Berlin has quietly ended a ban on cannabis possession in this notorious park, admitting it was ineffective in addressing flagrant criminality. Drug pushers are a constant fixture, despite a zero-tolerance policy.
Berlin lawmakers will once again tolerate cannabis possession in the notorious Gorlitzer Park, according to the Funke Media Group.
The park in Kreuzberg has long been a major hotspot for consumer level drug dealing and had been subject to a no-tolerance policy since April 2015. But that policy was quietly repealed by the state coalition government last month, the group reported.
Possession of up to 15 grams (0.5 ounces) of cannabis will once again go unpunished, it reported, bringing the park into line with the rest of the city.
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The previous senate's zero-tolerance policy "was counterproductive and unnecessarily burdening the judiciary," Justice Senator Dirk Behrendt of the Greens Party told local newspaper Berliner Morgenpost on Wednesday.
"The zero-tolerance zone was a zero-effect zone," Werner Graf, head of the Green Party, told the paper. "Their only effect was an explosion of costs for the police - without reducing sales. A gram of confiscated grass costs the police about 40 euros."
The decision was criticized by the business-friendly FDP party. "Berlin is surrendering itself to the drug dealers in Görlitzer Park," internal affairs expert Marcel Luthe told the paper, while the CDU spoke of a "a tragedy for the residents."
By most accounts the zero-tolerance policy was ineffective. Scouts would alert dealers to police patrols sending them scattering, only to reappear once it was clear again. Drug pushers consistently hawk their goods to anyone entering the park, and increasingly in areas around the park.
Drug dealers have long been present in the park but the increasing amounts of party tourism in Kreuzberg in recent years led to massive amounts of dealing, which in turn led to other criminal problems, including thefts and violence. Residents started boycotting the park and banded together to demand action.