If you are a cannabis advocate and you spend any amount of time on social media platforms or browsing the internet, there is a good chance that you will come across a pro-cannabis meme, post, or article. Cannabis content is extremely popular right now, especially memes and videos, and a really engaging post can easily go viral and be seen by millions of people.
In Russia, if authorities have their way, that popular content could land someone in prison. Per Talking Drugs:
Russian President Vladimir Putin proposes to toughen anti-drug laws and add criminal punishment for propaganda of drug use online. In addition, he proposed to block online information about drug preparation schemes and sites of drug distribution without a court warrant.
The Kremlin’s official web-site published the President’s commission to introduce changes to the Russian legislation regarding the “non-judicial access restrictions to online information about means of production and utilization of narcotic substances and new potentially dangerous psychoactive substances as well as about sites of their distribution.”
Specific penalties for the proposed initiative must be developed by the Cabinet of Ministers.
The proposal applies to all illegal narcotics in Russia, including cannabis. Once the Cabinet of Ministers develops the specific penalties, it’s quite possible that someone could be prosecuted simply for posting a story online about someone successfully overcoming their addiction to harmful substances, including opioids, with the use of medical cannabis. A light-hearted meme could prove to be seen as illegal by authorities.
Even with specific penalties for offenses be codified, what is considered to be an ‘offense’ itself could be very vague, and thus ripe for corrupt enforcement practices. Russia is a very tough place to push for cannabis reform, which is extremely unfortunate given how badly the nation needs sensible cannabis laws.