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Five things to know about weed in Germany

The Local · 20 Apr 2016, 16:21

Published: 20 Apr 2015 18:08 GMT+02:00
Updated: 20 Apr 2016 16:21 GMT+02:00

April 20th has become an unofficial holiday dedicated to smoking weed, which started in the United States and has slowly started to pop up in other countries worldwide

The debate about legalizing cannabis continues - court cases in recent years have granted permission to grow the drug for medical purposes, and leftwing politicians have proposed new legislation in recent months. But what else is there to know about the mystical herb in Germany?

1. Who can smoke?

Cannabis in Germany is illegal, but a few people - most of them people who suffer from terminal cancer - have been granted permission to grow it by the German Ministry for Drugs and Medical devices, .

In the country of 80 million people, just 382 Germans are currently legally taking cannabis as a painkiller, according to figures released recently by the Federal Institute for Medicines and Medical Products (BfArM).

A total of 424 licenses have been granted for doctor-supervised medical use of cannabis since a 2005 Supreme Court decision, although 42 of those patients have since died.

Photo: DPA.

2. When will it be legalized?

Green party members presented legislation last month to allow adults to consume cannabis under strict conditions. The Greens reckon that a tax of €6-7 per gram of cannabis could also bring in €1-2 billion per year to state coffers, based on current average street prices of €10-12 per gram.

Still, as Georg Wurth of the German Hemp Federation (DHV) previously told The Local, the country’s two major parties may not quite be ready for such laws.

A November poll by infratest dimap on behalf of the DHV showed that only 30 percent of people believed cannabis should be made completely legal, although 80 percent were in favour of legalizing cannabis as a medicine.

Officials have pushed for expanding access for those with terminal illness, with Federal Drugs Commissioner Marlene Mortler saying in February that seriously sick patients should have access to cannabis through their health insurance provider starting next year.

The Hanfparade for cannabis legalisation in Berlin last year. Photo: DPA.

3. How much can you possess?

The amount that an individual can possess without being prosecuted varies across the 16 states.

In capital city Berlin, the rules are much more liberal, with the possession limit being 15 grams. In most other states, the limit is six grams.

Story continues below…

4. How widespread is marijuana use?

A Eurostat study released last week showed that more German young men smoke weed than young women with roughly 18 percent of men aged between 15 and 24 reporting using cannabis in 2012, compared to a little more than 10 percent of women in that age group.

According to the 2011 World Drug Report, just 4.8 percent of people aged between 18 and 64 reported using marijuana at least once that year.

5. What about German stoner culture?

Before there was ever Harold and Kumar there was Stefan and Kai, the stars of the hilarious 2001 German stoner flick Lammbock about two friends who own a gourmet pizza delivery service as a front for selling marijuana.

The film was something of a hit with critics, and also had moderate success at the box office, taking in €2.2 million Europe-wide.  

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The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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