Busted! What German Recreational Cannabis Reform Means to Me

Despite being a participant in the legal industry, I am also a patient struggling with access and a regional health approver who wants to keep denying me the drug. So, I turned to the next best alternative- homegrow – and got caught up in the changing laws of my new country.

As much as I am known to those who work with or read me, as an entrepreneur and consultant in the legal cannabis industry in Germany, I am also a cannabis patient. I have a rare and difficult neurological condition called Dystonia. It is kind of a cross between Parkinson’s and MS.

Cannabis is the only drug that will treat it. I am allergic to all the known “alternatives” in a situation where the condition itself is notoriously drug resistant. With the drug, I am relatively ok. Without it, I am a cripple.

A Brief History of My Cannabis Access In Germany

For the last ten years since I have lived in Germany, and the last three since I became a German dual citizen (see 2BvR 2628/18), I have struggled with access.

This is in part because the system so far, has been largely a matter of paperwork and lawsuits for those denied access, as well as furtive attempts to create a path to access that is sustainable (see the black market and home grow).

Beyond that, many people have taken advantage of the fact that I am a patient and a legalizing citizen with a groundbreaking legal case that has reformed German immigration law more than at any other time since the Citizen Act over a hundred years ago. Even with 30 years experience and an EMBA from a German university, I am on the edge financially as I struggle to find work here.

Buying cannabis legally costs me more than my rent. Even via other routes, it is often prohibitively expensive.

The Home Grow “Alternative?”

So, I did what many Germans have been forced to do. I started to grow my own. Not much, considering that my legal prescription is 120 grams per month. But certainly enough to get me in trouble with the fuzz.

Less than a month before my first harvest, I was arrested in March 2022 on a Sunday afternoon, after a neighbour turned me in because she didn’t like the smell of my smoking (not the grow). This was approximately two months after the MDK turned me down for insurance coverage the first time.

After over a year of continuing a process I was involved with anyway to obtain insurance coverage for my medicine, and right after the MDK turned me down a second time for coverage, I went to court in June this year.

The judge decided to give me a warning, with a suspended sentence according to 59 StGB. If I do not violate this for a year, there is no fine and no entry in the criminal record.

However, the prosecutor decided to contest this.

I argued, as the last speaker in the hearing, that I was a victim, in my new country no less, which I have struggled all my life to join, and that this situation was truly ironic. Three years after I become a German, I was facing criminal charges for falling through the healthcare system.

But I also know my experience is not a unique one. Indeed, as I said in court, when Germany changed its medical cannabis law in 2017, it left many patients like me in a dangerous limbo. My monthly prescription is about four times higher than the amount in the federal narcotics law over which prosecutors consider you a “dealer.” Namely 7.5 grams of THC (not flower).

Despite the presentation of my medical evidence during the hearing, the prosecutor was not interested in considering an alternative to the judge’s decision (a year’s probation, giving up my grow equipment and court fees).

Yesterday, just as the news was breaking that the German government was moving forward on recreational cannabis reform, I got an email from my lawyer.

“I am pleased to inform you that the verdict of the Frankfurt District Court has become final.

Contrary to the announcement in the main hearing, the public prosecutor’s office has not filed an appeal.”

Given the fact that this was the same day that the federal government’s decision was announced, I know I am yet again, on the cusp of legal reform, although this time, one that everyone in my new country will be a part of also.

Strange times indeed.

What Comes Next?

Beyond paying court costs and my lawyer the rest of the money I owe him (anyone interested in helping me with the legal fund, please get in touch), I of course will not cultivate again before the new law comes into effect. Hopefully, I will be able to afford new grow equipment soon after the law changes, and even more hopefully, my new appeal against the MDK will be listened to and respected this time.

I am also looking for a social court lawyer who is willing to take my case against the MDK and my insurer to court. Please get in touch if you know one in Frankfurt.

In The Meantime

Don’t be tempted to grow yet, folks. This is not a process that I would recommend to anyone. The narcotics law here is federal, serious, and can land you with fines and or jail time.

Wait until they change the law. With less than six months to go, it’s worth it.

German language version here.


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