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Health minister comes out in favour of cannabis decriminalisation

Decriminalisation will give those who need medical marijuana better access to treatment, the minister told Yle

Aino-Kaisa Pekonen
Image: Valtioneuvosto
Yle News

Minister for Social Affairs and Health Aino-Kaisa Pekonen has said that cannabis use should not be punished.

“'I support decriminalising cannabis use," Pekonen told Yle.

The minister said those who need marijuana for medical purposes will have better access to treatment if they do not face criminal penalties.

"If such use didn't lead to convictions, it would help people in seeking treatment," Pekonen said.

A citizens' initiative calling for the decriminalisation of cannabis recently made its way to parliament for consideration by MPs. The initiative calls for decriminalisation of possession, use and cultivation of small amounts of cannabis.

Pekonen, however, added that her views are not the Left Alliance’s official position on the citizens' initiative.

"This is my personal view on the matter."

Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo also said she was in favour of the citizens' initiative in a Facebook post last week.

According to daily Helsingin Sanomat, Prime Minister Antti Rinne stated in Parliament on Thursday that the government was "not moving ahead" in eliminating punishments for cannabis use.

Police oppose decriminalisation

National Police Commissioner Seppo Kolehmainen, meanwhile, takes a stricter line on cannabis. He said drug use should not be decriminalised in an MTV News interview last week.

"Police see death, violence, abuse, prostitution, family suffering and crime in general in the world of drugs. It is terribly difficult to accept any form of legalisation of drugs,” Kolehmainen said in the television interview.

Minister of Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson also had a dim view of the citizens' initiative. “I do not believe that it is most important to decriminalise the use of cannabis, but rather to [seek] a more effective substance abuse policy," Henriksson told Yle recently.

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