A German pharmaceutical authority struck down proposed plans Monday that would have allowed for the creation of "coffee shops" in Berlin similar to those in Amsterdam where customers can recreationally buy different kinds of marijuana alongside a cup of coffee. Despite the setback, proponents of the law are still hopeful for the future of marijuana legalization in Germany.
"For us, the rejection of the plans was no surprise, and as such, it's also not a setback," said Georg Wurth, a spokesperson for a pro-marijuana group in Germany, to the Local. The cities of Hamburg, Bremen, Münster and Düsseldorf have similar proposals on the table, and politicians are beginning to come around, according to the activists.
European laws on marijuana consumption and sale differ greatly throughout the continent and have shifted throughout the past 15 years, with one country having decriminalized all drugs.
The Netherlands: Amsterdam, the Dutch capital, is known throughout Europe -- and indeed, throughout much of the world -- for its coffee shops, where customers can buy joints and smoke them in the cafe. What most tourists in the city do not realize, however, is that most drugs in the Netherlands, including marijuana, are still illegal to produce and possess. Dutch law allows for customers to buy a small amount of it and consume it on the premises, but smoking pot on the street (for example) is not allowed.
Spain: The laws in Spain concerning marijuana often seem contradictory. Though it is illegal to buy or sell marijuana, citizens can grow and consume it for personal use. As a result of this legal loophole, "cannabis clubs" -- night clubs in Barcelona and Valencia -- have sprung up where members can smoke pot in the dance club.
France: The French government has toed a strict line when it comes to marijuana, and the substance is still illegal to buy, sell or produce. If you walk along the Seine near midnight in Paris, however, the smell of teenagers smoking hashish on the wharves might indicate otherwise.
The Czech Republic: Passed in 2013, a brand-new medical marijuana law in the Czech Republic allows patients with a doctor's note to purchase pot. Weed is decriminalized for the rest of the nation, and citizens can grow up to five plants for personal use.
Portugal: This Iberian nation has arguably the loosest marijuana laws on the continent. In fact, Portugal became the first European nation to officially abolish all criminal penalties for drug use with a 2001 law that got rid of jail time for possession of any drug, including heroin, cocaine and marijuana. The policy was aimed at encouraging rehabilitation over criminalization.