Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire and Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee have filed a petition with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration asking the agency to reclassify marijuana so doctors can prescribe it and pharmacists can fill the prescription. The governors want the federal government to list marijuana as a Schedule 2 drug, allowing it to be used for medical treatment. Marijuana is currently classified a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it's not accepted for medical treatment and can't be prescribed, administered or dispensed.
The influential Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) is to "undertake a comprehensive review of drugs policy in the new year". They are to ask whether the government's 2010 drug strategy is a "fiscally responsible policy with strategies grounded in science, health, security and human rights". The HASC is also going to investigate the criteria used by government to measure the efficacy of its drug policies. The growing chorus of international establishment figures who argue that prohibition has proved a failed policy appears to have led the committee to ask some searching questions about the effectiveness of Britain's drugs strategy.
The passage of state medical-marijuana laws is associated with a subsequent drop in the rate of traffic fatalities, according to a newly released study by University of Colorado Denver professor Daniel Rees and Montana State University professor D. Mark Anderson. The study found that the traffic-death rate drops by nearly 9 percent in states after they legalize marijuana for medical use. The researchers arrived at that figure, Rees said, after controlling for other variables such as changes in traffic laws, seat-belt usage and miles driven. The study stops short of saying the medical-marijuana laws cause the drop in traffic deaths.
The thirty-five year fight to establish permanent injection rooms for drug addicts is now over after the government announced last week that such facilities would be up and running by 2013. But long-time campaigners are bracing themselves for news on the guidelines for how the rooms are to be run. The government will present a catalogue outlining the current drug legislation and amendments that will need to be made in order for injection rooms to become legal.
We are supposedly engaged in a "war on drugs." What war on drugs? A phoney war, because it provokes that which it proclaims to repress. Take three countries with different approaches to recreational drugs: the United States, Canada and the Netherlands. The first two rely on a punitive approach. The Netherlands prefer harm reduction. As is notorious, Dutch citizens can openly enjoy cannabis in coffee shops. So does the Netherlands swarm with drug-crazed zombies? Look at the percentage of the population (15 to 64) who use cannabis annually. In the U.S., 13.7 per cent. In Canada, 12.6 per cent. In the Netherlands: 5.4 per cent. For every Dutch pot smoker, there are 2.3 Canadians and 2.5 Americans.
Media reports of two deaths at the weekend in the same party venue have once again been accompanied by police suggestions that the drug responsible is ecstasy that may be from a "contaminated" batch. Speculation as to the cause of these tragic deaths is unhelpful, and recent experience with mephedrone has shown such preliminary comments are often quite wrong, we will know the truth only when toxicology results are reported.
Imagine an extremely expensive government policy proven to be completely ineffective at achieving its stated objectives. Consider also that whenever this policy is subjected to any kind of impact assessment, the government’s own data clearly show that the policy has been ineffective, expensive and fuelled the growth of organized crime. Finally, imagine this remarkable set of circumstances persisting for decades — at great cost to taxpayers and community safety — and yet elected officials say and do nothing to address the status quo.
The Supreme Court agreed to resolve a question that has vexed the lower federal courts since Congress enacted a law to narrow the gap between sentences meted out for offenses involving two kinds of cocaine. Selling cocaine in crack form used to subject offenders to the same sentence one would get for selling 100 times as much in powder. The new law, the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, reduced the disparity to 18 to 1, at least for people who committed their offenses after the law became effective on Aug. 3, 2010.
Dutch Minister of Justice Ivo Opstelten has announced an official ban on non-residents from coffee shops not just in Maastricht, but in the nearby cities of Tilburg and Eindhoven as well, beginning January 1, 2012. Dutch residents will need carry a “weed pass” to enter. Dutch authorities say the rest of the country will follow a year later. It’s possible that a broader ban will never come to pass, because Amsterdam is too politically powerful for any elected official to take a stance against it.
As proponents of a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana near the deadline to turn in signatures, they face a puzzling picture of the electorate. An independent poll this summer found a slender majority of Coloradans support legalizing cannabis. But whenever marijuana has actually appeared on the ballot in Colorado in recent years — most commonly as measures to ban dispensaries and other marijuana businesses — it has generally fared poorly.
Legalising pot, we wrote in this space back in July 2009, would have two obvious benefits: generating revenue and dragging a shady business out into the light. Nearly three years later those arguments remain stronger than ever – the state is running at a deficit and the flare-ups between the gangsters that deal the stuff have become routine. Unfortunately, despite the change in government, the message coming from parliament also remains the same: no.
Four former Vancouver mayors have endorsed a coalition calling for an end to pot prohibition in Canada that they blame for rampant gang violence. Larry Campbell, Mike Harcourt, Sam Sullivan and Philip Owen all signed an open letter to politicians in B.C. Wednesday claiming a change in the law will reduce gang violence. The former mayors support the position of the Stop the Violence BC coalition, which recently released a survey showing most B.C. residents favour an end to the current marijuana laws. (See the complete text of their manifesto)
Portuguese drug policy and the drug treatment system are not without challenges and problems. No system is perfect and operates within a constantly changing economic, social and political environment. Some of the CDTs have been understaffed and the wait for treatment has increased. The economic crisis has hit Portugal hard and the unemployment rate is 12 per cent. The right-wing government is pushing through austerity measures that would cut health and social services and staff. These cuts would have a direct and negative impact on the availability of drug treatment services.
An intensifying federal crackdown on growers and sellers of state-authorized medical marijuana has badly shaken the billion-dollar industry, which has sprung up in California since voters approved medical use of the drug in 1996, and has highlighted the stark contradiction between federal and state policies. Federal law classifies the possession and sale of marijuana as a serious crime and does not grant exceptions for medical use, so the programs adopted here, in 15 other states and in the District of Columbia exist in an odd legal limbo.
A worldwide arms race has erupted between inventive street chemists who concoct "legal" highs and government officials who wish to regulate and interdict the proliferation of synthetic cannabis products that can send their users to an emergency room or the morgue. In Arkansas officials view the problem as severe enough that they have now deployed a network of federally funded laboratories within their state (in collaboration with state and private laboratories) to keep tabs on the protean ingenuity of street chemists, who reformulate these drugs faster than governments can pass regulations to control them.
A committee has now been established to determine the best way to legalise the sale of hashish, with special stores owned by the council presenting itself as the preferred candidate. The sale, consumption and cultivation of marijuana is illegal in Denmark, all of which can be punished with warnings, fines or jail time. Despite this there is a strong black market for the drug generating 1.5 billion kroner a year and controlled entirely by criminal gangs.
Two prominent El Paso political leaders argue, in their new book, that the United States' war on drugs is not working despite a $1 trillion infusion of federal money over the past 40 years. Former city Rep. Beto O'Rourke and city Rep. Susie Byrd co-authored the recently published book, "Dealing Death and Drugs." The book is billed as "an argument to end the prohibition of marijuana." The authors contend the only rational alternative to the multi-billion dollar war on drugs is to end the present prohibition on marijuana.
An effort to decriminalize and tax recreational marijuana sales for adults in Washington state has won some high-profile endorsements — including from two former Seattle U.S. attorneys and the former head of the FBI here — and its sponsors are well on their way to collecting enough signatures to place the measure before the Legislature. But even if backers gather enough signatures for Initiative 502 and the measure ultimately becomes law, the effort is a gamble because, in the event of a conflict with federal statutes, the feds would trump.
Ecstasy, the drug of choice for the clubbers of the early 1990s, is making a comeback. Once synonymous with the rave scene, its popularity declined as the diminishing amount of methylenedioxymethamphe-tamine, or MDMA, the potent chemical once found in ecstasy tablets, saw a new generation of clubbers seek alternative substances. At the peak of its popularity, ecstasy was rarely out of the news with the designer drug blamed for a spate of deaths, often wrongly.