In a dramatic shift of sentiment, nearly half of California's likely voters now want to legalize marijuana use in the state, according to a new Field Poll. Forty-nine percent of those likely voters now support Prop. 19, with 42 percent opposed. In a July poll, 48 percent of those surveyed planned to vote against the ballot initiative, with 44 percent backing legalization.
French officials across the political spectrum have expressed support for "shooting galleries", where addicts could use drugs under medical supervision. Such centres exist in several other European countries. The debate over "shooting galleries" started in the headquarters of an anti-addiction association located in the Belleville neighbourhood of Paris. In May 2009, the association, called ASUD (Self-support and Risk Reduction among Drug Users) opened a centre in which addicts could use drugs under medical supervision.
Last week Professor Roger Pertwee called for cannabis to be licensed for sale, and now Tim Hollis, the Association of Chief Police Officers' lead officer on drugs, has said the current criminalisation-based approach to policing cannabis use should be reviewed. Pertwee and Hollis are bringing a welcome breath of fresh air to the debate about drugs and the harm they do. The government now has the chance to take a genuinely science-based approach to drugs policy.
One of Britain's most senior police officers has said youngsters caught carrying personal amounts of drugs such as cannabis should "not be criminalised", in order to allow more resources to be dedicated to tackling high-level dealers. Tim Hollis, chief constable of Humberside police, said the criminal justice system could offer only a "limited" solution to the UK's drug problem, a tacit admission that prohibition has failed.
The rate of illegal drug use rose last year to the highest level in nearly a decade, fueled by a sharp increase in marijuana use and a surge in ecstasy and methamphetamine abuse, according to the annual report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Gil Kerlikowske, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, was not surprised given "eroding attitudes" about the perception of harm from illegal drugs and the growing number of states approving medicinal marijuana.
Should Britain's strategy to reduce the harm from drugs be based on scientific evidence or public opinion? When the issue came up during the course of a Parliamentary debate on "legal highs" last week, there was an interesting insight into how the previous Labour administration viewed matters.
Policymakers should consider allowing the licensed sale of cannabis for recreational use, says one of the UK's leading researchers of the drug. Professor Roger Pertwee is to make the call in a speech at the British Science Association festival in Birmingham. He is expected to say radical solutions have to be considered because he believes the current policy of criminalising cannabis is ineffective.
Spain's former prime minister Felipe Gonzalez called for an international treaty to legalise drugs as a way to end the deadly wars between trafficking cartels. "I think it will be our only way of confronting" drug trafficking, he told reporters. He acknowleged that "no country can take this decision (to legalise drugs) unilaterally without an extremely serious (political) cost for its leaders. He called for an international conference on the issue, while admitting that it was "unlikely ever to happen."
A debate about legalizing marijuana and possibly other drugs — once a taboo suggestion — is percolating in Mexico, a nation exhausted by runaway violence and a deadly drug war. The debate is only likely to grow more animated if Californians approve an initiative on Nov. 2 to legalize marijuana for recreational use in their state.
It is wrecking the government of Mexico. It is financing the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is throwing 11,000 Britons into jail. It is corrupting democracy throughout Latin America. It is devastating the ghettoes of America and propagating Aids in urban Europe. Its turnover is some £200bn a year, on which it pays not a penny of tax. Thousands round the world die of it and millions are impoverished. It is the biggest man-made blight on the face of the earth.
For those who have long argued that smoking marijuana should not be a crime, a potentially historic turning point is just weeks away. Voters in California will decide Nov. 2 whether to make their state the first to legalize the growing, selling and recreational use of marijuana. And polls here - the nation's most populous state - suggest that residents are about evenly split on the issue.
On Nov. 2, Californians will vote on Proposition 19, deciding whether to legalize the production, sale and consumption of marijuana. If the initiative passes, it won't just be momentous for California; it may, at long last, offer Mexico the promise of an exit from our costly war on drugs. The costs of that war have long since reached intolerable levels: more than 28,000 of our fellow citizens dead since late 2006; expenditures well above $10 billion; terrible damage to Mexico's image abroad; human rights violations by government security forces; and ever more crime.
In the midst of the recently resurgent debate in Britain about whether our drug laws are working – or require a major overhaul – the experience of Portugal has become a crucial piece of evidence in favour of a radical approach that has confounded the expectations of even its conservative critics, so much so that in the last month British officials have asked their Portuguese counterparts for advice, with the only caveat being that they avoid mentioning the word "decriminalise".