Regulated sale of cannabis: let the grass grow!

This week it will be decided whether the green-ruled Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg will get its coffee shop. With marijuana from regional cultivation.

Not for children. Photo: dpa

Tension is rising in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg: It is expected to be decided this week whether the coffee shop in the district will become reality – or whether the idea will go up in smoke after all. Since the end of June, the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) in Bonn has received a corresponding application from the green-governed district authority. According to information from the taz, the authority, which reports to CDU Health Minister Hermann Grohe, will inform the district in the coming days whether the controlled distribution of cannabis will be approved – or not.

The application for the coffee shop, which is available to the taz, was written by Horst-Dietrich Elvers, the district’s addiction support coordinator. On 27 pages, he describes in detail how the project is to look. Four licensed stores for the regulated sale of cannabis are initially planned, two in Kreuzberg and two in Friedrichshain. On-site consumption is to be possible. There will also be space for counseling sessions.

If the application goes through, all residents of the district will soon be able to buy marijuana legally – provided they are of age. Interested parties would have to register first, however. Another requirement is a willingness to participate in an accompanying scientific study. An anonymized card with an identification number and photo is planned for each participant, which entitles them to make purchases. All data will be stored on this card in coded form – for example, the amount of cannabis purchased.

If the district has its way, a maximum of 10 grams can be purchased per purchase, and a maximum of 60 grams per month. Any maximum quantities not used will expire. Elvers and his fellow campaigners have also thought about abuse. If someone does not use the purchased weed for themselves, but gives it away or sells it on, the card is to be revoked.

To avoid dealing with the cannabis from the specialized stores, it should be more expensive than that on the black market. "Currently, 10 to 11 euros per gram is a realistic price," the district refers to the German Hemp Association in the application. This could also finance the costs for investments and accompanying research. Cultivation is also addressed: "The marijuana should be produced as regionally, organically and with as little CO2 as possible," says Elvers.

The district office hopes that controlled dispensing will improve health protection: people with problematic consumption could be reached more easily via the coffee shop. The goal is to dry up the black market. Young people would then find it more difficult to obtain the substance.

The district office has received a lot of support for its initiative. Parts of the state SPD are also in favor of a new cannabis policy. The SPD member of parliament responsible for health, Thomas Isenberg, is leading the way. He supports the Kreuzbergers’ motion for a regulated dispensary "quite clearly," Isenberg told the taz on Monday.

Berliners are divided on the issue. On behalf of the CDU, the Forsa Institute conducted a survey of 1,006 Berliners in August. The question asked: should cannabis be freely and legally available to all citizens of legal age? 39 percent of respondents said yes. 16 percent of Berliners want to completely ban cannabis as a narcotic. 45 percent are in favor of the current regulation, in which there are exceptions for medical purposes.

No matter what the BfArM decides: The Kreuzbergers have set another stone rolling, said Andreas Ganter of Therapieladen on Monday. His team, like many other addiction aid projects, is campaigning for regulated dispensing to adults. "Now it’s a matter of other municipalities following suit and pushing the discussion at the federal level."

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