Italy took a first step toward legalization of pot, leading Europe in what would be a groundbreaking change. The Intergrupo Parlamentare Cannabis Legale, a cross-party committee, agreed on a provisional text to legalize the consumption, growing, production and sale of cannabis under certain conditions. The text was signed by 218 members of parliament, and not just by the usual suspects. The proposal would allow growing cannabis at home or as members of "cannabis clubs" where a maximum of 50 people could cultivate and then share the product, with a strict prohibition on selling to the general public. (See also: Bill would legalize marijuana)
A number of other countries have implemented changes in law that significantly reduce the extent of criminalization of marijuana use. Only in Australia and the Netherlands have there been any changes on the criminalization of the supply side and in neither of those countries is it legal to both produce and sell the drug. The relaxations so far, with the exception of the Netherlands, have not been very great i.e. have not much changed the legal risks faced by a user of marijuana. Thus it is perhaps not surprising that the changes in prevalence of use have not been substantial. This paper provides a brief review of the changes that have been tried outside the US. The emphasis is on the nature of the changes and how they have been implemented rather than on outcomes.