New Poll Shows Majority of Germans Support Cannabis Legalization

Sixty-one percent of Germans say they support the legalization of a regulated recreational cannabis market in a new Ipsos poll. What does this mean for the pace of legislative reform?

Talk about epic transitions. On the same day that Elizabeth II went to the throne in the sky, Ipsos, the market and opinion research institute released the results of a recent survey showing that a whopping 61% of Germans support recreational cannabis reform.

That this comes in the middle of an apparently coordinated campaign by more conservative elements of the political class to either slow down or halt the same – notably from Bavaria – is a striking comment on how fast the idea of cannabis use has been normalized across the country. Starting with this one. In November 2017, not even five years ago, a poll performed by a German research institute found that 63% of the country opposed the same.

This means that German change in attitudes is tracking those in other countries, starting with North America. Namely, once medical reform occurs, recreational follows.

What does this mean for the future if not the pace of reform in Germany and beyond?

Global and Regional Regulations Will Change

The entire attack from the CSU has centered on the status quo. Namely, that cannabis could potentially be harmful to some individuals – and that its legalization runs counter to current law and precedent – are non-arguments in a world on the brink of this kind of change.

Even recreational reform opponents at this point are forced to admit medical efficacy.

On the legal eagle front, yes, technically, legalization is also against current German law as well as international ones. This is not an argument that will hold much water in a world where most people understand that criminalization not only does not work but also that enforcing the same is a massive waste of time and money. No matter what the British government shamefully just did in Bermuda.

What this clash also shows, quite clearly, is a move towards change more generally that leaves many people fundamentally unsure about the future – and on a lot of fronts.

The Future is Now

Change is usually very disturbing, uncomfortable, and unsettling.

Regardless, the fact that the majority of Germans, albeit skewing to younger demographics, are already in the positive camp, is good news indeed. It means that the coalition government has the political cover to proceed with changing the law – even if that debate is extended longer than anyone might hope.

There is also no getting around the fact that once Germany goes green, other countries, both regionally and internationally will follow. It will not be so easy to diss the transition, as many in the opposition camp have done. Namely, not only Canada and Uruguay have made this switch, but Holland has, for all intents and purposes, done so too.

This is not to say the Germans won’t add their own unique stamp to the same which may or may not be adopted elsewhere. What it does mean, however, is that change is coming, one way or another, and on a schedule that will not be delayed forever by the same kinds of arguments already presented.

Chicken or Egg: What Comes First?

What the domestic political opposition may do is create the political necessity of a graduated path to reform. Namely, much as Malta and Luxembourg have done. In the case of Luxembourg, the proposal was passed this summer as a watered-down gesture to promises made five years ago to implement reform.

That said, such an approach is very unlikely in Germany except perhaps as an on-ramp to the discussion with a time frame behind it to implement the next step. The recent comments of the Health Minister, Karl Lauterbach, seem only to support the same.

All of this actually bodes well for the discussion, even if the timeline for implementation is extended by six to 24 months.

Change, no matter the protestations from the most conservative elements of society, is afoot, and cannot be held back.


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