Medical marijuana advocates are hoping state governments can succeed where their efforts have failed by asking federal authorities to reclassify pot as a drug with medical use. Recently, Colorado became the fourth state to ask the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to reclassify marijuana as a narcotic in the same league as heavyweight painkillers including oxycodone. The governors of Washington and Rhode Island filed a formal petition with the agency in November, and Vermont signed onto that request shortly afterward.
Is the Netherlands finally growing up, or is it committing tourism suicide? A ban on foreigners using its famous "coffee shops" – where soft drugs can be bought and consumed legally – came into effect in its three southern provinces yesterday, and will apply in the rest of the country, including Amsterdam, from January 1st, 2013. Unusually, opposition to the ban on foreigners has led to an alliance between the coffee shop owners and tourism interests – both of whom claim it will be counterproductive. (See also: Introduction of 'Weed Pass' in the Netherlands)
Registered voters heading to the polls this fall for elections in Colorado, Washington, and perhaps California will have a chance to enact historic cannabis legalization in 2012. A Colorado group said it will file 155,000 signatures with the state on January 6 — enough to qualify the group's recreational cannabis legalization and tax initiative for the November ballot. A group in the state of Washington said on December 29 that it filed at least 355,000 signatures. And California?
New research finds that the two main ingredients in marijuana have opposing effects on it. The study examined 15 normal men who had previously smoked cannabis only a few times. Researchers exposed the men to each of the two most psychoactive ingredients in marijuana — delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) and compared their effects with those of a placebo while the participants performed a mental task.
Neuropathic pain affects between 5% and 10% of the US population and can be refractory to treatment. Opioids may be recommended as a second-line pharmacotherapy but have risks including overdose and death. Cannabis has been shown to be effective for treating nerve pain without the risk of fatal poisoning. The author suggests that physicians who treat neuropathic pain with opioids should evaluate their patients for a trial of cannabis and prescribe it when appropriate prior to using opioids. This harm reduction strategy may reduce the morbidity and mortality rates associated with prescription pain medications.
The Copenhagen City Council is pushing ahead with a proposal to decriminalise cannabis, and has set up a committee to investigate the best way to regulate the supply and distribution. The favoured option is for 30 or 40 cannabis shops controlled by the city in which adults may legally buy cannabis. By a margin of 39 votes to nine, the City Council decided to draw up a detailed outline of how the plan would work. Subsequently, the resulting proposal still has to be ratified by the Danish parliament, which has blocked similar movements in the past. But after the national elections in September 2011 the current parliament could support decriminalisation this time around.
Marijuana has been shown to have both anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects and to induce anxiety and psychosis in certain people. In schizophrenics, it can increase symptoms, and in healthy people it can increase the risk of schizophrenia. Now, new study shows that the two active ingredients in pot, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) may have quite opposite effects on the brain – and behavior – and could explain why pot’s effects can be unpredictable.
A leading distributor of crack cocaine in the 1980s would have preferred to have been a pot dealer, but was unable to find enough supply, he told The Huffington Post in an interview. "I wanted to sell pot. You couldn't get pot at a decent price -- I couldn't, nor the quantity," said Rick Ross, whose operation the Los Angeles Times dubbed "the Wal-Mart of crack dealing." Ross built one of the largest cocaine empires in the country. If the goal of U.S. drug policy is to lower demand by increasing price, Reagan's drug war did precisely the opposite, driving people away from pot and toward coke and crack.
The legal status of cannabis for personal use is one of the most controversial policy issues in the European Union. Although cannabis is a classified narcotic drug placed under control by the United Nations and by all EU Member States, the measures adopted to control it at national level vary considerably, as shown in the table, click here to access the information country by country.
The results come as the Liberal party voted overwhelmingly to support legalization of the drug at its biennial policy convention on the weekend, seeming to put the party on side with public opinion. Forty per cent of respondents to the Forum Research poll said they were in favour of the legalization and taxation of pot, while another 26 per cent said they were for the decriminalization of carrying small amounts of the drug.
If Liberals are serious about presenting voters with a credible plan to legalize and regulate cannabis in the next federal election, they have a lot of work to do. Even some of the most passionate advocates of an end to pot prohibition acknowledge that legalization is a much more complicated public policy than the “just say no” criminalization model that critics say is such an abject failure.
The market for cannabis in Britain should be regulated and taxed, and responsibility for drug policy moved from the Home Office to the health department, Sir Richard Branson has told MPs. The Virgin Group head said the 20% of police time and £200m spent on giving criminal sentences to 70,000 young people for possession of illegal drugs in Britain each year would be better spent going after the criminal gangs at the centre of the drugs trade. "It's win-win all round,'' he told the Commons home affairs select committee.
A measure to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Washington State is likely to be on the November 2012 ballot, after the secretary of the state's office certified the initiative, saying the campaign had turned in enough valid petition signatures. Initiative 502 now goes to the Legislature, but lawmakers are not likely to take up the issue during the short 60-day session that ends on March 8, meaning it would automatically appear on the ballot in the fall election.
Efforts to legalize marijuana for recreational use are gaining momentum in Washington state and Colorado, despite fierce opposition from the federal government and a decades-long cultural battle over America's most commonly used illicit drug. Officials in Washington state said an initiative to legalize pot has enough signatures to qualify for the ballot in November. In Colorado, officials are likely this week to make a similar determination about an initiative there.
In response to an opinion piece in Politiken newspaper, in which a former Christiania resident encourages residents of the commune to stand up to the gang members that control its hash market, the chief inspector of the Copenhagen Police says the enclave’s future is threatened by the criminality. “The hash trade is accompanied by violence and other serious crimes to an extent that Christiania is threatened,” chief inspector Jørn Aabye said to the newspaper.
An initiative seeking to legalize and regulate the recreational use of marijuana will be decided by voters. If passed, Initiative 502 would make Washington the first state to legalize recreational use of marijuana. It would place the state at odds with federal law, which bans marijuana use of all kinds. Rep. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, who chairs the House State Government & Tribal Affairs Committee that was considering the initiative, said the Legislature would not act on it, meaning it will instead automatically appear on the November ballot.
A political majority at Copenhagen Town Hall is pushing for cannabis to be decriminalised. In a joint letter, four out of five local politicians have appealed to Minister of Justice Morten Bødskov to set up a trial run to test the effects of legalising the popular drug. The Social Democrats' spokesman on social affairs, Lars Aslan Rasmussen, said current drug policy hasn't worked in curbing organised crime and gang warfare so it's time for a re-think.