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Bavaria’s Planned “Cannabis-Free” Zone For Oktoberfest Is The Wrong Approach

oktoberfest munich germany

The largest Oktoberfest celebration occurs every year in Munich, Germany, with an estimated 6 million people expected to attend this year’s event in the fall. Oktoberfest is a festival that celebrates Bavarian culture and takes place in many parts of the world, not just Munich.

With cannabis legalization now the law in Germany, having taken effect on April 1st, lawmakers in Bavaria have announced plans to make the Oktoberfest celebration in Munich a “cannabis-free” zone and to implement a no-tolerance enforcement policy during the festival.

Public cannabis use remains prohibited throughout Germany despite adult-use legalization taking effect. While the law legalized cultivation, possession, and consumption by adults, it did not legalize cannabis use in public, which makes Bavaria’s expressed plans a bit redundant.

Many children will be at Oktoberfest, and there is a 1,000 euro fine for consumption in the presence of children or young people, as well as a 500 euro fine for consuming cannabis in pedestrian zones between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. or within the sight of schools or playgrounds.

To be clear, no responsible cannabis consumer is advocating to be able to have free reign when consuming cannabis in Munich during Oktoberfest. However, rather than Bavarian leaders demonizing cannabis and the adults who consume it, they should be using this as an opportunity to educate people about harm-reduction strategies regarding cannabis and alcohol.

Both alcohol and cannabis can and should be consumed responsibly by adults who choose to do so, and part of consuming responsibly is knowing the effects of combining cannabis and alcohol use.

According to a study from 2021, “Using multiple products (≥ 2) of alcohol was consistently linked to higher odds of experiencing a negative consequence” and “combining beer with only one cannabis product (leaf or concentrate) was consistently associated with lower odds of a consequence.”

“Combining cannabis with multiple alcohol products was associated with heavier alcohol consumption. Using dual cannabis products also was associated with heavier cannabis consumption, but this pattern was not significantly different than using concentrate only on a given day.” the study also stated.

The reality of the situation is that there will be people who consume cannabis and go to Oktoberfest. If you gather 6 million people together anywhere on earth, especially when most of them are adults, chances are many of them will consume cannabis before attending. Munich’s Oktoberfest celebration will be no exception.

Bavaria’s leaders would be wiser to educate the masses about what happens when alcohol and cannabis use are combined and encourage consumers to take necessary precautions to ensure that they are not harming themselves or other people, which, in turn, helps ensure that the attendee enjoys their time at Oktoberfest.

Leaders should also provide resources that help people find public transportation options, which would alleviate a considerable amount of potential public safety issues. That is true for Oktoberfest regardless of potential cannabis consumption.