May 21, 2016 8:45 AM

Germans Make First Steps to Legalize Marijuana

German Hemp Association is an organization that struggles to promote cannabis consumption in Germany. It has been hard for them to deal with local authorities who are not pleased to hear about marijuana in the country.

First Coffeeshop in Germany

Today, it is a common deal to hear an offer to purchase some grass in Berlin's alternative district Kreuzberg-Friedrichshain. The district's Görlitzer Park is a place that has a great impact on the negative status of cannabis in the city. Because of the fact that possession of cannabis on the territory of the park is strictly forbidden and punished, the dealers recede to the nearby streets and to the metro stations where the possession of up to 15 grams of weed leads to a simple written warning.

To change the city officials' perception of marijuana, German Hemp Association is eager to implement the idea of establishing a Dutch-like coffeeshop in the park. The activists are sure that this is an example of the waterbed effect—if you chase away the problem, it will only spread further. So, local officials have to use other options. Opening a coffeeshop is one of them.

District Mayor Monika Herrmann is a supporter of this idea. She proposed opening a coffeeshop for adults directly adjacent to Görli and giving it trial time. The local media instantly hyped the first legal coffeeshop opening in Berlin. Unfortunately, the municipal government could not change the federal law, so the application was rejected.

Inspiration Behind Coffeeshop

Of course, Herrman was prepared for the rejection. The mayor started to encourage other cities and states to follow her example and support the idea. As a result, now several cities and municipalities in Germany are calling for a fact-based approach to the drug policy. This pretty large coalition insists on the government giving the local officials the right to regulate public-health policy themselves.

Soon after, several major cities decided to create their own applications for coffeeshop trials. The city of Bremen even plans to decriminalize the growing of weed for personal use. The city's Social Democrats and Greens are willing to change their current DUI measure to a more liberal one. In the U.S., for example, the standard value of THC in the driver's system may reach up to 5 nanograms. In Germany, the measure is significantly lower—just 1 nanogram will leave you without a license.

As with the heroin-assisted treatment for addicts, the pilot project of which had been introduced 20 years before its adoption, the process of altering the marijuana law in the country may take a long time. And this process requires the support of local communities like nothing else. The simple coalition may lead to federal law in the future. The Görlitzer Park coffeeshop is just the first step that leads to more and more cities joining the movement. Besides, the more cities join in, the faster the coffeeshops will be opened.

One of the biggest political parties in Germany—the Social Democratic Party—is the key to success. On the local and state levels, the party begins to change its stance on the use of cannabis. However, the federal level is hard to influence. If SPD goes this way at the 2017 election, it may benefit from this popular movement greatly. These days, cannabis is an attraction, not a scare off.

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