The Beatles call for the legalisation of marijuana

23 07 2012

9.00am, Monday 24 July 1967 (45 years ago)

The Beatles lighting up a smokeA full-page advertisement appeared in The Times newspaper on this day, signed by 64 of the most prominent members of British society, which called for the legalisation of marijuana. Among the signatories were The Beatles and Brian Epstein.

The advertisement was instigated as a response to the nine-month prison sentence for possession received on 1 June 1967 by John Hopkins, founder of International Times, the UFO Club and the 24 Hour Technicolour Dream. The following day an emergency meeting was held at the Indica Bookshop, during which Steve Abrams of drug-research organisation SOMA suggested bringing the issue into public debate by running a full-page advertisement.
Abrams agreed to organise the signatures, but the question of financing the advertisement proved temporarily problematic. None of The Beatles were present at the Indica, but the bookshop’s co-owner Barry Miles telephoned Paul McCartney, who agreed to finance the advertisement.

On 3 June Miles and Abrams visited McCartney’s house in Cavendish Avenue. McCartney listened to the plans, told Abrams that all The Beatles and Epstein would put their names to it, and told them how to contact the rest of the group for their signatures.

On 23 July, the day before publication, the ad was mentioned in The Sunday Times’ Atticus column, written by Philip Oates. Behind the scenes, however, The Times’ advertising manager, R Grant Davidson, nervously insisted on checking that all the people had indeed agreed for their names to be associated with the article.

Davidson also insisted on advance payment. Steve Abrams contacted Peter Brown at Brian Epstein’s office, and shortly afterwards received a personal cheque for £1,800 made out to The Times. At the time the amount was twice the average annual wage.

Although McCartney had wanted to keep the funding a secret, in fear of negative publicity, it soon proved impossible. The day after the advertisement appeared, the information appeared in the Evening Standard’s Londoner’s Diary.

Within a week of its appearance, the advertisement led to questions being asked in the House of Commons, and began a public debate which eventually led to liberalisation in the laws against cannabis use in Britain.

 

Source: The Beatles Bible





Switzerland and Copenhagen – beyond cannabis tolerance (part one)

8 12 2011

coffeeshop stickerThe policy of ‘soft drug tolerance’ in the Netherlands is probably the most well-known example of a country attempting to regulate the use and sale of cannabis. Recognising that marijuana and hashish consumption cause very little social or personal harm, Holland’s laws were changed to differentiate relatively benign soft drugs from genuinely harmful hard drugs.

Low rate of cannabis consumption

Not only did this free citizens from unreasonable prosecution, the law change had the positive effect of separating the cannabis market from the hard drug black market, so that cannabis was not sold alongside dangerous, addictive substances. As a result, Holland boasts the lowest rates of hard drug use in the Western world, and even has a significantly lower rate of cannabis consumption than most comparable countries.

Sadly, the Dutch tolerance model is under attack from the current government of the Netherlands, and there are regular attempts to undermine the rational drug laws that have benefited the country for the last three and a half decades.

Reform of cannabis laws in Europe

Nevertheless, the undeniable success of the Dutch model has had an impact on the policy of other European countries. Spain, Portugal and Belgium have made advances in decriminalising small-scale personal growing and possession, while the Czech Republic and Slovakia are likely to reform their laws soon.

It’s also worth remembering that two other European nations enjoyed an enviable amount of cannabis freedom up until the mid-2000s. Denmark (specifically Freetown Christiania in Copenhagen) and Switzerland tolerated open sales of marijuana and hashish, though neither country had officially decriminalised cannabis at the time.

A cannabis vendor in Christiania, in 2002

A cannabis vendor in Christiania, in 2002

Christiania and the hash and marijuana trade

The Christiania hashish market began with the founding of the Freetown in 1971 and was tolerated by the Danish authorities on the principle that it reduced the association between cannabis and hard drugs, and also because concentrating the trade in one area was seen as preferable to having it dispersed throughout the country.

Swiss ‘aromatic pillows’ of cannabis

Cannabis growing on balconies in Geneva in 2008

Cannabis growing on balconies in Geneva in 2008

In Switzerland, there was a brief flourishing of shops which sold bags of herbal cannabis as ‘aromatic pillows’ or ‘bath scents’, on the proviso that the contents were not for human consumption. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Swiss farmers grew cannabis by hundreds of hectares and were said to be producing over 100 tonnes of marijuana per year.

Reversal of advances in cannabis freedom

Between 2004 and 2006, instead of further liberalisation, the authorities in both countries made serious attempts to stamp out these advances in cannabis freedom. The Swiss cannabis shops were closed and large-scale, open cultivation more or less ceased. The Christiana hash market was dismantled by its own traders one day before the Copenhagen police were scheduled to carry out a raid and shut it down.

The demand for cannabis has not been reduced

These days, the Christiana market has more or less returned to its normal state and, predictably, the demand for cannabis is Switzerland has not been reduced by the abolishment of the shops that allowed it to be bought with ease and safety.

Source: Sensi Seeds





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





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!





French newspaper Le Figaro warns of cannabis cyber-police and fictional worldwide cannabis seed shipping

31 03 2011

In these times of increasing repression in France, national daily ‘Le Figaro’ shows its true colours as a propaganda tool rather than a source of factual information.

An article published on the website of Le Figaro last week (23rd March 2011)  aroused our curiosity as, in addition to vague threats about cyberpolice, it mentioned the well-known cannabis seed company Sensi Seeds on several occasions.

Picture used to illustrate what you can buy online, according to the paper

Fact or propaganda? An extract from the beginning of the article states:

“ [Based] In the Netherlands, the Sensi Seed website unapologetically advertises their ‘cannabis seedbank’ in all languages. They sell complete culture tents, similar in size  to wardrobes, ‘bloom boosters’ and even teach how to ‘grow with the Moon,’ to optimize growth according to the lunar calendar. From “Shiva Shanti” at 20 euros for ten seeds to the “Marley’s Collie”, 120 euros, “a strain of ganja celebrated by the great Bob Marley”, the bank offers hundreds of varieties. And even accessories: caps, t-shirts, playing cards. Everything is available worldwide, sent in express parcels.” Read the rest of this entry »





Prop. 19: California Marijuana Legalization Measure Loses

5 11 2010

In a contest that pitted the legal establishment against activists that have long sought the measure’s approval, California voters snuffed out a proposal that would have legalized recreational marijuana for adults over age 21 and permit the state to tax commercial sale of the drug.

Yes we cannabisCalifornia was the only state with a measure on recreational pot, but South Dakota and Arizona ballots included medical marijuana initiatives, South Dakota’s Measure 13 went down in flames, 63 percent to 37 percent. Arizona’s Proposition 203 was statistically on the fence, though no-votes were ahead by about 7,000 with 92 percent of precincts reporting early Wednesday morning. There are currently 14 states, and the District of Columbia, with forms of medical marijuana laws.

The proposal – titled the “Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act” – would have allowed adults 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of pot, consume it in nonpublic places as long as no children were present and grow it in small private plots. Proposition 19 also would have authorized local governments to permit commercial pot cultivation, as well as the sale and use of marijuana at licensed establishments.

Projections in California and by the National Council of State Legislatures show the measure has gone down to defeat by a significant margin, with 54 percent voting no compared with a 46 percent yes vote with most precincts reporting – rejecting a low-budget but high-profile campaign that could have set a groundbreaking trend for the rest of the nation. Advocates had argued that the proposal, known as Proposition 19, would have provided the cash-strapped state with a significant revenue stream and helped ease the overburdened court system, while opponents contended the measure’s approval would have created legal and social chaos.

Supporters of Proposition 19 blamed Tuesday’s outcome on the conservative leanings of older voters who participate in midterm elections. They also acknowledged that young voters had not turned out in sufficient numbers to secure victory, but said they were ready to try again in two years.

“It’s still a historic moment in this very long struggle to end decades of failed marijuana prohibition,” said Stephen Gutwillig, California director for the Drug Policy Project. “Unquestionably, because of Proposition 19, marijuana legalization initiatives will be on the ballot in a number of states in 2012, and California is in the mix.”

Tim Rosales, who managed the No on 19 campaign, scoffed at that attitude from the losing side.

“If they think they are going to be back in two years, they must be smoking something,” he said. “This is a state that just bucked the national trend and went pretty hard on the Democratic side, but yet in the same vote opposed Prop 19.”

According to preliminary exit poll data, only about 1 voter in 10 said that his or her main motivation to vote in this election was Prop. 19.

Voters younger than 40 were slightly more drawn by the marijuana contest than older voters, but even among the younger voters, Prop. 19 came in third.

By far, the pot legalization initiative drew worldwide attention, but support for the measure had been sinking leading up to Tuesday’s ballot, according to recent polls. As late as Tuesday, Oakland City Attorney John Russo – a leading proponent of the pot plan – signaled its fading prospects during a Bay Area press conference.

“Even if we are cheated out of a win today, we have changed the debate from licentious hippies-versus-straight-arrow cops to one that recognizes this issue in all of its complexity,” Russo said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

 

Sources: Politico





Germany: Lawmakers ready to approve use of medical marijuana

18 08 2010

Medical cannabis will be available in Germany soon, with the center-right coalition preparing to make groundbreaking changes to drug laws, a government health spokeswoman said this week.

A gem of German technology

Cannabis was illegal throughout Germany until the federal constitutional court decided on 28 April 1994 that people need no longer be prosecuted for possession of soft drugs for personal use. Since then, most German regional governments have tolerated the sale and use of soft drugs.

In some cities, cannabis supply is now tolerated in a similar way to the Netherlands. In other places the courts still treat possession as an offense. For example, in one state, Schleswig-Holstein, no charges are usually brought for possession of less than 30 g, but in Thuringia people are prosecuted for possessing even tiny amounts.

In March 1999, Germany’s drug tsar, Christa Nickels, said she considered it sensible to use cannabis products such as marijuana and hashish for therapeutic purposes in medicine.

With the new law coming, doctors could write prescriptions for cannabis, and pharmacies would be authorised to sell the plant once the law had been adjusted, a member of the junior coalition party, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), said Monday.

Marijuana would also be permitted for use as a pain reliever for the terminally ill in hospices and other care facilities, making it a legal part of their emergency pain-relief stocks.

The new law will end a long-running struggle between German officials, doctors and health insurers over use of the proven herbal therapy for treating the pain stemming from diseases such as cancer and multiple sclerosis.

According to the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines (ACM), only 40 patients in the country are currently allowed a medical marijuana prescription – even though law enforcement generally tolerates small amounts for personal use.

Almost two years ago, the conservative Christian Democrats, the FDP and the center-left Social Democrats all voted against loosening medical cannabis laws. Opponents had warned of the drug’s alleged potential for addiction and doubted its medical benefits.

Sources: Student BMJ

The Local








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