They are tired of living in a country where smoking cannabis can cost two years in prison, and sell life. Several dozen young Taiwanese demonstrated for the legalization of cannabis in front of the Ministry of Justice. Some were disguised as cannabis flowers, others held giant fake joints in their hands.
On this independent Asian island de facto but claimed by China, the organizers of the demonstration also gathered 14,000 signatures to advance the law. A great feat, for a country of 23 million inhabitants.
The rules around cannabis are extremely strict. The protesters therefore want the Department of Justice’s anti-drug campaigns to no longer concern cannabis users. Also, they hope for decriminalization, since the UN has reclassified cannabis.
Sign that cannabis is a taboo subject in Taiwan: the police tried to suppress the demonstration. In the videos, officers are seen asking protesters to disperse. According to the security forces, this demonstration was illegal because it started in advance.
“If you start cannabis, you will take heroin”
But things may be changing little by little. The Taiwanese government recently proposed lowering the penalties for personal use of cannabis. Some politicians also took part in a pro-legalization rally last year, such as Independent MP Freddy Lim.
Cannabis remains very frowned upon throughout Asia. “All of our upbringing teaches us, basically, that cannabis is a drug that poisons us, and if you start smoking cannabis today, tomorrow you’ll be taking heroin, robbing people, and killing for money “ironically the lawyer Zoe Lee, present at the demonstration, in the Hong Kong Free Press.
The evolution of mentalities could also go through the help of Asian neighbors. Indeed, Thailand wants to become “the Amsterdam of Asia”. The country has just decriminalized the use of cannabis. Consumption could thus be authorized in certain places, even if the government will not go “to the coffee shops”. It won’t be quite Amsterdam, but it’s already a lot.