German Authorities Shut Down Planned Cannabis Rally


Dampfparade 2012

Rally Would Likely Have Been Largest Cannabis Demonstration In German History

A cannabis demonstration and parade planned for Saturday in Cologne, Germany — which was shaping up to be the largest marijuana protest ever held in Germany — is being shut down at the last minute by the Versammlungsbeh√∂rde, a local government office that oversees public gatherings.

“This is the first time a pro-cannabis march has been planned for Cologne, which is located in the most populous area of Germany,” Daniel S. of Duisburg, Germany, told Toke of the Town on Wednesday morning. (Dan in no way speaks for the parade or any associated organizations; he just happens to live nearby and knows some people involved in the parade’s planning.)
The march was shaping up to possibly be the largest demonstration of its kind ever in Germany, thanks in large part to a positive response on Facebook and word-of-mouth advertising.
Planned speakers included Lars Scheimann, the first German citizen to be granted a medical marijuana card to treat his Tourette’s and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Scheimann has since helped more than 60 other people get similar approval for medicinal cannabis to treat various conditions through his organization, “Cannabis Als Medizin” (Cannabis As Medicine).

The explanation offered for shutting down the event seemed a flimsy pretext. Germany normally protects free speech, even allowing Nazi sympathizers to hold marches.
Government authorities claimed that because the event has used sponsors to defer the costs and is displaying the sponsors’ logos on flyers and websites, the event is “of a commercial nature” and therefore does not qualify as a political demonstration, making the approved permits void and blocking the event from occurring.
Currently organizers are working 24/7 to save the parade and are hoping the event can be held as scheduled, at least in some form. Many have pointed out that recently Cologne has hosted pro-Nazi marches and other sponsored events held by Ford and Coca-Cola, which also displayed brand logos.
Activists questioned whether government authorities in Cologne are really concerned about brand logos at all, or whether perhaps they fear the type of free speech represented by cannabis advocacy.
For coverage of this story in German, see the Hanf Journal.