This is a guide to regulating legal markets for the non-medical use of cannabis. It is for policy makers, drug policy reform advocates and affected communities all over the world, who are witnessing the question change from, 'Should we maintain cannabis prohibition?' to 'How will legal regulation work in practice?
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.
Three United Nations Conventions provide the international legal framework on drug control, instructing countries to limit drug supply and use to medical and scientific purposes. Yet, debate continues on the decriminalisation, or even legalisation, of drugs, particularly cannabis. Models under development for the legal supply of cannabis are described in this analysis, as well as some of the questions they raise.
Part of the ‘Perspectives on drugs’ (PODs) series, launched alongside the annual European Drug Report, these designed-for-the-web interactive analyses aim to provide deeper insights into a selection of important issues.
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).
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.
Should pot be outlawed, controlled, or just legalised? For anti-addiction experts, regulating consumption would counter a drug market associated with violent crime and lead to better public health and safety. But not everyone agrees. This year, Parliament agreed on the principle that adult cannabis users should be fined and not subjected to criminal charges. (See also: Growing cannabis at home)
Spanish law prohibits the possession of soft drugs like cannabis in public and its growth to be sold for profit is illegal. But the law does tolerate growing cannabis for personal use and its consumption in private. Dozens of private marijuana smoking clubs operate across Spain that take advantage of this legal loophole that serve cannabis users who do not want to get their drugs from the streets.
Un groupe de députés genevois interpartis propose une expérience pilote: autoriser pendant trois ans dans le canton la culture, la distribution et la consommation de cannabis dans le cadre d'associations contrôlées, les "Cannabis Social Club". Le projet pourrait être étendu à d'autres grandes villes suisses. Combinée à une répression accrue du commerce, cette solution vise à limiter les effets du marché ouvert. (Lire aussi: Des députés genevois favorables à une fumette légalisée)
Les Clubs Sociaux du Cannabis (CSC) sont des associations d’usagers qui s’organisent pour s’auto-approvisionner sans avoir recours au marché noir. Profitant de une zone grise juridique, il existe depuis plusieurs années, des clubs privés qui produisent du cannabis pour le distribuer, sans but lucratif et en circuit fermé, à des consommateurs adultes.
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.
In the past few weeks, the attention of the international drug policy community has been focused on the cannabis regulation bill in Uruguay. The great significance of this momentum for the drug policy reform has been supported by various civil society organisations and public opinion leaders from all around the world. This contrasts with the steps back undertaken in Spain, where a new bill – the paradoxically so-called citizen security law – was approved last 29th November by the Council of Ministers.
This briefing is a preliminary sketch of the legal landscape for cannabis social clubs in Spain. Its author is presently conducting legal analysis and empirical research in Spain and her findings will be published in due course. The aim of this briefing is to provide an interim sketch of the relevant law for English speakers working in drug policy.
Cannabis was condemned by the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs as a psychoactive drug with “particularly dangerous properties” and hardly any therapeutic value. Ever since, an increasing number of countries have shown discomfort with the treaty regime’s strictures through soft defections, stretching its legal flexibility to sometimes questionable limits.
Private cannabis clubs are at the vanguard of a new movement of pro-cannabis campaigners in Spain. The members spotted a gap in Spain's drugs laws which, they say, makes the activities of private clubs like these entirely legal. Spain does not have a law banning consumption in private and members claim it is safer to use the club than go out to parks and smoke in public. "The club recognises that cannabis is not good for everyone. We propose a responsible form of consumption. Not everyone should smoke. We know there are risks."
Comment régulariser le cannabis? Lancé en 2012, un groupe interpartis a élaboré un projet rendu public à la fin de 2013. Celui-ci pose les bases d’une distribution et d’une consommation contrôlées, car «il est évident que le système actuel fondé sur la répression a échoué», explique Arnaud Moreillon (PS). Six mois plus tard, les délégués remanient leurs concepts sur la base des retours enregistrés, notamment auprès des partis, de professionnels de la sécurité et de la santé, ainsi que diverses villes suisses. Les délégués ont décidé d’exclure les mineurs de toute distribution légale, le point le plus controversé du projet d’origine.
The Uruguayan government has unveiled long-awaited regulations for its recreational marijuana market — a move that steers the tiny nation of 3.3 million people away from the prohibitionist war on drugs, with its disastrous consequences in Latin America, and toward a drug policy based on improving public health and security. Although Uruguay’s Congress approved the measure in December — becoming the first country in the world to legalize recreational pot use — it was just this week that the government of President José Mujica announced all the details.
Switzerland has always played a pioneering role in drug policy. In 1986, it was the first to open shelters for addicts and in 1994 it medically prescribed heroin. Today, its cities are looking at introducing cannabis social clubs – a controversial issue. "We propose experimenting with a possible new model because we need evidence of how the black market, crime and public health would change as a result of regulation," former interior minister Ruth Dreifuss, also a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, explained. "The pilot project will give us experience and facts so we can design a new policy."
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)