'Dare to legislate': Brussels mayor repeats call to legalise cannabis

'Dare to legislate': Brussels mayor repeats call to legalise cannabis
Credit: Belga

Following the reported agreement by the German Government on the legalisation of cannabis, Brussels mayor Philippe Close reiterated his plea to decriminalise and eventually legalise its use in Belgium and Brussels.

Over four million adults consume cannabis in Germany, which is why Chancellor Olaf Scholz wants to crack down on the organised crime behind it by legalising and regulating the product and no longer considering it narcotics.

"My full support for the socialist Chancellor Olaf Scholz who dares to legislate on cannabis," said Close on Twitter, tagging Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne. "It is time our country took the same direction. It is not about promoting a product but about managing it."

In an interview with a Dutch newspaper in July this year, he launched a proposal to have a "serene debate" about the decriminalisation and eventual legalisation of cannabis through a "national drugs plan" in Belgium – partly following the example set by the Netherlands.

For Close, the problem of drugs in society will never be solved by the police alone, which is why he said the authorities need to work with doctors, psychologists and social workers as well. "Let's concentrate on prevention, not on punishment."

He stated that he does not know anyone who has never tried a joint in their life, but Belgium does not want to talk about it because the country does not want to see the problems that drugs cause. "I see a joint like I see a glass of whisky: if you have one on a Saturday evening, you do not have a problem. But if you start your day with it, you do. And then you need help."

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Currently, some small stores are already selling cannabis sweets without the active THC components, but Close wants to create a framework to regulate them. "For example, they should not be too close to schools. With that same framework, I hope that we will also soon have coffee shops in Brussels."

However, whether Germany's plans will pass remains to be seen, as they may clash with European cannabis regulations, which would likely also impede Close's hopes for Brussels – even if he did find support within the Belgian government.

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