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Citizens' initiative to legalise cannabis heads to Finnish Parliament after 4/20 peak

If MPs approve, cannabis could become legal, regulated and taxed in Finland.

A hand touching cannabis leaves.
The citizens' initiative is aimed at chaning the law in order to legalise, regulate and tax cannabis. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle
Yle News

A citizens' initiative aiming to legalise cannabis will go to Parliament for consideration after it passed the 50,000 signature mark on World Weed Day.

The citizen's initiative that gained the required 50,000 signatures as of Thursday, calls for the legalisation of the use, possession, personal cultivation, manufacture and sale of cannabis in Finland, subject to age restrictions.

The initiative also proposes the establishment of a a regulatory system for the production and sale of cannabis comparable to those regulating other intoxicants, with the aim of minimizing harm to individuals and society

According to the initiative, the difference between intoxicating cannabis and non-intoxicating cannabis, hemp, should be clearly defined so that agricultural entrepreneurs who grow hemp can continue normal operations.

The citizens' initiative was launched on October 20, and it garnered the required 50,000 signatures on 20 April, often referred to as World Weed Day or 4/20 Day.

One of the initiators of the project is Coel Thomas, who told Yle that he considers the initiative to be, above all, an opening for debate.

"This is supposed to be a starter for a social discussion. Now we have seen how, for example, in the United States, Canada and Germany, [cannabis] prohibition was repealed after major social debate. This discussion has not yet been held in Finland," said Thomas.

Second try

A citizens' initiative is a proposal backed by at least 50,000 Finnish citizens with the right to vote, which contains suggestions for enacting a law or starting the preparation of a proposal for a law, as well as the reasons for the proposal.

A previous citizens' initiative to decrimialise cannabis reached the required 50,000 signatures in October 2019. However, in April 2022, Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee voted to reject it.

The position of the committee then was that the initiative was not feasible in the form in which it was presented. The committee further considered that the basic line of Finland's drug policy is relatively successful and that current criminal legislation related to drugs is appropriate.

Timo Larmela, who was also involved in the launch of this latest initiative, says that its content is completely different from the previous one.

"That previous initiative only required an end to punishing use, that is decriminalising it. This initiative aims to legalise, regulate and tax cannabis," he explained.

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