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Europe: Finnish Left Party's Youth Organization Calls for Marijuana Legalization

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #487)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

The Left Youth of Finland, the youth organization of the Left Alliance Party (link to official web site in Finnish here) narrowly approved a resolution calling for the legalization of marijuana use and home cultivation. The resolution passed by a two-vote margin at the group's annual convention last weekend, according to Finnish media reports.

While a four-year-old Left Youth drug policy statement said there should be no punishment for personal marijuana use or growing, the group had previously hesitated to call for legalization. In fact, the same policy statement that said marijuana use should not be punished also said that "Cannabis should not be legalized in Finland."

Passage of the resolution comes some six months after Left Youth's Satakunta area chairman was sentenced to a fine for growing and smoking marijuana.

Among those opposing the resolution was new Left Youth president Jussi Saramo. He said the matter needed more consideration and should have been debated in the broader context of overall policy toward intoxicants. "However, as chairman, I stand behind the decision," he added. "We don't need any more drugs, but victimizing the users does not help," Saramo added.

Passage of the resolution puts the Left Youth at odds with its parent organization, the Left Alliance. Party chairman Matti Korhonen criticized the youth group, saying holding a vote at a convention is not the proper way to decide important issues. "The party's starting point is one of zero tolerance," he added.

The Left Alliance, formed in 1990 from former socialist and communist parties, receives around 10% of the vote in Finnish elections. With three strong parties, Finnish governments typically involve multi-party coalitions. The Left Alliance joined coalition governments led by the left-leaning Social Democrats in 1995 and 1999, but it is not part of the current coalition government led by the conservative National Coalition Party.

Under current Finnish drug laws, which changed two years ago to include the offense of "drug use," possession of up to 10 grams of hashish or 15 grams of marijuana is typically punished by a small fine. Growing marijuana plants, however, is still considered a "drug production" offense and is punished more severely.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

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