Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Berlin on Saturday to call on the German government to legalize marijuana across the country.
They want the government to allow marijuana for medical use and stop prosecution for its possession.
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According to police figures, approximately 4,000 people took part in the rally with no incidents or arrests reported.
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The crowds initially gathered at the central railway station before moving to the federal Health Ministry and then to the iconic Alexanderplatz.
— HanfNews (@HanfNews) August 13, 2016
“The marijuana parade is the largest demonstration for the legalization of Cannabis as commodity, medicine, and natural stimulant in Germany,” the organizers wrote on their website. The latest march was staged under the slogan “Legalization is in the air” and was the 20th in a row after the movement was established in Berlin in 1997.
People carried banners saying, “My brain belongs to me,” and “Cannabis is my medicine.”
The spokesperson for the parade, Steffen Geyer, said in front of the gathering that the ban on the drug is leading to more problems and therefore requires a law legalizing it. “Legal cannabis would cause less harm if compared to the ban on it existing for 45 years,” Geyer stated.
— Simone Heuer (@simone_heuer) August 13, 2016
The statement was echoed by Hans Strobele, a German MP who is a staunch supporter of cannabis legalization. “The legalization will come, the question is only when,” he told the crowds.
“One can abuse anything from coffee and cigarettes to alcohol. It is therefore important to provide a legal basis for such drugs,” one attendant of the march was quoted as saying by Berliner Zeitung.
Marijuana is illegal under the German law, but small amounts of it are sometimes tolerated by police. German law enforcers cited 70 percent of all drug law violations in 2015 as linked to cannabis use or production, BZ writes, citing police. It adds that some 24,000 Berliners consume it on a daily basis.
Defying the illegal status of the pot, some demonstrators were seen carrying placards that read: “We aren’t criminals, we’re gardeners.”