Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Romanian president's daughter engulfed by 'cannabis row'

Elena Basescu, daughter of Romanian President Train Basescu and a candidate for election to the European Parliament, caused uproar in her country last week by saying she would favour legalisation of soft drugs such as cannabis. EurActiv Romania reports.

Elena Basescu, a 28-year old model, who is running as an independent candidate, told the 'Hard Talk' programme on the Antena 2 channel that if she were elected to the European Parliament, she would "probably agree" that light drugs such as cannabis should be legalised. Basescu explained that she had been studying in the US for a year and that, in her words, soft drugs were "legal" on campuses there. 

The statements, made on 28 May, were taken up by the entire Romanian press and recalled memories of an earlier row, which saw Basescu sue a newspaper for reporting last year that she had taken narcotics. She denied the claims and ultimately won her case. The day after the 'Hard Talk' show, Basescu made new statements dismissing her previous comments. This time, the president's daughter said that "cannabis should not be legalised in our country, no matter if it is a considered soft drug or not, and no matter if it leads to addiction or not". 

The Romanian Social Democratic party (PSD) seized the occasion to attack the president's daughter. "The statements by Elena Basescu about legalising soft drugs remind her father's affirmations, who said in 2004 that one in every five Romanians is a homosexual," a party spokesperson told EurActiv. He described the statements as "irresponsible", and recalled that soft drugs are illegal in every EU country. Indeed, even in the Netherlands, where cannabis is tolerated in so-called 'coffee shops', discussions are ongoing regarding its prohibition. 

The PSD is represents one half of the two-pillar ruling coalition with the Democratic Liberal Party (PDL), a grouping close to President Basescu. However, the two alliance partners are also rivals, as PDL is affiliated to the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) while the PSD is a member of the Party of European Socialists (PES). Polls show that the two parties are running neck-and-neck ahead of Sunday's EU elections, recording around 30% each. The same poll reveals that the main uncertainty in Romania will be the performance of Elena Basescu. 

The president's daughter first tried to launch her political career in the youth association of her father's party (EurActiv 27/02/09). After being criticised for that move, she decided to run as an independent candidate and gathered 200,000 signatures to support her candidacy, enjoying substantial support from the PDL in the process. 


Anonymous said...

Marijuana is not legal in the US. The police in the US actually enforce laws unlike Romania police. If you drive 15 miles per hour over the speed limit anywhere, that includes roads outside town and cities, you get a ticket. three tickets and you lose your license. The Romanian police do not do speed control outside towns. Witness the terrible accidents with Dacia 1310s! At the same time, the US--the West--is somehow much 'looser' and less uptight than Romania. Romanians are scared of homosexuals and often have quite myopic views about the world. I am sure this is due in part to 40 years of Communism and that most of the population is full of peasants or just emerged a generation or two ago from peasant life. It's really amazing the differences between the Balkans and the West. There's this whole culture in Eastern Europe of oddball beliefs and guys with 100,000 BMWs with four girls tow.

Nayan Tolia said...

Marijuana is a controlled substance in the USA, albeit decriminalised AND/OR having legitimate medical use (depending on the state). In my opinion, Romanians have a rather antiquated and squeamish approach to cannabis and categorise it in the ame category as "hard drugs;" the philosophy being "Its a drug afterall." I've heard this paraphrased often. Ms. Basescu is mistaken in her notion that cannabis is tolerated in US university campuses. The penalties for simple possession and consumption may not be as severe as before, but only sanctioned medical patients are given access to marijuana in the USA. As a Canadian living in Romania, I tend to concur with Mr. Ellicson's opinion of Romanians having "myopic views." As a medical professional, it never ceases to surprise me to see countless hospital cases of death and morbidity caused by alcohol, tobacco and excessive speeding. This might not be the appropriate forum in educating the public at large on cannabis toxicity, lethal doses and dependency (or lack thereof), but most people here would rather smoke themselves to oblivion, extolling conventional cigarettes as 'healthier' than the the occaisional joint. Talk about paradoxes :)