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Veto, Citizens' Initiated and Recall referendum.


Thursday, 9 July 2009

Two Swiss referendums on drugs

Further to the discussion on the attempt to legalise the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, I post this summary of two referendums held eleven years apart in Switzerland. Your comments, please!

Referendum No 538 30 November 2008:
“For a rational policy on cannabis to protect young people effectively.”

The Swiss Federal Constitution would be supplemented as follows:

Article 105a (new) Cannabis
1. The acquisition and possession of cannabis for personal use, and the consumption of the psychoactive substances of cannabis is not a criminal offence.
2. The cultivation of psychoactive cannabis for personal use is not a criminal offence.
3. The Confederation enacts regulations concerning the cultivation, production, import, export and trade in the psychoactive substances of cannabis.
4. The Confederation takes appropriate measures to ensure the protection of young people. Publicity for the psychoactive substances of cannabis or for the use of such substances is prohibited.

Summary of results of the initiative:
Total number of voters: 4,996,626
Turnout 47.34%
Yes: 36.7% No: 63.3% The initiative was rejected.

Referendum No 438 28 September 1997
“For Youth without drugs.”

The Swiss Federal Constitution would be supplemented as follows:

Article 68bis (new)
1. In the fight against drug-addiction, the Confederation follows a strict policy, aiming directly at abstinence.
2. The Confederation takes, by legislative means, all measures needed to restrict the demand for narcotics and the number of consumers, to look after the addicted, to reduce the social and economic damage due to the consumption of narcotics and to fight any illicit traffic in them.
3. To protect young people from drug-addiction, the Confederation opposes all consumption of narcotics and follows an active prevention policy to strengthen the personality of the individual.
4. The Confederation encourages and supports the application of measures necessary to ensure physical weaning, the lasting detoxication and the social rehabilitation of drug addicts.
5. The distribution of narcotics is prohibited. Exceptions are made for strictly medical applications, but excluding the use of: heroin, of opium to smoke, of cocaine, of cannabis, of' hallucinogens and of similar substances.

Summary of results of the initiative:
Total number of voters: 4,618,943
Turnout 40.83%
Yes: 29.3% No: 70.7% The initiative was rejected.


Rusty Kane said...

And in a eleven years time in New Zealand we will still be a Dictatorship Democracy. Controlled by a few MPs not citizens.

Best to play as dumb as they think we are, and do what you want anyway. Regardless.
The Prisions are to full and the courts to over loaded for the police to under resourced to even worry about you, and what you do in your personal life.
As long as you don't harm others.

The smaking bill proves it.

Dominic Baron said...

I posted this item about those two Swiss referendums to see what, if any, comment they might attract. My apologies for my translations if they are unclear.
Well, only Rusty has commented so far! No matter, I'll now elaborate a bit on my thoughts about those referendums.

The first point to note is that both were firmly rejected by the Swiss electorate. However, one was "liberal" in intent, wanting to decriminalize the cultivation, possession, and usage of cannabis, whilst the other was "conservative" in wanting to place further restrictions, but, significantly, wanting to exempt cannabis for medicinal use.
To me, looking at those two referendums and their results, one can appreciate the enormously educative power of the referendum. The people of Switzerland are, as a result of the debate and the information published by both side of the argument, much better informed about the issues. That leads me to believe that in the not too distant future, Switzerland will take the lead in relegating, at least cannabis, to the realms of a health matter, and removing it from the criminal environment.
And the second point I note is that the Swiss initiatives take the form of a proposed change to the constitution. This is something we cannot yet do in our political system.
We have a long way to go to achieve democracy.

Anonymous said...

prohibition does not work as the al capone era shows.drugs equal money and organised crime is after money,no matter what the medium,be it stolen cars ,drugs etc.the whole thing runs on demand first then supply second.look at the mexican us drug war.the us demands drugs,the cartels supply matter whether its illegal or not the same people who want the drugs will get them regardless.take alcohol for example if i want alcohol i go to an outlet,if i dont want alcohol i walk on legalising something doesnt mean you have to take do have a choice.isnt it better to have these drugs legally available than to have them available anyway just that they are in the hands of criminals,with all the associated violence and whatever else goes with it.

Steve Baron said...

To me, what is important to the majority view of New Zealanders on any controversial issue. The only way that can be known is via referendum. Personally I would not support a change in the drug law because I have never been involved with drugs whatsoever so the more incentive to stay away from them the better. However, if the majority decided the opposite way to me, then at least I had a chance of effecting the outcome. The most important aspect though is information. I received my voting papers for the anti/pro smacking referendum. However, there was no information to help me decide. Unfortunately I haven't read much on the issue or seen any TV debates about it, although I understand there have been some. I telephoned the 0800 Elections number and asked for information to be sent out to help me make a decision. All I received was a brochure telling me the mechanics of the referendum, how to vote etc. It was a total waste of time. The Chief Electoral Office has no idea (or at least no inclination) about why information is important in a referendum. In Switzerland every voter is posted a brochure giving the pros and cons in a balanced information package. This is supplied in three languages. Obviously having informed voters is not a priority here in New Zealand