The prospect of cannabis legalisation has become a cause for concern among law enforcement agencies in Germany. Recent revelations surrounding an alleged BMI (Bundesministerium des Innern) report, coordinated by the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), have highlighted substantial reservations among the country’s interior ministers regarding the proposed Cannabis Act (CanG). This article delves into the details of the concerns raised, the impact on law enforcement, and the ongoing political debate surrounding the legalisation of cannabis.
Law enforcement concerns
In June 2023, interior ministers from various German states convened at the Interior Ministers’ Conference (IMK) to discuss the “Consequences of Cannabis Legalisation for Recreational Use.” During these deliberations, a consensus emerged among the ministers, expressing divergent views from the expectations associated with the CanG currently under consideration in the Bundestag. One significant point of contention was the belief that the legalisation of cannabis would alleviate the burden on law enforcement in terms of prosecution.
To address these concerns and outline the potential challenges, the interior ministers commissioned a confidential report, coordinated by the BKA. The report, available since December, asserts that law enforcement and regulatory agencies could face additional tasks and expenses, particularly in terms of personnel and resources, which are currently difficult to quantify in detail.
Critique of cannabis legalisation
The BKA-coordinated report emphasises several aspects overlooked by the federal government in crafting the CanG. Interior ministers caution against potential impacts on combating organised crime and stress the need for a consistent effort in fighting cannabis-related offences to ensure the continued effective suppression of organised crime. Notably, the report criticises the lack of consideration for these factors in the Federal Ministry of Health’s assessment of fulfilment expenses.
The report suggests that the extent to which non-commercial collective cultivation of recreational cannabis is embraced and the intensity of police controls, including monitoring consumption bans and conducting traffic checks related to cannabis influence, will significantly influence the additional costs incurred by law enforcement.
Uncertainties in legislation
The BKA report also highlights uncertainties in the proposed legislation, particularly concerning the controlled handling of recreational cannabis products. The lack of clarity in several aspects may necessitate extensive coordination procedures among states to establish uniform procedural regulations, adding complexity to the implementation of the CanG.
In response to the leaked information, the BMI emphasised that the report is not an official ministry document but a compilation of positions gathered from various states. The BMI acknowledges the concerns raised by the states and underscores its commitment to addressing security and youth protection aspects during the legislative process.
Political debate and potential delays
Despite the worries raised by some interior ministries, the cannabis community is becoming more concerned about possible delays in the legalisation process. The acceptance of the CanG in the Bundestag has already slowed considerably. It happened due to opposition from several SPD (Social Democratic Party) members. The Free Democratic Party, or FDP, has expressed dissatisfaction with the internal debate within the SPD. FDP also requested that the CanG be passed as soon as possible. It claims that an integrated and well-written plan has been available for consideration for some time.
The controversies surrounding the cannabis legalisation debate in Germany reflect the complex interplay of law enforcement concerns, legislative uncertainties, and political dynamics. As the country navigates these challenges, the fate of the Cannabis Act remains uncertain, with both supporters and opponents continuing to influence the discourse on the path forward.