An effort is building in Congress to change U.S. marijuana laws, including moves to legalize the industrial production of hemp and establish a hefty federal pot tax. One measure would regulate marijuana the way the federal government handles alcohol: In states that legalize pot, growers would have to obtain a federal permit. Oversight of marijuana would be removed from the Drug Enforcement Administration and given to the newly renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana and Firearms, and it would remain illegal to bring marijuana from a state where it's legal to one where it isn't.
The California Supreme Court appeared inclined to uphold municipal bans against medical marijuana dispensaries. Meeting for oral arguments, the state high court considered the legality of a ban on dispensaries by the city of Riverside. Several justices noted that the state Constitution gives cities wide policing power over land use and suggested that the state's medical marijuana laws have not undercut that authority. (See also: Marijuana dispensary curbs likely to stand)
Around 15,000 people die each year by overdosing on opioid pain relievers such as Oxycontin, a rate that has more than tripled since 1990. The government has tried numerous strategies to reduce the death toll, but those policies have not had a significant effect on death rates from overdoses. Community-based naloxone distribution and training programs have existed in the U.S. since 1996, and have provided the drug to over 50,000 people, leading to 10,000 successful overdose reversals.
Driven by a groundswell of public opinion, Colorado and Washington State last November became the first states in the U.S. to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. That wave of support, it now seems clear, has echoed through the U.S. Congress, which formally questioned the federal government’s prohibitionist drug policy in the form of marijuana-reform bills. (See also: Legalization hits the Hill)
A handful of legislators recently drew up a letter raising questions and concerns about the law, including whether it can be implemented by December as required under voter-approved Initiative 502. Alison Holcomb, drug-policy director for the ACLU of Washington and one of the law’s sponsors, defended it in a point-by-point response to the letter. Holcomb also implied that some of Hurst’s concerns could lead to a “Big Marijuana” industry whose advertising targets young people.
More than a decade ago, after several court rulings, the federal government was forced to create regulations allowing people with legitimate needs to possess or grow cannabis for personal medical use without facing criminal charges. Yet it seems Canadians will have to wait longer for a truly workable system that ensures access. Unfortunately, the Ontario Court of Appeal rejected the latest constitutional challenge to the current marijuana medical access regulations (MMAR).
The Denver City Council will vote in April on whether the state's largest city will opt out of licensing recreational marijuana sales — a move that could dramatically affect legalization efforts in Colorado. City leaders are wrestling with how to implement Amendment 64, which legalized recreational use and possession, cultivation and distribution of limited quantities of marijuana.
Drug users in France will soon have a state-sanctioned place where they can use heroin, crack and other intravenous drugs, after the government approved a pilot site in Paris. The City Council had already voted to allow a secure injection site to be opened in the city, a controversial measure, which social workers say should help to reduce the number of drug users in the streets.
Advocates for the legalization of marijuana plan to step up their political giving and lobbying efforts now that members of Congress are taking an interest in changing federal drug laws. The lobbyists say lawmakers who wouldn’t give them the time of day are suddenly interested in meeting with them and introducing legislation following the approval of ballot initiatives in Colorado and Washington that legalized recreational use of the drug.
As the underlying rationale for the war on drugs falls apart, some may wonder whether Latin America is really prepared to push back against Washington's militaristic approach toward marijuana trafficking. While such a prospect would have been unheard of just a few years ago, recent developments in the U.S. suggest that change could come fast at the hemispheric level. Indeed, successful pushes for marijuana legalization in Washington state and Colorado brought together some unusual political constituencies.
Marijuana may be coming out of the black market in Colorado and Washington state, but the drug, at least for now, will retain a decidedly underground feel: Users may not know what's in it. Less than a year away from allowing pot sales, regulators are grappling with how to ensure that the nation's first legal marijuana industry will grow weed that delivers only the effects that pot smokers want.
Guatemalan PresidentOtto Perez said he is feeling less alone in his drive tore-think the fight against drug-trafficking than a year ago, when heshocked fellow Central American leaders with a proposal to decriminalisedrugs. Perez has proposed what he calls a "third way" inbetween all-out drugs legalisation and complete prohibition. He saysthe latter approach has failed as illegal drug use remains high despitedecades of being outlawed around the world.
As the push to legalize pot migrates from the margins to the mainstream, it is mellowing some Republicans in the process. “If it was a secret ballot, the majority of Republicans would have voted to legalize marijuana a long time ago,” says GOP Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who opposes the “monstrous” war on drugs.
Medical marijuana may soon be legally sold and available via doctors' prescriptions, with senators overwhelmingly approving the legislation in a 60-7 vote Jan. 30. The bill, which now awaits a presidential signature, marks a major step toward official acceptance of marijuana use in the country, after the Cabinet of Prime Minister Jan Fischer decriminalized possession of "small amounts" of marijuana for personal use in 2009.
A U.S. magistrate judge on Thursday sided with federal prosecutors in dismissing a lawsuit by the city of Oakland that challenged as illegal federal attempts to shutter the nation's largest medical marijuana dispensary. In filing the suit last October, Oakland became the first city to take on federal enforcement actions that have led to the closure of hundreds of dispensaries in recent years.
Many people arrested on low-level marijuana-possession charges in the nation’s largest city will no longer be booked and held hours for arraignment, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. Starting next month, people who get picked up on charges of having a small amount of marijuana will be released with appearance tickets if they have identification and no open warrants, Bloomberg said, spotlighting the issue in his State of the City address amid debate over the tens of thousands of such arrests in the city each year. (Bloomberg: I oppose legalizing marijuana)
Mexico's new administration has offered the first details of its new strategy in the country's war on drugs, saying the government will spend $9.2bn this year on social programmes to keep young people from joining criminal organisations in the 251 most violent towns and neighbourhoods across the country. The government will flood those areas with spending on programmes ranging from road building to increasing school hours, said President Enrique Peña Nieto and Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, the interior secretary.