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Germany's Parliament to Debate and Vote on Liberalizing Cannabis Rules

The bill foresees legalizing possession by adults of up to 25 grams of marijuana for recreational purposes.

AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File

BERLIN (AP) — German lawmakers are expected to vote Friday on a government plan to liberalize rules on cannabis, which would decriminalize limited amounts of marijuana and allow members of "cannabis clubs" to buy it for recreational purposes.

The vote in parliament's lower house, or Bundestag, comes months after Chancellor Olaf Scholz's Cabinet gave its blessing to the plan, a prominent reform project of the socially liberal governing coalition. It is vehemently opposed by the main conservative opposition bloc and some members of Scholz's center-left Social Democrats also are uneasy about it.

The bill foresees legalizing possession by adults of up to 25 grams (nearly 1 ounce) of marijuana for recreational purposes and allowing individuals to grow up to three plants on their own. That part of the legislation would take effect on April 1.

German residents who are 18 and older would be allowed to join nonprofit "cannabis clubs" with a maximum 500 members each, starting July 1. The clubs would be allowed to grow cannabis for members' personal consumption.

Individuals would be allowed to buy up to 25 grams per day, or a maximum 50 grams per month — a figure limited to 30 grams for under-21s. Membership in multiple clubs would not be allowed. The clubs' costs would be covered by membership fees, which would be staggered according to how much marijuana members use.

The government plans a ban on advertising or sponsoring cannabis, and the clubs and consumption won't be allowed in the immediate vicinity of schools, playgrounds and sports facilities. An evaluation of the legislation's effect on protection of children and youths is to be carried out within 18 months of the legislation taking effect.

The plan falls significantly short of the government's original ambitions, which foresaw allowing the sale of cannabis to adults across the country at licensed outlets. The project was scaled back following talks with the European Union's executive commission.