The Greek government is proposing to decriminalize the possession of drugs under a bill sent to parliament by Justice Minister Miltadis Papioannou, the British web site Talking Drugs reported this week. Under the bill, drug possession would be decriminalized as long as the drug use does not affect others.
August 22nd 2011
The bill is a response to continuing high drug overdose numbers -- more than 300 deaths a year in recent years -- and high levels of imprisonment. Some 40% of Greek prisoners are doing time for drug or drug-related offenses. Under the proposed bill, drug possession for personal use would qualify only as "misconduct" instead of a more serious criminal offense. The decriminalization provision would also apply to people growing marijuana for their personal use.
The bill would also guarantee the right to drug treatment, including for people currently imprisoned. People deemed "addict offenders" by the courts would be provided treatment instead of being jailed. Under the "treatment not jail" approach, addicts would be admitted to an approved treatment program for detoxification, then granted deferred prosecution and conditional release under a drug monitoring program. It is unclear what would happen to addicts who relapse while in the program.
The bill does not legalize the sale of drugs, which would remain a felony offense. Like other decriminalization schemes, the measure would make life easier for drug users in some ways, but would do little to reduce the deleterious effects of the black market in proscribed substances.
USA: Majority in Colorado Poll Want Marijuana Legalized
A new Public Policy Polling survey shows support for marijuana legalization in Colorado at 51%, with 38% opposed. The poll comes as activists there are prepare to put at least one marijuana legalization initiative on the November 2012 ballot. The poll did not ask whether Coloradans should "regulate marijuana like alcohol," which is the language used in the best positioned initiative, the one led by SAFER and Sensible Colorado.
Instead, the poll simply asked, "Do you think marijuana usage ought to be legal or illegal?" Pot legalization was favored by people who voted for Obama in 2008 (68%), moderates (53%), liberals (68%), and the very liberal (82%). In terms of party affiliation, legalization scored well with Democrats (65%) and independents (55%), but only won the support of 31% of Republicans. Legalization won majority support among men (54%), but not women (49%), and among whites (51%), but not
Hispanics (49%), although, with the poll's +/- 4.3% margin of error, both findings suggest a virtual dead heat. By age group, legalization had the greatest support among 18-to-29-year-olds (71%), followed by 46-to-65-year-olds (53%), 30-to-45-year-olds (52%). Only among the post-65-year-olds did legalization fail to win majority support (36%).
USA: NJ MS Patient Loses Appeal, Facing Five Years
New Jersey passed a medical marijuana law in January 2010 and, after delays, a series of alternative treatment centers (dispensaries) are set to open soon, but none of that has proven any help to multiple sclerosis sufferer and medical marijuana patient John Ray Wilson. Wilson was convicted of growing 17 pot plants in 2009 after Superior Court Judge Robert Reed ruled that he could not mention his disease or that he used marijuana to control the symptoms of his disease in his defense.
Left with no effective defense to offer, the unemployed, uninsured Wilson was convicted of the charge and sentenced to serve five years in state prison. Wilson then appealed his sentence to the Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division. Late last month, he was turned down, with the appeals court ruling that it would not allow a medical use exemption to the charge of manufacturing marijuana. Now, Wilson could be jailed any day. A judge is considering his request for bail to be granted while he pursues a final appeal to the state Supreme Court.
USA: Arizona AG Files Suit Against Medical Marijuana Clubs
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne filed a lawsuit Monday asking a state court to close down "compassion clubs" where medical marijuana patients pay a fee to become members and in return obtain their medicine. The civil suit seeks both a temporary and a permanent injunction to shut them down. Although some 6,000 Arizonans are registered as medical marijuana patients under the voter-approved law, no dispensaries are operating because state officials have put that portion of the law on hold while Gov.
Jan Brewer's federal lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment on the legality of the dispensary language moves forward. Lawyers for the US government last week filed a motion to have that suit dismissed. The compassion clubs sprung up as a response to pent up patient demand. Now, Horne wants to shut down that distribution avenue, too. The clubs "falsely claim to be operating lawfully under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act," Horne said in a press release Monday. The law does not provide protection to entities that are not registered as nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries, he argued.
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