Tag Archives: Legalize
Si, Ce’st Bon (This is Good)
France, known for its harsh and conservative cannabis policy, appears poised to legalize marijuana for medical use. While the Minister of Social Affairs still needs to sign off on the law, it appears imminent to send shockwaves–and hopefully illicit copycat countries–throughout Europe.
Here’s the interpretation of the French bill by Sensi Seeds:
Today, Friday 7th of June 2013, Decree n° 2013-473 of June 5th 2013 was published, modifying the dispositions of article R. 5132-86 of the Public Health Code related to the prohibition of operations linked to cannabis and its derivatives. Basically, article R. 5132-86 prohibited all non-industrial use of the cannabis plant. Exemptions to this needed to be granted by the General Director of the National Security Agency for Medicines and Health Products, which vary rarely happened.
The implementation of the law is left as the responsibility of the Minister of Social Affairs and Health Marisol Touraine, who will be ratifying the decree in the coming weeks. It is therefore not yet possible to determine the exact consequences of this decree for French patients who could enjoy the benefits of therapeutic cannabis.
Vigilance is however required, due to the mention of necessary authorisation before bringing a (cannabis) product onto the market so as not to be in violation of the law. This clause suggests that it will be difficult for organizations and patients themselves to produce their own medicinal cannabis despite the low costs related to its cultivation and processing.
It is above all a huge step forward for French patients already using cannabis to relieve the symptoms linked to their illnesses: to witness their drug of choice finally become legal in the eyes of the government. [Sensi Seeds]
Le Champs-Elyess will not be turning into Venice Boulevard anytime soon, but safe access for seriously ill patients looks like it’s en route. And to that, we can toast one to “Viva Le France.”
No, I don’t mean selling copies of the ( alleged ) Rob Ford video.
Nor do I suggest using magic mushrooms or LSD to transport Torontonians without them leaving their La-Z-Boy.
And I would refrain from selling whatever the Metrolinx brass are smoking? No way. Bad trip, man, as they used to say long ago in my youth. Bad, bad trip. Horrible visions of HST, HOV lanes, gas tax hikes, parking levies, development fees and red monsters with three heads, yellow eyes and pointy teeth.
But we do need to get off the couch and build transit.
Now, inhale deeply and think of this: Canadian Business magazine estimates Canucks spend at least $ 3 billion a year on cannabis alone. That’s a third of what we spend on our national substance, which flows like Niagara, beer.
A study by two B.C. universities found legal pot would churn out $ 2.5 billion in licence fees and taxes over five years in that province alone.
The GTA has way more people, but there’s a reason B.C. is called Lotusland, so let’s call it a wash and say our revenue streams would be similar.
You could lay a lot of transit track for $ 2.5 billion.
Even more if the government actually gets involved in sales, a la LCBO, which had a profit of $ 1.7 billion last year.
Factor in export markets plus savings on enforcement and prosecution and I bet we’re close to the $ 2 billion a year Metrolinx says it needs.
We could buy subway cars of solid gold if we also legalize so-called party drugs, such as cocaine and ecstasy, though those are trickier, for health reasons.
Regular readers know I’ve preached legalizing pot for years.
The libertarian in me is baffled that we learned nothing from prohibition of nearly a century ago. A victimless crime ought to be no crime at all, but if you make it one, guess who shows up: Criminals.
On Bob Marley Day in February, I urged Mayor Ford to declare:
“WHEREAS…the cultivation, sale and consumption of marijuana do no harm and only make our citizens giggle and also increase sales of snacks at neighbourhood stores.
“NOW THEREFORE, I, Mayor Rob Ford, on behalf of Toronto City Council, do hereby declare Toronto an open tokin’ city. It’s legal, folks. Smoke it if you got it.” I was dumbfounded when Rob took a pass. Little did I know.
( And I hasten to add, I have not seen any crack video, though I won’t be shocked if it’s on Netflix next month. )
Until now, I pegged our new-found legal pot money for debt reduction or general tax cuts, as would any good libertarian.
But except for Mike Harris and Attila the Hun, name one politician who actually lowered your overall taxes.
So better we direct our new dope revenue to something specific, like transit. We could change Metrolinx’s name for the project from the Big Move to the Big Doob.
While Metrolinx insists its levies – $ 477 per household, and if you believe it’s that low I’ve got a gas-plant to sell you – would end once the Big Move is done ( ha-ha-ha, that’s a good one, Metrolinx! ) the Big Doob would give and give forever.
Times are changing. Colorado and Washington state have legalized marijuana. Canadians think we ought to do the same – for example, 73% of us old fogey baby boomers in a Forum Research poll last year. The Harper government’s tougher pot laws are out of step.
Sooner or later, legal dope will be a big part of our economy, just like booze, gambling and Senate bookkeeping.
We need to strike while the bong is hot. S— or get off the pot, so to speak.
In this era of polarized politics, it’s high time mass transit was rolled into… .a joint venture.
THE first time I talked to Mark Kleiman, a drug policy expert at U.C.L.A., was in 2002, and he explained why legalization of marijuana was a bad idea. Sure, he said, the government should remove penalties for possession, use and cultivation of small amounts.
He did not favor making outlaws of people for enjoying a drug that is less injurious than alcohol or tobacco.
But he worried that a robust commercial marketplace would inevitably lead to much more consumption. You don’t have to be a prohibitionist to recognize that pot, especially in adolescents and very heavy users, can seriously mess with your brain.
So I was interested to learn, 11 years later, that Kleiman is leading the team hired to advise Washington State as it designs something the modern world has never seen: a fully legal commercial market in cannabis. Washington is one of the first two states ( Colorado is the other ) to legalize the production, sale and consumption of marijuana as a recreational drug for consumers 21 and over. The marijuana debate has entered a new stage.
Today the most interesting and important question is no longer whether marijuana will be legalized – eventually, bit by bit, it will be – but how.
“At some point you have to say, a law that people don’t obey is a bad law,” Kleiman told me when I asked how his views had evolved.
He has not come to believe marijuana is harmless, but he suspects that the best hope of minimizing its harm may be a well-regulated market.
Ah, but what does that look like? A few places, like the Netherlands, have had limited legalization; many jurisdictions have decriminalized personal use; and 18 states in this country have approved the drug for medical use. ( Twelve others, including New York, are considering it. ) But Washington and Colorado have set out to invent a whole industry from scratch and, in theory, to avoid the shortcomings of other markets in legal vices – tobacco, alcohol, gambling – that lurched into being without much forethought, and have supplied, along with much pleasure, much misery.
The biggest shadow hanging over this project is the Department of Justice. Federal law still makes felons of anyone who trades in cannabis. Despite the tolerant drift of the polls, despite evidence indicating that states with medical marijuana programs have not, as opponents feared, experienced an increase in use by teenagers, despite new moves toward legalization in Latin America, no one expects Congress to remove cannabis from the list of criminal substances any time soon. ( “Not until the second Hillary Clinton administration,” Kleiman says. ) But federal authorities have always left a lot of room for local discretion on marijuana enforcement. They could, for example, declare that they will prosecute only drug producers who grow more than a certain amount, and those who traffic across state lines.
Attorney General Eric Holder, perhaps preoccupied with scandal management, has been slow to come up with enforcement guidelines that could give the states a comfort zone in which to experiment.
One practical challenge facing the legalization pioneers is how to keep the marijuana market from being swallowed by a few big profiteers – the pot equivalent of Big Tobacco, or even the actual tobacco industry – a powerful oligopoly with every incentive to turn us into a nation of stoners.
There is nothing inherently evil about the profit motive, but there is evidence that pot dealers, like purveyors of alcohol, get the bulk of their profit from those who use the product to excess. “When you get a for-profit producer or distributor industry going, their incentives are to increase sales,” said Jonathan Caulkins of Carnegie Mellon, another member of the Washington consulting team. “And the vast majority of sales go to people who are daily or near-daily consumers.”
What Kleiman and his colleagues ( speaking for themselves, not Washington State ) imagine as the likely best model is something resembling the wine industry – a fragmented market, many producers, none dominant.
This could be done by limiting the size of licensed purveyors. It would help, too, to let individuals grow a few plants at home – something Colorado’s new law permits but Washington’s does not, because polling showed Washingtonians didn’t want that.
If you read the proposal Kleiman’s team submitted to Washington State, you may be a little boggled by the complexities of turning an illicit herb into a regulated, safe, consumer-friendly business. Among the things on the to-do list: certifying labs to test for potency and contamination. ( Pot can contain, among other nasty things, pesticides, molds and salmonella. ) Devising rules on labeling, so users know what they’re getting.
Hiring inspectors, to make sure the sellers comply.
Establishing limits on advertising, because you don’t want allowing to become promoting.
And all these rules must account not just for smoking but for pot pastries, pot candies, pot-infused beverages, pot lozenges, pot ice cream, pot vapor inhalers.
One of the selling points of legalization is that states can take a cut of what will be, according to estimates, a $ 35 billion to $ 45 billion industry and earmark some of these new tax revenues for good causes. It’s the same tactic used to win public approval of lotteries – – and with the same danger: that some worthy government function comes to depend on creating more addicts.
And how do you divvy up the revenues? How much goes to offset health consequences? How much goes to enforcement? How do you calibrate taxes so the price of pot is high enough to discourage excessive use, but not so high that a cheap black market arises?
All this regulating is almost enough to take the fun out of drugs.
And then there is the issue of drugged driving.
Much about the chemistry of marijuana in human beings remains uncertain, in part because the government has not supported much research.
So no one has come up with a pot version of the breathalyzer to determine quickly whether a driver is impaired.
In the absence of solid research, some legalization advocates insist stoned drivers are more cautious, and thus safer. ( Hands up if you want Harold and Kumar driving your taxi. Or piloting your airplane. ) On this and much else, Washington and Colorado will probably be making it up as they go, waiting for science to catch up.
And experience tells us they are sure to get some things wrong.
New York decriminalized possession of small amounts of pot way back in 1977, with the condition that there be no “public display.” The lawmakers meant to assure that you partied at home, not in the parks or on the sidewalks.
They did not envision that this provision would create a pretext for throwing young black and Latino men in jail. When police in New York City stop and frisk, which they do a lot in rougher neighborhoods, they order their targets to turn out their pockets and – whoa, public display, come with us, son! Gov. Andrew Cuomo is promoting an amendment to curb that abuse of power.
On the opposite coast, California demonstrates a different kind of unintended consequences. The state’s medical marijuana law is such a free-for-all that in Los Angeles there are now said to be more pot dispensaries than Starbucks outlets.
Even advocates of full legalization say things have gotten out of hand.
“It’s a bit of a farce when you can watch people come out of a dispensary, go around the corner and resell their drugs,” said Gavin Newsom, the lieutenant governor and former San Francisco mayor, who favors legalization. “If we can’t get our medical marijuana house in order, how do we expect voters to deal with legalization?” He is now part of a group discussing how to impose more order on California’s medical marijuana market, with an eye to offering broader legalization in 2016. And, he told me, his state will be paying close attention to Washington and Colorado, hoping somebody can, as Mark Kleiman puts it, “design a system that gets us to ‘orderly’ without getting us to ‘way too stoned.’ ”
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2013 The New York Times Company
Author: Bill Keller
Can you avoid black markets, drugged drivers and salmonella?
NYT > Marijuana and Medical Marijuana
Rep. Robert F. Hagan has made a few attempts over the years to persuade his colleagues to allow for the use of medical marijuana in Ohio, and each effort has died a quiet death. A spokesman for Speaker William G. Batchelder, R-Medina, declined to comment on the pair of proposals Hagan introduced yesterday.
One is a bill that would allow patients with certain chronic conditions such as cancer or sickle-cell anemia to use marijuana for treatment. Eighteen other states have approved similar measures.
“In addition to the studies that show marijuana to be a valuable treatment option for chronic pain, nausea and seizure disorders, I have heard countless stories of how cannabis has made a difference in the lives of people who are sick or dying,” Hagan said.
His other proposal, modeled after an amendment recently passed in Colorado, would ask voters to approve allowing people 21 or older to purchase and use marijuana. The drug could be sold only by state-licensed establishments and would be subject to a 15 percent excise tax.
“With billions upon billions spent on the war on drugs with little progress to show for it, it is time for more-sensible drug policy in this country,” Hagan said, arguing that the revenue could help restore cuts to education and local governments.
It takes a three-fifths vote for the legislature to put an issue on the ballot.
A recent Saperstein Associates poll of more than 1,000 Ohioans for The Dispatch found that legalizing medical marijuana was overwhelmingly favored, 63 percent to 37 percent, but making pot completely legal was opposed by a 21-point margin.
Martin D. Saperstein, head of the Columbus polling firm, noted that surveys in other states are finding growing acceptance of legalizing marijuana, especially if it would be regulated and taxed.
The Ohio Ballot Board last year approved language for two medical-marijuana issues, though neither appears likely to collect the 385,000 signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot. One group has reorganized, calling itself OhioRights.org, and plans to submit a new petition that will include legalized growing of hemp, a plant related to marijuana.