German lawmakers visit California marijuana companies to inform national legalization plans

German lawmakers and the country’s top federal drug official recently visited California marijuana businesses and heard from state officials, experts and advocates about lessons learned from cannabis legalization, including measures that have been taken to promote fairness in the industry.

As part of the tour, members of the German parliament’s health committee visited a dispensary and met with local actors and activists in Oakland last week to discuss legalization best practices as the European country moves towards the end of nationwide prohibition and regulation of marijuana.

During the visit, which was also attended by federal drug and addiction commissioner Burkhard Blienert, officials “reviewed products from dispensaries with equity licenses” as part of their effort to assess “opportunities and the risks of cannabis legalization,” according to a tweet from the German consulate. in San Francisco.

Hirsh Jain, the founder of consulting firm Ananda Strategy who attended the meeting in Oakland, told Marijuana Moment in a phone interview that “it was a really long conversation,” although German lawmakers were particularly interested in discussing the public health considerations of legalization. .

“What they said was ‘look, we want to legalize cannabis and we want to do it in the name of public health,'” Jain said. “That’s how they started their conversation with us and that was kind of part of the conversation.”

To that end, California officials and stakeholders have informed visitors from Germany that one of the most significant public health threats to cannabis is leaving the market unregulated in an illicit space where products are not not tested and where age restrictions for sales are not. t applied.

Creating a regulated environment that attracts adult consumers, supports the legal industry and diverts the illicit market — by keeping taxes manageable, for example — therefore serves the interests of public health, officials have been told.

“As someone who interacts with many American politicians, I was amazed at how engaged they seemed to be at least in some political sense,” Jain said. “It was very encouraging – their level of engagement with these ideas that we were presenting.”

“I think it’s very healthy that we’re starting to have an international discourse around different cannabis regimens,” he added. “The more we can look at examples from other countries, the better we can understand how to navigate this experience.”

Dale Sky Jones, president and executive chancellor of Oaksterdam University, who also attended the meeting, told Marijuana Moment Monday that lawmakers wanted to learn more about the Bay Area’s unique experience in reform, as well as “push-pull within our community”. , public health and safety and market developments and the legalization process in California.

“I would agree that [the Germans] were absolutely engaged and very curious, with important and thoughtful questions,” Jones said.

The German delegation also traveled to Sacramento last week and spoke with California’s top marijuana regulator, Nicole Elliott.

Earlier this month, German officials and lawmakers met separately with representatives of cannabis company Tilray. However, while Tilray appeared to suggest in a press release that the meeting was part of an ongoing discussion about preparing for sales for adult use in the country, a government spokesperson later clarified that it was a “one-time conversation”.

These meetings come about two months after senior officials from Germany, Luxembourg, Malta and the Netherlands held a first-of-its-kind meeting to discuss plans and challenges associated with the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. recreational.

The German government took a first step towards legalization in June, launching a series of hearings intended to help inform legislation to end prohibition in the country.

Coalition government leaders said last year they had reached an agreement to end cannabis prohibition and enact regulations for a legal industry, and they announced some details of that plan earlier this year. year. Now the wheels are in motion to work out the details of the current legalization legislation.

Meanwhile, a top Canadian health official who is leading the country’s efforts to tackle drug addiction recently visited Colorado, Oregon and Washington state to learn more about their implementation experiences. of drug policy reform, such as large-scale decriminalization and harm reduction – meeting with the Governor of Oregon and psychedelic activists, among others, during a week-long tour.

“We will share evidence, speak to people with lived and living experience and discuss how our governments can learn from each other,” said the minister, who recently authorized a drug decriminalization pilot program in the United States. one of the largest provinces in Canada. the regional tour.

A new international survey released in April found majority support for legalization in several key European countries, including Germany.

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James R. Rhodes