German conservative politician expresses his support for cannabis legalization
Hans Theiss has just written German history. He just publicly advocated recreational cannabis reform.
This doesn’t make it unusual at the moment as the country moves, albeit slowly and hesitantly, towards a new cannabis reality. What does is where he’s from – both geographically and politically.
Geographically, he represents voters from a wealthy city in Bavaria, one of the largest and most important metropolitan areas in the country. Despite this, Bavaria is sometimes referred to as the “Texas” of Germany, not to mention the most “rules-based” state in the country.
“Bavaria already operates a relatively strong rule of law policy and pursues things that are classified as illegal, perhaps a little more consistently than is the case in other federal states,” said Theiss in a recent interview.
This is one of the reasons why the state has one of the highest numbers of official cannabis patients. Doctors know prescriptions are a form of protection for people too ill to arrest.
Even more intriguing is that his stance is now an intriguing political development with national implications.
First, Theiss is a cardiologist. The second is that he is a member of the CSU/CDU – a hybrid coalition of two “centre-right” political parties in Germany. This is the alliance that just lost power in the last national election. It’s also the party that has opposed both patient-growing and recreational cannabis reform in general.
It is for this reason that Theiss’ recent public statements in support of legalization have drawn a great deal of attention, both as a conservative politician and as a doctor. This is in large part because there has never been anything like this in the CSU. When asked if others in his party shared his views, Theiss diplomatically replied that he didn’t think he was the only person in his party, at any level, to support the leisure shift.
However, the attention he’s received from the pro-cannabis press seemed to surprise him.
Theiss also said that the traffic light coalition’s commitment to driving reform is the main reason he has now spoken out on the matter.
German politics and cannabis reform
Compared to the United States, German politics is much more civil. German politicians are certainly more process-oriented – and when inspired, they can make decisions quickly. For example, the Bundestag just passed legislation providing for a heavily discounted summer public transport ticket (about $30 per person for all public transport used between June and August) to offset rising food and energy costs.
There’s also a level of mutual, collegial respect here that’s sorely lacking in US politics. Here, when the federal government says it will do something, the consensus-driven, overarching bias of politicians shifts into a different mode.
As Thiess said, the fact is that recreational cannabis reform is now becoming German law. It’s a bit stupid to resist, although there will certainly be some extreme hardliners who will continue to do so. It is now important to take measures to protect consumers.
The Great Green Conversion
Notwithstanding his typically German humility, the reality is that Theiss’s comments are a sign of how willing Germans are to embrace a new age when it comes to cannabis. It’s not like every German suddenly switches from beer to weed. Or even that there will be a sudden surge of support for legalization from those who still staunchly oppose it. Of course, even among proponents of the political class, there are concerns about drug use, driving and drug abuse by youth. But now that its medicinal efficacy has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the boogie man cannabis is beginning to recede among even the most conservative of opposition supporters.
There are several reasons for this. First, it is a waste of taxpayers’ money to continue the current prohibition policy – a fact that is inevitable in political discourse. Second, the German economy could use all the help it can get right now. Inflation, a monster here at levels unseen anywhere else due in part to national history, is over 7% this year. This is a shocking economic reality that is beginning to stir other debates and issues.
Certification of a new industry that is guaranteed to generate both jobs and tax revenue for the state is certainly one way to respond.
In other words, Theiss may be one of the first of his kind to publicly advocate for a change of the hot variety, but he certainly won’t be the last.