Finland, like many nations, is considering the question of cannabis legalisation. The debate pits potential tax revenues against concerns for public health. Currently, cannabis use is illegal in the country, except for medicinal purposes. Despite this, an estimated 100,000 Finns use cannabis monthly, with usage on the rise in recent years.
A citizen’s initiative
A citizen’s initiative to legalise cannabis in Finland will be presented to Parliament in the spring. Already last year, it got over 50,000 signatures, signalling significant public interest and support.
The initiative proposes legalising the use, possession, cultivation for personal use, manufacturing, and sale of cannabis in Finland, with age restrictions. Additionally, it suggests establishing a regulatory framework for cannabis production and sales to minimise harm to individuals and society.
Opportunities and concerns
In Finland, the discussion surrounding cannabis legalisation is multifaceted. With a noticeable increase in cannabis usage prompting a citizen’s initiative for legalisation, the proposal aims to regulate various aspects of cannabis with age restrictions. Experts caution against adverse effects, particularly on youth, while advocates emphasise potential tax revenues and harm reduction strategies. Despite these arguments, the Finnish government maintains its stance against legalisation and decriminalisation, highlighting the complexities of navigating this contentious issue.
Kim Kannussaari, an expert at the Finnish Association for Substance Abuse Prevention (EHYT), underscores the negative health effects of prolonged cannabis use. Long-term usage can impair cognitive function, particularly among the young, and may lead to mental health issues. Additionally, smoking cannabis can adversely affect lung health.
Considering cannabis legalisation benefits
Coel Thomas, a proponent of cannabis legalisation in Finland, highlights several potential benefits. Legalisation could generate significant tax revenues, which could be allocated to healthcare. He argues that the current prohibition fosters lucrative profits for criminal organisations while depriving the state of substantial revenues and job opportunities.Moreover, cannabis industry contributes to the economy and creates jobs in the first years post-legalization.
Thomas contends that legalisation would facilitate harm reduction efforts compared to the current illicit market. While acknowledging potential health risks, he argues that prohibition has failed, likening the situation to historical alcohol prohibition.He emphasises that mere decriminalisation isn’t sufficient. legalisation and regulation are essential for a comprehensive approach.
The Finnish government opposes both legalisation and decriminalisation. Thomas acknowledges the unlikelihood of Parliament adopting the citizen’s initiative as law. He believes that more public discourse is necessary to shift policymakers’ perspectives, citing successful debates in other countries.
In conclusion, Finland faces a complex decision regarding cannabis legalisation, weighing economic benefits against public health concerns. While the path forward remains uncertain, open dialogue and evidence-based policymaking are crucial in navigating this issue.