The all-party parliamentary group on drug policy reform undertook an inquiry into the implications of the arrival of "legal highs" – a new substance appeared on the UK market every week in 2012. The prime minister says the current policy is working. I wish it were. But as the use of cannabis has declined by a few percentage points over the past few years, the use of "legal highs" has soared. The position for drugs users is therefore more dangerous than it was a few years ago.
For forty years the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 has formed the corner stone of drug policy in Britain. The emergence of new psychoactive substances (‘legal highs’) during the past fifteen years or so has challenged the drug control system. The arrival in 2012 of a new psychoactive substance on the market, on average, every six days raises questions about how best to protect young people from unknown and unsafe drugs. The Government is considering this challenge and we hope this Inquiry report will make a helpful contribution to their deliberations.
George Soros has called for an end to the West's "war on drugs". Soros has thrown his weight behind a push by Guatemalan President Perez Molina, who recently declared that prohibition should be abandoned. Speaking at the World Economic Forum, Soros said that the narcotics trade threatened stability in many countries. President Molina said he would organise a meeting of Latin American leaders next June to discuss the issue. Costa Rica, Mexico and Colombia have opened talks with U.S. officials to prepare for the legalization of marijuana in some U.S. states, Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla declared.
Colombia's Justice Minister, Ruth Stella Correa, has said a new drugs bill would decriminalise personal use of synthetic drugs, such as ecstasy. The proposal would replace current laws, which ban cocaine and marijuana, although people are not prosecuted for possessing small amounts. Colombia's legislation is being re-assessed in an attempt to tackle drug use, trafficking and related issues.
Many people arrested on low-level marijuana-possession charges in the nation’s largest city will no longer be booked and held hours for arraignment, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. Starting next month, people who get picked up on charges of having a small amount of marijuana will be released with appearance tickets if they have identification and no open warrants, Bloomberg said, spotlighting the issue in his State of the City address amid debate over the tens of thousands of such arrests in the city each year. (Bloomberg: I oppose legalizing marijuana)
One of Northern Ireland's most senior drugs workers has said that class A drugs like heroin should be decriminalised, regulated and made available on prescription. "I think the impact of decriminalising, of regulating, of taking this activity out of the hands of organised crime, is the way to improve our society right now," said Michael Foley, the head of the Belfast Trust's Drug Outreach Team.
Ils sont chefs d’entreprises, éducateurs spécialisés, universitaires, produisent eux-mêmes le cannabis qu’ils fument, et entendent «renverser la prohibition». De la marijuana, ils prônent un usage modéré et régulé sans en nier les dangers, surtout pour les jeunes. Pour ce faire, ils ont copié un modèle qui existe depuis vingt ans en Espagne: le Cannabis Social Club (CSC). Associations officieuses à but non lucratif. (Lire aussi: Les politiques restent accros à la répression)
What was originally a small group of friends, has become a feasible alternative to the cannabis black market in the north of Belgium. Our guest author guides us through Antwerp’s cannabis social club. Belgium legalised the possession and use of small amounts of cannabis for personal use a decade ago. Since that time, smokers can not only carry up to 3 grams in public but can also legally grow one plant per person at home.
In his final state of the city address as Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, announced that anyone caught in possession of marijuana would no longer have to spend a night in jail. Effective next month, anyone who is arrested for marijuana possession will still be taken to the police station, fingerprinted and so on, but if there are no pending warrants, they will be released with a summons to appear in court. This is a small step in the right direction.
Partial reforms have their limits. Most drug crime is not cannabis-related. Moving from punishment to harm reduction may help drug users, but it leaves gangsters in control of supplies and revenues. Many countries still stick to prohibition. The votes in Colorado and Washington were hardly imaginable ten years ago and make deeper change likely. They weaken the Single Convention, the illegal trade, and the prohibition industry that feeds on it.
US Attorney General Eric Holder told America to expect a decision "soon" on how he'll respond to the recent legalization of pot by Colorado and Washington state. Legislative committees in New Mexico and Hawaii approved bills to decriminalize marijuana possession and Oregon lawmakers introduced a legalization bill. Rhode Island legislators held a hearing on a bill to legalize and tax marijuana. In California, where Holder's Justice Department has spent months trying to shut down respected medical-pot dispensaries, a Field Poll showed that 67 percent of state voters oppose the move.
The Norwegian government it wants to decriminalise the inhalation of heroin, a method considered less dangerous than injecting it, to reduce the number of overdoses in the country. The move would make smoking heroin an offense on par with injecting, which is illegal in Norway but tolerated. Oslo's municipality operates a site where heroin addicts can inject drugs under safer, more hygienic circumstances.
High Court Judge Randall Worrell shockedBarbadians when he suggested laws here should be reviewed todecriminalize drug use and possession for personal use. He argued toothat alternatives to incarceration should also be implemented forlow-level and non-violent drug related crimes, intimating that thiswould ease congestion in the court system.
Germany's law-enforcement and legal apparatus devotes enormous resources to fighting illegal narcotics. But users are always a step ahead, and lawmakers seem uninterested in exploring alternatives to a broken system. The country spends an estimated €3.7 to €4.6 billion a year on the fight against drugs, an effort that involves law-enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges. What unites them all is the common goal of achieving a drug-free country. But is that goal even attainable anymore?
Ecstasy users should not be charged by police, former Labor health minister Neal Blewett said during a provocative keynote address to the peak police drug and alcohol forum in Australasia. Dr Blewett believes resources should target the most serious drug abusers, adding that cannabis laws around the country were ''chaotic'' and also needed reform. ''Already we struggle with drugs, including designer drugs scarcely on our horizon in the past,'' said Dr Blewett.
Forty years ago, the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse said in its final report: "A coherent social policy requires a fundamental alteration of social attitudes toward drug use, and a willingness to embark on new courses when previous actions have failed." Social attitudes toward marijuana use fundamentally altered since the 1970s and 1980s with substantial majorities voting last fall to legalize marijuana in Washington and Colorado, and with state legislatures passing medical marijuana and marijuana decriminalization laws almost routinely.
Twelve years ago, Portugal eliminated criminal penalties for drug users. Since then, those caught with small amounts of marijuana, cocaine or heroin go unindicted and possession is a misdemeanor on par with illegal parking. Experts are pleased with the results. Portugal has stopped prosecuting users. The substances listed in Law 30/2000 are still illegal in Portugal -- "Otherwise we would have gotten into trouble with the UN," drug policy coordinator João Goulão explains -- but using these drugs is nothing more than a misdemeanor, much the same as a parking violation.
The exponential proliferation of the number of associations, clubs and other groups that distribute cannabis among their members and create new spaces for socialising, has surprised even the most optimistic advocates of more reasonable drug policies. In a short time, and in spite of those in government, civil society has provided a response to a problem that realpolitik has been unable to tackle.
Criminologist Professor Alex Stevens has refuted media reports that reducing penalties for cannabis possession has led to increased drug use, crime and health problems. He said published data shows that these claims are unfounded and in fact highlight that cannabis use and crime have gone down since the 2004 declassification of cannabis to a class C substance. (See also: Shock Press: British papers misrepresent drug statistics)