With Germany’s new medical cannabis law in effect, what can travelers—especially those attending April’s International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) in Berlin—expect and what about considering a day or side trip to nearby lively Leipzig?
Germany’s Georg Wurth is basically the top cannabis influencer in Germany, who says visitors to ICBC’s conference in Berlin from April 10-12 will learn all about cannabis business and medical breakthroughs from a decidedly global perspective.
While Berlin is exciting and endlessly fascinating, most visitors to Germany never explore former East German towns. One of these cities is less than two hours by train just south of Berlin—Leipzig.
This former East German city is certainly smaller than Berlin (around a half million residents), but it is steeped in history and is having a bit of an art, music and building Renaissance. But don’t expect darling German cottages. Leipzig is a former industrial town whose once crumbling factories such as those in the western Plagwitz quarter have been transformed into eclectic living and art exhibition spaces.
Beyond its factory-inspired art galleries and street art, Leipzig is known across Germany as the epicenter of the circa 1980s “peaceful” revolution against the Soviets. Today—although repatriation between east and west has been tedious—Leipzig is not only opening up to global visitors, but locals are enjoying a “hyperzig” or creative surge in art, architecture, gardening and food in the hip “new” eastern district. In fact, Leipzig is the best city in Germany to be vegetarian, vegan or part of the slow food movement.
Nightlife in Leipzig is renowned for its techno music, especially at legendary club The Distillery. In the gritty eastern district, clubs and other hybrid chill-meets-DJ spaces pop up and die rather quickly. Liepzig’s pub scene also rocks live bands and warm German beers into the wee hours.
Ready for Berlin and Leipzig in spring?
—Don’t miss a tour of Leipzig’s Saint Nicholas Church. The epicenter of East Germany’s Peaceful Revolution in the 1980s, this Baroque church’s interior is an impressive and soaring neoclassical wonder.
—Leipzig’s Riverside Forest runs right through the city, so Leipzigers tend to use bike transport. Visitors can rent a Nextbike for the one-hour ride to the Cospudener See (or Lake Cospuden) where there’s miles of sandy “beaches” and a popular public sauna.
If You Go
The best thing to do when it comes to cannabis in Germany is to make friends with some cannabis-loving locals, so you can be assured of having cannabis on your travels. Still, cannabis is easy to get just about anywhere, as it is a not-so-legal way for jobless refugees and immigrants to make cash. Plus, German authorities are quite lax about toking in public as long as you are smart and avoid lighting up near cops, kids, schools, government buildings and designer shops. However, with Germany’s new medical cannabis law in effect as of March 3, there’s potentially one other way. “There’s no experience yet with tourists searching for a prescription,” says Germany’s trusted cannabis expert Georg Wurth, “but if you can convince [doctor], you could get a prescription and go to the pharmacy.” Interestingly, the German government is importing its premium cannabis from approved grow operations in the Netherlands and Canada and is distributed by pharmacists just like any other drug within the German national health system.
Time to Go: April
Weather: High 50s with mild rain