In Warsaw, Poland, several activist and a Polish politician, Janusz Palikot, lit up and smoked marijuana openly in front of Parliament today to help push the agenda for liberalizing the country’s drug laws. He threatened to smoke marijuana inside of a Parliament session last year, but on threat of arrest, he lit incense instead as he spoke about legalizing cannabis in Poland and introduced a bill to establish decriminalized amounts of cannabis as personal use. The bill was not passed.
In Poland, possession of marijuana can get you up to three years in jail. Police who knew about the protest today arrested three people before the event with a substance they say they are waiting to have tested. Those arrested say it was the herb marjoram.
With Palikot and a few others lighting up a joint and passing it around, dozens surrounded them with the chant “Grow it, Smoke it, Legalize it”. The police did not arrest those smoking, and said they were not convinced they really had marijuana, although those attending the event say you could smell burning marijuana not only from the protesters, but coming from several of those int he crowd as well.
Cannabis activists in Poland say they consider their countries harsh stance on cannabis hypocrisy since Poland is a major vodka producer. The head of the Polish Drug Policy Network, a group campaigning to decriminalize soft drug use called Poland’s current laws “outdated and wrongheaded.” saying vodka is far more dangerous to society. Other activists called today’s protest during a light snow fall the beginning of the country’s citizens who smoke weed to come out of the closet and show that smoking pot is as normal as drinking a beer.
Marijuana was tolerated during the communist era with few laws restricting it’s use. With Solidarity’s victory over communism, the Catholic church took a strong role in guiding public policy, and laws criminalizing drug use have since then become more and more restrictive and punitive. Janusz Palikot, who led the demonstration is the head of the left-wing party, has served in the Parliament since he was elected in 2005 and is a wealthy businessman.