Private cannabis clubs are at the vanguard of a new movement of pro-cannabis campaigners in Spain. The members spotted a gap in Spain's drugs laws which, they say, makes the activities of private clubs like these entirely legal. Spain does not have a law banning consumption in private and members claim it is safer to use the club than go out to parks and smoke in public. "The club recognises that cannabis is not good for everyone. We propose a responsible form of consumption. Not everyone should smoke. We know there are risks."
The war on drugs is a lost war, and 2011 is the time to move away from a punitive approach in order to pursue a new set of policies based on public health, human rights, and commonsense. These were the core findings of the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy that I convened, together with former presidents Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico and Cesar Gaviria of Colombia.
The United States, which has waged a 40-year, $1 trillion war on drugs, is looking for answers in tiny Portugal, which is reaping the benefits of what once looked like a dangerous gamble. White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske visited Portugal in September to learn about its drug reforms, and other countries – including Norway, Denmark, Australia and Peru – have taken interest, too.
Prosecutors say they are increasingly mindful of as marijuana use wins growing legal and public tolerance: Some jurors may be reluctant to convict for an offense many people no longer regard as serious. "It's not on a level where it's become a problem. But we'll hear, 'I think marijuana should be legal, I'm not going to follow the law.' "
People often say we have the prohibition of drugs in Britain. But illegal drugs are not prohibited, they are everywhere. What we have is a prohibition of political debate on what to do with them and that is the greatest drug crime of all.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) said that a municipal regulation imposed by the city of Maastricht prohibiting local coffee-shop owners from admitting non-residents of the Netherlands was justified as it aimed to reduce drug tourism and public nuisance.
Bob Ainsworth, a Home Office minister under Tony Blair, said successive governments' approaches had failed, leaving criminal gangs in control. The MP wants to see a system of strict legal regulation, with different drugs either prescribed by doctors or sold under licence.
After an annual survey of teen drug use nationwide found that marijuana smoking is on the rise among eighth- through 12th-graders, Kerlikowske attributed the uptick to California's Proposition 19 and other states' initiatives to legalize medical marijuana. "Mixed messages about drug legalization, particularly marijuana, may be to blame," he said in a news release. "Such messages certainly don't help parents who are trying to prevent kids from using drugs."
If someone were to invent a perfectly safe ecstasy pill, what would be done about it? It's the sort of scenario clubbers like to speculate about, usually at around 6am, a little the worse for wear after a big night out. It's less common to hear it from a neuropsychopharmacologist and former government scientist – but it is, Professor David Nutt says earnestly, "the key question". So what does he think the government would do?
Ministers will not be required to seek the advice of scientists when making drug classification policy in future, under new government proposals. The police reform and social responsibility bill, published last week, contains an amendment to the constitution of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) that would remove the requirement on the home secretary to appoint at least six scientists to the committee.
It was a moment that residents of Rio de Janeiro thought would never come. For decades many of the city’s favelas have been ruled by drug traffickers or militias. Sporadic flare-ups would see the police go in to these self-built settlements seeking revenge, only to pull back leaving bodies scattered and the gangs to return to business. But last month when the city’s two main drug gangs began hijacking and torching vehicles at gunpoint, this time the authorities’ response was different.
The outcome of this militarisation of drugs policy has been overwhelmingly negative. Military involvement in such an irregular war was not only unrealistic, but has also proved counterproductive. Every once in a while, a momentous triumph is announced in one or another country. But within a few years, the proliferation of front lines in the "war on drugs" reveals that such "success" was, at best, a pyrrhic victory. Meanwhile, democracy deteriorates, national insecurity spreads and human rights violations worsen.
Reports of human rights abuses committed during the police and military occupation of several favelas in this Brazilian city are jeopardising local residents’ newfound support for the security forces and posing challenges within the police. "I have never felt so humiliated," a local woman who takes in people’s laundry for a living told IPS. Asking to be identified merely as "D", she talked about what happened during the massive joint police and armed forces incursion in the Complexo do Alemão, a series of favelas or shantytowns on the north side of Rio de Janeiro.
Despite Proposition 19's loss at the polls this month, marijuana-legalization advocates in California are already working on their comeback plan for 2012 and are almost giddy about their prospects. They see the election as a trial run that could lead to a campaign with a better message, a tighter measure and more money. Both the winning and losing sides say California's voters rejected this specific initiative but remain open to legalizing the easily obtainable drug.
From the perspective of drug warriors, the criminal laws against drug possession are all that protect Americans from a deluge of drugs, an orgy of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine use that would kill children, destroy productivity and basically leave America a smoking hulk of wasteland populated by brain-dead zombies. New research on Portugal's drug policy suggests that this isn't necessarily so.
The new conservative Dutch government wants to force the country's marijuana cafes to become "members only" clubs, a move that would effectively block foreigners from buying the drug. If the idea ever becomes reality — it would be legally complicated and politically divisive — it would be the latest of the country's liberal policies to be scrapped or curtailed as the Dutch rethink the limits of their famed tolerance. While marijuana is technically illegal in the Netherlands, it has been sold openly in designated cafes for decades, and police make no arrests for possession of small amounts.
Imprisoned cannabis farmer Bernard Rappaz has been on hunger strike for more than 80 days in protest at a prison sentence he considers too high. Doctors have refused orders from the authorities to force feed him. In the latest twist to the story, the Federal Court rejected Rappaz' appeal for his imprisonment to be suspended. Rappaz, who is well known as someone who has fought for the legalisation of cannabis, received a prison sentence of five years and eight months for violating the federal drugs law.
Drug use and abuse are social and pubic health issues. But these drug laws started as purity laws in a progressive effort to stop pharmaceutical companies from addicting their unknowing customers to substances like heroin and cocaine added to common products like cough medicine and soft drinks. We have lost sight of these original goals.