Written by Morgan Chalk-Levy
The day has finally come for the robust Ganja Trade of Görlitzer Park to meet its end. In no uncertain terms, All Matters THC have been decreed to be “Vegetata-Non-Grata“.
“No Kiffs, Plants, or Puffs”, let alone the more common “Ifs, Ands, or Buts”
All possible reasons, ways, rituals, ceremonies, and most certainly all recreational smoking of THC containing matter, is immediately forbidden. The police demonstrated how serious they were with dashings of force mixed in with a Zero Tolerance Policy. Although for locals, the new rules are more of a half-hearted, hare-brained, “too little, too late” attempt at seeming like an engaged taxpayer-funded upholder of justice and protector of the streets.
While the operation’s consequences were felt deeply by all members of the neighbourhood, the tactics used only ended up turning the once beautiful, jungle-like, paths in the park into ugly pockets of muddy clearings. The new increase in open spaces has managed to create a super-brutal wind tunnel effect throughout the park, a long distance chute of rock walls and whistling dead bush trees, reeking of city gutter and muck. Gone are the sweet wafts of dew-laced foliage, radiating intensely in the hot morning sunlight.
Face it folks, we are going to have a messy, windy wasteland. It makes me sad. Surely, we will all miss the flowers, trees, bushes, shrubs, and so on. Oh well, I guess it was worth cutting them all down for the sake of safety and security.
A frightened public, spooked by the threat of drug-crazed, junkie, refugee drug dealers, and the whole unsavoury cavalcade of members of an open air drug scene, has spoken. No doubt the seas of strollers and kiddie-packed bicycle wagons will enjoy the slippery park roads, and will benefit from the influx of drug dealers who now congregate, operate, and violate the streets on which they live.
Not to worry about out-of-control sprinting teenagers, drunk on adrenaline and whatever else, as their speeding bodies weave in and out between you and your children and your children’s friends and parents, as you try to walk to and from various neighbourhood activities.
Are you now prepared to run a new kind of gauntlet consisting of unpredictable cat and mouse chases? Are you ready for an atmosphere of danger, where the city’s junkies and club kids, shooting pinballs, attempt to outrun the tentacles of the police?
The current state of affairs, as it stands, was the reason for having the April 1st Görlitzer Kiff-In. Demonstrators formed a horseshoe around a PA system located at the bottom steps of the Old Water Park turned Amphitheater across from Edel Weiss and the Black Light Mini Golf. Several eloquent voices occupied the microphone and rapped about the wack logic of the new rules and obvious racist factors involved in the police’s massive anti-ganja action.
who wished to remain anonymous even as he fell under my enchanting spell of curious inquisition and flattery. He revealed to me the various aims and goals of the police that day as well as their long-term objectives and hopes.
“The upwardly mobile folks who now form an increasing number and who have an influential voice in community matters, have really pressed upon us to crush this dealer plague. These young, often hipster, go-getter, up and comer, freshly–gifted–with–children folks. The taxes they pay make up the bulk of our wages, and if they say jump, we inevitably reply, how high. And so it is, that their number one request was to have this open air drug bazaar completely eliminated. Rather than pussy-footing round the issue, which is really what we police had been doing, we instituted this no tolerance policy, which we know will surely scare the shit out of anybody breaking the rules, and so will prevent any future criminal activity.”
He seemed deadly sure of what he was talking about, and sealed in stone in my mind, any chance of weed smoking, buying, or possession in the park area.
A crusty punk, embellished with a multitude of zippered jacket and pant pockets, proclaimed to any and all who cared to listen that, “this law won’t change shit”. However, the majority of those in attendance shared the opinion that the new laws would completely change the way things operate in the park.
No more masses of dealers at decades-old determined points of pedestrian intersection. Furthermore, the scores of dealers operating outside of the established hierarchies would also cease to exist because the penalties now outweigh the earning potential of the dealers’ game plans.
A well-seasoned player within the old hierarchy of the park dealer community explained to me how things used to be, how things had become, and how he thought things would be now.
All of the groups of dealers also had satellite dealers who acted as lookouts and couriers. Those working in the park daily were under the wing of larger organisations, whose presence in the park was decades old and was both well-established and well-run. Smokers were free to smoke wherever they pleased, as long as they kept a respectful distance from the cops and from groups of children.
A Wild West of newcomers, free agents, and overwhelmed mid-level organisation bosses. Confusion, inconsistency, and fear thrived. And due to the pushy vibe of the open air market scene, smokers and customers had become a bit more cagey and less willing to smoke openly in an area of potential flash police raiding.
In the beginning there will be a big shake up and many will be arrested and jailed for testing the waters of the new laws. When the smoke clears, most likely, the old gangs in charge will once again operate in the park, albeit with much more discretion and reduced numbers. Most free agents will be knocked out of the game or arrested, making the idea of dealing in the park a very unattractive option. Also, smokers are now on the same level as dealers, and everybody involved in THC becomes a criminal in the park.
Until the park numbers reach critical mass in summer time, it will be too obvious and too risky to smoke grass in the park as you did before. Perhaps once the park really fills up, it will be easier and more comfortable to light up.
One of the most heavily affected groups of people, the steady customers living at or near the park, went on to say that, “I’ve been buying grass across the street since I moved in three years ago; it’s very fast and easy. I used to pay €50 when I first came, but now I pay €30 for the same amount. Unfortunately, my dealer told me that the prices will go up next week because of the higher risk involved. I came to the demonstration today to show solidarity with my fellow kiffers, and I hope that by coming together today, we can all show the neighbourhood, the police, and the city, that we are serious about our cause, and that we can no longer stand for the unfair racial profiling and persecution of people wanting to buy, sell, and trade THC medicines in the park. “We don’t stand for this injustice!” His enthusiasm was contagious, his voice of passion striking a chord amongst his fellow demonstrators, soon we were all swept up in a wave of chanting,
“Smoke weed every day, down with the police authority!”
A ring of CDU-funded foot soldiers surrounded the demonstration at its outer edges, some protesters within speaking range of these gun-toting emissaries of justice. It didn’t take a betting man’s odds to surely wager that any escape would be impossible, if such urgent departure ended up occurring for the Ganja Friendly Medicine Men and Women in the park.
I worried most for those in attendance without proper identification. Several times I was snatched up and into a police wagon for being unable to produce a passport or Ausweis. While I had nothing to worry about as they checked out my story, my address, and whatever else they demanded I reveal to them, other folks might not be so lucky, especially if having open status crimes in the system, and/or, past due arrival dates as foreigners in Germany.
The April 1st Kiff-In was an underwhelming showing for an issue which deeply affects so many people. An oversimplification might be to say that the low turnout was due to the nature of the Marijuana User, most potential demonstrators became distracted on the day of the demo, being sucked into some groovy bit of music, TV, or internet content. Other potential demonstrators began the day with a “wake and bake”, an act which seemed appropriate for the day’s plan, but ended up sealing the fate of attending the demo due to the overwhelming effects of THC induced “couch lock“. And of course, a large percentage of people who had planned to go to the Kiff-In simply forgot.
The new laws, and the Kiff-In protest against them – are just two more developments in this city which highlight an increasing divide amongst its dwellers. The city folks who tore down its cold war wall – enlivened and made strong by the power of unity – are now fast being split again, by the age-old forces of gentrification and political discord between the haves and the have nots. The battle for the Görli Grass Scene has been lost, but the war is not over.
Let the small numbers at the Kiff-In be a lesson to y’all. That if you want to make a difference, you have to participate.