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Op-Ed
'I did drugs and Sweden should get real': Pirate Party founder
Rick Falkvinge, founder of the Pirate Party. Photo: TT

'I did drugs and Sweden should get real': Pirate Party founder

Published: 29 Apr 2014 07:30 GMT+02:00
Updated: 29 Apr 2014 07:30 GMT+02:00

Rick Falkvinge, the founder of the Pirate Party (Piratpartiet), was among eight EU candidates who were listed as having used drugs in the past.
 
In the comment field beneath The Local's story, Falkvinge weighed into the debate
 
"No, I haven't 'tried' drugs. I have 'used' drugs, and enjoyed it. That's the whole damn point," he wrote. "The Swedish elitist debate is seriously deranged on these issues - to start getting realistic, we must first acknowledge that people are using drugs because they enjoy doing so."
 
"It's really no difference from enjoying a glass of wine or a fine cognac. Or for that matter, a cup of coffee, which is a very common drug that was once banned in Sweden as - wait for it - a 'gateway drug to heavier abuse'. Yes, you read that right."
 
Falkvinge said the article had sent ripples among his colleagues around the world.
 
"My Dutch colleagues had a blast reading it. They were sending it around with a 'Not the Onion' tag," he told The Local on Monday afternoon, referring to the satirical newspaper The Onion.
 
The Pirate Party founder believes Sweden's approach to drugs in general is a tool of aggression for the police.  
 
"What we're seeing here is a ban on eating or drinking unhealthily. And it gives police a very aggressive tool to use on people they don't like, and we've seen it being seriously abused over the past several years. We believe that we have to start somewhere when it comes to questioning the doctrine," he explained. 
 
He said that police "arrest anyone on any bullshit suspicion" - often just to harass them. 
 
Sweden criminalized illicit drug use in 1988 after a 20-year push by the Swedish National Association for a Drug-free Society (RNS). Its goal was "a society free from illegal drugs". 
 
Sweden's main political parties all support the country's zero tolerance view on drugs, with the part exception of the Left Party (Vänsterpartiet), which states that private use of narcotics should be legalized.
 
 
The Pirate Party, meanwhile, aims to decriminalize the personal use of controlled substances as well as the possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use. "This is a very firm anchor in our civil liberties platform," he said.
 
"The Pirate Party, and I as the founder, have a very research-based approach to policy making. Sweden has a borderline narcissistic approach to many policy areas. Sweden, while on forefront in many areas, tends to mistake this for being on the forefront in all areas. And frankly, this is not the case."
 
"There tends to be an idea in Sweden that we are the apex of civilization, but once you cross border in any direction you see this is laughable. Quite a few things in Swedish policy are not allowed to be questioned and drug repression has been one of them. It's high time we start looking at how inhumane and counter productive these policies have been." 
 
"Sweden's approach is destructive in the long term. But if it turns out that harsh repression is best, then so be it, but at least this must be based on sound research and open discussion. We believe the absence of research and discussion is a far greater threat than any narcotics," he added.
 
The Pirate Party, which earned 7.1 percent of the vote in the 2009 European elections, was founded amid the debate about illegal downloading of film and music. It initially focused on promoting looser copyright laws and restrictions on the authorities' powers to snoop on computer users. The party now campaigns on a wide range of issues.
 
The party has prompted a growing number of other pirate parties worldwide. Recent polls ahead of the upcoming European elections put the party's support at between 1 and 2 percent.
 
"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand our cause," Falkvinge told The Local. "You'd expect privacy in the analogue age when sending letters and making phone calls. We think such freedom of speech and expression should remain a right in the digital age, and these rights are at serious risk."
 
 

Oliver Gee (oliver.gee@thelocal.se)

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