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Weed May Be Legal In Germany by 2024

This would make the country the largest in the world with national legalization.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When will Germany legalize marijuana? If all goes as planned, sales of weed or bubatz (a slang term for weed popularized by German rappers and sometimes used by German officials) could begin as early as 2024.

Matthew Micah Wright | Getty Images

Germany is steadily moving forward with plans to create a system for the sale of legalized marijuana nationwide, a historic move that will make the country the largest in the world to make adult-use cannabis legal at the federal level.

The German Health Ministry held hearings in June to gather testimony from more than 200 experts in the medical and legal community. They wanted to hear these officials' recommendations for what should and should not be included in the national legalization law.

According to the Associated Press, Germany's drug czar Burkhard Blienert said that legalization would represent years of work toward Germany "finally ending the criminalization of cannabis consumers and beginning a modern and health-oriented cannabis policy."

The legal cannabis system is just one of many "liberalizing plans" in the German government. Others include removing a ban on doctors advertising abortion services, making it easier to become a German citizen, lifting restrictions on dual citizenship, and reducing the minimum age for voting in national elections from 18 to 16.

RELATED: Pot and Pretzels: Would You Travel to Germany for Cannabis?

The largest legal country in the world

The country will join Uruguay, Canada, and Thailand in making recreational marijuana legal at the federal level. But with more than 83 million people, Germany would rank as the largest country with legalized cannabis, ahead of Canada at 38 million (although it's still fewer people than those in the U.S. with access to a legal cannabis market at the state level).

Health Ministry officials plan to focus on the creation of a system that ensures the manufacture and sale of high-quality marijuana, as well as having measures in place to protect children. They may take direction from U.S. states that have seen teen use drop after legalization.

The legalization comes from a coalition government that took office in May. It includes the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the party of Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the Free Democrats (FDP), and the Green Party.

Health officials hope to have a plan ready for presentation to the Bundestag, Germany's parliament, in the year's second half.

RELATED: Which European Country Will Legalize Weed Next?

Legalization movement growing in Europe

With Germany now leaping into legal cannabis, many experts predict other European countries will follow. Justus Haucap, director of the Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics, told The Guardian in the United Kingdom that "there will be a domino effect, for sure. European countries with a much bigger problem with illegal cannabis use, like France, are watching very closely what Germany is doing now."

As in the United States, where 19 states have legalized recreational cannabis, money represents a big part of the attraction. Germany expects to earn billions of euros in taxes annually from legal marijuana sales. Officials also expect to save money not prosecuting low-level marijuana possession cases.

One of the biggest issues is tackling black market sales of weed, a persistent problem in California, Canada and other U.S. states. Some argue that allowing online sales will put a dent into illegal weed profits in a much more significant way than selling only in brick-and-mortar cannabis shops or pharmacies.

"Legalization will only be a success if we manage to drain the black market, and we will only be able to do that if we can provide a comprehensive nationwide supply of legal cannabis," Niklas Kouparanis, CEO of cannabis startup company Bloomwell, told The Guardian.

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