Can Approval of Cannabis Hinder Black Market Trade in Berlin?

Can Approval of Cannabis Hinder Black Market Trade in Berlin?

In the Berlin CDU parliamentary group, there is an air of uncertainty and doubt about whether the controlled release of cannabis can effectively curb the black market trade of the drug. Christian Zander, the parliamentary group’s health policy spokesman, expressed his skepticism to the “Berliner Morgenpost” (Saturday). He said, “There will always be a black market. A lot of things depend on the price.” He highlighted the importance of ensuring that the price of cannabis in the designated cannabis social clubs should not be cheaper than the black market. This is because black market traders do not have to bear the financial burden of taxes on their products.

However, the Green Party’s drug policy spokesman, Vasili Franco, holds a different viewpoint. He believes that the current policy of persecuting consumers is misguided. “The years of persecution of consumers are wrong,” he said. Franco suggested that the resources saved from stopping the persecution of consumers could potentially be channeled towards combating organized crime. He stated, “Current policies are playing into the hands of the black market, as the increased general consumption behavior of cannabis shows.”

Franco acknowledged that the black market would not disappear overnight. But he remained optimistic, saying, “Growing clubs and home cultivation will have positive effects on reducing the black market. It will become smaller within a manageable range.” He pointed out that the future scenario would depend on the number of clubs that would register and the number of people who would get access to the drug. He also speculated that the prices in the clubs might be higher than on the black market. However, he did not view this as a major issue as he believed that “Consumers will prefer to pay a small extra charge if they know exactly where the product comes from.”

On Friday, the Bundestag passed a law from the traffic light coalition that would decriminalize the possession and cultivation of the drug starting from April 1st. The law stipulates that adults must consume it themselves. Adults aged 18 and over will be allowed to possess up to 25 grams of cannabis for personal use.

The state head of the police union, Stephan Weh, strongly criticized the Bundestag’s decision. He argued that anyone who legalizes cannabis “in this form does not need to talk about better child and youth protection or the drying up of the black market or making work easier for the security authorities.” Weh warned, “We will experience the consequences of legalization in road traffic nationwide and will feel the serious effects on accompanying and acquisitive crime, especially in the capital.”

The law is set to be presented to the Federal Council on March 22nd. Although it does not require approval, the state chamber could potentially call the mediation committee with the Bundestag and delay the process.