Chancellor Merkel's answer to our question about cannabis
Chancellor Angela Merkel followed the example of president Barack Obama and has agreed to answer questions submitted and voted on German citizens. Merkel answered the 10 most popular ones via Youtube. The German Hemp Association] took the chance and asked her about cannabis legalization. Due to our good facebook network and the help of our partners Steffen Geyer ("mr. hemp parade") and the hemp journal (Hanfjournal), the question became the number one. Here is an unauthorized translation of the Merkel's answer by a volunteer helper and native speaker.
Background information: Angela Merkel is also chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the most unprogressive party in drug politics. The answer is weak even for an opponent of cannabis legalization. Our reaction and other articles about this in German you can find here. We focused our criticism on the statements:
- Cannabis leads to "very severe dependence" which is medical nonsense
- "Legalizing could lower the threshold" - there is no evidence for this and the Netherlands show the opposite effect
- The belittlement of the alcohol risks compared with cannabis and the claim alcohol not being a drug - people know this is wrong. An up to date poll suggests 2 from 3 don't share the chancellors opinion about this.
'Question Hour' with the Federal Chancellor of Germany, Dr. Angela Merkel
Reporter: And now to the question with the most votes and therefore most liked. The user writes as 'Deutscher Hanfverband [German Hemp Association] and asks: What is your opinion regarding the demand to substitute the existing black market for cannabis by a regulated market restricted to adults and with a quality control (including THC content), and use the tax money earned for increased preventative measures?
Merkel: I do not agree with that. I think, we have made exceptions in very specific cases. However, we should not legalise cannabis in general. Of course the question is: Is overall prohibition a reason of the black market; one could say that. On the other hand, legalizing it would lower the threshold for use even more, and we do consider the side-effects of cannabis so dangerous that this should not be done.
After all, there are two million cannabis users and that is already way too many, I think. Thus I tend to, or it is in my opinion, not to legalise it in general.
Reporter: Now, there are two million users or buyers of cannabis. However, there are many times more number of people consuming alcohol and tobacco, of course. The latter is taxed and thus integrated into our normal society. Why is there this difference? Is there a historical precedent, or can this be justified — by whatever means — by applying plausible facts?
Merkel: We think of cannabis as a drug, in accordance with international opinions. This means that even consuming small amounts can lead to very severe dependence. With alcohol or cigarettes however, sensibly limited consumption does not bear the risk of immediate addictiveness as this is the case with cannabis according to our opinion. With alcohol there surely is an element of a tradition. However, enjoyed in moderation, as supplement to a meal for example, alcohol is not something that causes immediate dependence. Still, there is a great need for prevention and information in this matter.