Bongs for beer steins? Why Germany might move to legalise cannabis

Dass die wohl zukünftige deutsche Regierungskoalition über die Legalisierung von Cannabis verhandelt, stößt auch international auf Interesse. Euronews zitiert im entsprechenden Artikel sehr ausführlich DHV-Geschäftsführer Georg Wurth. Allerdings ist seine Einschätzung nicht ganz korrekt wiedergegeben, ob er die Entkriminalisierung oder die Legalisierung von Cannabis für wahrscheinlicher hält. Mit dem globalen Blick auf den Stand der Dinge hat er nur ausgedrückt, warum er die Legalisierung auch bei Rot-Grün-Gelb nicht für ganz sicher hält.

It’s created such a buzz that Georg Wurth, President of the German Hemp Association, has spent the weeks following the election fielding near-constant phone calls.

“Everyone is excited because it could really happen,” Wurth told Euronews. “Germany could become the third nation in the world to totally legalise cannabis.”

According to Wurth, decriminalisation, which removes criminal penalties for consumption, typically precedes full legalisation and is the more likely outcome, though the parties are still negotiating.

“In the last 20 years or so, the assumption was that decriminalisation would come first, then legalisation would be the next step. We’ll see if we really do it all at once,” he said. (…)

Proponents of legalisation argue enforcing cannabis’ illegal status means funnelling extensive public funds into policing while ensuring that much of the money spent by Germany’s millions of consumers lands in criminal organisations.

“We put incredible effort into enforcing this prohibition, without success. Usage has only risen, and it costs us millions,” said Wurth.

Decriminalising cannabis consumption would drastically cut outlays for policing consumption, something Wurth argues would be a boon for taxpayers. (…)

But for supporters, like Wurth, legalisation was never meant to be a panacea.

“We’d never say there are no risks involved with cannabis consumption. Some people really struggle with it. That won’t change with legalisation. Legalising cannabis can solve all the problems created by the prohibition, but it can’t solve every problem with cannabis itself,” he said.

The German Hemp Association has called for a more open discussion about the pros and cons of cannabis consumption, while arguing that funding that had been spent on policing the sale and use of the drug can now be routed into prevention, education, and counselling. (…)

Weeks of continued negotiations will determine if Germany will follow Canada and Uruguay in fully legalising the purchase, sale, and consumption of marijuana. Wurth estimates it’s more likely that if the SPD, Greens and FDP do form a coalition, they’ll go the more common decriminalisation route, mirroring countries like Portugal or the Netherlands.

“It’s really hard to imagine that we’d jump straight to legalisation. But the signs from the coalition talks are there, and they’ve committed to modernisation. This would fit right in, and make us trailblazers in the global context,” said Wurth.