Our Supreme Administrative Court recently ruled that the Finnish Cannabis Association’s application for official registration cannot be rejected on the grounds of the association acting, as the Finnish Associations Act words it, “against good conduct” – this had been the fate of the previous such application in the 1990s.

Beyond imaginary visions exemplified by the provocative title, what does this change actually entail, Kimmo Wilska, vice chair of the Finnish Cannabis Association?

“The ruling does not portend any massive changes as such. The association has always worked as usual, apart from certain bureaucratic inconveniences, such as having to have the bank account in the name of a person and not being able to secure a fund-raising permit for soliciting donations from supporters.”

“The greater significance is that the ruling legitimises and encourages genuine debate on cannabis depenalisation, decriminalisation and legalisation, all of these former taboos. It empowers drug policy dissidents, who can no longer be marginalised for deviation from ‘the official policy’. The decision fortuitously coincides with the launch of legal marijuana in Colorado for added media interest in Finland as well.”

Do you see an attitudinal change in Finland behind the court ruling?

“I was glad to see that it was a Finnish court – not the European Court of Justice – that brought the Finnish authorities into line. The court recognised that public debate on drug policy has opened up considerably in Finland, with a greater acceptance of diversity of points of view on the drug issue than before. Supporters of the ‘status quo’ have had to get used to having their narcophobic standpoints challenged. In a drug policy debate before the previous Parliamentary elections, reps of many parties took a favourable stance toward cannabis decriminalisation – the fact that they could do this is saying something.”

With the decision, Finland appears readier to – ahem – turn a new leaf.

Mika Oksanen