Swiss pass government heroin plan .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} ZURICH - Swiss voters heavily rejected a proposal to legalize cannabis use in the Alpine nation, instead approving a government proposal to support heroin addicts, state-owned DRS radio reported.

In a referendum on Sunday, 63 percent of voters and all 26 cantons opposed relaxing laws on marijuana, Europe’s most widely used illicit drug, DRS said on its Web site. Sixty-eight percent of Swiss voters were in favor of allowing authorities to continue handing out heroin to long-term addicts over 18 years old and provide free treatment.

Switzerland adopted a more liberal heroin policy than most European countries in 1994 after an open drug scene emerged in Zurich, attracting users from across Europe and sparking a wave of deaths and crime. Still, the government and parliament both rejected the so-called "Hemp Initiative," saying that legalizing cannabis use would boost the number of addicts.

"I’m very happy about the outcome," said Andrea Geissbuehler, a People’s Party MPin the lower house of parliament. The Hemp Initiative was put to vote after supporters collected the necessary 100,000 signatures for a referendum. The proposal would have needed approval from both a majority of voters and a majority of cantons to become law.