Newsbrief: Finnish Green MP Causes Flap with Admission of Cannabis Use 5/14/04

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There are Green parties and then there are Green parties. In most countries, the Greens have adopted progressive drug reform planks, and in some places, Green politicians are prominent cannabis advocates, but things are a little different in Scandinavia. An indication of Nordic sensibilities came last week, when Finnish Green League Member of Parliament (MP) Rosa Anneli Meriläinen was scolded by her own party leadership for being a little too candid about cannabis.

Rosa Meriläinen
The flap started when Meriläinen admitted in an interview with the magazine Image that she "smoked a little cannabis at some parties" around a year ago, during her term as an MP. The 28-year-old former party vice-chair then became the object of discussion in the Green's Parliamentary Group, the Helsingin Sanomat reported.

According to the Finnish newspaper, Meriläinen's comments were regarded as "awkward" for the party as it prepares for June elections to the European Parliament. Current party leaer Osmo Soininvaara was not amused. "Particularly stupid," he said. "The laws currently in force should be respected."

That reaction is not surprising, given the Finnish Greens' stance on drug policy. In a single platform paragraph that lumps drugs in with prostitution, the party position fails to mention legalization or even decriminalization of cannabis. Instead, the platform emphasizes prevention and treatment -- "recovering from alcohol or drug abuse is supported," it says. The platform does call for improved availability of maintenance and substitution treatments for hard drug addiction.

Whatever their stance on drug policy, the Finnish Greens are weak, with only 14 MPs out of 200, making them the country's fifth-largest political party.

Visit http://www.vihrealiitto.fi/english.shtml to read the Finnish Green platform online.

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