The environmentalist Greens seem to be making a hash of their new-found popularity in Germany, with the discovery of cannabis plants at a district party office emerging the the same week as a drunk driving scandal surrounding a campaign manager.
Police are investigating after 12 cannabis plants were reportedly found in flower boxes at the Greens' office in Gera, in the eastern state of Thuringia, and politicians from the ruling grand coalition have been quick to criticize the party, which is still riding high on record results in state elections earlier this year. If Astrid Rothe-Beinlich, a state parliamentarian and leading Greens figure in Thuringia, knew about and tolerated the plants, "then she must resign her high parliamentary office," said conservative Christian Democrat (CDU) parliamentarian Wolfgang Fielder.
Against the background of the far-reaching efforts to curtail the consumption of narcotics, the "growing of cannabis in flower boxes at a (political) party office (has) a particularly disagreeable effect," Fielder added.
In response, Rothe-Beinlich insisted she had not known about the cannabis plants until Tuesday. "I neither planted nor tended to the boxes," she said in a statement. She also insisted she did not support the cultivation of cannabis plants in any way, and would not trivialize it. "I have also made this clear to the district association and have demanded answers," she added.
Minor Breach of the Law
The police have launched an investigation following the removal of the plants at the weekend -- but they could well turn out to be industrial hemp, which contains little to no intoxicating substances and would represent a minor breach of the law.
How the plants came to be in the flower boxes alongside sunflowers was a mystery and "would be of interest to us," said party spokeswoman Daniela Hoffmann-Weber. But she said the incident was unlikely to be a big issue. "No one is seriously going to believe that we're making hemp here," she added.
Prosecutors will now decide if the investigation will continue.
The discovery of the plants happened just days ahead of another embarrassing episode for the Greens, which saw the party's campaign manager for September's state election in Berlin sacked after he was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving and assaulting a police officer. Andre Stephan, 31, was allegedly found intoxicated in his car at around 4 a.m. on Wednesday morning, according to daily Bild. He then tried to run away before resisting arrest, during which he reportedly injured an officer.
Despite the scandals, these are still good times for the Greens, who became the senior partner in a state coalition for the first time in Baden-Wurttemberg in March. They made major gains in the Rhineland-Palatinate vote.
dsk -- with wires
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