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Political Clashes Over Legalization Continue From Bavarian Politicians

bundestag berlin germany

Lawyers for the Bundestag Scientific Service of the Bundestag issue analysis of cannabis legalization, claiming it violates EU law – and the cry is picked up, again, by the conservative state Health Minister in Bavaria

The clash over legalization is getting nasty in Germany. In the last three weeks, in late August, a conservative politician, a CSU member and Klaus Holetschek, the state Health Minister of Bavaria, had called out the federal German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, for proceeding on cannabis reform even though Scholz admitted that cannabis was not harmless.

Now, on the official website of the state of Bavaria, Holetschek, has issued a press release calling for the government to stop work on the legalization of cannabis – this time quoting a group of Bundestag lawyers who say that German cannabis legalization will run afoul of EU law.

There are several problems with this approach. The first is that yes, at present, EU law does prohibit recreational cannabis use – mirroring international law on the same issue. However, just as CBD was reclassified by the EU as not a narcotic (and German law is now out of compliance with the same), the entire matter is now being considered at a multilateral level across the EU. Using circular logic like this is patently disingenuous.

The second problem with this tactic of course, is that it smacks of special interests within the CSU/CDU, particularly from Bavaria, who seem to want to derail a popular legislative initiative by the current government. This line of reasoning also fails to mention that the group doing this very conservative analysis was tasked to do the same by CSU affiliated health politician Stephan Pilsinger  – a member of the Bundestag’s health committee – and also, not coincidentally, also hailing from Bavaria.

Why Are Conservatives from Bavaria Challenging Government Efforts To Legalize Cannabis?

There are several reasons that the Bavarian CSU appears to be increasingly vocal on the topic of federal cannabis reform. The first, of course, is that the state is known, domestically at least, to be the most conservative in the country. Kind of like a “German Texas.” Cannabis infractions are more harshly punished here than anywhere else in the country.

Beyond this, however, this campaign seems to be motivated as much by anti-cannabis voices from the party that lost control of the government last national election. This effort, in other words, appears to be the effort of a group of conservative politicians, on a state level, to slow down federal reform.

It is not a tactic unknown in the United States. Whether it is likely to work remains unseen. That said, given the statements of the federal Health Minister, Karl Lauterbach of late, that is not likely.