Who should I vote for if I want to see a change to drugs policy?

In the run-up to the June elections, Belgium's political parties are staking out their positions on key issues. Today we look at where they stand on the legalisation of drugs.

The debate over drug policy has been ongoing for years, with proponents arguing for decriminalisation as a means to address public health concerns and reduce criminal activity.

Most parties advocate for greater focus on the public health aspect of drug policy, while stopping short of decriminalisation. Those on the right reject any form of legalisation.

Francophone centrist party Les Engagés would legalise the use of recreational cannabis and regulate its production and sale. It advocates for official, controlled state production of cannabis, with support, supervision and limits on consumption, to combat trafficking. 

Flemish green party Groen has long been a proponent of reform. It calls for the legalisation and regulation of cannabis for medical and recreational use. Additionally, Groen supports harm reduction measures for other drugs, such as supervised injection sites and greater access to substitute therapy. Safe injection centres have been opened in recent years in Brussels and Liège.

Its sister party, Ecolo, does not explicitly endorse full legalisation, but would make addiction a public health issue and improve care for addicts as part of a wider support structure. 

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On the far left, the PVDA/PTB supports the decriminalisation of drug use and possession for personal consumption and wants to increase the capacity of shelters for people with drug, alcohol and other addictions.

Both francophone socialist party PS and Flemish counterparts Vooruit emphasise redirecting resources towards public health initiatives and addiction treatment, stopping short of full legalisation. Flemish liberal party Open VLD advocates for regulated cannabis markets for recreational use, citing benefits such as quality control and tax revenue.

On the other side of the debate, Flemish nationalists N-VA maintain a conservative stance. In its programme, the party opposes both legalisation and decriminalisation of drugs. It prioritises law enforcement efforts to combat drug trafficking and consumption, advocating for stricter penalties for drug-related offences to ensure public safety and social order. 

The far-right Vlaams Belang takes a similar hardline stance against any form of legalisation or decriminalisation, with the exception of cannabis for medical use. It would abolish existing safe injection centres.


The opening of a forensic drug expertise centre in Brussels by the National Institute of Criminalistics and Criminology ​ 23 April 2024. The centre will support police, customs and the judiciary in their fight against drug trafficking © PHOTO BELGA PHOTO ERIC LALMAND

In the run-up to the elections for the federal, regional and European parliaments on 9 June, Belga English explains how the parties in Belgium want to address today’s challenges. Each day we put the spotlight on one issue.

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