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Do you have to pay the radio and TV license fees in Germany? How and who can avoid paying the fees?

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Hardly anyone can avoid paying the radio and TV license fees in Germany. Even Expats!

Since January 2013, German citizens have no longer paid a GEZ fee to finance public broadcasting, but rather a broadcasting fee. The main difference: only those who owned a television or radio had to pay the old GEZ fee. Every household has to pay the radio and TV license fees, regardless of whether there is actually a television, radio or computer and no matter how many people live there.

A quick look at radio and TV license fees in Germany

radio and TV license fees
  • The broadcast fee has risen from 17.50 euros to 18.36 euros per month – since August 2021. According to a decision by the Federal Constitutional Court, the increase is an interim solution until a new state media treaty comes into force.
  • The fee for public broadcasting – is charged per household. No matter how many people live in the apartment.
  • For social or health reasons, contributors can be exempted from the fee or apply for a discount. You don’t have to pay extra for a second home either.

How much is the radio and TV license fee?

The license fee has increased from 17.50 euros to 18.36 euros per month since August 2021 .

The Federal Constitutional Court decides on an increase

Originally, the increase come as early as January 1, 2021. This was decided by the German State Minister’s Conference in March 2020. However, the State Media Treaty did not come into force, as Saxony-Anhalt was the only federal state to refuse its approval and thus blocked the increase in the contribution. The broadcasters of ARD, ZDF and Deutschlandradio then lodged a constitutional complaint.

New: An interim solution came into effect in July 20, 2021. The Federal Constitutional Court ruled that Saxony-Anhalt violated the freedom of broadcasting because it refused to approve the State Treaty for no reasonable reason. In order to ensure that public broadcasting can be financed, the license fee increased temporarily by 86 cents – but not retrospectively from January 1, 2021, but from August 2021.

Broadcasting fee per household

There is only ever one contribution to be paid per household. Families and shared apartments also only pay one contribution, regardless of how many televisions, radios or computers are in the apartment.

You usually pay quarterly in the middle of three months. However, you can also pay in advance for a quarter, half a year, or a full year. The easiest way to pay is via Sepa direct debit. So you always pay on time. You can also transfer the fee. So far that was 52.50 euros. 

The premium adjustment is automatically taken into account for contribution payers who take part in the direct debit procedure – the three-month amount after the increase is 55.08 euros . If you pay with a standing order, you have to adjust your order accordingly.

TIP: Make sure that the license fee for an apartment is not paid twice. If necessary, children living in the household with an income, grandparents and flatmates can unsubscribe. The corresponding ” Unsubscribe ” form can be found on the website of the contribution service.

No additional charge for the car radio in the private car

The radio in your car is also covered by the radio license fee. You don’t have to pay separately for this.

It looks different in the commercial sector. Car rental companies must pay contributions for the radios in the rental cars. This duty is also constitutional, ruled the Federal Constitutional Court ( Az. 1 BvR 1675/16 et al.).

Don’t forget to register after moving!

In emotional commotion when moving out of the parental home or at a separation followed by moving to a new home, you should not forget your new apartment within a month to register . Don’t wait until you get mail from the post service. The fees can accumulate. It can get quite expensive then.

radio and TV license fees

What counts for the radio license fee as an apartment?

The fee is charged by the same authority as before 2013, only that it has a new name. The fee collection center (“Gebühreneinzugszentrale” – GEZ) is now called ARD ZDF Deutschlandradio Contribution Service. The GEZ investigators who rang the doorbell to find out whether there was a radio in the household no longer exist.

The apartment as a starting point for the radio license fee is defined as follows: An apartment is a fixed, structurally self-contained unit that

  • is suitable or used for living or sleeping,
  • has its own entrance and
  • is not only accessible via another apartment.

Post free are rooms or apartments in accommodation such as boarding schools or barracks. There is also no charge for arbors in allotment gardens where no one is allowed to spend the night.

Some citizens found the new license fee unjust and have sued against it. The constitutional judges decided: The broadcasting fee obligation is compatible with the Basic Law (BVerfG, judgment of July 18, 2018, Az. 1 BvR 1675/16 etc. ). It is true that single people are more burdened than families or shared apartments, but that is justified and acceptable, according to the judges.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) also declared the German license fee to be permissible. It is not illegal state aid (ECJ, judgment of December 13, 2018, Az. C-492/17).

Who doesn’t have to pay a contribution for the second home?

Until July 2018, second and secondary homes as well as privately used holiday apartments were also subject to contributions. Following a judgment of the Bun-of-ver-fas-sung-ge-Richts (FCC) is, however, incompatible with the Basic Law (July 18, 2018, Az. 1 BvR 1675/16, among others ).

The federal states implemented the ruling on November 1, 2019: 23rd Interstate Broadcasting Treaty (RÄStV) . Since then, spouses and registered partners can also apply for an exemption from the obligation to pay contributions for their secondary apartments if they also live with their partner in a joint main apartment. This is the new rule:

 “ For their secondary residences, a natural person is exempted from the obligation to pay contributions according to Section 2 (1) upon application if they, their spouse or registered partner pays the license fee for the main residence to the responsible state broadcaster. The same applies if she, her spouse or registered partner pays the license fee for one of her secondary apartments, not for the main residence. 

This is how you can free your second home

You can fill out the online application ” Exemption from secondary residence “. The prerequisite is that you are registered as the applicant with a main and secondary residence at the residents’ registration office.

Important: In addition to the owner of the main and secondary residence, the spouse and registered partner are also entitled to an exemption. It does not matter which of the two partners the main residence is registered for with the contribution service.

For gazebos and dachas You also do not have to pay extra if you already are paying for for your main residence. You can get exempt from broadcasting fees with the ” Secondary apartment ” form.

The exemption for owners of secondary apartments applies since the new regulation in November 2019 from the month in which the application is submitted or up to three months before this point in time, provided that the requirements for the exemption have been met during this time.

Do visually and hearing impaired people have to pay license fees?

Deaf-blind people and recipients of assistance for the blind can be completely exempted from broadcasting fees. Residents of nursing homes who are fully inpatient are also exempt .

If you lived in your own apartment before, you should deregister the old apartment from the contribution service. You can use the ” Deregistration ” form for this purpose .

Anyone who has a severely handicapped ID with the RF indicator only has to pay a reduced fee. These include people who are unable to attend public events due to their disabilities, as well as the visually impaired and the hearing impaired.

This group was exempt from license fees until the end of 2012. Since then, a third of the regular contribution rate has been due for them: since April 2015 it has been 70 euros per year.

Who can get an exemption from paying the fees social reasons?

1. If you get unemployment benefits

If you receive certain social benefits such as basic security or unemployment benefit II, you can be exempted from the broadcasting fee. The following applies to married couples and registered partnerships: If one of the partners is exempt from the license fee, the other does not have to pay either.

2. If you are a student getting Bafög

Even those who receive Bafög or vocational training allowance can be exempted from the broadcasting fee. If a resident in a shared apartment is exempt from the fee because he receives student loans, then another, non-exempt roommate must pay the broadcasting fee .

If you are entitled to an exemption from the license fee or a reduction in the license fee, you can fill out the “ Apply for exemption or reduction ” form on the website of the fee service.

Then you have to print out the completed application and send it with proof to the ARD ZDF Deutschlandradio Contribution Service, 50656 Cologne.

What happens if you don’t pay the radio and TV license fees in Germany?

radio and TV license fees

If you refuse to pay, you will receive a contribution notice with a late payment penalty. The late payment surcharge is 1 percent of the contribution owed, but at least 8 euros ( Section 9, Paragraph 2, Clause 1, No. 5 RBStV in conjunction with Section 11 of the respective statutes of the state broadcasting corporations on the procedure for paying broadcasting fees). You don’t get a special reminder.

It happens again and again that fraudsters send fake requests for payment as direct mail. The letters are usually deceptively real based on the actual letters from the contribution service. The forgeries can be recognized by these features:

  • An exact address is missing. In one forgery, the address field only read: To all private households in the contribution area Germany.
  • The same article number was used in all letters.
  • The criminals had specified a different bank account than that of the contribution service.

When you receive a payment request from the ARD ZDF Deutschlandradio contribution service, check that your address and contribution number are correct. If you have any doubts about the authenticity, call the post service and clarify whether the letter actually came from there. This is the service telephone number of the contribution service: 01806 999 555 10 . A call costs 20 cents from the German landline network, 60 cents from the German mobile networks.


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Poisonous sulfur cloud with EXTREME concentration over Germany – Concerned citizens call the weather service

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A poisonous sulfur cloud is moving to Germany. It comes from the volcano on La Palma. The concentration is extremely high, but is the volcanic cloud dangerous?

A gigantic poisonous sulfur cloud moves from La Palma to Europe. The volcanic cloud crosses Germany and moves into the Caribbean in the next few days. This is tweeted by Mark Parrington, Senior Scientist at the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) of the ECMWF. To this end, Parrigton shares a forecast of the sulfur cloud. The volcanic cloud looks huge and apparently the concentration of sulfur gases is extremely high, also over Germany.

Source: La Palma!

Poisonous sulfur cloud

Since the volcanic eruption on the holiday island of La Palma (September 19, 2021), thousands of tons of sulfur gases (SO₂) have been released into the atmosphere every day. Since then, emissions have also been monitored by EU Copernicus with the help of satellites from space. A volcanic cloud from La Palma has already moved to Spitsbergen . Perhaps some of you remember: on the day of the general election, of all places, the poisonous sulfur cloud reached Germany.

Sulfur gases, as well as sulfur dioxide SO₂ , are invisible. Gas clouds can be observed via satellite with so-called spectrometers or radiometers. According to CAMS, it monitors the effects of volcanic eruptions on the composition of the atmosphere when sulfur dioxide and other pollutants are released from the volcano.

Are substances in volcanic cloud dangerous for us?

Poisonous sulfur cloud

The volcanic clouds unsettle many. Sulfur dioxide is a poisonous gas. It can irritate the mucous membranes. Cause eye and breathing problems. But the sulfur cloud from La Palma is not a danger for people.

“The effects of the SO₂ released by Cumbre Vieja on surface weather and air quality are likely to be very small,” said Mark Parrington, senior scientist at the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service of the ECMWF, in a September press release. And further: “Most of the emitted SO2 is much higher in the atmosphere, especially if you are further away from the source, and could only be visible as a light haze in the sky.” However, sulfur dioxide SO₂ can damage plants. Acid rain is deadly to vegetation. He makes grass and pastures wither, pollutes water sources.

Volcanic eruption on La Palma: is the sulfur cloud dangerous for people?

  • In addition to sulfur dioxide (SO₂), the main components of almost all volcanic gases are water vapor and carbon dioxide (CO₂). The volcanic gases play an important role in predicting volcanic eruptions. A volcanic eruption is often heralded by increased gas emissions. If sulfur gases are to be measured, an outbreak may be imminent.
  • Sulfur dioxide is a poisonous gas. It can irritate the mucous membranes. Cause eye and breathing problems. But the sulfur cloud from La Palma is not a danger for people.
  • Most of the emitted SO2 is much higher in the atmosphere, especially if you are further away from the source, and could only be visible as a light haze in the sky.

How dangerous is the volcanic cloud in Germany? German weather service gives the all-clear

The German Weather Service (DWD) also sees no cause for concern. In fact, quite high concentrations of sulfur dioxide, for example, were measured in the atmosphere. At measuring stations close to the ground, however, there is “next to nothing”.

In the atmosphere there will be a “chemical cleaning”, in the case of precipitation the rain could be “a little more acidic” than usual, it said. In view of the temporary phenomenon, however, this does not mean any increased risk to the environment. “20 or 30 years ago we still had such pH values ​​on a regular basis.”

At the DWD, the phones have been running hot in the past few days. Reports of poisonous clouds after the volcanic eruption on La Palma led to numerous calls from concerned people in Germany. There is no end of the volcanic eruption in sight on La Palma.


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CAR THEFT MAP OF GERMANY! Find out where car thieves strike, which car brands and models they steal the most in Germany

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The great car theft map! Where your car is most in danger in Germany ++ The nasty tricks car thieves use ++ How to protect yourself

Car Thieves: Winter and the dark season is almost here! And with it the fear grows: Will my car still be there tomorrow morning?

Depends on where you parked …

car thieves

2020 car theft summary

In 2020, 10,697 cars (previous year 14,229) were stolen in Germany, as reported by the GDV insurance association. And: car crackers are targeting increasingly expensive car models!

► Berlin remains the focal point: a total of 2,267 cars were stolen in the capital.

► Hamburg ranks second with 769 thefts. You can breathe a sigh of relief in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Thuringia and Rhineland-Palatinate – this is where cars (still!) Are the safest to park.

Fierce: The total damage to the insurance companies was 214 million euros!

Car theft map of Germany

Some car thieves in Germany don't spend much time trying to figure out the complicated door locks. The will simply chose a more primitive way of breaking into cars: smashing the glass roof.

car thieves

How to protect your vehicle in Germany

Car security experts recommend doing the following to protect your car in Germany:

► If possible, park on busy and well-lit streets.

► Always engage the steering wheel lock and protect the car with additional security (steering wheel claw, gear shift lock).

► Deactivate any keyless comfort system in the car.

► If not available: retrofit GPS tracking.

► Do not leave the Keyless Go key near the front door, the radio signal can be intercepted through the door. Alternatively: keep the key in the aluminum box.

► Retrofit the alarm system. Cheap from 30 euros, luxury versions over 1000 euros. Important: acoustic signals are not enough, always with an integrated immobilizer!

► Take out partial insurance against theft.

car thieves

That's how clever car crackers are

Practical: a remote control key for the car. BUT: also practical for thieves!

The problem: With one device, they can intercept and copy the signal unnoticed as they pass by. The car can later be opened and started with a copy of the key.

And which cars do the car thieves prefer to target?

► New, expensive, sporty - these are the particularly endangered individual models:

  1. Range Rover Velar (from 59 315 euros, photo)
  2. BMW X6 (from 78 700 euros)
  3. Kia Stinger (from 57,900 euros)
  4. Land Rover Range Rover (108 100 euros)
  5. Lexus NX (from 45,300 euros)

► These brands are most often stolen:

PLACEMANUFACTURER2020 THEFTS
1Volkswagen1780
2Audi AG1360
3BMW (with Mini)1325
4thMercedes Benz1127
5Toyota (with Lexus)592
6thford541
7thMazda515
8thRenault340
9Opel302
10Hyundai275

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CORONA, PRICES, LAST MINUTE: 9 of the most important holiday destinations in Europe for Germans in Autumn 2021

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The 2021 autumn holidays are approaching or have already begun. Whether it’s a hiking tour or a city trip: Germans who travel must continue to expect restrictions in the corona pandemic. 

What applies where in Europe – and what do flights, holiday apartments and rental cars cost now?

Below is a look at the corona measures and prices for the most popular holiday destinations in Europe for Germans!

1. France

holiday destinations in Europe

Restaurants, museums and sports halls are open in France. However, there is only access with proof of vaccination, test or recovery – even in the outdoor areas. Such proof is also a prerequisite for trips by coach or long-distance train.

▶ ︎ For entry from Europe you also need proof of vaccination or a negative PCR or rapid test. Evidence must also be provided for the return journey to Germany.

▶ ︎ Corona tests are no longer free for foreigners. The number of infections continues to fall in France. Most recently, around 49 people per 100,000 across the country were infected within a week.

▶ ︎ According to the “Holidu” search engine , a holiday apartment costs an average of EUR 128.00 per night. Rental cars cost around 36.70 euros, reports the portal “billiger-mietwagen.de”.

2. Switzerland

holiday destinations in Europe

In many places Switzerland requires a corona certificate that proves vaccination, recovery or a negative test.

▶ ︎ Anyone who has not been vaccinated or has recovered must present a negative antigen or PCR test upon entry – regardless of whether they want to cross the border by plane or car. Important: In addition, all tourists must fill out an entry form with contact details.Save online with vouchers

▶ ︎ Anyone who has not been vaccinated, recovered or tested negative will no longer be able to enter restaurants, museums and events. The EU certificate is recognized. The number of infections has been falling for weeks, but is still significantly higher than in Germany.

▶ ︎ A holiday apartment costs an average of 155.32 euros per night

3. Austria

holiday destinations in Europe

The 3G rule still applies to entry. In hotels, restaurants and cultural institutions, too, you have to be able to prove that you have been fully vaccinated, have recovered or have been regularly tested.

▶ ︎ However, it is easier for people who have been vaccinated: They only have to wear FFP2 masks in supermarkets and public transport. For those who have not been vaccinated, the mask requirement also applies in all other shops and cultural institutions.

▶ ︎ Vienna is stricter: the 3G rule applies from six years of age, in the rest of the country from twelve. At major events in the capital, only those who have been vaccinated and recovered are allowed (2G). The seven-day incidence is more than twice as high as in Germany.

▶ ︎ A holiday apartment costs an average of 130 euros per night.

4. Denmark

holiday destinations in Europe

Germany’s northernmost neighbor has the pandemic with high vaccination rates, according to its own information, and lifted all corona restrictions in the country on September 10.

▶ ︎ Life in Denmark already felt almost unrestricted before, and there was no mask requirement for a long time.

▶ ︎ There is hardly anything standing in the way of an autumn holiday in a holiday home (on average 78.00 euros) on the Danish North Sea coast or a city trip to Copenhagen.

▶ ︎ Only when entering the country should you find out what the Danes expect from holidaymakers. As a traveler from Germany, you currently have to show a corona test. This does not apply to children, those who have been vaccinated and those who have recovered.

5. Netherlands

holiday destinations in Europe

In the Netherlands (according to the data analysis, it is one of the top 5 countries for autumn holidays) so many measures have already been lifted or relaxed that life is almost normal again. For example, the 1.5 meter rule no longer applies.

▶ ︎ But before visiting restaurants, cultural and sporting events you have to prove with a Corona passport that you have been vaccinated, tested or recovered. The same applies to entry from Germany. The digital proof of the EU is recognized. Masks are only required for buses, trains and airports.

▶ ︎ A holiday apartment costs an average of 130 euros per night.

6. Italy

holiday destinations in Europe

The infection situation in Italy is satisfactory, no region is considered to be particularly at risk, and travel is possible without restrictions.

▶ ︎ The prerequisite for access to public life – for example to restaurants, museums, theaters – is a “Green Pass”, ie a certificate of vaccination, convalescence or negative test. The QR code of the EU Corona app, which is also used in Germany, is recognized.

▶ ︎ Important: An online registration must be completed when entering the country; no quarantine measures are required with the EU certificate. In many places, for example on trains, buses or shops, it is mandatory to wear a mask. When returning from Italy, Germany requires proof of vaccination, recovery or a valid corona test.

▶ ︎ A holiday apartment costs an average of 129.50 euros per night. A rental car around 33.90 euros per day.

▶ ︎ According to the data analysis by the flight search engine “Skyscanner” , a return flight to Italy in October costs 149.00 euros. You can fly from Berlin to Rome (direct return flight, economy) for just 66.00 euros.

7. Spain and Portugal

holiday destinations in Europe

In the holiday countries that are very popular with Germans, the corona situation is still relaxed. The number of infections is significantly lower than in Germany. In Portugal, the seven-day incidence was last 41. In Spain, the value was only 21.75. In Germany it was almost three times as high recently.

▶ ︎ The vaccination rates are also among the highest in Europe. The proportion of fully vaccinated citizens was recently given by the authorities in Spain as 77.5 percent, and in Portugal the 84 percent mark was recently exceeded.

▶ ︎ In the course of the positive development, there are only a few restrictions in both countries that are being relaxed further. On Mallorca, for example, you can dance again in discos and clubs after a year and a half. However, you have to wear mouth and nose protection for the time being.

▶ ︎ In both Spain and Portugal, a mask is still required in most indoor public spaces as well as in local and long-distance traffic. Here and there there are also restrictions on the utilization of the interior spaces of restaurants. A digital Covid certificate must be presented, especially when visiting bars and discos in Portugal and in some regions of Spain.

When entering the country by air or sea, electronic travel registrations must be completed for both countries. And all people over the age of twelve must present proof of vaccination or health history. Anyone who does not have this is obliged to show a negative PCR or antigen test.

▶ ︎ Prices Spain: A holiday apartment costs an average of 142.77 euros per night, a rental car costs 33.50 euros. A return flight an average of 200 euros. But there are still bargains, e.g. E.g. from Frankfurt to Barcelona (direct return flight, economy) for 40 euros.

▶ ︎ Prices Portugal: A holiday apartment costs an average of 132.50 euros per night, a rental car costs 28 euros. A return flight averages 203 euros. But there are still bargains such as E.g. from Frankfurt to Faro (direct return flight, economy) for 86 euros.

8. Greece and Cyprus

holiday destinations in Europe

Before entering Greece, visitors enter their details on a website travel.gov.gr and receive a QR code for tracking. They must also have a recent negative rapid test or be fully vaccinated. This also applies to children from the age of twelve.

▶ ︎ Cyprus ranks Germany in the red, i.e. severely affected category. This means for all immigrants who are not verifiably vaccinated or have recovered that they have to take a test both before and after their arrival and have to pay for it themselves. In addition, the “Cyprus Flight Pass” must be applied for at least 48 hours before entry on a website cyprusflightpass.gov.cy and must always be carried with you during your vacation.

▶ ︎ Prices Greece: A holiday apartment costs an average of 173.00 euros per night, a rental car costs 27.30 euros. A return flight costs an average of 230 euros. But there are still bargains, e.g. E.g. from Frankfurt to Crete (direct return flight, economy) for 90 euros.

9. Croatia

holiday destinations in Europe

Tourists are required to provide a certificate proving that they have been vaccinated, recovered or tested. Hotels receive guests without restrictions.

▶ ︎ Restaurants and cafés are also allowed to serve in their interior areas, but only at the tables that are spaced apart.

▶ ︎ The number of infections has recently increased. From a German point of view, however, the country – in contrast to neighboring and transit country Slovenia – is not a high-risk area.

▶ ︎ A holiday apartment costs an average of EUR 153.00 per night. A rental car around 27.10 euros per day.

Will the new German government legalize weed? Cannabis is the new green gold!

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How the new German government coalition could change drug policy. The debate about legalizing cannabis has picked up speed with a possible red-green-yellow federal government. 

Because the SPD, Greens and FDP advocate legalization or at least decriminalization of cannabis. What speaks for it and what against it?

Cannabis

Tax revenue, forecasts, anti-mafia fight

The legalization of cannabis in more and more countries has opened up a whole new market. Based on the gold rush of the 19th century, market observers speak of the so-called green rush. This could also happen in Germany as a result of the formation of a new government.

So far, hemp has hardly been grown in Germany because it can only be used for medical purposes (since 2017). So far, only three companies nationwide have the necessary permits. According to the industry association for the cannabis industry, 6513 kilograms of medicinal hemp were imported to Germany in 2019.

$ 55.9 billion in sales expected

That would change with legalization. The US market research company for cannabis (BDSA) forecasts a global increase in cannabis sales of 55.9 billion dollars by 2026. This corresponds to an annual growth rate of more than 17 percent.

According to the BDSA, sales had already risen from $ 14.4 billion to $ 21.3 billion in 2020 compared to the previous year – an increase of 47.9 percent.

On behalf of the German Hemp Association, the economist Prof. Justus Haucap calculated how much money Germany would earn with legalization. This does not include judicial costs such as court, public prosecutor or prison costs. Haucap comes to around 2.7 billion euros per year, of which 1.5 billion euros alone would be income from cannabis and sales tax.

High demand, insufficient supply?

Some experts believe that the hemp market could be as large as the tobacco or alcohol market in the long run. A clear development cannot be predicted.

When the consumption and cultivation of hemp was legalized in Canada in 2018, production facilities sprouted up and the hopes were for big profits. This created overproduction, which depresses profits. Many remain seated on their product.

With one reason: Growing hemp is not complicated, under good conditions cannabis grows like weeds.

In many countries around the world, not just in Germany, there is a trend reversal when it comes to hemp. This affects, among other things, many South American countries, but also Morocco. It is to be expected that production will skyrocket worldwide. It remains to be seen to what extent demand will then exceed supply. Accordingly, cannabis is also traded with great value.

Cannabis

Smash mafia structures

In Mexico and Morocco they are about to be legalized across the board with permission to cultivate, sell and consume. The states hope to gain control over a market that is currently in the hands of cartels and mafia-like structures. In addition, hemp farmers would have a legal source of income and the authorities would be relieved, so the arguments of the advocates of legalization.

In Uruguay that has already worked in part. The cultivation and sale of cannabis have been organized by the state here since 2013. However, the state cannot keep up with production, so that between 2014 and 2018 only a fifth of the black market could be contained. This is reported by the country’s state drug monitoring agency.

But: Legalization seems to have a positive influence there on young stoners who seem to consume other drugs less because contact with classic dealers has decreased.

How much cannabis is consumed in Germany?

According to data from the 2018 Epidemiological Addiction Survey, over a quarter of Germans between the ages of 18 and 64 have used cannabis at least once in their life. Over seven percent of those surveyed stated that they had already consumed cannabis a year earlier. The trend is increasing. Cannabis consumption has also increased among young adults in recent years: According to the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA), almost 50 percent of 18 to 25 year olds had tried cannabis at least once in 2019; among 12 to 17 year olds it was one in ten. 5.7 percent of 18 to 25 year olds consume cannabis regularly.

In total – the German Hemp Association estimates – 200 to 400 tons of cannabis are consumed annually in Germany. That corresponds to a market value of at least 1.2 billion euros – money that is mostly paid for by organized crime.

Instead of criminalizing consumers, this black market could be curbed with legalization, is an argument in favor of a more liberal drug policy. It could also free up resources in law enforcement that could be better directed into the fight against organized crime. Critics, on the other hand, fear that the drug will be played down as well as increasing consumption, harmful consequences and increased cannabis dependence.

The Narcotics Act does not prohibit the consumption of cannabis – however, possession, trade and cultivation are punishable by law. Anyone caught with cannabis must first expect a preliminary investigation. For example, the Police Criminal Statistics (PKS) show almost 230,000 crimes across Germany for 2020 for which proceedings were initiated in connection with cannabis.

Larger quantities face a prison sentence of up to five years or a fine. In the case of small quantities, however, since a ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court in 1994, courts have been able to dispense with a penalty if the defendant is clearly only covering his own needs. A “small amount” is between six and ten grams, depending on the federal state.

Cannabis

What do the SPD, Greens and FDP want?

The possible traffic light coalition Greens, FDP and SPD agree that the current drug policy must be reformed. Specifically, however, their approaches to legalization differ.

SPD

Like alcohol, cannabis is also a social reality that has to be dealt with politically, according to the SPD’s current future program. Bans and criminalization would not have reduced consumption. Instead, such enormous resources would be tied up with the judiciary and the police. In model projects, the party therefore wants to test the regulated distribution of cannabis to adults, accompanied by prevention, counseling and treatment measures in the youth sector. In addition, it is to be regulated nationwide that the possession of small amounts of cannabis is no longer criminally prosecuted.

Fiedler (SPD): Enlightenment instead of prosecution for cannabis users

The SPD member of the Bundestag Sebastian Fiedler calls for a more liberal stance in law enforcement in the debate about decriminalizing cannabis use. 
The resources that have been used up to now could rather be used in the fight against organized crime.

A controlled distribution of cannabis to adults could also put a stop to the trade in contaminated hashish, said the SPD member of the Bundestag Sebastian Fiedler on Deutschlandfunk. This would free up resources in law enforcement that could be better directed into the fight against organized crime, said the former chairman of the Bund Deutscher Kriminalbeamter. Instead of prosecuting consumers, you have to take better care of them, and then you become less dependent.

The Greens

Like the FDP, the Greens, on the other hand, rely on the sale of cannabis products in licensed specialist shops. According to the election manifesto, the Greens want to enable regulated sales there with a “cannabis control law based on strict youth and consumer protection”. Their program provides for clear regulations for participation in road traffic as well as improvements in the medical use of cannabis.

FDP

The FDP also wants to allow possession and consumption for adults. Only with a sale in licensed shops can the quality be controlled, the transmission of contaminated substances prevented and the protection of minors guaranteed, according to the party’s election manifesto. Taxing cannabis products could also generate up to a billion euros annually. The money is to be used for prevention, addiction treatment and advice.