Green Party in Finland calls for cannabis legalization, regulation

| Staff

The Green League, a green political party in Finland, has officially adopted a policy of cannabis legalization during a virtual party conference on September 12. 

The motion, called for “the repeal of the Cannabis Prohibition Act and the authorization of the use, possession, manufacture and sale of cannabis”, calls for the legalization and regulation of cannabis in the country. 

“The Cannabis Prohibition Act”, reads the party website (translated), “will be repealed and the use, possession, manufacture and sale of cannabis will be permitted. At the same time, cannabis will be subject to comprehensive regulation similar to the current permitted intoxicants, including regulation of sales and manufacturing and taxation. Registry entries (criminal records) resulting from cannabis use will be deleted.”

The Finnish Green League holds 20 seats in the 200-member Finnish parliament. According to local press, a recent poll showed only 18% of the Finnish public supported cannabis legalization. The call for legalization is said to be at odds with the country’s Centrist Party, which stand opposed to legalization. Both parties sit in a five-member coalition that currently forms government.

The Greens had previously held a policy of decriminalization of cannabis possession, but not full legalization. The call for legalization and regulation was from the party’s youth organization, a move at odds with party leadership, winning by a small margin of 183-181, with seven abstentions. A similar motion brought forward at the party’s conference in 2020, but didn’t pass. 

“The world is changing,” said Maria Ohisalo, the Party’s Interior Minister and President. “New perspectives are coming from Portugal, Canada, Norway and Denmark. We are committed to facts based on thorough research on this matter.”

Much of the language in the motion mirrors the arguments the Liberal Party of Canada used in their calls for legalization in 2015, noting that prohibition has failed in its objectives of protecting children and the public from cannabis use, and has been enforced in ways that have perpetuated injustice and racism. It also says the cost of policing prohibition is a waste of public resources, while not regulating sales is lost revenue for the state, and that legalization itself can create jobs and tourism opportunities. 

Canada’s legalization initiative was also pushed to the forefront by the Liberal Party’s youth wing, with calls for legalization by the party’s BC Young Liberals in 2013.

The Greens say their first step would be the decriminalization of cannabis possession, before moving to create a legal, regulated system for production and sales. Given the slim margins of support even within the party, as well as the minority seats the Greens hold in the Finnish Parliament, combined with relatively low support from the general public, it’s unlikely such legislation will move forward in Finland anytime soon. 

From the Green League’s website (translated):

“The goal of the Cannabis Prohibition Act has been to reduce harm by reducing use. However, it does not reduce use, but makes cannabis itself more harmful to individuals and society. The Prohibition Act thus completely fails in the goal it has set itself, and at the same time creates new unnecessary and humanly significant problems. We have a duty as a political party to dismantle and reform the structures of society that do not work and that actively cause more harm than good.

“Cannabis regulation creates opportunities to prevent drug use problems and stigma, which affects the most vulnerable people. Equality is ensured through regulatory measures such as control of products, prices and concentrations, distribution of distribution points and marketing restrictions. These measures have been found to be effective, for example, in reducing smoking.”