Germany Drug Commissioner Czar Burkhard Blienert

German Commissioner Provides Insight Into Legalization Approach

By Johnny Green

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International cannabis policy and industry observers have had their eyes set on Germany ever since the current governing coalition expressed a desire to legalize cannabis for adult use at the national level. Often referred to as ‘the traffic light coalition,’ the current governing coalition in Germany made the announcement shortly after the last election.

Germany is already home to the largest medical cannabis industry in Europe, and given that it has one of the largest economies on planet earth, adult-use legalization coupled with a regulated national sales system would be an extremely big deal. So far Uruguay, Canada, and Malta have legalized cannabis for adult use, however, none of those countries have the same legalization model.

Malta still prohibits adult-use sales, although it will eventually allow private clubs to exist, and Uruguay has historically limited sales to residents via pharmacies and clubs. Canada is the only country that has legalized cannabis sales to all adults via a robust buffet of options – storefronts, delivery, ordering online, etc.

Germany is planning on allowing adult-use sales nationwide via a range of options, and once that happens it will likely prove to be bigger for global cannabis efforts than the three current legal nations combined. Canada, Uruguay, and Malta have a combined population of roughly 42 million people. Compare that to Germany which has a population that is nearly double that figure.

Burkhard Blienert, who we were proud to have as a speaker at our last event in Berlin, has served as Germany’s ‘drug czar’ since January. Blienert recently participated in an interview with Stern in which he discussed, among other things, the effort to legalize cannabis in Germany. To read the full interview click this link. Below are some interesting excerpts (translated to English):

Stern: They started with the promise of a “progressive drug policy”. What does that mean for you? 

Blienert: This is clearly the realization that in the field of cannabis, criminal law is not a tool that helps. That’s not how we reach consumers. That’s why we need a different social perspective on how we deal with it.

Stern: Education without criminal law – aren’t you playing down drug use?

Blienert: I believe that society’s job is to protect people. When it comes to cannabis, we are very specific in the coalition agreement. The point is not to allow people to obtain products that are illegal and harmful to their health on the black market, but to empower people and create regulated access to safe products for them.

Stern: What’s the latest on cannabis legalization?

Blienert: A lot of people are looking forward to that.

Stern: That’s exactly why I’m asking. 

Blienert: I’ll have to disappoint everyone at the moment. We are in the early stages where we are debating and discussing the structures for a process. We need a law that lasts. The way there is not a short-distance run. This is a complex and complicated project involving many ministries. And I would like us to involve the public, associations and science. The goal is legalization in this legislative period. We’ll do it.

Stern: Why is this taking so long? Actually, the coalition parties were in agreement. 

Blienert: It’s really not a short story, it’s a novel that we’re writing right now and it needs good preparation, research, a good structure, so that afterwards the ending will be good.

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