Legalization… Who’s next? That’s the question on everyone’s lips, and especially in Europe where the continent waits for the first of the legal cannabis dominos to fall. Could Germany be the first?
According to the prominent cannabis journalist Green Born Identity, “Considering the fact all the three potential coalitionists have declared cannabis prohibition a failure and included legalization approaches in their manifestos, it’s pretty sure a certain form of legalization will come, but with sales via pharmacies (as proposed by FDP and SPD) and not the specialised shops the Green Party advocates, I fear.
The SPD so far has only intended to run a pilot project first in a few bigger cities, but following the other two parties’ “straight road to legalization” perspective, it is most likely to be one of the bullets they will have to bite in order to get the coalition going. A first important sign of this was Karl Lauterbach’s (the SPD’s leading health politician and potential soon-to-be health minister) surprising statement during exploratory coalition talks that he isn’t opposed to cannabis legalization any longer.”
Nobody can deny that German cannabis legalization would be a game changer. It has the largest population (83 million) in the EU and is the biggest European economy. Geographically, it is also at the centre of Europe with many countries orbiting its sphere of influence and if the biggest European domino topples, it could set off a chain reaction!
The Benefits of Cannabis Legalization
The positives from legalization can be taken from experiences elsewhere, and vindicate some of the claims being made by pro-legalization voices in Germany. In its election program, the FDP (part of the new German coalition) proposed that cannabis could raise up to €1 billion in taxes annually and the Green Party identified the effect that legalization would have on starving the black market and disrupting organized crime.
Certainly taxation revenues have been impressive in other legalized territories. According to Statistics Canada, since legalization in 2018, the country has raised over $1 billion (CAD) from cannabis taxes. The US state of Colorado has collected over $1.6 billion in marijuana taxation over the past six years, contributing to projects such as school building.
Meanwhile, research suggests that marijuana legalization has contributed to the reduction of crime in the USA, with a reduction in arrests for trafficking suggesting it is impacting on organized crime. This aspect of legalization was one of the main arguments given by President José Mujica, when Uruguay became the world’s first country to legalize back in 2013.
Recent polling has suggested that Germany is evenly divided, with 46% in favor of recreational cannabis being legalized. While optimism is in the air, we should not forget the example of New Zealand. In 2017, a new coalition government proposed cannabis legalization and yet three years later hopes were dashed in a very close referendum (50.71% against vs 48.38% in favor). The journey ahead for Germany promises a spectacular view… but there will certainly be many twists in the road to get there.