German lawmakers and a top federal drug official from the country recently toured California marijuana businesses and heard from state officials, experts and advocates about lessons learned from cannabis legalization, including steps that have been taken to promote equity in the industry.

As pat of the tour, members of the German Parliament’s Health Committee visited a dispensary and met with local stakeholders and activists in Oakland last week to discuss best practices for legalization as the European country moves toward ending prohibition and regulating marijuana nationwide.

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

Hirsh Jain, the founder the consulting firm Ananda Strategy who participated in the meeting in Oakland, told Marijuana Moment in a phone interview that “it was a really expansive conversation,” though the German legislators were especially interested in discussing the public health considerations of legalization.

“What they had said is like, ‘look, we want to legalize cannabis and we want to do it in the name of public health,’” Jain said. “That’s how they kicked off their conversation with us and that was kind of the framing for the conversation.”

To that end, the California officials and stakeholders conveyed to the German visitors that one of the most significant threats to public health when it comes to cannabis is leaving the market unregulated in an illicit space where products are not tested and age restrictions for sales aren’t enforced.

Creating a regulated environment that attracts adults consumers, supports the legal industry and diverts from the illicit market—by keeping taxes at a manageable rate, for example—therefore serves public health interests, the officials were advised.

“As someone who interacts with a lot of American politicians, I was astounded about the extent to which they at least seemed to be engaged in a policy sense,” Jain said. “That was very encouraging—their level of engagement with these ideas we were presenting.”

“I think it’s very healthy that we are starting to have international discourse about different cannabis regimes,” he added. “The more that we can look at examples from other countries, the better we can figure out how to navigate this experiment.”

Dale Sky Jones, president and executive chancellor of Oaksterdam University, who also participated in the meeting, told Marijuana Moment on Monday that the lawmakers wanted to learn about the Bay Area’s unique experience with reform, as well as the “push-pulls within our community, public health and safety and the developments in the marketplace 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 visited Sacramento last week and spoke with California’s top marijuana regulator, Nicole Elliott.

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

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

Germany’s government took a first step toward legalization in June, kicking off a series of hearings meant to help inform legislation to end prohibition in the country.

Leaders of the coalition government said last year that they had reached an agreement to end cannabis prohibition and enact regulations for a legal industry, and they previewed certain details of that plan earlier this year. Now the wheels are in motion to craft the specifics of actual legalization legislation.

Meanwhile, a top Canadian health official who heads up the country’s efforts to combat addiction recently visited Colorado, Oregon and Washington State to learn about their experiences implementing drug policy reform like broad decriminalization and harm reduction—meeting with the governor of Oregon and psychedelics activists, among others, on a week-long tour.

“We’ll be sharing evidence, talking to people with lived and living experience, and discussing how our governments can learn from one another,” the minister, who recently authorized a drug decriminalization pilot program in one of Canada’s largest provinces, said ahead of the regional tour.

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

Key Congressional Committee Will Vote On Marijuana Record Sealing And Other Drug Policy Reform Bills This Week

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