Committee decides society is not ready for legalization of cannabis

A cannabis farm.
A cannabis farm. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The Social Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu discussed an appeal to legalize cannabis on Tuesday but said consumption and health care costs would increase, and no further steps towards regularization are expected.

The authors of the statement put before the committee say legalization and regulation would help keep minors away from cannabis and increase tax revenues, but politicians disagreed saying Estonian society is not ready for the legalization of cannabis. 

Chairman of the Social Affairs Committee Tõnis Mölder (Center Party), said in Estonia's current political direction there are no plans to legalize or relax the rules around the use of cannabis.

However, activists who addressed the Riigikogu and collected more than a 1,000 signatures want the state to regulate the cannabis market, and impose taxes and an age limit on sales of 21 years.

EKRE member Oskar-Aleksander Lesment who carried out a self-conducted study of the black market today, concluded it is worth around €170 million in Estonia, taxing it would benefit the Treasury and regulate access to cannabis for minors.

But Mölder said: "The economic aspect or the benefits we get from it do not outweigh the health damage."

Helmen Kütt (SDE), deputy chairman of the Social Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu, said legalization of cannabis would lead to a huge increase in health care costs, as well as human suffering. He believes that this would also lead to an increase in cannabis use.

Lesment said the consequences and costs are still issues that need to be dealt with in Estonia, but currently, the proceeds go to criminals. He urges politicians to investigate how the situation in Canada has changed since legalization was introduced last year.

"Let them go, see how regulation works there, talk to local experts, talk to local politicians about what was good, what was wrong, what's in favor, what's against, what the arguments are, what the developments are, and what the direction of their legislation is," he said.

Kütt said the number of retired people using cannabis in Canada has increased. "I don't think it should be an example to strive for," he added.

Last week, the government's Drug Prevention Commission also discussed the legalization of cannabis, and also did not support cannabis legalization. However, politicians believe that some issues could still be discussed.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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