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Salzburg club demands legalization of marijuana

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Cannabis plant. Photo: Wikimedia
15:33 CEST+02:00
The Cannabis Social Club in Salzburg – part of a worldwide network of similar groups - is demanding the legalisation of cannabis products for medicinal purposes.

Attitudes towards marijuana usage in Austria are sharply divided, between patients and doctors who swear by the plant, to those who view it as a dangerous drug.

Marijuana can now be freely purchased in pharmacies in the US states of California and Colorado, with a similar model being introduced in Uruguay. In Austria however, possession and cultivation of marijuana is illegal and punishable by jail sentences of up to ten years.

Club chairman Wilhelm Wallner was prescribed morphine to relieve his chronic pain following a serious accident at work. After reacting badly to morphine, he searched for alternatives, eventually discovering marijuana.

"It relaxes the muscles and the nerve endings, and the pain is markedly reduced," Wallner said. 

After a doctor verified his positive results, Wallner began to grow his own crop, for which he was repeatedly reported. 

Doctors then prescribed synthetic cannabis – an artificially manufactured product with the active ingredient THC which induces relaxation, and is also found in hemp.

"The medication contains THC and the plant also contains THC. The plant helps me in the same way as the medication, but it's cheaper," explained Wallner.

One packet of the THC-Preparation Sativex costs €700, while the quantity of marijuana required to deliver the same effect costs €50.

Wallner's proposal is for his club to grow marijuana under supervision, and for its quality to be tested by the Ministry of Health. With a doctor's certificate, members would then be able to purchase marijuana.

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Police lawyer Bruno Wurhofer says the society can indeed apply for the legalization of cannabis for medicinal purposes, however "the production and distribution of marijuana is categorically prohibited. Should this happen somewhere, then we can officially disband the society," he added. 

Salzburg's Cannabis Social Club has said it will continue with its attempts to obtain special permission from the authorities.

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