Berlin Tests Out Legal Marijuana Program

Germany leads the way on Europe’s weed normalization.

Berlin, Germany, is trying out a pilot program to decriminalize and normalize cannabis. The announcement came in the wake of some form of legalization being adopted in more than half of America's United States. Berlin’s Social Democrats, in agreement with two major political parties, intend to organize a “scientifically monitored pilot project for the controlled distribution of cannabis to adults.”

Just like in the U.S., Germany’s federal government is anti-weed, but there’s a big push for local and state governments (like Berlin) to legalize. Berlin is just one of 16 federal states in Germany with the power to introduce its own weed laws. After watching pro-weed votes power through the U.S. election, Berliners are eager to try out their own version of responsible, state-sanctioned adult use. Perhaps Berlin will be the first continental capital to legalize cannabis and make it real chill for the rest of the E.U.

Max Plenert of the German Hemp Association told DW

"The Intoxicants Law provides for such experiments. You can apply for exceptions, although the Minister of Health also has influence over the final decision. The state of Berlin has far broader possibilities than a city district in terms of setting up a pilot project. We can make a far more powerful appeal for an exception. It won’t have a massive effect on the market for drugs as a whole. But as with other pilot projects concerning drugs, it’s a chance to show politicians and the press that the topic isn’t such a big deal. And that could kick-start larger changes.”

Despite Germany’s federal government opposing cannabis, it seems to be pretty chill if you get busted with a sack. For example, while weed is illegal, punishments are pretty loose. In Berlin, you can carry up to 15 grams without going to jail.

Germany is pretty cool with cannabis overall. It’s legal to smoke medicinal weed if you’ve got terminal cancer, according to the German Ministry for Drugs and Medical Devices.

Germany’s had its own stoner culture for a long time, one that is ready to embrace legal cannabis too. The German stoner movie Lammbock (about two guys who sell weed in a pizza-delivery shop) has been a weedy cult classic since 2001. And a yearly hemp parade (Hanfparade) attracts more people in favor of weed than in any other European country so far.

Despite progressive cities like Berlin making the move to legalize cannabis, and more than 2 million Germans who use weed regularly, there are haters. A poll from 2015 counted 65 percent of Germans opposing legal weed. Perhaps they don’t realize its positive economic possibilities, or they just don’t have enough access to illegal weed to know that it’s harmless and can be beneficial to health.

Whatever the polls say, Berlin is taking a giant leap into legalizing weed in hopes that the rest of Europe might just follow.