European Union Initiative to Legalize Marijuana
Tucked away in the body of European Union laws is a convenient Union-wide citizen’s initiative that requires lawmakers to propose legislation if 1,000,000 votes are collected. Naturally marijuana activists have started the “Weed Like to Talk Initiative” to start a broader European discussion of recreational and medical use of cannabis.
The movement is recognition of limited movement in marijuana laws over the last decade in the European Union states. Discussion is often the first step towards realizing that modern drug policies are in truth archaic and need to be changed for the fiscal, mental, and physical well being of citizens and governments alike.
Widespread Initiative Support Takes Time
Support needs to be high for an initiative to pass on at the Union level, however. More than 25% of the states need 1/500 of their citizens to sign the initiative in order for it to pass. In specific terms, this means 1,000,000 and 7 states, minimum. For larger states, more votes are required and each combination of 7 states requires a different number of votes.
Whether or not this initiative is being seriously funded, or is a push to test the waters and see which countries the movement should focus on is unclear, but by September 150,000 people had signed the initiative a little less than a year after it’s creating. Clearly they have a ways to go in terms of funding to canvas more people for signatures to clear the touted 1,000,000 signature on their initiative.
Discussion Benefits Both Sides
Passing the initiative is only the first step in the gauntlet of producing a law in the world’s biggest economy. The initiative is a formal request by the citizens to the European Commission to propose a Legal act, which the member states will themselves confer upon. There is no Union level referendum to directly amend the Treaty of Lisbon by popular vote.
Even if the initiative fails to create a Union-wide unilateral change of marijuana policy, the initiative creates awareness in the public, if not downright excitement. It also forces policy makers to thumb through research and look at laws passed in other countries for guidance during the discussions and development of a law, which can lead to a few swayed minds.
Many European states will be looking at Portugal’s broad legalization that drastically reduced drug usage, as well as Amsterdam’s soft Legalization and non-promotional stance towards the drug as inspiration.