Onkelinx backs call to decriminalise cannabis

16th February 2006, Comments 0 comments

16 February 2006, BRUSSELS — Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx has backed a proposal from the Francophone Socialist leader to decriminalise the use of cannabis.

16 February 2006

BRUSSELS — Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx has backed a proposal from the Francophone Socialist leader to decriminalise the use of cannabis.

"Punishment is no solution for the thousands who use cannabis," the Socialist PS minister said.

Onkelinx told MPs on Thursday that a "profound" debate over the issue must be held to determine if the law should be changed.

However, the Francophone Liberal MR party and the Flemish Christian Democrat CD&V party are both opposed to decriminalisation.

Socialist PS leader Elio Di Rupo proposed on Monday decriminalising the use of cannabis for anyone aged 16 or older.

Questioned about the matter in Parliament on Thursday, Onkelinx said she was in favour of the proposal, pointing out that research showed that one-third of youth had used cannabis despite the fact it is illegal.

However, the minister stressed the government has not yet decided on its official stance and that an evaluation of current regulations will be sent out in the near future.

Currently, a Justice Ministry guideline issued in February 2005 states that personal use of cannabis by adults will be afforded the lowest prosecution priority.

Meanwhile, opposition party CD&V and government coalition party MR are at odds with Onkelinx's stance.

The parties are especially critical of the proposal to decriminalise cannabis use by youths and the mixed message such decision would give to parents amid the government's efforts to combat drug use.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news

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