Pubdate: Mon, 08 May 2000
Source: Japan Times (Japan)
Copyright: 2000 The Japan Times
Contact:  Central P.O. Box 144, 352, Tokyo 100-8691


ZAGREB (AP) Hundreds of Croatian marchers lit marijuana joints in Zagreb's 
main square Saturday as they joined a parade advocating the legalization of 
pot. A similar demonstration took place in Prague, the capital of the Czech 

"We regret having to break the law," said Mario Kovac, an independent 
artist who organised the march to urge the government to repeal, or at 
least relax, statutes governing so-called soft drugs.

"But we are prepared to bear the consequences if we have to in order to get 
our message across," he added, puffing smoke into a television camera.

Earlier in the day hundreds of young people gathered in central Prague to 
support legalization of marijuana.

Smoking marijuana and hashish, the crowd of about 400 protesters called for 
putting soft drugs on a par with alcohol and tobacco.

"When consumed in little amounts, marijuana is far less dangerous than 
alcohol, tobacco or hard drugs," said Michael Polak, the organizer of the 
rally. "Despite tough jail terms for possession of marijuana, people still 
smoke it, and that's good."

Polak urged smokers of marijuana to grow the plant rather than buying on 
the black market. "It's less dangerous to grow it yourself," he said.

Unlike many Western countries, Croatia's penal code does not distinguish 
between hard and soft drugs. The penalty stipulated for marijuana is up to 
one year, the same as potentially lethal heroin or cocaine.

In the Czech Republic, possession and sale of marijuana are punishable by 
jail term of up to three years. According to an opinion poll published 
Friday by private Sofres Factum Agency, 80 percent of citizens are against 
legalization of marijuana.
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