LEGAL STATUS OF CANNABIS IN FINLAND
1. Consumption and possession
Drug laws were changed in Finland a couple of years ago. A new separate category of “drug use crime” was created. Previously there was only “drug crime”, which applied to use, possession and trafficking. Through the reform of penalties for drug offences in
2001, the police was empowered to impose fines on drug users. While it became commonplace to fine drug users, there was simultaneously a considerable decrease in decisions to wave prosecution. Presently a minor fine is ordinarily imposed for the use of drugs, through a summary penal order proceeding. In the Finnish legal system, the possibility to have a summary penal order examined by a court largely serves as a legal guarantee for the suspect wishes to make use of this possibility. In practice, this possibility is very seldom used. In 2006 the first Finnish patient received legal cannabis from pharmacy. In 2008 it was stated in the law that cannabis can be prescribed as medicine for patients. It is restricted only for cases where normally used medication hasn’t worked. Compared to otherwise strict drug policy in Finland, the medical use of cannabis has been approved surprisingly easily. Some very high profile people have endorsed it in public. But there is still resistance against it among civil servants in the health care sector. It is also difficult to find doctors to write prescriptions, and at the end of 2009 less than 20 patients can receive legal cannabis from pharmacy.
This is one of the real drawbacks with the new law. Even small-scale cultivation of cannabis qualifies as “production”, which is automatically considered more serious than personal use. We have tried to point out that this actually favours the illegal drugs trade by providing a disincentive for users to grow their own.
Criminalised – those convicted of small-scale dealing might get off with a fine, but prison sentences are frequent when large amounts are involved.
4. Provision of seeds, tools to produce and consume cannabis etc.
Possession and/or sale of seeds is not criminalised, and head shops seem to operate without any problems. Sale of pipes and rolling papers (intended for use with tobacco) are restricted to those 18 and over.
5. Production and distribution of hemp products
No problem: hemp clothing, soaps, shampoos, oils, and even chocolate and other food products are sold at a few stores in Finland.
SKY (Suomen Kannabis Yhdistys – Finnish Cannabis Association)->http://www.sky.org/]
Also this discussion forum about cannabis might be useful. Forum is in finnish language.
POLICIES ON OTHER DRUGS
Alcohol and tobacco are taxed heavily, however, heavy drinking once a week very common and accepted, smoking seems to be increasing slightly, once again. On the other hand, in public, illicit drugs are not tolerated at all, even speaking about them in non-judging tone is still disfavoured.
Needle exchange is an accepted way to minimize drug-related harm. A secondary prevention programme (drug education whose primary goal is to reduce use-related harm by providing useable and drug-user-friendly information) has started, but the material has to distributed with consideration. No other significant harm-reduction activities so far. Eg. consumption rooms and pill testing are both still totally unthinkable.
Drug policy is not a central issue. However, the government is somewhat more narcophobic than before, and eg. populistic laws on drug screening are being prepared. Laws regarding new harm reduction actions are not even considered. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (STM) is responsible for drug policy.
Contact for Drug Policy Activism in Finland: Juha Alakulppi
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