DKarsten Tögel-Lins of Basis, a drug counseling center in Frankfurt, considers it “a good thing” that cannabis is now at least partially legal. Cannabis used to be under the Narcotics Act and only consumption was legal. This is now changing: the cannabis law was passed by the Bundestag on March 22nd and will be in effect from April 1st. After that, everyone is now allowed 25 grams outside the home and up to 50 grams at home. Now it is also allowed to grow up to three plants.

The previous “prohibition policy”, as Tögel-Lins calls it, did not have a significant impact on consumer behavior: according to the 2022 Epidemiological Addiction Survey, the proportion of people who have used cannabis at some point in their lives has steadily increased in recent years. year. A drug trend study by the Frankfurt Narcotics Agency has also shown that student consumption has been on the rise for years. But what does this mean for Frankfurt as a drug destination and local addiction services?

Legalization decriminalizes consumers

“I imagine that many adults would like to test cannabis after legalization,” says Tögel-Lins. He expects higher consumption in the short term, but does not expect long-term growth. Not everyone enjoys weed. This is also indicated by a representative survey of the city of Frankfurt from 2022: according to it, 61 percent of the respondents still did not want to consume cannabis, while a good eight percent could imagine trying cannabis again after a long time, and 3.6 percent of the respondents wanted to test the drug at all. 13.5 percent of respondents said they were not yet sure how they would react to the law.

Legalization would allow addiction services to provide prevention and support in a much more targeted way than before, says Tögel-Lins. He supports cannabis law because it decriminalizes users. The fact that it means you can talk openly about consumption is a big plus. “The moment you say I'm not punishing anymore, you can have a completely different impact and help,” he says. For example, the consumer's family may react more quickly to potential abuse.

According to Artur Schroers, head of the drug department in Frankfurt, partial legalization would also require the identification of new access routes for users: People who have come under the attention of the police and courts due to their consumption can no longer be forced to leave. turn around to a drug counseling center.

Stop the previous critical consumption processes

Tögel-Lins, on the other hand, suspects that in the future people will turn to the counseling center more and above all earlier. In addition, the cases would probably be milder, he predicts. He hopes that through legalization he will be able to catch critical consumption patterns earlier than before and identify patterns of what types of consumption are “okay” and what are not.

The drug department relies on education, counseling and early intervention services in cooperation with drug help providers in Frankfurt, such as Basis. The Hessen State Office for Addiction Problems also sees the cannabis law as focusing on addiction prevention, early intervention and cooperation with addiction help. However, it is still unclear how the regulations for the training of prevention officers will be shaped. The content of Hessen's health and youth protection concept has not yet been determined.

Consumption of cannabis is also prohibited for minors after April 1. How the law will affect young people is still unclear. According to the Department of Narcotics, the partial legalization of cannabis requires innovative and digital approaches to education, especially among adolescents and young adults.

Schroers says they want to develop the offerings as needed, such as for adults who want to be informed before trying cannabis, or for relatives seeking advice because family members use cannabis at home. Regarding the near future, however, Tögel-Lins has one concern: “That a large flood of callers will soon inform the drug helpline, because their relatives claim that they now smoke weed.”

Artur Schroers does not want to give an assessment of the effects of the law in Frankfurt yet: what the situation will look like will only be revealed in time. “It is important that we are alert and ready to respond to any need.”

Karsten Tögel-Lins also cannot say whether the cannabis law provides relief for drug assistance. “It doesn't change anything in Frankfurt as a drug location,” he says. People don't come to Frankfurt to buy weed. “It's just a change, it's going to take some time, and then we'll see that the world doesn't end because of it,” he sums up the importance of cannabis law.

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