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Canada: Column: Burning Lessons From California's Lead In Cannabis

Top Stories (MAP) - Wed, 01/03/2018 - 08:00
Globe and Mail, 03 Jan 2018 - The most important lessons Canada can take from California revolve around how to cater to consumers of cannabis. On New Year's Eve, some Californians raised flaming joints in lieu of the traditional champagne toast - a fitting gesture given that Jan. 1 marked the launch of the world's largest legal commercial market for cannabis.
Categories: Latest News

Canada: Majority Of Canadians Are Against Legalizing Pot By July 1

Top Stories (MAP) - Wed, 01/03/2018 - 08:00
Globe and Mail, 03 Jan 2018 - Nanos finds only 43 per cent of respondents in favour of current deadline, with many critics wanting more time for cities and police to prepare A majority of Canadians are in no hurry to see the legalization of recreational cannabis by Canada Day, a new poll has found.
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CN NS: Truro Medical Marijuana Grow Operation Also To Serve As

Top Stories (MAP) - Wed, 01/03/2018 - 08:00
Truro Daily News, 03 Jan 2018 - Today begins a series on Nova Scotia business people who are looking to become involved in the marijuana industry that will soon be sweeping the entire country. This is the first in a series of stories focusing on people in Nova Scotia who will be delving into the marijuana industry. From a business perspective, it seemed like a no-brainer.
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Chronicle AM: CA Now a Land of Legal Marijuana Sales, VT to Take Up Legalization Again, More... (1/2/18)

Drug War Chronicle - Tue, 01/02/2018 - 21:35

California begins the era of legal adult marijuana sales, Maine lawmakers work to get a legalization implementation bill passed, Vermont lawmakers prepare to move on a pending legalization bill, and more.

[image:1 align:right caption:true]Marijuana Policy

California Legal Adult Marijuana Sales Begin. The nation's most populous state ushered in the era of legal, non-medicinal marijuana sales on Monday, with some 88 stores scattered across the state licensed, permitted, and open for business on day one. At Harborside in Oakland, hundreds of people lined up to be the first to buy legal weed. At Solful in Sebastopol, long lines of customers waited patiently for their chance to make a historic purchase. Similar scenes were reported around the state in localities where shops were open.

Maine Public Hearing on Marijuana Legalization Set for Friday. The legislature's Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee will hold a hearing Friday to seek public input, committee chair Teresa Pierce (D-Falmouth) announced Tuesday. The hearing comes as legislators attempt to craft a legalization implementation bill that Tea Party Gov. Paul LePage (R) will not veto, as he did with the bill last year.

Vermont Lawmakers Will Resume Marijuana Legalization Effort This Week. Legislators are expected to take up the revised marijuana legalization bill, Senate Bill 22, passed by the Senate last year, but not taken up by the House during the one-day veto session last year. Gov. Phil Scott (R) had vetoed the bill earlier, but lawmakers made changes designed to assuage him, and now it's only a House vote away from passage. The bill would legalize the possession and cultivation of small amounts of pot, but not allow retail sales.

Heroin and Prescription Opioids

Georgia Prescription Drug Monitoring Law Goes into Effect. Under a measure passed last year, House Bill 249, anyone writing prescriptions in the state must now participate in the state's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. Before the law went into effect Monday, only about 10% of the state's doctors were participating. Doctors who fail to sign up to the program or fail to maintain records could be subject to penalties up to losing their medical licenses.

Asset Forfeiture

Hawaii Asset Forfeiture Reform Delayed By Lack of Audit of Police Seizures. In 2016, the legislature passed a bill that lead to an audit of police seizures as a preamble to reforming the state's asset forfeiture laws. That audit was supposed to be done before last year's legislative session, but that didn't happen. But a shakeup in the State Auditor's Office combined with turnover and other internal policy changes have delayed the release of the asset forfeiture analysis, which could cause delays in passing significant reform. Rep. Joy Buenaventura (D-Honolulu), who authored the original bill, said she plans to refile the bill in hopes of lighting a fire under the auditor's office.

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US CA: For Marijuana Users, It's High Times As California Makes

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 01/02/2018 - 08:00
Los Angeles Times, 02 Jan 2018 - "Groove on! Groove on!" blared from speakers outside a gray warehouse in Santa Ana. Inside, a line of 60 people snaked through the shop, waiting to be helped by a budtender. "We were bombarded!" said Robert Taft Jr., founder of the marijuana dispensary 420 Central.
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US CA: State Pot Bureau Ready To Enforce California's New Marijuana

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 01/02/2018 - 08:00
Los Angeles Times, 02 Jan 2018 - The state has issued 104 licenses for retail stores to sell marijuana for recreational use in California and 239 other applications for those permits are pending, officials said Tuesday. An official with the state Bureau of Cannabis Control added that the agency is prepared to begin taking enforcement action against pot shops that are not properly licensed.
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Canada: Ottawa Targets Black A And Grey A Markets With Legal Cannabis

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 01/02/2018 - 08:00
Globe and Mail, 02 Jan 2018 - The legalization of cannabis in coming months will offer a clear opportunity for provinces to shut down the black market for the drug and put an end to any notion there are still "grey" areas in Canadian law, top Liberal officials said. In a joint interview, federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor and her parliamentary secretary, former Toronto police chief Bill Blair, said the new regime for legal marijuana will vary by province, as different rules are being put in place for distribution and retail.
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US CA: Recreational Marijuana Is Legal. But Smoking In Public And

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 01/02/2018 - 08:00
Los Angeles Times, 02 Jan 2018 - As Los Angeles moves toward allowing the sale of recreational marijuana, joining cities across the state in the newly legal enterprise, police here offered a stern word of caution. Yes, recreational pot will be legal to sell (and buy, and consume, and cultivate). But there are limits. And the Los Angeles Police Department will help enforce them.
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US CA: Recreational Pot Sales Roll Out In California, With

Top Stories (MAP) - Mon, 01/01/2018 - 08:00
Hartford Courant, 01 Jan 2018 - Legal sale of recreational marijuana began in California on Monday with fanfare, and some anxiety. Companies began selling pot in a relatively small number of businesses Monday, with more expected to join in the coming days and weeks.
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Canada: Cannabis Growers Face Hefty Pesticide Fines

Top Stories (MAP) - Mon, 01/01/2018 - 08:00
Globe and Mail, 01 Jan 2018 - Licensed marijuana producers caught using banned chemicals could pay up to $1-million Federally regulated marijuana companies caught using banned pesticides that put consumers' health at risk will now face fines of up to $1-million per violation, The Globe and Mail has learned.
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One Day Left to Make a Tax-Deductible (or other) Donation in 2017!

Drug War Chronicle - Sun, 12/31/2017 - 15:42

Dear Reformer,

There's just one day left to make a tax-deductible (or other) donation in 2017. If you're doing more giving this year, would you include us among the organizations you support?

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Your tax-deductible donation for our programs, or your non-deductible donation for our specifically US legislative work, will help us take on the challenges drug policy and reformers face today:

Thanks to contributions from our members, StoptheDrugWar.org has fought this fight for 24 years. Please visit our updated About page, our expanded Reform Global Drug Policy page and our just-published Philippines page to learn about the unique role we play in drug policy.

Click here for Issue 1,000 of our Drug War Chronicle newsletter, including Phil Smith's Biggest Domestic Drug Policy Stories and Biggest International Drug Policy Stories of the Past Twenty Years.

[image:2 align:right]The challenges we're facing today are more urgent than ever, and we need your support to meet those challenges. We need to press supportive members of Congress to stand up, and our opponents to back down. We need to spotlight the administration's actions in the media. And we need to press our case in Washington, in the states and at the UN. Will you donate to StoptheDrugWar.org today to help?

    Visit https://stopthedrugwar.org/donate to give by credit card or PayPal. If you want to donate by mail, send your check or money order to P.O. Box 9853, Washington, DC 20016. Tax-deductible donations should be made payable to DRCNet Foundation, our 501(c)(3) nonprofit; or non-deductible donations should be payable to Drug Reform Coordination Network, our 501(c)(4) lobbying nonprofit. Visit https://stopthedrugwar.org/about to read more about our programs, for info on how to donate stocks, and for other info.

    We couldn't have done this without you, and we need your support to continue it in 2018. I hope you'll take a moment to renew your support or become a new member of our organization at this dangerous and critical, but still promising time in the issue.

    Thank you for your support!

    Sincerely,

    David Borden, Executive Director
    StoptheDrugWar.org
    P.O. Box 9853, Washington, DC 20016
    http://stopthedrugwar.org

    Categories: Latest News

    Happy New Year! Legal Adult Marijuana Sales in the World's Largest Pot Market Start Monday [FEATURE]

    Drug War Chronicle - Sun, 12/31/2017 - 03:34

    The world's largest legal marijuana economy gets underway on January 1, as California's voter-approved law legalizing recreational marijuana commerce goes into effect. It's been legal to possess and grow small amounts of weed since shortly after votes passed Prop 64 in November 2016, but as of New Year's Day, we see the unleashing of what is expected to be a $7 billion a year state cannabis industry.

    [image:1 align:right caption:true]But in a state of 39 million, only a few dozen shops are expected to be open for business on day one, and major cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco won't be among them. That's because sellers have to have both a local permit and a state license, and few localities have completed their permitting procedures. San Francisco is among those  but it's still not quite going to be ready on day one. Expect recreational marijuana sales to begin there within a matter of days, though.

    "It is going to take a while to get these businesses up and running," said Lori Ajax, who runs the California Bureau of Cannabis Control. "We're asking people to be patient."

    Among the major cities that will have recreational pot shops open on day one are Berkeley, Oakland, San Diego, and San Jose. This interactive map charts all of the approximately 40 shops that will be open on January 1.

    According to the Bureau of Cannabis Control, San Diego and San Jose will have the most stores open, with seven each, while two will be open in Berkeley and one in Oakland. Other pot shops open on January 1 are scattered across the state, from Mt. Shasta, Shasta Lake, Eureka, and Ukiah in the north, down to Santa Cruz on the coast, Palm Springs in the Southern California interior, and Woodlake, the only shop open in the entire Central Valley.

    Medical marijuana dispensaries that have not applied for and received licenses for recreational marijuana sales will remain limited to serving customers with patient IDs.

    While January 1 marks the beginning of the era of recreational marijuana sales, that doesn't mean California is turning into the Wild West of weed. The state has a reputation for being highly regulated, and that's no different when it comes to marijuana. Here are some of the things you can't do with legal marijuana in the Golden State:

    • You can't purchase or possess more than an ounce, unless it's from your personal grow.
    • You can't smoke it in public in most places, including bars and restaurants. Anywhere cigarette smoking is prohibited, pot smoking is prohibited. And if you're a renter, your landlord can ban pot smoking on the premises.
    • You can't get stoned while driving. Getting caught toking up behind the wheel will get you a $75 ticket, but if the cops think you are too high, you could also end up getting busted for driving under the influence, and that's a whole lot more than a $75 ticket.
    • You can't use marijuana's state-legal status to prevent your employer for firing you for smoking pot, even off the job.

    People purchasing legal recreational marijuana will be contributing mightily to the state's coffers. In addition to the state sales tax of 8% and any local sales taxes -- some localities plan sales taxes of up to 10% -- a 15% excise tax on wholesale purchases by retailers will be passed on to consumers. This could end up putting a billion dollars a year in the state and local treasuries.

    It could also make the state's existing black market more attractive to consumers. If Californians accustomed to buying their weed in the informal sector are faced with higher prices in shops than they can get from the guy down the street, they might just stay with the guy down the street.

    And product shortages could also drive up prices, at least in the short run. While the state produces massive amounts of marijuana -- an estimated 13.5 million pounds each year -- up to 80% of that is destined for the black market, either for export to prohibitionist states or sold informally in-state. With permitting and licensing of producers for the legal recreational market at a very early stage, supply bottlenecks are likely to develop, leading to empty shelves, as they did in Nevada in 2017.

    Still, California is now entering a Brave New World of legal marijuana. And with the nation's most populous state embracing legalization, there is probably no going back, regardless of what Washington thinks.

    Categories: Latest News

    Happy New Year! Legal Adult Marijuana Sales in the World's Largest Pot Market Start Monday [FEATURE]

    Top Stories (STDW) - Sun, 12/31/2017 - 03:34

    The world's largest legal marijuana economy gets underway on January 1, as California's voter-approved law legalizing recreational marijuana commerce goes into effect. It's been legal to possess and grow small amounts of weed since shortly after votes passed Prop 64 in November 2016, but as of New Year's Day, we see the unleashing of what is expected to be a $7 billion a year state cannabis industry.

    [image:1 align:right caption:true]But in a state of 39 million, only a few dozen shops are expected to be open for business on day one, and major cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco won't be among them. That's because sellers have to have both a local permit and a state license, and few localities have completed their permitting procedures. San Francisco is among those  but it's still not quite going to be ready on day one. Expect recreational marijuana sales to begin there within a matter of days, though.

    "It is going to take a while to get these businesses up and running," said Lori Ajax, who runs the California Bureau of Cannabis Control. "We're asking people to be patient."

    Among the major cities that will have recreational pot shops open on day one are Berkeley, Oakland, San Diego, and San Jose. This interactive map charts all of the approximately 40 shops that will be open on January 1.

    According to the Bureau of Cannabis Control, San Diego and San Jose will have the most stores open, with seven each, while two will be open in Berkeley and one in Oakland. Other pot shops open on January 1 are scattered across the state, from Mt. Shasta, Shasta Lake, Eureka, and Ukiah in the north, down to Santa Cruz on the coast, Palm Springs in the Southern California interior, and Woodlake, the only shop open in the entire Central Valley.

    Medical marijuana dispensaries that have not applied for and received licenses for recreational marijuana sales will remain limited to serving customers with patient IDs.

    While January 1 marks the beginning of the era of recreational marijuana sales, that doesn't mean California is turning into the Wild West of weed. The state has a reputation for being highly regulated, and that's no different when it comes to marijuana. Here are some of the things you can't do with legal marijuana in the Golden State:

    • You can't purchase or possess more than an ounce, unless it's from your personal grow.
    • You can't smoke it in public in most places, including bars and restaurants. Anywhere cigarette smoking is prohibited, pot smoking is prohibited. And if you're a renter, your landlord can ban pot smoking on the premises.
    • You can't get stoned while driving. Getting caught toking up behind the wheel will get you a $75 ticket, but if the cops think you are too high, you could also end up getting busted for driving under the influence, and that's a whole lot more than a $75 ticket.
    • You can't use marijuana's state-legal status to prevent your employer for firing you for smoking pot, even off the job.

    People purchasing legal recreational marijuana will be contributing mightily to the state's coffers. In addition to the state sales tax of 8% and any local sales taxes -- some localities plan sales taxes of up to 10% -- a 15% excise tax on wholesale purchases by retailers will be passed on to consumers. This could end up putting a billion dollars a year in the state and local treasuries.

    It could also make the state's existing black market more attractive to consumers. If Californians accustomed to buying their weed in the informal sector are faced with higher prices in shops than they can get from the guy down the street, they might just stay with the guy down the street.

    And product shortages could also drive up prices, at least in the short run. While the state produces massive amounts of marijuana -- an estimated 13.5 million pounds each year -- up to 80% of that is destined for the black market, either for export to prohibitionist states or sold informally in-state. With permitting and licensing of producers for the legal recreational market at a very early stage, supply bottlenecks are likely to develop, leading to empty shelves, as they did in Nevada in 2017.

    Still, California is now entering a Brave New World of legal marijuana. And with the nation's most populous state embracing legalization, there is probably no going back, regardless of what Washington thinks.

    Categories: Latest News

    Chronicle AM: CA Legal Marijuana Sales Begin Monday, Reps Ask FDA to Rethink Kratom, More... (12/29/17)

    Drug War Chronicle - Fri, 12/29/2017 - 22:01

    The world's largest legal marijuana market is about to open for business, a New Hampshire legalization bill should get a vote next Wednesday, federal representatives ask the FDA to back away from its public health warning on kratom, and more.

    [image:1 align:left]Marijuana Policy

    California Legal Recreational Marijuana Sales Begin Monday. As of 6:00am January 1, the sale of marijuana to adults 21 and over is legal. But because of permitting and licensing requirements, fewer than four dozen pot shops will be open for business on day one of the new era. Cities that will see legal sales on Monday include Berkeley, Oakland, San Diego, and San Jose. Neither Los Angeles nor San Francisco will be ready on day one, but should have shops open within days.

    New Hampshire House to Vote on Legalization Bill Wednesday. The House is expected to take up a legalization bill, House Bill 656, on Wednesday. Earlier the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recommended against the bill's passage, but the House isn't bound by that recommendation. The bill is set to see an amendment that should help its passage: The proposed change would remove language on taxation and regulation of sales and simply allow adults to grow and possess small amounts of marijuana.

    Medical Marijuana

    Florida Judge Halts License to Black Farmer. A Tallahassee judge has ordered state officials to halt the issuance of a medical marijuana license to a black farmer, one of ten licenses set aside for growers who were members of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association-Florida Chapter. The black farmers had successfully argued that the state's law had squeezed them out, so the legislature approved a bill that guaranteed them a piece of the action. But another black farmer, who was not a member of the group, sued, and now the judge has ruled that the arrangement violates the state's ban on laws that grant special privileges to private corporations.

    Indiana CBD for All Bill Filed. Sen. Jim Tomes (R-Wadesville) filed Senate Bill 214 on Wednesday. The bill would legalize the sale and possession of CBD oil in the state. The bill accomplishes this by removing CBD from the state's list of controlled substances. The bill is not yet available on the legislative website.

    Kratom

    Lawmakers Ask FDA to Lift Public Health Warning on Kratom. Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) and 17 other lawmakers have asked the Food & Drug Administration to lift its public health warning on kratom, which he called "a natural alternative to opioids." The letter says: "The beneficial potential, safety, and efficacy of kratom has been discussed, studied, clinically researched and found to be as safe as coffee. We have heard from many constituents who have used kratom to successfully end their dependence on dangerous opioids, and maintaining legal access to kratom is important for many Americans to maintain sobriety."

    Categories: Latest News

    CN ON: County Has Questions About Pot Legalization

    Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 12/29/2017 - 08:00
    The Daily Observer, 29 Dec 2017 - Renfrew County councillors have more questions than answers when it comes to the impending legalization of marijuana by both the federal and provincial Liberal governments. Earlier this month, legislation giving the provincial Liberals a monopoly on recreational marijuana sales in Ontario passed at Queen's Park. The bill creates a provincial agency that will distribute and retail pot through storefronts and online. It also creates stiff fines that could top $1 million against companies and people who sell marijuana in defiance of the government monopoly.
    Categories: Latest News

    CN NS: Local Dispenser Foresees Growing Demand

    Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 12/29/2017 - 08:00
    The News, 29 Dec 2017 - Legalization of marijuana was a long time coming, but Carl Morgan believes the future is bright for selling the product in Nova Scotia. Morgan is currently the owner of two medical marijuana dispensaries - Scotia Green Inc. on East River Road in New Glasgow and one on Spring Garden Road in Halifax.
    Categories: Latest News

    CN MB: 'It Could Happen To Any Of Them'

    Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 12/29/2017 - 08:00
    Winnipeg Free Press, 29 Dec 2017 - Grieving father warns kids about dangers of drugs after son's death SMOKE from a smudging stick and the warm breath of friends and family of Jeremy Hobson filled the front yard of the house where the 21-year-old accidentally overdosed and died on the weekend, during a ceremony held Thursday.
    Categories: Latest News

    Chronicle AM: Underground Safe Injection Site Study, ME Legal Marijuana Fight, More... (12/28/17)

    Drug War Chronicle - Thu, 12/28/2017 - 22:00

    Maine lawmakers seek agreement on legal marijuana policy with the governor, a new study of an underground safe injection site finds benefits, Pennsylvania medical marijuana patient numbers now exceed 10,000, and more.

    [image:1 align:right caption:true]Marijuana Policy

    Maine Lawmakers to Meet With Governor Friday on Marijuana Issues. Key legislators will meet tomorrow with Gov. Paul LePage (R) in a bid to reach agreement on a bill that would regulate the state's legal marijuana markets. LePage and Republicans are wary of having a portion of marijuana sales tax revenues earmarked for localities that host retail marijuana stores, saying that could encourage communities to allow such stores. There are also disagreements over how taxes should be structured. The bill under discussion is L.D. 1719.

    Medical Marijuana

    Pennsylvania Sees More Than 10,000 Register as Medical Marijuana Patients. Some 10,135 people have registered to participate in the state's emerging medical marijuana program, the state Department of Health reported Wednesday. Twelve grower/processors have been approved to supply the patients; eight of them have already begun operations.

    Harm Reduction

    Study of Undergound Safe Injection Site Finds Benefits. A study of an underground safe injection site operating somewhere in the US has found that word spread rapidly among injection drug users about the site, about 80% of people using the facility were homeless, and 90% said if not for the site, they would have been shooting up in a public space. Users of the unauthorized site also said they felt safer, less rushed and less stigmatized, and reported better health outcomes and better hygiene and disposal practices. The study was led by San Francisco-based epidemiologist Alex Kral and will appear in the March issue of the International Journal of Drug Policy.

    Indonesian Cops Killed 79 Drug Suspects This Year, Arrested More Than Half a Million. The National Drug Agency reported Wednesday that police shot and killed 79 suspected drug dealers in 2017. The agency also reported more than 500,000 drug arrests and more than 58,000 arrests for drug dealing. "We shot 79 even though we arrested 58,000. We have enough ammunition for 58,000, it's just that they still have some good luck," BNN chief Budi Waseso told reporters. "We actually hoped that they would resist, so we could shoot them," he joked. "But most of them immediately surrendered when we conducted the raids."

    Categories: Latest News

    CN ON: Pot Prices Cause Concern

    Top Stories (MAP) - Thu, 12/28/2017 - 08:00
    The Telegram, 28 Dec 2017 - Medical users fear legalized recreational marijuana may leave them behind in puff of smoke For Mandy Mcknight, the benefits of cannabis oil to treat her son Liam's debilitating seizures seem almost miraculous - the nine-year-old has gone from being wracked daily by dozens of the life-threatening episodes to having days when he experiences none.
    Categories: Latest News

    From Bloody Drug War to Legal Pot: Ten Global Drug Policy Highlights (and Lowlights) of 2017 [FEATURE]

    Drug War Chronicle - Thu, 12/28/2017 - 06:06

    [image:1 align:left caption:true]1. In the Philippines, Duterte's Bloody Drug War Rages On

    Undeterred by international criticism, Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte continued his murderous war on small-time drug users and sellers throughout 2017, with Human Rights Watch estimating that some 12,000 people -- almost all poor -- have been killed since Duterte unleashed the killers in June 2016. Poor neighborhoods have also been subjected to warrantless searches and door-to-door drug testing, and thousands more people have been imprisoned in insalubrious conditions.

    2. Indonesia Starts Going Down Duterte's Path

    Indonesian President Joko Widodo must have liked what he was seeing one archipelago over because in July, he started sounding like his Filipino counterpart. To fight the country's "narcotic emergency," he said, police should "gun down" foreigners suspected of drug trafficking if they "resist arrest." At year's end, the National Narcotics agency proudly reported it had killed 79 people in drug raids during 2017, and arrested more than half a million, of whom 1,523 were declared rehabilitated after drug treatment. In 2016, Widodo had ordered that a 100,000 people receive drug treatment, but there don't seem to be any resources for that.

    3. Norway Moves to Decriminalize All Drug Use

    In December, the Norwegian parliament sent a strong signal that it wants to decriminalize drug use and possession. It voted to pursue such a path, directing the government to begin making changes in the laws to reflect that vote. Legislation that would actually enact the changes has yet to be drafted, but Norway is on the way.

    [image:2 align:right caption:true]4. Uruguay Legal Marijuana Sales Begin

    It took more than three years after the country legalized marijuana before it happened, but it happened this year: Pharmacies began selling marijuana direct to customers in July, making Uruguay the first country in the world to permit the legal production and sale of marijuana.

    5. Nevada Becomes 5th US State to Allow Legal Marijuana Sales, More Coming Online Soon

    Uruguay may be the first country to legalize marijuana, but now, eight US states and the District of Columbia have done it, and the first four -- Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington -- all allow recreational marijuana sales. Four states legalized it in November 2016, but only Nevada got legal sales up and running in 2017. But watch out -- a tidal wave is coming: Legal sales begin in California, with its population of nearly 40 million, on January 1. Oh, and Maine and Massachusetts will begin legal sales sometime in 2018, too.

    6. Mexico Drug War Mayhem at Record Levels

    Eleven years after then-President Felipe Calderon declared war on the drug cartels and sent in the military, things are worse than ever. According to government crime statistics, 2017 was the bloodiest year yet with more than 27,000 murders as splintering drug trafficking organizations fight a multi-sided war among themselves and against the police and military (when the police and military aren't acting on behalf of cartel factions). The year brought other grim milestones as well: More than 200,000 dead, an estimated 30,000 missing, more than 850 clandestine graves uncovered. All to keep Americans well supplied with the drugs we love to hate -- or is it hate to love?

    7. Iran Moves to Drastically Reduce Drug Executions

    The Islamic Republic has long been one of the world's leading executioners of drug offenders, but that could be about to change. In August, the Iranian parliament approved an amendment that significantly raises the bar for mandatory executions for certain drug offenses. The amendment dramatically increases the quantities of drugs needed to trigger a sentence of death or life in prison and should result in hundreds of people being spared execution each year. But it's not a done deal yet: It still must be approved by the Guardian Council, a body of 12 Islamic jurists, to ensure it complies with the Iranian constitution and their interpretation of sharia law.

    [image:3 align:left caption:true]8. US Heightens Afghan Drug War, First Round of Bombing Campaign Kills Dozens

    In August, President Trump authorized new rules of engagement for American forces in Afghanistan, allowing them to target the Taliban directly with air strikes. Previously, air strikes had been allowed only in support of Afghan troop operations or to protect US or NATO troops under attack. In November, US military commanders made the first use of that authority by bombing ten Taliban-controlled opium production facilities in Helmand province, leaving a toll of at least 44 dead. The aim is to disrupt Taliban funding, but it looks like there's plenty more work to do: The Pentagon says the Taliban have another 400 to 500 heroin labs. And with bumper opium crops in 2017, they have plenty of work to do, too.

    9. Colombia's Bumper Coca Harvests Prompt US Pressure to Resume Aerial Eradication

    Colombia just came off a bumper year for coca and cocaine production, but that's largely an artifact of the peace settlement between the FARC and the government, which offered assistance to coca growers wishing to transition to other crops, thus encouraging farmers to grow coca so they could qualify for the program. But such nuances matter little to the Trump administration, which is pressuring the Colombian government to reinstate the aerial fumigation of coca crops with potentially carcinogenic herbicides.

    10. In Sanctions-Busting Move, North Korea Ups Meth Production

    The regime in Pyongyang has long been accused of resorting to drug trafficking to help finance its oft-sanctioned military activities, and it looks like it's up to it again. In August came reports that state-affiliated companies and universities were "ramping up" the production of methamphetamine as a means of obtaining desperately needed foreign currency. With more sanctions, expect more North Korean meth.

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