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"Then some of them go to the black market to get stronger cannabis"


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"Then some of them go to the black market to get stronger cannabis"

WORLD: Mr. Stöver, how sensible do you think the government's plans for cannabis legalization are?

Heino Stöver: In principle, I consider the key points presented to be a suitable framework, even if individual aspects are still very general. Overall, however, the proposed legislation is a step that is long overdue. The consensus among experts is that our previous cannabis policy has not been successful. Therefore, legalization is only logical.

WORLD: The key points of Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) provide that the purchase and possession of “20 to 30 grams of recreational cannabis” should be made exempt from punishment. Do you think this is an appropriate scale?

Stover: Yes. Schleswig-Holstein worked with this value until the 1990s. There was an instruction from the public prosecutor's office that the proceedings would be stopped if the first offender was up to 30 grams. So this number is not shot from the hip. The problem, however, is that cannabis could probably also be sold in pharmacies in addition to licensed specialist shops.

WORLD: Why is that problematic? Some pharmacists are already selling medicinal cannabis.

Stöver: Only medical and healing products should be sold in pharmacies, i.e. medical cannabis, but not recreational cannabis. Central are the licensed specialist shops, whose employees, in contrast to most pharmacists, have a lot of know-how.

However, if the law were to come into force, it would not mean that all pharmacies would be forced to participate. Interested pharmacies could voluntarily apply for a license. Others who see this as a professional conflict do not have to participate.

WORLD: In your opinion, which requirements should the licensed specialist shops meet?

Stöver: We already have so-called head shops that can sell everything except the substance itself. There is a lot of expertise there. It is important that the sellers do not have a criminal record and that the shops are not opened near schools and daycare centers. It should also be possible to consume on the premises and the products should not be allowed to be advertised outside.

WORLD: The cabinet still wants to check whether an upper limit for the THC content will be set due to the increased risk of brain damage in young people up to the age of 21. Do you think that makes sense?

Stöver: Theoretically yes, in practice no. The regulation cannot be checked in everyday life and, to be honest, it is also a bit hypocritical. If an 18-year-old goes to the supermarket, he can buy alcohol with a strength of up to 80 percent, for example straw rum. You can use it to disinfect wounds.

If you stick to logic, under 21-year-olds should only buy wine and beer. Limiting THC levels for this age group would also result in some turning to the black market for stronger cannabis.

WORLD: The price in the specialist shop will also influence whether young people buy there or cheaper from the dealer.

Stöver: Yes, that's a real tightrope walk. On the one hand, you have to dry out the black market with price and quality offers. On the other hand, it must not be so cheap that the black market is supplied with the substance. I can't tell you what amount would be appropriate here. The Ministry of Health must discuss this with the Federal Criminal Police Office.

WORLD: The government plans that the cannabis sold in Germany should only be produced in this country. In view of the high energy costs, for example when growing in a glass house, is a lower price realistic at all? Or would the state even have to subsidize it in the end?

Stöver: In fact, in the past, winegrowers were subsidized when the harvest was bad. However, subsidizing cannabis could not be conveyed to the population. Basically, there are already a few companies in Germany that grow medical cannabis and have experience in producing it cheaply. Also, it will not be necessary to grow all the plants in the greenhouse.

I think outdoor cultivation makes sense if the fields are secured against theft. This is already practiced in Portugal, Spain, and Belgium, even though the plants there are low in THC.

According to Lauterbach's key points, everyone can grow up to three plants themselves. Models like the Cannabis Social Club would be conceivable, in which people get together, grow their plants collectively outside, harvest them together and then distribute them among the members of the cooperative.

WORLD: In the course of legalization, there are also calls to adapt the rules in road traffic. So far, anyone is considered to be unfit to drive if minimal amounts of cannabis are detected in their blood - even though consumption was then often several days ago.

Stöver: Yes, that's a big problem, for example for people who take medicinal cannabis and whose mobility is restricted as a result. There is no scientific basis for the alleged risks, such as flashbacks. The legislator urgently needs to introduce an increased limit value here.

For example, one could orientate oneself to an equivalent to the 0.5 per thousand when driving a car. A possible solution would also be spit tests like in Canada. If this practice is not changed, there is a risk of further discrimination.

"Aha! Ten minutes of everyday knowledge" is WELT's knowledge podcast. Every Tuesday and Thursday we answer everyday questions from the field of science. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Deezer, Amazon Music, among others, or directly via RSS feed.

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