Swiss Debate Whether To Legalize Cannabis

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by RMJL, Sep 26, 2003.

  1. Swiss Debate Whether To Legalize Cannabis
    Tues., September 23, 2003

    The Swiss government, which already has one of the most liberal drug policies in the world, recently proposed the legalization of cannabis and the creation of laws to uphold state-run heroin maintenance programs.

    The ruling four-party coalition hopes the proposal to revise current drug laws will close loopholes and establish a constitutional basis for Switzerland's four-pillar policy of repression, prevention, treatment, and harm reduction.

    Already, Switzerland's heroin prescription program benefits about 1300 addicts and is widely credited with bringing down the mortality rate, crime, and deprivation associated with severe addiction.

    Despite the success of past drug policy reforms the proposal to legalize the consumption - and under certain circumstances production and sale - of cannabis has been criticized by conservatives. An estimated 500,000 Swiss citizens are occasional or regular consumers of cannabis, and joints are openly smoked in parks, outside schools, and on trains. The government argues that its police resources are too stretched to enforce outdated laws.

    Parliament is scheduled to debate a bill that would legalize cannabis for personal use on September 24th. The proposal sailed through the lower legislative chamber earlier this year.
  2. Swiss Parliament Votes No To Cannabis Decriminalization
    Fri, Sept 26, 2003

    Ignoring the appeals of its health minister, the Swiss parliament voted to take no action on the proposed narcotics law revision which would have decriminalized cannabis and put state prescription of heroin on a permanent legal footing.

    After an emotional debate, the National Council voted 96-89 against the amendment, sending the legislation back to the upper house that approved it in December 2001. Cannabis decriminalization lay at the core of the proposed legislation. Lawmakers from the right-wing Swiss People's Party and from French-speaking parts of Switzerland - which traditionally favor more restrictive drug policy - grouped together to block its approval, saying that the government was abandoning its responsibility toward young people by decriminalizing cannabis.

    Supporters of cannabis decriminalization point out that bans of alcohol and cannabis have always been a failure, police resources are too stretched to enforce current restrictive and outdated laws, and in practice, cannabis users rarely face police sanctions in Switzerland.

    The upper house will reconsider the legislation. It can either amend it or send it back unchanged to the lower house.

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