Switzerland and Copenhagen – beyond cannabis tolerance (part two)

8 12 2011

Switzerland and Denmark are considering measures which could lead to the return of decriminalised cannabis in 2012. In both cases, the main reason for the proposed change is to reduce the harm caused by pushing cannabis onto the black market. The simple, inarguable fact is that cannabis will continue to be consumed for its medicinal and recreational properties, so allowing otherwise law-abiding people to grow or purchase it legally is the best way to prevent cannabis sales enriching criminals.

Small-scale cultivation of cannabis

Cannabis plants from an indoor grow dismantled by police in Lausanne, Switzerland (photo by police)

Cannabis plants from an indoor grow dismantled by police in Lausanne, Switzerland (photo by police)

 

Four cantons in the French-speaking part of Switzerland – Geneva, Neuchatel, Vaud and Fribourg – have ratified an agreement to allow small-scale cultivation of cannabis within their borders. Under the new law, which should come into effect on January 1st 2012, adult residents may grow up to four cannabis plants for personal consumption. Houses with more than one adult may cultivate four plants per person, provided that each household member tends their own plants. Anyone wishing to grow more than five plants or to trade in cannabis products is required to seek authorisation from the relevant authorities, but growing four plants or fewer will not need to be reported.

The new law is intended to prevent ‘drug tourism’ between cantons with different laws, and to prevent cannabis being sold on the black market. The other 21 cantons of Switzerland have yet to decide on adopting a similar law.

Adults may legally buy cannabis

Similarly, Copenhagen Council is pushing ahead with its proposal to decriminalise cannabis within the city, and has set up a committee to investigate the best way to regulate the sale of hashish and marijuana. Currently, the favoured option is for 30 or 40 Council-controlled shops across the city in which adults may legally buy cannabis.

The Copenhagen cannabis market is estimated to be worth around €200 million per year, most of which is assumed to be controlled by criminal gangs. Social Democrat councillor Lars Aslan Andersen believes that taking control of this trade would benefit all citizens, whether or not they consume cannabis, not to mention the city itself.

“It’s better that the council distributes hashish and not criminals,” he said. “I hope we get the opportunity to try a new policy because we can’t just continue the current prohibition strategy with hash which is very outdated.”

“We don’t want an Amsterdam model”

Mikkel Warming, the Mayor in charge of Social Affairs pointed out that the Council wanted Copenhagen’s decriminalisation to be further reaching than that of the Netherlands, where the growing and importation of cannabis remains illegal, despite its sale being tolerated in licensed coffeeshops.

“We don’t want an Amsterdam model. We want a way to make it legal to import or grow marijuana,” he said.

The Copenhagen City Council’s proposal still has to be ratified by the Danish parliament, which has blocked similar movements in the past. Proponents of the change believe that a majority of the current parliament could support decriminalisation this time around.

In spite of the current Dutch government’s desire to do away with the tolerance policy adopt a regressive attitude to cannabis, it’s very encouraging that several other countries on the continent seem determined to move forward.

 

Source: Sensi Seeds





Cannabis in California: A local and federal divide

1 12 2011

The recent history of cannabis in California  demonstrates a split between state and federal law that is rapidly widening. The first U.S. state to have, in 1913, prohibited the use of the devil’s herb imported by Mexican immigrants that was “marijuana”, California was also the first to legalize the medicinal use of cannabis in 1996.

15 years of legal ambiguity on medicinal marijuana

Dancers prepare at a pro-cannabis rally in California

Dancers prepare at a pro-cannabis rally in California

2 weeks ago, medicinal marijuana users celebrated 15 years of Proposition 215, the law legalizing therapeutic use of cannabis in California. The law allows patients in possession of a prescription to grow their own medicine or designate a legal grower (also known as a caregiver) to grow it for them, according to California state law.

Federal law, meanwhile, still does not recognize the therapeutic applications of cannabis, and logically the state laws can not override national laws. Since 1996, however, thousands of clinics have opened across the Golden State.  This  was not accomplished without legal difficulties and not all the dispensaries have remained open, but despite the paradox in legislation, the state’s entrepreneurs still managed to establish an industry of cannabis in California that is now estimated to be worth billions of dollars.

Local economy at risk

Given the very special status of the plant at federal and international levels, the medical cannabis industry in California is exclusively local, from production to distribution. For years the federal government has been trying to destabilize this market by various means.

On October 7th 2011, four District Attorneys in the Golden State claimed in a press conference that their goal was to address the production, distribution and marketing of cannabis in California. Shortly after, they sent dispensary owners an injunction to close their shops within 45 days.

Since then, the IRS has decided to claim retroactive taxes from the dispensaries in addition to new taxes on the sales of something that is still an illegal substance at a national level. This use of the tax system to put an end to an industry that seems to bother Washington is eerily reminiscent of the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act, which taxed cannabis suppliers all over America.

Even the banks are threatened with charges of money laundering if they agree to open accounts for business people  involved in the thriving Californian economy  of producing and distributing medical marijuana!

Medicinal Cannabis Dispensaries targeted

The legal status of dispensaries is comparable to the Dutch coffeeshop system, with one major difference: dispensaries go against American national policy, whereas coffeeshops have been licensed by the Dutch government. Some Californian cannabis clinics have become essential businesses for their local economy thanks to local taxes, while the federal government prefers not to touch a dime of this revenue.

It is these medicinal cannabis dispensaries which are the target of the Obama administration.  A complaint has been  filed by a group of activists and lawyers to stop this crusade against the clinics, targeting the Attorney General of the United States, the director of the DEA Michelle Leonard and the four District Attorneys who acted without authorization from their supervisors.

A confrontation between Washington and L.A?

Cannabis in California

Cannabis in California

The current situation creates a schism between local power and federal power. California’s economy is the eighth largest in the world, and cannabis in California allows the Golden State to prosper at the expense of the federal government and its repressive policies.

Californians have recently re-elected their former Governor and Attorney General Jerry Brown, who has always supported medical marijuana, and has even introduced legislation to improve the legal status of patients with prescriptions for cannabis. He also proposed that the distribution should be taken care of by non-profit organizations.

The support from Governor Brown, the complaint filed against representatives of the federal government and the choice of the people at the polls are all clear indicators of opposition to the policies of the federal government.

All that remains to be seen is how much wider the divide between state and federal law will be allowed to grow before one of the two sides makes a decisive move on the future of cannabis in California.





Mystery Marijuana Plane Lands in Houston

25 11 2011

Monday, November 20, at the Executive Airport in Houston, Texas, a small aircraft failed to answer calls from the control tower, leaving them in the fog…

After landing with the wind behind it, the small twin-engine plane skidded off the track ending up with its nose in the grass.

Cannabis smuggling plane

The plane that landed full of marijuana at Houston Executive Airport

The radio remained silent.

When the airport authorities arrived at the plane, it was empty. Well, almost empty since inside was 45kg of cannabis, which may explain why the plane ended its course well off the runway.

It wasn’t the weed holding the joystick, and any experienced pilot will tell you that only someone as high as a kite would make a landing like that – or a complete novice.

The authorities are still looking for an unidentified suspect, seen running away from the plane by some witnesses.

The aircraft was recently sold at auction after the death of the previous owner, and since then has not been officially re-registered. Investigators hope to track the new owner with the help of the previous owner’s relatives.

Source: The Huffington Post





Copenhagen plans for legal cannabis!

24 11 2011

Copenhagen aerial byThe Copenhagen City Council want (yet again) take control of the Danish marijuana market! A market with an annual worth of 1.5 billion kroner, or 200 million euros.
Copenhagen Social Affairs Head Councillor Mikkel Warming said the new proposal is to completely legalize the sale of cannabis, in contrast to the Dutch model which tolerates but doesn’t control or regulate sales, and makes no provision for production or supply of cannabis to coffeeshops. The Danish capital sees the paradox in this approach – it’s hard not to – and instead plans to legalize and regulate the entire process.

” Who is it better for youngsters to buy marijuana from?”

They want to create stores where vendors are not interested in making money, but in their customers, Mikkel said. ” Who is it better for youngsters to buy marijuana from? A drug pusher, who wants them to use more, who wants them to buy hard drugs, or a civil servant?”

Turning ‘going to score drugs’ into something as exciting as visiting a council-run café should also deter adolescents from beginning to use cannabis while still too young, although this hasn’t been mentioned by the Head Councillor.

The council voted on the proposal, with the support of Mayor Frank Jensen, on Thursday 17th November 2011 and it was approved by a significant majority: 39 votes in favour and only 9 against. The next step is the creation of a committee to explore possible ways to legalize and control the sale of cannabis in state-run shops or cafés.
Their findings will then be presented to the Danish parliament, which currently seems more open to finding a better approach to cannabis than a prohibitionist, outdated, and inefficient system.

The Danish capital has actually hosted an alternative since 1971 as it is home to Christiania, a neighborhood with a self-proclaimed independent status where the sale of marijuana and hash takes place daily. Christiania’s famous ‘Pusher Street’ could soon become a lot quieter if the civil servants do decide to corner the Danish cannabis market!





The Dutch government presents: The Weedpass

18 11 2011

As of January 1, 2012, the weedpass will be introduced, bringing a new wave of street dealers, more accessible hard drugs and increased health risks! It’s already happening in the South regions of the Netherlands! Brought to you by the Dutch government.
Maastricht: 28 days later …Maastricht

Less than a month after the introduction of the weedpass in the city of Maastricht, a Belgian journalist has reported the effects that many people (including experts) predicted: a revival of the black market in the capital of Limburg. The weedpass prevents anyone not of Belgian, Dutch or German nationality from entering coffeeshops and safely buying cannabis.

Street dealers now invite tourists discriminated against by the weedpass, mainly the French, to come and buy cannabis in apartments. Often this is a scam to sell poor quality marijuana at high prices. Large scale organized crime operations, which also provide marijuana to coffeeshops, make a double killing by offering other drugs such as LSD, Ecstasy or speed to tourists who are just looking for cannabis. The overall price of cannabis is increasing, including in the coffeeshops, because the unregulated black market causes an increase in demand. As a consequence some tourists resort to products which (although nothing like cannabis) are authorized for sale, such as hallucinogenic truffles, freely sold in smartshops to everyone, regardless of nationality.

The weedpass is a massive blow to the local economy

Many critics have also focused on the economic impact of such a measure. A study commissioned by the VOCM (Official Club Maastricht Coffeeshops ) reported figures that should make the city council think twice. The study, reported by De Telegraaf, found that the pass will cost 30 million euros to the city of Maastricht alone, and mean the loss of 345 full-time jobs! In the end the only real winners in this story are the criminals who see an exploding market opening up while honest workers lose their jobs, and suffer the consequences of the decisions of their elected representatives.

An expected and tangible effect of the weedpass

In just one month, many of the negative effects of the weedpass predicted by the experts are proven verifiable. The black market re-emerges into the open with dealers and drug touts even more determined to provide for the tourists who, thanks to the weedpass, are now forced into obtaining cannabis illegally.

The experts may have given good objective advice on the issue, but the government continues to ignore them. The Dutch Parliament (Tweede Kamer) will vote this month on an amendment to the Opium Act, giving individual area councils the power to override the rules of the Opium Act and bring in stricter regulations of their own. This measure, intended to continue the current policy of reducing harm associated with drug tourism, will only increase the problems for tourists and residents alike.

Although the positive effects of the tolerance policy are well established, the Dutch government is bending to the will of fellow European countries and becoming more intolerant by the day. This direction is already causing more problems in Maastricht than it might solve. What the government should be doing is putting pressure on fellow countries to adopt a policy proven to work: the provision of safe, regulated places for adults to buy and consume cannabis without discrimination.

 

Sources: De Telegraaf Limburger Contrepoints





Medicinal Cannabis and its Impact on Human Health

8 09 2011

In this myth shattering, information packed documentary, learn from physicians and leading researchers about medicinal cannabis and its demonstrated affects on human health. This game-changing movie presents the most comprehensive synopsis to date of the real science surrounding the world’s most controversial plant.

http://vimeo.com/20129106

Executive Producer: James Schmachtenberger
Director & Producer: Lindsey Ward
Director of Photography: Troy Brajkovich

Topics include:
*What the consensus is from over 15000 scientific and medical trials
*What conditions have been proven to benefit from medical marijuana
*Its historical use as medicine dating back over 5300 years
*Methods of delivery and their different advantages
*Government sponsored studies intended to show Marijuana having negative effects that yielded the exact opposite results
*Common myths about negative effects of Marijuana and what the research really says about these topics

Via:  medicinalgenomics.com





Judge Jim Gray: In Harm’s Way

5 09 2011

Jim Gray talking about America´s “failed and hopeless policy of drug prohibition”. Describing himself as a “conservative judge” who has never used illicit drugs or marijuana, he nevertheless spells out why he believes that prohibition of cannabis is putting children and young people in more danger than regulation would.

His arguments are presented in a way that is easily understood by all, and backed up by facts and experience from his years working in the criminal justice system and with youth outreach projects. If you have ever wished you had a unquestionably credible and succinct case against prohibition to share with someone, this is exactly the right video.








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