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  • Norman Baker: 'Genie is out the bottle' on drug reform

    Rumours from inside the Home Office suggested the report was delayed for months due to opposition from the Conservatives
    Politics.co.uk (UK)
    Thursday, October 30, 2014

    Westminster has finally reached a tipping point in the drug debate and radical change is now becoming possible, Norman Baker has said. The Liberal Democrat Home Office minister was speaking to Politics.co.uk after the publication of a government report on international drug laws which found no correlation between the severity of a country's policy and levels of drug use. It is unprecedented for the Home Office to publish a report which casts doubt on its own policy for the last 40 years and many reformers are becoming increasingly confident that it could herald a sea-change in Westminster's view on the issue.

  • Punitive drug law enforcement failing, says Home Office study

    UK government study finds no evidence that harsh sentencing curbs illegal use and documents success of Portugal’s decriminalisation
    The Guardian (UK)
    Thursday, October 30, 2014

    There is no evidence that tough enforcement of the drug laws on personal possession leads to lower levels of drug use, according to the UK government’s first evidence-based study. Examining international drug laws, the groundbreaking Home Office document brings to an end 40 years of almost unbroken official political rhetoric that only harsher penalties can tackle the problem caused by the likes of heroin, cocaine or cannabis. It is signed off by the Conservative home secretary, Theresa May, and the Liberal Democrat minister Norman Baker. (See also: Government’s drug laws survey was suppressed, Lib Dem minister says)

  • Legal marijuana could be $130 million a year business in D.C., study finds

    Washington Post (US)
    Thursday, October 30, 2014

    If D.C. residents vote to legalize marijuana possession next week, it wouldn’t just mean a sea change in drug policy in the nation’s capital. It could also mean big business. A study by District financial officials shared Thursday with lawmakers estimates a legal D.C. cannabis market worth $130 million a year. The ballot initiative voters will see Tuesday does not allow for the legal sale of marijuana — only the possession and home cultivation of small amounts — but D.C. Council members gathered Thursday to hear testimony about what a legal sales regime might look like.

  • Prohibition is not working: the case for sanity in the war on drugs

    Over $100bn a year is spent worldwide fighting the war on drugs. For what end?
    The New Statesman (UK)
    Thursday, October 30, 2014

    say-no-to-drugsThe House of Commons will today debate whether to rethink the war on drugs. While it is only a backbench business debate, and is therefore not binding, it still represents a step towards reviewing the UK’s drug laws. There is a simple reason why the UK’s drug policy is so expensive and ineffective: the law is so old. Policy is still dictated by the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act, signed into law shortly after the 1971 UN Convention on Drugs. In 43 years since, the approach has failed catastrophically.

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  • Chile plants cannabis for medicinal use

    BBC News (UK)
    Wednesday, 29 October, 2014

    Chile-cannabis-medicinal_ceciliaIn most countries in the world, if you asked the local authorities for permission to grow 750 cannabis plants in a residential area of the capital city, you would probably end up in trouble. But in Chile, the state has just agreed to such a project. The cannabis will be planted on 29 October in La Florida, a district of Santiago. It will be harvested next April and turned into an oil which will be used as a painkiller for 200 cancer patients.

  • Controversial São Paulo project offers jobs to crack addicts in Cracolândia

    But critics say the city’s Open Arms programme is flawed by not requiring participants to give up drugs
    The Guardian (UK)
    Wednesday, October 29, 2014

    On a mild winter morning in São Paulo, two dozen people pick up brooms and rubbish bins from a warehouse. They wear blue jumpsuits with a De Braços Abertos (With Open Arms) logo, referring to a controversial new programme for crack cocaine addicts, and set off to sweep streets in the city centre. The Open Arms programme provides housing, food and jobs to more than 400 people in an area known as Cracolândia (Crackland). The city-run programme is the latest intervention to try to curb the city’s large open-air drug market. Proponents say it could be a model for other cities in the region. Critics worry that it will delay addicts’ rehabilitation.

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