Latin American countries are turning to Europe for lessons on fighting drugs after souring on the prohibition-style approach of the violent and costly U.S.-led war on drugs. Until recently, most Latin American countries had zero-tolerance rules on drugs inspired by the United States. But now countries from Brazil to Guatemala are exploring relaxing penalties for personal use of narcotics, following examples such as Spain and Portugal that have channeled resources to prevention rather than clogging jails.
Les Cannabis Social Clubs (CSC) sont en plein bad trip. Ces coopératives d’autoproducteurs avaient lancé en mars une vaste opération de désobéissance civile, sommant le gouvernement «de prendre ses responsabilités» sur la dépénalisation de la marijuana. Le tribunal de grande instance de Tours a prononcé, hier, la dissolution de la structure fédérant l’ensemble des Cannabis Social Clubs français. Ses membres ont désormais l’interdiction de se réunir.
Si PS et UMP pensaient avoir enterré le débat sur le cannabis avec la fin de la campagne des législatives, ils se sont trompés. Des militants viennent en effet d’afficher leur détermination à faire évoluer la législation en annonçant, lors d’un Appel du 18 Joint anticipé à Tours, la création de nombreux “Cannabis social club” un peu partout en France, rapportent nos confrères de la Nouvelle République. Illégaux dans l’Hexagone, ces “clubs” n’en resteront donc, pour l’instant, qu’au stade de groupes informels d’amateurs d’herbe ne réunissant chacun pas plus d’une dizaine de membres.
Interpellé mi-février après que la police a saisi à son domicile 126 plants de cannabis et 26 grammes d’herbe, le proces contre Dominque Broc ressemblait plus à un combat politique qu’à une joute juridique. «Les Cannabis Social Clubs prônent une consommation régulée et raisonnable de la marijuana. Ils produisent eux-mêmes ce qu’ils fument pour ne pas recourir au marché noir. Il est donc à tout le moins hypocrite de ne pas poursuivre les faits de production et d’envoyer le prévenu devant la juridiction compétente ! tonne son avocat, Philippe Baron.
“It is an act of civil disobedience. We want to impose our activity,” Dominique Broc, the spokesperson for the project. Without hiding his face, he presents a “cultivation space” of about 100 square feet installed in his home. “We produce to protect our society from the perverse effects of mafias that are entering the territory to produce cannabis (often impure) on a large scale to sell them to our children.” (This is a translation of Les cultivateurs des "Cannabis Social Clubs" ne veulent plus se cacher, an article originally published by the French magazine Le Point)
The number of cannabis clubs that have opened in Barcelona recently has some experts saying this city will soon challenge Amsterdam as the go-to destination for vacationers who want to get high in peace. In the last three years, new clubs have opened, particularly in tourist areas, in many cases circumventing the spirit, if not the letter, of the law. About 300 new cannabis clubs have opened in Barcelona and the surrounding Catalan region, a result, at least in part, of enterprising Spaniards looking for new ways to earn a living.
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)
Cannabis users across France took a high-risk step by registering 'Cannabis social clubs' with local authorities as official non-profit organizations. The stunt is a bid to win public backing but it could land them up to 30 years in jail. In registering their social clubs with local authorities, those behind the stunt hope to illustrate what they see as disproportionate and unfair laws against cannabis use, and force a change in legislation. "We want to remove the sword of Damocles from over our heads, and demand recognition from the public authorities," said Farid Ghehioueche, from the group 'Cannabis sans frontières' (Cannabis without borders).
Denver prosecutors will no longer charge those 21 and older for carrying less than an ounce of marijuana, and will review current cases that fit under the language of a recently voter-approved state constitutional amendment. District Attorney Mitch Morrissey and City Attorney Doug Friednash made their decision a day after Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett made headlines when he announced his office will dismiss any pending cases that deal with less than an ounce of marijuana.
France offers the most recent sign of changing attitudes. While consumption and production of pot for personal use are not criminal offenses in France, growing and selling for other than personal use is illegal. So 150 to 200 “clubs” of growers operating quietly, and their umbrella association called Cannabis Social Clubs, have decided to come out of the dark to lobby openly for legalization.
Legalisation of cannabis is making slow but unstoppable progress across much of the developed world, many experts believe, following the end of prohibition in two US states. In Amsterdam, long famous for its coffee shops, international experts gathering to discuss cannabis regulation said the international conventions, once so heavily policed by the US, would now be increasingly flouted. Already many countries, most notably the Netherlands and Spain, have bypassed the rules.
Barcelona has a new tourist attraction that some locals wish would disappear: a burgeoning number of "cannabis clubs," where people can legally buy and smoke pot. Although selling marijuana is against the law in Spain, some regions allow local residents to set up nonprofit clubs whose members grow and share it for personal use. As recently as 2011, only a few dozen such groups were in the Catalonia region, which includes Barcelona. But since then, the number has risen to about 400.
The Spanish village of Rasquera has adopted in a referendum a plan to rent out a field for growing cannabis in an urgent bid to create jobs and raise money to pay off its debts. Rasquera's village council on February 29 approved the plan to rent seven hectares (17 acres) of public land to an association that promotes the legal recreational or therapeutic use of cannabis by its 5,000 members in a 4-3 vote.
The Basque Parliament will approve a law bill in the first few months of 2012 on drug addiction, which will regulate "the growing, sale and consumption of cannabis". For the new ruling, for which "technical and legal studies have been undertaken", the regional government wants to "open a debate" with associations in favour of consumption and to "shape their rights".
A small town in northeastern Spain, believes it has found a novel way to pay of its debt: cultivating cannabis. Tucked in the hills of one of Spain's most picturesque regions, the Catalonian village of Rasquera has agreed to rent out land to grow marijuana, an enterprise the local authorities say will allow them to pay off their 1.3 million euro debt in two years. The mayor of Rasquera, with 900 inhabitants, said the project will not only benefit locals, but also eliminate organised crime and the tax evasion associated with the cannabis industry thanks to government supervision.
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.