

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