A pair of scientists at CaliforniaPacificMedicalCenter in San Francisco has found that a compound derived from marijuana could stop metastasis in many kinds of aggressive cancer, potentially altering the fatality of the disease forever.
“It took us about 20 years of research to figure this out, but we are very excited,” saidPierre Desprez, one of the scientists behind the discovery, to The Huffington Post. “We want to get started with trials as soon as possible.”
The Daily Beast first reported on the finding, which has already undergone both laboratory and animal testing, and is awaiting permission for clinical trials in humans.
Desprez, a molecular biologist, spent decades studying ID-1, the gene that causes cancer to spread. Meanwhile, fellow researcherSean McAllister was studying the effects of Cannabidiol, or CBD, a non-toxic, non-psychoactive chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. Finally, the pair collaborated, combining CBD and cells containing high levels of ID-1 in a petri dish.
“What we found was that his Cannabidiol could essentially ‘turn off’ the ID-1,” Desprez told HuffPost. The cells stopped spreading and returned to normal.
“We likely would not have found this on our own,” he added. “That’s why collaboration is so essential to scientific discovery.”
“We started by researching breast cancer,” said Desprez. “But now we’ve found that Cannabidiol works with many kinds of aggressive cancers–brain, prostate–any kind in which these high levels of ID-1 are present.”
Desprez hopes that clinical trials will begin immediately.
“We’ve found no toxicity in the animals we’ve tested, and Cannabidiol is already used in humans for a variety of other ailments,” he said. Indeed, the compound is used to relieve anxiety and nausea, and, since it is non-psychoactive, does not cause the “high” associated with THC.
While marijuana advocates will surely praise the discovery, Desprez explained that it’s not so easy as just lighting up.
“We used injections in the animal testing and are also testing pills,” he said. “But you could never get enough Cannabidiol for it to be effective just from smoking.”
Furthermore, the team has started synthesizing the compound in the lab instead of using the plant in an effort to make it more potent.
“It’s a common practice,” explained Desprez. “But hopefully it will also keep us clear of any obstacles while seeking approval.”
USA — The Berlin Wall of pot prohibition seems to be crumbling before our eyes.
By fully legalizing marijuana through direct democracy, Colorado and Washington have fundamentally changed the national conversation about cannabis. As many as 58 percent of Americans now believe marijuana should be legal. And our political establishment is catching on. Former president Jimmy Carter came out this month and endorsed taxed-and-regulated weed. “I’m in favor of it,” Carter said. “I think it’s OK.” In a December 5th letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) suggested it might be possible “to amend the Federal Controlled Substances Act to allow possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, at least in jurisdictions where it is legal under state law.” Even President Obama hinted at a more flexible approach to prohibition, telling 20/20′s Barbara Walters that the federal government was unlikely to crack down on recreational users in states where pot is legal, adding, “We’ve got bigger fish to fry.”
Encouraged by the example of Colorado and Oregon, states across the country are debating the merits of treating marijuana less like crystal meth and more like Jim Beam. Here are the next seven states most likely to legalize it:
Oregon could have produced a trifecta for pot legalization on election day. Like Washington and Colorado, the state had a marijuana legalization bid on the ballot in 2012, but it failed 54-46. The pro-cannabis cause was dogged by poor organization: Advocates barely qualified the initiative for the ballot, and could not attract billionaire backers like George Soros and Peter Lewis, who helped bankroll the legalization bit in Washington.
But given that Oregon’s biggest city, Portland, will be just across the Columbia River from prevalent, legal marijuana, the state legislature will be under pressure to create a framework for the drug’s legal use in Oregon – in particular if the revenue provisions of Washington’s law are permitted to kick in and lawmakers begin to watch Washington profit from the “sin taxes” on Oregon potheads. If lawmakers stall, state voters will likely have the last word soon enough. Consider that even cannabis-crazy Colorado failed in its first legalization bid back in 2006.
“We have decades of evidence that says prohibition does not work and it’s counterproductive,” said Peter Buckley, co-chair of the Oregon state legislature’s budget committee. For Buckley, it’s a matter of dollars and common sense: “There’s a source of revenue that’s reasonable that is rational that is the right policy choice for our state,” he said. “We are going to get there on legalization.”
California is unaccustomed to being a follower on marijuana liberalization. Its landmark medical marijuana initiative in 1996 sparked a revolution that has reached 18 states and the District of Columbia. And the artful ambiguity of that statute has guaranteed easy access to the drug — even among Californians with minor aches and pains.
In 2010, the state appeared to be on track to fully legalize and tax pot with Proposition 19. The Obama administration warned of a crackdown, and the state legislature beat voters to the punch with a sweeping decriminalization of pot that treats possession not as a misdemeanor but an infraction, like a parking ticket, with just a id=”mce_marker”00 fine. In a stunningly progressive move, that law also applies to underage smokers. And removing normal teenage behavior from the criminal justice system has contributed to a staggering decline in youth “crime” in California of nearly 20 percent in 2011.
The grandaddy of less-prohibited pot is again a top candidate to fully legalize cannabis. Prop 19 failed 53-47, and pot advocates are determined not to run another initiative in an “off-year” election, likely putting ballot-box legalization off for four years. “2016 is a presidential election year, which brings out more of the youth vote we need,” said Amanda Reiman, who heads up the Drug Policy Alliance’s marijuana reform in California.
Economics could also force the issue sooner. Eager for new tax revenue, the state legislature could seek to normalize the marijuana trade. There’s no Republican impediment: Democrats now have a supermajority in Sacramento, and Governor Brown has forcefully defended the right of states to legalize without the interference of federal “gendarmes.”
Whether it’s gambling or prostitution, Nevada is famous for regulating that which other states prohibit. When it comes to pot, the state has already taken one swing at legalization in 2006, with an initiative that failed 56-44. “They got closer than we did in Colorado that year,” says Mason Tvert, who co-chaired Colorado’s initiative this year and whose first statewide effort garnered just 41 percent of the vote.
For prominent state politicians, the full legalization, taxation and regulation of weed feels all but inevitable. “Thinking we’re not going to have it is unrealistic,” assemblyman Tick Segerblom of Las Vegas said in November. “It’s just a question of how and when.”
4) Rhode Island
Pot watchers believe little Rhode Island may be the first state to legalize through the state legislature instead of a popular referendum. ”I’m hoping this goes nowhere,” one prominent opponent in the state House told the Boston Globe. ”But I think we’re getting closer and closer to doing this.”
Back in June 2012, lawmakers in Providence jumped on the decriminalization bandwagon, replacing misdemeanor charges for adult recreational use with a civil fine of id=”mce_marker”50. (Youth pay the same fine but also have to attend a drug education class and perform community service.)
In the wake of Colorado and Washington’s new state laws, Rhode Island has joined a slate of New England states that are vowing to vote on tax-and-regulate bills. A regulated marijuana market in Rhode Island could reap the state nearly $30 million in new tax revenue and reduced law enforcement costs. ”Our prohibition has failed,” said Rep. Edith Ajello of Providence, who is sponsoring the bill. ”Legalizing and taxing it, just as we did to alcohol, is the way to do it.”
Maine’s legislature has recently expanded decriminalization and is moving on a legalization-and-regulation bill that could bring the state $8 million a year in new revenue. ”The people are far ahead of the politicians on this,” said Rep. Diane Russell of Portland. ”Just in the past few weeks we’ve seen the culture shift dramatically.”
State legislators in Maine, as in other direct-democracy states, are actually wary of the ballot initiative process and may work to preempt the voters. A legalization scheme devised by lawmakers, after all, is likely to produce tighter regulation and more revenue than a bill dreamed up by pot consumers themselves.
Alaska is already a pothead’s paradise, and the state could move quickly to bring order to its ambiguous marijuana law. Cannabis has been effectively legal in Alaska since 1975, when the state supreme court, drawing on the unique privacy protections of the Alaska constitution, declared that authorities can’t prohibit modest amounts of marijuana in the home of state residents.
That gave Alaskans the right to have up to four ounces – and 24 plants – in their homes. Following a failed bid to fully legalize pot at the ballot box in 2004 (the measure fell 56-44), the state legislature attempted to enforce prohibition, outlawing all weed in 2006. But citing the 1975 precedent, a judge later ruled the home exemption must be respected, though she sought to limit legal possession to a single ounce.
If taxation and regulation take root in nearby Washington, and perhaps more important in neighboring British Columbia (where legalization is also being considered), a ballot initiative in Alaska could win in an avalanche.
Last year, Vermont finally normalized its medical marijuana law, establishing a system of government-sanctioned dispensaries. In November, the state’s Democratic governor, Peter Shumlin, just cruised to re-election while strongly backing marijuana decriminalization. The city of Burlington, meanwhile, passed a nonbinding resolution in November calling for an end to prohibition – with 70 percent support. The Green Mountain State has already embraced single-payer universal health care. Legal pot cannot be far behind.
LOS ANGELES — Let Colorado and Washington be the marijuana trailblazers. Let them struggle with the messy details of what it means to actually legalize the drug. Marijuana is, as a practical matter, already legal in much of California.
No matter that its recreational use remains technically against the law. Marijuana has, in many parts of this state, become the equivalent of a beer in a paper bag on the streets of Greenwich Village. It is losing whatever stigma it ever had and still has in many parts of the country, including New York City, where the kind of open marijuana use that is common here would attract the attention of any passing law officer.
“It’s shocking, from my perspective, the number of people that we all know who are recreational marijuana users,” said Gavin Newsom, the lieutenant governor. “These are incredibly upstanding citizens: Leaders in our community, and exceptional people. Increasingly, people are willing to share how they use it and not be ashamed of it.”
Marijuana can be smelled in suburban backyards in neighborhoods from Hollywood to TopangaCanyon as dusk falls — what in other places is known as the cocktail hour — often wafting in from three sides. In some homes in Beverly Hills and San Francisco, it is offered at the start of a dinner party with the customary ease of a host offering a chilled Bombay Sapphire martini.
Lighting up a cigarette (the tobacco kind) can get you booted from many venues in this rigorously antitobacco state. But no one seemed to mind as marijuana smoke filled the air at an outdoor concert at the Hollywood Bowl in September or even in the much more intimate, enclosed atmosphere of the Troubadour in West Hollywood during a Mountain Goats concert last week.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former Republican governor, ticked off the acceptance of open marijuana smoking in a list of reasons he thought Venice was such a wonderful place for his morning bicycle rides. With so many people smoking in so many places, he said in an interview this year, there was no reason to light up one’s own joint.
“You just inhale, and you live off everyone else,” said Mr. Schwarzenegger, who as governor signed a law decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Some Californians react disdainfully to anyone from out of state who still harbors illicit associations with the drug. Bill Maher, the television host, was speaking about the prevalence of marijuana smoking at dinner parties hosted by Sue Mengers, a retired Hollywood agent famous for her high-powered gatherings of actors and journalists, in an interview after her death last year. “I used to bring her pot,” he said. “And I wasn’t the only one.”
When a reporter sought to ascertain whether this was an on-the-record conversation, Mr. Maher responded tartly: “Where do you think you are? This is California in the year 2011.”
John Burton, the state Democratic chairman, said he recalled an era when the drug was stigmatized under tough antidrug laws. He called the changes in thinking toward marijuana one of the two most striking shifts in public attitude he had seen in 40 years here (the other was gay rights).
“I can remember when your second conviction of having a single marijuana cigarette would get you two to 20 in San Quentin,” he said.
In a Field Poll of California voters conducted in October 2010, 47 percent of respondents said they had smoked marijuana at least once, and 50 percent said it should be legalized. The poll was taken shortly before Californians voted down, by a narrow margin, an initiative to decriminalize marijuana.
“In a Republican year, the legalization came within two points,” said Chris Lehane, a Democratic consultant who worked on the campaign in favor of the initiative. He said that was evidence of the “fact that the public has evolved on the issue and is ahead of the pols.”
Astudy by the California Office of Traffic Safety last month found that motorists were more likely to be driving under the influence of marijuana than under the influence of alcohol.
Still, there are limits. No matter how much attitudes in California may have changed, it remains illegal in most of the country — as Californians have been reminded by a series of crackdowns by the Justice Department on medical marijuana here. People who use the drug recreationally, who said they would think nothing of offering a visitor a joint upon walking through the door, declined to be quoted by name, citing the risks to career and professional concerns.
That was the case even as they talked about marijuana becoming commonly consumed by professionals and not just, as one person put it, activists and aging hippies. Descriptions of marijuana being offered to arriving guests at parties, as an alternative to a beer, are common.
In places like Venice and Berkeley, marijuana has been a cultural presence, albeit an underground one, since the 1960s. It began moving from the edges after voters approved the legalization of medical marijuana in 1996.
That has clearly been a major contributor to the mainstreaming of marijuana. There is no longer any need for distasteful and legally compromising entanglements with old-fashioned drug dealers, several marijuana users said, because it is now possible to buy from a medical marijuana shop or a friend, or a friend of a friend growing it for ostensibly medical purposes.
That has also meant, several users said that the quality of marijuana is more reliable and varied, and there are fewer concerns about subsidizing a criminal network. It also means, it seems, prices here are lower than they are in many parts of the country.
Mr. Newsom — who said he did not smoke marijuana himself — said that the ubiquity of the drug had led him to believe that laws against it were counterproductive and archaic. He supports its legalization, a notable position for a Democrat widely considered one of the leading contenders to be the next governor.
“These laws just don’t make sense anymore,” he said. “It’s time for politicians to come out of the closet on this.”
Last week Gov. John Hickenlooper signed Amendment 64 into the state constitution making marijuana officially legal in Colorado.
Just days later, President Barack Obama made his clearest statements about his plans for the passage of recreational marijuana measures passed in Colorado and Washington, saying to Barbara Walters that prosecuting adult pot users in states that have legalized the drug won’t be a top priority for his administration. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
“We’ve got bigger fish to fry,” Obama told ABC News’ Barbara Walters. “It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it’s legal.”
The Obama administration suggested last week that it was considering plans to undermine the voter initiatives. In his interview with Walters, Obama did not say whether his administration would go after producers and suppliers of marijuana in those states. The administration has cracked down aggressively on the medical marijuana industry in states like California and Colorado, despite its legality in those states.
A majority of Americans want the Department of Justice to leave pot smokers alone in the states where the drug has been legalized, according to a HuffPost/YouGov poll.
So, pot is legal in Colorado and it appears as if it will continue to be, at least for the time being — now what?
The Huffington Post asked Brian Vicente, co-director of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol — the advocacy group behind Amendment 64 in Colorado, some common questions about legal pot as well as what Coloradans can expect from this new law going forward.
COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT LEGAL WEED
Now that A64 has passed and been signed into state constitution, how much pot can an adult possess in Colorado?
Adults age 21 and older can possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants privately.
So, if an adult possesses more than an ounce, what will happen to them?
They will still be penalized, unless they are a medical marijuana patient. Medical marijuana patients are allowed to possess up to two ounces, and more in some cases.
How many plants can be grown by an individual? How many can be flowering? Does size matter? What if those plants grow more than an ounce?
Under Amendment 64, adults 21 and older are allowed to grow up to six plants, with only three of the plants being mature, flowering plants. The adult is allowed to privately possess the usable harvest from those six plants (which may be more than one ounce). It should be noted, however, that the harvest of those six plants must remain on the premise where it was grown.
Can an adult buy recreational marijuana from a dispensary?
People that are not registered medical marijuana patients may not purchase marijuana from dispensaries. Only medical marijuana patients can purchase marijuana from a dispensary.
Where can a person obtain marijuana legally at this point?
Adults 21 and older can cultivate up to six marijuana plants in their home. Or they could accept a gift of up to an ounce of marijuana from another person 21 or older.
Does A64 pertain to Colorado residents only or can tourists enjoy the benefits?
There is no residency requirement under Amendment 64.
If stopped by the police, what will happen if an adult 21 or over has an ounce or less of pot on them in the state?
They will not be penalized or arrested for marijuana.
Can an adult smoke pot in public? How about in the privacy of their home?
No, an adult cannot smoke marijuana publicly. Amendment 64 provides that nothing shall permit consumption that is conducted openly and publicly or in a manner that endangers others. Adults are able to consume marijuana in their homes, but their landlords could act to restrict this action.
If a tourist obtains legal marijuana in Colorado, what happens if they carry that marijuana beyond state lines?
Marijuana still remains illegal at the federal level. If someone transports a controlled substance across state lines, they could face felony prosecution for their actions. They could also face prosecution in the state they are bringing the marijuana to.
If an adult works at a so-called “drug-free” business, are they protected under Amendment 64 to still consume marijuana if it doesn’t effect their work?
By its terms, Amendment 64 allows employers to prohibit use by employees only in the workplace. While employers may restrict use, nothing in the Amendment specifically authorizes discipline or termination simply for off-duty use. Terminations may give rise to legal claims, especially if off-duty exercise of the Constitutional right does not interfere with job performance.
How would an adult best avoid federal interference in growing their own legal marijuana for personal use?
An adult over the age of 21 should strictly adhere to the rules promulgated under Amendment 64. Given a recent comment made by President Obama, law enforcement priorities should not be directed at those in compliance with state’s legalization laws.
So, even though it is now legal in the state, could a person growing the legal amount of marijuana and/or possessing the legal amount of marijuana still potentially be charged with a federal crime? Is this any different than the risks that medical marijuana dispensaries/patients deal with every day already?
Potentially that is possible. However, in light of a comment made by President Obama, enforcement priorities will not be directed at people in states that have recently passed legalization initiatives. These risks are similar to those dealt with by dispensaries and patients every day.
Now that A64 has been signed into the state constitution, what are the next steps to insure proper and effective law and regulation for marijuana in Colorado?
The most important step is to ensure that responsible regulations are implemented in Colorado. The state legislature must craft regulations that are strict yet functional to ensure this regulatory system we have designed works well. Additionally, the legislature must determine how the taxes are going to be administered under Amendment 64. After that, the most important step is implementing those regulations and working with state and local lawmakers to ensure their success.
Can cities, counties, municipalities vote to ban marijuana shops? Can they ban marijuana in general, i.e. if a city bans marijuana dispensaries, is it still legal to possess marijuana in that city?
Localities can vote to ban commercial marijuana shops and other marijuana businesses. Even if a community bans these facilities, it is still legal for adults to possess and cultivate marijuana for private purposes.
If all stays on track, when will Coloradans be able to go to a dispensary and buy up to an ounce for personal use?
By January 1, 2014, retail marijuana establishments should be up and running.
What will commercial sale look like in Colorado? Will it mirror a kind of craft brewery model? Will their be pot smoking cafes? What do you expect?
I expect commercial sales to resemble medical marijuana sales in many respects. You will enter a retail location, present your valid ID showing you are 21 years of age or older, then you will be able to purchase marijuana. The marijuana you purchase will be subject to an excise tax (similar to the way alcohol is taxed). As far as private clubs where marijuana can be consumed, I anticipate regulations will be crafted in regard to the legality of these establishments.
Can we expect to see a marijuana DUI bill in 2013?
I think it is very likely that we will see a DUID bill in 2013. Some legislators have already began discussing it. Amendment 64 does not authorize driving while impaired by marijuana, and I think there will be much discussion in the next legislative session to address this issue.
What is the accepted level of THC in a blood stream that would label an adult to be “intoxicated”?
That is difficult to say. Due to the fact that marijuana is metabolized at different rates by different people, it is very difficult to come up with an “impairment” standard like they have for alcohol. More testing needs to be conducted in order to determine what the level of “impairment” is for marijuana.
How will tax revenue be generated from the commercial sale of marijuana, what is the ideal model? And where is that tax money earmarked to go?
Marijuana that is sold in retail establishments will be subject to typical state and local sales tax and an excise tax. These taxes are expected to produce close to $50 million in new tax revenue annually. This excise tax could be as high as 15%. The first forty million dollars generated from the exise taxes will go to public school construction, and the remainder will be put into the Colorado General Fund.
Will schools be able to accept the tax revenue if they have any kind of federal funding?
Schools themselves would not be accepting the money generated from the sales of marijuana. The money would be used to fund new school construction projects.
What about banks, since they are federally regulated, will commercial marijuana dispensaries be forced to remain cash businesses like medical marijuana dispensaries have been forced?
Some banks work with state-legal medical marijuana busniesses, but many don’t. There has been discussion of changing the way marijuana is treated at the federal level, which will hopefully lead to more banks working with these businesses.
In 2011, Colorado lawmakers began to pursue so-called “medical marijuana financial co-ops” as an alternative to mainstream banking that would allow for a non-federally regulated banking system — is that a viable option for businesses?
This could present a solution to the banking issue, but it remains to be seen how this will unfold in 2013.
What happens to Colorado’s medical marijuana dispensaries when recreational dispensaries begin popping up? Will they simply convert and service both clients? Or will both remain and be separately regulated?
Medical marijuana dispensaries can decide whether to opt-in the new recreational system. We predict their will continue to be a market for medical marijuana, after new recreational stores open in 2014.
What do you expect the federal government’s response to be?
As of last week, President Obama said he would not make it a priority to prosecute marijuana users in Colorado and Washington. I feel there has been a tremendous amount of support for Congress to reevaluate the way it treats marijuana under federal law. Recently, members of the U.S. House of Representatives petitioned the federal government for exemption from the Controlled Substances Act in Washington and Colorado. I expect their response to be fairly hands off, and to let the states regulate themselves in this area. Hopefully, we can show the federal government that regulation does work, and it is a more sensible approach to marijuana policy that should be adopted nationwide, not just in a handful of states.
As you see it, what options does the federal government have in response to A64?
I believe the federal government can take a hands off approach to the laws passed in Colorado and Washington. Just as the federal government has ignored enforcing other laws like immigration and the Defense of Marriage Act, I feel it could ignore enforcing the Controlled Substances Act as related to personal marijuana use in Colorado and Washington.
What happens if the federal government does decide to sue to block the measure? Is there a contingency plan in place?
We have a legal team in place which is prepared to deal with any legal challenges. Hopefully the federal government will not attempt to overturn the will of the Colorado voters. If they attempt to do so, we will be prepared to defend the voters in court.
In an interview with ABC News, President Obama told Barbara Walters that recreational pot smoking in states that have legalized the drug is not a major concern for his administration.
“We’ve got bigger fish to fry,” Obama said of marijuana smokers in Colorado and Washington, the two states where recreational use is now legal.
“It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it’s legal,” he said.
Going after individual users has never been part of federal policy. But under Obama, the Drug Enforcement Administration has aggressivelygone after medical marijuana dispensaries in California, where they are legal. In September, federal officials raided several Los Angeles shops and sent warnings to many more.
“This is a tough problem, because Congress has not yet changed the law,” Obama told Walters of the legalization in Colorado and Washington. “I head up the executive branch; we’re supposed to be carrying out laws. And so what we’re going to need to have is a conversation about, how do you reconcile a federal law that still says marijuana is a federal offense and state laws that say that it’s legal?”
Attorney General Eric Holder said in a speech Wednesday that he would announce a policy on the new state laws “relatively soon.” Notably, Holder declined to weigh in against the measures in Colorado and Washington before they passed, as he did with a 2010 attempt to decriminalize recreational use in California.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is holding a hearing to examine how federal laws and enforcement square with new state laws legalizing pot. In a letter to drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, Leahy suggested that one option would be amending the Federal Controlled Substances Act “to allow possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, at least in jurisdictions where it is legal under state law.”
The president, who smoked pot often in high school, told Walters that he does not support general legalization “at this point.” It’s the same position he’s taken throughout his political career, despite his own history.
“There are a bunch of things I did that I regret when I was a kid,” Obama told Walters. “My attitude is, substance abuse generally is not good for our kids, not good for our society.”
But Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the pro-legalization Drug Policy Alliance, saw the interview as a “tentative step in the right direction.” Obama’s response, he said, “reminded me so much of gay marriage,” which the president opposed, had “evolving” feelings about and eventually supported in May 2012.
Gallup polling has shown support for pot legalization, like gay marriage, steadily increasing. Last October, it hit 50 percent.
At the same time, Nadelmann said, the Obama administration’s record on marijuana policy is “not reassuring.”
Tom Angell of Marijuana Majority, another pro-legalization group, criticized the president in a statement for trying ”to unjustifiably pass the buck to Congress.”
“The president should lead on this issue instead of deferring to Congress, a branch of government that he probably knows better than most isn’t exactly prone to getting a whole lot done these days,” he said.
The War on Drugs has failed. After 50 years of prohibition, illicit drugs are now the third most valuable industry in the world after food and oil, all in the control of criminals. Drugs are cheaper and more available than ever before. Millions of people are in prison for drugs offences. Corruption and violence, especially in producer and transit countries, endangers democracy. Tens of thousands of people die each year in drug wars.
IMPROVING OUR DRUG POLICIES IS ONE OF THE KEY POLICY CHALLENGES OF OUR TIME.
THE GLOBAL WAR ON DRUGS HAS FAILED IT IS TIME FOR A NEW APPROACH
WE THE UNDERSIGNED call on Governments and Parliaments to recognise that: Fifty years after the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs was launched, the global war on drugs has
failed, and has had many unintended and devastating consequences worldwide.
Use of the major controlled drugs has risen, and supply is cheaper, purer and more available than ever before. The UN conservatively estimates that there are now 250 million drug users worldwide.
Illicit drugs are now the third most valuable industry in the world, after food and oil, estimated to be worth over $350 billion a year, all in the control of criminals.
Fighting the war on drugs costs the world’s taxpayers incalculable billions each year. Millions of people are in prison worldwide for drug-related offences, mostly personal users and small-time dealers.
Corruption amongst law-enforcers and politicians, especially in producer and transit countries, has spread as never before, endangering democracy and civil society. Stability, security and development are threatened by the fallout from the war on drugs, as are human rights. Tens of thousands of people die in the drug war each year.
The drug-free world so confidently predicted by supporters of the war on drugs is further than ever from attainment. The policies of prohibition create more harms than they prevent. We must seriously consider shifting resources away from criminalising tens of millions of otherwise law abiding citizens, and move towards an approach based on health, harm-reduction, cost-effectiveness and respect for human rights. Evidence consistently shows that these health-based approaches deliver better results than criminalisation.
Improving our drug policies is one of the key policy challenges of our time. It is time for world leaders to fundamentally review their strategies in response to the drug phenomenon.
At the root of current policies lies the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. It is time to re-examine this treaty which imposes a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution, in order to allow individual countries the freedom to explore drug policies that better suit their domestic needs.
As the production, demand and use of drugs cannot be eradicated, new ways must be found to minimise harms, and new policies, based on scientific evidence, must be explored.
Let us break the taboo on debate and reform. The time for action is now. Yours faithfully,
President Otto Pérez Molina
President of the Republic of Guatemala
President Jimmy Carter
Former President of the United States, Nobel Prize winner
President Fernando H. Cardoso
Former President of Brazil
President César Gaviria
Former President of Colombia
President Vicente Fox
Former President of Mexico
President Ruth Dreifuss
Former President of Switzerland
President Lech Wałęsa
Former President of Poland, Nobel Prize winner
President Alexander Kwasniewski Former President of Poland
Former Minister of Defence, Minister of Finance, Minister for External Affairs (India)
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs (Norway), UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Louise Arbour, CC, GOQ
Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
George P. Schultz
Former US Secretary of State
Mario Vargas Llosa
Writer, Nobel Prize winner Dr. Kary Mullis
Chemist, Nobel Prize winner Professor Sir Harold Kroto
Chemist, Nobel Prize winner Professor John Polanyi
Chemist, Nobel Prize winner Professor Kenneth Arrow
Economist, Nobel Prize winner Professor Thomas C. Schelling
Economist, Nobel Prize winner Professor Sir Peter Mansfield
Physicist, Nobel Prize winner Professor Sir Anthony Leggett
Physicist, Nobel Prize winner Professor Martin L. Perl
Physicist, Nobel Prize winner Wisława Szymborska
Poet, Nobel Prize winner Dr. Jan Wiarda
Past President of European Police Chiefs
Former Head of the EU Commission’s Drug Policy Unit
Javier Solana, KOGF, KCMG
Former EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy
Professor Noam Chomsky
Professor of Linguistics & Philosophy, MIT
Bob Ainsworth, MP
Former Secretary of State for Defence
Peter Lilley, MP
Former Secretary of State for Social Security
Lord MacDonald, QC
Former Head, Crown Prosecution Service
Nicholas Green, QC
Former Chairman of the Bar Council
Sir Peregrine Worsthorne
Former editor, Sunday Telegraph Professor Peter Singer
Professor of Bioethics, Princeton University
Professor David Nutt
Former Chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs
Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta, FRS, FBA Professor of Economics, Cambridge University
Professor Niall Ferguson
Professor of History, Harvard University
Dr. Muhammed Abdul Bari, MBE Former Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain
General Lord Ramsbotham
Former HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
Professor Lord Piot
Former UN Under Secretary-General
Sir Richard Branson
Entrepreneur, founder of Virgin Group
Musician and actor
Musician and artist
Novelist and essayist
Musician, former Minister of Culture, Brazil
Founding President of Facebook, Director of Spotify
Former Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Commerce
Former Chairman of Goldman Sachs and US Deputy Secretary of State
Professor AC Grayling
Master, New College of the Humanities
Professor Sir Ian Gilmore
Past President, Royal College of Physicians
Lord Rees, OM
Astronomer Royal and former President of the Royal Society