The Green Party of Finland has lost more than 50 members since the weekend, after the party voted for an initiative calling for the legalisation of Cannabis.
Meanwhile, the party reported it gained just under 20 new members since the weekend. But Party secretary Veli Liikanen confirmed on Wednesday that more people so far have left the party than joined.
Teasons for the resignations were not provided in every case, Liikanen said. But he believed most of those who left the party did so precisely because of the call to legalize Cannabis..
However, Liikanen told Uutissuomalainen that the number of resignations is still relatively small when compared to 7,900 members.
Green Party Is First In Finland To Endorse Legalization
Pekka Hakkarainen is a research professor at the National Institute for Health and Welfare, specializing in drug policy. He considers the cannabis legalization initiative a significant, but not very surprising move.
“There is a growing debate in the world about Cannabis, and in several countries policy has changed radically,” Hakkarainen said.
The Greens are the first parliamentary party in Finland to push for the legalization of cannabis.
According to Hakkarainen, only about one-fifth of Finns believe that Cannabis should be legally available. Legalization is most popular among young adults: 34 percent of 25-34 year-olds believe that marijuana should be legally available for any purpose. The data is from a 2018 population survey.
Attitudes towards Cannabis have become more permissive over the years, Hakkarainen said.
According to THL, the proportion of those who have tried Cannabis has also grown rapidly from generation to generation. Eight percent of people in Finland born in the 1950s reported having tried cannabis, compared with 42 percent of those born in the 1980s.
‘Not Ready For That Yet’?
Hakkarainen takes a cautious approach to legalizing the use, possession, production, and sale of Cannabis.
“In my opinion, the Finnish population is not ready for that yet. There is no broad support for it,” the professor claimed. “We have had a total ban on [illicit drug use] for more than 50 years, and when it is changed, we will not know exactly what will follow,” Hakkarainen told Yle.
Well, Prof? It’s not some big mystery. If you’d like to see existing, functioning models of Cannabis legalization, just take a look at Canada, Uruguay, and half the United States.
Some consequences of legalization are already evident, according to Hakkarainen.
“Prisons have been significantly emptied. There has been more need for [drug-related] hospital care, but [cannabis] use by young people does not seem to have increased, and the changes seem to affect the adult population,” he said.
The initiative has not progressed since it went to Parliament. It’s not yet clear how the Green Party will push for legalization. There is no mention of Cannabis in the program of the current coalition government of which the Greens are a member.
Hakkarainen Favors Canabis Decriminalization
Professor Hakkarainen, like many other researchers, advocates the decriminalization of Cannabis.
In a 2018 blog post, Hakkarainen endorsed decriminalizing the use of Cannabis and other illicit drugs. In practice, this would mean that drug use would not carry penalties.
Police catch even very occasional users of Cannabis, according to Hakkarainen. “This has a significant impact on the lives of young people, he said.
If criminality were waived, the issue of drug use could be raised more easily, for example, in schools or occupational health care. Current policies drive people to hide their use to the bitter end.”