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.
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?)
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.
Many Washington residents are looking to cash in on the newly legal and potentially lucrative marijuana market, which they hope will give them a new start, create jobs, and boost Washington's slumping economy. A diverse bunch, prospective marijuana entrepreneurs range from cannabis novices to experienced sellers crawling out of the black market. State officials are unsure how much revenue marijuana will bring because the market has never been regulated. But experts predict the industry could fetch up to $2bn over a five-year period.
The mayor of Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan, understandably opposes the ban: Roughly a third of the four million foreign tourists who visit the city each year smoke marijuana in the local coffee shops. Ten percent of tourists who visit Holland do so exclusively for the pot. The cafes do $2.6 billion in business a year, generating $503 million in tax revenue.
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.
On December 10, 2013, the General Assembly of Uruguay approved a law that made the country the first one in the world to fully regulate the cultivation, trade and consumption of cannabis for medical, industrial as well as recreational purposes. This infographic gives a short overview of the main aspects of the new law.
Some researchers think marijuana use among 18- to 25-year-olds will increase when Initiative 502 goes into effect, but college students say the drug is already so easy to obtain that they don't believe pot use will go up. Roger Roffman, a principal supporter of I-502 and a professor emeritus who has studied marijuana use and dependency for nearly 30 years thinks use will increase. He expects new norms to evolve, including norms that will discourage abuse. "I think the way this initiative is written is going to feed into the gradual evolution of safer use, and better decision-making."
A first opinion poll found that the prescription of heroin for addicts stands a good chance of passing on November 30. However, a proposal to decriminalise cannabis attracts neither a clear majority of supporters nor opponents six weeks before the ballot. Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin said decriminalising pot smoking could pose problems for Switzerland as a signatory state of international drug control conventions. In its campaign the government cautioned against rushing through legislation for which there was no majority in parliament four years ago.