Of course the biggest cannabis news on Earth right now is being made in the United States. The US is stepping closer and closer to total marijuana legalization, with the likes of California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Maine having all recently voted to permit recreational cannabis. And it’s likely that more will follow. That is, unless of course the dreaded Trump doomsday scenario plays out and all the positive progress we’ve seen to date takes a huge step in the wrong direction.
Fingers crossed it doesn’t happen. Which in all likelihood, it probably won’t.
Clegg Calls for Cannabis Legalization
Nick Clegg calls for legalization
Meanwhile, there’s been a little more…well, let’s say ‘action’ on the cannabis news front in the UK, as another prominent figure adds his name to the pro-legalization camp. As a growing contingency of MPs continue to lobby the British government for a more realistic approach to cannabis policy, former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has stated that cannabis should and must be legalized as soon as possible.
He spoke of the way in which cannabis not only has extensive medical value, but also the fact (and it is a fact) that it is vastly safer and more effective than many conventional medicines currently in use. He also stated that the government’s current policy on cannabis is “absurd”.
His comments came in an article published in the British Medical Journal, in which he stated that the current Schedule One Classification of cannabis should be changed to Schedule Four. This would mean that it would still be a controlled substance, but controlled in a much more sensible, useful and realistic way – much to the same extent as prescription sedatives and certain painkillers.
Despite overwhelming evidence supporting the benefits of cannabis and the positive examples being set in so many global regions, weed offences in the UK can still carry a ridiculously OTT 14-year prison sentence. It’s rare for anyone to actually be sent down for this long for an everyday cannabis crime, but the fact that it’s still a thing is a little on the heavy side. Should cannabis become a Schedule Four substance, no prison terms will apply for cannabis crimes at all.
The article from Mr. Clegg was written in conjunction with Baroness Molly Meacher, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform.
“People have used the cannabis plant for its medicinal properties for centuries, if not millenniums,” it stated.
“Recent years have seen the discovery of the human endocannabinoid system and a growing literature on the medicinal value of cannabis for specific conditions.”
What Mr. Clegg is trying to get across…much like many others like him…is the way in which the legalization of cannabis for medicinal use has little to no bearing at all on recreational cannabis. Those in anti-pot camps seem unable or unwilling to draw a line between the two.
It’s simply a case of ensuring that those whose lives could be helped greatly by medical marijuana are not denied the safe, effective and affordable treatment they need.
“Ministers urgently need to revisit the scheduling of cannabis and move the drug from schedule 1 to schedule 4 – which includes benzodiazepines, for example – in recognition of the limited risks and the medicinal value of the plant and its constituent parts,” he added.
“This would facilitate research into the many conditions for which cannabis may be an inexpensive but effective treatment,”
“But above all it would enable patients with a wide range of conditions to obtain cannabis medicines to alleviate their symptoms.”
Reporting on Clegg’s comment, The Mail in the UK said: “Experts think medical cannabis can help alleviate chronic pain, anxiety and muscle problems – particularly those linked to multiple sclerosis.” In reality, there’s no ‘think’ about it anymore when it comes to medical cannabis – we know what it can do.
Still, the Home Office has made it abundantly clear that it has no intention of even considering overhauling or even revisiting cannabis policy anytime soon, which given the current state of play is both disappointing and extremely ignorant.
Buds for Berliners
Meanwhile, there’s a very strong chance that Germany may soon become one of the hottest cannabis tourism destinations in Europe. Or at least, parts of the country…namely its capital.
Across Germany in general, attitudes to cannabis use have been pretty relaxed for quite some time. While pot as a whole is still technically illegal, it is rare for any casual pot user to find themselves in legal trouble for doing what they do. If busted with no more than about 15g of the stuff on your person, chances are they’re not going to show any real interest in you.
However, the city of Berlin has stepped tantalisingly close to a future where cannabis will be made semi-legal for the first time. Just like the United States, Berlin and a number of other federal states across Germany have a certain amount of say when it comes to making their own regional laws.
The capital’s Social Democrats, the Greens and the Left Party have agreed on a “controlled distribution of cannabis to adults” project. As the name suggests, it’s something of a trial move than a permanent change to policy in general, though it could very well pave the way for even bigger overhauls to the system nationwide.
Green politician Benedikt Lux spoke of “a scientifically accompanied pilot project for the controlled delivery of cannabis.” In addition, the fact that the announcement was made on the day Donald Trump was declared the next president of the United States certainly helped soften the blow for a fair few Germans not exactly happy about his success.
The district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg within Berlin has already made attempts to alter its approach to cannabis policy by introducing controlled and legal dealing, in order to drive criminals off the streets. However, the country’s Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices made it difficult/impossible for any real changes to be made, due to national cannabis policy.
This time, the city as a whole will be legally permitted to carry out its own social experiments, without necessarily having the backing of the federal government, but also without being blocked.
“The legal code is decided at the federal level, and this is about a local attempt to try to do things differently,” said Max Plenert of the German Hemp Association.
“This is a pilot project with limits. It’s an attempt to advance the discussion about how things could be different,”
“It won’t have a massive effect on the market for drugs as a whole. But as with other pilot projects concerning drugs, it’s a chance to show politicians and the press that the topic isn’t such a big deal. And that could kick-start larger changes.”