The German parliament has voted to legalize recreational marijuana by 407 votes to 226.

From April 1, individuals aged 18 and older will be able to possess up to 25 grams in public, 50 grams at home, and cultivate up to three plants for personal use. For now, however, there are no provisions in the new law to allow for regulated sales.

Germany is now the third European country to legalize the recreational use of cannabis after Malta and Luxembourg but it is by far the largest economy in the EU to do so, triggering hopes for marijuana reform advocates that other countries will soon follow suit.

The main architect of the new law, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, said the reform is necessary to tackle the black market, ensure the safety of cannabis products, and siphon revenues away from organized criminals. This, he claims, is especially urgent with marijuana use soaring among young German adults.

“The number of consumers aged between 18 and 25 has doubled in the past 10 years. We need to dry out the black market and fix our failed drug policy,” Lauterbach said.

The debate over marijuana legalization in Germany has intensified in recent years, partly in response to the legalization and normalization of medical cannabis In 2017, around 650,000 people in Germany were using marijuana for medical purposes. By 2022, that figure had jumped to 6.7 million.

Initially, Germany’s coalition government wanted to license shops and pharmacies to sell marijuana to recreational consumers. This has been discarded in the final bill in favor of allowing non-commercial members’ clubs, otherwise known as cannabis social clubs.

From July 1, these clubs will be permitted to grow and distribute a yet-to-be-determined amount of marijuana to its members. Cannabis consumption will not be allowed onsite, membership is restricted to German residents, and each club can have a maximum of 500 members.

This means tourists and infrequent users of cannabis will likely still find it difficult to access the plant even when it is legal.

The government has said it is minded to eventually introduce legal cannabis sales, but will first assess the impact of the new law over the next couple of years.

state marijuana laws