Newsbrief: Swiss Marijuana Potency Becomes an Issue 12/6/02

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Reuters reported Monday that opponents of the decriminalization of cannabis in Switzerland are trying to make an issue of Swiss marijuana's potency in an effort to derail the pending move. Last year, the upper house of the Swiss parliament approved decriminalization, and the lower house is scheduled to address the matter early next year.

But a study of cannabis potency done by a Swiss consumer watchdog group found that Swiss pot was much more potent than lawmakers had previously assumed, allowing opponents an attack opening along the lines of drug czar John Walters' "it's not your father's marijuana." According to the study, Swiss marijuana contained up to 28% THC, far more than the 1.5% to 6% reported in 1997.

Some marijuana experts argue that higher potency simply means that users smoke less to achieve the desired high, but Swiss opponents are following the lead of US prohibitionists. "We have to revise our verdict," said Richard Mueller, director of the Swiss Institute for Drug Abuse. "Smoking cannabis isn't as harmless as we thought," he told Sonntags Zeitung.

"I will do everything to prevent this issue from coming through," added parliamentarian Toni Bortoluzzi of the conservative Swiss People's Party. But the People's Party is in the opposition, and the governing coalition remains wedded to decriminalization.

"We have always said it (smoking cannabis) is not harmless," a spokeswoman for the Federal Office for Public Health told Reuters, "but it is no more dangerous than other substances out there." The spokeswoman added that the government emphasized prevention by informing youths of the potential risks of drugs and alcohol. "Especially with youths, I think it makes sense to tell them cannabis is treated the same way as alcohol and tobacco. Then we may have better access to them rather than if we tell them that it's against the law," she said.

Still, it appears that decrim faces a rockier road in the lower chamber than in did last year in the upper chamber. "In the last few months there has been a more restrictive way of looking at it," Rosemarie Dormann, a member of the lower house's social security and health committee, told Sonntags Zeitung.

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Issue #266, 12/6/02 DRCNet Needs Your Help! | Editorial: Crimes and Minor Accidents | MPP Files Complaints Charging Drug Czar Violated Election Laws | Wisconsin Rave Rebellion: Racine in the Hot Seat as Hundreds Demand Trial on Bogus Bust at Electronic Music Benefit Concert | Bye, Bye, Asa: DEA Chief to Leave for Homeland Security Gig, Will Be Replaced by Career Narcocrat | The Lone Horseman: Texas Ex-Cop Hits the Trail for Marijuana Legalization | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cop Story | Newsbrief: Radical Party Anti-Prohibitionist Wins European of the Year in European Voice Magazine Online Vote | Newsbrief: Study Says Terminal Patients Don't Get Adequate Pain Treatment | Newsbrief: New Jersey Weedman Still Jailed for Thought Crime | Newsbrief: Study Says Few Medical Marijuana Users, Little Impact on Law Enforcement -- Feds, Some Cops Disagree | Newsbrief: Study Says "Gateway Theory" is Bunk | Newsbrief: US Accuses North Korea of Drug Trafficking | Newsbrief: Illinois Prosecutors Use Ecstasy Law to Charge Partiers With Murder | Newsbrief: Canadian House Panel Will Call for Cannabis Decriminalization, Newspaper Says | Newsbrief: Swiss Marijuana Potency Becomes an Issue | Newsbrief: Pennsylvania Set to Increase Ecstasy Dealing Penalties | Anniversary of Alcohol Prohibition | Action Alerts: Rave Bill, Medical Marijuana, Higher Education Act Drug Provision, Tulia, Salvia Divinorum | The Reformer's Calendar

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