Author Topic: Why Switzerland decriminalised heroin - but not cannabis  (Read 2683 times)

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Offline Bushpig

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Why Switzerland decriminalised heroin - but not cannabis
« on: December 02, 2008, 02:40:21 AM »
http://www.students4freedom.com/index.p ... -cannabis/

Why Switzerland decriminalised heroin - but not cannabis
2008 November 30
tags: drugs, prohibition, Switzerland
by Oliver Cooper

Today, Swiss voters voted to make permanent the current programme of allowing ’safe zones’ of heroin by a 68% majority.*  At the same time, almost exactly the same percentage voted against decriminalising cannabis.  Although those results seem contradictory, they are easily explicable - even if some of us would rather have seen both decriminalised.

Perhaps I’m biased.  My cousin sits in the Geneva Grand Conseil for the governing classical liberal Parti Libéral.  The Liberals’ position is mixed - wholly in favour of the heroin motion, but split over cannabis (the senior party is mostly against cannabis decriminalisation, but the youth wing is for).  His position, in line with his party, is not based on the rights of the individual to do whatever they want to their own body, as mine would be, but based on practicalities.  Prohibition hasn’t work.  The Swiss model has.

Two key statistics leap out from the Swiss experiment: heroin use and deaths from heroin use have fallen by over 75%.  Unless one thinks that criminalisation increases uptake (obviosly false), the first stat shows that it increases downtake.  That is, criminalisation means people can’t exercise their right to stop putting what they want into their body - so they keep doing it.  The fall in deaths shows that toleration and decriminalisation improve safety.  Despite the characterisation of heroin addicts in the worst manner, they don’t want to be needlessly unsafe in buying or injecting: criminalisation deprives them of pure, safe substances and a safe environment in which to get paraphernalia and inject.**

The referendum on cannabis was less positive, with only 37% voting for decriminalising its possession and use.  Doesn’t that seem somewhat contradictory to British ears?  We’re always told that cannabis is virtually harmless (which it is) compared to heroin (which is demonised as Lucifer injectable).  And if you’re going on a rights basis, there’s obviously no difference between the two.

But the heroin toleration referendum passed because of the pragmatic approach: because over the past fourteen years, it’s worked so damn well.  And it was tried only out of desperation: because heroin use was such an issue in the early 1990s.  Cannabis has never been a major problem in Switzerland - or anywhere, for that matter.  Thus, its decriminalisation wasn’t tried in the first place, and its positive effects, like that of the heroin experiment, never realised.

Yes, it’s mixed news.  But at least it’s a blow struck against the ridiculous “War on Drugs” (which, like all wars, is a war against people: the fact it’s not called that only proves it’s against innocent people).  Votes will be held around the world every year on decriminalising cannabis, but it takes only one country proving that decriminalising heroin can work to cause the others to look at it long and hard.  It’s about time the UK did.  And had the foresight to do the same with cannabis, too.

* OK, it’s not really decriminalisation.  This might be one of those “SEX! Now that I’ve got your attention, let’s talk about ninth-century Burgundian tapestry…” situations.
** If you unleashed the Swiss giants Novartis or La Roche, you’d get far cooler safer drugs.

Offline Syd

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Re: Why Switzerland decriminalised heroin - but not cannabis
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2008, 03:50:06 AM »
is a drug safe zone an area where its legal?

Offline neonfyr

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Re: Why Switzerland decriminalised heroin - but not cannabis
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2008, 01:17:07 AM »
My understanding of Swiss Cannabis Law is that the plant is actually legal, however the dried material if for consumption is illegal.  I have also heard of shops selling cannabis as potpourri, however I think I remember hearing the situation may have changed?

-Matthew

Offline Bushpig

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Re: Why Switzerland decriminalised heroin - but not cannabis
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2008, 04:03:13 AM »
Syd, a safe zone in this case I am 'guessing' means an area where it is not 'legal' but either decriminalised or where you will not get arrested for possession or such.

Booosh

Offline Syd

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Re: Why Switzerland decriminalised heroin - but not cannabis
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2008, 04:52:45 AM »
Yea, I figured after further reading, thanks though.

Offline Peyotefarmer

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Re: Why Switzerland decriminalised heroin - but not cannabis
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2009, 09:11:19 PM »
It´s crazy how they don´t legalize cannabis but they legalize heroin..
Heroin is a much heavier drug than weed.
But Weed is not a low drug at all.
Coffee can kill vour nerves too, but it´s legal.
I like the Girls but the girls don´t like cacti so much as i like them.