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Green Party head loses immunity in cannabis probe

January 17, 2015

Berlin's district attorney office is investigating German Greens leader Cem Özdemir after he appeared next to a cannabis plant in an Ice Bucket Challenge video. He has been stripped of his parliamentary immunity.

Cem Özdemir
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/W. Weschke

Like countless people around the world, German politician Cem Özdemir took part in the Ice Bucket Challenge last summer, which aimed to raise money for the ALS Association and promote awareness of the disease Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

But now, according to German mass-circulation newspaper Bild am Sonntag, the Greens leader has had his immunity as a member of the German parliament repealed after authorities spotted a cannabis plant in the video he uploaded to the video-sharing site YouTube.

On Saturday, neither Özdemir nor the prosecution could confirm the claims.

In August, when the video first appeared on YouTube, 49-year-old Özdemir said that the plant had been "intentionally placed" as a political statement.

"The whole absurdity of the German drug policy is highlighted when prosecutors and police have to investigate a political statement in the form of a strategically placed plant," Özdemir said.

According to the Greens' current manifesto, they stand for the "decriminalization of drug users and for better help and therapy possibilities."

Bild reported in their Sunday edition that in legal circles the case against Özdemir has been deemed trivial.

In Germany, the possession and cultivation of such plants are illegal and a violation of the Narcotics Act.

At the time, the German Police Union (BDK) described the incident as a "little foolishness" by the politician.

"Evidently Özdemir didn't notice that you could see the plant in the video. He then charmingly tried to justify it by claiming it was an act for drug liberalization," said BDK chairman Andre Schulz.

Like the Greens, the BDK is also committed to reforming Germany's drug policy and to decriminalizing drug consumers.

Shortly before Özdemir appeared in the video last summer, an administrative court in the western German city of Cologne ruled that some chronic pain sufferers may cultivate their own cannabis.

ksb/tj (dpa)

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