(Photo Credit - Max Naylor)
Iceland is about to introduce a bill to legalize adult-use cannabis for the entire nation.
“We have been working on this bill since December. I have had the youth movement of Reform (my party) involved along the way,” said MP Pawel Bartoszek, the author of the bill, in an interview with Marijuana.com. “We felt it was ready and we wanted to have a good discussion about this during this autumn session.”
Bartoszek added that the bill will likely be introduced to Iceland’s Parliament today or tomorrow. Once introduced, citizens and others can comment on the legislation before it is discussed formally. “People can start reading it, and everybody can send in comments to the Parliament,” said Bartoszek.
The bill is expected to be up for discussion in Parliament sometime after Iceland’s general election on Oct. 28. Despite the wait, the idea is already seeing support from more than one political party in the Nordic nation.
“The reaction to the bill has been strong, from both sides. I have three co-sponsors, Sigrún Ingibjörg Gísladóttir from Reform and Gunnar Hrafn Jónsson and Jón Þór Ólafsson from the Pirate party.”
Bartoszek clearly has optimism for the bill, but the Icelandic politician is also realistic regarding the fact that naysayers exist in his country. “I [am receiving] lots of support, but as in any democratic society lots of people think this is a bad idea, and express that loudly.”
At this point, Bartoszek is unsure of the level of support he will see from citizens regarding full legalization, but he feels that cannabis reform of some kind is something Icelanders would like to have. “I hear in the discussion that many people would like to see some sort of decriminalization as the first approach. I simply think that the [legalization] solution is more effective than decriminalization. Regulation gives us the option to control prices and control access,” said Bartoszek.
The member of Parliament added that the legalization of cannabis in other countries, like Canada and in specific U.S. states, has also helped influence the hearts and minds of the government and the general population of Iceland. Bartoszek and his fellow sponsors have followed a blueprint and tailored it to Iceland’s political landscape.
“In Iceland we fine 1,000 people a year for various drug offenses. I want that to end and this is the right way to do it,” added Bartoszek.
A copy of the bill obtained by Marijuana.com shows that, if adopted, anyone 20 years of age or older will be allowed to grow and produce cannabis for personal use. Permission to grow must be obtained through a government permit but will not require a doctor’s prescription.
The bill stipulates that it will be illegal to give or sell cannabis products to anyone who is under 20 years of age.
Further, retail outlets that sell cannabis, its derivative products, and paraphernalia, will be permitted. It will be up to individual municipalities to issue licenses for the existence of these establishments and all employees must be older than 20 years of age.
Consumption of cannabis in these stores will be illegal. Cannabis lounges and restaurants will also be allowed through government licensing.
All cannabis products will have THC levels printed on the packages to inform consumers of the potency. The products will be in plain gray packaging, labeled with black text on a white background. The package will also contain the name of the manufacturer, name of the product, type of product, description of contents, and health hazards. The advertising of cannabis and paraphernalia will be prohibited.
As the completion of the business day approaches in Iceland, another European country considers the end of cannabis prohibition. If Bartoszek and his colleagues are successful, Iceland will join a growing number of nations that have adopted cannabis reform, including Greece, Germany, Portugal, and Spain to name a few.
This article was originally published on Marijuana.com.
About Jon Hiltz: Jonathan Hiltz has been a journalist, a TV producer and marijuana advocate for over sixteen years. He has a wife, two young children and lives in the Toronto area.