Members of Germany’s Bundestag, which is the name of German’s lower parliamentary house, held a debate earlier this week to discuss issues of importance to the German people. As in the US, there is a strong push and pull between conservatives and liberals on a number of emotionally-laden topics. Abortion rights, for example, remain at the center of public focus as representatives from the left side of the spectrum push to repeal a law which makes it a crime to advertise for abortion services, despite the legality of the services themselves. Racial tensions motivate other discussions but with a uniquely German twist: anti-Turkish sentiment runs strong there and efforts to restrict speech as well as attire (full-face veils/burqas) no doubt raised heated discussions.
But it is, of course, the cannabis problem that many people wanted to talk about. (And by problem I mean it’s a problem that politicians everywhere on the planet are so cluelessly behind the trend on such a prominent and in vogue issue – just legalize and regulate already!)
For context, here’s a little vocabulary and background:
MPs are German party leaders.
FDP is the Free Democratic Party, representing more libertarian-type ideologies.
SDP is the Social Democratic Party of Germany. The name is like it sounds (social-democratic) and you can think of these guys more less like the Democratic Party in the United States.
CDU/CSU refers to a grouping called “the Union” which includes the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union. The CDU is the major party in parliament and represents the philosophies of the center-right, with support from the CSU (which only represents Bavaria in southern Germany.)
AfD is the abbreviation for Alternative for Germany and they can be summed up as extreme, right-wing populists.
Other parties include The Left Party, The Greens and Independents. (They are left, green, and independent, respectively.)
Sorry for the confusion. Politics are complicated! Now, on to the good stuff….
DW News reports on the decriminalizing cannabis discussion:
“What was proposed: The Greens presented a bill that would no longer make private cannabis use a crime and instead open a strictly controlled and regulated market for marijuana. The FDP proposed a ‘cannabis model project’ to test private legal marijuana consumption, saying that ‘repressing’ cannabis use has failed. The Left party also put forth a proposal calling for the government to allow the private use of cannabis and to change laws making its consumption illegal.
“What MPs said: Although Germany legalized medical cannabis in 2017, any moves to fully decriminalize it remain controversial. The SPD was open to the proposals and draft law, but the CDU/CSU as well as the AfD strongly opposed them. AfD MPs argued that they believe cannabis is a gateway drug to stronger substances.”
In typical fashion, reefer madness won the day and cannabis (other than for sanctioned medical use) remains verboten and criminal. But at least they are talking about it, which means the possibility of an adult-use cannabis market in Germany is being put in the minds of the people and politicians. That’s progress!