Austrian Young Greens on Marijuana Legalization

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As Young Greens, we often get the reputation of being a bunch of teenagers who like get high and talk politics. Despite that this is largely an incorrect stereotype for many Young Greens across the world, it does speak true about one point. It has long been Green parties and their youth counterparts across the world that have lobbied for the legalization of marijuana. While this is a cornerstone for some groups in Europe, its not so celebrated in others.

So the Ecosprinter asked Young Green groups across Europe about their stances on marijuana legalization. Today we go to Austria, a place where Young Greens can often be seen dancing around the country in a giant joint costume as a part of their ongoing marijuana legalization campaign.

Answered by Kay Michael Dankl, Speaker of Junge Grune

  1. What is the Austrian Young Green’s position on the legalization of marijuana?

We support the full legalization of marijuana for everyone at or above the age of 18. We also call for more awareness­ raising and education on drugs in schools to ensure that people can make free and informed decisions. This entails a general ban on advertising for drugs – including alcohol and tobacco.

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  1. How did you get to this conclusion?

The current drug policy in Austria has clearly failed. Hundreds of thousands of Austrians consume marijuana on a regular basis. They are all criminalized simply for consuming a substance less harmful than alcohol and tobacco. These double­standards not only curtail our rights as self-determined individuals. The current policy also causes unnecessary suffering among potential beneficiaries of medical marijuana. We also recognise that the global war on drugs is causing widespread suffering in areas afflicted by drug­ financed wars and criminal gangs while failing to meet its aims.

 

  1. Is your position different than the Green party in Austria?

In its party manifesto, the Austrian Green Party also calls for the legalisation of marijuana. In everyday ­politics, the current party leader instead advocates decriminalising users instead of full legalisation.

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  1. What role do you think the Greens will play on the public debate in Austria about marijuana legalization?

Since their formation in the 1980s, the Austrian Greens have supported the legalisation of marijuana. The have long been the only party to put forth this demand. Very recently, the Social Democratic Party and a new liberal party have adopted resolutions calling for the decriminalisation and the legalisation of marijuana, respectively. In the public debate, which focuses on decriminalising users, the Greens will likely continue to be regarded as the party that has advocated the decriminalisation and the legalisation of marijuana the longest and most consistently.

 

  1. How do you think this policy makes sense given Austrian history?

Austrian drug policy has for decades been based on criminalising consumers of most drugs except alcohol and tobacco. While the repressive policy towards marijuana has criminalised thousands and destroyed the lives of many, the supposed benefits of this policy seem to be nonexistent. It is high time for Austria to try a new policy of legalising marijuana.

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