Retail marijuana sales for adults are now legal (at least at the state level) in Colorado and Washington. Next month, voters in Alaska and Oregon may decide to follow suit. It is nearly certain that marijuana legalization will make it onto the California ballot in 2016, during a presidential election season that will generate enormous interest among young voters. Robert MacCoun looks at options for designing a marijuana proposal.
Legalisation of cannabis is making slow but unstoppable progress across much of the developed world, many experts believe, following the end of prohibition in two US states. In Amsterdam, long famous for its coffee shops, international experts gathering to discuss cannabis regulation said the international conventions, once so heavily policed by the US, would now be increasingly flouted. Already many countries, most notably the Netherlands and Spain, have bypassed the rules.
Cannabis is the world’s most widely used illicit drug. But for how much longer? In a short space of time we have moved from absolute global prohibition of the drug, with the emergence of legalised and regulated production and retail not in just one nation (Uruguay) but also, surprisingly, in two US states (Colorado and Washington). Do these and other new permissive models in Spain and Belgium, for example, point to a tipping point in the debate? Could cannabis step out of the shadows and join the ranks of alcohol and tobacco, the world’s most popular legal and regulated drugs?
Barcelona has a new tourist attraction that some locals wish would disappear: a burgeoning number of "cannabis clubs," where people can legally buy and smoke pot. Although selling marijuana is against the law in Spain, some regions allow local residents to set up nonprofit clubs whose members grow and share it for personal use. As recently as 2011, only a few dozen such groups were in the Catalonia region, which includes Barcelona. But since then, the number has risen to about 400.
The Uruguayan government has unveiled long-awaited regulations for its recreational marijuana market — a move that steers the tiny nation of 3.3 million people away from the prohibitionist war on drugs, with its disastrous consequences in Latin America, and toward a drug policy based on improving public health and security. Although Uruguay’s Congress approved the measure in December — becoming the first country in the world to legalize recreational pot use — it was just this week that the government of President José Mujica announced all the details.
Catalonia is drawing up rules to allow the use of marijuana for the treatment of patients suffering from conditions with symptoms such as pain and loss of appetite, the region's health minister Boi Ruiz has said. The move would open the way for the drug to be prescribed to cancer and AIDS patients, among others. The plan was partly designed to stop Barcelona's increasingly popular cannabis clubs from controlling the supply of medical marijuana, Ruiz said.
Depuis la dissolution le 20 juin 2013 de la fédération des Cannabis social clubs par le tribunal de grande instance de Tours (Indre-et-Loire), les groupes vivent dans la clandestinité. Alors qu’on pourrait croire que la répression les aurait conduits à l’explosion, les Cannabis clubs continuent d’exister, comme si de rien n’était ou presque. « La dissolution n’a pas changé grand-chose, elle nous a permis de mieux nous organiser », affirme Dominique Broc. Pourtant cette opération de cannabis clubs a un petit côté pétard mouillé.
Cannabis-Konsum soll in Vereinen mit Mitgliederbeitrag legal werden. Das fordert ein überparteiliches Genfer Komitee. Im Genfer Projekt können sich Erwachsene, die im Kanton Genf wohnhaft sind, in einem Verein einschreiben, um legal eine vorbestellte Menge an Cannabis zu beziehen. Der Genfer Soziologe Sandro Cattacin leitet die Arbeitsgruppe des Projekts. Er spricht über dessen Signalwirkung an Jugendliche und die Reaktion des Bauernverbandes.
Growing numbers of visitors are purchasing a few grams of marijuana while on holiday in Barcelona, a city that is already being described as the "Holland of the South." All one needs to do is become a member of a cannabis club, many of which advertise on the internet, and place an order by phone or online. But for the first time in the Catalan capital, a judge has ordered a club closure on the grounds that it was engaging in drug trafficking.
The Barcelona city council announced that no new cannabis clubs will be allowed to open in the city for one year in order to halt their proliferation and allow for tighter regulation of the 160 clubs that already exist.
Cannabis clubs in Catalonia will face stricter regulations with the region's parliamentary health commission set to raise the minimum age for membership from 18 to 21 while prohibiting new clubs from opening near schools and nurseries. The new rules are the result of months of discussions between health officials, parliamentary groups and representatives of the clubs after 49 were closed down by police in August. The Catalonia Federation of Cannabis Associations had called for clearer regulations in order to help control bad practices.
In Uruguay, licensed cannabis clubs of up to 45 members will be allowed to grow a maximum of 99 plants each year. In August, growing up to six plants of cannabis at home became legal. Each club member can produce no more than 480g of cannabis each year and the club's growing fields cannot be within 150m of a school, college or a drug rehabilitation centre. Legalising cannabis has been a sensitive issue in Uruguay, where voters will be going to the polls in a second round of presidential elections on 30 November. Both presidential candidates have said they will tinker with the new laws if elected.
The number of cannabis clubs that have opened in Barcelona recently has some experts saying this city will soon challenge Amsterdam as the go-to destination for vacationers who want to get high in peace. In the last three years, new clubs have opened, particularly in tourist areas, in many cases circumventing the spirit, if not the letter, of the law. About 300 new cannabis clubs have opened in Barcelona and the surrounding Catalan region, a result, at least in part, of enterprising Spaniards looking for new ways to earn a living.
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.
Comment régulariser le cannabis? Lancé en 2012, un groupe interpartis a élaboré un projet rendu public à la fin de 2013. Celui-ci pose les bases d’une distribution et d’une consommation contrôlées, car «il est évident que le système actuel fondé sur la répression a échoué», explique Arnaud Moreillon (PS). Six mois plus tard, les délégués remanient leurs concepts sur la base des retours enregistrés, notamment auprès des partis, de professionnels de la sécurité et de la santé, ainsi que diverses villes suisses. Les délégués ont décidé d’exclure les mineurs de toute distribution légale, le point le plus controversé du projet d’origine.
In December 2013, Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalize the production and sale of marijuana. But this pioneering decision is presenting a number of challenges when it comes to implementation. The new law states that cannabis can be grown at home, acquired with a prescription at a pharmacy for registered users, or bought through cannabis clubs. While marijuana production is on the rise, the government has yet to put any of these legal frameworks in place. Meanwhile, home-growing is on the rise in anticipation of the final measures being introduced.
Cannabis was condemned by the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs as a psychoactive drug with “particularly dangerous properties” and hardly any therapeutic value. Ever since, an increasing number of countries have shown discomfort with the treaty regime’s strictures through soft defections, stretching its legal flexibility to sometimes questionable limits.
Adults may be legally able to seek out clubs in certain Swiss cities to buy state-certified cannabis, free of chemicals, for personal use under a pilot project being drafted. Lawmakers from at least five municipal governments are looking at participating in an experiment to regularize the use of marijuana through "user’s associations". Bern has become the latest city to look seriously at liberalizing the use of cannabis through regulations. Zurich, Basel and Lausanne are also interested in joining in the experiment being piloted by the city of Geneva.
In mehreren Schweizer Kantonen sind Diskussionen im Gang, ob und wie der Konsum von Cannabis legalisiert werden könnte. Eine Vorreiterrolle spielt Genf. Dort hat eine Kommission um alt Bundesrätin Ruth Dreifuss der Kantonsregierung Vorschläge für ein Pilotprojket vorgelegt. «Es sollte Vereine geben», sagt die Vorsteherin der Genfer Suchtkommission, die frühere Bundesrätin Ruth Dreifuss. In den Vereinen sollte der Cannabiskonsum dereinst legal sein, so das Ziel der Arbeitsgruppe. Bis dahin ist es aber noch ein weiter Weg.