Latin America has emerged at the vanguard of efforts to promote debate on drug policy reform. For decades, Latin American governments largely followed the drug control policies and programs of Washington’s so-called war on drugs. Yet two parallel trends have resulted in a dramatic change in course: the emergence of left-wing governments that have challenged Washington’s historic patterns of unilateralism and interventionism and growing frustration with the failure of the prohibitionist drug control model put forward by the US government.
The Drug Enforcement Administration sent cease-and-desist letters to 11 medical-marijuana dispensaries because they are within 1,000 feet of schools or other prohibited areas. The DEA maintains that the crackdown does not signal a federal war on Washington state’s new legal-pot law. Despite Washington state’s new legal recreational-pot law, enacted by voter-approved Initiative 502, all forms of marijuana remain illegal under federal law.
In the wake of the marijuana legalization victories in Colorado and Washington last November, and buoyed by a series of national public opinion polls showing support for pot legalization going over the tipping point, marijuana reform legislation is being introduced at state houses across the land at levels never seen before. According to a legislative activity web page maintained by the Marijuana Policy Project, decriminalization bills have been introduced in 10 states.
Colorado lawmakers tried to find the Goldilocks level for recreational marijuana taxes — an amount neither too high to discourage voters from approving it nor too low to pay the costs of pot legalization. At the end of the debate, the state House gave initial approval to a bill that proposes a 15 percent excise tax and an initial 10 percent special sales tax on recreational marijuana, over the objection of Republicans who said the tax rates are too much.
It's never been easier, or cheaper, to buy drugs online – but no one knows what's in them, or how dangerous they are. For most of the last decade, an average of four or five new legal drugs came on to the market each year. Then mephedrone appeared on the scene: cheap, legal and available online. By 2010, the drug had become the fourth most popular drug, after marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy. It was banned in April of that year, but not before a new market had emerged for online legal highs. In 2011, EU researchers found 49 new legal drugs for sale online. In 2012, 73 were identified; hundreds more were banned.
A proposal that could lead to the repeal of marijuana legalization in Colorado has gained momentum at the state Capitol. The repeal would be linked to a measure on marijuana taxes that is expected to go before voters in November, according to legislators and advocacy groups involved in the discussions. The premise is that, if voters do not approve the taxes, then Amendment 64, the initiative passed just months ago to legalize marijuana, would be repealed.
Legal marijuana in Colorado may not bring in enough money to cover the societal costs of legalization, a study from a Colorado State University think tank concludes. The analysis also argues that revenue from marijuana taxes won't do much to help Colorado's budget and that money generated for new school construction won't reach the $40 million annual target that supporters of marijuana legalization set when campaigning for Amendment 64, the measure that legalized use, limited possession and commercial sale of marijuana for adults in Colorado.
Dozens of medical marijuana activists rallied outside Los Angeles City Hall, declaring war on an enemy. Their target was not the federal government, whose agents raided several local dispensaries, or neighborhood groups trying to shut down the city's estimated 700 pot shops. The enemy was fellow medical marijuana advocates. Three competing measures on the May 21 city ballot have divided L.A.'s lucrative medical cannabis industry, with each side accusing the other of trying only to protect profits, not do what is best for patients.
Lawmakers introduced a long-awaited bill of proposed regulations for recreational marijuana, moving Colorado one step closer to a legal pot marketplace. The 57-page bill — House Bill 1317 — contains most of the ideas endorsed by a special legislative committee for how recreational marijuana businesses should operate and be structured. A second bill, House Bill 1318, lays out a proposed tax structure for marijuana that voters would be asked to approve.
Washington state is delaying its timeline for granting marijuana growing and processing licenses - and that means legal marijuana sales likely won't begin before spring of next year. Rather than issue growing licenses this summer and processor licenses this fall, as called for in a tentative prior timeline, the Liquor Control Board will issue all licenses Dec. 1, 2013.
Alaska voters likely will get a chance next year to make their state the third in the country to approve the recreational use of marijuana by adults 21 and older. Pot backers took the first step toward getting the measure on the August 2014 primary ballot, presenting draft language and 100 signatures to the Alaska lieutenant governor’s office.
Tens of thousands of people will attend Saturday's "4/20" rally in Denver, creating perhaps the largest collectively produced cloud of marijuana smoke ever at 4:20 p.m. But Lopez doesn't view this year's event as a celebration of Amendment 64, the pro-pot measure that voters passed in November. Instead, it is as much a protest against the measure. "It is still only a legislative act to create an economy and not to end a war that has destroyed thousands of lives." The people behind Amendment 64, likewise, are holding the rally at arm's length.
Washington state may delay issuing licenses to grow pot by a couple months, according to state Liquor Control Board Deputy Director Rick Garza. In its initial timeline, the board would issue producer licenses in mid-August. Then it planned to issue processor licenses in early November and retailer licenses in mid-November. Under that schedule, state-regulated stores might open as early as December. But the board staff believe it’s probably better to create all three licenses at the same time.
Colorado lawmakers stood the state's current model for marijuana businesses on its head, endorsing a proposal that would allow recreational pot stores and commercial growers to operate independently. Currently, medical-marijuana businesses in Colorado are vertically integrated, meaning growers and sellers are part of the same company and the stores grow most of what they sell. But, at the final meeting of a legislative committee writing a bill for recreational marijuana rules, lawmakers backed a proposed model where growers and sellers would be separate. (See also: Denver Mayor Michael Hancock: Pot should be phased in; no pot clubs)
The Dutch city of Eindhoven has come up with a proposal it believes will curb the illegal supply of cannabis to the city’s cannabis coffee shops: they suggest growing it themselves. “The Eindhoven municipality has come out in favor of a pilot project regarding the controlled cultivation of cannabis,” Eindhoven’s mayor Rob van Gijzel said in a letter, a copy of which was handed to local media. “This suggestion is aimed at using controlled cultivation to curb the ‘back-door’ problems associated with illegal supply to coffee shops.” (See also: Friesland councillors support move to legalise cannabis production)