It could have been a day when the traffic light coalition radiated harmony and unity. Through a series of decisions that are silently and unanimously waved through by the cabinet. Without public disputes, mutual blockades or other scuffles – that’s what the government wanted to leave behind.

From this point of view, the hoped-for new beginning failed miserably (read the comment here). The traffic light is gradually coming back from the summer break and picks up seamlessly where it left off: there is noise again instead of consensus in the coalition, despite all self-incantation. Is the story of the progress coalition just a fairy tale?

Wednesday afternoon, federal press conference. It’s 12:33 p.m. and time for a “long-term turnaround in German drug policy.” Actually. Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) presents the capital’s press with the cannabis law that has just passed the cabinet and provides for the partial legalization of marijuana and hashish. Smoke by the book. The decision actually introduces a paradigm shift in dealing with intoxicants. But enthusiasm sounds different.

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The project is controversial (read more about the decision and the criticism here), even Lauterbach leaves no doubt about that. The minister gives a detailed account of the risks of regular cannabis consumption, especially for young people and children, the constantly increasing figures for consumption and crime. And that’s the end of it from now on. A number of rules and regulations are intended to ensure that there are fewer addicts, fewer criminals and less work for the authorities. And after a large-scale social media campaign, “every young person would know” anyway that regular consumption is not a good idea.

After Lauterbach’s lecture, one almost gets the impression that the previous rules should not be relaxed, but tightened.

At the beginning of the legislative period, the liberalization of drug policy was still seen as a winning topic at the traffic light. After all sorts of legal concerns – including from the European Union – and growing skepticism among the population, there is not much left of it. The partial legalization was provided with a tight corset of regulations. Lauterbach’s appearance is less of a signal of departure and more like a flight forward.

After all, the work on the law – a total of eight departments were involved – was really “good”, really “constructive”, emphasizes Lauterbach every syllable, so that there are no doubts about it. In short: “A good cooperation that I could imagine in other areas of the traffic light,” he says.

One can guess at which “areas” he could aim.

At 11:28 a.m., a few minutes before Lauterbach’s turning point in drug policy, the news agencies ran a headline that would determine the rest of the day.

The Green Federal Family Minister Lisa Paus vetoed the so-called Growth Opportunities Act shortly before, just the favorite project of her cabinet colleague Christian Lindner (FDP). A decision in the cabinet meeting on Wednesday morning was therefore not possible. According to reports, Paus is said to have tied her approval to higher funds for the basic child security she was proposing.

Results instead of blockages? none.

When asked about this, cabinet colleague Lauterbach reassured: The Growth Opportunities Act is now an “important and complex” project. In other words: Good things take time, isn’t everything so wild?

In any case, nothing is normal on this day. Immediately after Lauterbach’s press conference, Finance Minister Lindner was supposed to make his big appearance to, well, present his Growth Opportunities Act. The appointment was canceled at short notice and the government press conference was brought forward. Instead of Lindner, at 2:00 p.m. the Deputy Government Spokesperson and the spokespersons of the individual ministries take their places in front of the blue wall of the federal press conference.

For Christiane Hoffmann, the circumstances should be doubly uncomfortable. The deputy government spokeswoman has a lot to explain and is struggling with her voice on this day of chaos. Hoffmann has to keep clearing his throat while she first presents the resolutions in detail, as is usual after cabinet meetings. It takes almost 40 minutes for the elephant in the room to come up: the Growth Opportunities Act that didn’t get passed.

The speakers are obviously trying to downplay the recent dispute in the traffic light coalition. Vice-government spokeswoman Hoffmann also praised the “very factual tone of the debate.” FDP deputy leader Wolfgang Kubicki had long since allowed himself to be carried away by the statement that the blockade by family minister Paus was “simply stupid”.

Hoffmann tries dutifully to reinterpret the dissonances into a common line. The federal government had “jointly” agreed to decide on “such important” projects at the cabinet meeting at Meseberg Castle at the end of August. The traffic light wants to set an economic policy focus there. The basic child security? Of course, given the “tight budgetary situation” there is also a struggle – that is a “self-evident fact”. For the time being, one should concentrate on the “plethora” of projects that the cabinet has already decided on. “It’s almost record-breaking,” says Hoffmann. She doesn’t see the quarrels preventing the “go-around” of the traffic lights either. This government has shown that it wants to push its work forward.

One can doubt that after this day. At 3:13 p.m. Hoffmann made it, the government press conference is over. For the traffic light coalition, things are only really getting started.