One octogenarian German is down to his last straw.
The Associated Press reports that a court in the northern German town of Aurich “has given an 82-year-old man a ‘last warning’ to avoid jail after he was found guilty of drug dealing, despite 24 previous convictions.”
The defendant, identified only as a retired seaman, reportedly “said he wanted to improve his meagre €800 (£690) monthly pension by selling marijuana,” and “was handed a suspended sentence” by the court in Aurich.
The AP, citing German news agency dpa, reported “that prosecutors had asked the court to impose a prison term of 34 months in view of the man’s lengthy criminal record and an existing suspended sentence,” but judges “said they would make an exception and classify the latest crimes as ‘less serious offences’ because of the man’s particular circumstances and recent health problems.”
“Dpa quoted the presiding judge telling the defendant that it was his ‘very last warning,’” according to the Associated Press.
In recent years, Germany has emerged as a major focal point in Europe’s debate over cannabis legalization.
Following the country’s election in 2021, when the center-left Social Democrats Party (SPD) received the most votes, the party formed a coalition with the Green Party and the Free Democrats (FDP) to establish a new government. Coalition leaders said immediately that they would pursue marijuana legalization.
“We’re introducing the controlled distribution of cannabis to adults for consumption in licensed stores,” a spokesperson for the coalition said at the time. “This will control the quality, prevent the transfer of contaminated substances and guarantee the protection of minors. We will evaluate the law after four years for social impact.”
Earlier this year, German leaders unveiled the scope of their legalization plans, which were decidedly narrower from their original vision.
In April, the government “presented scaled-back plans…to liberalize the country’s rules on cannabis, including by decriminalizing possession of limited amounts and allowing members of nonprofit ‘cannabis clubs’ to buy marijuana for recreational purposes,” the Associated Press reported at the time.
“In a second step, German officials also envision setting up regional test projects to sell cannabis through ‘commercial supply chains,’ Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said. But the proposal differs from one he presented in October, which foresaw allowing the sale of cannabis to adults across the country at licensed outlets,” the AP continued. “The German government revised the plan following talks with the European Union’s executive commission. Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir said EU law ‘sets us limits we must respect, but that I will also say we are pushing.’ Lauterbach had cautioned all along that the government would only proceed with its original plan if it got the green light from the EU.”
The proposed new cannabis law “foresees legalizing the possession of up to 25 grams (nearly 1 ounce) of cannabis for recreational purposes and allowing individuals to grow up to three plants,” according to the Associated Press, which noted that the measure would “let German residents 18 and older join nonprofit ‘cannabis clubs’ with a maximum 500 members each, which would be allowed to grow cannabis for members’ personal consumption.,” while individuals “would be allowed to buy up to 25 grams per day, or up to 50 grams per month — a figure that would be limited to 30 grams for adults under age 21.”
Lauterbach said in April that the reaction from the EU was “on the one hand, something that perhaps disappointed us, but on the other hand also an opportunity — the opportunity to build the basis for a European cannabis policy with a well-conducted study.”