Düsseldorf hopes to pull other cities onto weed legalization plan
City authorities in the capital of North Rhine-Westphalia want to legalize cannabis. But to see the plan through they might have to get their neighbours on board.
On Wednesday Düsseldorf took its first concrete steps towards making an application to the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) for a license to sell cannabis legally to adults, with lawmakers meeting experts to discuss the proposal, the Rheinische Post (RP) reports.
The city hopes to apply for a licence in the summer of 2017, allowing it to start a pilot project. But its chances of success remain uncertain after the Berlin district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg failed last year to convince BfArM to give it a licence.
The medical institute said that the Berlin district had not sufficiently proved that people would not become addicted to the drug during the pilot project.
Düsseldorf, which first announced its plan to legalize cannabis in August 2015, hopes to avoid the same fate by more carefully planning its application.
At Wednesday’s meeting, experts reassured city administrators that their application had a good chance of success, the RP reports.
Medical experts also warned that excessive cannabis consumption can lead to psychosis and personality disorders. A youth psychologist meanwhile said that consumption by people under the age of 25 could lead to brain damage.
But others at the meeting argued that legalization was a better way of controlling the quality of the drug which users would consume.
Irene Mihalic, a former police officer and now a member of the Green party, said that legalization could save the justice system millions of euros a year.
A key part of Düsseldorf's strategy to convince the BfArM is a plan to initiate a million-euro study into the addictiveness of the drug, involving 1,000 participants.
But to finance this, the cash-strapped city will have to convince neighbouring cities to get on board with the plans.
According to Andreas Meyer-Falcke, head of Düsseldorf’s health department, they already have shown an interest.
“Politicians from Cologne and Münster were here for the discussion too. They are also considering legalization,” he said.