Will Germany’s decision to legalize weed inspire the rest of Europe?

Germany is set to become the largest country in Europe to legalize marijuana. It’s a decision that carries weight given that they have the biggest economy on the continent.

The Guardian spoke to several experts, who provided their predictions of what might happen and its impact on the world.

Photo by Anastasiya Bezhekeneva/Getty

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“There will be a domino effect, that’s for sure,” said Justin Haucap, director of the Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics. “European countries that have a much bigger problem with illegal cannabis use, such as France, are watching what Germany is doing very closely at the moment.”

Experts predict that Germany will make a lot of money once cannabis is legalized. The country has an estimated demand of 400 tons of cannabis per year. This could mean that Germany could earn around 4.7 billion euros a year from taxes alone, while saving significant sums as the country no longer wastes resources prosecuting cannabis users.

If Germany legalized cannabis and started selling and marketing the product like any other good, it would violate the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. While initially the country would likely have to circumvent this decision, some predict that Germany’s legalization would prompt the UN to change it entirely.

“In theory, Germany could leave the UN Single Convention and only join specific parts of it. But I am quite optimistic that with the changes happening in Canada, the United States and now in Germany, we could also consider a reform of the convention as it relates to the cannabis trade,” Haucap said.

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According to key lawmakers, Germany wants to legalize cannabis in order to reign in the cannabis black market, eliminate sources of contaminated products and protect minors. It won’t be the first European country to legalize marijuana – that honor belongs to Malta – but it’s a decision that will shake its neighbors and the world at large. Surprisingly, while the Netherlands has had a relaxed attitude towards marijuana use for decades, the country still criminalizes its use, possession, and trade.

Mary I. Bruner