Experts have backed calls to be made at the Liberal Democrats conference this weekend for the decriminalisation of all drugs, saying it would not lead to a surge in drug use. The UK Drugs Policy Commission, which includes Professor Colin Blakemore, former chief executive of the Medical Research Council, and Dame Ruth Runciman, former chair of the Mental Health Act Commission, among its membership, says it backs the broad thrust of the Lib Dem motion to be debated on Sunday.
The Czech Ministry of Health has indicated that it will take marijuana off the list of banned substances and allow it to be prescribed by doctors for its medical effects. “By the end of this year we will submit to parliament an amended law on addictive substances which will move marihuana from the list of banned substances to the list of those which can be prescribed,” Deputy Health Minister Martin Plíšek pledged.
The Liberal Democrat party conference have voted to establish a panel to consider decriminalising the use of all drugs. The panel would also consider a less radical alternative: that possession would remain illegal, but those caught would have to appear before a panel and made to undertake "appropriate education, health or social interventions", replacing the existing fines and jail sentences on the statute book. Any money made available by these reforms would be used for education, treatment and rehabilitation.
In June 2011, fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and forty years after former US President Nixon launched the US government's 'War on Drugs', the Global Commission on Drug Policy released an explosive report on the failings of the war on drugs and its devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world.
On August 2, 2011 the Minister of Justice presented to the Committee on Social Affairs of the Greek Parliament the changes proposed by the legislative committee to reform the drug laws. The basic reforms of the law include: the decriminalization of drug use. The proposal considers drug use as an act of self-harm and has to be addressed by the legislator in the same way as dependence of tobacco or alcohol which are not less dangerous and harmful to health but are not considered as crime.
The Home Office has quickly rejected a call from the government's official drug advisers to decriminalise the personal possession of all illegal drugs, including heroin and cocaine. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) has said it would be better if the tens of thousands of people caught with illicit drugs were sent on drug education and awareness courses rather than punished with fines and other penalties, up to imprisonment.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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)
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.
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 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.