in this issue of HAMPPU, the magazine of the Finnish Cannabis Association.
is the first of a two part review of a book by that name. Published in 1988, it was Written by two members of the faculty at Harvard Medical School; Lester Grinspoon, professor of Psychiatry, and James B. Bakalar, lecturer of law and psychiatry. "The crim inalization of sale or posession is not taken seriously as a means of controlling alcohol, but it is the first line of defence against other forms of drug abuse... If coercive measures are to be taken seriously, great resources must be invested in them. T he institutional bribery, embezzlement, chaos and terror promoted by drug laws are not just unfortunate consequences ... they are integral methods of realizing the goals of the legislation... It has been conceded that alcohol prohibition could not have be en carried out without methods incompatible with democracy, and the same obviously applies to other drug legislation."
In line with the Cannabis Association's interest in proposed reforms of Finnish drug legislation, we sent free copies of the previous issue of HAMPPU (November 1992) to each of Finland's 200 Members of Parliament. Two MPs, Tina Mäkelä and Hannu Suhonen, w ho constitute a maverick faction of the loony Finnish Rural Party, saw an opportunity to raise their political profile. This had been tarnished by internal squabbles in their party. During Parliamentary Question Time, Suhonen asked Minister of Justice Han nele Pokka (a just say no hardliner herself) if the publication might not be banned. Later, acting on a request by Mäkelä and Suhonen, the Ministry of the Interior ordered the police to investigate if the founding members of the Cannabis Association could be charged with "public incitement to commit a drug crime". No evidence of criminal activity was found, but the investigation provided a good opportunity for a frank and constructive exchange of ideas on drug policy with the police.
In May1993 the Registry of Associations of Finland's Ministry of Justice rejected the application of the Finnish Cannabis Association for recognition under Finnish Law. The application had been submitted in November 1991. The reason given for the refusal was that the stated purpose of the Association, (to influence drug policy and legislation to make the use, acquisition, and cultivation of cannabis for personal use legal for adults in Finland, as well as to study the use of cannabis in different cultures ) is "contrary to dominant views of justice and morality in Finnish society." The decision not to allow the registration of the Cannabis Association does not make it an illegal organization, but it makes it much more difficult for a group to hold a bank a ccount, or engage in other activities restricted to legal entities. The Cannabis Association sees the decision as a violation of the European Treaty of Human Rights, and the principles of free expression, and has appealed to Finland's Supreme Administrati ve Court, with the help of one of Finland's foremost human rights lawyers, Matti Wuori.
In the cover story and leader of its May 15th issue, the British newsweekly The Economist calls for the legalization of drugs. The issue also has two stories on the drugs issue: the failure of the U.S. war on drugs, and one on new insight into the nature of addiction. We shall not attempt to summarize what is already a summary of an article. We recommend that anyone who has not done so already should read the original article which is a clear and eloqhent expression of the case for decriminalization.
The Finnish Cannabis Association recently discovered instructions for the medicinal use of cannabis in the sixth edition of the Finnish Pharmacopea published in 1937. The book, a comprehensive pharmacists' guide, contains a description of the female Canna bis Sativa and Indica plants instructions for the preparation of cannabis extract, or EXTRACTUM CANNABIS INDICAE for pharmaceutical use. The extraction process involves soaking indian hemp in pure ethyl alcohol and percolation. The recommended maximum sin gle dose of cannabis extract is 0.05 grams, while the daily maximum dose is 0.15 grams.
In January 1993 the Finnish Cannabis Association issued a statement on changes in Finnish drug legislation currently under preparation. The Association feels that drug policy in Finland is inhumane. In most other European countries conviction for posessio n requires the confiscation of the illegal substance. In Finland, users have been convicted on hearsay evidence. Finland and Norway have some of the toughest laws against drug users. Bringing the law into line with that of other European countries would l ead to a drastic reduction in drug crime figures. The Cannabis association feels that the current drug control measures cause more problems than they solve, and that it is wrong to punish people for preferring cannabis over alcohol. The Cannabis Associati on also calls for a clear legal differentiation between hard and soft drugs, and for legalization of home cultivation cannabis, as this would break the link between cannabis users and the criminal underground.
The European integration process is putting pressure for a unified drug policy within the European Community. The Netherlands is coming under increasing pressure to change its liberal policy, while other countries are reconsidering their approach. In Germ any, debate on the drug issue is intensifying. Germany courts have thrown out cannabis convictions on human rights grounds, the press has actively debated the decriminalization issue, and ministers in at least two German states, Saar, and Lower Saxony hav e called for either legalization or de facto decriminalization of cannabis. In Switzerland, the Supreme Court recently upheld a lower court decision of a reduced sentence for sale of hashish, noting that it is no more dangerous than alcohol. The Court als o called for an end to cannabis criminalization. In Zurich, the City Council decided to close Platzspitz, the "needle park" where drug sales and use had been tolerated. Zurich is initiating an experimental programme of free heroin distribution to addicts. In Italy the Radical Party has proposed legislation which would legalize cannabis, and establish a state monopoly for heroin and cocaine. A few years ago, the previously liberal Italy imposed jail sentences for posession, leading to immense prison overcr owding. In April, Italians voted in a referendum to back drug decriminalization by a margin of 55.3% for to 44.7% against. Legislation in Spain is fairly liberal, although officials have clamped down since late 1991. Spain has a considerable heroin and c ocaine problem, which the anti-drug lobby in Finland uses as an example of the perils of liberalization. In Russia and Eastern Europe, the situation varies from very relaxed to very strict, and reports are contradictory. Pro-legalization groups have been established in several countries, including Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. Official policy is subject to economic pressure from both the USA and the EC.
Most research on drug use in Finland have tended to emphasize youth. A new study, by social scientist, Dr. Osmo Kontula and Dr. Kaj Koskela MD. entitled The Use of Drugs and Opinions on Drugs - Finland and Europe Compared. The study is the first in which the drug habits and attitudes of the whole population. The study finds that tobacco is the most frequent drug of addiction in Finland; three quarters of those who have tried it once are daily users. As for stepping stones, The study indicates that users o f tobacco and alcohol are just as likely to go on to other drugs as users of cannabis are. Kontula and Koskela find that users of illegal drugs do not differ professionally or socially from the population at large. But misleading anti-drug propaganda has worked. An amazing 30 % of Finnish men and 38 % of women believe that trying drugs just once gets you hooked. Only 17 % of men and 14 % of women said that they would "accept a drug user as a friend". On the other hand, 22 % opposed the criminalization of use, and of the 78 % who were in favour of punishment for users, 68 % felt that a fine was sufficient. The study also debunks claims by Finnish police that there has been a huge increase in drug crime recently: Kontula and Koskela say that there has not been much growth in these figures in the past ten years: average 1,000 people are prosecuted for drug offences annually, and two third of these are for personal use or posession. Compared with other European countries, authorities in Finland put an except ionally heavy emphasis on cannabis. If the focus were on harder drugs, the drug problem would be perceived as much smaller