The federal government's plans to legalize cannabis violate international law, according to a new report. "The cannabis legalization planned by the federal government contradicts international and European law," says the 53-page scientific elaboration, which was presented in Munich on Wednesday. Author Bernhard Wegener, holder of the chair for public law and European law at the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen, had prepared the report on behalf of the state health minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU).
According to the report, the traffic light plans in particular violate the United Nations Convention on Drugs: "The UN drug control bodies assess a comprehensive cannabis legalization of the kind planned by the federal government in constant decision-making practice as a breach of the UN Convention on Drugs." With a view to European law, the planned state or state-licensed trade, cultivation and sale of cannabis for purposes other than scientific or medical purposes is "inadmissible".
"In my opinion, a violation of EU law should always result in infringement proceedings," said Holetschek, who has categorically rejected plans to legalize marijuana for months. He therefore called on the federal government to drop its plans to allow the cultivation, trade and consumption of cannabis for recreational purposes. "We will continue to work to ensure that smoking weed is not legalized."
"The federal government's legalization project ignores the limits of national drug policy under international and European law," emphasized Wegener. This special path, which has not been coordinated at international and European level, is therefore extremely risky from a legal point of view and threatens to miss the goals pursued by the federal government from the outset. He has the impression that the federal government has put blinkers on and is trying to ignore the legal framework.
Cannabis legalization is one of the major traffic light projects. In their coalition agreement, the SPD, the Greens and the FDP had agreed to make it possible for the drug to be sold “in a controlled manner to adults for consumption purposes in licensed shops”. Cannabis is to be cultivated and sold under state regulation in Germany. Growing a few plants yourself should also be allowed.
The traffic light justifies the project with the fact that the prohibition policy did not prevent use, instead there was even an increase in consumption. Furthermore, a legal and state-controlled sale could improve youth and health protection, since less contaminated cannabis is in circulation. Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) presented the first concrete ideas for implementation in the autumn. A draft law should be available by the end of March.
Holetschek does not accept these arguments: "Experiences from the USA and Canada show that the black market cannot be dried up with legalization. Rather, the black market continues to exist. In addition, problems in market regulation, smuggling and tax fraud pose unsolvable problems for the state.”
In addition, it is "naïve" to believe that children and young people would not have access to cannabis due to such a law with age restrictions, according to Holetschek. Experiences from abroad showed that a so-called gray market could develop, in which adults would pass on legally acquired cannabis to minors. “That would be a new challenge for the police and judiciary that nobody needs. A presumed ‘relief’ of the police, which advocates of legalization like to argue with, is therefore not to be expected.”
"I cannot understand how releasing cannabis for 'pleasure purposes' for young people over the age of 18 should improve health and youth protection," said Holetschek. He therefore continues to reject cannabis legalization because of the serious health risks of this drug. “Legalizing cannabis and emphasizing prevention is like starting a fire and then calling the fire department. The Berlin traffic light coalition can't be serious about that."
Kirsten Kappert-Gonther, Vice-Chairman of the Health Committee and rapporteur on cannabis policy for the Green Group, told the CSU politician to "pursue a political agenda". Holetschek is not about youth and health protection, "but about discrediting progressive politics." He's doing election campaigns in Bavaria with that.
Kristine Lütke, spokeswoman for addiction and drug policy for the FDP parliamentary group, made a similar statement. "The report commissioned by Klaus Holetschek is nothing more than a smokescreen," she told WELT. He's on an anti-cannabis campaign. Instead of commissioning "ominous reports" and "continuing to sabotage the efforts to legalize traffic lights," Holetschek should concentrate better on his state. There, the number of drug-related deaths is high and the policy of prohibition has failed. Lütke was optimistic that Lauterbach "will soon present a first draft law on the controlled release of cannabis for recreational purposes." Then hopefully it will finally be clear how the legalization can be implemented with legal certainty.
Carmen Wegge, legal expert and responsible rapporteur for the SPD parliamentary group, is also "very optimistic that the federal government will work out secure solutions under European law and will present them." The primary goal is to significantly improve youth and health protection for cannabis users and push back the black market.
Opposition politician Günter Krings (CDU), on the other hand, sees the cannabis project as "doomed to fail." The legal policy spokesman for the Union faction said WELT: "Not only do the health risks speak against legalization, but also international and European legal requirements." There is also criticism from Chair of the German Police Union. Rainer Wendt told WELT: "With the cannabis legalization project, the federal government will fail in the EU and internationally, and that's a good thing." Germany is bound by European and international agreements, "not even the coalition agreements between parties will change that". "Karl Lauterbach would be recommended to finally take his duties as a minister seriously and to ensure that the victims of cannabis use who are already there are adequately supplied," said Wendt.
One of the big lies of cannabis advocates is the supposed exoneration of the police. "Exactly the opposite is the case. Neither cultivation nor transport nor sale would be assured. The sale to children and young people would continue unchecked and the black market would become more competitive," says Wendt. The result would be distribution struggles up to and including gang wars, as the example of the Netherlands shows. “Whole districts are affected there,” explained Wendt. This is exactly why cannabis sales are being restricted again in Holland.
Dirk Peglow, chairman of the Association of German Criminal Investigators (BDK), warned in an interview with WELT that the project would fail, as was the case with the car toll. The BDK is fundamentally in favor of decriminalizing cannabis users. But Peglow says: "Any legal regulation that is passed in Germany on this should withstand a lawsuit before the European Court of Justice and not lead to us experiencing a similar debacle as with the car toll." Against this background, he understands that the Federal Government wanted to involve the EU Commission as early as possible. However, he was surprised "that one apparently assumed that when a key issue paper was presented, a vote would be obtained from Brussels as to whether the project was compatible with EU law." The expected answer was of course that a draft law would be presented for this purpose must. "We can now be very excited about that," says Peglow.