German coalition at odds over cannabis legalization

The German government’s drugs commissioner on Wednesday criticized a proposal by the Social Democratic Party’s parliamentary group for a more open approach to cannabis.

The Social Democrats published a position paper on Tuesday calling on the government to change its policy and move away from banning cannabis.

Daniela Ludwig, the federal drugs commissioner and a member of the conservative Christian Democrats, said the paper did not offer any new solutions that would help to reduce the number of people who smoke pot “which should be our policy,” she argued.

The Social Democrats suggested no longer taking up criminal proceedings against people possessing small amounts of cannabis for personal use, proposing instead that this should be treated as a misdemeanour.

The party’s paper also proposed allowing willing communities to try taking a legal, regulated approach to cannabis distribution. These projects could be accompanied by research into ways to protect young people, and any possible effects on road traffic.

The SPD argued in favour of decriminalizing cannabis use in its paper, pointing out that consumption has been rising for years, unchecked by bans or criminal proceedings.

Ludwig said however there was no basis for assuming that decriminalization would reduce cannabis consumption.

She also criticized the fact that the position paper did not specify the amount of cannabis that would be allowed for personal use.

Prevention should be top priority, Ludwig said, and pledged to launch a new project soon to further this aim.

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