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Tunisians turn to Facebook in marijuana protest

When you think Tunisia and Facebook, a couple of terms come to mind: the Arab Spring, protests, regime overthrow…and marijuana?

Just months after the country held its first democratic election in decades, a group of Tunisian Activists is reportedly using Facebook to campaign for the legalisation of Marijuana.

According to Global Voices Online, some 4 600 Facebook users have joined an event which will see them meet up in front of the Tunisian parliament to demand that legal prosecution for smoking marijuana be put to a halt.

The legal punishment for smoking marijuana in Tunisia can be as harsh as a year in prison or a 1000 dinar fine.

The article on the international non-profit blogging network also claims that drug tests in the North African country are arbitrary and that police can stop anyone on the street and demand that they subject to one.

Another Facebook page lists the group’s demands, using Portugal as an example of why marijuana should be legalised. On the page, the demands appear in French and translate roughly as:

Main demands of the February 18 protest:

  1. Abolition of arbitrary biologic analysis (since it’s illegal and unconstitutional).

  2. Abolition of the one-year jail sentence and the 1,000-dinar fine (since it opposes the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights and other Tunisian laws).
  3. Maintain the ban on consumption in public places, that shall be prosecuted by small fines (to curtail corruption).
  4. Re-establish an anti-narcotics brigade, concentrate them on borders to intercept money laundering gangs.
  5. The creation of a national observatory of addiction in order to prevent new cases and pick up useful statistics to analyze and fix the situation.
  6. Help more associations to work around this matter, promote arts and sport activities in public places (street).

As was the case during the Arab Spring, the cause has also reportedly been taken up by bloggers and the Twittersphere.

In fact, the campaigners appear to be using every social media tool available to them, with one protester posting a YouTube video, condemning the legal punishment meted out for marijuana users, particularly youngsters drawn in by a spirit of experimentation: