Those of you who have taken part in the Ice Bucket Challenge that has been doing the rounds of social media sites have probably spent some time watching other people’s video submissions. How many people noticed that when German Member of Parliament for the Green Party, Cem Özdemir, posted his video from a balcony in Berlin there was a very conspicuous marijuana plant clearly in shot?
Quite a few.
Although the video raised a lot of interest and comments on Twitter, it turns out that nobody was catching Cem out. The co-leader of the German Greens had placed the plant there on purpose to make a subtle point about the legalization of cannabis. “It wasn’t standing there by accident,” Özdemir later told reporters. He added that he had wanted to make “a gentle political statement” at the same time as completing the challenge for charity.
Before admitting that he had placed the plant in shot as a symbolic political gesture, the internet was rife with speculation as to whether it had been a mistake and whether he would be punished for it. Luckily, although cannabis is still illegal in Germany, the authorities employ a reasonable approach and it is unlikely that Mr Özdemir will face charges. In fact, one commentator asked whether there were any balconies in Berlin that did not have marijuana plants growing on them?
Cem told journalists after the event “”We Greens are friends of liberty. Whether someone can consume cannabis and take the associated risks should be decided by the citizens themselves in a free society.”