ENCOD BULLETIN ON DRUG POLICIES IN EUROPE
IS SOMETHING HAPPENING IN GERMANY?
Since the end of 2010 something is moving in the discussion for or against the legalization of cannabis in Germany. While our neighbour countries (Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark and Poland) are decriminalizing cannabis consumption and even cultivation for personal consumption, and while the arguments for legalization are convincing and rational, the German Government (formed by Christian Democrats and Liberals, CDU/CSU/FDP) rigidly rejects any proposal for cannabis policy reform. Their arguments aren’t scientific, but ideological: everything concerning cannabis or marijuana should remain forbidden and repressed.
In the federal state of Germany, there are more than 3 million regular and more than 12 million occasional users of cannabis. Every year approximately 100,000 criminal cases are pursued on grounds of simple cannabis use. Although many of these cases are subsequently dismissed since they concern small amounts, the police have nevertheless seized the cannabis and a complaint has been issued. In some states quite severe penalties are imposed for purely consumption-related offenses, even in the case of small amounts. Consumers run the risk of loosing their driver’s licence and they are exposed to house searches and other humiliating treatment.
In December 2010 the German Hemp Association launched an online-petition for the decriminalization of cannabis consumption. The petition demanded an end to the prosecution and discrimination of cannabis consumers and to introduce common sense in German cannabis legislation.
The following legal changes were proposed:
1. The possession of smaller quantities of hemp for personal use (up to at least 30 grams) should not be punished.
2. The so-called “small amount” limit must be equal in every state of Germany.
3. Growing a few plants for personal consumption should be decriminalized. A regulation must be created to establish the rules concerning “small amounts”, in order to create the legal framework for collective cultivation, such as the Cannabis Social Clubs as are found in Spain.
4. The introduction of a logical, scientific limit of allowed presence of THC when driving a car, just as is the case with alcohol.
5. When the police decide to prosecute the possession of small amounts of cannabis, the procedure should not include a house search, or the taking of photographs or fingerpirints.
The petition gathered over 30.000 votes.
Some newspapers published reports and published our arguments. In the meantime the speaker for drug policy issues of the Left Party (Die Linke), Frank Tempel, made an application for the legalization of cannabis. The application requests the legalization of possession of 30 grams of cannabis for personal use and also to allow growing for personal consumption.
The Left Party then also called for Cannabis Social Clubs, where consumers can grow their plants together or give the order to someone to grow their cannabis for them. The Left Party also requested a scientific limit for THC when driving a car.
This application followed an open hearing at the Commission for Public Health that was held in January 2012, with the title: ”How dangerous is cannabis?” . Experts were invited. Some of them, especially those from the German Police, the public prosecutor’s office and Prof. Dr. Thomasius of the University Clinic of Hamburg rejected the proposal. However Dr. Nicole Krumdiek (Schildower Kreis) and Georg Wurth (German Hemp Association) defended the demand.
In autumn 2011, Maximilian Plenert (German Hemp Association) took part in Angela Merkel’s attempt to obtain public participation in the debate about the crisis. Many viewers were interested in his demand for legalization of cannabis and Merkel answered in a very stupid way.
Recently, online voters succesfully pushed the proposition of the German Hemp Association for legalization of cannabis into the “Dialogue of the Future” that was started by chancellor Angela Merkel. It ended in second place on the list of issues to be discussed. Now we are waiting for a reaction of Merkel and the German Government.
In the first weekend of May, there will be the “Global Marijuana March 2012” in Frankfurt and the “Hanftag” in Berlin. We all worked hard to bring many people to the demonstrations and show their opinion. In Berlin Steffen Geyer, a German Hemp Activist, starts his ”Cannabiskultour” through Germany. He wants to inform and convince more people in the country to support our fight for the legalization of hemp for medicine and for pleasure.
By Ingrid Wunn
PS from Encod: From May 1st, the Dutch government will apply new measures for access to coffeeshops in the south of the Netherlands. From January 1st, 2013, these measures will be extended to the rest of the country. People who do not reside in the Netherlands will not be allowed to enter coffeeshops, and Dutch residents need to register permanently as a member of the shop, that will be transformed into a closed club. Encod and several of its Dutch members are opposing these new measures, which may very well lead to the end of the coffeeshop model that has existed since 1976. Together with 19 coffeeshops and Consumer Organisation WeSmoke, we have initiated a courtcase against the Dutch state, in order to denounce the discriminating nature of these new rules. On May 1st, similar courtcases will be initiated on a local level in Maastricht and Tilburg. On June 17th, on Cannabis Liberation Day in Amsterdam, thousands of activists will gather and mobilise for a campaign that will end on September 12th, 2012, when parliamentary elections will be held in the Netherlands. Hopefully, either the judges or the new Dutch government will withdraw these measures as soon as possible.