Thousands of demonstrators in support of cannabis legalization in Germany walked through the streets of central Berlin to protest prohibition last weekend. Protesters directed the majority of complaints at their government, calling for broader medical cannabis use and to stop the prosecution of possession.
According to police figures, over 4,000 people took part in the rally. There were no incidents or arrests reported. Protesters carried signs and held banners that read, “My brain belongs to me” and “Cannabis is my medicine”. The crowds gathered at the central railway station, then moved to the federal Health Ministry and then ended the march at the iconic Alexanderplatz.
“The marijuana parade is the largest demonstration for the legalization of Cannabis as commodity, medicine, and natural stimulant in Germany,” the organizers wrote on their website. This latest and largest march featured the slogan “Legalization is in the air”. The Hanfparade movement was established in Berlin in 1997, making this the 20th parade in a row. Hanf means hemp in German.
“Legal cannabis would cause less harm if compared to the ban on it existing for 45 years,” said Hanfparade spokesperson Steffen Geyer.
Hans Strobele, a German MP who is a supporter of cannabis legalization, agrees wholeheartedly. “The legalization will come, the question is only when,” he told the crowds on the day of the parade.
“One can abuse anything from coffee and cigarettes to alcohol. It is therefore important to provide a legal basis for such drugs,” one protester told Berliner Zeitung.
Cannabis is illegal under German law, but police sometimes tolerate possession of small amounts of it. Despite this, German law enforcement cited 70 percent of all drug law violations in 2015 as somehow linked to cannabis use or production, according to police. Over 24,000 Berliners alone consume cannabis on a daily basis.
Rightfully defying the illegal status of cannabis, demonstrators were also seen carrying other signs that read: “We aren’t criminals, we’re gardeners”.
The battle for cannabis legalization has been ongoing in Germany for over twenty years. Despite 70 percent of drug related “crimes” being cannabis related, Hanfparade attendees and legalization supporters say they are seeing progress.
“We see from day to day that we are succeeding,” Steffen Geyer told BZ-Berlin. The German Health Minister recently proposed to allow severely ill patients to use medical cannabis. “That was unimaginable four or six years ago,” Geyer added.
This is exactly the type of civil disobedience and peaceful protest we need to continue to see worldwide, until cannabis prohibition finally comes to an end.