Marijuana legalisation debate rehashed in Czech parliament


The debate over whether or not to legalise marijuana has resurfaced in the Czech Republic. This time, a group of MPs from the opposition Civic Democrats plans to present a new bill to the Lower House of Parliament, calling for the decriminalisation of the use of marijuana. But, the bill has drawn little support from the other main political parties. Radio Prague's Pavla Navratilova spoke to social commentator Rene Jakl and asked him what kind of public support this proposal could receive...

Rene Jakl: There is support from the younger generation. There isn't support amongst the general public and people tend to think of drugs as being one category without making a difference between marijuana and hard drugs, so I think it wouldn't get public support.

Radio Prague: Until recently, Czech legislation on marijuana was more relaxed. What caused this to change?

RJ: The change took place about two years ago. The change was caused by the attitude of politicians and by the growing number of users, so politicians thought it would solve the problem. It was a populist decision.

RP: What reasons would various political parties have not to support this proposal?

RJ: I think the strongest opposition would come from the Christian Democrats. I can hear their arguments, that if we open the door to drugs just a little bit, they will destroy us. This is the kind of argument I imagine they will use.

RP: What reason do you think the Civic Democrats have for proposing this bill?

RJ: I think this proposal is very decent, because it would be strange if society punished a whole generation. According to research, almost eighty percent of students have tried marijuana and it would be very strange if eighty percent of people were classed as criminals.

RP: If such a bill was passed, how would it affect the Czech Republic?

RJ: It wouldn't affect it much, because teenagers will smoke marijuana whether it is legal or not. It would prevent us from cases such as the one with Mr Pobuda, who was sentenced to seven years in prison for giving a couple of joints to his friends. It would save us from these excesses. This issue is not about logical reasoning, it's about emotion and populism. So, it's difficult to predict what will triumph, emotions or rationality.