MARIHUANA – my passion since the 1990s. One hit and I knew I’d never stop consuming it. In those days we mostly purchased it from Strumica or Gevgelija, with some supplies also arriving from neighbouring Bulgaria, i.e. from Petric. Sometimes we would buy cannabis from Ohrid and Struga because the marihuana in this region mostly came from Albania. The region of Strumica, Gevgelija and the surrounding villages also produced certain quantities of marihuana towards the end of the 1990s. Consequently, police raids and persecution of cannabis users and producers began precisely there in those years. In my opinion, the effects of these raids were damaging for numerous reasons, mostly since cannabis users were treated as criminals. Unfortunately, the raids only enforced the black market budgets of certain neighbouring countries. Even today, the money from every hit, every drop of cannabis oil, for whatever use, end up in the neighbouring countries. This is why I believe it’s HIGH TIME things changed.
I have always thought that substances should be divided according to their harmful effects on the body. Hence, I believe marihuana should receive special treatment in legislation rather than being placed in the same group as other substances. We live in the 21st century, in an age of advanced science. Legal solutions should be created accordingly to these new scientific findings. The people of the 21st century have the right, and the obligation, to create laws according to the reality they live in.
Cannabis use regulation, its legalization, or to start with its decriminalization, could bring serious benefits for Macedonia, from medical to financial ones. The changes in the treatment of these substances, changes that would bring us closer to decriminalization and finally legalization require the unification of all political parties for the collective good. Our requests are of public interest and anyone against them I would consider to be a public enemy.
If the first step is decriminalization, this would require a package of measures tightly linked to one other, which are:
- A specific amount found in the possession of adults should not be punishable;
- Cultivating certain quantity of plants, while in the context of medical use, i.e. for sick people, should be allowed, with an increased number of plants (obviously we are talking about adults registered according to the necessary requirements). The Cannabis Agency, already prescribed with the draft-Law, should control this cultivation;
- Social clubs, also in the jurisdiction and under the control of the Cannabis Agency. The clubs could be visited only by individuals above 21 years of age. The idea is filling in mandatory forms with the necessary information at the entrance of the club, upon which a transaction card would be issued for payments. Sales would be controlled at every visit of the club, which on the other hand would pay unordinary taxes for the economic benefit of the state.
- Membership in the Cannabis Agency Commission of the civil society, i.e. organizations advocating for the cause.
Briefly, this is my perception of what decriminalization should imply. It is my belief that the sooner it happens, the quicker Macedonia would experience the benefits.
The next phase would be LEGALIZATION.
Legalization would provide the country with different benefits. Perhaps we are slightly behind on these changes in comparison to developed countries, and the question on whether we should copy the trends from US and Europe is a continuing one. My opinion is that we have to draft a law suitable to this country, i.e. to the reality we live in, so that the people and the state could enjoy the benefits.
Author: Ognen Uzunovski from Green National Agenda of Macedonia (Зелена национална агенда на Македонија – ЗНАМ)