It has been a little over a month since Coloradans approved a groundbreaking law legalizing small amounts of marijuana for recreational use. Now that the celebratory haze has settled, state officials and marijuana advocates began sifting through the thorny regulatory questions that go beyond merely lighting up.
Alle 25 Nederlandse burgemeesters die verzoeken hadden ingediend om te experimenteren met gereguleerde of gedoogde aanvoer van cannabis naar de coffeeshops, kregen als Kerst cadeau van minister Opstelten van Veiligheid en Justitie (VenJ) te horen: “nee, nee en nog eens nee”. En in zijn brief aan de Tweede Kamer klinkt tussen de regels door “en hou nou toch eens op met zeuren want dat gaat echt niet gebeuren”.
On 19 June, 2012, the Ganjazz Art Club in Donostia, one of the oldest Cannabis Social Clubs in Spain, received a visit that was unimaginable a few years earlier: a group of members of the autonomous regional Basque parliament on official business. Its goal was to find out how one of these cannabis users’ associations, that have proliferated over the past few years, operates.
Cannabis social clubs (CSC) are noncommercial organisations of users who get together to cultivate and distribute enough cannabis to meet their personal needs without having to turn to the black market. They are based on the fact that the consumption of illegal drugs has never been considered a crime under Spanish legislation. Taking advantage of this grey area, private clubs that produce cannabis for non-profit distribution solely to a closed group of adult members have existed for years.
The municipality of the Dutch city of Utrecht recently announced two scientific experiments on cannabis policy. One experiment will be to set up a closed club model for adult recreational cannabis users. Cannabis smokers will grow their own marijuana in a cooperative, a move which would go against the government's drive to discourage coffee shops. The other experiment concerns treatment for people who are vulnerable to psychotic disorders.
The exponential proliferation of the number of associations, clubs and other groups that distribute cannabis among their members and create new spaces for socialising, has surprised even the most optimistic advocates of more reasonable drug policies. In a short time, and in spite of those in government, civil society has provided a response to a problem that realpolitik has been unable to tackle.
New psychoactive substances (commonly known as legal highs) are spreading across Europe with growing speed. Between 1997 and 2010 the early-warning system of the European Monitoring Agency on Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) identified more than 150 legal highs, 65 in the past two years (24 in 2009 and 41 in 2010). These drugs pose a significant challenge to service providers, policy makers and law enforcement officials – and to the whole drug control system in general. It seems we need more than supply reduction and law enforcement to stop the flow of cheap research chemicals from China and India - an HCLU report on legal highs in Hungary.
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.
Marijuana laws should be set at the state, not federal, level, Reps. Ron Paul and Barney Frank argued in a bill they introduced Thursday. The goal of the bill, HR 2306 or the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011, is not to legalize marijuana but to remove it from the list of federally controlled substances while allowing states to decide how they will regulate it.
The Dutch city of Utrecht wants cannabis smokers to grow their own marijuana in a cooperative, a move which would go against the Netherlands' drive to discourage soft drug use. It also would be illegal, the government said.
Within the last decade the hitherto little known psychoactive substance of khat has emerged as a regional and international issue. In the Horn of Africa khat production has spurred an economic boom, but dramatic increases in consumption have raised public health concerns. Given the complexity of the topic spanning multiple academic disciplines and fields of professional practice, the need for a systematic overview is urgent.
Health officials of the Basque Country, an autonomous region of Spain, announced that they will introduce a bill to regulate the "cultivation, sale and consumption" of hashish and marijuana. The bill, which will be presented to the regional parliament next year, was put forward on December 12, 2011, by regional health officials during the presentation of the regional addictions plan. Several media outlets broke the news as an intent to legalise cannabis use, while in fact the proposed legislation only aims to regulate cannabis user associations that cultivate for personal use.
The Copenhagen City Council is pushing ahead with a proposal to decriminalise cannabis, and has set up a committee to investigate the best way to regulate the supply and distribution. The favoured option is for 30 or 40 cannabis shops controlled by the city in which adults may legally buy cannabis. By a margin of 39 votes to nine, the City Council decided to draw up a detailed outline of how the plan would work. Subsequently, the resulting proposal still has to be ratified by the Danish parliament, which has blocked similar movements in the past. But after the national elections in September 2011 the current parliament could support decriminalisation this time around.
The Basque Parliament will approve a law bill in the first few months of 2012 on drug addiction, which will regulate "the growing, sale and consumption of cannabis". For the new ruling, for which "technical and legal studies have been undertaken", the regional government wants to "open a debate" with associations in favour of consumption and to "shape their rights".
The former head of MI5 believes the "war on drugs" has proved fruitless and it is time to consider decriminalising the possession and use of small quantities of cannabis. Eliza Manningham-Buller has backed calls for the government to set up a commission to examine how to tackle the UK's drug culture and consider the highly controversial move of relaxing the law. She was speaking at a meeting held by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform.
Alaska voters likely will get a chance next year to make their state the third in the country to approve the recreational use of marijuana by adults 21 and older. Pot backers took the first step toward getting the measure on the August 2014 primary ballot, presenting draft language and 100 signatures to the Alaska lieutenant governor’s office.
The United States must not turn a blind eye to the recreational use of cannabis in states that liberalize drug laws, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) said, urging the country to live up to its treaty commitments. Raymond Yans, president of the INCB, said assurances from the U.S. government in December that growing, selling or possessing the drug remained illegal under federal law were "good, but insufficient".
Imagine an extremely expensive government policy proven to be completely ineffective at achieving its stated objectives. Consider also that whenever this policy is subjected to any kind of impact assessment, the government’s own data clearly show that the policy has been ineffective, expensive and fuelled the growth of organized crime. Finally, imagine this remarkable set of circumstances persisting for decades — at great cost to taxpayers and community safety — and yet elected officials say and do nothing to address the status quo.