Cannabis is the most widely produced and consumed illicit substance globally. A significant number of states have long engaged in soft defection from the UN drug control regime in relation to tolerant policies on the personal possession, cultivation and use of cannabis. Recently, there has been growing debate within political circles on the benefits of regulated cannabis markets. This has been driven by a number of factors, including the continuing illegality of supply, the associated and often violent involvement of criminal elements and the use of finite criminal justice resources. In this section you will find an overview of our most recent blogs on the issue.
The United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs in 2016 is intended to provide states with the opportunity to openly debate the future of international drug policies. An event at UN headquarters in New York discussed precisely what preparations are necessary to make sure the UNGASS accomplishes this objective.
Jamaica, Uruguay, Colorado, Washington—more and more places are rebelling against the UN conventions that established the criminalisation of narcotics half a century ago. But the latest organisation to weigh in against the UN’s line is rather surprising. It is a branch of the UN itself. The report, Consolidated guidelines on HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care for key populations, published by the World Health Organisation, an agency of the United Nations, makes a discreet but clear call to decriminalise drugs. And not just cannabis—the report goes as far as recommending the decriminalisation of injecting drugs, which implies the harder sort.
Oregon voters will decide whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use after state elections officials said the measure qualified for the November 2014 ballot. The measure would allow adults 21 and older to buy and possess marijuana and would give the Oregon Liquor Control Commission the job of regulating and taxing the drug. Voters rejected a legalization measure two years ago, but little money was spent promoting it. By contrast, New Approach Oregon, the group behind the initiative, has received contributions from some of the same donors who backed successful marijuana initiatives in Washington and Colorado.
Six years into a deep recession that has seen Greece slash its healthcare budget and society come under great pressure, those working at KETHEA, one of the country's biggest drug therapy networks, are being forced to deal with the fallout. The devastating mix of cuts in state funding and a severe deterioration in the living standards of addicts has left them with plenty of work to do.
The dynamics of reform in the Americas continues. This time, the momentum comes from the Caribbean region. Jamaica and other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states are now moving to change their marijuana laws. Among the proposed changes discussed in Jamaica were the decriminalisation of possession of small amounts of ganja for recreational and religious use and cultivating it for medicinal purposes.
The heads of Fedcac, an umbrella group for Catalonia’s cannabis clubs, have been arrested on charges of money laundering. The vast amounts of money made by these allegedly non-profit associations – in the order of €5 million a month – had raised the suspicions of police. Catalonia has around 400 cannabis clubs with 165,000 members – half of them in Barcelona. “We are seeing a contradictory message whereby we are asked to cooperate on the issue of regulation, yet at the same time we are prevented from conducting our activities normally through periodic police raids,” said Fedcac in a release.
Vera da Ros (Rede Brasileira de Redução de Danos e Direitos Humanos - REDUC)
17 July 2014
The IV Symposium on Medicinal Cannabis in Brazil focused on patients who need treatment via medicinal cannabis and its components. Today, these patients struggle with access to such treatment, mainly due to bureaucracy. The event undoubtedly generated attitudes in favor of medical marijuana in the country. However, and unfortunately, less than 10 days after the event ended, National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) postponed a vote for the reclassification of cannabis.
The United States federal government is considering easing its position on marijuana, reclassifying it as a less dangerous drug in what marijuana advocates say reflects the changing attitudes nationwide. But drug specialists fear the watershed moment for marijuana research could be a slippery slope for addicts. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reviewing marijuana’s classification to consider changing it from a Schedule I drug. (See also: FDA to evaluate marijuana for potential reclassification as less dangerous drug)
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) call for the decriminalisation of drugs will be taken up by Danish politicians in the autumn. In the WHO report, which focused on international HIV prevention, the UN agency encourages countries to stop criminalising the use of drugs. “Countries should work toward developing policies and laws that decriminalise injection and other use of drugs and, thereby, reduce incarceration,” the report read. (See also: Liberal Alliance: Legalise all drug possession)
On July 8th Washington became the second state after Colorado to offer recreational pot-smokers a chance to buy weed legally at a local store. Marijuana is still illegal in most of America. But there are substantial activities towards more liberal policies. In 23 states the medicinal use of marijuana is allowed and more states are considering legalisation. Oregon and Alaska will vote on legalisation in November; Floridians will decide on permitting medical use. President Barack Obama has chosen to take a hand’s-off approach to the issue of legalisation in Washington and Colorado. Yet if a drug hawk were to succeed President Obama in 2016, a clampdown on pot could well be revived.
Many longtime supporters of drug courts have become dismayed by the extent to which the courts now reach into the lives of people whose only infraction was to light up a joint. More Americans are arrested for pot possession than any other drug offense, with more than 650,000 such arrests in 2012. Some pot users who might have simply faced a fine in the regular court system are instead getting moved into the drug-court system for months on end. They are often required to pay for expensive treatment programs and risk jail time if they break program rules along the way. (See also: Moving Away from Drug Courts)
The Research Consortium on Drugs and the Law (CEDD)
09 July 2014
The Research Consortium on Drugs and the Law (Colectivo de Estudios Drogas y Derecho, CEDD) has published a new study that assesses state responses to illicitly-used drugs in eight countries in Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay. The study found that Latin American governments’ approach to drug use continues to be predominantly through the criminal justice system, not health institutions. Even in countries where consumption is not a crime, persistent criminalization of drug users is common.
Washington state issued its first retail marijuana licenses Monday, a day ahead of the start of legal sales. And 21 hours before the only store licensed to sell in Seattle was set to open, a line already was forming. The start of legal pot sales in Washington on Tuesday marks a major step that's been 20 months in the making. Washington and Colorado stunned much of the world by voting in November 2012 to legalize marijuana for adults over 21. (See also: State’s retail pot gets rolling Tuesday and Few pot stores ready for business on opening day)
The owner of the coffeeshop Checkpoint has been found not guilty of most of the charges against him by Amsterdam’s appeal court. The court said the prosecution had not proved Checkpoint had knowingly broken the rules. Checkpoint is guilty of having too much cannabis on the premises but this does not merit a prison sentence, the court said in a statement, since the authorities had encouraged the coffeeshop's growth and must have understood that it needed large volumes of drugs to meet demand. This is the second ruling this month in which judges have refused to jail coffeeshop owners for breaking guidelines.