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POLITICS

Bavaria to set up ‘control unit’ to curb use of cannabis if legalised in Germany

Already preparing for a possible nationwide legalisation of cannabis in Germany, Bavaria has plans to reduce consumption through its own measures.

Bavaria to set up 'control unit' to curb use of cannabis if legalised in Germany
A man smokes a joint at a cannabis legislation protest in Berlin in May. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Annette Riedl

Germany’s coalition government introduced a bill for a partial legalisation of cannabis in mid-August, which is set to be discussed by the Bundesrat on Friday. 

Should the draft law be approved by parliament, a “central control unit” will be set up to “curb the consumption of this dangerous drug and prevent it as far as possible” through strict enforcement within Bavaria, said the Free State’s Health Minister Klaus Holetschek said in Munich on Thursday.

READ ALSO: Why is Germany’s cannabis draft law so controversial?

However, Holetschek, of the centre-right CSU, did not yet elaborate on how the use of cannabis would be monitored or enforced.

He furthermore said that all possible legal steps should also be taken to oppose the law if it comes into force, “because the Berlin traffic-light government’s plan threatens the health of young people in particular”.

Decriminalising the use of cannabis also “blatantly endangered” people aged 18 to 21, Holetschek said, pointing to the health risks of cannabis consumption on still-developing brains.

‘Turnaround in drug policy’

The bill would allow adults to possess up to 25 grams (0.9 ounces) of cannabis and grow up to three plants for personal use.

People will also be allowed to join non-profit “cannabis clubs” of up to 500 members where the drug can be legally cultivated and purchased.

READ ALSO: German government okays plans to legalise recreational cannabis

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) deemed the draft law a “turning point in drug policy” and expressed his conviction that it would curb the black market, fight drug-related crime and increase health protection.

On Friday, the Bundesrat will comment on the bill before it can be officially written into German law.

Bavaria wants to “submit a plenary motion in the state chamber rejecting the bill in its entirety”.

If the bill goes through, the government aims to review the societal impact of the new legislation after four years.

The government has also said it plans to follow up with a second phase that would involve trialling the production and sale of cannabis in specialised stores under government licences in selected regions.

Vocabulary

central control unit – (die) zentralle Kontrolleinheit

curb – eindämmen

stop – verhindern

bill/draft law – (der) Gesetzentwurf 

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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ECONOMY

German Chancellor rejects benefit cuts amid budget crisis

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said he would not accept reductions to welfare spending as he tries to forge a deal with coalition partners to pass the 2024 budget.

German Chancellor rejects benefit cuts amid budget crisis

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Saturday firmly rejected any cuts on social benefits as his crisis-mired coalition struggled to agree on a budget for 2024.

Germany is in the throes of a budget crisis after a bombshell court ruling last month on debt rules upended the government’s spending plans.

The constitutional court’s ruling sets a “very difficult task” for the government, said Scholz at his Social Democratic Party’s congress.

As he battles to wrest a deal with coalition partners the Greens and liberal FDP party, Scholz underlined that he would not accept welfare reductions.

“In such a situation, there will be no cuts on the welfare state in Germany,” he said.

The chancellor did not provide any detail on the talks, but said he wanted to “convey the confidence that we will succeed” in getting a deal.

Germany’s top court found that the government had broken a constitutional debt rule when it transferred 60 billion euros ($65 billion) earmarked for pandemic support to a climate fund.

The ruling blew a huge hole in spending plans, forcing the government to adopt an emergency budget for 2023, and sending it scrambling for a new plan for 2024.

Current projections show that the coalition needs to make up a 17-billion-euro gap, and the opposition conservatives, as well as Scholz’s junior coalition partner FDP have demanded reductions on welfare spending.

One point of friction between the coalition parties concerns the debt brake rule, which is enshrined in German law and prevents the state from borrowing more than 0.35 percent of annual GDP to cover a structural deficit, barring exceptional circumstances.

The FDP rejects any further suspension of the debt brake.

But in the midst of the budget crisis, the SPD is calling for this constitutional rule to be suspended again in 2024 — as it has been since 2020 — to allow for more spending, according to a resolution adopted unanimously at the party congress.

Economy Minister Robert Habeck of the Greens has meanwhile said he wants “all projects that we have conceived” to go ahead.

Amid the standoff, Scholz’s SPD parliamentary group admitted earlier this week that it would no longer be possible for parliament to adopt 2024’s budget this year.

But Scholz and his coalition partners are still striving for a political deal by year’s end, which could then be put to parliament in early 2024.

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