Berlin gets higher ... and higher -

Berlin gets higher … and higher

Easing up: Amsterdam will have competition


Nina Ruecker / Getty Images

Amsterdam has long been viewed as the cannabis capital of Europe, but soon it could have competition. Berlin is set to launch a new marijuana policy that would make it legal to possess up to 15 grams (half an ounce) of marijuana, Katrin Lompscher, its top health official, recently told the newsmagazine Der Spiegel. If the plan goes ahead, the German city-state will have one of the most lax drug policies on the continent.

In the Netherlands, drug tourism has been both a blessing and a curse (Amsterdam reportedly draws about a million visitors to its drug-dealing “coffee shops” each year). Still, border towns have moved to shut down coffee shops to keep out foreigners—mainly French and Belgian—who flood their communities in search of weed.

German federal law on marijuana states that people can possess a “small amount,” which individual city-states can set accordingly. Berlin currently allows the possession of 10 grams, but observers worry that upping that amount to 15 could lead to a boost in crime. Lompscher insists the city’s current policy has been such a success it’s time to do it anyway—though she wouldn’t tell reporters what exactly that “success” might be.