Skip to main content

Leading German Politician Erwin Rüddel On Cannabis: “Attitude Is More Open”

flag of germany

Until now, the CDU seemed to be quite isolated with its position on a possible new regulation. While the SPD, the Greens, the FDP and the Left all call for legalization, or at least model projects, in their election campaign programs, the CDU does not mention a possible new regulation of cannabis in a single syllable. Also to an inquiry of the press office of the CDU answers only with short reference to the current government program.

A few weeks before the election, the CDU member of parliament Erwin Rüddel, who is also the chairman of the health committee of the German Bundestag, sits on a panel with Dirk Heidenblut (SPD), Werner Graf (Greens), Dr. Wieland Schinnenburg (FDP) and Niema Movassat (Left) at the ICBC – in a rather lost position, one would think.

Far from it. In the interview with Rüddel makes possible coalition partners hope for compromises, suggests at least model projects as solution. Especially when the CDU would have to negotiate with two other parties, the CDU politician does not seem to believe in maintaining the status quo. And: Even the great challenges of our time – such as Corona, Afghanistan or Corona – he does not let pass as an excuse to put off a possible cannabis re-regulation: “We are a parliament based on the division of labor and accordingly there are also the necessary capacities.”

It will be interesting to see whether possible coalition partners agree to model projects (or push for fundamental legalization) and what these would look like in detail. Should it come to that, a first small market for recreational cannabis is likely to develop in Germany under state control. After all, flowers have to be cultivated or imported, stored and distributed. Five parties are currently being considered for a new government. In all conceivable coalitions, the CDU is the only party that is against any form of legalization. Is legalization completely out of the question if the CDU is in government?

Erwin Rüddel: The CDU/CSU is somewhat isolated in its stance on this issue. That’s why I’d be surprised if the issue didn’t come up in the coalition negotiations after the upcoming federal elections, especially if the CDU/CSU were to negotiate with two other parties. In my view, model projects would be a conceivable compromise. You personally have already hinted at such model projects recently. Can you briefly specify the conditions?

Erwin Rüddel: In any case, such a project would have to be implemented in a well-selected region with a defined group of people entitled to access it, and the dispensing would have to be linked to addiction prevention and counseling. This is done in a similar way in Uruguay, for example. It is important that the THC content of the cannabis distributed is controlled. The biggest problem I see is the involvement of 15- to 18-year-olds. Of course, they should not be able to legally purchase cannabis for consumption, but this group is exactly the one where prevention work is most important and should therefore be taken into account in the evaluation. Could you imagine further new regulations beyond the model projects?

Erwin Rüddel: For me, such a model project would be an open-ended introduction to the topic: Either we get confirmation of the reservations about cannabis or we learn that things should be approached somewhat differently than is the case today. After an appropriate evaluation, further steps can then follow. Hand on heart: How strongly do opinions differ on this topic within the CDU?

Erwin Rüddel: There are certainly very different opinions in our group. In general, however, I have the feeling that the attitude to this issue is more open than it was a few years ago. In addition, the challenges are currently great: climate change, Corona, Afghanistan – does a new regulation of cannabis fall completely under the table, because the concerns are much greater elsewhere and the parties prioritize other areas?

Erwin Rüddel: The fact that we are facing very great challenges does not mean that we cannot tackle other issues. We are a parliament based on the division of labor, and the necessary capacities exist accordingly.

This interview has been first published on and syndicated with special permission.

Erwin Rüddel