German party demands free meth for addicts — Analysis

Left Party demands that hard drug use be made illegal so the police can deal with more serious criminals

Calling for a “Fundamental rethink” of the country’s drug policy, Germany’s Left Party (Die Linke) hopes to make small amounts of crystal meth available to addicts under close “Therapy support,” it announced in a motion on Monday. 

In the hopes of reducing police time in prosecuting addicts, the party also wants to make possession of small quantities of methamphetamine and other hard drugs illegal.

Drug users must be “Consistently protected against criminal prosecution,” the parliamentary motion states. “It is important that police officers, judges, courts, and, last, but certainly not least, medical personnel, are freed from unnecessary stress and allow them to focus on critical public welfare functions..”

Since years crystal meth abuse in Germany has increased. The number of associated crimes in the country rose 18.9% by 2020 over the prior year. This brings the total to around 12,000 cases. Even though newer statistics may not be available, expert drug policy analysts warn that Covid-19 lockdowns have likely contributed to this problem. This is similar to what has happened in other countries.

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The Left Party is not against meth addiction being allowed to continue unassisted. Drug policy spokesman Frank Tempel explained as recently as 2015 that while he was in favor of legalizing substitutes for meth, which would give addicts “controlled quality” to rely upon, the substance itself must remain banned. “This stuff is so dangerous you can’t legalize it,” he said. 

In 2017, Germany allowed the medical use of marijuana. The process to legalize the recreational use began earlier in the year. Although the drug will not be available for use by children and youth, would-be German entrepreneurs in cannabis are worried that over-taxing and excessive red tape could cause the experiment to fail and force consumers back to illicit sellers. 

No European country has yet completely legalized recreational cannabis, though the Netherlands famously sells marijuana in ‘coffee shops’, and Spain and Portugal have decriminalized the drug. Since 2018, Portugal also allows medical cannabis use.

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The German Left might be following the lead of Portugal in tackling harder drugs. In 2000, Portugal made possession of all narcotics illegal. The sale of illegal drugs remains an offense, but drug-related violence is down significantly. Addicts are encouraged and supported to seek treatment, rather than being imprisoned. Portugal has a drug-related death rate five times higher than that of the EU, half the heroin addicts in the country as 1999 and a HIV transmission rate that is 18% lower two decades since the controversial legislation was passed. 

A 2019 study of 70 European cities’ wastewater revealed Germany to be the meth capital of Europe. The top three heaviest-using cities – Erfurt, Chemnitz, and Dresden – were all found in Germany, followed by Bratislava in Slovakia and Brno in the Czech Republic. The highest use rates for amphetamine (a related stimulant) were found in Saarbrucken, Germany. 

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