June 10. 2023. 1:29

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Drug policy key issue for voters in Finnish elections

Drug-related issues and drug policy will be a determining factor for 57% of the voters in Finland’s upcoming April elections, a new survey by the A-Clinic Foundation has found.

The A-Clinic Foundation, a non-profit, non-governmental organisation for substance abuse prevention, conducted a survey ahead of the upcoming April elections to have an overview of where voters stood on substance abuse.

Among the respondents, 52% believe drug users should be labelled as criminals, while 44% would instead call them drug addicts.

”People using drugs are not second-class citizens. Calling a person a junkie or a criminal creates a stigma which raises the bar for seeking support and cure. At worst, a stigma can cost someone’s life, and no one’s addiction is cured by sentences,” the acting CEO of the A-Clinic Foundation Hanna Paikkala, has said.

The survey also found that 45% of voters are in favour of implementing supervised injection facilities or drug consumption rooms – an issue parliament must now discuss as a citizen’s initiative on the matter has already gathered the required 50,000 signatures.

Finland’s Institute for Health and Welfare as well as the country’s Social Affairs and Health Ministry also seem to be in favour of the initiative as they suggest new legislation be adopted to enable pilot projects like the 90 such facilities already set up in eight European countries.

While the situation in Finland is particularly acute as the country topped the charts in relation to drug-related deaths among young people, according to a 2022 report from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, Finnish parties remain divided on the issue.

While the Greens and the Left Alliance are willing to try out such facilities, the Finns Party stands firmly against them, saying they would send a “wrong signal”.

The social democrats, the Centre and the National Coalition Party, meanwhile, have no definite position on the matter.

(Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)

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