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The and the Cannabis and the Normative Power of the Factual

Franjo Grotenhermen

In January 2012, in an article in the Hanf Journal about common misconceptions when dealing with cannabis, I had noted that they already start with grammar. I had asked in this context whether it is called the, the or the cannabis. Both in official letters from authorities and in journals of the cannabis scene, it was consistently "the cannabis". About five years earlier, I had consulted the body responsible for grammar in Germany, the Duden. According to the Duden, cannabis was masculine, as well as hemp, so "the cannabis". Errors about cannabis are widespread, so why not with very basic questions, like grammar.

A few weeks ago, I looked again in the Duden. Now it says that you can say both der and das Cannabis. Language, like other social norms, is not static and unchanging. Facts, meaning reality, can change to the extent that norms, such as grammar, change as well.

An 1890 article in the Deutsche Medizinische Wochenschrift on the use of cannabis for gastrointestinal disorders still stated, "Cannabis is of constant effect in eliminating the sensations of pain and restoring the appetite, under whatever conditions the pain and loss of appetite may occur." Obviously, cannabis was considered feminine at that time.

Over the past 20 years, I have been able to see time and again that what everyone or the majority says about cannabis or cannabinoids is not necessarily correct. The example of the gender of cannabis is a simple and, for many, surprising example of this. And today, the change in grammar is an example of how even on the topic of cannabis, seemingly entrenched norms can change over the years.

The concept of the normative force of the factual was coined more than 100 years ago by the legal scholar Georg Jellinek (1851-1911). It refers to the fact that factual developments can create a state of affairs that the legal system recognizes. Beyond jurisprudence, the influence of actual development and actual social conditions also applies to other areas of society. Thus, at some point it was no longer tenable, at least in Germany and in many other Western countries, to regard homosexuality as a disease. We can observe many cultural changes in Germany today. For example, the long-standing claim that Germany is not a country of immigration is no longer tenable.

In the medical field, there are always changes in norms because the facts no longer support the norms. For example, only 20 years ago, the cause of autism was seen in disturbed relationships between parents and the affected child. The parents were supposed to be to blame for their child's disorder. Therefore, psychotherapies for the parents and other treatment procedures were undertaken. This put an additional burden on the parents, who were already under a great deal of psychological strain due to their child's severe illness. At some point, this terrible dogma could no longer be maintained. Psychiatry finally had to realize that parents with autistic children are just as loving with their children as parents of healthy children.

Today we experience a similar dogma among many psychiatrists when it comes to the therapy of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) with cannabis products. Before patients can explain how they benefit from cannabis products, most psychiatrists have already made their prejudice and diagnosed additional cannabis dependence, some with indignation. We are witnessing the same horrible power play by psychiatrists as we have seen with homosexuality, autism and other psychiatric dogma. How long will the dogma on ADHD and cannabis last? How long will psychiatrists not listen this time, when it should be this very professional group within the medical profession that listens?

The arguments in the general ban on cannabis are also faltering. The main argument for maintaining cannabis prohibition is, on the one hand, that cannabis is not a harmless drug and cannabis use is not harmless. However, since this is also true for legal drugs and other legal self-harming behaviors, it is a weak argument. Therefore, the argument that cannabis is not part of German culture, in contrast to alcohol, for example, has been added. The question arises when this normative statement will also be overtaken by the facts of a cannabis culture - and will seem increasingly unworldly and detached. In Germany, there is not only the music culture of the Musikantenstadl.