decision on coffeeshop project in Berlin
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Last night the Governing Council of the Friedrichshain/Kreuzberg Borough of Berlin passed with a clear majority a project proposed by the Green Party for the dispensing of cannabis. This is a historic moment, even if now the work on it is only just beginning and if it is questionable whether or not the necessary permits can be obtained.
A press release from the Green Party in the Borough states that the proposal was approved "by a large majority." I have just learned that the decision was actually unanimous! Not only the Greens, the Left, and the Pirates voted for it, but also the SPD! The CDU was not present in the chambers...
Here is an excerpt from the Green Party’s Press Release:
Plans call for a roundtable or special interest day involving local residents, activists, addiction specialists, experts, police officials, and interested politicians. Unclarified legal issues, for example, for potential operators and procurement opportunities, should be clarified. (...)
“The situation in Görli shows that the prohibitionist policies of the past several decades have failed. Now we need to come up with unusual solutions," said Borough Mayor Monika Herrmann (Green). (...)
The Borough Council welcomed our initiative - now the real work begins," said Jonas Schemmel (Green).
This news has gone all through the press today. There were, among others, reports in the Cologne Rundschau and the B.Z. The latter once again quoted a critic of the project in the Berlin Senate, Health Senator Marion Czaja (CDU) :
However, the real hurdle is yet to come: approval from the Federal Institute for Medicine. Health Senator Marion Czaja (38, CDU), is even more skeptical about whether the proposal of the Borough will be successful. He sees the coffee shop concept as going in the wrong direction.
The DHV (German Cannabis Association) will participate in discussions regarding implementation of the project. It will certainly be a few months before an application is actually worked out and can be submitted. The Federal Institute for Medicine and Medical Devices (BfArM) under Health Minister Seehofer did reject a similar application made in the late 1990s by the Federal State of Schleswig-Holstein.
Whether or not the new government is more forward thinking may well be doubtful at the moment. Therefore, the Borough must also consider whether, if necessary, legal steps might possibly be taken against a rejection.
But, even if the project is ultimately rejected, this decision sends a strong signal. For the first time in over 15 years there is again a majority in an elected body in Germany for legal cannabis dispensation.
This decision also fits perfectly with the current DHV "Local Petitions Campaign,” with which we are making a similar proposal. Many petitioners have so far received from their city governments the answer that they are not responsible for such a thing, or that it is not legally possible. Now all petitioners may refer to the Berlin Borough - such a decision is possible!
Also, an approval from the BfArM could become more likely if more cities would join the initiative. For example, the model project of safe needle exchanges for heroin users was proposed at that time by seven German cities.
In addition, the Borough is joining a European trend: in Copenhagen and in some cities in Switzerland local politicians want to allow cannabis shops.
We are making progress, albeit slowly, but the pressure in the cooker is increasing!
(translation of this article by Jordan Dietrich)