You are here
Home > News > Portugal Group Demands Freedom to Vote for Personal Use of Cannabis

Portugal Group Demands Freedom to Vote for Personal Use of Cannabis

The developments in Portugal over the last few years have provided both hope and frustration to those who are following the shift of European countries into pro-cannabis columns.

Tilray began the production of medical cannabis as a way to export it. They were looking for a more open country than Germany for cannabis cultivation in 2017, and they found one. The domestic market has seen a rise in commercial cannabis cultivation and extracting over the years. Portugal is considered to be one of Germany’s most important suppliers for medicinal cannabis.

The legislature was expected to pass recreational legislation in late 2021. But the matter was stopped by the inept government’s failure to pass the 2022 budget. Therefore, a snap election had been called at the beginning January. Due to the controversy over the overseas vote count, the swearing-in of the new Parliament took place a month later than expected.

Cannabis reform will not be a priority in such circumstances.

European Cannabis Reform Is a Zeitgeist Topic

But, reform-minded advocates haven’t disappeared. A further indication is that, as of this summer the prioritization for legalization appears to have re-entered politics.

The Left Bloc party, one of the political groups that helped bring about the fall of the old government by voting against its budget, is renewing its calls for cannabis legalization—even if it is of the personal, home-grow variety. However, they also are expecting support from the ruling Socialist Party in going a bit further than this—namely the establishment of a formal industry.

Left Bloc members Catarina Martins, “One year ago this week the initiative of the Left Block was debated in the parliament: the legalization of cannabis. As you know, this process did not come to an end.” The party believes that this is the time to push for reform because of a collective agreement amongst elected officials (if not Portugal, traditionally beyond this) that Prohibition has never worked.

“To defend public health is to end hypocrisy,” said Martins. “And we believe that there are now all the conditions to end this hypocrisy in Portugal. We know that there are so many people, on all sides of the parliament, which have already realized that the hypocrisy of prohibition has been a way of putting young people at risk.”

The Left Bloc, in an apparent play on Austrian developments right now, is urging their coworkers to vote for this reform that is based upon the principle of individual freedom.

Portugal: Serious Momentum, or more Stalling?

If you are following the politics on the ground this seems to be the start of a new domestic momentum in order finally passing meaningful legislation. This is the case because of Portugal’s history on drug use. Portugal famously made possession and personal use of drugs illegal in 2001. This was a result that influenced Oregon’s 2020 decriminalization measures.

Foreigners may find the legitimacy of this request for legalization a little strange due to who is pushing to make reforms happen. The Left Bloc party is a product of the merger of several groups on the left side of the political discussion including the Marxist People’s Democratic Union, the Trotskyist Revolutionary Socialist Party, and Politics XXI.

Mention the word “socialist” much less terms like “Marxist” or “Trotskyist” in any political debate in the United States, and one is laughed out of the room.

Portugal has a completely different situation. The party is represented in its national legislature.

While the constituent parties that have made up its base sound radical, particularly to Americans, the party also has a reputation as the country’s largest supporter of women’s and gay rights, with a strong civil liberties platform that takes vocal stands against racism. In Portugal at least, they are seen as “socially libertarian.”

“Controlling the risks and putting an end to hypocrisy is public health policy and this is also the commitment that the Left Bloc is making in a month in which we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the national strategy to combat drugs,” said Martins.

It will, as a result, surprise nobody watching this discussion, even outside of Portugal, especially considering Germany’s decision to legalize recreational use this year, if Portugal does the same this year—even, despite all the delays, beating DeutschlandYou are the best.