Legislation on consumption and possession of drugs
Simply consuming is basically legal. Taking part in – particularly motorized – traffic under the influence of psychoactive substances will threaten one’s driver’s license and may be legally prosecuted. Detection of previous consumption with a test or through a statement made to the police can raise doubts on one’s capability to drive a motor vehicle. Especially professions like bus drivers will have to face disciplinary consequences in any case, even if their consumption took place outside working hours. The possession of and any other contact with all substances listed in Appendices 1-3 of the Narcotics Law (BtmG) without the required permit is illegal and will be punished with up to five years in jail in case of normal amounts. A permit is usually only granted for scientific purposes, also there are about 150 persons who are allowed to buy Cannabis from pharmacies and are not prosecuted for possession. There are exemptions for some substances from the obligation to obtain authorisation for the following: involved logistics service providers, medical doctors, pharmacists, patients with the required prescription, as well as federal authorities. The prosecutor may put aside prosecution (Sec. 31a BtmG) [hier fehlt im Deutschen das Verb ‘kann’] when the offender’s guilt is assumed to be limited, when there is no public interest in criminal prosecution, and when the offender has grown, produced, imported, exported, processed, purchased or in any other way obtained or possessed the narcotics only in small amounts and for his/her private consumption. Similarly, courts may stop proceedings under the same conditions. It is nowhere defined in the law how much a “small amount” is; for Cannabis, it is 6 grams in most German federal states, for other substances, it is few consumption units. The individual federal states and prosecutors handle Sec. 31a BtmG very differently. Every federal state has issued individual framework guidelines on this.
Cannabis Social Clubs
At the moment, there are no registered Cannabis grow operations in Germany (excluding industrial hemp). For very few persons it is virtually legal to grow Cannabis for medical purposes after courts have ruled that these were “justified acts of necessity”. There are various considerations to start Cannabis Social Clubs, either legally by obtaining an exemption permit for patients or recreational users, or illegally as a form of political protest.
There are user rooms in various federal states, e.g. in Hamburg, Berlin and in North Rhine-Westphalia. To be able to operate user rooms, subsidiary legislation by the federal state (Verordnung) is required; such legislation is in place in Berlin, Hesse, Lower Saxony, North-Rhine Westphalia, and in Saarland. In all other federal states, it is illegal to operate user rooms.
Main political parties for the European Elections
- Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD)
- Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) – Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU)
- Alliance ’90/The Greens (Grüne)
- Free Democratic Party (FDP)
- The Left (LINKE)
- Pirate Party Germany (Piraten)
- Alternative for Germany (AfD)
What is the position of these parties on: Drug Policy Reform / Harm Reduction, health-based approach on drugs / Decriminalisation of cannabis and/or other drugs / Cannabis Social Clubs
There are clear differences between the parties. In general, CDU, CSU, AfD, and FDP are against progressive drug policies, with the CSU representing the right edge. The AfD haven’t really stated their position yet and the FDP differs only slightly. Green Party, Left Party and Pirates are in favor of a progressive drug policy and in addition demand legalisation and regulation of drugs other then cannabis. The SPD’s position is unclear. They claim to be against criminalization and in favor of cannabis as medicine, but at the same time turn down initiatives brought forward by the Green and the Left without contributing any proposal for amendment.
What are the two most important threats on the political and legal front?
Apart from criminal prosecution, the abuse of driver license legislation is a big problem. Frank Tempel from the Left Party summarizes that “The war on drugs is arbitrarily continued in traffic law”. Unfortunately, drug policy is not a core theme of the political work of any of the progressive parties (Green, Left, Pirates).
What is the most promising or positive development concerning drug policy?
With the Pirate Party, there is now a third progressive party and the competition between them drives the issue forward. The most exciting project is an initiative by the Green Party in the Berlin district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg and their district mayor Monika Herrmann. They want to make an application for a model test and legally distribute cannabis. For a majority in the district assembly, the Green Party only needs the approval of the Left or the Pirate Party.”
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