By Lina Swoboda
In October 2017, authorities in Berlin repealed their zero tolerance policy towards cannabis possession in a city park – bringing cannabis legislation into the headlines, and reigniting the debate. So what exactly is happening with cannabis in the German capital?
In April 2015, Berlin authorities introduced a zero-tolerance policy on cannabis possession in Görlitzer Park – affectionately referred to as Görli – in the Kreuzberg district. Authorities decided to crack down in Görli because it had “become a symbol of drug selling in Berlin,” according to the mayor of Kreuzberg, Monika Herrmann. Due to its location, in between two of Berlin’s party hotspots, the park had become known as a “24 hours drug supermarket”, Herrmann added, attracting tourists and locals alike. People who wanted to smoke in public or sell small amounts avoided Görli and went elsewhere in the city; the approach simply resulted in a shift of sale and consumption areas, and a rise in law enforcement costs.
This made the park the only area in the city in which Berlin’s narcotics law was fully enforced. Officially, the cultivation, possession, and trade of cannabis are criminal offences in Berlin. However, if someone is found to be carrying up to 15 grams of cannabis, they are very unlikely to be prosecuted – unless they are deemed to be promoting cannabis use to minors.
Thumbnail: CC Tiia Monto