The Socialist Party (PS) has submitted a bill to the Chamber of Representatives proposing a Belgian model for regulating cannabis. The draft law aims to organize public control of the market at all stages, from production to consumption, within a strict legal framework. The bill proposes two possible paths for production and distribution. One is individual production of cannabis strictly for personal use, for which a maximum number of plants would be established by a royal decree. The other path is production and distribution by ‘Cannabis Social Clubs’ on behalf of their members. These proposed clubs would operate under a license issued by a Cannabis Control Authority.
The draft is aimed at countering the trivialization of marijuana which, its authors say, is promoted by the current repressive system. It would prohibit minors from being involved in cannabis. Further, the proposal provides for an assessment of the new system enabling the legislation to evolve eventually.
The socialists judge that the prohibition policy in effect for more than 50 years has failed, noting that the number of consumers has kept on increasing, particularly among the very young. These consumers are potential victims of a criminal market that has been becoming increasingly lucrative. This situation is costly for the legal system and, the socialists argue, does not allow for a policy of prevention and risk-reduction worthy of the name.
Cannabis consumption has been tolerated in Belgium since 2000, even though the law still stipulates in principle that it is banned. Since 2005, an order from the Ministry of Justice and the College of Attorneys-General sets the conditions for prosecution. under certain conditions, there are no charges. However, the differences in enforcement by the various judicial districts add to the confusion brought about by this policy of tolerance. Moreover, it does not resolve the issue of the criminalization of the supply market.
The bill has been signed by eight socialist parliamentarians, including the outgoing head of the group, Laurette Onkelinx, PS Chairman Elio Di Rupo and parliamentarian Willy Demeyer, mayor of Liege, who is active in parliament on the issue of drugs. Jason Bennett The Brussels Times