I keep hearing how Australia was once the leader in Harm Minimisation worldwide. And it was true until John Howard rejected the wishes of a rare bipartisan political unity, health experts, the AOD sector etc. - and ignored evidence from overseas by vetoing the proposed ACT heroin trials. Howard went on to claim that harm minimisation was not Australia’s drug policy although it was clearly stated on the government’s own website. Since then, Australia has bumbled through it’s commitment to harm minimisation with fierce opposition from conservatives trying to send Australia back to the 1950s.
One major issue effecting Australia is the lack of law reform for cannabis use. Several states had decriminalised personal amounts of cannabis removing the threat of jail for most users. These Australian states were taking notice of European countries that had shown the world how more rational cannabis laws did not result in societal chaos or a huge growth in drug use. In fact, these new policies reduced drug use as well as lowering crime and freeing up valuable police resources.
Enter the ultra conservative, religious, anti-drug nutters. Banning drug paraphernalia, removing successful cannabis policies, increasing penalties for pot, random drug dog operations, extending police powers to stop and search without suspicion. I want to know why Australia, who was once known as a leader of progressive, sensible drug policies and harm minimisation is going in the opposite direction to the rest of the western world?
Berlin Set to Relax Cannabis Law
It could soon be legal to posses up to 15 grams of cannabis in Berlin -- a street value of more than €120.
A new marijuana policy could make it legal for individuals to posses up to 15 grams (0.5 ounces) of the drug in the German capital. The regulation would make Berlin among the most cannabis-friendly in Europe.
Berliners have long enjoyed their city's soft stance on marijuana. It's not uncommon to see someone taking a deep drag on a joint in a city park or rolling one in the back of a café.
Now, though, the German capital may take a further step toward becoming one of the most weed-tolerant in Europe. The city-state's top health official told SPIEGEL that she plans to raise the amount of marijuana and hashish one can possess to 15 grams (0.5 ounces).
German federal law prohibits the possession of marijuana beyond a "small amount" but leaves it up to the states to determine exactly what that amount should be. Most states, including Brandenburg, which surrounds Berlin, define a "small amount" as 6 grams. Until now, Berlin has allowed the possession of 10 grams.
With the regulation set to expire, Katrin Lompscher, the city's top health administrator, is soon to sign a new regulation increasing the amount. She says the success of the 10-gram rule warrants an increase, though her office, despite repeated requests, have declined to characterize that success.
Not everyone in Berlin is pleased with the plan. Lompscher's far-left Left Party is the junior coalition partner in the Berlin city-state, paired with the center-left Social Democrats (SPD). The Left Party has long advocated a legalization of cannabis, but Stephanie Winde, a spokeswoman for the Berlin SPD, told SPIEGEL ONLINE that the Left Party hadn't discussed the 15-gram policy before going public. The SPD, she says, would prefer to be part of a joint decision on cannabis policy.
Easier for Dealers?
If Lompsher's new measure goes into law, it would also seemingly stand in contradiction to stepped-up efforts to combat drug-dealing in Berlin over the past year. In once instance, dozens of police officers, supported by a helicopter, combed Hasenheide, a 50-hectare (125-acre) park in central Berlin, for 13 hours in search of dealers. Other parks have likewise been targeted.
Some have wondered aloud whether Lompsher's proposal will just make it easier for drug dealers to carry their goods and be covered by the law. "Dealers will exploit the liberal regulation and carry no more than the legal amount," the Berliner Zeitung newspaper wrote in a recent editorial.
A European Leader
If the proposed measure goes into effect, Berlin's marijuana laws would be among the most liberal in Europe. In the Netherlands, individuals are allowed to possess just 5 grams for personal use without fearing prosecution. In Belgium, it is 3 grams. The Czech Republic recently passed the most liberal drug laws in Europe, allowing individuals to grow up to five cannabis plants or be in possession of as many as 20 marijuana "cigarettes."
This appeared below the article.