Cannabis and the Federal Election: Is Something Going On?

Germany’s cannabis ban policy has “failed.” More minors use cannabis than, for example, in the Netherlands, where there is widespread legalization. Now it’s becoming an election issue, and the Social Democrats demand that the realities in German schoolyards, metropolitan party districts, and suburban landscapes be recognized first: “Like alcohol, cannabis is something we have to deal with adequately.”

When he first drew on a cannabis joint, Christian was twelve years old. The older acquaintance of a friend had lit one in the playground after school and passed it around. Christian grabbed it. He started smoking after a traumatic event. He had just turned twelve at the time. Six months later, the leap from cigarettes to joints was not far. “I liked it. I was able to forget my problems,” Christian states today.

The grass became his daily companion during his school days. “The black market has no opening times. If one was caught, the next one was ready.” It had become everyday life. At 19, he quit and joined the covenant. Only the nicotine addiction didn’t let go of him. Today he works in high technology. “I can’t count my luck,” he says. “I now know the consequences of being caught by the police.”

Of course, laws are slowly beginning to change around the world today, which is one of the major topics we cover in our free cannabis news app.

Cannabis: Like a Glass of Red Wine

Today Christian, who wants to keep his last name to himself, is in his mid-thirties. Sometimes he still uses cannabis and travels to Holland when he is visiting his old homeland. Only on occasion, not as with many as a middle-class evening ritual instead of a glass of red wine. “But no more joints. You will laugh. I was able to overcome my cigarette addiction with cannabis.”

But Christian never let go of cannabis in any other way. He’s a young father now, wondering how his child will come across drugs one day, which can then run better. “I have no illusions,” he says. “Every young person wants to try things out, everyone comes into contact with drugs, and they are found in every secondary school in the whole of the republic. But it doesn’t have to go the way it did for me. “

He hopes that then at least he will not have to worry that life-threatening stretched manipulated varieties will be on the market. That unscrupulous dealers also offer harder things to young people. That cannabis still has the charm of the forbidden. And its consumption carries the risk of getting to know the police and ending up in criminal proceedings, the consequences of which “accompany young people for years.”

Christian now lives in Rosenheim in Upper Bavaria, “the area with the toughest repression against cannabis. And yet every third suspect here is a teenager, ”as he found in the security report of the police headquarters in Upper Bavaria South.

Keeping young people away from drugs doesn’t seem to work so well in Rosenheim. The city is home to the Federal Drug Commissioner Daniela Ludwig (CSU). Even the Union politician moved away from the decades-long line of criminalization in an interview with RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND) a few weeks ago: She no longer wants to prosecute consumers who have up to six grams with them. Possession should only be an administrative offense.

But the Union cannot go any further. “I think it is wrong to legalize cannabis,” said CDU Chancellor candidate Armin Laschet in the ARD’s “election arena.” He added that he had never smoked cannabis.

More than One in Seven Young People in Europe Has Smoked Cannabis

More than a quarter of the population in Europe, however, has one experience ahead of the CDU party leader. According to the drug report 2020, 90 million Europeans (27.2 percent) have smoked cannabis, 18 million young people (15 percent) have current experiences that less than a year ago. Cannabis has long since become a popular drug.

The health risk is undisputed. But alcohol is at least as dangerous, argued the Federal Constitutional Court in 1994. Cannabis is considered a gateway drug, said Laschet again. That has to do with the black market, counters the “Legalize” front. The arguments have been exchanged for decades and the country is divided.

The German Hemp Association, the most important and professionally sober lobby group of cannabis friends, which acts in the political run-up, asks the population’s mood every year. The approval for a release for pleasure purposes has remained just below 50 percent for years. Younger people and supporters of left-wing parties are in favor, with a large majority in some cases, while older and more conservative parties are against. However, as early as 2018, 59 percent were in favor of no longer prosecuting the possession of small quantities.

Is it because of this unclear mood that liberalization is not making progress in Germany? Or is it mainly due to a party? The Federal Ministry of Health has been in the hands of the CDU since 2013, and the CSU has provided the drug commissioner since 2014. These are not good times for drug policy liberalization. Although cannabis was approved for medical use after a long effort, the Union majority blocked all attempts to legalize the drug as a stimulant.

First Attempts in 2016

The Federal Office for Medicines, which is part of Jens Spahn’s Ministry of Health, is currently being sued by the Berlin Senate. The red-red-green capital city government applied for a pilot project as early as 2016, shortly after taking office: 349 registered stoners should be allowed to legally purchase cannabis and hashish in 20 pharmacies and would have to keep a consumption diary.

The goal: to enable lower-risk consumption or to reduce consumption as a whole. The project should be accompanied scientifically. To make it possible, however, the Narcotics Act would have to be changed – and that would require majorities in the Bundestag and Bundesrat.

SPD candidate Olaf Scholz has never smoked cannabis either, he recently said in the political podcast “Germany 3000”. There were already people in his youth who smoked cannabis, “but I wasn’t that interested,” said the finance minister. From a political point of view, he did not want to “promote consumption,” he told the RND when he and Klara Geywitz applied for the chairmanship of the SPD in 2019.

That is more than a joint length away from Vice-Party Leader Kevin Kühnert, who briskly declares the German cannabis ban policy “failed.” The 32-year-old is in favor of legalization under rules and conditions. “In Germany, more minors use cannabis than, for example, in the Netherlands, where there is widespread legalization. That should make us think “, says Kühnert in the RND podcast” In Your Face.”

In the election manifesto, the Social Democrats demand that the realities in German schoolyards, metropolitan party districts, and suburban landscapes be recognized first: “Like alcohol, cannabis is a social reality that we have to deal with adequately politically.”

Model projects are then called for, as planned in Berlin and Frankfurt am Main. That – and decriminalization of consumers – could be the lowest common denominator that a coalition without Union participation can agree on.

The demands of the Greens, the FDP, and the left go much further. “Yes, we want to release cannabis, controlled, of course, just like you do with alcohol,” said Green candidate Annalena Baerbock in the election campaign. For the sake of completeness: When asked if she has ever pulled on a joint, she told the “Bild” briefly and honestly: “I did, but it was really not mine.”

But once politicians put the issue aside in a relaxed manner, the Federal Constitutional Court could put pressure on it. Only the Bernauer juvenile judge Andreas Müller referred several cases to Karlsruhe as a judge’s submission.

Outdated Cannabis Laws Need Updating

The Münster District Court has also suspended proceedings in which a man was charged with possessing 0.4 grams of cannabis and is investigating whether the ban on cannabis is unlawful. Another case at the Pasewalk District Court involves larger quantities – and a controversial limit value. “I submitted a case in which the limit of 7.5 grams of THC active ingredient content is either just exceeded or just undercut,” says judge Clivia von Dewitz the RND. “Above this limit, imposing a prison sentence, as a crime, is mandatory.”

The limit was set by the Federal Court of Justice in 1984 – Karlsruhe should now check whether it still holds. Ten years later, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled that alcohol and cannabis should not be treated equally as intoxicants. Von Dewitz demands: “The cannabis ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court of 1994 urgently needs to be updated. It no longer fits in with the times. “

Meanwhile, Christian got involved in the election campaign in his own way. He raised money for four large-scale awareness-raising posters that are now hanging in Rosenheim – in places where Daniela Ludwig also noticed them. The motifs come from the lobby group Hanfverband.

“Cannabis is not broccoli,” it says, “and beer is not apple juice.” With the first comparison, Ludwig wanted to point out how dangerous cannabis and hashish are – and that legalization is out of the question. So the black market takes care of that.

Not only in the stoner capital Berlin, not only on the Dutch border, “here in Rosenheim I smell it on every corner,” says Christian. As a self-proclaimed grass activist, he says to the young people he meets on his way through Rosenheim: “Buy the least amount of activated carbon filters; your lungs will thank you.”

(Featured image by RODNAE Productions via Pexels)

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First published in Readaktionsnetwerk Deutschland, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.

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