Science

Germany ready to take the leap to legalize cannabis

BERLIN | Germany ready to compete with the Netherlands? The future ruling coalition wants to legalize cannabis, a move that is likely to bring billions of euros to the state, but is raising concern from drug addicts and police unions.

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This liberalization, which would make Germany the second country in the European Union after the Netherlands to choose the route of supervised sales, is one of the emblematic measures of the coalition contract, unveiled this Wednesday, of the three parties that will succeed Angela Merkel in the coming weeks.

The future team, led by the Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, intends to authorize “the controlled distribution of cannabis to adults for consumption in authorized stores”, stipulates the contract signed between SPD (Social Democrats), Greens and FDP (Liberals).

This mini-revolution “will allow quality control, prevent the circulation of contaminated substances and protect young people,” argues the coalition, assuring that the future law would be reevaluated within four years.

“O vert”

Germany already has less restrictive legislation than many of its European neighbors, with the possibility in some cities like Berlin to store a few grams for personal consumption.

The use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes was also authorized in 2017.

Marijuana legalization is a demand of the Greens and liberals, with the SPD traditionally being more reluctant and advocating experimentation.

Even if the future places of sale (tobacco, coffee shops or pharmacies have not yet been defined, as proposed by the Federation of Pharmacists), the site is now on the right track, in particular for public health reasons, the three parties argue. .

Cannabis that is sold on the street, in fact, is often cut with other substances such as hairspray, sand or even Brix, a synthetic adhesive intended to artificially inflate the weight of the grass.

In 2018, the Berlin magazine Zitty had cannabis analyzed at the main points of sale in the capital and had the worrying result that eight out of nine were cut with other substances.

Health authorities are also alarmed by the circulation of new synthetic cannabinoids with a very high level of THC that pose health risks, particularly for the very young.

The German University of Ulm observed almost eight times more cases of cannabis-related psychosis in 2019 than in 2011 and noted that during the same period, the THC content of cannabis consumed in Germany had increased significantly.

Legalization would thus make it possible to closely monitor the composition of the product consumed.

Over-the-counter cannabis could also represent a windfall for state coffers and become “green gold” as in Canada or the US states that allow recreational use of hemp.

“Immoral”

A recent study by a team from the Heinrich-Heine University in Düsseldorf estimated that the public financial gains from cannabis legalization were around 4.7 billion euros.

A tax on cannabis identical to taxes on tobacco or alcohol would bring in $ 1.8 billion each year.

Around a billion euros could also be saved in criminal proceedings targeting consumers and small businesses, according to this study, which estimates the number of jobs created by legalization at around 27,000.

Cannabis prohibition costs taxpayers money every year “without having any positive effect,” says Georg Wurth, director of the German Cannabis Association.

But legalization holds many opponents back in Germany.

Stephan Pilsinger, CDU spokesman in the fight against drugs, accuses the coalition of conducting “an experiment on the health of our society and our youth.”

“Does the state really have to make money by immersing its citizens in the danger of addiction, permanent psychosis, and physical and mental suffering? I think it is immoral, “he denounces AFP.

Police unions say they fear a “trivialization of cannabis use.”

Addicts warn them of the possible impact on the mental health of the very young and the risk of cancer.

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