Is Germany Going To Legalize Cannabis?
Cem Özdemir, the co-chairman of the German political party "Bündnis '90/Die Grünen" has just posted a link to an article at Facebook that outlines that the prohibition has failed and why regulation is better than criminal prosecution; furthermore, there are some basic points of their bill mentioned. Has the time come for Germany to tear down the old and decrepit structures of their Controlled Substances Act or will this bill go by the board? Read the complete bill here (sorry, German only).
The headline: Reason instead of ideology
Right on the money! This headline pretty much sums it all up - the prohibition of a substance less hazardous than alcohol makes no sense; the ban is simply not reasonable. The most quoted reason for prohibition is unanimously "Cannabis poses a health threat" - well, my dear politicians, so is alpine climbing, so why not criminalize all those mountaineers?
Prohibition has failed
They clearly state that the old (outdated) law failed in reducing supply and demand and did more harm than good. Well, frankly said, they push at an open door if you ask us ... but they are right and even refer to the stance of the Global Commission on Drug Policy and its call for a radical change in the drug policy around the globe (in 2011). The "Grünen" are not fighting a losing battle with their approach: 122 renowned criminal law professors submitted a resolution calling for a re-evaluation of the Controlled Substances Act and the "Deutsche Gesellschaft für Suchtmedizin" (German Society of Narcology) has recently joined this demand.
Regulation instead of criminalization
"A dealer does not ask for an ID or cares how old his customers are" - indeed, a black market only opens doors for organized crime and the selling side does not give a damn about youth protection or purity of the product. Actually the opposite is true - any minor with some cash has access to weed and quite often it is impure. The used cutting agents usually pose a much higher health hazard than the natural product itself, so the consumer protection falls by the wayside as well. The Grünen party wants to drain this illegal swamp and exonerate the judicial system from time-devouring lawsuits against mature adults who chose cannabis as their "semiluxury food" instead of drinking a slab of beer. They want to establish a regulated and controlled system for cultivation, distribution and commerce in order to provide youth and consumer protection, giving responsible adults the freedom of choice.
The cornerstones of their bill
• Decriminalization: Adults would be allowed to buy and possess up to 30g of cannabis or three female plants for personal use.
• Child safety: Children and adolescents under the age of 18 would be completely prohibited from acquisition and possession of any cannabis product.
• Control: All transactions (cultivation, processing, transportation, import and export, wholesale and retail) would be regulated by law.
• Regulated sale: The sale of cannabis and cannabis-containing products would only be allowed in approved cannabis stores.
• Cannabis shops: Minors would not be allowed to enter this kind of stores - age and identity must be checked at the entrance. Personnel must have received safety training in drug prevention. Customers must be informed about consumer risks, dangers of addiction and harm reduction measures and pointed to consulting and therapy if needed.
• Consumer protection: The cultivation of cannabis would be subject to strict regulations, for example regarding the use of pesticides.
• Prevention: All products should have a package leaflet with instructions on dosage and effect, possible drug interactions, as well as precautionary and emergency measures.
Time to rejoice?
The mills of legislation grind slowly, so there is no reason to jump for joy as yet. This is only a proposal and I (German citizen from Bremen) have tangible doubts the other big parties can chum up with this pioneering foray. But who knows, times are changing and with a growing number of countries, states and places re-assessing their drug policy Germany will probably be put on the spot soon. At least it is nice to see some of the politicians are not that kind of reactionary die-hard when it comes to our beloved Mary Jane.