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Portugal to All-Out Legalize Marijuana?

As the writer of a July 3, 2009 Drug War Chronicle feature ("Marijuana Legalization Legislation in the Works in Portugal") observes, "Portugal has been the subject of a lot of attention lately over its decriminalization of drug possession," a successful and highly lauded - even by the United Nations - policy the Portugese have had in place for nearly a decade but has "only this year caught the world's attention." However, some Portugal lawmakers want to push the policy further and outright legalize marijuana. As the Chronicle reports, "The Leftist Bloc (Bloco de Esquerda) is preparing legislation that would legalize the possession, cultivation, and retail sales of small amounts of marijuana." The proposal also seeks to "provid[e] for regulated wholesale cultivation to supply the retail market."

Legislators have had - and, in fact, encouraged - the assistance of the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies (ENCOD) in crafting their legalization proposal. According to the feature, "The alliance comes too late to influence the marijuana bill, but [it] will provide an entree for drug reformers in the process of future drug legislation, or even revising the current marijuana bill if it does not make it through parliament this year." Indeed, that help may be needed; sources told the Chronicle that the "bill's immediate prospects are uncertain." However, its proponents are gaining ground and report feeling optimistic about the bill's prospects. As ENCOD steering committee member, Portugese law student, journalist, and activist Jorge Roque told the Chronicle, "Honestly, at first I thought this would never pass, but with time and after discussing this with the deputies, I am much more optimistic. [...] Of course, the Left Bloc alone cannot get it passed, but as usual, they provoke debate of ideas, and then, since they are seen as an intelligent and humane group, they can pick up support among other political parties."

For more information about this exciting development, head over to the above-linked Chronicle feature. The informative piece's author had access to a draft version of the bill and mulls over potential pitfalls and positive indicators throughout the article.

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