Leading by Example: A German Parent’s Experience with Medical Cannabis

Published on September 1, 2016 · Last updated July 28, 2020
Father and child holding hands

Whether cannabis in a given jurisdiction is fully legal, strictly prohibited, or anything in between, cannabis supporters and opponents are unanimous on one thing: Herbs don’t belong in the hands of children. For medical cannabis patients in Germany who are parents, that means an obligation to store medicine in place that kids can’t get to it. Under the country’s narcotics security rules, patients with a medical card must keep the cannabis they buy at the pharmacy in a mini-safe at home.

Cannabis consumers, whether medical patients or not, should also ensure minors are never exposed to cannabis smoke or vapor. Consumption should take place only in the garden, on the balcony, or at least near at an open window. The consumption of cannabis as a necessary medical measure is protected by federal law in Germany, which means consumption is legal even in public places so long as you stick to the rules. These rules largely correspond with those of the Non-Smoking Protection Act. Additionally cannabis should not be consumed “ostentatiously.” Some German police agencies have even received a service instruction after cannabis patients repeatedly got in trouble due to the consumption of their medicine outside their homes.

Single Parents Often Have No Choice

Single parents who depend on cannabis as medicine have a difficult balancing act. They must remain within sight of their children so as not to neglect their duty of supervision, but they also have an obligation to distance their kids from consumption. It’s a tough spot, especially for someone who relies on cannabis to ease symptoms in order to work or care for kids. A six year old child can’t be told, “Mommy will be right back, just wait here for 10 minutes”.

As a patient, I don't want to hide. As a parent, I don't want my children to inhale my smoke or vapor.

For cannabis patients, medical cannabis is as important as a pain patch is to others. They should neither hide nor be ashamed of consuming cannabis. Especially at big events, during traveling, in the playground or in an amusement park, it’s virtually impossible to fulfill the duty of supervision and stay medicated if you have to consume out of view of your children.

As an affected father, I consider the Non-Smoking Protection Act as a guide for my medical cannabis consumption. I stand outside any playground to inhale while keeping the kids in sight. I wish some cigarette-smoking parents would do the same — after all, cigarettes have been banned from playgrounds for years — but they are still present on the benches surrounding Berlin’s playing fields.

As a patient, I don’t want to hide. As a parent, I don’t want my children to inhale my smoke or vapor. So I take the opportunity to educate them, explaining that I take a medicine that is intended for adults only and has been recommended by a health care professional. At the end of the day, no parent wants her or her child to try drugs or medicine, either out of curiosity or by accident.

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Michael Knodt
Michael Knodt
Michael Knodt is Leafly's Germany correspondent. Born in Nordhessen, he has been living in Berlin since 1990. A certified carpenter with a background in history and journalism, he now makes regular visits to countries where hemp is cultivated. He served as editor-in-chief of Hanf Journal from 2005 to 2013 and now writes for numerous German and English-language publications. He is the face and presenter of exzessiv.tv, a popular program on hemp and its prohibition, as well as a proud father of two.
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