Swiss Legalization Referendum Fails, but Provides Hopeful Signs for Future 12/4/98

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In our last issue before the Thanksgiving holiday, we reported that voters in the nation of Switzerland were to decide November 29 on the legalization and regulation of drugs ( Droleg did not pass, with 72% of voters opposed and 28% in support.

An exit poll found, however, that of those who voted against the initiative, 40% would have voted for legalization of marijuana only, yielding a majority in support of marijuana legalization and suggesting hope for future reform in that area. Opposition to the initiative focused on the concern that by legalizing all drugs while their neighbors continue to have prohibition, Switzerland could face large numbers of "drug tourists" and resulting nuisance problems.

Earlier in the year, Swiss voters approved prescription availability of heroin by a margin of 70-30, and doctors now have the right to prescribe heroin to addicts. Opponents of drug policy reform have portrayed the Droleg vote as a reversal. Droleg's non-passage may, however, reflect caution rather than outright opposition to the concept of legalization. Swiss voters may simply want to see how well heroin maintenance works, rather than proceeding swiftly and dramatically to full legalization, before any other country in the world. It is notable that a full 28% of Swiss voters were aware enough of the consequences of prohibition to support full legalization all at once and in advance of any other European country. How would the Swiss vote have gone, were it in the context of a European- or world-wide policy shift? Perhaps more than 28% would have supported it.

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Issue #69, 12/4/98 DRCNet Projects and Campaigns | Alert: Show of Support Needed for New Jersey Needle Exchange | US Congress Triples Military Aid to Colombia | Report: New York State Now Spending More on Prisons than Higher Education | Drug War Perjury Highlighted In Congressional Impeachment Hearings | Thousands Protest at US Army School of the Americas | Swiss Legalization Referendum Fails, but Provides Hopeful Signs for Future | Coalition Seeking DC Election Results Grows | Editorial: Criminalizing our Children
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