Exploring Cannabis Culture: Berlin

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‘All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin. And therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words, ‘Ich bin ein Berliner!’ – John F. Kennedy

In the latest article in our series on cannabis culture around the world, we’ll be flying over to Berlin. As you may know, we define cannabis culture as the way that cannabis can be perceived and treated within a society, city or country.’  Of course this doesn’t just mean Cannabis alone, but also includes all of the separate cannabinoids that we find in the Cannabis plant – CBD and THC for example – So polish of your lederhosen, find your 99 red balloons and prepare to ‘sprechen sie deutsch‘ as we jet over to the capital city of Germany and investigate the weed culture in Berlin.

Cannabis is gaining popularity across the globe. In Europe, the laws are still a bit more strict than in the United States, but in many regions, recreational marijuana use is quickly becoming the new norm. To learn more about changing regulations and emerging trends, make sure to subscribe to The Medical Cannabis Weekly Newsletter, your hub for all things cannabis-related, including more articles like this one and exclusive deals on flowers, vapes, edibles, and other legal products.

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Berlin 

Berlin is located on the river Spree in the North East of Germany. A large city, with a lot of history, its population is nearly 4 million, making it the biggest city in the European Union, though not in Europe. Founded in the 12th Century, Berlin has seen its fair share of historical events. Under Frederick the Great’s rule it became the centre of the Enlightenment, it was also home to the expressionist movement and of course was integral both during and after World War Two. Famously being split between the West, a more liberal and capitalist city and the East, part of the USSR where life was a lot bleaker and tough. The Berlin wall became an iconic, but tragic reminder of the differences between the East and the West especially during the war. It prompted artworks and songs, such as Lou Reed’s Berlin:

“In Berlin, by the wall

You were five foot ten inches tall

It was very nice

Candlelight and Dubonnet on ice”

Since the fall of the wall, Berlin has now become one of the most lively and happening places in Europe and is full of famous clubs, bars and sights to see making it an unmissable stop on anyone’s road-trip through Europe and it’s attitude to Cannabis and drugs has lead to it becoming a mainstay on any drug trip around Europe too.

Here are some of the top places to visit in Barcelona, the beautiful horizon, some famous sites and scenes to see.

The Berghain 

Arguably the most famous club not just in Berlin, but in the whole of Europe, the Berghain has become a icon of exclusivity. People call it a church, a way of life, an institution. It’s near impossible to get in as the bouncers will assess everybody and only allow those deemed to have the right vibe are allowed to enter. Once inside an incredible, techno dream awaits, where liberal attitudes to sex and drugs keep the party going from Saturday to Monday… If you can get in, it’s worth the wait.

The Reichstag

The seat of the German government, this building is an iconic symbol of what Berlin has been through. It’s been re-built, it housed the Nazis, it was bombed and now, with its glass centre, it’s a must visit part of the city. Make sure you book a trip to the very top of the glass dome for a view over Berlin.

Cannabis in Berlin

So, what is the cannabis culture like on the streets of Berlin? It appears that Berlin’s relationship with Cannabis dates back quite far. An urn from around 500BC was found containing Cannabis plants and seeds, suggesting that the city has an ancient connection to Cannabis. It is not a rare sight to see and smell people smoking cannabis around the city and the attitude towards drugs in general in Berlin is quite relaxed. However, the possession and selling of Cannabis in Germany is illegal. This doesn’t stop the millions of Germans from smoking Cannabis, Statista found that Germans were the joint tenth highest population in Europe, and other studies have shown a general increase in young people smoking cannabis in Germany and in Berlin too, so let’s examine the laws in Berlin in a little more detail.

Is It Legal?

Simply put, no… Cannabis possession and selling is not legal in Berlin or Germany. The German Federal Narcotics act made sure of that. If caught in possession of any drugs, including Cannabis, you could face up to five years in prison. But, whilst possessing the drug is listed as an offence, using it isn’t. If someone is caught smoking Cannabis, the punishment isn’t always that severe. Germany use a ‘treatment over punishment’ approach which means you’re more likely to get a telling off than a severe prison sentence if you’re found smoking cannabis. What’s more, the law actually says that if you’re caught with a ‘small amount’ then you’re not really committing an offence. The term small amount varies from region to region in Germany, but in Berlin it is up to 15 grams, the highest amount in the whole of Germany, again making Berlin the hot spot of the country.

Illegal

So possessing a small amount of cannabis is legal, but what happens if you’re caught with more than 15g in the city. The punishment for the possession of drugs can range from a $30,000 fine, to up to two years in prison. Under the Narcotics Act, Cannabis is listed as Appendix 1, what this means is that it’s in the least severe category of drugs, but still if found with a large amount, a prosecution can occur. Even though it is illegal, anecdotal accounts of smoking Cannabis in Berlin is that often the police don’t take notice, or if they do you are more likely going to be asked to give up the cannabis rather than being directly punished, much like in London and Barcelona too.

Legal 

Some forms of Cannabis consumption are actually legal in Germany and Berlin. As stated above, having a small amount of the drug means you’re likely to escape prosecution, but there are also other forms of legal cannabis you can acquire in the city. As with all members of the EU, the use and sale of CBD is totally legal, and there are loads of great CBD shops around the city offering all sorts of useful CBD products. Also, medical Cannabis has been legal since 2017. Medical Cannabis is available to pick up from the pharmacy with a prescription for patients on chemotherapy and with certain disorders and diseases, such as multiple sclerosis. This was pushed through after lobbying from the Left and Green parties in the country and shows the forward thinking attitudes towards the benefits of Cannabis in the city.

The City’s General Attitude to Cannabis 

Even though the laws are a little tough on drug use, Berlin has become famous for its relaxed nature around them. People go to Berlin to rave and party and it is very easy to acquire drugs in the city. There are a number of parades hosted in the city, such as the love parade and the hemp parade that celebrate the city’s attitude to drug culture and party lifestyles. 

The Love Parade

The Love parade started in 1989 as a political protest against the Berlin wall, but quickly ended up being one of the most famous celebrations of rave culture in the world. People openly smoke cannabis and take drugs in this marching celebration of all things rave, that makes its way through the city.

The Hemp Parade 

As the English homepage for the event states: The Hanfparade (“Hemp parade”) is the largest and most traditional march for Cannabis as medicine, natural resource and recreational drug in Germany.” The march celebrates Cannabis for all of its glorious reasons. Thousands of people protest in the city for the legalisation of the drug and enjoy music, food and all the fun of a festival whilst also raising awareness of the properties of the cannabis plant. Again, this shows the fun loving attitude and relaxed, positive view of Cannabis in Berlin.

The Hemp museum

In the centre of the city you can even find a hemp museum, celebrating the multitude of uses the plan has, from pharmaceuticals to medicines, the museum showcases just how brilliant the Cannabis plant and its products are and offers an optimistic view of a future that focuses on getting the best from Hemp and cannabis.

Conclusion

Berlin is a beautiful city, full of history and fun-loving city members. It’s seen its fair share of hardship over the many years of its existence, but now seems to be in a cultural glory decade, hosting some of the most famous clubs, the largest Cannabis marches and the most open minded attitude of most European cities. With the legalization of medical Cannabis, we can hope that over the next few years, the already relaxed attitude will grow even more so. Remember that if you visit the city, a ‘small amount’ is pretty much legal, but still do be careful as there’s a little way to go before complete legalization. Auf Wiedersehen… for now.

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