Press Release | Citizens’ initiative for responsibly regulating cannabis in Portugal for adult use

Citizen's initiative for responsibly regulating cannabis in Portugal for adult use

On September 17, 2021, in an open letter addressed to the Portuguese Parliament, a group of 67 Portuguese personalities defended the regulation of cannabis for non-medical purposes. The letter is the result of the advocacy campaign developed since March 2021 by the citizen’s initiative for cannabis regulation in Portugal.

Who are we?

The citizens´initiative for responsibly regulating cannabis in Portugal is a group composed of citizens from different expertise areas, coordinated by Luís Mendão and operationally supported by GAT (Treatment Activist Group) and UNITE (Global Parliamentarians Network to End Infectious Diseases).

What is our goal?

The initiative aims to foster the public debate regarding cannabis regulation in Portugal, by promoting social cohesion and a broad coalition to support an evidence-based model, focused on enabling social benefits and improving public health. The goal is to enable an open, transparent, and informed debate, consulting diverse stakeholders from different political spectrums and fields, as well as experts from countries that have already reformed their cannabis policies.

Why?

Currently, there are two bill proposals for the legalization of cannabis for adults being discussed in the Portuguese Parliament (230 MPs) in the scope of the Health Commission. Each bill was crafted and proposed by different parties – the Bloco de Esquerda (Left Block – BE) and the Iniciativa Liberal (Liberal Initiative – IL). Each proposal presented by both parties represent diverse political perspectives, advocating for different overall goals and representing a political minority in parliament.

What are we proposing?

The Open Letter published on September 16, 2021, lists five principles for responsibly designing a cannabis regulation for Portugal, namely:

  1. Setting a transparent and collective process for defining the goals of regulation. Cannabis regulation is a public policy that must be evidence-based. The participants in this discussion should complement their points of view, keeping in sight that policy reform should serve to defend health and fight crime, while financing these goals with taxes collected in the regulated cannabis sector.
  2. Protecting public health. Regulation should aim to protect the health of those who use cannabis, especially the most vulnerable consumers and their communities.
  3. Supporting the efforts to reduce the illicit market. Cannabis regulation should aim to combat criminal activities, progressively eliminating the illegal market and the economic and financial crime, among others, that are associated with it.
  4. Designing a balanced model to collect taxes, to be invested in prevention and information. The transition to a legal cannabis supply would allow the State to collect new tax revenue to support public health. It is important to note that tax intervention in the price of cannabis must take into account the delicate balance towards the objective of eliminating the illicit market .
  5. Gradually regulating and periodically evaluating. The regulation of the responsible use of cannabis must be based on an idea of ​​gradualism and regular evaluation with the objective of allowing the adjustment of policies in response to medical-scientific evolution.

You can read the full letter here (in Portuguese).

Who supports us?

You can read the full list of supporters here (in Portuguese).

What is next?

The debate on cannabis regulation was moved for further and specialized consultation under the scope of the Health Commission. A working group on cannabis reform has been appointed to overview both bill proposals. Due to the parliamentary agenda, voting is not expected to take place until late Spring or early Summer of 2022.

Press Contacts:

UNITE Global Parliamentarians Network to End Infectious Diseases 

Rebeca Marques Rocha, Policy Officer: rebeca.marquesrocha@unitenetwork.org  

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