And some better reporting

bullet image Cannabis legalisation in Washington and Colorado: A game changer at Transform Drug Policy Foundation Blog

Thirdly, there is the clash with international law. The new Colorado and Washington legislation puts the states in clear breach of the general obligation of the 1961 UN drug convention requiring the criminalisation of non-medical supply and use. The US, perhaps ironically now, has historically been the biggest cheerleader for such prohibitions on the global stage. A complete U-turn from this position isn’t realistic, but it will be interesting to see whether, at the international level, they at least tone down their “tough on drugs” rhetoric now that they themselves are the first to do the previously unthinkable.

Even if there isn’t much of a change in the US’s posturing about drugs in international forums, the hypocrisy of demanding that other nations carry on enforcing prohibition while they themselves are retreating from it, could be enough to encourage a range of countries to start agitating for reform. What is to stop the Netherlands, for example, from finally solving its “back door problem” and legally regulating production and supply to its cannabis coffee shops, which have for decades operated in a quasi-legal paradox. Change is already well under way in Latin America, and the developments in Colorado and Washington will only help the region’s case for the need to explore alternatives to the war on drugs.

Finally, while drug policy reformers – particularly those in the US who did such an incredible job mobilising support – should all be delighted that these measures have passed, we should refrain being smug about these victories. Although this news adds to the stream of positive developments over the past couple of years, there is still a long way to go.

bullet image What Tuesday’s Marijuana Victories Mean for the War on Drugs by Erik Kain in Forbes.

I asked Marijuana Majority’s Tom Angell if the success in those states signifies a shift away from medical marijuana arguments toward full legalization. Not exactly, he told me.

“I think the two-track model will continue for some time with activists leading efforts to legalize marijuana in places where polling suggests significant support, while advocates in other places try for the somewhat easier win of allowing medical marijuana and at least getting ill people off the battlefield of the “war on drugs.””

bullet image U.S. votes to legalize pot may encourage Latin American challenges to drug war by Tim Johnson

Others who push for global decriminalization of marijuana laws also said that U.S. efforts to pressure foreign nations over marijuana would weaken.

“It really is a game changer. It places the U.S. in a very different place,” said Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch, the director of the global drug-policy program of the Open Society Foundation, a New York-based group funded by liberal financier George Soros. “This clearly says the paradigm is shifting.”

Jelsma said that if U.S. states such as Colorado and Washington could impose a regime of control on marijuana that didn’t cause usage to soar, “it could mark a snowball effect on Latin America.”

Among those unhappy with moves to legalize marijuana are likely to be Mexican organized-crime groups, which earn billions of dollars a year smuggling pot to the United States. A study published last month by the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness, a nonpartisan research center that examines the effects of globalization, said that as much as a third of crime groups’ revenue came from smuggling pot.

bullet image Next Mexican administration: US legal marijuana vote changes ‘rules of the game’ in drug war – Associated Press

Alejandro Hope, now an analyst at the Mexican Competitiveness Institute, added that a key factor would be the reaction by the U.S. federal government to the votes. A strong federal crackdown on legalized pot could negate all but the smallest effects on Mexico’s cartels, he said.

Hope said a flourishing legal pot market in Colorado could reduce Mexican cartels’ estimated annual income from roughly $6 billion to about $4.6 billion.

If U.S. states start developing a marijuana industry, “This will not be a super-lucrative business proposition for a criminal enterprise,” Hope said. “This will not be a cash cow.”

The loss of income to cartels might lead them to branch into other criminal activities at home like kidnapping, Hope said, but he said such crimes were much more difficult to carry out than marijuana smuggling, so he considered that relatively unlikely.

He said he believed it was more likely the loss of income would force cartels to shrink and even cut into their smuggling of other drugs, because they have been using income from marijuana smuggling to pay the costs of other illegal operations, such as bribes to officials.
“It might produce a reduction in cocaine and heroin smuggling if the effect was large enough,” Hope said. “… How much, and in what directions, beats me at this point.”

bullet image Victory for Pot Means Beginning of the End of Our Crazy Drug War – Martin Lee at the Daily Beast takes us on a brief walk through the history of cannabis prohibition.

With the voters in Washington and Colorado legalizing marijuana, Martin A. Lee argues that the war on pot may be over—and good riddance to decades of bad science, scare-mongering, and harsh laws.

Residents of Colorado and Washington made history on Election Day by voting to legalize the adult use of marijuana. For a country punch-drunk on decades of anti-marijuana hysteria, it felt like a momentary jolt of sobriety. It might even go down as a long-term game-changer. The passage of Amendment 64 in Colorado and Initiative 502 in Washington could herald the beginning of the end of marijuana prohibition nationwide.

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