Although the (s)potlight is usually focused on the United States and Canada, the cannabis legalization movement is slowly becoming a widespread, international phenomenon. The latest country to take a leap towards recreational pot is Iceland, which is currently looking at a newly proposed bill in Parliament. Pawel Bartozek, MP of the Reform Party, recently put forth a measure that would legalize the consumption, production, and sale of cannabis throughout Iceland.
The legislation itself offers a comprehensive starting point, covering everything from production and sales, to a tax plan and advertisement bans. Bartozek’s legislation would allow retail sales in certain shops, as well as in cannabis-only bars and lounges. All products would be sold in a grey packaging that would only list the producer, product, type, along with the ingredients and consumption warnings.
If approved, the country would jumpstart its own production and sales, and would allow consumption for people over the age of 20. There would also be a tax similar to the current one the country has on alcohol, and the price would be dependent on the amount of THC in the product.
The MP’s measure is being co-sponsored by fellow Reform Party member Sigrún Inibjörg Gísladóttir, as well as Gunnar Hrafn Jónsson and Jón Þór Ólafsson of the Pirate Party. Some have accused Bartozek of using the measure as a distraction from a recent government scandal, but he has vehemently denied such allegations.
“Work on the proposal began last December. The plan was always to put the proposal for parliament this week, as soon as the first discussion about the budget had finished,” he writes on his website.
The Reform Party MP points to the world’s imprisonment problem as a valid reason for legalization. He claims that, in Iceland alone, over 1000 people are arrested or fined for pot-related charges every year. While he believes that decriminalization would be a vital step in the right direction, Bartozek states that his measure would give the country an opportunity to “supervise production, manage accessibility, protect children and young people and tax the consumption.”
In a country surrounded by majestic nature and sublime scenery, cannabis legalization would likely attract even more tourism to Iceland. At the end of the day, who wouldn’t want to gaze red-eyed at the Northern Lights while puffing on a dank strain of the same name? As for Icelandic natives, many would certainly benefit both economically and personally from recreational pot. In fact, according to the 2014 World Drug Report, the country is home to the world's largest per capita population of weed smokers at 18.3%.