ALS ice bucket challenge: German MP shows ‘green’ credentials in charity video which featured cannabis plant

Green Party leader Cam Oezdemir says it was a pro-legalisation stunt

berlin

Like many other politicians, Cem Oezdemir, the leader of Germany’s environmentalist Green Party, agreed to take part in the “Ice-bucket challenge” – which involves participants dousing themselves with buckets of iced water to raise cash for charity. Mr Oezdemir who is one of the few German MPs of Turkish extraction, had his self-inflicted dousing filmed while standing on a balcony of an apartment overlooking the rooftops of Berlin.

In the film, the Green leader is seen picking up a red plastic bucket full of freezing water, duly pouring the contents over his head and looking mildly stunned by the experience. But next to him is a wispy green plant which, in the process, also receives a copious watering.

Mr Oezdemir’s video appeared on YouTube  prompting near instant media speculation that the wispy green plant on the Berlin balcony might have been an illegal cannabis plant. Under German law, growing cannabis is only legal for drug companies which manufacture medicines containing the substance. Private cultivation is illegal.

Germany’s Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung led the media investigation into the suspected Green dope scandal. The paper sought the advice of the German Hemp Association spokesman Florian Riester who declared that the plant on Mr Oezedmir’s “Ice-bucket” balcony was “clearly illegal” and that the politician could face prosecution. A Berlin police spokesman insisted that “every offence” concerning illegal drugs would be investigated as a matter of course.

But then Mr Oezdemir turned the tables on his media inquisitors and claimed he had deliberately had a cannabis plant pictured to make what he described as a “gentle political statement”. Germany’s Green Party has advocated the legalisation of cannabis for years. “Every citizen over the age of 18 should be free to decide whether they want to consume cannabis,” he insisted. “My party and its members are freedom’s friends.”

Mr Oezdemir is not the first Green politician to gain attention for promoting cannabis consumption. His colleague, the veteran Berlin Green MP Hans-Christian Ströbele, won instant popularity after launching a similar campaign more than a decade ago. 

Yet largely as a result of opposition from conservative MPs in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling Christian Democratic Party attempts to legalise cannabis for all but medical purposes have consistently failed to gain political approval in Germany. It is unlikely that anyone will now be able to establish whether Mr Oezedmir’s “gentle political statement” was genuine or merely a ruse designed to help him escape embarrassment and possible prosecution.

The Green Party has refused to reveal whether the Berlin apartment used for the film sequence belongs to Mr Oezdemir, making legal action against him highly unlikely.

And, as Germany’s Bild newspaper pointed out, as an MP, Mr Oezdemir enjoys immunity from prosecution anyway.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones