January 2015 NORML Canada Newsletter
Jamaica Close to Legalization
In the past few months we have brought you stories on developments outside of North America, namely the legalization movement in Uruguay and the nascent hopes of a medical marijuana bill introduced in Colombia last year.
Now we can add Jamaica to the mix. Despite the strong associations between marijuana and Jamaica, “ganja” has been illegal on the island since 1913. But Jamaica has now taken firm action to move in a more progressive direction.
The Jamaican ministerial cabinet has approved a bill that legalizes the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana, the cultivation of as many as five plants, and the use of marijuana for religious purposes by the strong Rastafarian community.1
The bill would establish a cannabis licensing authority to deal with the regulations needed to cultivate, sell, and distribute marijuana for medical, scientific, and therapeutic purposes.
It is good to see the wave of legalization continue into the New Year and on to different parts of the world.
Former Pro Football Players Call on NFL to Change Marijuana Policies
In an article in the Huffington Post, three former NFL players have challenged the NFL to change its policies on marijuana use. The players said that the NFL policy of testing for and banning players for the use of marijuana must end. Cannabidiol (CBD is a compound found in marijuana) has been shown to be an antioxidant and a neuroprotectant for the brain. The HBO show Realsports reported that 50-60% of NFL players report using marijuana, mostly for pain. The NFL has a serious problem with head injuries in particular and injuries generally. The NBA and Major League Baseball test for marijuana and upon a first failed test the player must take a marijuana program. The NHL does not test for marijuana. The NCAA has announced its intention to reconsider its ban on marijuana as it is not a performance enhancing drug.
Colorado – A Year Later
It was a year ago already that Colorado governor John Hickenlooper signed an executive order ratifying the overwhelming victory on Amendment 64 allowing adults 21 and over the personal freedom to use, possess, and cultivate small amounts of marijuana.
It was a historic shift for the marijuana movement as it has given us a glimpse of marijuana in a legal market. There were a lot of concerns and some remain legitimate, such as driving while under the influence and availability to minors.
A year later early results seem to indicate that this social experiment is off to a great start with reports of teens using marijuana at lower rates than the national average1 and since legalization, highway fatalities in Colorado are close to historic lows
Adding to the positives of this experiment are all those people who have not had their lives tainted by a marijuana related arrest over the past year in Colorado. That is because over the last decade, Colorado has averaged over 10,000 arrests and citations per year for minor marijuana possession for amounts that have been legal over the past year
The state has also received economic benefits. According to the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, by removing criminal penalties associated with marijuana the state has saved anywhere from $12 million to $40 million dollars over the past year.
The voters of Colorado did the right thing last year. Their experiences and lessons learned are paving a way forward for us to follow. They have welcomed marijuana into their lives and are showing the world that by doing so, they are winning the war on drugs.
Colorado marijuana arrest report PDF document
The Vermont RAND Report
The RAND Corporation has produced a 218 page report for the Vermont legislature which outlines their legalization options. One of the core findings was that states and countries do have to face a binary choice between prohibition and a for-profit commercial model. Legalization contains a wide range of possible regimes. The report found that there were four considerations which distinguished the various models for legalization: the type of group that can provide marijuana, the rules for providing marijuana, what can be provided, and pricing. The report did not address the merits of legalization, but rather the preferred model. Vermont currently permits dispensaries and has decriminalized possession of up to one ounce.
Australian Father Charged after Using Cannabis Oil to Treat Daughter’s Cancer
An Australian father has been charged in Brisbane after providing cannabis oil to his two year old daughter suffering from stage 4 neuroblastoma, an advanced cancer. Neuroblastoma is a cancer that develops in the nerve tissue of the adrenal gland, neck, chest, or spinal cord. Stage 4 is the most severe type. The girl was given a 50% chance of living. The father used the cannabis oil to supplement chemotherapy. The father observed remarkable signs of improvement after the girl took the oil. The cannabis oil was low in THC such that it did not have an intoxicating affect. Sadly, since the charges the girl has been taken off the cannabis oil and is currently being given morphine in the intensive care unit. Australia does not permit medical marijuana in any form.