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The 'no' to legalize cannabis unites the PSOE with the right


The PSOE has made it clear that it is going to build a wall against the claim of its Government partners and parliamentary allies to promote the legalization of cannabis. The Socialists rejected it firmly this Tuesday, even at the cost of joining PP and Vox in front of the rest of the Chamber, in which, in addition to the left, Citizens and the PNV were included. The rare alignment of forces in the chamber was prompted by the debate on the first of the three decriminalization proposals presented in Congress, which was defended by the leader of Más País, Íñigo Errejón. Before the union of the PSOE and the right, his defeat was overwhelming: 75 votes in favor, 263 against and nine abstentions.

The PSOE is only willing to open hands in a possible legalization of drugs for medicinal purposes, an issue on which a subcommittee has just been constituted in the Chamber promoted by the PNV. With regard to the decriminalization of the therapeutic uses of hemp, the ‘no’ of the socialists sounded almost as resounding this Tuesday as that of the right. “This is not a matter for the right or the left, it is about public health,” argued the socialist deputy Daniel Vicente, who thus confirmed his rejection: “We are a government party.”

The proposals to legalize cannabis they had opened a unique race among left-wing groups in Congress. United We can was the first to announce it, although Más País was ahead of it to register another and ERC also presented its own. As he was the first to go through the registry, Errejón had to open the debate on Tuesday and he did so by paraphrasing without citing Adolfo Suárez. What the former president of the Government turned into one of the currencies of the Transition – “raising to a category of normal what is normal on the street” – was impersonated by the leader of Más País to demand the decriminalization of cannabis: “It is about regulate what is already normal in the street ”. And he appealed to the House as a whole: “I don’t know in which country you live, but I know where I live and in that, whoever wants to consume cannabis even if it is prohibited.”

The ban of this drug, Errejón continued, only leads to “more consumption, more crime and more damage to health.” On the contrary, its legalization would make it possible to remove the business from “the hands of the mafia” and subject its commercialization to sanitary controls. And at the same time, promote a legal economic activity that, said the spokesman for Más País, has been shown to be lucrative in experiences such as that of Canada or the State of Colorado. Errejón cited a report from the Autonomous University of Barcelona that figures at 100. 000 the jobs that could be created with a business volume of about 3 . 300 million euros per year. A word was repeated in Errejón’s speech, addressed to opponents of the initiative, with special emphasis on the PSOE: “Hypocrisy.”

The basics of Errejón’s arguments found reinforcement in the interventions by Lucía Muñoz, from United We Can; Marta Rosique, from ERC; Iñaki Ruiz de Pinedo, from EH Bildu, and Mireia Vehí, from the CUP. Ciudadanos also joined in with a passionate defense of their liberal creed. “Today is one of those days in which you can see where liberalism is in this Chamber,” said deputy Guillermo Díaz, who accused the opposing groups of “doing the ostrich” before the consumption of a substance that is “socially accepted ”. Díaz also addressed the PSOE: “The illiberal drive is much more transversal than it seems.” Congress. That was also the main reason that the PNV deputy Josune Gorospe used to announce her abstention, even without opposing the opening of the debate on the matter.

The rejection of the right was categorical and without nuances. “Consuming drugs is not a fundamental right or freedom,” said the popular Elvira Velasco, for whom legalization would amount to “breaching the duty of institutions to protect public health.” Vox put its main health authority, Juan Luis Steegmann, a doctor with long experience in hospitals in Madrid, at stake. Steegmann criticized the lack of scientific foundations in the proposal, described the harmful effects of hemp consumption and saved a joke for the end: “Instead of More Country you should call yourselves More Hash”.

The disagreement between the Government partners was palpable, although both avoided the dialectical clash. Lucía Muñoz, from United We Can, limited herself to reminding the PSOE that she is not going to get rid of the debate because there will still be two more occasions to return to the matter. The socialist Daniel Vicente preferred to turn his attacks on Errejón. And he did it harshly, until he reproached him for asking to legalize a substance with potential negative psychological effects, at the same time that he has made the banner of his demand for more active public policies to preserve the mental health of the population.