Just a few days before taking up the post of Prime Minister for the second time, Robert Fico has given way on one of the progressive topics promoted by the liberal Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party, with a change in how recreational marijuana use should be punishable by law.
In talks after the elections, SaS party chairman Richard Sulik approached the PM in-waiting with the proposal of decriminalising marijuana, but Fico made it clear that he would not be willing to bend to that extent, but that would consider revising punishments.
Lecturing to students at the weekend, Fico disclosed his idea about possible ways of punishing the use of the illegal herb. He is now proposing reclassifying marijuana use to being an offence rather than a crime, punishable at present by a prison sentence of around 3 years for an amount for 3 joints worth.
It is an issue that has long been ignored in Slovakia, and the attempts of the SaS party to deal with it in the short-lived four-party coalition were futile, opposed by its more conservative coalition partners from SDKU, KDH and Most-Hid. Sulik’s SaS party always had it as part of its agenda, and so it is taking the credit for Fico’s latest comments.
“Young people risk three-year sentences, five-year sentences. Everyone is getting stoned anyway, smoking marijuana, so what good does it do?” SITA newswire cites the future PM as saying. Fico added that the system doesn’t work and so needs fixed, so some other form of punishing young people should be found.
Instead of trying to stuff weed smokers into the already bursting jails in Slovakia, the hope now is that the offence will be punishable with community service or some other form of deterrent. It will now be up to Fico’s elected justice minister Tomas Borec to come up with the concrete proposals.