“Cannabis use at record high”
:Berlin students are smoking early and a lot
Berlin’s students are reaching for cannabis ever earlier and more often. This is the result of a study conducted by the Office for Addiction Prevention of the State of Berlin among 1725 12 to 18-year-old students interviewed anonymously, the results of which were published on Thursday. “The cannabis use of adolescents is at a record high,” says Kerstin Jngling, the head of the department, in an interview with the Berliner Zeitung. Every third student in the capital is smoking or has ever smoked cannabis. Berlin is about 20 percent above the national average.
The investigation also shows that the adolescents are on average 14.6 years old when they first drink the illegal drug and, on average, start smoking two years earlier than their counterparts in the rest of the Federal Republic.
Kerstin Jngling says that the results far exceeded the fears of search experts. Especially since half of cannabis-tested adolescents would have addictive features. The students stoned several times a week, or at least regularly. Cannabis is the most consumed illegal drug among adolescents.
The sooner cannabis is consumed, the higher the risk of addiction
According to Jungling, those affected come from all walks of life, all districts, all schools. “In my opinion, there is no school in Berlin that is drug-free,” said the search expert. If you like, nine to ten students from each class would be smoking in Berlin. And cannabis use is not considered particularly worrying in Berlin. “Kiffen seems to be extremely normal in this city.” She says the sooner young people start using cannabis, the higher the risk of addiction.
According to the search expert, the young people would get their grass over friends or buy from a dealer. The THC content, which is addictive, has been raised in recent years. That makes the drug even more dangerous. Cannabis is extremely harmful for development, especially during puberty. And the consumption of grass is punishable by young people.
Catherine Pieroth, Spokeswoman for Health and Drugs Policy of the Berlin Green Group, called the result of the investigation impressive. “Especially the starting age fills me with concern,” she says. The real target group are boys up to the age of 21 who have to be accompanied more closely. In their opinion, the Department of Addiction Prevention works excellently. This year alone, the search experts working there have already given over 100 seminars on drug prevention to schools.
Cannabis market as in the Netherlands and the US?
Pieroth also announces that the red-red-green Senate wants to be able to deliver cannabis in Berlin controlled to adults. For the model project listed in the coalition agreement, a request is currently being prepared by a Hamburg institute, which will be submitted to the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices in September.
“We hope that the application will be approved after six to eight weeks,” says Pieroth. Then, cannabis can be given to over 18 year olds in the coming year: in the addiction prevention office, another carrier or in pharmacies. This would give Berlin as much liberalization of the cannabis market as the Netherlands, Portugal, Luxembourg, the USA or Canada.
“The figures show that the prohibition policy of the past few years has in no way used,” says Pieroth. On the contrary: in Grlitzer Park, for example, the illegal drug business is booming. A controlled release of cannabis would curb the criminal black market.
Enforce cannabis tax
“I would rather have my 20-year-old son buy cannabis in a delivery point or pharmacy than the dealer, where he does not know what’s inside the sham,” says the drug policy spokeswoman for the Greens. Then at least he would know what he had bought by means of a leaflet.
The money for the model project is already set in the budget. Also the costs to enforce the controlled delivery of cannabis.
In the past year, the district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg had made a similar application to the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices. However, the institute had rejected the project on the grounds that it was incompatible with the Narcotics Act.