The state health minister, Klaus Holetschek announced a plan on Tuesday after a cabinet meeting in Munich, to educate youth against cannabis use
The state of Bavaria is launching a 1.8 million euro campaign to educate teenagers against using cannabis. “We want to make people aware of the risk,” said Health Minister Klaus Holetschek on Tuesday. 1500 school classes of 8th and 9th graders will be educated in workshops about the dangers of recreational use.
So far, Bavaria is the only state to announce such a program, although there will undoubtedly be similar educational programs launched in the country as legalization plans progress. They may even copy the programs that Bavaria is currently establishing – or use them as a guideline.
However, apart from launching educational campaigns for teenagers, Holetschek has repeatedly criticized the federal government’s plan to legalize recreational cannabis generally. However, he is far from alone. Other CDU-affiliated politicians, at both the state and federal levels, have not stopped trying to slow down recreational reform.
In fact, politicians, at least, from the state, have also long maintained a strict anti-cannabis policy that has also led to patients being punished at a level unseen anywhere else in Germany. It is one of the reasons further cannabis reform did not happen when the CDU was in power.
Why Is Bavaria So Against Cannabis Legalization?
Holetschek has tried various tactics in the last several months to call out the federal government on its plans to legalize the plant – from directly confronting Chancellor Olaf Scholz to promoting the findings of a CSU commissioned Bundestag legal report stating that German cannabis legalization would violate EU law, also commissioned by a federal representative to the Bundestag from Bayern, on the state website.
The actions by the health minister stand in stark contrast to other states.
But why is all of this cannabis opposition emanating from Bavaria?
There are several reasons – starting with the fact that this is widely seen as Germany’s most “conservative” state. Germans, in fact, frequently refer to Bayern as the “Texas of Germany.”
Bavaria also has the highest number of medical cannabis users in the country, in part because cannabis use and possession are so harshly punished here.
Could Bavaria Ban Recreational Cannabis Use?
There has been no discussion – yet – about the abilities of individual German states to ban cannabis. That said, there have been indications that this could happen. Earlier this year, a Düsseldorf court struck down a city-wide ban on CBD and hemp.
Given the strong opposition to the federal government’s current plan, it could well be that politicians in Bavaria pursue an anti-recreational use strategy.
This could mean either the ban of dispensaries altogether, or strictly limiting their placement.
It is unclear, however, how the state might ban home-grow if authorized by federal law, as many expect the government to do.
One thing is for sure. The continuing opposition to federal policy set by the new government is not going to stop from CDU/CSU-affiliated politicians from Bavaria – from the state to federal representatives.
One thing is for sure. Such developments will make it very difficult for legally certified cannabis distributors in the state to diversify their reach from medical into recreational use.
When Will Bavaria Get (Back) With the Program?
Opposition to cannabis has not always been the case in this part of Germany. Indeed in the 19th and early part of the 20th centuries, hemp was widely cultivated in the still mostly rural and agrarian state.
Cannabis research even began to gain a hold in Germany, including the state of Bavaria, until the early 1930’s when the Nazis came to power.
That said, in the modern age, Bavaria has also played an important role in the legalization of the plant. Günther Weiglein, the patient whose lawsuit changed federal law on medical use, launched his legal challenge from Würzburg, a small town about two hours from Munich.
Bavaria may, in other words, lag behind other German states in its formal acceptance of the plant. But it is unlikely it will last.