HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Not Drug-free, But Penalty-Free
Pubdate: Sat, 24 Apr 1999
Source: Survey of German Language Newspapers for 24 April 99
Courtesy: Harald Lerch  Pat Dolan NOT DRUG-FREE, BUT PENALTY-FREE

Writing in The Swiss 'Tagblatt' ( Eleonore
Baumberger says that:

In no other area is there such a gulf between the law as it is written and
practiced as the consumption of illegal drugs. According to figures from
the Federal Ministry of Health, around 30,000 persons are regular consumers
of ‘hard’ drugs such as cocaine and heroin. And 600,000 persons 15 to 39
years old have tried marihuana at least once.

The EKD (federal commission for drug questions) confirms that marihuana is
consumed without any consciousness of breaking the law.

A revision of the 1951 drug law is irrelevant. That was shown when the
electorate rejected the two opposing initiatives 'Youth without drugs' and
'Droleg'. The public obviously support a practical drug policy.

Drug experts, particularly the members of the EKD, considered the question
of decriminalization of consumption and dealing in small amounts of
marihuana. The occasional consumption of marihuana, in the opinion of the
experts, does not lead to the consumption of hard drugs. Nor is it so
dangerous as the consumption of legal drugs such as alcohol, tobacco, and
certain medications.

The decriminalization of illegal drugs is furthermore widespread in
practice. A law forbidding consumption in principle, but winked at in
practice, is in urgent need of revision.

The EKD is therefore suggesting that access to marihuana be legalized. It
knows that a full decriminalization of soft drugs would come in for stiff
political opposition. The commission proposes, therefore, a model in which
legal access to marihuana would be granted, with regulations providing for
the production and distribution, rejection of advertising, age limitation
and eventual price stabilization.

This model, which could be the basis for the revision of the drug laws,
corresponds broadly to the (rejected) Droleg Initiative, not for all drugs,
however, but simply the ‘soft’ drugs.

A regulation, which partly legalizes marihuana, could, however, have
chances of being passed into law. It would not only decriminalize conduct
which is wide-spread, but would also lead to considerable savings in
prosecution costs. This saving could then be applied to prevention measures.

That, at any rate, seems a necessary measure, according to Lausanne
criminology expert Martin Killias. He foresees an increase in consumption
accompanying the legalization of currently illegal drugs. A drugfree
society remains more than ever an illusion.


A longer article in the same paper, "Marihuana from 'Coffee Shops',
discusses the same topic in greater detail.
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