In the coming days, the Portuguese Socialist Party (PS) plans to present a preliminary resolution to the Health Committee, a first step that aims to create a working group to study the legalization of cannabis.
Eurico Brilhante Dias, PS deputy, however, clarified that the bill will not be presented until 2024. In the meantime, the party intends to seek expert advice and organize two conferences on the subject.
“The non-medical use of cannabis is an issue that the PS is discussing, there will be a conference at the Assembly of the Republic later this month; this summer, there was an important step forward in a member state of the European Union, in Germany,” said Eurico Brilhante Dias.
The working group will be created within the Health Committee “because it is a public health issue” and will aim “to study and listen to specialists from different fields in order to deepen the reflection” which should conclude by the end of the year, with a conference “focused on the non-medical use of cannabis and, from there, the parliamentary group will consider moving forward with a legislative initiative.
If this timetable can be met, legislation on this issue could be introduced before next year’s summer recess. This could prove difficult, however, as much of parliamentary activity will be suspended from mid-October to the end of November to allow for the review and discussion of the state budget for 2024.
Eurico Brilhante Dias stressed that dialogue on the recreational use of cannabis also takes place within other political parties and parliamentary groups. The Left Bloc presented a bill in June 2022, and the liberal initiative bill was accepted in Parliament in April.
The Portuguese Socialist Party does not intend to take this path unilaterally, but rather seeks to collaborate with other parliamentary groups during this legislative session. The head of the socialist bench stressed that “Portuguese society should engage in this discourse, and Parliament should serve as a platform for this conversation.”
The Left Bloc and the Liberal Initiative are both reintroducing proposals that they had already tabled during the last legislature, which had not been submitted to the vote of the health committee and which became obsolete with the dissolution of Parliament.
The Left Bloc had already encountered the rejection of one of its legislative proposals at the beginning of 2019, when the socialist parliamentary group had displayed a divided position, with abstentions, positive votes and negative votes. After Parliament approved the medical use of cannabis, the Left Bloc quickly warned that the next step would be recreational use. The Social Democratic Party (PSD) has already adopted a motion to this effect in the Portuguese Congress.
The Left Bloc’s proposal provides not only for the creation of authorized points of sale and online sales, but also for the cultivation of a maximum of five plants per individual.
The liberal initiative would authorize the online and retail sale of cannabis in various types of establishments, excluding educational establishments, health establishments, sports facilities, leisure spaces intended for families or children, and gas stations. Each citizen would be allowed to grow up to six plants.