At least two of three marijuana legalization measures vying for the November, 2014 ballot would be good for California, according to the state Attorney General's office.The Marijuana Control, Legalization and Revenue Act would decrease drug enforcement costs and increase tax revenue, Attorney General Kamala Harris said this week. However, that initiative recently ran into a speed bump and might be cutting it close to a Feb. 28 deadline to file enough signatures to quality for the ballot.
Uruguay's President Mujica has quietly signed into law the government’s plan to create a regulated, legal market for marijuana. He signed the legislation Monday night. That was the last formal step for the law to take effect. Bureaucrats now have until April 9 to write the fine print for regulating every aspect of the marijuana market, from growing to selling in pharmacies. They hope to have the whole system in place by the middle of next year. But as of Tuesday, growing pot at home is legal in Uruguay, up to six plants per family and an annual harvest of 480 grams.
An estimated 1,000 Israelis attended a rally in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Saturday night to support the legalization of marijuana. As the crowd chanted phrases like "The people demand legal marijuana," the speakers at the rally sought to frame pot smoking as part of Israel’s national culture, as a unifying factor among the country’s disparate groups and even as a security issue. Medical marijuana, which is hard for patients to receive permission to access, was central to the rally. (See also: Cabinet approves Health Ministry rules on medical marijuana)
Barely a week after an opinion poll showed that 65% of the Dutch are in favour of regulating cannabis production just as in Uruguay, the minister of Justice and Security of The Netherlands, Ivo Opstelten, told parliament that he will not allow regulated cannabis cultivation to supply the coffeeshops in the country. Two in three large municipal councils back regulated cannabis cultivation, but the minister will probably not allow a single one of the 25 proposals to experiment with regulated cultivation that have been submitted.
One of Morocco’s main political parties, the Party for Authenticity and Modernity (PAM), established by a close adviser to the king, started the process of legalizing marijuana cultivation with a hearing in parliament over its industrial and medical uses. The hearing is the first step in eventually introducing a draft law, aiming to help small farmers who survive on the crop but live at the mercy of drug lords and eradication by police. "We are not seeking to legalize the production of drugs, but to search for possible medical and industrial uses of this plant and create an alternative economy in the region," said Milouda Hazib. (See also: Morocco lawmakers stoke cannabis debate)
Israel's Health Ministry has expressed opposition to granting general practitioners the right to prescribe medical marijuana. Instead, the ministry will certify 10 doctors during the first half of 2014, allowing them to prescribe medicinal marijuana to the growing number of patients who currently use it. These 10, newly certified doctors will join the 20 doctors currently permitted by the Health Ministry to prescribe the drug.
The leafy substance khat, grown by many Kenyan farmers, is of economic and cultural significance to many Africans. The UK government has decided, against the advice of its own experts, to treat khat as a class C drug to "protect vulnerable members of our communities". In July, UK Home Secretary Theresa May said khat would be banned "at the earliest possible opportunity" but a ban has yet to be imposed. A team of Kenyan MPs lobby the UK government not to follow suit.
The new Liberal Democrat minister responsible for drugs policy, Norman Baker, has refused to rule out a policy of legalising cannabis but said that it is not his prime objective in the job. "I think it needs to be considered along with everything else. It is not my prime objective and I am not advocating it at the moment. We should be prepared to follow the evidence and see where it takes us," he said.
"It is encouraging that we have been able to achieve a drop in numbers in an area where Denmark’s figures are otherwise too high," says Health Minister Astrid Krag. Fixing rooms are said to be one of the main reasons. The number of drug-related deaths has been relatively constant since the mid-1990s, but the 2012 figures – 210 deaths of which 76 per cent are men and 24 per cent women – is a noticeable drop.
The D66 Liberal party, currently the second biggest party in The Netherlands in recent polls, is drawing up draft legislation for the regulated production of marijuana. At the moment it is illegal to grow marijuana. This means there is a grey area between the official policy of turning a blind eye towards possessing small amounts of marijuana and the supply to coffee shops. (See also: Majority of the Dutch favour cannabis legalisation)
Experts at the Institute of Psychiatry in London are publishing research suggesting that smoking cigarettes may be a contributory cause of schizophrenia (a psychotic disorder). These new findings raise a question - could the most obvious fact about cannabis - that it is usually consumed in combination with tobacco - have been neglected in researching the link between cannabis and psychosis?
Pot connoisseurs of the world take note: Uruguay is about to go where no country has gone before by legalizing the cultivation and distribution of marijuana, with the left-of-center government regulating all facets of the trade. Under a bill approved by the lower house of the General Assembly and facing a Senate vote in weeks, Uruguayans will be able to grow up to six plants in their homes. Cooperatives of up to 45 members will be able to cultivate up to 99 plants for their own use.
An opinion poll in the Netherlands in August 2013 showed that 54% of the Dutch are in favour of legalising cannabis, while 38% opposes it. There is now a clear pro-legalisation majority among the voters for the parties that form the current government, the liberal conservative VVD (58% in favour) and the social-democrat labour party PvdA (55% in favour) and in the Dutch Parliament. A range of recent polls indicate that the majority of the Dutch strongly disagree with the government on current cannabis policies.
Starting next year, thousands of medical marijuana users will have to dig up their gardens and start buying only from suppliers approved and licensed by Ottawa. Health Canada announced the changes in June. Starting Oct. 1, licences will no longer be issued to people who wish to grow their own medical marijuana. As of April 2014, the practice will be outlawed. Anyone using medical marijuana will need to get it from a licensed medical supplier. (See also: Conservative government launching billion-dollar free market)
A decision by the UK government to ban the stimulant khat later this year is facing fierce resistance in Kenya from those farming the mildly narcotic leaves for export. Local leaders are not happy with the UK's decision to reclassify khat as a class C drug. The local MP, Kubai Kiringo, tells me Kenya could reconsider its ties to Britain if the UK does not drop the ban. "We feel bitter and short-changed. We want the home secretary to revise her decision," he says. (See also: Harmless habit or dangerous drug?)