Smoking, growing, buying, selling or merely possessing cannabis is a criminal offence, according to America's federal government. Ask the states, however, and you will get almost 50 different answers. In 13 of them possession of the drug has been decriminalised, meaning that tokers face only minor penalties if caught. In 23 it has been legalised for medical use. And in four—including, following ballot initiatives earlier this month, Alaska and Oregon—cannabis has been legalised outright. In all only 22 states, fewer than half the total, continue to treat the drug as criminal contraband under all circumstances.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) plans to stay on the sidelines of future pot legalization campaigns – already supported by groups plotting ballot campaigns in 2016 – and pour resources into fights for criminal justice reform. One model to replicate is California's Proposition 47, approved by 58 percent to lower penalties for drug possession and other nonviolent crimes. "We would love to be able to have ballot initiatives in a number of states that may look very similar to Proposition 47," says ACLU's Alison Holcomb . "Hopefully we will be able to find states where we can go further and say, ‘Let’s decriminalize the possession of drugs and let’s talk about what we can do to address drug use and abuse.’"
La policía de Nueva York dejará de detener a las personas que posean hasta 25 gramos de marihuana y se limitará a citarlas ante el juez, que podría imponerles una multa o la sanción que considere oportuna, según anunció este lunes el alcalde Bill de Blasio, en un cambio radical de la política contra el pequeño delito mantenida durante años. El objetivo del nuevo alcalde demócrata es cumplir con una de las promesas que le llevaron al poder y mitigar los efectos indeseados del stop and frisk (la policía puede parar y registrar a una persona simplemente por su aspecto), que tantas quejas ha provocado de las organizaciones de derechos civiles.
With Democrats holding the White House and Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress, it's been suggested that the odds are slim of any major legislation becoming law over the next two years. But officials in the Obama administration and on Capitol Hill say there is one issue that may have enough cross-party appeal to break through the logjams. That issue is criminal justice reform. During the 2014 midterm elections, voters approved sweeping drug and criminal justice reform measures in multiple states, setting the stage for what may prove to be even more significant policy shifts over the next two years and beyond.
The New York Police Department, which has been arresting tens of thousands of people a year for low-level marijuana possession, is to stop making such arrests and to issue tickets instead. People found with small amounts of marijuana would be issued court summonses and be allowed to continue on their way without being handcuffed and taken to station houses for fingerprinting. The change would remake the way the police in New York City handle the most common drug offenses to address the effects of the department’s excessive stop-and-frisk practices. (See also: Concerns in criminal justice system as New York City eases marijuana policy)
The local pro-ganja lobby in Jamaica is welcoming the vote for the legalisation of ganja in the American states of Oregon, Alaska, and Washington DC. "One of the biggest stumbling blocks has been the fear about how the United States would react to what we are doing and what we seeing happening is a clear indication that the United States people are moving in favour of legalising ganja on a wider and wider basis, whilst Jamaica continues to stall and not be bold enough to do what we need to do," Delano Seiveright, director of the Cannabis Commercial and Medicinal Research Taskforce said. (See also: Jamaica urged to keep ganja debate going)
Attitudes about marijuana have undergone a rapid shift in public opinion, paralleled by few other trends in the U.S. Our recent data, along with historical figures from Gallup and the General Social Survey, reveal how views have shifted about the drug over time. Earlier this year, our survey found that many more Americans now favor shifting the focus of the nation’s overall drug policy. Here are six key facts about public opinion and marijuana.