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Germany takes first step towards relaxing cannabis law


The German government has begun several weeks of expert testimony on liberalizing recreational cannabis use. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach hopes to present a new law in the coming months.

The first of five rounds of expert testimony on the liberalization of cannabis laws was to begin in Berlin on Tuesday, the first step in Germany's plan to legalize recreational use of the plant. 

Titled "cannabis, but safe", the first closed-door presentation will come from Social Democrat (SPD) Burkhard Blienert, the federal government's drug policy expert.

Legalizing and regulating the cannabis market was one of the progressive reforms promised by Chancellor Olaf Scholz's government when his SPD signed a coalition agreement with the neoliberal Free Democrats (FDP) and the Green Party last year.

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Blienert, who has for years advocated for Germany to catch up with several of its fellow EU members to relax recreational cannabis restrictions, said he was very pleased at the development. However, he also promised to "particularly protect children and teenagers from risk," in crafting cannabis policy.

Expert testimony, the first step in creating new laws, is expected to last until the end of June. Lawmakers will hear from some 200 experts on topics ranging from ecological planning, to the supply chain, and addiction. Legal experts will also give presentations.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has voiced his desire to have a new set of cannabis laws to present to Germany's parliament, the Bundestag, in the second half of the year.

es/dj (AFP, dpa)