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 Germany: No association Between Criminal 
Prosecution And Extent Of Cannabis Use


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According to a study by the Max-Planck-Institute for Foreign 
and International Criminal Law commissioned by the Federal 
Health Ministry there are "large differences" in the criminal 
prosecution of cannabis users in different states. A comparison 
with a survey by the Institute for Therapy Research shows that 
there is no association between the extent of cannabis use and 
the practice of criminal prosecution.




    The Max-Planck-Institute investigated the practice of criminal   prosecution in six of the 16 German states, in Bavaria, Berlin,   Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Saxony and Schleswig-  Holstein. In 1994 the Federal Constitutional Court asked to   abandon criminal prosecutions in case of possession of a "low   amount" for personal use. However, the guidelines issued by the   states show a significant difference. Thus, the upper limit that   does not result in a criminal procedure is six grams in Bavaria   and Saxony, ten grams in North Rhine-Westphalia, 15 grams in   Berlin and Hesse, and 30 grams in Schleswig-Holstein. Further   differences, for example with regard to repeated drug   possession, result in a stop of the criminal prosecution without   restraints in between 40 and 60 per cent in Bavaria and between   80 and 90 per cent in Schleswig-Holstein and Berlin.    The Institute for Therapy Research investigated the amount of   drug use in Germany in 2003  commissioned by the Federal   Health Ministry and had interviewed in written form 8,061   subjects aged 18 to 59 years. According to this survey 4.4 per   cent of respondents from Schleswig-Holstein, the most liberal   state concerning drug policy had used cannabis within the past   12 months. In Saxony and Bavaria, two of the most repressive   states, the proportions were 4.7 and 5.5 per cent. Therefore, the   Max-Planck-Institute stated that the different practices in   criminal prosecution probably does not directly influence the use   of illegal drugs, but points out that the insufficient empirical basis   of the data do not allow a substantiated scientific conclusion on   this issue.    (Source: Schäfer C, Paoli L. Drogenkonsum und   Strafverfolgungspraxis [Drug use and practice of criminal   prosecution]. Max-Planck-Institut, Berlin 2006)