Green party politicians want to open first marijuana point of sale in Berlin

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Green party politicians want to open first marijuana point of sale in Berlin

Local residents and politicians agree on one thing: Something must change. The question is how to deal with the problem. Green party members want to open a marijuana point of sale, so users could buy

If you walk into the Görlitzer Park in Berlin Kreuzberg in Germany you won't get far into it without being addressed by one of the sometimes up to 100 dealers besieging the park. "Want some dope?" And only 20 steps further into the park you hear a similar offer, but maybe then you are asked if you are looking for something harder. No matter how often the police raided the place - the dealers (returning ones and those moving up) are always there and they are not always unobtrusive. There are small children playing on the lawn and mothers are pushing their babies around in strollers while a few meters away drug dealers are peddling their illicit substances. And sometimes hell breaks loose - in August 2013, in the course of a massive brawl a man's ear was cut off. Police spokesman Guido Busch said that they alone are not able to get the place under control because the park is too big and there are too many dealers and places to hide.

Local residents and politicians agree on one thing: Something must change. The question is how to deal with the problem. Green party members want to open a marijuana point of sale, so users could buy high quality weed without the need to deal with shady and sometimes deceitful dealers whereas the opposing CDU party wants to fence the park and lock it up during the nighttime and relies on the police to cease the public drug trafficking. Green party district mayoress Monika Herrmann said that she wants to control the sale, because it is plain to see that current handling of the situation does not solve the problem.

Now, here is the big obstacle: Marijuana and hash are completely illegal in Germany without exception (although, since 2005 a few medical products on prescription are exempt). But the reality in court looks slightly different - in many districts a small amount is "tolerated" and a suspect caught in possession of an amount below that threshold is (oftentimes) not prosecuted or, if caught repeatedly, only punished with a fine. If you plan to visit Germany and really need some weed, you better inform yourself properly. Most states consider 6 grams tolerable, but it totally depends on the respective judge and his opinion and attitude toward marijuana. The maximum prison sentence for the possession of marijuana is 5 years (no parole!), so be as discreet as possible.

It has become obvious that a new drug policy is needed to address this problem and the plan of the Green party is revolutionary for German standards. To dry out the illegal drug swamp that has emerged in Görli Park (how locals call it) they want to deprive the dealers from their business basis by opening Germany's very first equivalent of a "coffee shop." Mayoress Herrmann said she does not like that misleading term, because it would not be a store like a café where people drink their coffee and smoke blunts. She prefers "point of sale" and emphasized that she wants medically trained staff to run the shop to ensure that the customers are properly advised, a minimum age of the customers and if needed, security personnel.

Timur Husein, the CDU district councilor completely disagrees and demand permanent police presence in the park during daytime and to lock the park at night. He fears that if the application of the Green party is approved, it might become even worse and drug tourists from all over the world could feel invited.

Police spokesman Guido Busch also expressed doubts about the idea because the dealers could switch from marijuana to harder drugs or simply move to another park.

But mayoress Herrmann has an answer to these doubts. She wants marijuana points of sale in every district of Berlin and mentioned a hard to refute fact: Marijuana grown and distributed by the state would have a consistently superior quality the illegal dealers could not provide. Furthermore she wants to integrate social workers in the program. However, there is one thing she is not sure about. How will those who used to make money by peddling illegal marijuana react? But she has high hopes and is not willing to give up before even trying.

In 2014, an exemption from the Federal Institute for Drugs may be requested.

While this is far from the measures regarding legalization of soft drugs we see taken in the US, it seems that even German politicians are finally recognizing that a change is due ...