It's sprouting green in a former slaughterhouse in Dresden. This is where the start-up "Demecan" is growing Germany's first legal cannabis crop. The leaves are said to be processed into cannabis flour and used in legal medicinal marijuana products.
Demecan is one of three companies awarded the contract by the German Cannabis Agency to produce the sought-after substance. The facility will produce a ton of dried cannabis flour over the next year. "So one thousand kilograms," explains Demecan Managing Director Constantin von der Groeben proudly.
Numerous start-ups with a focus on cannabis
Medical cannabis products were legalized by the federal government in Germany in 2016. The new traffic light government wants to go a step further and introduce the "controlled sale" of adult-use cannabis in licensed outlets.
There is no concrete schedule yet, but numerous start-ups with a focus on cannabis, such as the Berlin company Sanity Group, which specializes in products containing cannabidiol, are already rubbing their hands.
"There will be more start-ups, new companies. A whole industry will emerge. From regulation to delivery to pharmacies to logistics," says Sanity Group co-founder Finn Hänsel.
"So I think it's going to be a real boom, which will create a lot of jobs and give the state more tax revenue. That's good for the market, although of course it means more competition for us. To be honest, there's nothing better than healthy competition."
Third popular drug cannabis
However, there is also criticism of the legalization plans, especially from the conservative side with a view to the protection of minors.
Sanity Group's Fabian Friede says he understands the concerns. "Obviously we have to look at it in detail. We have to deal with these risks. But I don't think doing nothing is a solution either. Because people use cannabis, just inferior quality, on the black market and for support organized crime. What's better about that than the alternative?"
Law enforcement officials are extremely skeptical about the development. GdP Vice Jörg Radek says: "The political intention is that we might add a third popular drug, cannabis, to the drugs that have already been legalized, like nicotine and alcohol.
And that's where I, as a police officer, have my vague doubts, because it will also change society in terms of cooperation. But also for us in the police force, because it will definitely give us more work."
His colleagues fear that organized crime may switch to other drugs or sell cannabis cheaper than in stores.
The Netherlands is repeatedly mentioned as a deterrent example: The former legalization pioneer wants to tighten drug policy again because of rising crime.