from the learning-lessons dept.
Christopher Ingraham writes in the Washington Post that many countries are taking a close look at what's happening in Colorado and Washington state to learn lessons that can be applied to their own situations and so far, the news coming out of Colorado and Washington is overwhelmingly positive. Dire consequences predicted by reform opponents have failed to materialize. If anything, societal and economic indicators are moving in a positive direction post-legalization. Colorado marijuana tax revenues for fiscal year 2014-2015 are on track to surpass projections.
Lisa Sanchez, a program manager at México Unido Contra la Delincuencia, a Mexican non-profit devoted to promoting "security, legality and justice", underscored how legalization efforts in the U.S. are having powerful ripple effects across the globe: events in Colorado and Washington have "created political space for Latin American countries to have a real debate [about drug policy]". She noted that motivations for reform in Latin America are somewhat different than U.S. motivations - one main driver is a need to address the epidemic of violence on those countries that is fuelled directly by prohibitionist drug war policies. Mexico's president has given signs he's open to changes in that country's marijuana laws to help combat cartel violence. Sandeep Chawla, former deputy director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, notes that one of the main obstacles to meaningful reform is layers of entrenched drug control bureaucracies at the international and national levels - just in the U.S., think of the DEA, ONDCP and NIDA, among others - for whom a relaxation of drug control laws represents an undermining of their reason for existence: "if you create a bureaucracy to solve a particular problem, when the problem is solved that bureaucracy is out of a job".
Paul Armentano of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) blogs:
Testimony regarding the constitutionality of the federal statute designating marijuana as a Schedule I Controlled Substance will be taken on Monday, October 27 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California in the case of United States v. Pickard, et. al., No. 2:11-CR-0449-KJM.
Members of Congress initially categorized cannabis as a Schedule I substance, the most restrictive classification available, in 1970. Under this categorization, the plant is defined as possessing "a high potential for abuse, ... no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, ... [and lacking] accepted safety for ... use ... under medical supervision."
Expert witnesses for the defense--including Drs. Carl Hart, Associate Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology at Columbia University in New York City, retired physician Phillip Denny, and Greg Carter, Medical Director of St. Luke's Rehabilitation Institute in Spokane, Washington--will testify that the accepted science is inconsistent with the notion that cannabis meets these Schedule I criteria.
"It is my considered opinion that including marijuana in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act is counter to all the scientific evidence in a society that uses and values empirical evidence," Dr. Hart declared. "After two decades of intense scientific inquiry in this area, it has become apparent the current scheduling of cannabis has no footing in the realities of science and neurobiology."
Canada was rebuked on Monday by a group of world leaders and experts on drug policy for endorsing a Trump-led declaration renewing the "war on drugs" and for passing up a critical moment to provide global leadership on drug regulation.
The Trudeau government's decision to sign on to the declaration, released by the White House on the sidelines of U.S. President Donald Trump's first attendance at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, contradicts Ottawa's previous skepticism of Washington's drugs war at home and abroad, and comes just weeks before cannabis legalization in Canada.
Former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark said she believed that both Canada and Mexico − which also signed the declaration even though president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has repeatedly said that the "war on drugs" has failed and he will pursue new policy − likely have signed on reluctantly, held hostage by the North American free-trade agreement talks in Washington, over which a critical deadline looms.
Countries that signed the "Global Call to Action on the World Drug Problem" were promised an invitation for their leader to attend a kick-off event with Mr. Trump in New York. The statement was not drafted in the usual multilateral process of a declaration from the UN and the wording was presented as non-negotiable. One hundred and thirty countries signed but 63 did not; the dissenters include major U.S. allies such as Germany, Norway and Spain.