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Legality of cannabis

  (Redirected from Legal issues of cannabis)
World laws on possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use.
  Partially or essentially legal
  Illegal but decriminalized
  Illegal but often unenforced
  Illegal
  No information

The legality of cannabis varies from country to country. Possession of cannabis is illegal in most countries and has been since the beginning of widespread cannabis prohibition in the late 1930s.[1] However, possession of the plant in small quantities has been decriminalized in many countries and sub-national entities in several parts of the world. On 10 December 2013, Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalize the sale, cultivation, and distribution of cannabis.[2][3] In the Netherlands the Opium Law of 1976 enables consumers to buy marijuana in legal "coffeeshops" if certain rules are followed, but large scale production and trade remain illegal. In the United States, federal law prohibits possession or sale of marijuana for any purpose, but the Obama Administration refrained from prosecuting users and dealers operating in compliance with state (see Legality of cannabis by U.S. jurisdiction), territory, and Indian reservation laws which permit medical or recreational marijuana.[4][5]

The medicinal use of cannabis is legal in a number of countries, including Canada, the Czech Republic and Israel. Medical cannabis in the United States is legal in 29 states as of December 2016. Pot parlors were legalized in California in November 2016.[6]

Some countries have laws which are not as vigorously prosecuted as other countries, but apart from the countries which offer access to medical marijuana, most countries have penalties ranging from lenient to very severe. Some infractions are taken more seriously in some countries than others in regard to the cultivation, use, possession or transfer of cannabis for recreational use. A few jurisdictions have lessened penalties for possession of small quantities of cannabis, making it punishable by confiscation and a fine, rather than imprisonment. Some jurisdictions/drug courts use mandatory treatment programs for young or frequent users, with freedom from narcotic drugs as the goal and a few jurisdictions permit cannabis use for medicinal purposes. Routine drug tests to detect cannabis are most common in the United States, and have resulted in jail sentences and loss of employment even for medical use. In most European countries, privacy and labor laws prevent such testing for job applicants.[7] Simple possession can carry long jail sentences in some countries, particularly in parts of East Asia and Southeast Asia, where the sale of cannabis may lead to life imprisonment or execution.

Contents

HistoryEdit

Cannabis has been in use for thousands of years. In India and Nepal, Cannabis has long been used in religious rituals.[8]

Under the name cannabis, nineteenth-century medical practitioners sold the drug (usually as a tincture), popularizing the word among English-speakers. In 1894, the Report of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission, commissioned by the UK Secretary of State and the Government of India, was instrumental in a decision not to criminalize the drug in those countries (See Shamir and Hacker (2001) in 'further readings' below.)[9] From the year 1860, different states in the US started to implement regulations for sales of Cannabis sativa.[10] A 1905 Bulletin from the US Department of Agriculture lists twenty-nine states with laws mentioning cannabis.[11] In 1925, a change of the International Opium Convention[12] banned the exportation of Indian hemp to countries that have prohibited its use. Importing countries were required to issue certificates approving the importation, stating that the shipment was to be used "exclusively for medical or scientific purposes".

Around 1840, doctors came to believe that cannabis had a medical value, and it was freely sold for over a century in pharmacies.[13] Marijuana was freely grown, sold, and used in the United States until it was criminalized in 1937.[13] The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 made cannabis possession illegal in the United States, except for industrial or medical purposes. Growers of hemp products were required to purchase an annual tax stamp, while hemp retailers were required to purchase stamps priced at $1 per annum.[14][citation needed] Mexico prohibited cannabis in 1925, following the International Opium Convention.[15]

In the late 1990s in California, Dennis Peron started a movement to legalize medical cannabis, opening the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club in 1992. It became the headquarters for an activist movement that drafted the Compassionate Use Act, which was transformed into Proposition 215. Proposition 215 was passed into law in November 1996.[16]

On November 6, 2012, Colorado Amendment 64 and Washington Initiative 502 were passed by popular initiative, thereby becoming the first American states to legalize the recreational use of cannabis under state law. However cannabis is still classified as a Schedule I substance.[17]

On January 1, 2013, an amendment to the Netherlands' cannabis policy was introduced to "combat drug-related crime and nuisance". The new rule requires cannabis coffee shop owners to monitor the identities of their customers to ensure that only residents of the Netherlands purchase cannabis. Owners are expected to maintain adherence through procedures such as asking customers to produce valid documents to prove their status.[18]

On May 28, 2013, Colorado governor John Hickenlooper signed two bills that made Colorado the world's first fully regulated recreational cannabis market for adults.[19] In its independent analysis, the Colorado Center on Law and Policy found that the state could expect to see "$60 million in total combined savings and additional revenue for Colorado's budget with a potential for this number to double after 2017".[20] Since then, Colorado has had to increase public surveillance and public health awareness on the use of marijuana, as more people have access to the drug.[21]

Uruguay became the world's first nation to legalize the production, sale, and consumption of cannabis in December 2013 after a 16–13 vote in the Senate.[2] The government stated that it intended to control production, price, and quality.[22] Under the new law, people are allowed to buy up to 40 g (1.4 oz) of cannabis from the Uruguayan government each month. Users have to be 18 or older and register in a national database that tracks their consumption. Cultivators are allowed to grow up to 6 crops at their homes each year and must not surpass 480 g (17 oz). Registered smoking clubs are allowed to grow 99 plants annually. Buying cannabis is prohibited for foreigners, and it is illegal to move it across international borders.[23] In July 2014, implementation was postponed to 2015, amidst controversy about the law's practicality.[24][25][26]

As of October 2014, the Government of the Netherlands website explained that coffee shops were permitted to sell cannabis under certain strict conditions: venues could not sell alcoholic drinks; the consumption of alcohol on the premises would not be permitted; the venues must not create any form of public nuisance; "hard drugs" must not be sold; cannabis could not be sold to minors; drugs could not be advertised; and "large quantities" of cannabis (more than five grams) cannot be sold in a single transaction. Individual municipalities were responsible for permitting the establishment of cannabis coffee shops within their boundaries, and also allowed to introduce additional rules.[18] The Dutch Public Prosecution Service does not prosecute members of the public for "possession of small quantities of soft drugs", which are defined as: "no more than 5 grams of cannabis (marijuana or hash); no more than 5 cannabis plants". It is illegal to grow cannabis plants in the Netherlands, but in cases in which a maximum of five plants is grown for "personal consumption", the authorities will most likely seize the plants, without taking any further action. If more than five plants are seized, the police may also seek prosecution.[18]

In Switzerland, a ballot measure legalizing Cannabis for personal cultivation and use ("Hemp-Initiative") was rejected in 2008 by popular vote. In some larger Swiss cities, cannabis regulations were relaxed, and the drug was offered as potpourri not intended for smoking. These cannabis stores were tolerated in the late 1990s until about 2003, when they were raided largely due to accusations of tax avoidance.[27] In 2005, a top-down measure to legalize cannabis through an effort of Swiss parliament was rejected with a narrow margin. With regard to cannabis products derived from fiber hemp or cannabidiol-rich chemotypes, Swiss law explicitly allows for the legal use of all cannabis varieties with a limit of 1% (in most other European countries 0.2%) THC. While narcotic cannabis possession has been decriminalized on a national level since 2010, larger cities and agglomerations have started decriminalization efforts already in the 1970s, limiting legal consequences of cannabis possession to fines, and later tolerating private cannabis clubs. In 2016, a number of shops have started to offer cannabidiol-based cannabis products, which are tolerated by authorities. However, such products are subject to Swiss tobacco tax, with expected federal tax revenues of about 24 million CHF per year.[28]

In November 2015, Uttarakhand became the first state of India to legalize the cultivation of cannabis for industrial purposes.[29]

Possession of cannabis in Canada for recreational use is planned to be legalized by the government in 2018; medical cannabis is already legal in line with the country's Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations. During the 2015 federal election campaign, the Liberals (who subsequently formed the new federal government) had promised "new, stronger laws" against sales to minors, driving while impaired, and sales through channels not specifically authorized to do so.[30]

After November 2016 elections and voting on propositions ended, four states in America, namely Florida, North Dakota, Arkansas, and Montana legalized medical marijuana. Four other states, namely California, Massachusetts, Maine, and Nevada legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 and older.[31]

In May 2017, during campaigning for the 2017 United Kingdom general election, the Liberal Democrat party announced in its manifesto that it would support the legalisation of cannabis if elected, permitting licensed stores to sell it to over-18s, letting people use it in their own homes and introducing small "cannabis-smoking clubs". In doing so, the Lib Dems became the first major UK party to advocate cannabis legalisation[32] (the Green Party of England and Wales having already been in favour of cannabis decriminalisation since the party was formed in 1990[33]).

Attitudes regarding legalizationEdit

Many advocate legalization of cannabis, believing that it will eliminate the illegal trade and associated crime, yield valuable tax and reduce policing costs.[34] For example, in Canada, where Cannabis is legal for medical use, with a doctor's prescription, 7 in 10 Canadians also favor full decriminalization according to a June 2016 national poll.[35]

In 1969, only 16% of voters in the USA supported legalization, according to a Gallup poll. Another said that this number had risen to 36% by 2005.[36] More recent polling indicates that the number has risen even further; in 2009, between 46% and 56% of US voters said they would support legalization.[37] According to press reports in 2010, supporters of the California initiative estimate that about $15 billion worth of marijuana is sold every year in the state. Thus, an excise tax on the retail sales of marijuana could raise at least $1.3 billion a year in revenue.[38]

Attitudes regarding marijuana regulation have also changed as some states (Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Maine, and Alaska) have passed their own laws legalizing marijuana for recreational use. According to a Gallup Poll published in December 2012, 64% of Americans believe the federal government should not intervene in these states. The survey also found an age difference between those that think marijuana should be legal and those that still support prohibition: 60% of 18- to 29-year-olds favor legalization while only 48% of those age 30–64 and 36% of those older than 65 feel this way.[39]

The marijuana industry has grown significantly since 2000 and federal officials maintain that the legalization of marijuana will contribute to the increase of youth and adolescent use because it will make marijuana easier to obtain, reduce its perceived risks and more adult role models would be smoking it. However, studies in Colorado have shown no connection between legalized marijuana and youth marijuana use. In Colorado teen use is lower than the national average, fewer teens report using marijuana than said they did prior to legalization. Underage use will continue to decrease with strict age limits, Colorado believes, and the implementation of risk awareness programs.[40] Surveys conducted in Colorado interviewed over 17,000 students in middle & high school showing that from 2009 to 2015 the rates in which teenagers smoked marijuana has decreased. The state of Colorado has also seen the percentage of teenagers who have smoked marijuana in the past 30 days drop to 21%, from 25%.[41]

In 2014, Colorado invested $2 million generated from marijuana sales tax revenue on campaigns aimed at anti-marijuana education of minors and the state has plans to spend double that amount, $4 million in 2015 (out of a total projected marijuana sales tax revenue of $125 million). The current campaigns provide information on marijuana laws, the impacts of youth use, the dangers of driving under the influence of any drug, and the harmful side effects of using marijuana.[42] With strict laws on possession and use, the state is working to deter underage and unsafe use. By redirecting Colorado's tax revenues to educational programs for youth and adults the state is showing a commitment to fully inform the public and that may be making strides in keeping youth cannabis use to a minimum, or at least helping to keep teen uses from increasing.

In the Pew Research Center poll released on April 4, 2013, 52 percent of Americans supported legalizing the drug and only 45 percent oppose legalization. While support has generally tracked upward over time, it has spiked 11 percentage points since 2010.[43] Research conducted by the Pew Research Center in February 2014 showed an increase in the percentage of legalization supporters to 54%,[44] and that number rose to 61% by January 2018. [45]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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  2. ^ a b Llambias, Felipe (11 December 2013). "Uruguay becomes first country to legalize marijuana trade". Reuters. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
  3. ^ "Uruguay es portada en el mundo por marihuana". Archived from the original on 23 June 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  4. ^ "Feds won't challenge Washington's pot law". The Seattle Times. August 29, 2013. Retrieved August 29, 2013. 
  5. ^ "The Federal Ban on Medical Marijuana Was Not Lifted". 4 January 2016. 
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Further readingEdit

External linksEdit