Residents of nine American states will vote on ballot proposals permitting recreational or medical use of marijuana
People in nine states, including California, Florida and Massachusetts, will vote Nov. 8 on ballot proposals permitting recreational or medical use of marijuana. These initiatives could give a big push to legalization, prompting the next president and Congress to overhaul the country’s failed drug laws.
According to the New York Times, this is a big moment for what was a fringe movement a few years ago. A Gallup poll released on Wednesday showed 60 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana, up from 31 percent in 2000 and 12 percent in 1969.
The drive to end marijuana prohibition comes after decades in which criminal prosecutions for violations of the federal and state marijuana laws have been disproportionately directed against minorities.
Literally, tens of thousands of people have been sent to prison, the vast majority of whom never committed any violent crimes, leading to a widespread public concern that such laws are selectively enforced with vigour against the poor and disenfranchised, while rich and middle class drug users are permitted to indulge without fear of legal consequences.
At the present time, the use, sale, and possession of marijuana in the US is illegal under federal law. As a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970, marijuana is considered to have “no accepted medical use” and have a high potential for abuse and physical and/or emotional dependence. So far, in four states, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, the sale and possession of marijuana is legal for both medical and non-medical use and the District of Columbia has legalized personal use but not commercial sale; and 25 states permit medical use.
After Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana use in 2012, opponents predicted that ending the longstanding ban on marijuana would wreak havoc on society, with more and more children ending up smoking weed and drivers high on drugs terrorizing the roadways. According a new report by the Drug Policy Alliance, those predictions haven’t come true. In fact, legalization has had negligible effects on rates of youth marijuana use and traffic fatalities in Colorado and Washington, while at the same time, marijuana arrests have dropped dramatically.
The New York Times points out that passage of these proposals should increase pressure on the federal government to change how it treats marijuana. The Obama administration has chosen not to enforce federal antimarijuana laws in states like Colorado and Washington. But this bizarre situation can’t last — even as more states legalize the drug, state-licensed marijuana businesses remain criminal operations under federal law.
Dianova’s institutional stance on marijuana
The Dianova Network supports the access to medical cannabis for patients. Dianova believes that the current available scientific data demonstrates the validity of the therapeutic uses of cannabis, particularly for its analgesic, relaxing, antispasmodic and antiemetic properties, stimulation of appetite, etc. Therefore, the Network estimates that concerned patients should have access to a product whose quality is monitored, distributed in pharmacies or specialized centres, and according to methods of administration approved by health authorities.
The Dianova Network acknowledges the decision of several States to implement a policy of liberalization / regulation of cannabis. Dianova deems that the current scientific knowledge and the negative consequences of cannabis prohibition support the decision of these States. However, given the remaining doubts about these policies, with particular reference to the health risks associated with cannabis and the risk of a significant increase in consumption among young people, the Dianova Network reserves its opinion on this matter until these policies have been duly assessed, and remains attentive to the evolution of the scientific knowledge relative to cannabis.