The federal chairman of the police union (GdP), Oliver Malchow, told the New Osnabrück Newspaper that it made no sense to open the door to another "dangerous and often trivialized" drug alongside legal but dangerous alcohol. "There must finally be an end to glossing over the joint," he said. Among young people, in particular, he said, the use of cannabis can lead to significant health problems and social conflicts.
The chairman of the German Police Union (DPolG), Rainer Wendt, told the newspaper that cannabis is not only a dangerous gateway drug but also a danger for young people in particular because of the uncontrollability of its composition. Wendt fears fatal consequences, especially in road traffic: "If stoned people start participating in road traffic soon, we'll have a problem." Even now, cannabis use is repeatedly causing accidents with innocent injuries; police control is completely inadequate.
Regular cannabis use is particularly dangerous among young people and adolescents, explains Rainer Thomasius, head of the German Center for Addiction Issues in Childhood and Adolescence at the University Medical Center Eppendorf (UKE). A recently presented study has shown with the help of imaging procedures in humans and experiments on mice that the development of the brain is damaged under the influence of the cannabis active ingredient THC.
The result is not only reduced intelligence, attention and concentration. The risk of developing psychosis also increases by a factor of 3.2, and even by a factor of 4.8 in the case of heavy consumption of cannabis with an active ingredient content of more than ten percent, according to a study published in 2019 in the scientific journal "The Lancet Psychiatry.
A study from Ulm found that the number of inpatient treatment cases for psychotic disorders caused by cannabis use at the university psychiatric hospital there increased eightfold between 2011 and 2019, he said. "That's pretty impressive," Thomasius said. But it's also the only study on the topic he knows of from Germany, he said.
Police statistics from countries where cannabis use is legal, such as in some U.S. states, indicate an increase in violent crimes related to the drug, Thomasius said. However, it is unclear how serious these statistics are from this point of view, he said.
The number of cannabis users in Europe grew by a quarter between 2010 and 2019, according to a new study. Particularly risky daily or near-daily use has also increased, researchers from the Center for Interdisciplinary Addiction Research at UKE and the Technical University of Dresden found. The scientists evaluated publicly available data from the EU, Great Britain, Norway and Turkey.
The FDP and the Greens are in favor of legalizing cannabis and "selling it in licensed specialist stores". According to both parties, "decriminalization" could also tie up fewer police and judicial resources and dry up the black market. The Free Democrats see possible tax revenues of up to one billion euros as a result - money that could be put into addiction prevention and treatment. The SPD, on the other hand, favors "regulated distribution" to adults, initially in model projects accompanied by prevention and counseling services.
Photo by Ahmed Zayan