How does a parliament decide where to draw the line on what drugs should be legal and what should be prohibited? In Latvia, we are about to find out. On June 1, a petition to decriminalise marijuana in Latvia will be submitted to the Saeima (Latvia’s parliament) which will spark up a debate on the topic.
The initiative for the decriminalisation of marijuana in Latvia was launched on the petition website, manabalss.lv, on January 23 2012. Since its formation, the petition has obtained 10,373 signatures.
Among regular consumers, concerned citizens and sufferers of arthritis signed the petition, which calls for the abolition of penalties for smoking marijuana, as well as the decriminalisation of growing and possessing small amounts of the drug for personal consumption among users aged over 18 years-old.
At present, should a user be caught smoking marijuana in a public place in Latvia, they could be faced with prison charges; something the petition wishes to reduce to an administrative fine.
Furthermore, they would like to allow for the growth of no more than two-to-three plants for personal use, and the storage of 20-30 grams of fully processed marijuanain the home.
Further proposals included the personal storage of 200-300g of untreated marijuana, and allowing users to carry up to 5g on their person.
Donats Blazevics, the legalisation initiative’s new representative, believes the decriminalisation of marijuana would reduce alcohol abuse in Latvian society, and added the World Health Organisation supports the decision for health reasons.
But Latvia’s pharmaceuticals industry stands against the proposal. Pharmaceutical company’s have stressed that the initiative’s authors are deliberately misinforming the society about free access to marijuana in Estonia and other European Union member states, as well as its well-known medicinal qualities.
The use of narcotics is strongly regulated in Latvia for medicinal reasons, the pharmaceutical companies emphasise. By law, narcotic substances are subject to strict record keeping requirements and must be stored in a safe. These drugs are not available without a prescription, and their turnover is officially reported by pharmacies on a monthly basis.