Riigikogu committee skeptical of idea to legalize cannabis

Cannabis plants (picture is illustrative).
Cannabis plants (picture is illustrative). Source: ERR

The Riigikogu Social Affairs Committee will discuss a petition in November that suggests Estonia legalize the use of cannabis, regulate and tax sales. Leaders of the address find it would help keep young people away from cannabis, while politicians fear public health impact and remain opposed to the idea.

Oskar-Aleksander Lesment, previously of the Estonian Greens, has been a member of the Conservative People's Party (EKRE) since August. He is also the leader of the "Estonia needs a cannabis reform" petition that has reached Riigikogu proceedings. He holds online surveys among cannabis users, is mapping the illegal cannabis market and asking people what they think about a laxer cannabis policy," Aktuaalne kaamera reported.

"I did not like us talking about bans as a way to contain cannabis damages in a situation where we had no factual data; no one has ever reported on how many minors decided not to try cannabis because of police efforts," Lesment explained.

Minors and the black market are the main keywords. Criminals do not ask people their age.

"A quarter of 14-15-year-olds have tried it, while about 10 percent used cannabis last month. The figures are the same for alcohol, which is when you start thinking about where you tax euros are going. I have a seven-year-old child at home, which begs the question whether I'm okay seeing children of the same age report they have already tried cannabis," he said.

Lesment has calculated the illegal cannabis market in Estonia to be worth €171.5 million. He believes the state could regulate the market, tax the commodity and allow sales to persons at least 21 years of age. While the Riigikogu Social Affairs Committee has entered the petition into proceedings as it got over one thousand signatures, politicians remain opposed to legislation.

"It could boost cannabis consumption by leaps and bounds and cause problems with public health and increased medical risks associated with the use of cannabis," said committee member Tõnis Mölder (Center Party).

The committee's deputy chair Helmen Kütt (SDE) said the state is already spending a lot of money on fighting addiction, whether caused by cannabis or stronger drugs. Legalization of cannabis would make it easier for people to graduate to more severe addictive substances.

The committee is set to discuss the petition on November 12.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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