A social media battle broke out on Twitter after German police announce an arrest of a cannabis user in Bavaria
“Mission Tweeting” is the term used by the German police to record their activities on a daily basis via social media – if not justify their activities to the public. When it comes to things like cannabis interdictions, this is especially true, no matter how much their characterization of discovered “illegal cannabis plantations” leaves a lot to be desired.
This weekend, however, that practice appears to have caused the first backlash of its kind. In Nuremburg, Bavaria, the police announced via Twitter that they had been directed to a dwelling that smelled like cannabis, per a phoned-in tip by a neighbour. They then tweeted after they arrested the “perp” successfully with the additional hashtag #SEKKommt.” The initials SEK are used to refer to the Spezialeinsatzkommando, or state-level special task forces, which are tactical units that operate in each of the 16 German states and are dispatched to deal with high risk situations, like hostage taking and kidnappings. The designation is equivalent to American SWAT teams.
A Highly Unpopular Move
In this case, the practice backfired. The two tweets subsequently generated more than 200 indignant responses from the German public.
The police subsequently backtracked on what appears to have been a joke about unleashing the SEK.
One user tweeted “Please tell me that someone hacked your account and used it to play their private provocative troll games.” Another woman tweeted that she too could smell cannabis from a neighbour’s house, but she knew they were medical users and would never call the police – let alone threaten them with the SEK. Another respondent called the tweets “embarrassing to the max.”
The Bavarian police have been repeatedly criticized that they have pursued cannabis-related complaints more enthusiastically than their peers in other states. This is one of the reasons that there are also more formal medical cannabis patients in Bavaria.
The police here have also consistently acted in more extreme ways than in other states when it comes to all things cannabis – like invading a Lidl store in Munich last summer to round up cookies and other sweets allegedly containing CBD.
Legalization Appears to Be Catching On
So far at least, there appears to be very little backlash from either politicians or the citizenry as the German government continues with its plans to legalize adult use cannabis within the next 24 months. The latest pro-cannabis statement from a sitting politician, as well as member of the state cabinet and sitting Justice Minister in North Rhine Westphalia, Germany’s largest state, appears to be par for the course. High level politicians and bureaucrats, like the current German drug czar Burkhard Blienart, have also begun to make pro-legalization statements to the press and to the industry, including at cannabis events like the International Cannabis Business Conference in July in Berlin.
That has not stopped the German police from making arrests, however, especially because there has yet to be any direction from the federal government about this kind of activity, much less when it will be stopped. According to estimates, there are currently just under 200,000 pending criminal cases against cannabis users in the German justice system, along with about 200 cases against CBD-selling establishments.
The police generally have remained suspicious of if not opposed to cannabis reform. Indeed, last fall, police unions across the country spoke out against the coalition government’s intention to proceed with adult-use normalization.
The German public appears split on the issue, but as is the case with such trends, are increasingly supportive of recreational reform as medical cannabis use becomes normalized, not to mention those who use cannabinoid-based medications.
In the aftermath of this public support of the issue, however, perhaps the German police will think twice about joking about the issue, if not broadcasting cannabis interdictions on social media.