Interview with Rosa Meriläinen

Q1 You have been honest about drug use which is rare for a politician, do you think voters like you for it?

Honesty isn’t valued that highly. Of course there are voters who think that drug use is bad and I’ve had loads of messages that said I was stupid to talk about it. They thought that of course every one of my age have tried something illegal, but there’s no point to talking about it, because the honest one will be nailed. Well, I was nailed and spent several days on the covers of the Finnish tabloids. My party, the Greens, weren’t that happy either. People in politics don’t like scandals and I was a walking and talking scandal.

Q2 What steps would you like to see taken to improve to Finnish drug policy?

It would be important to strengthen the harm reduction approach: instead of penalties, more easily accessible health care services for those who want to quit drugs. The Finnish police have been quite active in harassing those, who grow pot at home. Why on earth do the police bother to do that?

Q3 Do you think that high income consumer countries of drugs like cocaine should take more responsibility over the demand they create for the drug and how would you like to see that demand tackled?

The war on drugs is idealistic and comes at a heavy costs to us all. Maybe the politicians aren’t ready to admit the truth. NGO’s must help them to realise what the war on drugs does. But how can we tackle the demand for cocaine, I seriously don’t know. Well, it’s a good idea to keep the price for cocaine high. In every drug, I think, we have to have a different strategy, because also the ethos and life-style of users are different in each case.

Q4 How successful have Finnish attempts to limit the harms associated with drug use been?

This at least a success story we have. For example the drug-related HIV has been a small problem in Finland because NGOs started a well organised service for delivering clean needles for users early enough to make a difference. That’s good for hepatitis also.

Q5 Do you think it is likely that the current international drug control system will be abandoned?

From a  Scandinavian point of view, liberation seems to be far, far in the future, because the public opinion is still very cruel and conservative with regard to the human rights of drug-users. But maybe the south will lead us and the world will change. We must believe in that, don’t we