Decriminalize cannabis, group says

STOP THE STIGMA::Advocates said that they organized a peaceful parade to publicize their cause, encourage open dialogue and curb the stigma attached to using cannabis

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Mon, Apr 22, 2019 - Page 2

Advocates on Saturday called for health officials and the government to approve cannabis for medical use, saying that they plan to lobby legislators to decriminalize the drug in Taiwan.

“We will ask legislators to amend the law, which lists cannabis and its derived products as a Category 2 narcotic in the Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act (毒品危害防制條例),” said Chung Ho-yun (鍾和耘), one of the organizers of a rally held outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei to mark 420 Day, an international day for cannabis-related events and protests.

“Our goal is to have it decriminalized — to permit cannabis for medical treatment and other beneficial uses,” he added.

Cannabis advocates are working with the New Power Party (NPP) to introduce an amendment in the legislature, Chung said, adding that they are also seeking support from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

“We have the support of NPP Legislator Freddy Lim (林昶佐) and other people in his party. There are also DPP legislators who support our cause, but they are reluctant to speak out, because the law vilifies cannabis as an illegal narcotic substance and stigmatizes cannabis use as criminal behavior,” Chung said.

NPP member Wang Yi-kai (王弈凱) said that the rally was a big success, with more than 200 people participating.

“This is the first time in Taiwan’s history that people have campaigned for the decriminalization of cannabis, for its use in medical treatment. It was great to see such good support for decriminalized cannabis, and to have many foreigners joining us in the parade,” he said.

“We know that our campaign still has a long way to go, but this marks a new beginning for Taiwan’s cannabis movement. In 20 or 30 years’ time, people will remember this first public rally, because we plan to organize a 420 Day every year, and maybe hold rallies in the other cities as well,” Chung said.

The group’s statement said that scientific studies have proven cannabis to be an effective medical treatment for ailments, able to alleviate chronic pain and other symptoms of health conditions.

“It has been legalized in Canada, Uruguay and several other countries, as well as many states in the US,” the statement said.

“We organized this peaceful parade and officially approved public assembly to publicize our cause, encourage rational discourse and open dialogue about this issue in our society and curb the stigma attached to people using cannabis,” it said.

“We urge the administration and legislators to join the worldwide legalization movement. Our society should discard the outdated concept of cannabis as an ‘evil drug,’ and should start the process of decriminalization right now,” Chung said.