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FACT CHECK: Are German police really advising football fans to smoke cannabis?

Rachel Loxton
Rachel Loxton - [email protected]
FACT CHECK: Are German police really advising football fans to smoke cannabis?
A person smokes a joint in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Hannes P Albert

The British press reported that German police encouraged football fans to smoke cannabis rather than drink alcohol ahead of England's clash with Serbia. Is that really the case?


England and Serbia supporters were sold reduced-strength beer at their match on Sunday due to worries over violent clashes. 

But British tabloid The Sun reported that Gelsenkirchen police went a step further by encouraging fans to smoke weed rather than drink alcohol. 

A spokesman for Gelsenkirchen police, Stephan Knipp, reportedly told The Sun: "It’s no problem for fans to smoke cannabis on the street.

"If we see a group of people drinking alcohol and looking a bit aggressive, and another group smoking cannabis, of course we’ll look at the group drinking alcohol.

“Drinking alcohol can make someone more aggressive, and smoking cannabis puts people in a chill mood."

Following the match that saw England win 1-0, The Local asked police in Gelsenkirchen if this was their general advice for football fans in the city. 

But Gelsenkirchen police issued a clarification, stating that they "do not encourage cannabis consumption".

"Various media are reporting that the police in Gelsenkirchen have called on people to consume cannabis rather than alcohol," said a statement. "This is false."

The statement said that that police had been misquoted by a British journalist. 

Police commander Peter Both added: "The police will ensure the safety of the fans during the European Football Championship and will react to aggressive groups who act as troublemakers, regardless of intoxicants."

The statement furthermore said that Gelsenkirchen police "expressly do not encourage football fans to smoke weed".

England fans celebrate with beer.

England fans celebrate with beer. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Strauch


Where has the confusion come from?

It's unclear where exactly the confusion came from, but one thing that could have been lost in translation is that consuming cannabis is now legal in Germany. The country changed its drugs laws on April 1st. 

Adults over 18 are allowed to carry 25 grams of dried cannabis and cultivate up to three marijuana plants. 

People can also consume it in public as long as it is not near a school or other childcare facility. That means that football fans (and anyone else) can freely smoke a joint if they wish. 

Gelsenkirchen police clarified the prohibition on smoking near schools also applies to events where children and young people are expected to be present. 

"For Euro 2024, for example, this means that smoking cannabis is not permitted at fan meeting points, fan zones or on the stadium grounds," said the police statement. 

READ ALSO: What to know about Germany's partial legalisation of cannabis

Under a second step in the reform, from July 1st it will be possible to legally obtain weed through "cannabis clubs" in Germany. 

These regulated associations will be allowed to have up to 500 members each, and will be able to distribute up to 50 grams of cannabis per person per month.



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