Backers of an effort to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana use in Washington state submitted more than 340,000 signatures Thursday to try to qualify their initiative, a move protested by some legalization supporters who say the proposal would hurt medical-marijuana patients. About a dozen protesters carried signs that read "Legalize, not penalize," and shouted as members of New Approach turned in signatures for Initiative 502 to the Legislature.
Colorado has become the third state to ask the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to reclassify marijuana in a way that allows doctors to prescribe it as a medical treatment. The state asked the Drug Enforcement Administration to reclassify marijuana from Schedule 1, a category that includes heroin, to Schedule 2. The change would allow doctors to prescribe pot and pharmacies to fill marijuana prescriptions. The governors of Rhode Island and Washington have made similar requests.
Four scientists from Columbia University published an analysis of previous studies on methamphetamine use that called into question some of the purported damaging effects of the drug on brain functioning. The review in Neuropsychopharmacology found that short-term effects of the drug actually improve attention, as well as visual and spatial perception, among other things. Moreover, chronic users—the ones who would be expected to suffer most—remain largely unimpaired.
Bolivian President Evo Morales believes that in 2012 the United Nations will finally agree that chewing of coca leaves is a legal ancient tradition of all people living in the Andes. Bolivia signed an agreement with the United Nations in 1961 that gave the country 25 years to eradicate the growing of coca. “I am convinced that next year we will win this international ‘fight’ for the recognition of chewing coca leaves as a tradition of peoples in Latin America, living in the Andes,” Morales said in an interview
Some B.C. medical health officials are now advocating for marijuana to be legalized, arguing that the government's costly enforcement activities are making little difference. The Health Officers' Council of B.C., which represents B.C.'s medical health officers and other physicians, researchers and consultants, is endorsing a report, How Not to Protect Community Health and Safety by Stop the Violence BC, that suggests a direct link between the province's $7-billion illegal cannabis industry and the increase in gang-related homicides in B.C. from 1997 to 2009.
The government in the Netherlands has a legislative programme that includes making all of the country’s coffeeshops private clubs accessible only to customers issued with a club card. The membership cards – known as the 'wietpas' or 'weed card' – would be obtainable only by residents of the Netherlands aged 18 or older. Foreign tourists would no longer be allowed into Dutch coffee shops if the scheme becomes law. The aim of the government is to put an end to 'drugs tourism' in the Netherlands, especially in the southern provinces (Limburg, North Brabant and Zeeland).
Latin American leaders have joined together to condemn the U.S. government for soaring drug violence in their countries, blaming the United States for the transnational cartels that have grown rich and powerful smuggling dope north and guns south. Alongside official declarations, Latin American governments have expressed growing disgust for U.S. drug consumers — both the addict and the weekend recreational user heedless to the misery and destruction paid for their pleasures.
The youth vote helped propel Barack Obama to the presidency, but that enthusiasm has declined sharply. One issue might reignite youthful enthusiasm: marijuana — partly its medical use, but especially the right to recreational use free of potential arrest. Police arrest youth for marijuana possession by the hundreds of thousands, threatening life prospects for a young man or woman saddled with a permanent "drug arrest" record that's easily located by employers, landlords, schools, credit agencies and banks. Small wonder that 62 percent of young Americans (ages 18 to 29) now favor legalizing marijuana, as a Gallup poll reported.
The president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, yesterday asked inspectors of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) of the United Nations to support his petition to decriminalize coca leaf chewing or "akulliku" but acknowledged that he failed to convince everyone. The Board pointed out this year that Bolivia “addresses the coca-chewing issue in a manner that is not in line with that country’s obligations under the international drug control treaties.”
Conservative Senator Pierre Claude Nolin says he can't support the massive Bill C-10 mainly because of a section that deals with growing marijuana plants. Nolin has been a longtime advocate for ending the prohibition on pot. He was the chairman of a landmark Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs in 2002 that called for the substance to be legalized.
New legislation to ban non-Dutch residents from cannabis-selling coffee shops in southern Netherlands should be enforced no later than May 1 next year. "The law will be amended on January 1, but there will be a kind of grace period until May 1," Justice ministry spokeswoman Charlotte Menten told AFP. The centre-right government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte has since September 2010 been weighing a "cannabis card", reserved for residents only and obligatory when visiting one of the country's 670 licensed coffee shops.
The conservative Dutch government said it is delaying plans to ban tourists from buying marijuana until at least May 2012, though it still intends to curtail the country’s famed tolerance policy. The Cabinet wants to introduce a “weed pass” system that will allow only legal residents of the Netherlands to buy marijuana. Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten said a test rollout in southern cities planned for January will now be delayed until May because of practical difficulties.
The Basque Parliament will approve a law bill in the first few months of 2012 on drug addiction, which will regulate "the growing, sale and consumption of cannabis". For the new ruling, for which "technical and legal studies have been undertaken", the regional government wants to "open a debate" with associations in favour of consumption and to "shape their rights".
Research into medicinal marijuana is undergoing a surge of interest, with more evidence emerging not only of its ability to ease human suffering, but also of its apparent safety. Some say cannabis may be less toxic to humans than over-the-counter pain relievers. Scientifically controlled experiments have concluded that smoked cannabis can provide moderate relief from chronic, severe non-cancer pain — including HIV-related nerve pain and post-traumatic neuropathy, a condition that can follow an injury or medical procedure. Both are notoriously resistant to conventional treatments. (See also: Ten Years of Medical Marijuana in Canada)
The Tories omnibus crime legislation casts a shadow on the future of the medical marijuana program. The toughening of drug trafficking laws means that anyone caught sharing or selling marijuana will face mandatory jail sentences. No longer will judges have the discretion to waive a sentence for pot providers who offer the product to help the sick. If charged and convicted of trafficking, they will do jail time - at least six months. (See also: Ten Years of Medical Marijuana in Canada)
Data obtained by the Ottawa Citizen through the Access to Information Act put a face to the typical medical marijuana patient for the first time, 10 years after the federal government — under pressure from a series of legal rulings — was forced to start allowing seriously ill Canadians to apply to use the drug. As Health Canada moves to overhaul the rules governing medical marijuana, its own numbers show sharp disparities in the accessibility and use of the drug across the country as patients scramble to find doctors willing to prescribe. (See also: Ten Years of Medical Marijuana in Canada)
King County authorities and the Washington State Public Stadium Authority have agreed to stop harassing people collecting signatures outside the Seahawks football stadium for an initiative that would legalize and tax recreational marijuana in the state. One of the collectors, Benjamin Schroeter, was arrested Nov. 13 after he refused an order to stop collecting signatures for Initiative 502 in a public area outside the stadium where fans were tailgating.
Last week's request by Govs. Chris Gregoire and Rhode Island's Lincoln Chafee to have the federal government reclassify marijuana as medicine--which at first glance looked like unalloyed good news for those who support safe access for patients--is actually a double-edged sword.