U.S. inability to cut illegal drug consumption leaves Guatemala with no option but to consider legalizing the use and transport of drugs, President Otto Perez Molina said, a remarkable turnaround for an ex-general elected on a platform of crushing organized crime with an iron fist. Perez said he will try to win regional support for drug legalization at an upcoming summit of Central American leaders next month.
A political majority at Copenhagen Town Hall is pushing for cannabis to be decriminalised. In a joint letter, four out of five local politicians have appealed to Minister of Justice Morten Bødskov to set up a trial run to test the effects of legalising the popular drug. The Social Democrats' spokesman on social affairs, Lars Aslan Rasmussen, said current drug policy hasn't worked in curbing organised crime and gang warfare so it's time for a re-think.
Germany’s socialist Left party is calling an expert hearing on “legalizing cannabis through the introduction of cannabis clubs” in the German parliament on Wednesday. The idea has met widespread rejection. The Left party’s proposal is to allow Germans to open exclusive cannabis clubs, where members will be able to grow marijuana plants. They also recommend that consumers be allowed to own 30 grams of the drug for personal consumption – double the current limit.
The market for cannabis in Britain should be regulated and taxed, and responsibility for drug policy moved from the Home Office to the health department, Sir Richard Branson has told MPs. The Virgin Group head said the 20% of police time and £200m spent on giving criminal sentences to 70,000 young people for possession of illegal drugs in Britain each year would be better spent going after the criminal gangs at the centre of the drugs trade. "It's win-win all round,'' he told the Commons home affairs select committee.
After 50 years of the failed drug war, it is time for today’s leaders to find the courage to speak out. For all the successes I’ve had in business, I’ve also learnt to accept when things go wrong, work out why, and try to find a better way. The war on drugs is a failed enterprise. We need to have the courage to learn the lessons and move on. (See also: Richard Branson expected to tell MPs: it's time to end the war on drugs)
The Copenhagen City Council is pushing ahead with a proposal to decriminalise cannabis, and has set up a committee to investigate the best way to regulate the supply and distribution. The favoured option is for 30 or 40 cannabis shops controlled by the city in which adults may legally buy cannabis. By a margin of 39 votes to nine, the City Council decided to draw up a detailed outline of how the plan would work. Subsequently, the resulting proposal still has to be ratified by the Danish parliament, which has blocked similar movements in the past. But after the national elections in September 2011 the current parliament could support decriminalisation this time around.
Draft legislation that foresees the decriminalization of the possession of small quantities of drugs for personal use but the leveling of criminal charges against individuals caught growing or manufacturing drugs or using them in public was submitted in Parliament in Greece. The bill is part of a broader initiative aimed at decongesting Greece’s jails, many of which are filled to beyond double their capacity. (See also: Drug law reform in Greece)
The loudest voices in US drug policy debates call either for enforcing prohibition with ever-increasing ferocity or for giving up altogether by letting corporations legally sell the currently illicit drugs much as they do tobacco and alcohol. But as our colleagues and we detail this week in the Lancet, there is an alternative: adopting drug policies with scientific evidence of effectiveness. Regardless of what goals for drug policy emerge from the democratic process, everyone wants the policies implemented in the service of those goals to be effective.
Two observers and scholars of the 2001 Portuguese drug policy reform consider divergent accounts of the reform which viewed it as a ‘resounding success’ or a ‘disastrous failure’. Acknowledging from their own experience the inherent difficulties in studying drug law reform, Caitlin Hughes and Alex Stevens take the central competing claims of the protagonists and consider them against the available data.They remind us of the way all sides of the drug policy debates call upon and alternatively use or misuse ‘evidence’ to feed into discussions of the worth, efficacy and desirability of different illicit drug policies.In doing so they provide pause for thought for those of us who operate as drug policy researchers and drug policy advocates.