The recent publication of two single pieces of legislation - the amended 1993 Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Law and the first National Drug Control Policy - is likely to form the basis of Myanmar’s drug policy for several years to come. What does it mean for the country’s transition towards an evidence-based approach to drug control, and how can the gaps between the two documents be addressed?
Görlitzer Park in Berlin-Kreuzberg is the latest hot topic in the local media, due to ongoing problems that come with the massive scale of drug dealing and drug use there. Residents are no longer prepared to accept the situation as it stands. Politicians are trying to defuse the situation by making some unusual decisions. It is hoped that regulated provision of cannabis in a coffee shop at Görlitzer Park will improve the situation.
After an only-in-the-Netherlands legal reverse, the city of Amsterdam will likely have to stub out the "no toking" signs it introduced in a crackdown on marijuana-smoking youth. The Dutch government's top legal adviser ruled that the city had no right to establish official zones where smoking weed is banned, since it's already theoretically illegal in the Netherlands. In practice, possession of small amounts of the drug is allowed, and it is sold openly in designated shops.
Copenhagen city officials have tried three times to legalize cannabis within the city. All three times, the answer from the national government has been a resounding no. Nevertheless, the prominent marijuana activist Khodr ‘Cutter’ Mehrisays it is only a matter of time until cannabis is legalized not only in the capital, but throughout all of Denmark. “By 2020, you’re going to [be able to] come by my coffee shop and buy a pound of weed,” he said.
Now that the voters in Colorado and Washington have approved marijuana legalization initiatives, attention has turned quickly to questions surrounding implementation—and in particular to speculation over how the federal government might react. This is entirely understandable, since it is no secret that the newly approved state initiatives conflict with federal law.
When the recent Summit of the Americas in Colombia decided to commission a study on whether to decriminalize drugs, many thought that would be the end of it, and the whole thing would be quickly forgotten. Well, maybe not. For starters, it was the first time that such a large group of heads of state ventured into that once taboo area. And there are several other non-related factors that may contribute to put decriminalization in the front burner later this year, or in early 2013
While public opinion remains largely opposed to marijuana regulation in Uruguay, a new poll shows support for the bill is growing, especially among likely voters for the ruling FA coalition, which could be good news for countries hoping to follow Uruguay's drug policy example.
The marijuana reform community in Washington State has become severely fractured, with various groups running competing initiatives and taking opposing positions on whether the state should be in the dispensary licensing business. The most recent debate is over I-502 by New Approach Washington, which tried to tailor it to receive the most possible support. In addition to setting up a state licensing system for marijuana production and sales, it would criminalize driving with more than 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood in the system. Some medical marijuana patients oppose that, saying it's an arbitrary limit and they'd never be able to drive. (See also: Legalize marijuana? Like this?)
A small population of chronic heroin users, once thought to be ‘untreatable’, is now benefiting from a novel type of therapy using medicinal heroin as the substitution drug. In a new report out today from the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA), experts describe the development as ‘an important clinical step forward’. The report, New heroin-assisted treatment, provides the first state-of-the-art overview of research on the subject, examining the latest evidence and clinical experience in this area in Europe and internationally.
The medical marijuana drug Sativex, which could be approved in the United States in the coming years as a treatment for pain relief, has little potential for abuse, experts say. The British pharmaceutical company GW Pharmaceuticals is currently testing the drug, which is delivered as a mouth spray and called Sativex, in clinical trials. The company plans to seek U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for the drug as a treatment for cancer pain when the trials are completed.
When people go to the polls two weeks from now they won't just be voting for candidates, in some states, they'll be passing judgment on social issues. In Oregon, Washington and the Rocky Mountain state of Colorado it's the legalization of marijuana. Part of this has to do with cash-starved governments looking for new things to tax for more revenue. But much of it has to do with the growing acceptance or at least tolerance for a drug that was once considered the devil's weed and a flashpoint for cultural and generational warfare.
Latin American leaders are increasingly speaking out against prohibition. And public opinion in America, especially when it comes to legalizing pot, is shifting very rapidly. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has wrapped up a trip to Mexico and Honduras, where he held talks with Central American leaders on regional security efforts and drug trafficking. Biden’s visit comes amid an emerging rift between the Obama administration and its Central American allies on the drug war. There is a growing belief among Central American leaders that decriminalization and legalization of some drugs could help reduce the power of drug cartels and reduce the bloodshed connected to the drug war.
The cannabis industry is an easy target for legislatures to saddle with heavy taxes. In Washington State for instance, there is a 25% tax at three different stages of cannabis production: from the grower to the processor, from the processor to the retailer, and the retailer to the customer. These taxes are in addition to any other state or local sales taxes that might apply. Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer, for instance, has introduced marijuana reform legislation that would enact a 50% excise tax on production.
The new president of France, François Hollande, is not likely to change cannabis policies. His choice as Minister of the Interior, Manuel Valls, is a declared opponent to any reform on cannabis. During the election campaign, Hollande already opposed the proposal to convert the criminal offence of cannabis use into misdemeanour, put forward by his security adviser and mayor of Dijon, François Rebsamen. Hollande did not want to “give any signal foregoing a deterrent against the use of cannabis."
It's as predictable as the sun rising and setting. Even though police made more than 850,000 marijuana arrests last year, a recent government report shows youth marijuana use increased by about 9 percent -- 76 percent of Americans recognize the drug war has failed; millions are demanding change.
First Copenhagen, now Berlin. As a new wave of debate on Cannabis legalization sweeps across Northern Europe, the German capital has become the next city where pro- and anti-cannabis liberalization forces are going head to head. The Green Party's Monika Herrmann, who became mayor of the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg borough, announced that she wants to set up a coffeeshop selling cannabis. Using the word coffeeshop, perhaps shows up the current limits of the legalization lexicon, as Herrmann insists that what she has in mind will be nothing like the social hubs selling coffee and grass that Amsterdam is known for.
Legal cannabis will naturally be much, much cheaper than illegal cannabis. A joint is the same sort of item as a teabag: the dried flowers of a plant in a wrapper. A fancy teabag costs a dime at the supermarket; the marijuana in an average joint costs about $4 (0.4 gram of sinsemilla flowers @ $10/gram) on the current illicit and quasi-medical markets. The combination of not having to worry about law enforcement and the economies of mass production will inevitably drive the joint price down close to the teabag price.
Tourists can continue to use Amsterdam’s 220 cannabis cafes, even if they are not resident in the Netherlands, the Volkskrant quotes the capital’s mayor Eberhard van der Laan as saying. The new cabinet is pressing ahead with banning non-residents from the country's cannabis cafes, but says enforcing the ban will be carried out together with local councils, taking local policy into account. This means the city can take its own line.