In the USA, we have laws, both Federal and state, preventing those with any type of drug conviction from EVER obtaining housing assistance, food stamps, welfare, or student loans. This does not apply to murderers, rapists or child molesters--just drug convictions. In addition, in my state, my right to vote was removed." -Kerry Wolf. ARMMAT - TexasAlthough the US has the highest drug use in the world, it also has some of the harshest drug laws. Drug screening for potential employees is common place and there is drug testing in some schools. The US government and some states take a strong stance on drug users and often impose an extra burden to an already difficult transition back into society. Once you have a drug record, you may permanently lose some government issued services like student loans, welfare and even the right to vote.
So many times I have seen the women I was incarcerated with lose custody of their kids or get re-incarcerated simply because they could not meet the requirements of probation fast enough, such as getting a job that pays enough money for you to supply yourself with housing suitable for you and several kids, (and no sharing bedrooms for kids of opposite genders or with the parent, so you may well need several bedrooms), plenty of food, clothing, pay all your bills, pay your probation fees and fines, any class fees you are obligated to take, and much more, and you cannot get food stamps or housing assistance, because you might spend it on DRUGS, and if you want to go back to school to better yourself, again, sorry--no student loans for druggies (this varies by state--some states opt out). It just makes it almost impossible for these folks to get back on their feet. -Kerry Wolf. ARMMAT - TexasStrategies like mandatory sentencing and the 3 strikes rule were supposed to deal with career criminals but instead have plagued the countries and states that have implemented them, especially the US. The US has almost 50% of all people on parole or in prison on drugs charges with nearly one in eight prisoners in jail for marijuana related offences. Prisons are big business for the Americans with 1 in 32 of their citizens in jail, on probation or on parole and 1 in 100 actually in prison. Per capita, they have more prisoners than any other nation on earth including China and Iran. Many countries are now trying to minimise the damage that current laws inflict on recreational users by decriminalising small quantities for personal use. The burden of processing minor drug charges like cannabis possession also has many law officers supportive of decriminalisation. Recently, Argentinan, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner repeated her call to decriminalise personal drug use and instead crack down on traffickers and dealers.
I don't like it when people easily condemn someone who has an addiction as if he were a criminal, as if he were a person who should be persecuted -Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner - President of ArgentinaTwo years ago, the Mexican President Vicente Fox proposed decriminalising drug possession but was forced to back down by the Bush administration. Brazil and Colombia have already decriminalised drugs for personal use and it is a growing trend in Latin America. Though many European countries have already decriminalised drugs for personal use, new, more liberal laws and attitudes are starting to take shape. Recently, Austria has effectively removed the limits on personal use for drugs by totally separating trafficking and using. Although cannabis possession is still not legal but decriminalised in Austria, a man was put on 2 years probation for having 10Kg of cannabis leaves because the judge was convinced he never intended to sell it. One of the problems with decriminalisation is of course, the elephant. That elephant in the room called the drug dealer who is needed to get your drugs. But by using some European ingenuity and a close look at the law, the pot club was born. The first association of cannabis growers was created in Belgium which took drug dealing for money out of the equation. The members combine their efforts to either take turns at growing or having one large crop that has the total maximum allowed per person. A case in Spain was recently tested in court and given the judges nod for 66 members of a Spanish pot club.
Cannabis Clubs in Spain Legal - Belgium Forms 1st Club Recently Canna Zine 18 August 2008 Recently several charitable "cannabis clubs" were founded in Spain. The lawfulness of which are now confirmed, and sanctioned by courts in Catalonia and the Basque region. People join the cannabis clubs to grow cannabis together and distribute it to members of the club at cost price. Only members have access to the growing rooms and the cannabis. In Spain trade with cannabis is prohibited, but possession for personal use is legal. Its a European Dis-Union so far as cannabis is concerned. In Spain you may grow your own supply thus keeping you away from those nast drug-dealing types, but doing the same thing in the UK is liable to see you convicted on a 5 stretch. So what exactly is the point of Europe? A court in Bilbao, the biggest city of the Basque region, cleared four defendants of a cannabis club with 66 members from the prosecution of illegal cultivation of 150 kg of cannabis (fresh whole plants that resulted in 17.4 kg dried cannabis). 39 members use cannabis for medical purposes. ENCOD (European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies) , a European organisation for the change of the drug laws regards the Spanish cannabis clubs as a model for other countries. Recently the first association of cannabis growers was created in Belgium. As in Spain the possession of cannabis for personal use in Belgium, is legal. Isn't it about time your government acted out a similar law change?While some countries consider the well being and rights of their citizens as important, others do not. Recently in the UK, the Brown government upgraded cannabis to a class B drug, up from class C, increasing the penalties for minor cannabis possession from a verbal warning to a maximum of five years in prison. Even though cannabis use dropped while being a lesser class C drug, politics again won out over evidence and facts. But did it win? Those in the front lines away from the leather chairs and back room deals of the so called leaders, had different ideas. The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) declared that they would not be changing their tactics and cannabis for personal use would remain a low priority.
Police will not adopt a tougher approach to cases of simple possession of cannabis when ministers upgrade the legal status of the drug to class B, the Guardian can disclose.
The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) confirmed last night that the current policy of "confiscate and warn" would continue, despite Gordon Brown's determination to reclassify the drug in an attempt to "send a tough message" to young people about its use -Guardian News. U.K.Australia is another country that is turning the clock back against world trends. Although several Australian states had made progress by decriminalising cannabis, some politicians are trying to revert back to the well worn out path of zero tolerance on all users. It’s a damn shame that politicians and moral crusaders will selfishly sacrifice the futures and careers of our youth for personal gain. With the recent admission to smoking cannabis from several Australian politicians, one has to wonder if it is a matter of what’s good for us is not good for you.