'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Thursday, January 01, 2004

All Those Barbarians

Our northern neighbors have a new prime minister who seems serious about decriminalizing the recreational use of small amounts of marijuana. A piece on Drug Policy Alliance's site notes

Canada has been leading the world in progressive drug-policy reform. Canada's Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs released a report last year recommending that marijuana be legalized. Canada became the first country in the world to sell marijuana to patients suffering from serious illnesses, while Vancouver opened North America's first legal and supervised drug-injection clinic.

Canada's outgoing prime minister has said that he would like to give pot a try now that he's out of office, and the new prime minister admits to eating brownies.

But Canada is mostly just a jonny-come-lately to a party that is been going on for a while in other centers of barbarian activity: (from here)

The Netherlands has long tolerated personal possession and allowed cannibas coffee shops. Pot is now available as a prescription drug at pharmacies. Spain no longer arrests recreational drug users; Portugal has decriminalized marijuana use. So has Luxembourg.

Belgium allows the medical use of marijuana and is considering permitting citizens to grow small amounts of pot. Local authorities in France and Germany decide whether or not to arrest cannibis users. Germany even allows hard-drug use in legal "drug-consumption rooms." In Britain police increasingly confiscate marijuana but leave the users alone; new guidelines embody a "presumption against arrest."

The Swiss senate has approved legislation legalizing personal use of cannibas. The Australian and New Zealand governments are considering approving the medical use of marijuana.

This all, of course, contrasts directly with direction the US has been going in under Ashcroft, to a brave new world where you can get thrown in jail for selling a pipe on the internet. America's drug policy is turning into one of those weird divisive issues that compells foreign strangers to ask you quizzically in pubs, "So what's the deal with the States anyway? Are you people all nuts?". The civilized world is moving on but the US refuses. It will keep the company of a rogue's gallery of third world nations and petty dictatorships, just like it does in continuing to support the death penalty.

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