Germany Marks a Milestone in Cannabis Legalization: A Comparative Look at European Stances on Weed Tourism

Germany Marks a <span>Milestone in Cannabis Legalization:</span> A Comparative Look at European Stances on Weed Tourism

Germany has recently eased its regulations on cannabis possession and cultivation, sparking curiosity about the potential rise of weed tourism.

Traditionally viewed as a bastion of conservatism within Europe, Germany's latest move to legalize recreational cannabis sets it apart as the most populous EU nation to do so, overcoming significant resistance from both political figures and health organizations. Individuals aged 18 and above are now permitted to possess up to 25 grams of dried cannabis and to grow as many as three marijuana plants for personal use.

This legislative shift positions Germany alongside Malta and Luxembourg as one of the European countries with the most progressive cannabis policies, with both having legalized recreational cannabis in 2021 and 2023, respectively. While the Netherlands has historically been perceived as lenient towards cannabis use, it has recently begun enforcing stricter regulations to curb cannabis-related tourism. This tightening of rules means that tourists seeking cannabis experiences may face challenges, not only in the Netherlands but also in Germany.

Implications of Germany's New Cannabis Legislation

Despite Germany's legalization, accessing cannabis remains a complex issue. Initial proposals for the sale of cannabis in licensed establishments were abandoned following objections from the EU, though there are hopes for future pilot projects to explore retail possibilities. The German government anticipates that legalization will help combat the illicit cannabis market.

From July 1, further legal amendments will introduce the option to acquire cannabis through designated 'cannabis clubs'. These clubs, subject to regulation, may have up to 500 members each, with a monthly purchase limit of 50 grams of cannabis per member. It remains to be seen whether these clubs will be accessible to foreigners or tourists.

While concerns persist regarding potential increases in cannabis usage among the youth, the government has committed to an extensive public awareness campaign to mitigate health risks, particularly to minors. Cannabis will also be prohibited near educational and recreational facilities for children. Law enforcement expresses apprehension about the potential for heightened conflicts due to the new law, indicating that Germany may not rapidly emerge as a prime destination for cannabis tourism.

Cannabis Legislation

Europe's Leading 'Weed Tourism' Destinations

Cannabis legality varies across Europe, with many countries permitting medical use or decriminalizing personal use, limiting availability to tourists. Malta stands out in the EU for its lenient cannabis policies, allowing adults to possess up to 7g and cultivate up to four plants since 2021. Although public consumption remains illegal, cannabis products and related items are openly sold. In contrast, the Netherlands maintains a policy of illegal status for cannabis cultivation, sale, and possession, with a "toleration" stance for sales in 'coffee shops' and possession limits set at 5g. Spain offers a similar model, with decriminalized personal use and the popularity of cannabis social clubs, particularly in tourist areas like Barcelona, despite varying local regulations and periodic enforcement efforts.

The rest of Europe remains cautious, with most countries enforcing penalties for cannabis possession or use, awaiting outcomes from more liberal approaches like Germany's. Belgium, where possession of up to 3g of cannabis or growing one plant is a low legal priority for adults since 2003, is particularly noteworthy for future developments in cannabis policy.

Publication Date: 08.04.2024