Cannabis users have a reason to celebrate: Weed will be legalized – but it’s a different story with hard drugs.Image: imago stock&people / imago images
08/20/2022, 08:1008/20/2022, 08:27
When it comes to cannabis, it’s now clear: The traffic light deals with a bill that will legalize marijuana. The situation is different for the so-called hard drugs: ecstasy, cocaine and amphetamines, for example. They remain banned, and their possession is a punishable offense. The green in Berlin, however, now want to change some of that – they want to decriminalize small quantities in the capital.
But what does that mean? And what does that mean for the rest of Germany? Watson spoke about this with politicians and people from drug work and addiction prevention.
The federal government’s drug commissioner, Burkhard Blienert (SPD), made it clear to watson: nationwide decriminalization is not planned. He says: “Now we’re going to implement the coalition’s project. This will eliminate most of the consumer-related processes.”
By this he means the legalization of cannabis. But it is also clear that the initiative by the Berlin Greens is not new. Because: There are already limits for personal use in different federal states.
Burkhard Blienert is the federal government’s drug commissioner.Image: IMAGO / Sven Simon
Consumer competence instead of bans
For Rüdiger Schmolke, on the other hand, it is clear: every demand for decriminalization in the political sphere is important. Schmolke is a board member of the Federal Association for Accepting Drug Work. He says: “The war on drugs is ultimately against drug users.”
Regardless of whether the public prosecutor’s office of the respective federal state discontinues the proceedings: A report from the police there is in advance anyway. This can have far-reaching consequences for consumers.
“There are cases where people lose their job or driver’s license because of a few grams or being arrested. Decriminalization and the associated general impunity for personal use would be a completely different level and that has to be achieved first.”
the Impunity for small amounts would relieve consumers on the psychosocial level – and also save many unnecessary procedures that are dropped because of small quantities. A restrictive drug policy cannot be justified, explains Schmolke. Much more important than bans: educational work. “We call that risk or consumer competence,” says Schmolke.
Decriminalization alone is not enough
Anke Timm, for example, is committed to this. She works at the Berlin Specialist Center for Addiction Prevention. Timm is also convinced that decriminalization would have positive effects. But she also finds: Decriminalization must always be integrated into a preventive and educational overall concept.
Speaking to watson, Timm says:
“People who have an addiction problem cannot be helped by decriminalization alone. Accompanying measures are needed, such as an expansion of prevention and support services. Mere decriminalization does not check the quality of the substances either.”
Drugs are not just a party phenomenon. People who feel pressure to perform often also consume.Image: www.imago-images.de / imago images
In addiction prevention, for example, it is found out why people consume. Whether they develop an addiction or are experimental consumers. It is also discussed how, for example, pressure to perform and stress can be dealt with without drugs.
“We need to promote consumer skills so that people can learn to make healthy, self-determined decisions.”
It’s not about banning consumption per se, but about pushing the starting age as far up as possible. It is also important to create counseling services in the area of drug checking services, which in case of doubt can protect against the consumption of diluted or overdosed substances.
Drug checking means the chemical analysis of drugs. Because production, distribution and consumption are illegal, there is no quality control for these substances. Consumers therefore do not know what is really contained in the pills or powders when they buy them. In this way, consumption can be made safer, because an overdose or contamination can quickly lead to death, especially with drugs that are injected. (rs)
SPD and Left think decriminalization makes sense
The criminal prosecution of consumers is not the right way for any drug, explains Dirk Heidenblut, health politician in the SPD. Ultimately, he says, this criminalization inhibits aid and good health care.
When asked by watson, Heidenblut says:
“Decriminalization therefore makes sense as long as there is good support through appropriate addiction help offers, advice and a sensible evaluation.”
Dirk Heidenblut is a health politician in the SPD parliamentary group.Image: imago images/ Christian Spicker
In order to make consumption safer, Heidenblut considers the rapid expansion of nationwide drug checking services to be sensible. He says: “It’s definitely necessary and that’s why we want to enable and expand models.”
The drug policy spokesman for the left-wing faction, Ates Gürpinar, also supports the push for decriminalization efforts. When asked by watson, he explains:
“I expressly welcome the position of the Greens in Berlin and am pleased that the Greens are increasingly recognizing the fact that drug prohibition has failed not only in the case of cannabis.”
His party has already Bundestag an application introduced to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of so-called hard drugs. Gürpinar and his party are in favor of dealing with drug use that “regards it as a public health problem rather than a criminal law and police problem.”
Ates Gürpinar is the drug policy spokesman for the left-wing faction.Image: www.imago-images.de / imago images
“Instead of persecution and repression – which has been proven not to curb consumption and the black market – we focus on harm reduction and enabling risk-conscious consumption.”
This includes both the decriminalization of consumers and the legalization of drug checking services.
Federal Greens are cautious with regard to impunity
The drug policy spokeswoman for the Greens in the Bundestag sees things a little differently. Linda Heitmann explains to watson that the different ways in which the federal states deal with so-called hard drugs make it possible to identify consumption patterns. In this way, it can be deduced how criminalization and decriminalization affect consumption.
“With cannabis, we are currently noticing that the substance is consumed a lot – including among young people, although it is only available illegally on the black market in Germany. With other substances, we have not yet observed such widespread consumption in this form.”
This shows that illegality still has a deterrent character.
In the course of the legalization of cannabis, the development of consumption patterns must be considered – then it can be considered to what extent decriminalization or the legal sale of other substances could make sense. The Greens politician assumes that the dangers of consumption will be discussed more openly as a result of the cannabis release.
Linda Heitmann is the drug policy spokeswoman for the Greens in the Bundestag.Image: The Greens
Heitmann expects drug checking, which is stipulated in the coalition agreement, to increase consumer health protection on the one hand and to be able to provide educational work on the other.
“It is of course important that such a law ensures that people who carry out drug checking and those who use it are not threatened with criminal prosecution.”
There will be no nationwide impunity for hard drugs with the traffic light government. But the legalization of cannabis, as well as a new regulation of the drug checking offer, are stipulated in the coalition agreement.
In Berlin, too, impunity for small amounts of hard drugs will probably not come about in this legislature – the coalition partners are against it.
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