The 1st Cannabis Festival aimed at legalizing cannabis use in Greece was rendered a success on May 9. An international conference is being organized under the aegis of the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) government. Greek pro-cannabis activists point that legalization of the drug would only benefit the national economy, lining state coffers. Anti-cannabis users, mainly the church, point to their belief that there would be increased addiction, a move to hard drugs and moral decline amongst youth that would come attached to legalization.
Pro-Cannabis users estimate that there are already a million Greeks who regularly or occasionally use 48 tons of cannabis consumed in Greece per annum. Legalization would mean the creation of a new national industry that could dynamically enter the international market.
The growing support of legalization could be seen through the participation of 15,000 people at the recent festival that had the endorsement of SYRIZA’s Youth faction. The event essentially opened the dialogue for consideration of legal cannabis use. Currently, anyone found in posession of cannabis could be jailed for five months, whereas the same sentence applies to those who cultivate the plant strictly for their own use.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras himself had urged for the legalization of cannabis in a paper he signed in 2009.
SYRIZA’s Youth Faction would like to see at least some cannabis used legalize, such as for medicinal purposes. Furthermore, the group would like to see a Dutch-styled model applied to Greece with the creation of cannabis “coffee shops”.
SYRIZA Youth Secretary Ilias Panteleakos says: “We believe that the best way to protect society and youth is to legalize its use, to control the cultivation network and distribution so as to supervise the sources of production and the quality of the very substance. From the moment that distribution networks are in the hands of organized crime there is no control. There are many examples of cannabis legalization abroad, and even U.S. President Barrack Obama stated that the policies on this issue need to change.”
SYRIZA’s Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos has an opposite viewpoint and is in no rush to see the current legal framework change. He states that Law 4139/2013 is recent and should be given a chance before it is changed.
Organizers of the 1st Cannabis Festival sent a letter to Tsipras stating the financial gains to be had from the legalization of Cannabis with a turnover of 2.5 bn euros and the creation of 40,000 new employment positions.