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European Cannabis News: These Countries Prep For Legalization, UK Official Calls Pot As Harmful...

Updated: Jan 30

European Cannabis News: These Countries Prep For Legalization, UK Official Calls Pot As Harmful As Heroin

byJelena Martinovic, Benzinga Editor

OG Story: here.

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Cannabis investors, industry stakeholders and activists are gearing up to embrace new cannabis opportunities on the horizon, with several European countries on the cusp of legalizing either recreational or medical marijuana.

Let's scroll through recent market highlights and regulatory changes:

German Marijuana Legalization Plans Delayed

With delays in submitting a draft law to legalize recreational cannabis to the European Commission, German plans to enact the policy reform may be pushed further into 2025.

In October, on the heels of the leaked measure, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach presented a plan to Chancellor Olaf Scholz's cabinet, calling it "the most liberal legalization of cannabis in Europe," which will result in "the most regulated market" in the EU.

The German officials intend to tackle the cannabis illicit market, which seems to be substantial considering there are roughly 4 million adults who use marijuana nationwide, according to a survey presented by Lauterbach.

That initiative would legalize possession of "a maximum of 20 to 30 grams" for people 18 and older and also increase the number of homegrown plants to three from two. Probably the most striking difference is that there will be no cap on THC concentration in products sold to people over 21.

For now, the draft law is still "being formulated within the federal government," the German Federal Ministry of Health told BusinessCann. Government officials are also asking for more research and 'expert opinion to shed light on the effects of a controlled sale of cannabis on health and youth protection and consumption.'

The draft law is expected to be completed by spring 2023.

Czech Republic To Move This Spring As Well

Meanwhile, a new piece of legislation - set to regulate another emerging European market - is expected to be ready by March.

Last week, a group of experts in Czechia laid out their plan for regulating the marijuana market to the Government Office, reported The group has been discussing the issue for months now and plans to meet on February 2.

The bill calls for setting up a program that would include registered users, home growers and hemp associations. It will also oversee the issuance of licenses for production, distribution and dispensing.

"We propose taxing cannabis and collecting funds for licensing," Jindřich Vobořil, a national anti-drug coordinator, said, according to the Czech government's website. "We are counting on a significant income for the state budget. At the same time, I hope that we will subsequently agree with the government on some allocation of funds for prevention."

UK Official Says Pot Is Harmful As Heroin

In the UK, a push to re-classify cannabis from Class B to Class A and create stricter penalties for those who possess and sell it faced criticism recently.

Police and crime commissioners argued that the Conservative Party's classification of cannabis is not appropriate, given new data suggesting it is more harmful than previously thought. Therefore, they want to re-schedule cannabis as a Class A drug, raising penalties for those who possess and sell it.

However, drug expert Prof David Nutt said the move would represent a "failure to learn the lessons of history."

Nutt, a neuropsychopharmacologist specializing in drug research touted the push as "politically motivated" as well as "destructive and damaging," reported BBC.

"These changes are being proposed despite it being almost inevitable that cannabis will be legalized in the future," he said.

Still, officials like Mark Shelford, PCC for Avon and Somerset, are openly against the policy reform while supporting stricter penalties.

He said that cannabis is "as harmful as crack cocaine or heroin" and that re-classifying would "open doors to treatment where currently the focus is on drugs like heroin."

Photo: Benzinga Edit, Source: Courtesy of Esteban Lopez and KOBU Agency on Unsplash

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