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Polish pol tries to light up joint in Parliament

WARSAW, Poland - The leader of a new left-wing party in Poland threatened to light up a joint in Parliament on Friday, but just burned incense instead.

Janusz Palikot is campaigning to get soft drugs legalized and to otherwise liberalize the conservative country.

"We're trying to get into room 143 to burn some grass, in accordance with our announcement," Palikot told reporters in a news conference held in his Parliament office.

Palikot's plan, however, put him on a collision course with the speaker, Ewa Kopacz, who vowed not to let him break the law in parliament.

She reported him to prosecutors, and in the end, Palikot simply lit incense sticks containing a tiny amount of cannabis. They emitted a scent of burning marijuana, but Palikot said they were purchased legally in a shop.

Palikot is introducing a draft law that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

His proposal has little chance of passing, however. His party, Palikot's Movement, won 10 percent of votes in October elections, becoming the third largest party in Parliament but still lacking the votes needed to change laws.

The party has also vowed to support gay rights and to fight to liberalize the country's restrictive abortion laws. It also opposes the strong influence of the Catholic church in politics and society, and has called for the removal of a Christian cross hanging in the Parliament.

The country's first ever openly gay and transsexual lawmakers entered Parliament this fall on Palikot's party ticket.

Prosecutors have opened an investigation into whether Palikot broke a law against "promoting or advertising" drugs with his threat to smoke pot in Parliament, the news agency PAP reported. That is a crime that could carry a prison sentence of up to a year.

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