Italy took a first step toward legalization of pot, leading Europe in what would be a groundbreaking change. The Intergrupo Parlamentare Cannabis Legale, a cross-party committee, agreed on a provisional text to legalize the consumption, growing, production and sale of cannabis under certain conditions. The text was signed by 218 members of parliament, and not just by the usual suspects. The proposal would allow growing cannabis at home or as members of "cannabis clubs" where a maximum of 50 people could cultivate and then share the product, with a strict prohibition on selling to the general public. (See also: Bill would legalize marijuana)
Uruguay’s experiment with legal domestic cannabis cultivation is about to enter a new phase, marking a key opportunity for the country to demonstrate what an effective enforcement model for the law will look like in the future.
A year after Uruguay's historic marijuana law was signed, officials have green-lighted homegrown cannabis, cannabis clubs, and hemp cultivation, but the specifics of its signature provision – a regulated commercial cannabis market – remain unclear.
Switzerland has always played a pioneering role in drug policy. In 1986, it was the first to open shelters for addicts and in 1994 it medically prescribed heroin. Today, its cities are looking at introducing cannabis social clubs – a controversial issue. "We propose experimenting with a possible new model because we need evidence of how the black market, crime and public health would change as a result of regulation," former interior minister Ruth Dreifuss, also a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, explained. "The pilot project will give us experience and facts so we can design a new policy."
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Legislators in Mexico City, the largest city in North America, are preparing to push through certain measures that would decriminalize and regulate the consumption of marijuana in the Mexican capital, a move that may speed pot legalization elsewhere in the continent. Proposals include the setting up of cannabis clubs to grow herb for their members and tolerance of anyone carrying up to 30 grams, or just over an ounce, of marijuana.
n untold number of recreational pot collectives have formed in Colorado since Amendment 64's passage in November, hoping to meet consumer demand before retail pot stores' anticipated opening in 2014. It's unclear, however, whether the collectives will withstand legal scrutiny. Some officials warn that the arrangements not only put participants at risk — they also threaten Colorado's careful attempts to craft regulations meant to generate tax revenue and to ward off a federal crackdown on the state's new pot frontier.
France offers the most recent sign of changing attitudes. While consumption and production of pot for personal use are not criminal offenses in France, growing and selling for other than personal use is illegal. So 150 to 200 “clubs” of growers operating quietly, and their umbrella association called Cannabis Social Clubs, have decided to come out of the dark to lobby openly for legalization.
Denver prosecutors will no longer charge those 21 and older for carrying less than an ounce of marijuana, and will review current cases that fit under the language of a recently voter-approved state constitutional amendment. District Attorney Mitch Morrissey and City Attorney Doug Friednash made their decision a day after Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett made headlines when he announced his office will dismiss any pending cases that deal with less than an ounce of marijuana.
A number of other countries have implemented changes in law that significantly reduce the extent of criminalization of marijuana use. Only in Australia and the Netherlands have there been any changes on the criminalization of the supply side and in neither of those countries is it legal to both produce and sell the drug. The relaxations so far, with the exception of the Netherlands, have not been very great i.e. have not much changed the legal risks faced by a user of marijuana. Thus it is perhaps not surprising that the changes in prevalence of use have not been substantial. This paper provides a brief review of the changes that have been tried outside the US. The emphasis is on the nature of the changes and how they have been implemented rather than on outcomes.