Cannabis Prohibition Is Not Only ‘Stupid’ But ‘Also Incongruent with the German Constitution’: German Activist Georg Wurth
Georg Wurth is the CEO of the German Hemp Association (Deutscher Hanfverband) and an activist for the legalization of cannabis. In 1996, he sued himself for owning 4 grams of cannabis. Then, in 2014, he participated in a casting show on German TV and won one million Euros for his plan to legalize cannabis.
Wurth is politically active on several boards and committees, has started impactful petitions and produced the first commercials that advocate legalization. In our interview, he shares his views about the latest developments and potential scenarios for the cannabis market in Germany (and Europe as a whole).
“We don’t only consider the prohibition of Cannabis stupid, but also incongruent with the German constitution,” he told Civilized. “Therefore, we will focus on legal activities this year. With several initiatives, we want to contribute to the Federal Constitutional Court finally returning to this issue. And of course, we won’t decrease our efforts with regards to lobbying and public relations.”
‘Stupid’ and ‘incongruent with the German constitution’ are two strong judgements. Could you elaborate on both?
The prohibition is stupid because it does not create any positive effects. In particular, it does not reduce the problematic consumption of cannabis in young people. Nevertheless, it has a lot of negative effects — a lack of consumer protection, the criminalization of consumers and the facilitation of organized crime as well as a loss of taxes through legal sales. The results are disastrous. And prohibition is incongruent with the German constitution because it is neither necessary, nor suitable or proportionate.
You have created a lot of publicity for the legalization of cannabis in Germany through spectacular stunts. Which differences do you notice after big publicity projects?
We can only notice clear results of our actions, when the Federal Parliament (der Bundestag) picks up one of our topics and starts debating. Our latest example is our research on financial effects of prohibition. We certainly influence other types of progress as well (e.g. with regards to legalizing medical cannabis or with regards to general support from the public), but we share these successes with other organizations and activists. Every year, we facilitate a representative poll. Since 2014, the support of legalized cannabis has risen from 30 to 46 percent. A strong majority of 59 percent support decriminalization for the consumer. And the political development is similar. In 1990, only the Green Party supported legalization, then the Left Party joined the position, recently the Free Democratic Party joined as well, and now the Social Democrats are debating it. We have always believed in public relations, spectacular stunts, media support and a big range of influence for our own channels. And it works.
Our international readers are interested in the situation of medical cannabis in Germany. It sounds like even though medical use is permitted it is very difficult for patients to find doctors who will support their need for cannabis medication. Could you tell us in how far the legal situation and the actual situation differ?
Generally the regulations in Germany are rather expansive and liberal compared to other countries. There is no list of diseases that can be treated with cannabis. If there is evidence that indicates positive effect, that is enough. The usual, extensive pharmacological research isn’t a requirement. And the health insurances cover the costs in some cases. It’s possible to receive medical products like Sativex (a mouth spray) and mono substances like Dronabiol/THC or several types of blossoms and extracts. We don’t have the exact numbers but it’s likely tens of thousands of legal cannabis patients.
Unfortunately, the development is slowed down through several problems. Doctors hesitate a lot to prescribe the products, health insurances often reject cost coverage, there is a shortage on blossom imports and pharmacies charge extremely high prices. More than 20 Euros per gram. In addition to that, there were legal problems in the process of giving out licenses for cultivating in Germany, which means that we still depend on imports exclusively. This makes it even more problematic that patients in Germany are not allowed to grow their own plants.
CBD products in Germany are technically legal to sell and buy. Nevertheless, there also seem to be challenges. Would you give us an idea of how you think the market will develop in this area?