Actually, hemp (cannabis) is an all-rounder! Our ancestors already knew that. After all, they pressed tasty and healthy edible oils from the seeds and wove solid fabrics from the fibers. Until the beginning of the last century, cannabis was the most important active ingredient in numerous painkillers. Today, hemp is processed into insulating materials, could help solve the fuel problem and thus promote a sustainable economy . In addition, medical cannabis can be prescribed on prescription.
Despite this, the use of the plant is still restricted by law. The basis for this was created by a ban from the 1970s. With the forthcoming legalization, a big step could be taken to eliminate this imbalance. Health Minister Lauterbach recently presented a key issues paper that outlines the way to abolish the cannabis ban before the end of this legislative period. What’s it all about?
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Why was cannabis actually banned?
By the mid-1920s, hemp was a promising raw material from which paper, fabrics, oils and medicines were produced. Then two unfortunate circumstances that took place in the USA met: On the one hand, the owners of large cotton plantations and corporations from the clothing, mineral oil, synthetic fiber and wood industries saw their livelihoods threatened. On the other hand, Prohibition was coming to an end because many US states were lifting alcohol bans.
As a result, the powerful Federal Bureau of Narcotics lost its raison d’être. The head of the institution, Harry J. Anslinger, therefore decided that cannabis should take the place of alcohol. Supported by big business, he launched an advertising campaign that branded cannabis as a devil’s drug. In the United States, his work culminated with the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which banned the cultivation and distribution of cannabis.
Cannabis ban is internationalized
Anslinger started an international career at the United Nations (UNO). There, too, the hardliner put forward his theses and eventually became the chair of the UN Drugs Commission, where he promoted the single agreement on narcotics, which was passed in 1961.
In the early 1970s , Richard Nixon tightened cannabis prohibition and exported it to many countries with the help of US economic and diplomatic pressure. In Germany, the Narcotics Act was created in 1971 and is still in force today.
Gradual relaxation on the cannabis issue
Since the middle of the last decade, liberalization processes have been taking place in many countries such as Uruguay, Canada, numerous US states as well as Mexico, Portugal and Spain. And in Germany, too, a lot is happening to ensure that legislation is adapted to the changing circumstances. With around three million regular users, cannabis has meanwhile arrived in mainstream society and highly potent seeds are sold across Europe via internet trade in the form of Mango Kush – Zativo seeds -, Haze, Skunk and Blueberry varieties.
What are the benefits of legalizing cannabis?
The traffic light government wants to sell cannabis in “controlled shops to adults for pleasure” and strengthen health and youth protection. In addition, the judiciary and police apparatus will be relieved, as so far even minor offenses have been reported and result in countless criminal proceedings. These block large resources that are lacking in the pursuit of serious crime.
Another benefit advocates of legalization see is the creation of tens of thousands of payroll jobs that will come from building a viable cannabis industry . Ultimately, an increase in tax revenue in the billions is expected, which will primarily flow into the prevention and treatment of drug addicts. Therefore, the plans of the Minister of Health include the following points:
- Cannabis and the active ingredient THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are no longer classified as narcotics.
- Purchasing and possessing 20 to 30 grams of cannabis is permitted with impunity.
- Cultivation, supply and distribution are permitted within a state-licensed and controlled framework.
- A limited amount of self-cultivation is permitted.
- An age check will be carried out at the time of sale.
- Specifications for ensuring purity and quality are set.
- The introduction of a “cannabis tax” is planned.
If the key points of the paper are accepted, a draft law could be presented at the beginning of next year, which will then be cast into law after 6 months. However, it still needs to be examined how the law can be fitted into the European legal framework. It can be assumed that the first legal joint may not be lit until the beginning of 2024.
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