In recent years, drug consumption centers have opened in many major German cities. These provide clean needles, patches and places to wash their hands while staff close their eyes when drug users are taken away. North Rhine-Westphalia has ten such centres, Hamburg has five and Berlin has two. But they are not everywhere – Bavaria does not have any. A legally tolerated form of self-consumption can be found in § 31a BtMG. The regulation allows for non-prosecution if the guilt of the offender is to be considered low, if there is no public interest in prosecuting, and if the offender grows, produces, imports, exports, acquires, procures or possesses the narcotics in small quantities only for his own use. This provision applies very differently from one region to another: in the “south” of Germany, “self-consumption” is much less allowed than in the “north” or “west”. “Most countries have introduced comparable thresholds for `small amounts` (upper/lower limit) of cannabis. The limit values set by individual countries are indicative values from which prosecutors and judges may deviate in individual cases. It is important to note that, even with respect to these provisions, there is no legal right to cease pursuing possession of small quantities of drugs in the cases concerned. If a judgment is not rendered, it does not automatically mean that the crime has no consequences. Prosecutors have the right to interrupt the proceedings under certain conditions (e.g.
civil service, fines or counsel in a social institution). German drug laws have evolved over the past 30 years, with penalties becoming stricter and, paradoxically, the definition of “drug offender” becoming more flexible. “The National Strategy on Drug and Addiction Policy focuses on treatment and counselling, alongside prevention and early intervention. In Germany, the responsibility for drug treatment lies with the Länder and municipalities. The range of treatments ranges from low-threshold contacts and counselling services to intensive treatment and therapy in specialised hospitals. Long-term treatment options come in the form of opioid substitution therapy (OST), long-term rehabilitation treatment, and reintegration options. For example, if a drug trafficker`s house contains 1 kg of hashish and 5,000 euros from the sale of drugs, the drugs and money are collected by the state. Three little words have considerably relaxed the prohibition of cannabis since the early 1990s: “a small amount”.
As in this case, a person who possesses only a “small amount” of a drug can escape prosecution under section 31 of the 1992 reform of the Narcotic Control Act. Although cannabis falls into a comparatively less serious category of drugs, the law prohibits the cultivation, sale and distribution of cannabis because of its effect on the brain, particularly with respect to addiction. “Clean needles and syringes, as well as other drug-related accessories, are provided through a network of low-threshold services, outpatient counselling facilities and vending machines. Data on the number of syringes distributed are not available for the state as a whole, but data from local syringe surveillance are available in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and in some major cities, including Frankfurt and Berlin. Hundreds of marijuana users gathered in the German capital to celebrate 420, the annual celebration of cannabis, and demand the legalization of the drug. The new German government has promised a new law. On the Internet, poisonous datura plants – also known as spiny apples – are also advertised as natural medicines. Really not a good idea: the plant induces strong hallucinations, sometimes with a complete loss of reality. People tend to seriously injure themselves under their influence. “As of June 2012, there were a total of 24 stationary drug consumption rooms in six German Länder (Berlin, Hamburg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia and Saarland) in 15 cities and two mobile drug use stations in Berlin. At the beginning of the year, a consumption room in Aachen was closed109.
“More accurate data on the use and clientele of consumption rooms is currently only available to individual institutions that publish their annual reports on the Internet. In addition, in 2012, the DBDD sent an email request to consumption rooms that do not provide data on their websites. From this request, as well as from the Internet search, data from 20 consumption rooms are available110. These data show that in 2010, a total of 630,649 drinks took place in these establishments in 2010 (although it should be noted that the definition of “consumption” varies considerably from one facility to another – in some consumption rooms, each visit is recorded as consumption, whether the substances are consumed several times or several substances are consumed during that single visit; in other facilities, each “unit of consumption” as their own consumption). In addition, in 2010, 17 consumption rooms reported a total of 944 drug-related emergencies that could be treated directly in the facility or transferred for further medical treatment. “In Germany, the term `drug policy` is gradually changing its meaning, and until the end of the last century it was exclusively associated with illicit drugs, which were at the centre of political interest. There was no comparable concept for an alcohol or tobacco policy or for a “drug addiction policy”3 covering the entire spectrum of addictive substances. In recent years, however, (1) disorders resulting from legal psychotropic substances and (2) common aspects of all substances (e.g. in universal prevention or in patients with multiple abuses) as well as non-substance-related forms of addiction4 (e.g. pathological gambling) have increasingly become the focus of political interest. For this reason, the terms “drug and drug policy” or “drug policy” are being used more often and are gradually replacing the term “drug policy”. Due to the different policy objectives and strategies in the field of legal and illegal substances, the term “drug and drug policy” is preferred in German.
“In addition, the range of perspectives is broadening, from the initial focus on substance abuse to risky and harmful use to a comprehensive understanding of health policy for substance-related disorders and risks. In the German language, however, there is no appropriate term that reflects this extension of the term, so the (inadequate) term “drug policy” continues to be used. Therefore, legal substances and common strategies for legal and illicit substances must be taken into account in the annual reports of the German reference point for the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction DBDD. In many cases, due to technical and political developments, it is no longer possible to distinguish between the two categories. However, in accordance with the guidelines on the subject of this report, only illicit substances will be considered to the extent possible. At present, dependence on substances other than substances is not relevant to this report. “Critics say the increase in drug-related deaths is due to the fact that police resources have been diverted to the refugee crisis, a claim the government says cannot be substantiated.” The federal government continues to take an integrative approach to its drug policy. Unlike other European countries, legal and illegal addictive substances are addressed together. Due to their great popularity, the legal addictive substances alcohol, tobacco and psychotropic drugs are given special attention in the further development of drug prevention and the assistance system.