In parts of the USA, cannabis use has been legalized. Prohibition here is not contemporary. A conversation with Maximilian Plenert
Interview: Kristian Stemmler
In the US state of Colorado, marijuana is legally planted (Denver, 30 December 2013)
Maximilian Plenert is a member of the Management Board of Accept. V., the Federal Association for Accepting Drugs and Human Drug Policy, and an expert on cannabis.
Instead of dealing with the many deaths caused by tobacco, alcohol and heroin, Federal Commissioner for the Environment, Marlene Mortler of the CSU, has recently demonized cannabis in the presentation of the current drug report. Do you think of this?
No, this is typical of the selective perception in drug policy. I can quote from Mortler’s report: “No statistically significant changes since 2006 have been seen in the clinically relevant or problematic cannabis use.” In contrast, the increase in the number of victims of illegal drugs such as heroin before Mortler’s homecoming Bavaria, Germany. There, the municipal level from Nuremberg to the Bavarian District Day calls for drug use. Nevertheless, these tried and tested instruments remain taboo in Bavaria, because the CSU crosses itself.
Mortler warns of legalization of cannabis by saying investors from the US are ready to make a huge deal. What do you think?
As if other businessmen would not be doing a huge business today. In this point, I can even partially understand Mortler. Critical scientists in the USA see the danger of a “McDonaldization” of the cannabis market, which I would not have here.
Mortler also argues that the use of cannabis is now more problematic because the content of the active substance THC is about five times as high as 30 years ago.
If the consumer knew how much active substance is contained in his cannabis, he could easily adjust the amount, you also drink no liquor from beer glasses. But he can not do it thanks to the prohibition. Or to quote Bremen’s lawyer Nicole Krumdiek from a hearing in the Bundestag: “The uncontrolled THC salary is a result of the prohibition and can not therefore be taken as a justification for the same.”
In the drug report, long-term intensive use of cannabis can lead to “cognitive impairments, affective disorders, psychoses, anxiety disorders and physical damage”. What is it?
When did you last read the instruction leaflet of an over-the-counter medication? Because of my experience with the side effects of many drugs, I can only say: Cannabis is a comparatively harmless substance. Clearly there are problems when people consume particularly early and intensively and also have further problems. But it is also true that regular cannabis use is safe in adults. At least safer than many other activities of everyday life.
No one has ever died by killing. For this, the tobacco demands about 121,000 dead a year, the alcohol around 74,000. One wonders why the substances are legal, but cannabis is illegal.
It is a nonsense to believe that 100 years ago the wisdom of the sciences had prevailed and decided which drugs should be allowed and which should be forbidden. The truth is that the drug policy has been and is determined by various political and economic interests. The British government’s top drug consultant lost his job because he compared the dangers of drugs with activities like the Reitsport. “You can not compare a legal activity with an illegal one,” Jacqui Smith, the then Minister of the Interior, told him.
In other countries you are even further in the USA, where more and more countries are admitting cannabis. Are you still hoping for a lifting of the prohibition here?
Yes, it is only a matter of time. Not under this government, but the mood is also changing. We just have to pinpoint the policy on it. The pictures from the USA speak a clear language: There has not suddenly rained dogs and cats. We do not need to speculate what would happen in legalization, we know it. Also from decades of coffeeshop policy in the Netherlands. Even if this model is anything but perfect, on the whole it runs.