Justice: Judges warn against overburdening cannabis legalization

Shortly before the vote in the Bundestag on the controversial partial legalization of cannabis in Germany, the German Association of Judges warned of a massive overload of the judiciary due to the amnesty regulation provided for in the new law.

Justice: Judges warn against overburdening cannabis legalization

Shortly before the vote in the Bundestag on the controversial partial legalization of cannabis in Germany, the German Association of Judges warned of a massive overload of the judiciary due to the amnesty regulation provided for in the new law. “The judiciary is expecting more than 100,000 files nationwide that will have to be checked again in the event of the planned retroactive remission of sentences for cannabis offenses,” said the Federal Managing Director of the Association of Judges, Sven Rebehn, to the Editorial Network Germany (RND).

There are more than 10,000 cases at the Cologne District Court alone. “The five judges responsible there assume an average processing time of at least one hour per case, so that with 2,000 cases per capita and 40 hours per week, the review would mathematically take 50 weeks or a year,” said Rebehn.

This Friday, the Bundestag is expected to decide on the controlled release with numerous rules. Ownership and personal cultivation of certain quantities should therefore be permitted for adults from April 1st. After the law comes into force, there will also be an amnesty for convictions for cases that will be permitted in the future.

Enormous additional burden for courts

For the public prosecutor's offices, the Cannabis Act specifically means "that they have to manually evaluate all criminal files related to the Narcotics Act again to see whether the facts in question would be unpunished under the new legal situation," said Rebehn. It must be determined “whether the narcotics offense (also) involved cannabis and what quantity was involved.” However, this cannot simply be read from the Federal Central Register extract because the exact crime and type of narcotic are usually not noted there.

The courts therefore also face an enormous additional burden. “If the defendant has been sentenced to a so-called total sentence for several crimes, the court must subsequently disregard the drug offense that is no longer relevant under the new law and redefine the sentence with new reasons,” said Rebehn. The legislature would therefore be well advised to delete the planned amnesty regulation for old cases that have not yet been enforced from the Cannabis Act.

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