by Juliana Kenny
Germany’s health minister Hermann Gröhe announced this week that the country will legalize medical marijuana in 2017 after lawmakers approved a measure for “seriously ill patients” who have consulted with a doctor and “have no therapeutic alternative,” according to the Health Ministry. CNN reports that Gröhe mentioned broader legalization measures could be in the future, extending legality to other patients.
Germany is one of the most lax countries in Europe in regards to marijuana laws, but it is one of few. Portugal, Spain, and the Netherlands join Germany in boasting some of the least restrictive cannabis laws in the world, while in neighboring France it is completely illegal. Like in France, in the U.K., Finland, Iceland, Hungary, and Denmark it is illegal to possess, sell, transport, or cultivate marijuana across the board. The Czech Republic has made some efforts to decriminalize the substance in certain amounts and only for medical use. In Italy it is illegal to sell, transport, or cultivate marijuana, but, it is decriminalized for medical and, oddly, religious usage. (Jamaica is the only other country that officially recognizes cannabis as a part of religious ceremonies, despite several world religions that use it for religious purposes.) But for the most part, Germany stands alone in its historic lax laws.
To many Germans, this relaxing of marijuana laws is a natural next step for the government. Historically, marijuana-related charges are usually dropped, and its sale, transport, and use are increasingly quotidian.