Russians love their booze — especially vodka. It’s estimated that the average Russian drinks nearly one bottle of vodka every two days. Cannabis? Nyet!
But, a former reality TV star/socialite (does the world really need another former reality TV star/socialite running a nuclear superpower?) is running for president and is calling for the legalization of cannabis, saying it is less harmful to Russian citizens than vodka. Ksenia Sobchak, according to the Moscow Times, is running on an “against all” platform from the Civic Initiative Party in Russia’s presidential elections next March. She is the daughter of Anatoly Sobchak, the first democratically elected mayor of St. Petersburg and a former mentor of President Vladimir Putin.
Sobchak, 35, said cannabis legalization could help solve “the narcotics epidemic” in Russia. “I myself don’t use it, but I don’t drink vodka by the bottle, either,” she said. “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,” she added.
There are some Russian insiders who are dubious of Sobchak’s motivation for running. There are rumblings in Moscow that, because of her father’s close association with Putin, Sobchak is merely the latest Kremlin stooge running as a spoiler candidate who had been co-opted by the Kremlin to split the opposition vote.
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Vodka is one of the leading sources of a health crisis in Russia. A 2014 study found vodka to be a key factor in Russians’ “extraordinarily high rates of premature death.”
Russian drug laws are among the most stringent in the world. According to a report in Vice, the country’s hospitals often turn away drug users — even amid a boom in heroin addiction.