“Green Thursday” – that is the name of the march taking place today 17 June on the streets of Bratislava in demonstration against the tough penalties for marijuana use in force in Slovakia. The protest demanding the decriminalisation of this soft drug will start in front of the Presidential Palace on the square Hodžovo námestie and make its way to Námestie slobody (Liberty Square). The organisers have stated that their aim is to have marijuana decriminalised and tolerated for personal use in Slovakia. The local Bratislava authorities have quoted private individual Vladimír Horváth as the organiser of the demonstration, which will start at 2pm and should go on until 8pm.
The basic premise of the event, which expects over a thousand people to show up, is that in a modern democratic society it is wrongful to impose hefty penalties and prison sentences on people just for using a ‘herbal plant’ that is widely accepted and tolerated in other countries of Europe and the world. The recently elected SaS party also had the decriminalisation of marijuana in its election campaign, and this is expected to be a source of friction in the new four-party coalition, especially with the Christian democrats KDH.
The event will be accompanied by performances of well-known musicians, speeches from public figures and sales of merchandise, with information being handed out in an attempt to raise awareness of the problem of Slovak legislation, which takes a hardline on the issue of drug use. The local borough mayor Andrej Petrek is allegedly going to make an appearance as well. The event was promoted mainly through Facebook, and has already produced a lot of reaction on social networks.
Opponents of the event set up their own group called “I am AGAINST the MARCH in the streets DEMANDING THE DECRIMINALISATION OF MARIJUANA”, and a counter event has been promoted on the website of Ľudová strana – Naše Slovensko, entitled “Against drugs”. They plan to have a showdown on the square in front of the Presidential Palace, but spokeswoman for the Old Town borough of Bratislava, Alena Kopřivova, informed that no other public gathering has been officially announced for the same day.
Bratislava police spokesman, František Peczá, said they were ready to assist the Municipal Police at the event to ensure public order, and the protection of life, health and property, with tens of police on standby. They will use whatever available means necessary to uphold public order, and no traffic restrictions are expected. He added: “We will deal with the situation as it develops”. He did not fail to mention, though, that it was the Municipal Police that were responsible for public order at events of this kind in the streets of the city.
This is the second manifestation recently to prvoke tensions, after the recent Rainbow Pride march took to the streets in May demanding equal rights for gays. It seems like the young generation is finally starting to demand more democracy and freedom in Slovakia, and probably rightfully so, as the future belongs to them, after all.