(courtesy NORML Foundation, http://www.norml.org)
Sept. 2, 1999, Switzerland: Switzerland's marijuana prohibition may be a thing of the past, as government officials have promised to decriminalize marijuana use and possession. Drug use will remain illegal for children under 18 years of age.
A Swiss government study shows 27 percent of 15-35 year olds in the country use cannabis. "We remain in the lead for the innovative approaches addressing drug-related issues," said Thomas Zeltner, director of Switzerland's Federal Department for Health. "The consumption of cannabis can't be avoided through prohibition," the Swiss Department of the Interior said in its proposal. "We aim to adapt legislation to reality in the area of drug consumption."
The proposal stated cannabis "does relatively little damage to health" and under certain circumstances "can have a therapeutic effect." The Swiss Government has also suggested criminal penalties for the use of harder drugs such as cocaine be eliminated as well.
In June, voters approved legislation to legally provide heroin to addicts if they have a prescription. "It's amazing to see just how isolated the United States is becoming on the issue of marijuana," said Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director. "While European countries and Canada are crafting meaningful legal reforms -- reflecting modern mores in a rational public policy --America is increasingly relying on expanding the budgets and power of the 'three Ps': police, prosecutors, and prisons."