Cannabis is associated with psychosis (a symptom) and schizophrenia (an illness where this symptom is persistent) in complex, contradictory and mysterious ways. The evidence does demonstrate various links that we all should all be aware of, especially cannabis users and parents. However, the evidence does not support anything like the level of fear propagated in the media.
On February 12, the Constitutional Court ruled that the Fini-Giovanardi law setting out penalties related to the sale and possession of illegal drugs, was improperly approved, and abrogated the law. Since then, Italy has returned to previous regulations that imposed lighter sanctions on cannabis users. Prisoners' rights organisations argued that harsh drug laws have created a booming prison population in a system that is already overcrowded. Since January 2013, Italy's prisons have been under the scrutiny of the European Court of Human Rights.
The Netherlands, the world pioneer in pot liberalization, has recently taken a harder line toward marijuana, with mixed results seen particularly in border towns such as Maastricht. Maastricht's street dealers are back, local residents complain. And the reason is a crackdown on coffee-shops triggered by another problem: Pot tourists who crossed the border to visit the cafes and made a nuisance of themselves.
The Dutch government has said it will move to classify high-potency cannabis alongside hard drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy, the latest step in the country's ongoing reversal of its liberal policies. The decision means most of the cannabis now sold in Dutch coffee shops would have to be replaced by milder variants. But sceptics said the move would be difficult to enforce, and that it could simply lead many users to smoke more of the less potent weed.
The Netherlands moved to ban the sale of potent hashish cannabis eroding 40 years of liberal drug policy, over fears that the proceeds were flowing to organised crime gangs. A parliamentary proposal to prohibit the sale of hashish resin in the Netherlands' famous coffee shops had the backing of both parties in the Liberal-Christian Democrat coalition. The sale of marijuana, the dried bud and leaves of the cannabis plant, will not be affected.
New Dutch laws to stub out the sale of cannabis to foreign dope tourists kicked in Tuesday -- and were met with defiance from southern coffee shops including in Maastricht. At least one coffee shop in the southern city continued sales to Belgian and German buyers in contravention of the new "cannabis card" rules -- and was promptly slapped with a police warning to stop sales to non-residents within 24 hours. (See also: Protestors just say no to Dutch cannabis ban)
For visitors to the Netherlands who enjoy the relaxing effects of marijuana, life has just become a little less easy going, particularly for those Germans living just west of the border who used to just pop over for a fresh supply. New legislation is restricting the sale of cannabis to residents of the country and banning tourists from purchasing the drug at the coffee shops, famous for selling it.
The new rules affecting the sale of cannabis in coffeeshops in three southern Dutch provinces are having an adverse effect according to a new study. The "weed pass" was introduced in the regions on May 1 this year. The introduction of an obligatory membership card for coffeeshop customers has resulted in a sharp increase in the illegal street sale of cannabis and the emergence of a large and elusive network of telephone numbers that can be called for the supply of the drug.
Maastricht - formerly a mecca for drug tourists from across western Europe - has called for police reinforcements to handle "aggressive" street pushers, who have taken over almost all trade in marijuana and cannabis since authorities introduced tighter controls on legal outlets. The Dutch town's Mayor Onno Hoes wants to double the number of dedicated police officers in order to control the black market, which has benefited from the region's draconian "weed pass" law.
The decision to ban foreigners not resident in the Netherlands from the country’s cannabis cafes has led to an ‘explosion’ in drugs-related crime in the south of the country, the Algemeen Dagblad reports. The government’s decision to turn the cafes into members’ only clubs in the southern provinces in May 2012 led to a sharp rise in street dealing. The paper bases its claim on police and city council figures.
Police have raided several coffeeshops in Maastricht after their owners indicated they would revert to selling soft drugs to foreign visitors. Coffeeshops said on Sunday that German and Belgian customers would no longer be turned away, despite warnings from the city’s mayor Onno Hoes of repercussions if they let foreigners in. The police raided the Mississippi, a floating coffee shop, on Monday night. Around 15 non-Dutch residents were inside the boat at the time. Police led away the owner and confiscated the ship’s supplies. (See also: Maastricht coffee shop faces three-month closure)
Cannabis has been taking centre stage in recent weeks. Former attorneys-general and Vancouver mayors in British Columbia have called for regulation and taxation of the industry in an attempt to stop the violence of the illegal trade. At the same time, the Harper government continues to push for the passage of legislation that will mandate a six-month minimum term of imprisonment for anyone growing six plants or more.
Conservative Senator Pierre Claude Nolin says he can't support the massive Bill C-10 mainly because of a section that deals with growing marijuana plants. Nolin has been a longtime advocate for ending the prohibition on pot. He was the chairman of a landmark Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs in 2002 that called for the substance to be legalized.
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) new drug-driving laws have come under fire after a senior public servant who ate a breakfast muesli containing hemp seeds was dragged through a nine-month court battle. The 2011 laws raised immediate concerns from lawyers and civil libertarians for their zero-tolerance approach, which criminalises even the smallest trace of drugs found in a driver's system. Fears were raised that the laws, designed for road safety, ignored the actual impairment level of a driver and threatened to snare Canberrans who had accidentally or innocently ingested drugs.
It was exactly six years ago this week that police conducted their first full-scale raid on Pusher Street, the famed road in the city’s Christiania area where people could openly buy hashish. The raids were the result of the Liberal-Conservative government’s decision to crack down hard on the area’s hash trade. But today, both police and politicians admit that the trade still thrives on the street, if in a somewhat more discreet fashion.
An opinion poll in the Netherlands in August 2013 showed that 54% of the Dutch are in favour of legalising cannabis, while 38% opposes it. There is now a clear pro-legalisation majority among the voters for the parties that form the current government, the liberal conservative VVD (58% in favour) and the social-democrat labour party PvdA (55% in favour) and in the Dutch Parliament. A range of recent polls indicate that the majority of the Dutch strongly disagree with the government on current cannabis policies.
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.
A recent change in Danish cannabis control policy has had significant implications for the structure of the retail-level cannabis market in Copenhagen. A process of restructuring following an crackdown on ‘Pusher Street’ has involved at least four people getting shot and killed in what police describe as struggles for market shares. Combating the retail cannabis market was a top three priority for the Copenhagen police.
Danish drug policy has been reversed from liberal to more repressive, especially in 2003, when the Danish liberal-conservative government that had been in office since 2001 launched their official policy on drugs, The Fight Against Drugs: action plan against drug misuse. This action plan emphasised a more repressive drug policy in which priority was given to law enforcement, although an expansion of treatment facilities and prevention initiatives was also planned. The overall aim was to tighten the laws on drug dealing and drug use and to increase the penalties for these offences. The plan explicitly stated that the policy was to take a zero tolerance approach towards any kind of drug dealing.
The sale of cannabis to persons aged 18 or older is permitted in the Netherlands under certain conditions in commercial establishments called coffeeshops. The present Dutch government has proposed that access to coffeeshops be restricted to persons holding a cannabis ID, a mandatory membership card known colloquially as a ‘weed pass’ (wietpas). Recent interviews with 66 Amsterdam coffeeshop owners reveal that they expect mainly detrimental effects from the proposed measure. In particular, they predict customer resistance to compulsory registration, the discriminatory exclusion of tourists and other non‐members, and a resurgence of cannabis street dealing.