As you may know last year Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan revealed he asked the European Commission a parliamentary question regarding the legalisation of cannabis for medicinal and recreational use.
Subject: Status of cannabis use in the EU — moving towards the transversal legalisation of cannabis for medicinal and recreational use
The EU has accepted the citizen’s initiative ‘Weed like to talk’ on the adoption of a common EU policy on the control and regulation of cannabis production, use and sale. The legalisation of cannabis would:
— ensure equality before the law and non-discrimination for all EU citizens;
— curb drug trafficking;
— protect consumers and improve health security.
There is a lot of scientific evidence that cannabis has positive effects on human health; a US federal website mentions strong evidence for the anti-tumour effects of cannabis.(1)
1. Would the Commission agree to introduce, and wholeheartedly promote, a directive on the legalisation of cannabis use in the EU?
2. Would the Commission agree to promote the use of cannabis across the EU for medicinal purposes?
Luke was expecting a reply within six weeks yet only received one earlier this month. The response was perhaps a typical political one.
Answer given by Mr Avramopoulos on behalf of the Commission
The European Union does not have the competence to take decisions concerning the legalisation of cannabis use. In line with Article 168 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, Member States have the principle responsibility for legislation in the field of public health — including on drugs. Member States develop and implement policies on drug-demand reduction that are most appropriate in their socioeconomic and cultural contexts. The EU complements and supports the Member States’ action.
Medical use of the cannabis herb is legal in the Netherlands and in the Czech Republic. The EU citizens’ initiative ‘Weed like to talk’, calling for action to legalise cannabis, was closed on 20 November.2014. The Commission awaits the official confirmation from organisers whether or not the required one million signatures have been collected. If the initiative obtained one million signatures, the Commission will carefully examine it and will respond, setting out what action it will propose, if any.
It is good to see the ‘Weed like to talk’ initiative get mentioned by both Luke and the Commission, although one suspects the last line of their reply sums up the European Commission’s likely response should the organisers confirm the one million signatures.
“The Commission will carefully examine it and will respond, setting out what action it will propose, if any.”
That caveat of “if any” speaks volumes.
I might be pessimistic but one suspects their response will be similar to the reply Luke received. However they might make some recommendations or provide some useful information that activists can use.
Despite the lackluster response it is good to see the issue of cannabis legalisation being brought to Europe by one of our MEP’s and a million European citizens. Many social rights have been won or confirmed using European institutions, so it is a good route to take.
Given the power structure in Europe I for one feel that it is when Germany and France change their cannabis laws that Ireland might assess the situation. Not when the US does it on a broader (and federal) scale, or if our nearest neighbour decides to do it, as some activists assume.
Hopefully we will see a response from the Commission on the ‘Weed like to talk’ initiative, but one suspects it could be a while yet.
Finally, I’d like to add a special thanks to Pat who is Luke’s parliamentary assistant, for he has had to put up with my repeated requests for an update on the matter in recent times.