Is cannabis legalization approaching?
Canada, Uruguay and several US states have already legalized marijuana.
In this article, we will take a look at the cannabis ban in Germany for example.
Germany is still struggling with this. But the legal situation is not strictly enforced everywhere, which also affects street cannabis prices.
“Legalize it” is the motto that cannabis aficionados have been drumming under for nearly 60 years to officially approve green herb or brownish tar, depending on the drug. While some of our neighboring countries, such as the Netherlands, have had liberal cannabis policies for decades, Germany remains committed to the position that cannabis is an illegal drug. However, this does not stop many people from using marijuana, or at least trying it.
The current annual report of the German Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction concludes that almost 3.5 million people in Germany smoked cannabis last year. If you include an unspecified number of about 40 percent, which research has shown is realistic, you get almost 5 million people. Consumption is particularly high among children aged 12 to 17 – of course, also because the topic of cannabis has grown into a widespread popular culture over the past few decades. This makes cannabis the most widely used illicit drug in Germany and in the world.
In recent years, there has been a worldwide movement towards a more liberal approach to cannabis. On the one hand, several countries, including Germany, have allowed the medical use of cannabis, for example for chronic pain. The Techniker Krankenkasse report lists multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, anxiety disorders, sleep disorders, and Tourette’s syndrome as diseases for which cannabis can help. On the other hand, Canada, Uruguay and several US states have also legalized cannabis as a stimulant.
A prerequisite for legalization is the refusal to dispose of contaminated and relatively safe cannabis within clear legal restrictions and taxation, which is very similar to what is done with alcohol and tobacco. While the United States even banned alcohol during the 1930s prohibition era, at least its predominantly Western states overtook Europe in liberalizing drug policy. Unlike the Americas, cannabis is still, at least formally, banned in all European countries.
However, what this illegality means in specific terms varies greatly, for example, in Germany also by federal state. While most countries refrain from prosecution, according to a survey by the German Hemp Association, a seizure of 6 grams or less could go unpunished in Berlin up to 15 grams. Even in the Netherlands, it is legal to buy and carry up to 5 grams of cannabis, but coffee shops selling this herb usually have to smuggle the drug through the back door since growing more than five cannabis plants is prohibited.
Just how determined the relevant government authorities are against cannabis consumption can be seen in the street marijuana prices. While prices in the Netherlands are among the lowest in Europe, Ireland has the highest prices as the country has a tradition of zero tolerance for all medicines. In recent years, the legal situation there has also softened.
By multiplying the price of cannabis by the annual consumption and taxation of cigarettes, it is possible to determine the hypothetical tax potential that the state could accept if it legalized and taxed cannabis. Berlin-based data and marketing agency ABCD has done this for many major cities around the world, and the results can be viewed online. She concludes that, for example, Berlin could earn about $ 115 million (a good 103 million euros) a year if it levied an effective tobacco tax on cannabis.
However, it is doubtful whether cannabis will be legalized as a stimulant in Germany in the foreseeable future. Only recently has a similar attempt once again failed in the Bundestag health committee. Two applications from the FDP and the left, which were more or less legalized, were rejected in June by most CDU and SPD members. Although the SPD has been heavily criticized for this by proponents of legalization – it has previously spoken out in favor of municipal model projects for the legal sale of cannabis, but then turned backwards – the party still follows only the opinion of the majority of the population. Because, as the current survey shows, there are currently no majority of supporters of cannabis legalization among Germans.
This is not the case in the United States – so it is understandable that the wave of legalization has taken hold there, but not so far in Germany. The future will show if it stays that way.