The US drug policy is changing, pitting states against federal law. This essay explores this inner friction of contradictory drug legislation, and what it may mean for the international drug control regime, itself a result of US drug policy. (4,400 words)
The growing societal acceptance of cannabis in the U.S. has sparked what some call a "green rush" of people trying to cash in on what is already a multi-billion-dollar business. And as the marijuana industry comes out of the shadows, its producers, consumers and advocates are pushing for more transparency – both about cannabis' alleged medical benefits and its environmental impacts.
For the first time, a majority of Americans, 58%, favor legalizing marijuana, according to a Gallup poll released Tuesday. That number was just 12% in 1969, when Gallup first asked the question. 38% of Americans surveyed this year said they had tried marijuana. The shift in national public support for pot legalization accelerated over the last two years. Public support has risen 8 points since 2011. (See also: Choom gang rising)
Nearly a year after Colorado and Washington State voted to become the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, the detailed rules governing how pot will be grown, sold and taxed are finally complete. And as the two states implement their different approaches, the whole world is watching. This week, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced a new panel, headed by California Lieut. Governor Gavin Newsom, to draft a possible 2016 ballot measure to legalize pot in California.
Legal cannabis will naturally be much, much cheaper than illegal cannabis. A joint is the same sort of item as a teabag: the dried flowers of a plant in a wrapper. A fancy teabag costs a dime at the supermarket; the marijuana in an average joint costs about $4 (0.4 gram of sinsemilla flowers @ $10/gram) on the current illicit and quasi-medical markets. The combination of not having to worry about law enforcement and the economies of mass production will inevitably drive the joint price down close to the teabag price.
According to a Tulchin Research poll a "solid majority" of nearly two-thirds (65%) in California supports legalizing, regulating and taxing adult recreational marijuana. The poll found 32 percent oppose legalization and 3 percent undecided. Lt. Gov. Gavadult recreational in Newsom and the American Civil Liberties Union announced the launch of a two-year research effort focused on proposals to legalize recreational marijuana.
As Colorado prepares for the opening of historic recreational marijuana stores, state officials are preparing for something equally as unique — a regulatory challenge of almost maddening complexity. Faced with these challenges, marijuana regulators in Colorado stop short of guaranteeing an airtight system. But Ron Kammerzell, the state Department of Revenue's deputy senior director of enforcement, is confident the department will be able to catch most fraud.
Nearly a year ago, Washington and Colorado legalized recreational marijuana sales. Now it’s time to regulate them. The two states have taken slightly different approaches. Washington’s are slightly more restrictive. There will be limits on the number of sellers’ licenses available there, keeping plants for personal use is not allowed and advertising is restricted to 1,600 square inches (about a meter squared). Colorado has already begun accepting licenses without a cap, cultivation for personal use is allowed and stores could open as soon as January.
A majority of Texas voters support marijuana legalization, according to a recent survey. Public Policy Polling found that 58 percent of Texans "support making marijuana legal for adults and regulating it like alcohol." Even more – 61 percent – were in favor of decriminalizing marijuana possession and instead punishing violations with a civil citation. Texas law currently views possession of marijuana, even on a minute scale, as a criminal offense, punishable by $2,000 in fines and up to a year of jail time.
Justice Minister Mark Golding says international events and changes in the United States - the chief opponent of Jamaica's decriminalisation efforts over the years - make this the right time for lawmakers to consider changes. He said the recommendations which Cabinet will be asked to consider are standing on the shoulders of the recommendations of the National Commission on Ganja, chaired by the late Professor Barry Chevannes more than a decade ago.