Weed on the balcony: cannabis now legal in Germany

Weed on the balcony: cannabis now legal in Germany
Weed on the balcony: cannabis now legal in Germany
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“The Cannabis Act was approved in parliament on March 22 at 11:20 am and a few minutes later orders started pouring in,” says Dirk Rehahn in his small office in Berlin. Rehahn is the boss of Drehandel. “The online Growshop for hobby gardeners and home growers” ​​is stated on his company’s website. He sells everything to grow broccoli or basil at home, but experts know that they can find material from him to care for their cannabis plants. The bestseller is a ready-made growth set, with everything you need, the size of a refrigerator. At first glance, the growth cabinets seem like innocent fabric cabinets, like wardrobes that open with a zipper. A heavy lighting installation has been built inside – cannabis needs a lot of light – and an extraction system with a carbon filter that absorbs the smell of the cannabis plants. The entire system is built to hide the illegal home cultivation of cannabis plants. It has been Dirks Growshop’s business model for more than ten years.

Dirk Rehahn may have to adjust the business model of his online “grow shop”. — © Omer Messinger

“If someone emails me asking if I have material for cannabis plants, my answer is that I can’t help them,” says Rehahn. “On the other hand, I am comfortable with broccoli cultivation.” All the while he was skirting the edge of the law, using the idea that ‘Indirect Beihilfe‘ (which means something like: I don’t know what you need my material for), was not punishable. Years ago, a customer, a major manufacturer who was caught by the police, had Rehahn hanged. He served two of the four years in prison. But he continued his case. “I felt I was morally right and did not want to bend to the law. I believe that cannabis should not be punishable.” Rehahn was once its co-founder Deutscher Hanfverbandthe lobby group that has been campaigning for the legalization of cannabis since 2002.

When it took office in 2021, the government promised to regulate the use of cannabis. Since 2016, doctors have been allowed to prescribe cannabis to specifically defined groups of patients, but the coalition of Social Democrats, Greens and Liberals wanted to put general consumption within a legal framework. After much wrangling and opposition, the Bundesrat last Friday, the law that was approved earlier in the Bundestag had obtained a majority. From Monday April 1, every adult is allowed to have three cannabis plants and fifty grams of cannabis in their home. On the street you can walk around with 25 grams, good for about twenty-five to fifty joints. “It is the most progressive law in Europe,” says Rehahn.

Certainly not in Dutch

By legalizing production, the government wants to combat the black market, where there is no control over the quality of the cannabis. That is why she has chosen to regularize her own cultivation, coffee shops remain prohibited. Blowing is allowed, but selling at a profit is not allowed. That is a very different approach than the Netherlands, where five grams of weed is tolerated, but production is illegal; this happens in coffee shops ‘through the back door’, so it is illegal. For the SPD Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach, the Dutch policy was an example of what not to do. This summer, Cannabis Clubs may start in Germany: a maximum of 500 members who grow cannabis together for their own use. In the long term, pilot projects may be started for commercial cannabis cultivation.

Is Rehahn satisfied with the historical law? “You in” is his answer, “Yes and No.” He is satisfied that cannabis cultivation has finally been brought into a legal framework, but he finds it a great pity that the soft drug remains under the ‘criminal’ heading. “Where is the law that puts limits on the consumption of alcohol, cigarettes or pills?” he asks. It is an argument that is often used in discussions with opponents of legalization. But in the end, after so many years of struggle, he is quite happy with the final compromise.

You have to keep them small

“It will not be easy for home growers to grow only fifty grams. If the plants are well cared for, they grow like crazy.” With wide arms he shows how big a balcony plant can grow. “They will have to learn that they have to regularly cut, take cuttings and throw them away to always have small plants.” Rehahn wonders whether this should become his company’s new business model, he realizes that the future of his current company is no longer assured. “Sales will continue to rise rapidly in the coming months, but then it will stop. If the Germans are allowed to plant cannabis plants on their balconies, they will no longer need me.”

A growing cabinet from Dirk Rehahn, also good for regular herbs.

A growing cabinet from Dirk Rehahn, also good for regular herbs. — © Omer Messinger

He is slowly exploring the paths for the future. He initially wants to build three-plant boxes, but he also wants to work with scientists to expand and deepen knowledge about cannabis. Maybe cannabis grown in the salty soil of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern tastes different from that grown in the Bavarian Alps? Perhaps he will organize courses that not only teach pruning techniques, but also clarify what is and is not allowed according to the law. He will soon organize the first ‘Cannabis Kompetenz Tage‘. A whole new world opens up for him. The time of paranoia is over. The broccoli that now decorates his website will soon disappear. We have to wait until Google gives permission to also call cannabis cannabis.

“Traditionally, a cannabis grower stayed in the shade. He would never reveal his identity. Now I see on social media that one after another, who wrote about his sales under an pseudonym for years, posts his photo and says: that’s me. The outing begins,” says Rehahn, a little moved.

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Weed balcony cannabis legal Germany

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