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German Lawmakers Move Closer to Legalizing Marijuana

WorldEuropeGerman Lawmakers Move Closer to Legalizing Marijuana

Lawmakers in Germany approved legalization of cannabis on Friday, bringing the country a step closer to becoming one of the few European nations — and by far the largest — to fully legalize limited amounts of the drug for recreational use.

“By legalizing it, we are taking cannabis out of the taboo zone,” said Karl Lauterbach, who as health minister is largely responsible for the law, on public television before the vote, which ended up being 407 votes for and 226 against.

The proposal must be approved by the Federal Council next month.

Several other European countries, perhaps most notably the Netherlands, tolerate the use of cannabis, but legalization is rare: Within the European Union, only Malta and Luxembourg have gone that far.

If the law passes the Federal Council and is signed by the president, it will be rolled out in two steps. Starting in April, all adults will be allowed to carry up to 25 grams, own up to 50 grams, and grow up to three adult plants for private consumption. Then, in July, adults in Germany will be permitted to form social clubs that can produce cannabis plants for their members.

Critics have objected to the new law on the grounds that it could normalize the drug and make it easier for minors to obtain it. To try to prevent this, the measure limits carrying and use of the drug to people over 18 years old and bans consumption of the drug close to schools or other places where young people gather.

States have warned that the legalization would cause an extra burden for the traffic police, who expect to see an increase in the number of people driving under the influence of the drug on German roads.

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