Far from being discouraged by shifts in public opinion, state laws and even within the Obama administration on the legalization of marijuana, federal drug agents are driven to "fight harder," said Drug Enforcement Administration chief Michele Leonhart. Leonhart, who criticized President Obama for comparing marijuana to alcohol during a closed-door meeting, suggested that voters in Washington state and Colorado were duped into legalizing marijuana. The Marijuana Policy Project is calling on the president through a Change.org petition to fire Leonhart.
Police discovered more than 20 cannabis farms and factories in the UK every day last year, seizing drugs worth up to £100 million, according to a report by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). Criminals attempt to reduce risk and minimise potential losses by employing a large number of so-called "gardeners" to manage smaller farms across residential neighbourhoods. A total of 7,865 farms were found across the UK in 2011/2012, an increase of 15 percent from the 6,866 found in 2009/2010 and up more than 150 percent from the 3,032 found four years ago, the ACPO study found.
With three western American states mulling legalized marijuana and the Union of B.C. Municipalities set to debate it, a new group wants the province to stop enforcing the federal criminal ban on pot. Several prominent cannabis crusaders have drafted a proposed law, called the Sensible Policing Act, and are asking for a provincial commission to study the regulation and taxation of the demonized plant. The wished-for legislation is available on the group’s website: http://www.sensiblebc.ca/
With the fruits of its labor turning up in Italy, Greece and, last year, Germany, Albania has come under increasing pressure from the European Union to crack down on cannabis production in Lazaret long considered untouchable, out of reach of the law thanks to a web of corrupt connections to the police and politicians. Albania hopes to get approval later this month from each of the EU’s 28 member states to become an official candidate for inclusion in the group. Crime and corruption are sure to be top of the list of issues that must be resolved before it can join.
Public opinion in the US appears ready for a truce in the war on drugs. A national survey by the Pew Research Center finds that support for the legalization of marijuana use continues to increase. Fully 75% of the public think that the sale and use of marijuana will eventually be legal nationwide. Just as most Americans prefer a less punitive approach to the use of drugs such as heroin and cocaine, an even larger majority (76%) think that people convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana should not have to serve time in jail.
Across the UK, 7,865 cannabis farms were discovered in 2011-12, an increase of 15% on the previous year's figures and over double the number for 2007-8 when police found just 3,032. Previously cannabis cultivation was done on a larger scale by gangs, who would fully convert terrace houses, knocking down walls to make larger growing areas, taking electricity direct from the mains, to avoid triggering the suspicion of the energy companies over unusually high consumption. Recently, there has been a shift towards smaller-scale farms, in line with a national trend, identified by the Association of Chief Police Officers' 2012 report into the commercial cultivation of cannabis .
In response to the increased police presence in and around Christiania, a number of citizens are fighting back online. Fans of Christiania have long been using a Facebook page, 'Politi razzia på Christiania?' (PRPC), to inform one another of police presence in the freetown. The page has well over 9,000 likes and also been developed into an app for smartphones that allows people to check for police presence before heading to Christiania. The page was created in response to Taskforce Pusher Street.
After Colorado legalized marijuana for recreational use this year, violent and property crime rates in the city are actually falling. According to data from the Denver Police Department, violent crime (including homicide, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault) fell by 6.9% in the first quarter of 2014. Property crime (including burglary, larceny, auto theft, theft from motor vehicle and arson) dropped by 11.1%. A study looking at the legalization of medical marijuana nationwide, published in the journal PLOS ONE, found that the trend holds.
Starting September 1, the police will be stepping up efforts to cull Pusher Street’s estimated one billion kroner organised cannabis trade through the creation of a new task force. Past police efforts in Christiania have failed to curtail the illegal drug trade, and renewed police efforts in Christiania are also going against current public sentiment. A newspaper poll indicated that nearly 65 percent of the public supported state-controlled cannabis distribution, while Enhedslisten (EL) commissioned a Gallop survey in early August that conveyed that 53 percent agreed or strongly agreed that the state should take over the sale of cannabis.
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.
This brief report outlines the links between cannabis prohibition in British Columbia (Canada) and the growth of organized crime and related violence in the province, and is the first report of a coalition of concerned citizens and experts known as Stop the Violence BC. The report also defines the public health concept “regulation” and seeks to set the stage for a much needed public conversation and action on the part of BC politicians.