The Drug Czar of the Federal Republic of Germany, Marlene Mortler (CSU), verbally attacked the U.S. cannabis lobby during a presentation of the government’s 2017 Drug and Addiction Report. During a recent press conference, Mortler explained that “U.S. cannabis companies are doing a great deal of business in Germany.”
The CSU-representative added that the wealthy nation of Germany was a desirable market for hedge funds — especially from the USA. According to Mortler, these investors lurk in wait for Germany to the expand the market opportunities.
She also said that since the legalization of medical cannabis in Germany, U.S. companies have touted high expectations regarding Germany’s business potential. According to Mortler, the cannabis lobby now has more direct access to decision-makers than the alcohol or tobacco lobbies, and can effectively engage younger generations through the social media.
The Drug Czar's Poor Record
During the presentation of this year’s report, the Drug Czar sought out culprits to blame for her poor performance record, which showed a rise in drug-related deaths in Germany for the fourth year in a row. In her home state of Bavaria, where there are hardly any aid programs to help drug addicts, the numbers are increasing immensely.
When it comes to cannabis, Mortler is convinced that the plant’s increasing popularity is the direct result of activism and lobbying efforts. She has continuously declined opportunities to speak with cannabis activists — the “Hemp-Lobby” as she put it — ignoring any possibility of a direct exchange of factual arguments. No interviews, meetings, panels, not even a Skype-dialogue has occurred since she took the role of Drug Czar in 2013. Mortler does not talk to or with her drug policy opponents or cannabis consumers; instead, she talks about them.
In 2016, Mortler complained that Germany’s cannabis users had started a kind of digital war against her. Activists had launched “Mortler off” T-shirts, published a related Facebook page, and promoted a petition for her withdrawal on Change.org. But the CSU leader is hardly diplomatic when it comes to cannabis. She once advised the well-known German rapper Thomas D. on Facebook not to publicize his opposing opinions on cannabis, acerbically asking whether the highly reputed artist “if he had smoked too much.”
Even the former financial economist, green politician and founder of the German Hemp Association, Georg Wurth, was called a “gambler and player” by Mortler. He’s never given her a harsh word.
Dubious Numbers to Continue Prohibition
In Mortler’s criticism of the U.S. cannabis lobby and the situation in Colorado, the staunch cannabis opponent skates on thin ice when asserting that the consumption among young people has surged in Colorado since the state regulated cannabis. The source of her ignorance stems from the questionable figures of the “Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area” (RMHIDTA). The report does not address the Colorado Ministry of Health’s official report on the effects of legalization. In contrast to the RMHIDTA’s alleged report of increased cannabis use among adolescents, the state’s Health Department released a study in June, finding that cannabis use among teens has not increased since legalization and remains in line with the national average.
Mason Tvert, the current communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project in Colorado, commented on the windy figures and the work of the RMHIDTA 2016 for Vice magazine:
“It’s kind of laughable, but unfortunately it gets taken seriously by some,” Tvert said of the Rocky Mountain HIDTA report. “This is an agency that, much like the DEA, is living in the 1930s when it comes to marijuana.”
Germany Drug Commissioners also claim that today’s cannabis products are much stronger and therefore more dangerous than they were in the 1970s — this is also demonstrably wrong. In the 1970s, Europeans almost exclusively smoked hashish, which contained a similar THC content to today’s most potent indoor flowers. The Federal Criminal Police Office confirmed this fact in 2004 when the rumor of highly-potent GMO-cannabis made national headlines for the first time. Additionally, Mortler’s predecessor, Mechthild Dyckmans, confirmed those findings in 2012:
The active substance content has fallen overall since 1997 and has not increased ever since,
No figures are available that are older than 30 years to compare with the current ones,
Only a short-term increase in the late 1990s could be established.
Last but not least, highly potent cannabis is no more dangerous than the less potent varieties, as long as the consumers are aware of its THC content.
Criticism That Ennobles
Mortler, an expert on agricultural policy, lacked drug policy experience at the time of her inauguration. Her perfidious and often difficult-to-believe tactics, just as in the “Pharmacy Review” of January 2015, may be doing more to help pro-cannabis efforts in Germany:
PR: Would a general prohibition on advertising for alcohol and a uniformly high tax rate on alcoholic beverages prevent alcohol abuse among young people better (than the current law)?
Mortler: If you forbid everything, do you think a child says: ‘Yes, mama, you’re right.’? Our country does not want and can not ban anything. Children and young people must be convinced – through education and role models.
PR: Do you believe in the efficiency of bans when it comes to cannabis prohibition?
Mortler: Cannabis is an illegal drug.
Unfortunately, the poor defender of Germany’s drug policy will leave office after the coming elections in October. Since the position of the Drug Officer is not very popular and has never been occupied by the same person for more than one legislative period, Mortler will likely lose the opportunity to provide such a weak case against legalization, as she has for years. In Germany, a pseudo-liberal Drug Czar could do more to slow down the movement’s intake and influence than a drug-related hardliner with moderate stances, representing long-outdated science and facts.
This article was originally published on Marijuana.com.
About Michael Knodt: Michael Knodt is an expert on cannabis politics and cannabis culture across Europe. Born in North Germany, Michael has been living in Berlin since 1990. He initially studied history and journalism before receiving his certification as a carpenter. Since then, Michael has made regular visits to countries where cannabis is cultivated, such as Jamaica and Morocco. He has worked as a freelancer for Weedmaps, Vice Magazine Germany, Sensi Seeds and numerous German-language cannabis magazines since 2004. From 2005 to 2013, Michael was the Editor-in-Chief of Germanys biggest cannabis periodical. He also is the face and presenter of the most popular program on cannabis prohibition and just launched a new channel called "DerMicha." Aside from his journalistic work, Michael is a cannabis patient, activist, sought-after speaker on conferences and congresses, and a father of two.