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Portugal considers cannabis legalisation

Portugal News

Wednesday 20 Dec 2017

The Left Bloc and the Communist Party at the beginning of the year once again prepared legislation in order to have cannabis legalised for therapeutic and recreational purposes.

The Social minority government’s leftist partners had previously attempted to have similar legislation passed, but it was rejected in 2013 and again in 2015 by the previous centre-right coalition government.

While Portugal decriminalised drug use at the turn of the millennium, thousands of criminal cases are opened against cannabis users each year.

Existing legislation stipulates that owning or growing cannabis which exceeds ten days’ worth of consumption is considered a crime as it is not deemed for personal use.

As such, the 2015 report by the Addictive Behaviour and Dependency Intervention Service revealed that 85 percent of the 10,380 cases opened against drug users that year related solely to cannabis use.

The Left Bloc has said the existing legislation continues to criminalise its use, with many people who grow cannabis considered traffickers.

“In other words, whoever plants cannabis at home for personal use instead of purchasing it on the black market can face a prison sentence”, the Left Bloc said in a statement, though it stressed it was unsure as to how many users were actually behind bars due to this feature of the law.

The Left Bloc had back in 2015 proposed that cannabis become widely available for therapeutic use. It also drew up a law proposal decriminalising those who grew their own cannabis plants and called for the creation of social clubs.

This legislation received strong support from the left, with even a number of Socialist MPs voting in favour. Perhaps surprisingly, the Greens abstained.

With the recent shift in the political panorama towards a more liberal parliament, the Left Bloc and the Communist Party are now said to be readying similar law decree proposals that will be tabled at the beginning of 2018.

Party representatives have however agreed that proposals to legalise cannabis use for therapeutic and recreational purposes should be presented separately. The priority for now also appears to be to approve legislation that allows its increased use for medicinal purposes.




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