Across North America it is now legal in 13 states to use marijuana for medical reasons and another two states have relaxed the penalties for use of medical marijuana. Then there are the threee states that have licensed not-for-profit organizations for growing medical marijuana and the legislatures in California and Massachusetts conducting hearings on whether to legalize weed or not.
Globally, seven European countries have decriminalized marijuana and, in response to the violence associated with the illegal drug trade, the former presidents of Brazil, Colombia and Mexico have all proposed that prohibition be lifted.
In short, there appears to be a worldwide shift towards a more tolerant attitude towards drugs. And the surprising fact is that the driver for this new thinking is not left-wing, militant and liberal; on the whole the support for leniency comes from ordinary folk across the whole political spectrum.
Over the coming days we will be taking a closer look at the situation in the US and elsewhere and asking why the legal regulation of drugs seems so unthinkable.
The After the War on Drugs: Blueprint for Regulation report issued by the UK’s Transform Drug Policy Foundation calls for a cautious, phased introduction, probably starting with legalization of cannabis and its sale or consumption at regulated membership based coffee-shop style, licensed premises. It makes interesting reading.