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Health officials kill marijuana buzz

Health Ministry spokesman Oskars Šneiders officially frowned upon the announcement Wednesday that a petition to decriminalize marijuana possession and use in Latvia on the manabalss.lv citizen’s activism portal had reached the 10,000 e-signature threshold for being eligible to formally submit a parliamentary initiative.

He said the health care system is already spending huge sums on combating the ills of alcohol and tobacco abuse, adding that society should pay more attention to limiting access to addictive substances and encouraging healthier lifestyles.

He further cited scientific research indicating negative effects of marijuana use on the central nervous system and linking it to certain mental health problems.

It took the online initiative two years to collect the more than 10,000 e-signatures for the proposal, which believes persons of legal age should be allowed to grow, keep and use small amounts of the naturally intoxicating substance for individual consumption.

However the Latvian Association of Addiction Psychiatrists spokesperson Ilze Maksima called the proposal an “inappropriate and determined attempt by sick people to legalize their addiction.”

Also Latvian Physicians’ Association leader Pēteris Apinis called the idea “nightmarish” and predicted it would receive no political support. He also blasted the “spineless” government and Saeima for bowing to the alcohol and tobacco lobbies, “which are prepared to profit from people’s deaths.”

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