Cannabis Decriminalization Protest Due in Sofia This Weekend

Society | April 20, 2016, Wednesday // 16:49|  views

File photo, BGNES

Thousands are expected to attend a protest for the decriminalization of the use of marijuana this Sunday.

Demonstrators will be demanding an end to legal prosecution for people possessing and growing cannabis for personal use.

They will also go further, calling for the use of cannabis to allowed for medical purposes.

Growing and processing of hemp (including all varieties of industrial cannabis) should be approved and regulated, organizers say. The latter demand also enjoys the support of some Bulgarian scientists, who earlier in April published an open latter urging the legalization of industrial cannabis, arguing it would help the economy.

Several smaller political parties, namely Glas Naroden of musician and municipal councilor Svetlyo Vitkov, liberal DEOS party, and Zelenite ("The Greens"), have said they back the protest.

However, the action is not organized by a political party but by a movement called Liberty420.

As of 16:50 local time on April 20, Thursday, more than 2700 have said they will attend the event on its Facebook page, while nearly 4400 have said they are interested.

The war against drugs is "a total failure and everyone admits it", Georgi Karagegov, who represents Liberty420, is quoted by website OffNews as saying.

He maintains that EU countries which have legalized some drugs show a lower percentage of drug-induced deaths compared to other countries.

Organizers also cite the examples of the Czech Republic, where citizens are allowed to own up to 15 grams and grow up to 5 plants of marijuana for personal use, and of the US state of Colorado where legalization has poured millions in revenues into the treasury in six six months.

According to Karagegov, Bulgaria's main issue of concern with regard to drugs are the synthetic alternatives to cannabis which are cheap but much more harmful.

Synthetic drugs are developed frequently, and it takes time for the legislation to blacklist the new products.

Scientists themselves are divided over the benefits and the extent to which cannabis should be legalized, with some agreeing this should be applied to medical marijuana (which has a very low concentration of the psychoactive component, the THC).

Foreign businesses have so far shown interest in cooperation with Bulgaria on medical cannabis research and development, but have not received an affirmative response from authorities.

In August of last year, a 82-year-old woman was slapped with a fine after being found guilty of growing cannabis in her own yard.

Earlier, a man suffering from multiple sclerosis in the northern town of Lovech was acquitted for owning and growing two cannabis plans which he says alleviate his symptoms and reduce his suffering. A month later, however, a second-instance court overturned the decision.

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Tags: cannabis, marijuana, hemp, protest, medical marijuana, Svetlyo Vitkov, DEOS, Zelenite


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