Two social media marketing for CBD posts from former first lady of Iceland, Dorrit Moussaieff, shows her stance on the cannabis legalisation debate that has recently gripped the country. The successful businesswoman, jewellery designer, editor and famed socialist from Israel who married President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson in 2003 has had her say on her private Instagram account, in two posts that have the hashtags #LegaliseCannabis and #Legaliseweed.
The Icelandic government banned the production, sale and use of cannabis in 1969 and punishments for use of cannabis can vary from a fine to a jail term. Yet despite Iceland’s hard stance on cannabis, it has one of the highest rates of use amongst its adult population, with around 18% of residents of Iceland regularly using cannabis for recreational purposes.
In Iceland’s capital, Reykjavík, it is reported that there are multiple hydroponic grow shops that interchangeably use the word ‘tomatoes’ for ‘cannabis’ when those purchasing grow equipment are asking for advice. It is also claimed that the cannabis grown within the capital is of such high quality that the country has no real need for foreign imports.
Iceland’s long history of prohibition
Iceland often makes polls of places to live with the highest quality of life, generally taking one of the top 5 spots. It’s also not surprising that Iceland almost always falls into the top 10 of travellers’ most scenic and beautiful places in the world, with volcanoes, glaciers and waterfalls littering the small island.
In part, this peaceful reputation may be due to Iceland’s hard stance upon substances, with the country even having banned beer up until 1989, stating that the alcoholic drink was “unpatriotic.” In light of the u-turn on the prohibition of beer, Iceland now annually celebrates Bjordagur or Beer Day and beer accounts for 62% of alcoholic drinks reportedly drunk in Iceland. Much higher than the 37% for the UK.
Like with all cannabis legalisation movements, many in Iceland are quick to note the hypocrisy of alcohol being legal with the associated health and behavioural risks, but cannabis remains illegal whilst being considered by most as a safer substance for human consumption.
Considering the past two years have been landmark years for recreational cannabis reform across the globe, seeing Canada legalise recreational cannabis use across the whole country and the UK legalise medicinal cannabis use for the first time. It is most certainly interesting timing for Iceland’s former first lady to spark the debate within Iceland, considering its relatively progressive politics on the world stage.
Will Iceland be next to legalise cannabis?
In 2017, MP for the Reform Party in Iceland, Pawel Bartozek, put forward the proposal for cannabis reform which would see the consumption of cannabis legalised, stating that the war on drug use has failed and that the world’s prisons are filled with non-dangerous people because of cannabis.
Barozek’s proposal essentially stated that the sale of cannabis should be treated much the same as for tobacco, with an age limit set for consumption and sale only in specific retail outlets. Tax was proposed at 15% and for there to be a strict ban on advertisement of cannabis products. As it currently stands such a proposal hasn’t been accepted, but it certainly shows a forward-thinking attitude within Iceland’s parliamentary ranks towards cannabis use. Maybe we may see Iceland celebrating its own version of Bjordagur but for UK medical cannabis in the near future.