Fifty years after signing the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and 40 years after the U.S. government declared a "war on drugs," many obstacles remain despite the partial successes of efforts to counter the problem. The Andean-United States Dialogue Forum, noted with concern how drug policy has monopolized the diplomatic and economic agenda between the Andean countries, contributing to tensions among the governments and impeding cooperation on other crucial priorities, such as safeguarding democratic processes from criminal networks.
Actuellement, l'usage de stupéfiants est puni d'une amende maximale de 3 750 euros et d'un an d'emprisonnement. Une proposition de loi, adoptée le 7 décembre 2011 par le Sénat, entend modifier ces sanctions. Au lieu d'être un délit, le premier usage - et lui seul - deviendrait une contravention, assortie d'une amende de 68 euros. C'est une "suite logique" aux conclusions d'un rapport publié en juillet 2011 par la mission parlementaire d'information sur les toxicomanies, précise Jacques Mézard, président radical du groupe Rassemblement démocratique et social européen (RDSE) au Sénat, et rapporteur du texte.
Polls show overwhelming support for amending the laws. In fact, 50 percent of Americans—the largest portion ever recorded—now favor legalizing marijuana, according to an October Gallup poll. But elected officials have yet to catch up. Even those politicians who privately wisecrack about all the weed they smoked in their younger days are usually too timid to take on decades-old preconceptions about marijuana. In other words, the politicians who have the power to enact new rules have been too wimpy to use it, and those who want to see changes don't have the clout. The result is a political limbo where reefer madness still rules.
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.
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.
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.
The General Assembly of Cannabis Users Association Pannagh denounces the disproportionate intervention of the Municipal Police of Bilbao against the association and demands the immediate withdrawal of the charges against the three members who were arrested last Monday, in recognition of the fact that they have not committed any crime, taking into account that Pannagh carries out its activities according to the jurisprudence regarding the ’shared consumption’ such as has been approved by the Provincial Tribunal of Bizkaia in its decision to withdraw the prosecution that was opened by the municipal police in 2005.
Former head of MI5 Eliza Manningham-Buller today joins an increasingly long list of "formers" and "exes" who have publicly condemned the so-called "War on Drugs" as a "dead end". She will be among many other retired establishment figures lining up to say that we need to launch a global and national search operation for a workable alternative to prohibition. The question that leaps out, of course, is why didn't any of these people make their argument before they retired from the day-job?
The former head of MI5 believes the "war on drugs" has proved fruitless and it is time to consider decriminalising the possession and use of small quantities of cannabis. Eliza Manningham-Buller has backed calls for the government to set up a commission to examine how to tackle the UK's drug culture and consider the highly controversial move of relaxing the law. She was speaking at a meeting held by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform.
Cannabis smokers in Switzerland will soon be allowed to grow up to four marijuana plants each at home to stop them buying drugs on the black market. Four people sharing a house can grow up to 16 plants - but only if each person tends to their own crop. The deregulation of Switzerland's already lax cannabis laws has been agreed by four neighbouring regions in the French-speaking part of the Alpine country. (See also: Les cantons veulent autoriser quatre plants de cannabis par personne)
Junior Health Minister Roisin Shortall, who is in charge of Ireland’s drugs strategy, said she had an "open mind" in relation to Portugal’s model. She said she was "particularly interested" in the country’s "yellow card" system, which warned users about their behaviour and tried to steer them away from drugs. Dr Joao Goulao, Portugal’s National Drugs Co-ordinator, said decriminalisation of drugs for personal use did not itself lead to benefits. "There is not a causal effect between decriminalisation and these results — it is due to a comprehensive response. But decriminalisation did not affect negatively the evaluation of the phenomenon."
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday he would not be rushed into decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana because doing so creates its own set of problems that other cities have been forced to correct. The mayor shined the light on his deliberations on the hot-button issue as Chicago aldermen formally introduced their decriminalization plan after releasing ward-by-ward statistics that show minorities bear the brunt of marijuana arrests.
Alderman Danny Solis introduced an ordinance to the City Council that would make possession of small amounts of marijuana a ticketable offense with a $200 fine rather than a misdemeanor that carries jail time. He estimates the change would generate $7 million a year and, since the vast majority of such cases are dismissed, would save police and courthouse workers money and time.
The case of the Australian boy arrested on drug charges in Bali offers the opportunity to review our nation's own response to drug use, both here and abroad. While empathy for the boy's family is warranted and genuine, the case should also raise the question of what would happen to someone in Australia caught with a similar small amount of cannabis or other illicit drug.
Last year, Chicago Police officers arrested more than 23,000 people on misdemeanor marijuana charges, and most of those cases were dropped. From 2006 through 2010, cases for possession of less than 2.5 grams of marijuana were dismissed 97 percent of the time. Eighty-four percent of pot possession cases involving 2.5 grams to 10 grams were tossed out of court; and 57 percent involving 10 to 30 grams met the same end, according to the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court.
A high-ranking U.S. Justice Department official who wrote a memo saying state medical marijuana laws do not provide immunity from federal prosecution refused to say whether a recent crackdown in California signals a shift in federal policy that may result in a crackdown in other states. Deputy Attorney General James Cole said the memo sent to U.S. attorneys in June speaks for itself, and he said U.S. attorneys have discretion in how federal law is enforced in their districts.
In the design of America's founders, the states are supposed to be centers of democratic experiment. They're not supposed to be uniform. For example, even though alcohol Prohibition ended in 1933, local laws restricting sales exist in 33 states. In Arkansas, more than half of 75 counties prohibit alcohol sales. This design is why it is disturbing to us that the Obama administration has launched a crackdown on medical marijuana, which is legal in 16 states and the District of Columbia, the home of the federal government.
Should drugs be decriminalized? That this question is still being kicked around after decades of debate through the war on drugs is indicative of how drug policy has hit a wall. No victory was ever declared because drugs remain a scourge on society, with approximately 23 million Americans addicted to illegal and legal substances. This comes against the backdrop of an overcrowded U.S. prison system whose population is one-fifth drug offenders, and recent reforms in Europe oriented toward harm reduction rather than criminal justice. Having failed to eradicate or even make large inroads against drug use and with current policy unsustainable, America is now obligated to come up with a new approach.
Four California-based U.S. attorneys have announced their intent to prosecute the medical-marijuana dispensaries, growers and delivery services that are breaking state and federal laws. What constitutes violations of law, however, is murky — and may put the very existence of the dispensaries at risk. "California law says that it's essentially O.K. to grow, have and transport marijuana if you're a patient authorized by a doctor or if you're the patient's primary caregiver and if you're providing the marijuana not for profit," a spokesman for the U.S. attorney says. "Stores are violating California law because they're operating at a profit and they're not a primary caregiver. It's very clearly laid out."