Should marijuana use be criminalized

Drugs commissioner to decriminalize cannabis: "Smoking weed is not ok, it does harm!"


April 20th is World Marijuana Day. At twenty past four in the afternoon, millions of cannabis aficionados are lighting a joint at the same time. The Federal Drug Commissioner, Daniela Ludwig (CSU), does not believe in decriminalization.

LTO: Ms. Ludwig, on International Weed Day, can you give German cannabis users hope that smoking weed will no longer include the fear of being caught by the police?

Daniela Ludwig: Unfortunately, I have to disappoint the scene. Smoking weed just for the fun of it will not become legal in the future either, I'm pretty sure of that.

SPD proposals "a page and a half of flowery subjunctive"

The SPD parliamentary group has decided to turn away from the previous cannabis ban policy in Germany. In a current position paper She demands that in future the possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use should no longer be prosecuted, but should only be treated as an administrative offense. What do you make of it?

The SPD's proposals remain very vague. The Social Democrats do not say what they mean by "small amounts". That would be a very important point.

They also leave open how a punishment as an administrative offense should be structured. That can be 100 euros fine if you are caught smoking weed, or 10,000 euros. For consumers, that should make a crucial difference. In any case: From a position paper with the title "Cannabis: Breaking new ground!" I would have expected more than one and a half A4 pages of flowery subjunctive.

Your coalition partner describes the criminalization of the consumer as a "central weakness of the cannabis policy so far". It leads to social stigmatization, makes difficult or prevents preventive advisory and therapeutic processing of problematic consumption patterns. The high financial and human resources required for this were also lacking in the prosecution and prosecution of real crime. I suspect these are arguments that you cannot convince?

The connection does not reveal itself to me. Prevention and repression are not in contradiction, but are two of four tried and tested pillars of the local drug and addiction policy.

It is very important to me that we strengthen the pillar of prevention even more by speaking more openly about the non-medicinal use of cannabis and by educating people about the associated negative health effects. Everyone has heard of cannabis, unlike cigarettes and alcohol, the health risks of consumption are not sufficiently well known among the population. I want to change that.

At the same time, however, we still need sanctions for violations, and especially for organized drug-related crime. A bundle of measures against an "either / or" is always effective in the long term - I have emphasized this since taking office and will continue to do so.

"Real laboratories in the Netherlands and Portugal"

Would you at least approve of model projects in which the legal and regulated distribution of cannabis to consumers can be tested?

We have, as I would like to call it, "real laboratories" in the Netherlands and Portugal. What is the point of simulating a tax situation in Germany that will almost certainly not solve the core problems - health and youth protection, better prevention, black market?

We have different amounts of personal use in the federal states. I often hear: You can smoke weed in Berlin. And every time people are surprised when I explain to them that it is not allowed, only prosecution can be waived.

I don't see any scientific or public benefit in such projects.

"We need more YouTube and Instagram, fewer flyers"

For years, cannabis has played the most prominent role among illicit drugs, both among adolescents and adults. Consumption among children and adolescents has been increasing continuously since 2011. That is why you announced a “new cannabis prevention” last month, which will primarily run via social media channels. How do you intend to convince young people on the Internet of the dangers of smoking weed?

We are currently having a hard time reaching young people. When it comes to prevention, we really need a fresh start. Means: We need more YouTube and Instagram and fewer flyers.

Visibility and communication at eye level are the keywords here. We urgently need to improve because the health risks of cannabis are unfortunately still and time and again socially underestimated. In a competition I called for the development of prevention offers on the topic of cannabis in the new media. I'm really looking forward to the suggestions, the topic is really important to me.

In the states that have legalized the sale of cannabis, there are also strict rules for the protection of minors. In many US states, the minimum age of buyers is 21 years, in the Netherlands no one under the age of 18 comes into a coffee shop. Which age limit would you prefer?

I don't ask myself this question - why should I? We have to keep in mind that the human brain is not yet fully developed until at least 21, many medical professionals also speak of 25 years. That's one thing.

The other is the signal that goes out when cannabis is suddenly legally available: The kids feel confirmed in their prejudice that it is ok to smoke weed, after all, there are now "real shops". But: smoking weed is not ok, it does harm! Children more than adults. The right way to go is prevention, not legalization.

"Legal levy would not dry out the black market"

In recent years, the intoxicating active ingredient (THC) content of cannabis has increased massively under the permanent light of artificial plantations. In medical cannabis, the THC content is much lower. What speaks against the state being the only dealer in the future to supply cannabis users with clean and well-tolerated weed?

That might work in theory, but not in practice. A cannabis sale permitted by the state does not mean that the state becomes the sole "dealer", nor does it mean that cannabis is only obtained from consumers through state agencies.

Take Canada, for example, where cannabis is grown and sold for non-medicinal purposes under extensive regulatory conditions. Sounds convincing at first.

But the fact is: According to the Canadian Federal Statistical Office, many consumers continue to buy the drug on the black market. Simply because the black market has adapted to legal competition. Black market prices have fallen below the level of legal sales since legalization, while the active ingredient content has risen at the same time. Is that a development that is worth emulating? I do not think so.

"Legalize No Another Problem Drug"

According to estimates, risky alcohol consumption or the combined consumption of alcohol and tobacco is responsible for more than 70,000 deaths annually in Germany, not to mention serious damage to health. Against this background, isn't the state's policy of banning the "light" drug cannabis completely disproportionate?

Tobacco and alcohol are harmful to your health, and too much consumption can be fatal. There is no doubt about that at all. However, the dangers of alcohol and tobacco do not make cannabis safe.

The potential for dependency is nine percent. In 2010, 23,349 patients were in inpatient or outpatient treatment for cannabis, in 2018 there were 31,912 people. The conclusion must be that we are stepping up action against tobacco and alcohol abuse and not that we are legalizing another problem drug.

The topic of cannabis will soon be dealt with by the Federal Constitutional Court as part of a regulatory review application. In 1994 the constitutional judges were not yet willing to weaken the ban. Are you worried that the wind may have changed in Karlsruhe?

Do you think it would be expedient to speculate about the outcome of decisions by the Federal Constitutional Court? Not me.

Thank you very much for talking to us, Ms. Ludwig.