By Roland Sebestyén
Four of the six parties in the Bundestag are backing a change that would end the prohibition of cannabis as Germany is preparing for its next general election.
According to DW, drugs legalisation could very well be one of the main issues of the upcoming German parliamentary election later this year.
The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) reports that cannabis use in Germany is at an all-time high – almost one in three adults has tried cannabis at least once in their lifetime while almost one in five young adults uses it at least once a year.
Also, it has been reported that more than 4 million people use cannabis regularly in the country.
This has resulted in lawyers and prosecutors, criminologists, police officers, and social workers questioning the need for the current, rather strict cannabis policy in place in Germany.
The Germans are basically asking: while almost 20 states in the U.S. have legalised adult-use cannabis, how come the drug is still illegal in their country?
DW reports that the Green party and the FDP, the Left Party, and the Social Democrats (SPD) have all announced support for cannabis policy reform as the “present drug strategies based on prohibition are a failure.”
The parties are calling for a different approach that includes legalisation, decriminalisation and regulation.
Wieland Schinnenburg, the FDP’s parliamentary group spokesman, said: “If the market were to get official approval, the state would, of course, take in tax income that could, in turn, be spent on prevention and therapy.”
The Green Party tried to come forward with new draft legislation that would have seen the openings of designated sales points where adults could have bought regulated, legal cannabis – the Greens’ plan was to take on the black market and illegal traders who are making an awful lot of money from the streets.
The bill was eventually rejected last year.
While the governing parties are against any sort of policy change – in their manifesto they never mention the word “cannabis” – Daniela Ludwig, the German government’s drug commissioner, said: “Deploying the full force of the law against somebody caught for the first time in possession of cannabis is counterproductive.
“Portugal’s policy of decriminalisation, that is moving away from the application of criminal law and towards understanding that what we are seeing are petty offences.
“A real alternative if coupled with binding counselling options.”
As the race for the government is wide open, a future coalition government will have to consider the issue of cannabis and drug policy straight away.