NORML Canada: October 2013 Newsletter
Greetings Cannabis Law Reform Community
In this month’s newsletter:
A recent study examining the impact of drug law enforcement-based supply reduction efforts has found that drug law enforcement is a failure. The study used international illegal drug-meta-surveillance systems with longitudinal measures to consider the impact of drug-enforcement on price, purity/ potency, and volume of seizures. The study which reviewed data going back to 1990 found that despite increased drug-enforcement efforts all drugs have become more available, at cheaper prices, and higher purity/ potency. The study revealed what other studies have shown: the drug war is a failure.
As of October 1, 2013 possession of up to 10 grams of cannabis by a person at least 18 years of age is no longer a criminal offence in Switzerland, but rather punishable by way of a fine of 100 Swiss Francs (about $115.00 Cdn). The move to decriminalization is expected to save money. About 30,000 possession cases are prosecuted in Switzerland every year. The law is also expected to harmonize wildly different approaches to possession of small amounts of cannabis across Swiss cantons. The change in the law came after heated and protracted Parliamentary debate. In the words of Yvonne Gilli of the Green Party, “The very mention of the word cannabis seems to trigger psychotropic effects among some members of this chamber.”
There are about 500,000 cannabis consumers in Switzerland out of a total population of eight million. Switzerland joins Holland, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Croatia, Estonia, and the Czech Republic in decriminalizing small amounts of cannabis.
It is expected that once cannabis is legalized in Uruguay it will be sold privately, but the government will control quality and pricing. The head of Uruguay’s National Drug Board, Julio Calzado, has indicated that the government will set the price of cannabis at $1.00 per gram in order to remove the profit to organized crime. The current market rate for a gram of cannabis in Uruguay is about 30 pesos ($1.40). The THC level will be restricted to between 5% and 12%. Consumers will be limited to 40 grams per month and will be required to enroll in a national database which will be available only to pharmacists who will enforce the 40 gram a month limit. In November Uruguayan Senate is expected to approve the ground-breaking legislation.
The Sensible BC campaign for marijuana law reform has been underway for nearly two full months now and has made progress towards its goal of 400,000 signatures. Sensible BC began collecting signatures on September 9th 2013 in hopes of reaching its target by December 9th 2013. In order to be successful the campaign must collect the signatures of 10 percent of registered voters in each of the province’s 85 constituencies within a 90 day period. If the target is reached on time, the Sensible Policing Act will be voted on in a referendum in September 2014. The Sensible Policing Act proposes an amendment to BC’s Police Act instructing police not to spend any time, money, or resources on simple possession cases.
Dana Larsen, who is heading Sensible BC, has said the campaign is ahead of schedule in Nelson, Kelowna and Kamloops, but is facing difficulties in Prince George. He also added that Metro Vancouver is expected to present the biggest challenge due to its large population. You can keep up to date with the Sensible BC campaign via their website, sensiblebc.ca. A list of petitioning locations is available at this site; anyone looking to help gather signatures can register there. Please consider financially supporting this worthy initiative. Volunteers need promotional materials to inform the public, printing Initiative petition sheets in order to gather half a million signatures, and of course, the cost of sending out these organizing kits across the province. Lottery winner Bob Erb will be matching dollar-for-dollar every donation made.
The MMAR Coalition Against Repeal is holding a fundraiser on November 13, 2013 at Fortune Sound Night Club at 143 East Pender Street in Vancouver. The event features Juno-nominated Little Rascalz, Vandettas, and DOJA. Doors open at 7:10 pm. Tickets are $20.00.
The MMAR DPL/ PPL Coalition Against Repeal are launching a representative court action with the intention of stopping the government’s plan to take away the growing rights of sick and disabled persons. For more information about the case see: mmarcoalitionagainstrepeal.com
NORML Canada is working towards providing our content in both official languages. There is great support for legalization in Francophone communities in provinces all across Canada.
A French version of this newsletter is available on our website.
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