Swiss Dope Fans Vow To Fight on for Right To Smoke

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Jun 20, 2004.

  1. By Reuters
    Source: Reuters

    Zurich, Switzerland -- Swiss campaigners vowed on Tuesday to fight on for the right to smoke marijuana or hashish despite a fourth failure in as many years to persuade parliament to decriminalize the personal cultivation and use of cannabis. Parliament rejected the motion Monday.
    The youth wing of Switzerland's Young Liberal Democratic Party said Tuesday it would soon propose a fresh initiative to allow a regulated decriminalization.

    Christa Markwalder Baer, a Liberal Democrat member of parliament, said the initiative would be similar to the defeated proposal, which would have tolerated smokers buying cannabis from a certain number of registered outlets.

    These so-called "hemp" shops -- where cannabis masquerades as herbal tea or bath salts -- currently run the risk of being closed down by police but are widely accepted by the Swiss.

    "It is about creating a prudential, regulatory framework," Markwalder Baer said. "The problem today is that because the product is prohibited, one can not run any effective prevention campaigns."

    Known as law-abiding and conservative, many Swiss enjoy an occasional joint and it is not unusual to see suit-clad businessmen beside city lakes engulfed in a fog of dope smoke.

    With an estimated half a million regular or occasional cannabis users -- many of whom smoke publicly in parks, clubs or on ski lifts -- in a nation of 7.3 million people, campaigners say it is time for the law to catch up with reality.

    "The reason the government isn't addressing this issue is cowardice," said Catherine Weber, head of a left-wing activist group, the Democratic Lawyers of Switzerland. "It is simply reality for a lot of people and it must be accepted."

    The Young Liberal Democrats hope to launch the campaign for signatories to their initiative on July 20.

    Memories are still fresh in Switzerland of a liberal heroin policy in the 1990s which led to the nightmare of "Needle Park" in central Zurich, prompting concern that a Dutch-style acceptance of cannabis could encourage use of harder drugs.

    Commercial growing and dealing cannabis would have remained illegal under Monday's defeated law.

    Source: Reuters
    Published: June 16, 2004
    Copyright: 2004 Reuters

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