A Russian presidential candidate said she wants to legalize marijuana for the country, and that it’s less dangerous than vodka.
Ksenia Sobchak, a former reality TV star, said on Monday that marijuana legalization could potentially alleviate the “narcotics epidemic” in her country. She added, “I don’t really understand why drinking vodka in enormous quantities is considered normal in our country, but using marijuana is not, though it has far fewer consequences, even from the perspective of crime statistics,” The Moscow Times reported.
The current administration is not so keen on the idea. Andrei Khrapov, chief of narcotics control for Russia’s Interior Ministry, said the government is skeptical of the idea that legalization would carry any benefits.
Drug laws are stringent in Russia, and the country’s hospitals often turn away drug users—even amid a boom in heroin addiction. The country’s heroin problem has led to a spike in HIV infections, half of which are estimated to be contracted through intravenous drug use, Gizmodo reported.
Sobchak’s strategy would be a stark departure from current government attitudes on drugs—but she is seen as unlikely to win the election, according to national polls, which put her support at less than 1 percent.
Some critics have alleged that Sobchak is a stooge of the Kremlin. Her father was a mentor of President Vladimir Putin, and she has known his family since she was a child. She has denied this claim, and also said the Kremlin has attempted to “suffocate her with affection” to make it look like the two sides were a united front.
Meanwhile, another former opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, was blocked from running for the presidency. The Kremlin deemed him too dangerous, as he had been convicted of organizing unsanctioned protests.
The election will take place in March, and Putin is expected to win re-election.