Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

German Court Legalizes Soft Drugs

On April 28, 1994, the Federal Constitutional Court, Germany's highest court, ruled that possession of small quantities of hashish and marijuana should no longer be the subject of criminal penalties. The ruling came as the court affirmed the 1992 lower court ruling by Lubeck judge Wolfgang Neskovic. The judge had ruled that all laws against marijuana and hashish were unconstitutional because they violated the German constitution's equal protection provisions. He said that the users of cannabis products deserved the same protection as the users of other intoxicants, such as alcohol and tobacco. Prosecutors appealed the decision.

Under the 7 to 1 high court ruling, laws against cannabis products remain on the books but police may no longer make arrests for its possession. The court held that possession of cannabis products "in small quantities and exclusively for personal use" would be legal. The ruling leaves it up to the states to decide what amount shall be "small." The government estimates that 8 million of Germany's 80 million citizens use marijuana and hashish regularly.

The new policy resulting from this court ruling will not be as tolerant as that of the Netherlands where marijuana and hash are openly sold in more than 1,000 coffee shops throughout the country. In Poland and Spain, cannabis possession is legal but it may not be freely sold. Belgium, Switzerland, Italy and England have laws against possession but rarely enforce them. As reported in the July, 1994, issue of PLN, the Colombian Supreme Court also recently ruled that the criminalization of marijuana possession was unconstitutional under that country's constitution. As the rest of the world calls a truce in the failed "war on drugs" the US continues its futile effort of draconian penalties and ever harsher punishments.

The National Times, August, 1994.

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login