Germany’s socialist Left party is calling an expert hearing on “legalizing cannabis through the introduction of cannabis clubs” in the German parliament on Wednesday. The idea has met widespread rejection.
The Left party’s proposal is to allow Germans to open exclusive cannabis clubs, where members will be able to grow marijuana plants. They also recommend that consumers be allowed to own 30 grams of the drug for personal consumption – double the current limit.
The proposal was put together by Frank Tempel, former director of an anti-drug group that worked with police in the eastern German state of Thuringia.
Tempel, who is now the Left party’s advisor on drug policy, believes there needs to be a sea-change in the state’s attitude to drugs. “A cannabis ban is the legal model that has the least acceptance,” he said.
He estimates that between 3.5 and 4 million Germans consume cannabis, and that the ban has no influence on the decision to take the drug. The German Cannabis Association (DHV) says there are around 100,000 cannabis-related criminal cases every year.
Tempel believes that the ban actually encourages drug abuse, because it curtails public education. He says the state should prioritize prevention, youth protection and controlling the drug market over criminalization, which is why young people would not be allowed in the proposed cannabis clubs.
The Left party proposal also suggests that local health ministries and public order offices would be able to cooperate with the clubs.
The response from Germany’s conservative coalition government has been predictably negative.
“A cannabis club could be understood as an encouragement to drug consumption by young people,” said Karin Maag, parliamentarian for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
Christine Aschenberg-Dugnus, drug policy spokesman for the junior coalition partner the Free Democratic Party (FDP), bluntly dismissed the idea as “well-meaning intoxication socialism.”
The centre-left opposition Social Democrats (SPD) also came out against the idea, but said that cannabis laws needed to be unified nationwide. At the moment, each German state has a different legal limit – of between 6 and 15 grams – for personal use.
SPD spokeswoman Angelika Graf called for more a single legal possession limit for the whole country.
But the Left party’s scheme has met no major support. Even the Green party, which favours a limited legalization of cannabis, spoke out against the idea of opening cannabis clubs.
In the face of this broadside, Tempel has revised his goals, saying simply, “The main thing is to move the whole issue forward in society.”