Lawmakers in Germany took comments from experts during a parliamentary Health Committee hearing on the government’s proposal to legalize cannabis in the country. They also considered an alternative plan that would focus instead on reducing cannabis consumption through education and public health measures.

The legalization measure, spearheaded by Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, would allow adults to legally possess cannabis and cultivate a maximum of three plants for personal use. It would also create social clubs that could distribute cannabis to members. Officials have said a forthcoming second phase of legalization will eventually launch a pilot program for regulated commercial sales of cannabis.

“With this draft law from the federal government, we can contribute to improved health protection, strengthen cannabis-related education and prevention, and curb the illegal market for cannabis while at the same time strengthening the protection of children and young people,” Kirsten Kappert-Gonther, a Green Party lawmaker, said at the start of the meeting, according to a translation.

“The federal government states that current developments show that the consumption of cannabis, despite the existing prohibition rules, is increasing, particularly among young people,” Kappert-Gonther said. “Cannabis that is purchased on the black market is often associated with a higher health risk because the THC content is unknown to those who consume it, and it contains toxic impurities and synthetic cannabinoids that can be very dangerous and whose effects are not estimated by those who consume them.”

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