As reported by CannaReporter
FIVE members of the European Parliament from different political groups and different EU Member States have come together to create an interest group of MEPs who support human rights-based policies related to personal use of cannabis.
In an open letter to the 705 Members of the European Parliament, encouraging Members of the European Parliament to join the group, MEPs Cyrus Engerer (Malta, S&D), Monica Semedo (Luxembourg, Renovation), Mikuláš Peksa (Czech Republic, Greens), Dorian Rookmaker (Netherlands, ECR) and Luke “Ming” Flanagan (Ireland, Left) welcome recent developments on cannabis legalisation in Germany, Malta and Luxembourg and call for greater sharing of information between Member States on the topic .
MEPs called for a fact-based discussion at EU level on the personal use of cannabis, which has long been seen as a taboo topic due to prejudice and misinformation about cannabis.
“Due to antiquated and unpredictable legislation, citizens across the EU are often forced to turn to the illicit market or, worse still, imprisoned for possessing small amounts of cannabis for personal use. This does not reflect the level of freedom that is expected of our life in Europe,” the group said.
Labor MEP Cyrus Engerer added: “No one should go to prison for a joint. But unfortunately many citizens across the European Union still find themselves in prison just for possessing small amounts of cannabis. While countries like Malta are taking the courageous step of looking at legalisation policies that combat illicit market supply while providing citizens with their personal freedom, others are still far behind.
“The hodgepodge of policies across the EU, and the rise of other countries thinking about cannabis legalisation, is sure to create a lot of discussion in terms of European legislation, Schengen and the single market. That’s why we need to start the conversation.”
In the same vein, MP Mónica Semedo (Luxembourg) said: “The ban doesn’t work, it just makes cannabis use less safe. With legalisation, consumers can receive reliable information and have access to products whose quality is controlled, without being in contact with criminals. The legalisation of cannabis in several member states certainly has cross-border effects. With this group, we can discuss a coherent approach to legalisation at EU level.”
Deep Regulatory Hodgepodge
The open letter, which was sent to all MEPs on 14 July, sends a bold message from the founding MEPs, who make clear that member states must be empowered to create policies around cannabis in a way that reflects the needs and specifics of your society.
“However” – say MEPs – “we cannot deny that with new legislation emerging in EU Member States, we are likely to be faced with repercussions at EU level”, referring to recent developments across the world.
“As MEPs, we want to take advantage of this dynamic and create a cross-party interest group within the European Parliament, where we will share best practices, speak with experts, organise hearings and conferences, as well as debate the situation of personal cannabis use within the European Union” .
Furthermore, at the time of the announcement, Irish MEP Luke “Ming” Flanagan said: “Legal cannabis is safer. This is an indisputable fact. Many EU countries are slowly but surely waking up from the cannabis ban nightmare.”
“The European Parliament must give voice to this reality. The formation of this group is a significant move at a significant moment in an attempt to to change what has been a catastrophic law for many EU citizens who are otherwise law-abiding”.
Dorien Rookmaker, a Dutch MEP who joined the European Conservatives and Reformists earlier this year, also welcomed the formation of the group saying: “Openly discussing a rational approach to cannabis is the way forward. It can help us better understand the benefits of legalisation.”
Finally,Czech MEP Mikuláš Peksa of the Greens, concluded: “The current set of legal rules that restrict the personal use of cannabis in most EU Member States goes very much against the principles of freedom of movement and personal freedom.
“We should look to Germany, Luxembourg, Malta, and other countries that are already taking steps towards legalising personal cannabis use, and advocate for sharing best practices at EU level. I hope this cross-party group will help shed some light on the deep regulatory hodgepodge we currently have, which is sending young people to prison for a victimless ‘crime’”.