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The international cannabis scene is growing, day by day, just like those plants in your storage shed. Spain, Chile, Uruguay, and Canada have all passed legislation making cannabis easier to obtain for medical purposes, and some of these countries have also made growing at home legal. Countries like Puerto Rico, the Marianas Islands, and Germany seem poised to make the leap into legal medical cannabis over the next few months, along with numerous U.S. states whose petitions have put legal medical or recreational cannabis on the ballot for this November’s elections. This week, Germany’s public cannabis supporters got out to speak their piece about legalization in the European nation. (If you haven’t seen the German film Lammbock about a pizza delivery service that is a front for a marijuana-selling business, check it out here.)

Germany’s Cannabis Laws

In 2015 Germany, some courts granted people with terminal illnesses such as cancer the right to grow medical cannabis, although it remains illegal overall. In these cases, the German Ministry for Drugs and Medical Devices approved the use of cannabis. In 2016 Germany, the license and manufacture of medicinal cannabis products is allowed. The Bundesopimstelle, or Federal Opium Board controls the manufacturing and control of narcotics for Germany. The purchase of medicinal cannabis flower or extract is also allowed under medical supervision for self-treatment. Recreational cannabis use in Germany remains illegal, although at least 30% of Germans polled believe it should be legal. By contrast, 80% of Germans believe medical cannabis should be made legal now. Berlin is the most liberal state in Germany concerning cannabis possession, and allows up to 15 grams per person – most other states only allow six grams. (In Germany, you can cultivate opium poppies if you have the proper licensing and permission of the government.)

What Happened in Berlin This Week

In Central Berlin this week, about 4,000 cannabis legalization demonstrators called for “a broader medical use” for cannabis and a halt to the prosecution for cannabis possession. The demonstration was completely peaceful (U.S. and other countries take notice), with no arrest or incidents. The crowd came together at the central railway station and moved from the Federal Health Ministry to Alexanderplatz, a central traffic junction and city square in the Mitte district. The slogan organizers used for the 2016 demonstration was “Legalization is in the air”; the demonstration is in its 20th year, and started in 1997. The Hemp Parade, or Die Hanfparade, is the biggest German demonstration of cannabis support, and its website states, “Washington DC smells of grass and no one cares.” The organization wants to allow hemp as a raw material, for medicines, and for beverages for the public. Steffen Geyer is the spokesperson for the annual parade, and noted that keeping cannabis illegal requires more effort, money, and crime than legalizing it would.

What the Rallies Mean for Cannabis Legalization

Germany’s cannabis laws are already changing, and back in May of this year, the German Federal Health Minister Hermann Gröhe stated that the country would legalize medical marijuana over the following twelve months. Gröhe said the goals of Germany’s medical cannabis legalization process were to allow patients with no therapeutic alternative access to cannabis; allow “seriously ill people” to be looked after to best of the country’s ability; and to have health insurance companies cover the costs for patients with no viable alternatives. Sounds like a great plan, Germany! Marlene Mortler, the Federal Drug Commissioner of Germany, noted that “cannabis is not a harmless substance, [and] legalization for private pleasure is not the aim and purpose of this. It is intended for medical use only.” A German MP noted that legalization will happen, “The only question is when.” According to BZ, 70% of all drug law violations in Germany in 2015 were linked to cannabis, and 24,000 Berliners consume cannabis daily.

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