The situation is not without its humor, even in German. According to Bild’s headline, Germany’s largest and most popular tabloid with 1.37 copies sold daily, the polizei are now acting as “your friend and harvest helper” when it comes to illicit cannabis cultivation in the Siegen-Wittgenstein area (if not other locales across the country). This is a predominantly rural region about 80 miles north from Frankfurt, the financial center of Europe.
According to Bild, the bust occurred after passersby noticed a large outdoor cannabis plantation of about 3,000 square feet in size and consisting of about 2,500 plants located in a remote potato field. They dutifully reported the same to the police.
The paper also noted sarcastically that the “harvest squad” was then dispatched to collect the offending biological material.
The plants have now been sent for testing to determine their cannabinoid content.
The farmer who owns the field may be charged with a violation of the Narcotics Act if it transpires that he was involved in the cultivation—or knew about it. Even if it turns out that the plants were only hemp with under .02% THC content, this is still a potential federal crime. As of now, German regulations are now out of step with the E.U. ruling on CBD.
However, such is the temperature of both the political climate here and the German mass media when it comes to impending recreational reform. It may be in progress, thanks to the legislature, but there are many Germans who are still ambiguous about this kind of change. And there are also many who are starting to realize the gross injustice of the current situation—which is likely to be the status quo for at least the next 12 to 24 months unless some kind of safe harbor is also implemented with the passage of the bill.
German Guerrilla Growing
The idea of planting cannabis in the “wild” on someone else’s property—also known as “guerrilla growing,” is of course not an unknown phenomenon in Germany. Despite a short growing season outside, the country is lush and green during the summer months, heavily wooded in some areas and of course, has remote rural areas where few people venture on a regular basis.
Beyond this, indoor growing is of course also widespread in the country.
Regardless, or maybe for precisely this reason, there has been no talk of amnesty for those caught in the middle of changing times (so far) at the national political level where the law is being hashed out. And as a result, police across the country have not stopped enforcing current law. Indeed, police busts against both recreational users and CBD businesses actually seem to be increasing even as change is in the offing.
How the coalition government will address home grow—or unlicensed growing on a similar scale as this incident—is a question that so far has not been formally answered to date. That said, given comments to the German press as well as the moving legalization discussion elsewhere in Europe (see Malta, Luxembourg, and Portugal), it is unlikely that this right will not be included—even if in limited form.
Beyond this, there will have to be some way to address unregistered growing for what will be a legalized plant – albeit one with narcotic properties if high in THC. Patient networks are already widespread, if obviously underground. Non-profit medical cultivation, even of this size, is unlikely to just disappear—and certainly not overnight.
Incentivizing Legal Cultivation and Purchases
There is already a discussion about how to price cannabis products—and equally importantly how to tax them—so that post-legalization the legal market is appealing and affordable to consumers. This is even more important at a time of historic inflation as well as the uncomfortable reality that even in Germany there are many legitimate medical users who have so far fallen through the cracks.
It is also likely that products will be priced in the legitimate market according to the concentration of THC.
The reality is that most users, including medical ones, would prefer to skip cultivation (which is both involved and takes space, time, and money to successfully accomplish). That said, it is also a no-brainer that guerrilla cultivation will never completely go away.
However, it will certainly diminish as legal access to the plant increases. And as a result, the “cultivation” specialization of the Deutsch polizei is likely to be a job skill that is increasingly less utilized.
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