Baltics Resist Drug Law Liberalization 

 Baltics Resist Drug Law Liberalization 

Posted by FoM on January 17, 2002 at 18:03:49 PT
By Jorgen Johansson, RIGA 
Source: Baltic Times 

As European Union member states slowly move toward decriminalizing the usage and possession of soft drugs like cannabis, Latvia, which is fervently seeking membership, is stepping up its battle against narcotic substances.Estonia and Lithuania also appear wary of the kind of liberal approach outlined recently in a draft report by the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly.
Latvia's drug policy aims to reduce both supply and demand. It involves prevention, rehabilitation and cracking down on drug abusers and dealers with harsh punishment.With the battle to legalize cannabis far from won in the EU as a whole, Maris Ozols, spokesman for the Latvian Parliament's European affairs committee, said a more liberal approach could hardly win his country the kind of influential friends it needs."I don't think the EU will give us bad marks if we take a stance against drugs," he said.Priidu Parna, deputy secretary general at the Estonian Ministry of Justice, said decriminalizing drugs could have grave consequences for the rest of Europe, besides which drug policies were not currently a hot topic in the country."There is discussion about what to do when it comes to how to deal with drugs, but there is a possibility that we could become a transit country for drugs from Russia to Europe," he said.Daiva Jakaite, head of the justice and interior affairs unit of Lithuania's European committee, said Lithuanian legislation is in line with EU requirements, and that the EU wanted Lithuania to maintain a strict policy when it came to fighting the use of illegal substances."I don't think the Lithuanian government will allow for any liberalization when it comes to using illegal drugs, and public opinion is very much against the decriminalization of drugs," she said.But recent changes to the law in EU member states show a more lenient approach.Danilo Balotta, project manager at the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction, told The Baltic Times that there are clear tendencies toward new ways of viewing drug use in the EU."In England they are decriminalizing the use of cannabis, making it a non-arrestable offense," Balotta said. "It would be like running a red light with your car. Police won't take you to the station, but they will give you a fine."In Portugal, drugs were decriminalized completely last summer. Drug users are brought before a panel consisting of social workers, doctors and lawyers, who, if the person is considered a drug addict, could send the person to a habit breaking program."The EU is thinking of downgrading sanctions for cannabis or decriminalizing it," Balotta said. "It's much more difficult to make contact with drug users if they are considered criminals and get caught up in the legal system."The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly's draft report published on Nov. 7 concluded that the spread of drug use in a given country does not depend on how harsh the laws restricting drug use are.The Latvian government's official stance passed Jan. 8 says that the draft report does not consider what other EU and U.N. institutions have concluded in earlier reports.Moreover, the government believes the draft report goes against various expert opinions on the matter.Some 110 people died in Latvia last year as a direct result of drug abuse. Most overdosed on heroin. The other deaths were related to amphetamine and ephedrine abuse.In 2000 the total number of drug-related deaths in Latvia was 129. Most of the dead were men under the age of 30.Latvian road police say that last year they detained 209 people driving under the influence of narcotic substances - 50 more than the previous year.Forty-four of the detained had caused traffic accidents. Source: Baltic Times, The (LATVIA)Author: Jorgen Johansson, RIGAPublished: January 17 - 23, 2002Copyright: The Baltic Times, 2002Website: Articles:Cannabis Report Sparks Call for Debate Model for UK Drug Laws Portugal Takes Away Prison as a Penalty for Drugs European Union Countries Prohibit Cannabis

Home  Comment  Email  Register  Recent Comments  Help


Comment #5 posted by E_Johnson on January 18, 2002 at 09:01:15 PT

Soviet habits hard to unlearn, what's our excuse?
For decades these countries had a political machine whose fuel was the idea of harmful social elements out to destroy socialism. The failures of the system had to be explained somehow, so it was the harmful social elements who explained it.Even though today nobody is afraid any more of destroying Soviet state socialism, the people who populate the post-Soviet bureaucracies today were all raised to jerk their knees in that direction on command from the political leadership.They don't know any other way of getting political attention and explaining the failures of their system. They've only had about ten years so far to learn, and that's not much time to train a bunch of old dogs to do new tricks.For example, they have no idea of what a healthy society looks like. They've never had one that they can remember.Before they were attacking drug abusers, they were attacking Russians. The harmful social elements for the last ten years have been Russians who wanted to stay in the baltic after the Soviet collapse. But now they must have resolved that issue (without killing anyone thank heavens), and so they have an opening for new harmful social elements, and of course marijuana users are convenient for that purpose.What's been alarming about America is that the War on Drugs has recreated many aspects of the Soviet political system within our own.We use drug abuse to explain the failures of our school system and of modern parenting and of modern society in general.We also have no idea what a healthy society looks like. The War on Drugs is an attack on something negative, not any kind of reaching towards anything positive. We don't have a positive idea that we are reaching towards in this society now, everything is about an attack on the negative.This is my same point about teen mental health. We're so worried about keeping teenagers off drugs, as if being drug free was proof of mental health. Some teen drug users are more mentally healthy than some drug free teens, I think that's obvious. And with Ritalin and Clonapine and other psychiatric medication being given out to "troubled" teens, we don't even have a consistent standard of what "drug free" refers to.We do not have a concept of a mentally healthy teen in our society, all we have are these ads on TV saying "My son knows people who smoke weed and that scares me."What the f*ck kind of ad is that to establish a platform of caring about said teen's overall state of mental health? That ad is about the parent's obsession with his own feelings about the world. That ad is really aboput convincing parents not to decriminalize marijuana.That ad has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with helping any teenegers understand what it is to be mentally healthy, how to figure out when they aren't mentally healthy and how to improve their own mental health.It's such cynical heartbreaking business, it makes me upset. We have turend American youth into a baby boomer political marketing campaign, and it's sick, and it's a sign of a sick society.The Baltic states have an excuse because ten years is nt enough to unlearn Soviet Communism. They only know how to campaign against imaginary hamrful elements, they still don't know how to formulate discourse based on some idea of what they would want from a generally healthy society.But what is our excuse?
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #4 posted by Industrial Strength on January 17, 2002 at 23:17:26 PT

I thought...
that cannabis was already legal in Switzerland, whats the deal with the dude on the hunger strike?
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #3 posted by CorvallisEric on January 17, 2002 at 22:36:11 PT

Caged tigers
How long after you open the door does it take for a caged tiger to walk free? They did this on a TV nature show and the tiger (or similar) just sat there and had to be coaxed and prodded to leave. 
Same idea in Czech Republic where Parliament overrode Vaclav Havel's veto of new stricter drug laws a few years ago.
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #2 posted by ekim on January 17, 2002 at 18:42:01 PT:

Bernard Rappaz
Antwerpen, 16 January 2002Dear friends,I ask your attention for an urgent action.Bernard Rappaz, a pioneer of cannabis cultivation and manufacturing in 
Switzerland, has been in hunger strike since 14 November 2001. That day, he 
was arrested in what seems an ultimate manoeuvre of (regional) authorities 
to silence him, whereas a new law proposal is currently underway in 
Switzerland, making cannabis cultivation, distribution and consumption 
virtually legal under certain conditions. Bernard has been one of the 
people who made this possible, and it seems that his opponents now have 
grabbed the last chance to punish him for it.On 31 december 2001 an international chain of solidarity hungerstrikes 
started. The goal is to obtain media attention in Switzerland and put 
pressure on the local legal authorities.At the same time, the Swiss Cannabis activists are asking you to sign the 
following petition and send it to the Swiss authorities.PETITION: FREEDOM FOR BERNARD RAPPAZBernard Rappaz is the leader of a legally established company in Martigny, 
Switzerland, called Valchanvre, which is producing and selling products 
containing cannabis (perfume, massage oil, food, beer, wine and others). In 
his village, Rappaz and the approx. 20 farmers who produce cannabis for 
Valchanvre are considered as maffiosi, just because they are cultivating an 
illegal plant. A plant which, according to an increasing amount of 
scientific evidence, possesses extremely useful medicinal values.On 14 November 2001, Bernard Rappaz was arrested. Since then, an 
exaggerated legal action is treating this man and his team as criminals, 
which will cause his firm to go bankrupt. Meanwhile the Swiss parliament is 
preparing the approval of a new legislation this year, which will legalise 
cultivation, distribution and consumption of cannabis products.Since the day of his arrest, Rappaz has started a hungerstrike which is now 
reaching a critical moment. We are deeply concerned that Swiss 
authorities will sacrifice the life of a human being for a law which soon 
will be outdated.Therefore, we urge you to let Bernard Rappaz go and give him a fair process.Please sign the petition and send it to:1. The nearest Swiss Embassy (To check the address of the embassy closest 
to you, check: Boris Ryser of the Swiss Cannabis Consumers Association: fdcc f...You can find more information on: call ++41 79 314 42 26To participate in the hungerstrike chain, please mail 
to:liberezrappaz c...Best wishes,Joep OomenEUROPEAN NGO COUNCIL ON DRUGS AND DEVELOPMENT
Lange Nieuwstraat 147
2000 Antwerpen
Tel 00 32 (0)3 272 5524 / 00 32 (0)3 237 7436
Telefax 00 32 (0)3 237 0225
E-mail: encod g...

[ Post Comment ]


Comment #1 posted by mayan on January 17, 2002 at 18:27:42 PT

The U.S has some really respectable allies in the war on drugs...NOT!!!
[ Post Comment ]

 Post Comment