Interparty drug bill is rejected

Parliament yesterday rejected a draft bill tabled by MPs from across the political spectrum that would have legalized the possession of small quantities of narcotic substances, while differentiating between «hard» and «soft» drugs. The proposal, tabled earlier this year by Spyros Vouyias and Stavros Benos from PASOK – both junior Cabinet members – Petros Tatoulis from New Democracy, as well as Maria Damanaki and Fotis Kouvelis from the Left Coalition, also called for the issuing of free drugs to long-term users. It had already met with strong reservations during a discussion at the Parliamentary Social Affairs Committee. During yesterday’s debate, most speakers agreed on the need to treat addicts more leniently. Deputy Health Minister Elpida Tsouri said her ministry intended to eventually propose lighter penalties for people caught breaking Greece’s drugs laws who could be proven to be addicts. New Democracy rapporteur Costas Kiltidis totally rejected the proposed bill, arguing that «legalisation would increase demand for drugs.»