Can someone be a cannabis patient and avid hunter at the same time? It seems in Germany that answer is “no.” A German cannabis patient and hunter has been repeatedly refused a hunting license despite successfully passing the hunter’s test.
Peter Jakobs smokes four joints a day to relieve the symptoms of his Bechterew’s disease. Last year, the 52-year-old successfully passed the hunter’s test, but his application for a hunting license was subsequently denied. The responsible county’s authority reasoning states that the applicant is intoxicated after consuming cannabis and is therefore not fit to carry a weapon.
So, Jakobs turned to renowned psychotherapist Richard Tank for examination. The Trier psychologist confirmed Jakobs had not only the capability but the reliability to deal with weapons within the meaning of the weapons law.
“There are no performance deficiencies,” Tank concluded. The fact that Jakobs is allowed to drive in spite of his medical cannabis prescription is an additional indication of his fitness and capacity to responsibly carry a firearm.
In Germany, firearm legislation is strictly regulated and the right to carry a weapon is neither guaranteed nor protected by the constitution. As such, for a private individual to hold such a license is rare. Licenses to carry firearms outside of sporting activities are almost exclusively given to employees of cash transport and security companies.
Besides a hunting license, Germany also offers a weapon possession card for hunting and sport shooting residents over the age of 18. Large-caliber firearms are restricted to individuals over the age of 21 for applicants qualified by a medical-psychological expert’s report.
The weapon possession card entitles the owner to carry registered firearms to and from the nearby hunting area or shooting sport club, so long as the firearm is transported in a box unloaded. Sport shooters are prohibited from carrying their weapon outside of sport activities and must have their trigger disabled when not being used during practice or competition. Weapons must be stored in lockers when not in use and the authorities may conduct unannounced inspections of registered gun owners’ homes at any time.
Too High to Hunt?
The county’s authority refused to give a statement to the local press, saying they will not comment on an active legal situation. Federal hunting law prohibits the granting of a hunting license if “facts justify the assumption that the candidate is physically not fit.” Based on the official reading of the law, this restriction applies to all consumers of illicit drugs.
Hunting license holders or sports shooters reported for cannabis use, possession, or cultivation will also lose their weapon possession card. But the ban on is not applicable to people who are prescribed narcotics by a general doctor.
In the case of Peter Jakobs, it is much more about whether he is “high” after consuming cannabis. The stress-bearing, perception, and concentration test Jakobs carried out directly after consuming his cannabis medication, certified that he “shows no psychological or physical failure symptoms.”
Both laboratory and clinical research show that THC creates tolerance, which is when one becomes accustomed over time to the effects of the compound. This can take on average six weeks depending on potency and use patterns. Tolerance allows for those who are treating chronic pain to have less unwanted side effects and improved daily function. Jakobs believes that ignoring the expert’s report is “impudent” and accuses the county authorities of treating him “as a drug addict.” He has filed a lawsuit to appeal the decision.
Paving the Way for More Acceptance
The German Narcotics Act rescheduled cannabis from Appendix 3 to Appendix 1, officially recognizing the medical value of cannabis. Because of this, Jakobs’ complaint has a good chance of being heard and even reaching the highest federal court, if necessary. Jakobs is the first hunting cannabis patient in Germany to complain since the introduction of the cannabis law — the verdict will break ground for similar cases in the future.