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World

prohibition has failed

Political momentum to legalise and reform cannabis laws gathers pace around the world. North America and South America are pushing forward faster than many parts of Europe at the moment, but European political thinking is showing signs of catching up.

Although not widely reported in the mainstream media, the Dutch Government (Department of Security and Justice) has just published a significant report, researched by the RAND Drug Policy Research Centre. The full PDF, in English, can be downloaded here.

The report was commissioned by the Dutch Government who wanted an impartial review of the recent groundbreaking decisions to legalize cannabis in Uruguay as well as the ongoing state-wide legalizations in USA, and the ‘cannabis social clubs’ in Spain and Belgium.

Although the Dutch Government has been widely applauded for their regulation of cannabis (coffee shops etc) over the last few decades, there is a growing political appetite amongst Dutch politicians to further remove all aspects of criminality from the cannabis industry. For example, in a Dutch Coffee Shop, the sale of cannabis is regulated but the original production of the cannabis still remains illegal and is often in criminal hands. Further refinement of Dutch cannabis laws could allow a fully legalized and taxed cannabis supply chain which would exclude all elements of criminality, a system which would follow the USA and Uruguay legalization models.

The RAND report paints an attractive picture of how such pot-law improvements benefit society, the health and well being of its citizens and stimulate the local economy. The report also notes how the only losers would be the organised criminals who have been gifted the tax-free cannabis revenues by successive Governments who have chosen not to regulate the cannabis supply chain in the belief that they could persuade people not to use cannabis. Cannabis use remains at, or near, an all-time high with citizens of all countries recognising that

a) Cannabis has significant medical uses, many of which are only being brought to public attention following many years of international ‘denial’ of the medical value of cannabis.

b) Cannabis is not anywhere near as dangerous as it has been made out to be during the time of its prohibition. When used appropriately by responsible adults cannabis is far safer than alcohol or tobacco.

The full report is 60 pages long, but will be of special interest to any European activists looking for an insight into current political thinking and the advice on which they are basing their thinking. The RAND report will be reviewed by other European Governments as well as the Dutch. Of particular interest is the authoritative detailed discussion of the legal positions (and how they evolved) in USA, Uruguay, Belgium and Spain.

One theme running through the report is that many nations are now over-riding the international agreements made through the United Nations, even though such agreements were originally intended to be binding and non-negotiable. However, there have been no repercussions for either Uruguay or USA since they decided to take matters into their own democratic systems and legalize cannabis. This has set a clear precedent for other countries to adapt their own laws. It has also caused many to ask whether the 1988 United Nations ‘Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs’ has any remaining credibility or relevance, given that it is now being routinely ignored. The graph, below, shows how USA public opinion has shifted from a point where 84% of citizens opposed recreational cannabis in 1969. Today just 39% oppose recreational cannabis, the trend towards accepting cannabis is felt to be entirely due to the general public firmly rejecting the biased anti-cannabis government rhetoric. Furthermore, the support for legal cannabis continues to accelerate as people see that there are no negative consequences to the legalization of cannabis in states where it has already taken place.

graph showing massive increase in USA public support for legalizing cannabis

One interesting quote from the International Narcotics Control Board: “non-compliance by any party with the provisions of the international drug control treaties could have far-reaching negative consequences for the functioning of the entire international drug control system” (International Narcotics Control Board, 2013, p. 36). That is exactly what has happened when Uruguay, Colorado and Washington legalized cannabis. The United Nations has been unable to act or respond as recent events have unfolded in Uruguay, USA, Spain, Belgium and elsewhere.

Conclusions. It was a brave step for the Dutch Government to commission such a report in the first place. Many Governments have avoided the issue of cannabis and left it for someone else to deal with. The RAND group do their best to remain impartial and unbiased throughout the report, but it is clear that the report offers no significant reasons why cannabis should remain prohibited. Nor does the report show any findings that prohibition of cannabis has ever reduced consumption. The report certainly does recognise the emerging international consensus that cannabis has important medical qualities that are being recognised and commercially exploited. Perhaps the saddest part of the report is the amount of time dedicated to the legal arguments about how countries such as USA & Uruguay have successfully flouted internationally agreed UN drug treaties. Clearly there is no easy way out of this for the UN, and it is likely that the UN official cannabis policy will have to change and the easiest and least painful way for them to do this is by recognising that their original policy was wrong.

Dutch Passion Think Different

Above, Dutch Passion Think Different by BamBud

If the biggest concern of European politicians are the obligations to outdated United Nation agreements then the prohibition of cannabis does not have long left. Dutch Passion believes that cannabis consumption is the right of any responsible adult, whether for medical or recreational reasons. We welcome the political debate and wonder what 2014 has in store for cannabis campaigners in Europe and the rest of the world. 2013 saw remarkable progress for cannabis laws and that momentum will continue this year. Cannabis prohibition is coming to an end, that’s something to celebrate.

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(CNN) -- Marijuana prohibition laws are slowly going up in smoke.

An Alaska citizens' group is pushing to legalize recreational marijuana, which would make it the third state to do so after Colorado and Washington.

Driven by growing public support, Campaign to Regulate Marijuana submitted more than 45,000 signatures Wednesday to Alaska election officials. It needs about 30,000 verified signatures to qualify for the August state ballot.

"The proposed initiative will take marijuana sales out of the underground market and put them in legitimate, taxpaying businesses," said Tim Hinterberger, one of the initiative's sponsors. "Replacing marijuana prohibition with a system of taxation and sensible regulation will bolster Alaska's economy by creating jobs and generating revenue for the state."
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The proposal similar to one passed in Colorado legalizes the growing, buying and consumption of marijuana for adults ages 21 or older, CNN affiliate KTUU reported.

Alaska law currently allows those with a medicinal marijuana prescription to legally grow up to six plants or have up to one ounce, according to the affiliate.

The proposal will not only open doors for recreational use, it provides more options for medicinal marijuana users with limited access, Hinterberger told the affiliate.

Colorado pot law called springboard for other states

But marijuana legalization opponents say there are serious health consequences, and argue the drug is often a gateway to harmful, addictive substances.

Washington and Colorado legalized recreational marijuana last year, but the latter became the first state to commence sales this month. Sales in Washington have not started yet.

In addition to Colorado and Washington, 18 other states and the District of Columbia allow some legal use of marijuana, primarily for medicinal purposes.

Pro-recreational marijuana Initiatives are expected in various states in 2016, including Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana and Nevada, according to Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project.

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Peru should consider legalizing marijuana, the former head of the country’s National Drug Control Commission has said. Uruguay recently became Latin America’s first nation to legalize the marijuana industry, encouraging its neighbors to follow suit.

Former director of the Peruvian National Drug Control Commission (DEVIDA) Ricardo Soberon appealed to the government to consider the legalization of marijuana in an interview.

“We must open the debate with Carmen Masias, the President of DEVIDA, and the Peruvian Medical School. Let’s open a forum that deals, first and foremost, with the health issues and secondly with safety and the implications of its [marijuana] use,” Ricard Soberon told news website Terra. He said that the legalization of the marijuana market could be a solution to the illegal drugs trade in Peru.

“The possibility of removing the criminal element from the cannabis trade – a drug that is a lot less dangerous than others – is the answer to 50 years of repeating the same strategies with no results,” said Soberon.

In December, Soberon applauded the Uruguayan decision to legalize both the sale and production of the drug, calling it “a good experience.” Later that month, Uruguayan President Jose Mujica signed into law the legislation that will bring the production and sale of marijuana under state control.

Mujica, who proposed the legislation, maintains that the measure will help to eradicate the illegal drugs market in Uruguay. With this in mind, the initial price of marijuana will be set at $1 a gram, undercutting the black market price of $1.40.

In Peru the consumption of marijuana is legal and a citizen may carry up to 8 grams of the drug without being penalized. However, the production and sale of cannabis is still illegal under Peruvian law.

Uruguay was criticized following the move to legalize cannabis by International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) who lashed out at the country, accusing it of violating international law.

“Uruguay is breaking the international conventions on drug control with the cannabis legislation approved by its congress,” said the INCB, citing several reasons why it thinks Uruguay has made a mistake, among them the purported health risks associated with the plant’s use.

Raymond Yans, president of the INCB, said he was surprised that the government “knowingly deciding to break the universally agreed and internationally endorsed provisions of the treaty.”

Yans’ comments provoked a sharp reaction from Uruguay’s president, who condemned the criticism as “lies,” accusing the INCB of double standards: “One for Uruguay and another for the world’s strong countries.”

The US has also taken steps to legalize the consumption and sale of the drug in some states. Colorado opened the doors of the US’s first legal pot store at the start of 2014 and Washington is expected to follow suit later this year.

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January 1st was a historic day in the world of marijuana, and it sounds like it was a very profitable day as well. According to media reports out of Colorado, on the first day that marijuana sales became legal, retail outlets made over 1 million dollars. The media reports are making it sound like it was 1 million dollars made (net), not sold (gross). However, they weren’t specific, so take that information for what it is.

Regardless of whether it was gross sales or net profit, the fact of the matter is that a lot of marijuana was sold yesterday. On opening day, there were 24 shops operating, mostly in Denver. The State of Colorado has issued 136 licenses for retail marijuana stores total, so more and more stores will open soon. Will that result in more sales, or just spread out current sales to more locations – only time will tell.

Prices for marijuana surged the last couple of days as supplies dwindled. I think that more stores coming online should hopefully result in less sticker shock for customers, but it’s hard to say. 136 stores statewide is really not that many when you really think about it, and there are multiple factors that will come into play.

Yes, there will be more competition when all the retail stores open. But will there be so much more competition that it balances out with demand? A lot of people traveled to Colorado to purchase marijuana the last two days, but there will be many, many more people traveling there in the future. Also, everyone that bought marijuana the last couple of days are no doubt smoking all of it, so repeat customers will be flooding stores here soon. Long lines could become the norm in Colorado even after the rest of the stores open.

I’m curious five years from now how many stores there will be in Colorado. I’m also curious how other states legalizing will affect business in Colorado. I know when Oregon legalizes, no one will be traveling out of state for marijuana, if they even do so now. States in the South and Midwest will have to wait longer for legalization, so they will still travel for marijuana, and since Colorado is going to be the closest state for awhile with legal marijuana, I’d imagine it will be the number one destination for legal marijuana even after other Western states legalize.

Hopefully my friends in Washington won’t have to wait too much longer before stores open up there. I’d imagine even though Washington will be second to roll out stores, the outpouring of cash from customers will be similar. Especially considering the fact that citizens in Colorado can grow their own instead of going into stores. Washington customers don’t have that same option.

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A new study published in the most recent issue of the journal Phytomedicine, and published online by the National Institute of Health, has found that cannabis-based medicines may provide a cure for colon cancer.

For the study, researchers “investigated the effect of a standardized Cannabis sativa extract with high content of cannabidiol (CBD), here named CBD BDS, i.e. CBD botanical drug substance, on colorectal cancer cell proliferation and in experimental models of colon cancer in vivo.”

While conducting the study, it was found that; “CBD reduced cell proliferation in tumoral, but not in healthy, cells. In vivo, CBD reduced AOM-induced preneoplastic lesions and polyps as well as tumour growth in the xenograft model of colon cancer.”

Researchers conclude that “CBD attenuates colon carcinogenesis and inhibits colorectal cancer cell proliferation via CB1 and CB2 receptor activation. The results may have some clinical relevance for the use of Cannabis-based medicines in cancer patients.”

The study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Naples Federico II in Italy and the University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom, can be found by clicking here.

Source: TheJointBlog.Com

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