Members of Portugal’s parliament debated two bills that would legalize marijuana on Thursday.
Though the country’s Left Bloc and People-Animals-Nature (PAN) parties are advocating for separate pieces of legalization legislation that contain some minor differences, they would both allow adults 18 and older to purchase, possess, consume and cultivate cannabis.
The Left Bloc’s version would prohibit the sale of alcohol and edibles at registered cannabis shops, ban the sale of “synthetic” marijuana products and restrict cannabis advertisements. Adults would be allowed to grow up to five plants for personal use. And half of the tax revenue from marijuana sales would go toward developing drug treatment programs, while the remaining half would fund the country’s National Health Service.
PAN’s version would prohibit people from consuming cannabis in the workplace, medical facilities and youth-oriented places like schools and playgrounds. Adults could grow up to six plants for personal use. The bill would also require the government to set the price of marijuana “lower than the average prices charged on the illegal market.” Tax revenue from cannabis sales would fund drug prevention and treatment programs.
The parties could bring their bills up for votes as early as Friday, but it’s not clear that either would have enough support to pass. Portugal’s Socialist Party indicated that it would abstain from the vote, PÚBLICO reported. The Portuguese Community Party, People’s Party and Social Democrats Party reportedly oppose the legislation.
Jamila Madeira, a member of the Socialist Party, described full legalization as a “natural evolution” in drug policy but cautioned that the government must continue to “evaluate some of the critical points in the control of consumption” among young people.
Portugal has often been cited as an exemplary model for drug policy since the country decriminalized the possession and use of all drugs in 2001—a decision that seems to have dramatically reduced overdose rates as well as the spread of HIV cases. Lawmakers there also passed a medical cannabis bill last year.
Current United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was Portugal’s prime minister when the nation enacted its decriminalization policy, a move he touted last year to the international organization’s drug policy body.