Germany Burns 1,200 Pounds of Pot for Heat and Electricity

By Paul Gaita 12/26/17

Storing the millions of dollars worth of confiscated pot was a major issue so Munich officials opted to put it to use as an energy source.

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Saddled with more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana confiscated in 2016, customs officials in Munich, Germany, seized upon a unique means of disposing the contraband that might also have a positive impact upon nearby residents.

According to a report from Süddeutsche Zeitung, the country's largest daily newspaper, customs officers took the 499 bags and 60 boxes of marijuana weighing more than 1,200 pounds—which had an approximate street value between $3 and $6 million—and burned it at a power plant in Olching, located northwest of Munich. A plant manager was quoted as saying that the energy produced by the incineration would be used to generate heat and electricity for local residents.

The marijuana in question was discovered in a truck from Serbia in December 2016, and posed a considerable problem in terms of both storage and disposal for Munich customs officials. After spending a year drying and then testing the confiscated marijuana—which may have come from Albania, a major source of cannabis in Europe—officials determined that the marijuana could not be used for medical purposes, and was slated for disposal.

Medical marijuana is legal in Germany, while recreational marijuana remains illegal; use by those without a medical marijuana license is regarded as "self-harm," and not a more substantive criminal offense.

However, the sheer amount of marijuana in question—enough to roll more than 3 million joints, according to the newspaper's report—proved too large for traditional means of incineration, which prompted officials to turn to the power plant in Olching. Armed customs officers arrived at the plant with the marijuana on December 19, which was subsequently burned at temperatures between approximately 1,652 to 1,832 Fahrenheit, which reportedly reduced the chance of intoxication from fumes.

For the Munich customs office, the incineration took care of "rubbish that [needed] to be destroyed," according to spokesperson Christian Schüttenkopf. But as plant manager Thomas König told Süddeutsche Zeitung, by burning the marijuana, his facility could "generate heating and electricity for the people in the region."

Ironically, a recent news story in the New York Times reported that Germany's efforts to promote alternate forms of power and energy have resulted in "negative" prices" for consumers who were actually being paid to use nationally produced electricity on multiple occasions in 2017.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.