Drug Policy Reform World Brief

Legalize, tax, control, treat, educate

Drug policy reform in the making


Residents of Switzerland and the Basque Region of Spain can legally grow MJ for personal use since January 1st, 2012.

Denmark: The City Council of Copenhagen voted for legalizing marijuana. In the proposed scheme, cannabis products would be available in restricted quantities in government-run specialized stores. The government would also regulate production.



Poland: On December 9 the new Polish drug law came into effect and liberalized the drug policy. According to the new rules, the prosecutor will be able to dismiss the criminal charges if the offender possessed only small amount of drugs for personal use and he finds that punishment is not necessary.

Poles were asked about the idea of legalizing marijuana possession for personal use. On December 12th 2011, 67% of respondents answered yes, while only 32% said no – and about 1% of respondents were undecided. These results show that the public attitudes to drug policy liberalization are changing rapidly in Poland.

In the US:

Four states have asked federal officials to reclassify marijuana (Washington, Colorado, Vermont and Rhode Island.

MJ legalization initiative will be on the ballot in 2012 in Colorado, Washington, and probably California.

UK: The widely respected “The Lancet” published on January 6, 2012 a three-part Series of articles on drug use and addiction: http://www.thelancet.com/series/addiction

According to the Lancet, estimated 149—271 million people used an illicit drug worldwide in 2009. To give you a better idea, if drug users were a country, it would be the 5th largest country in the world.
Some of its key findings:

  • The international drug control system has not ensured adequate medical supply of opioids, particularly in low-income and middle-income countries, but also in some high-income countries.
  • The system has not effectively restricted the non-medical use of controlled drugs, and illicit drug production, manufacture, and use is now a global issue. Illicit drug use accounts for a substantial and increasing global burden of disease.
  • The system’s emphasis on criminalisation of drug use has contributed to the spread of HIV, increased imprisonment for minor offences, encouraged nation states to adopt punitive policies (including executions, extra-judicial killings, imprisonment as a form of treatment, and widespread violations of UN-recognised human rights of drug users), and impaired the collection of data on the extent of use and harm of illicit drugs, all of which have caused harm to drug users and their families.
  • The international system precludes policies that are more aligned to the risks of drug use and the adverse consequences of prohibition, such as the regulation of producers, consumers, and the conditions under which drugs are used.
  • Policy experimentation requires changes to the international treaties, which are possible in principle but unlikely in practice. Other options include renunciation of the treaties and re-accession with reservations, or adoption of a new treaty.

Author: Jeffrey Dhywood

Jeffrey Dhywood is a European-born investigative writer, lecturer and public speaker, drug policy analyst, author of "World War D – The Case against prohibitionism, roadmap to controlled re-legalization" http://www.world-war-d.com/. Jeffrey Dhywood holds a degree in Mathematical logics (Model Theory). He lived 20 years in the US and is currently living in Latin America. He is also very familiar with Asia, which gives him a good grasp of the global dimension of the War on Drugs, and its global failure. His academic background and his direct experience allows him to bring common sense and sanity to an issue often mired in confusion, misconceptions and preconceptions.

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