Marijuana is growing up. As Colorado and Washington’s recreational marijuana industries blossom and new markets in Oregon and Alaska begin to take shape, so-called ganjapreneurs are looking for ways to take cannabis mainstream. Before long, they hope, marijuana products will be as widely available as alcohol – and just as socially acceptable. While marijuana businesses may have dreams of mass market sales and global domination, for the moment, they seem to be taking the "go slow" approach.
Marijuana advocates want to take their legalization drive — so far the province of Western states — to the Northeast, and they say the first state to do it here might be Maine. The Pine Tree State has a long history with cannabis — Maine voters approved medical marijuana legalization 15 years ago, becoming the first New England state to do so. Now, national marijuana advocates say, the state represents a chance for pro-marijuana forces to get a toehold in the Northeastern states they have long coveted.
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."
Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina in a recent interview mooted the idea of his country legalizing marijuana next year. Can we really expect bold changes in Guatemalan drug policy in the near future? Speaking to TeleSur, President Perez said that Guatemala was watching Uruguay's experiment with marijuana legalization and would likely take a decision on whether to pursue regulation itself in 2015.
The movement to end marijuana prohibition has made significant progress recently, but it could all be undone when the next president takes office in 2017. Harvard economist Jeff Miron, a supporter of marijuana policy reform, highlighted the precarious nature of state marijuana laws in an op-ed for CNN on why Congress needs to act now on federal marijuana policy. "Federal law still prohibits marijuana, and existing jurisprudence (Gonzales v. Raich 2005) holds that federal law trumps state law when it comes to marijuana prohibition," Miron wrote.
Smoking, growing, buying, selling or merely possessing cannabis is a criminal offence, according to America's federal government. Ask the states, however, and you will get almost 50 different answers. In 13 of them possession of the drug has been decriminalised, meaning that tokers face only minor penalties if caught. In 23 it has been legalised for medical use. And in four—including, following ballot initiatives earlier this month, Alaska and Oregon—cannabis has been legalised outright. In all only 22 states, fewer than half the total, continue to treat the drug as criminal contraband under all circumstances.
It looks like the use of recreational marijuana is heading down the path of legalization across the country. Voters in Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia approved legalizing measures on Nov. 4, but with key differences. Some say a profit-driven model for legalization runs the risk of increasing marijuana use, while others argue that a regulated market is the best way to keep use safe for consumers. What’s the right approach to legalizing recreational marijuana?
California was one of the first to legalize medical marijuana in 1996, but so far hasn’t legalized it for recreational use, like Colorado, Washington. “I am not opposed to the legalization of marijuana. I’m the top cop, and so I have to look at it from a law enforcement perspective and a public safety perspective. I think we are fortunate to have Colorado and Washington be in front of us on this and figuring out the details of what it looks like when it’s legalized,” she said. “I don’t think it’s gonna take too long to figure this out,” Harris said. “I think there’s a certain inevitability about it.”
The pot business is exploding. The devotees toiling away since states started legalizing medical marijuana nearly 20 years ago now must compete in a radically different business culture. The rapid spread of laws permitting recreational pot is enticing hedge fund managers, venture capitalists, software developers and many others to get in on what inevitably is being touted as a green rush. Pot critics say the thirst for high returns has the marijuana industry starting to resemble Big Tobacco, with profit-hungry companies using the kind of marketing imagery and sales tactics that entice children and glamorize drug use. (See also: Cannabis legalization doesn’t have to mean commercialization)
With Democrats holding the White House and Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress, it's been suggested that the odds are slim of any major legislation becoming law over the next two years. But officials in the Obama administration and on Capitol Hill say there is one issue that may have enough cross-party appeal to break through the logjams. That issue is criminal justice reform. During the 2014 midterm elections, voters approved sweeping drug and criminal justice reform measures in multiple states, setting the stage for what may prove to be even more significant policy shifts over the next two years and beyond.
Ministers should sanction experiments to legally grow marijuana under licence and the city should make preparations to do so, according to a majority of Amsterdam city councillors. All VVD councillors in the city back the move. The VVD's position in Amsterdam is notable because VVD justice minister Ivo Opstelten has said repeatedly he does not favour regulated production and refused to sanction experiments. Meanwhile, the upper house of parliament came a step nearer to approving legislation which will make people who have helped illegal marijuana growers guilty of a criminal act. (See also: Coffeeshops want say in Amsterdam marijuana production)
The local pro-ganja lobby in Jamaica is welcoming the vote for the legalisation of ganja in the American states of Oregon, Alaska, and Washington DC. "One of the biggest stumbling blocks has been the fear about how the United States would react to what we are doing and what we seeing happening is a clear indication that the United States people are moving in favour of legalising ganja on a wider and wider basis, whilst Jamaica continues to stall and not be bold enough to do what we need to do," Delano Seiveright, director of the Cannabis Commercial and Medicinal Research Taskforce said. (See also: Jamaica urged to keep ganja debate going)
In Denmark there is little movement on drug policy. We know that we are just months from the next general election, but no political party has a policy on the subject of how to move forward. The Conservatives, Liberals, Social Democrats are in limbo. Police engagement is a farce and they know it. Everybody can see the problem, nobody seems to have a solution, but it is inevitable that all politicians will soon have to address a problem that will not go away by itself. The nation learned how to handle alcohol and tobacco without prohibition, and maybe that’s cheaper and more productive than wasting even more resources on increased policing.
Three marijuana legalization initiatives were on the ballot this week, and all three won. That’s a better outcome than I was expecting. I was surprised when voters in Colorado and Washington approved legalization two years ago, and I was surprised again when voters in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, D.C., followed suit. Partly that’s because, after 25 years of advocating drug legalization (along with various other unpopular positions), I am accustomed to losing. But it’s also because I had looked at the polling data.
On November 4, several states radically altered their approaches to a drug once known for Reefer Madness. In Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, DC, voters approved marijuana legalization measures. But in Florida, a medical marijuana amendment fell short of the 60 percent approval it needed to pass under state law. Here's a breakdown of each state's initiative, the latest results, and how the opposing campaigns pushed their messages to voters.
Attitudes about marijuana have undergone a rapid shift in public opinion, paralleled by few other trends in the U.S. Our recent data, along with historical figures from Gallup and the General Social Survey, reveal how views have shifted about the drug over time. Earlier this year, our survey found that many more Americans now favor shifting the focus of the nation’s overall drug policy. Here are six key facts about public opinion and marijuana.
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.