When you think of vacationing to Germany, you think of beer. People head to the Central European hotbed hoping to meet a Heidi Klum-clone, knosh on Bratwursts, chug Hefeweizen, and maybe stumble into a few ancient castles whose names you can’t even pronounce.
But if Monikia Herrman, the Kreuzberg district’s new mayor, gets her way, people will be heading to Germany to get high in legal cannabis clubs. Her desire to open up an Amsterdam-style cannabis cafe is pretty straightforward: to eventually get the plant off the streets and transformed into a legitimate business:
“If we want to gain control of the dealers and their products, we must manage the distribution,” the Green-party politician told Agence France-Presse. The initiative should slowly eradicate the dealers’ business and also prevent consumption.
That may be good news for people hoping to chill out in a coffee shop, joint in hand, like in Amsterdam. But the drug policy of the Netherlands shouldn’t necessarily be a model for Berlin, Hermann said. Rather, city-run shops should hire salesmen with medical training in order to counsel customers.
This marks a significant step for those seeking drug policy reformation. “It’s about getting the dealers out of business and creating a structure, in which one can buy cannabis without additives, so it’s less dangerous,”Georg Wurth of Berlin’s Weed Organization, “Hanf Verband,“ told DW. “We started a campaign of motivating other cities to do the same, open coffee shops or cannabis social clubs, like in Spain, in order to solve all the problems we are facing due to prohibition.”
According to German legislation, selling and buying of marijuana are illegal. Consumption, however, is more of a gray area. It’s up to each federal state to decide how much marijuana a person may possess without being arrested. Carrying a small amount for personal use has little to no legal repercussions. In Berlin, the limit is set at 15 grams of cannabis, whereas in Hamburg or North Rhine-Westphalia, a maximum of 6 grams is tolerated.
At the moment, however, the call to legalize marijuana is getting insufficient political support. Although the Social-Democrats (SPD), the Left Party, and the Pirate Party are calling for a less restrictive cannibis policy, the local conservatives prefer to maintain the ban. They want police to solve the problem. Berlin drug commissioner, Christine Köhler-Azara finds the idea of opening coffee shops “unrealistic,” since German drug policy focuses on prevention and counseling. [DW]
All we can say is “Das Eisen schmieden, solange es heiß ist” which translates to “strike the iron while it’s hot.” Cause if you build it, they will come.