The German Ministry of health under the Minister Karl Lauterbach (Social Democrat) has published its plan for a legalization of Cannabis in Germany. The bullet points seem okay at first glance: The legal transport of 25 grams of dried flower starting at age 18, home growing of 3 female plants in the flowering stage, and the ability to found non-profit cannabis social clubs with up to 500 members. Though when one looks at the details, a few problems can be noticed: in some cases the proposal is even more restrictive than other models of cannabis legalisation. Let’s look at the problems of the new proposal.
No solution for scoring weed out-of-town.
Imagine you visit family or friends in another city in Germany for the holidays. Under the proposal of the health ministry, you would be forbidden from going to a cannabis social club there, becoming a member, and purchasing cannabis. This is because you would only legally be able to be a member of a single cannabis club in all of Germany.
No receiving weed from other countries.
Have a friend or family member where weed is legal? Well under this proposal, none of them could legally send you the cannabis from their garden or local dispensary. Even though the possession of that weed would be legal under the law, the receiving of it coming from another country would be illegal. That’s a contradiction and keeps an element of criminalization alive. It’s not a crime to receive a bottle of wine from California, so why should it be a crime to receive a bag of weed from the same place?
It is already common knowledge that some tourists come to Berlin for the liberal drug laws, the club scene, and drugs. While the law proposal would allow Berlin Residents to legally purchase their cannabis in Berlin, the tourists would still have to go get their product at the infamous Görlitzer Park, where an activist found most of the weed sold there to be cut with dangerous substances. This brings with it health risks, which could mean unnecessary and life-threatening health emergencies for these consumers, from anything from lung failure to an overdose from dangerous synthetic cannabinoids.
THC Potency Limit for those under 21 years old
The members under 21 years of age will be limited to purchasing cannabis under a certain THC limit. This is an absurd double standard, because 18-year-olds in Germany can already legally drink themselves into a coma with 151 proof rum. For those who don’t know what that is, that is rum with 75,5% alcohol. That’s more potent than most hashish concentrates! Not only that, but alcohol is deadly, while nobody ever died from a THC overdose. This policy will lead to the black market filling the gap for more potent cannabis products, where often the so-called “haze” or “cali” cannabis is just cannabis which is laced with synthetic cannabinoids. Often, consumers don’t even know they are consuming these substances until it’s too late and they are physically addicted, and we know that synthetic cannabinoids are more dangerous than natural THC.
Consuming cannabis within cannabis clubs will be forbidden.
Yes, you read that correctly. You won’t be able to sit with your friends on a couch and play videogames or have a little party at the cannabis club with your friends, as is the case in cannabis social clubs in Spain. No, the government wants to force you into your apartment. And if you aren’t lucky enough to have an apartment where you can legally smoke, then too bad for you. Because the government also doesn’t want you to be smoking on the sidewalk in public. Where are you supposed to consume your grass then? Well, if you’re lucky enough to have a smoking bar near you that is 420-friendly, you could go there. Same thing with night clubs as well. But one thing sticks out here like a sore thumb, there is no way to guarantee harm reduction and notice problematic consumption patterns in members of the cannabis community. That means there will be no community structure of people who can notice the early warning signs of cannabis use disorder in its members and intervene accordingly so that affected people can get the help they need early on.
No consumption on the sidewalk until 8pm
In Germany, it’s a social taboo to drink alcohol in public before 4pm. The saying goes “kein Bier vor Vier” which means “no beer before 4pm”. While that is a social taboo, and in most cities and states still not illegal, the German government wants to hold stoners to a higher standard and forbid them from smoking cannabis on the sidewalk. This, as well as the potency limit for 18-21 year olds mentioned earlier, clearly goes against the general equality clause of the constitution of Germany (Art. 3 Abs. 3 GG). Which states that no two essentially similar acts are allowed to be treated unequally under German law. Also, the fact that smokers can smoke tobacco on the sidewalk in Germany adds to this legal argument.
No solution for drivers
If you were hoping to smoke some weed and not have to worry about losing your license due to a positive urine test the day after, then I’m sorry to disappoint you but that won’t happen. The old rules for those operating a motor vehicle will stay in place. That means if you are required to take a blood or urine test, you better hope it’s been 30 days since your last consumption. Because that’s how long it takes for the residue product leftover from Delta-9-THC, THC-COOH, which is not psychoactive, to completely leave urine and the blood stream. Basically, your body breaks down the psychoactive Delta-9-THC, and what is left is THC-COOH, which will still trigger most drug tests in Germany to turn up positive. That means even though you never drove high behind the wheel, you could still lose your driver’s license indefinitely due to a drug test.
No permanent change for 4 years.
The health ministry’s plan would mean all these policies would be in place for 4 years and will get a final evaluation (and possibly a second round of reforms) after those 4 years. That is ridiculous when you know the background that, the health policy experts in the German parliament visited foreign policy makers in places that cannabis is legal just recently. Here they are, posing for the cameras. In fact, the health policy experts of parliament must know quite well by now what to expect from cannabis legalization, they could still choose to improve the policy, but they are unlikely to do so against the wishes of the ministry of health.
The perfect cannabis regulation law will never fall out of the sky. Even the small victories we can see in the health ministry proposal are the result of years of lobbying and activist work on the ground, in the streets. I have been a part of this movement for years, so I know nothing comes without a fight and the fight for cannabis legalization is far from over. What can you do, to make your voice heard? Well for one, you can join the German Hemp Association (Deutscher Hanfverband) for as low as 5 euros a month. It is the largest union and lobby organization of cannabis legalization activists in Germany and is a proud part of the greater European Organization for the reform of drug laws, called ENCOD. You can get active in your city with the help of the hemp association to win over voters for pro-cannabis political parties such as DIE LINKE and push politicians to make the right decisions on drug policy. In Berlin this is more important than ever, since the ongoing vote within the SPD party of Berlin could mean another state government would block further steps towards cannabis legalization within the Bundesrat. We must be vigilant if we are to win the justice that we deserve. Schluss mit Krimi, Cannabis normal!