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Germany Legalizes Recreational Cannabis Use |

Germany Legalizes Recreational Cannabis Use

Context: 

∙ The German parliament voted recently to legalise the possession and controlled cultivation of cannabis starting in April.

About

∙ Under the new law, it will be possible to obtain up to 25 grams of the drug per day for personal use through regulated cannabis cultivation associations, as well as to have up to three plants at home.

∙ But possession and use of the drug will remain prohibited for anyone under 18.

∙ The changes will leave Germany with some of the most liberal cannabis laws in Europe, bringing it into line with Malta and Luxembourg, which legalised recreational use of the drug in 2021 and 2023 respectively.

∙ However, Thailand recently cracked down on its freewheeling drug market with a ban on “recreational” use of Marijuana.

Arguments Legalising Cannabis

∙ Economic Benefits: Legalizing marijuana can create new economic opportunities. It can generate tax revenue for the government through the sale and regulation of cannabis products. 

∙ Reduced Crime and Black Market: Legalization can undermine the illegal market for marijuana by providing a legal and regulated avenue for obtaining the substance. This can potentially lead to a decrease in related criminal activities and violence associated with the illegal drug trade.

∙ Medical Benefits: Many argue that marijuana has medicinal properties and can be used to alleviate symptoms for various medical conditions, such as chronic pain, epilepsy, and nausea related to chemotherapy. 

∙ Less Health Risk when compared to Alcohol: WHO study concluded that the public health risks from cannabis use were likely less severe than those posed by alcohol and tobacco, which are legal.

Arguments favoring Ban of Cannabis

∙ Health Concerns: Some experts have warned that cannabis use among young people can affect the development of the central nervous system, leading to an increased risk of developing psychosis and schizophrenia.

∙ Sustained use has also been linked to respiratory diseases and testicular cancer.

∙ Gateway to drug abuse: Cannabis has undergone genetic modifications to significantly enhance its potency and addictive properties. Growers have intentionally reduced the levels of CBD (cannabidiol) while increasing the levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). This altered composition raises concerns about its potential to serve as a gateway drug, particularly for vulnerable individuals who may be prone to substance abuse.

Cannabis/Marijuana

∙ It is a generic term used to denote the several psychoactive preparations of the plant Cannabis sativa.

∙ The Mexican term ‘marijuana’ is frequently used in referring to cannabis leaves or other crude plant material in many countries.

∙ The major psychoactive constituent in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and compounds structurally similar to THC are referred to as cannabinoids.

Legal Status in India

∙ Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS Act) of 1985: Classifies cannabis as a Schedule I drug, meaning it has high potential for abuse.

∙ Possession and consumption: Punishable with imprisonment for up to 6 months or a fine of 10,000 or both.

∙ Cultivation and sale: More severe penalties, including imprisonment for up to 10 years and fines.

∙ Exclusions: Bhang, which is made with the leaves of the plant, is not mentioned in the NDPS Act.

Recent changes:

∙ 2020: CBD (cannabidiol) extracted from hemp plants legalized for medical purposes.

∙ 2023: Uttarakhand High Court ruled that the NDPS Act does not prohibit the cultivation of cannabis for research purposes.

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