Drugreporter’s video advocacy team gives you a global overview of cannabis reform – watch our interviews with key activists from 6 countries where major reforms are underway!
Cannabis reform is in the air. After decades of draconian laws and demonising propaganda, cannabis has now become part of the mainstream. With changing public attitudes, the momentum to regulate the cannabis market has finally come. We have made films about cannabis reform in the US before – but cannabis reform has stepped on the accelerator in many other parts of the world in recent years. In some countries reform has been initiated by legislature, in others by the judicial system. As I pointed out in an earlier article, companies are now lobbying to introduce the commercialised ‘North American model’ to other countries. However, some activists disagree with this approach. They advocate for more social justice – and less big business. We used the 63rd session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in Vienna this March to interview some of them.
New Zealand has one of the highest rates of cannabis use in the world. Its harsh drug laws and restrictive policing could not reduce drug use – it merely replaced the market and led to the use of more dangerous new psychoactive substances (watch our earlier movie here!). In May 2019 the new Left-Green government published its draft legislation to reform cannabis laws in May 2019, and announced that it will undertake a referendum to ask people if they support it or not. According to the draft law, every adult could buy quality-controlled legal cannabis in licensed stores. What are the chances at the referendum and how will the new regulation look if adopted? We interviewed two activists who campaign for the Yes vote in the upcoming referendum – Ross Bell, the head of the New Zealand Drug Policy Foundation, and Tracey Potiki from Te Rau Ora about how they see their chances.
In October 2018 the Supreme Court of Mexico ruled that the prohibition of cannabis is unconstitutional. It requested the government to reform the drug laws and create a new legal regulation scheme. The court initially set an October 31, 2019 deadline for lawmakers but granted the Senate a six-month extension to April 30 after the upper house suspended debate on legalisation for a variety of reasons. We interviewed Zara Snapp, a leading cannabis reform activist, about how she sees the opportunities and challenges in these exciting times.
The Netherlands has been known for its liberal cannabis policies for decades. However, the 1976 Opium Law created a hybrid system: cannabis can be sold in small amounts in licensed coffeeshops, but large-scale cultivation is a criminal offence (watch our earlier film here!). The advocacy efforts of activists and some city leaders to reform drug laws have been successful, and the government has given its permission to proceed with a number of pilot programs to cultivate cannabis in some cities. We asked Tom Blickman from the Transnational Institute to explain how this initiative is going.
The federal Cannabis Act came into effect in October 2018 and made Canada the second country in the world, after Uruguay, to formally legalise cannabis. Each province set its own procedures for retail sales, and these vary as to ownership or retail outlets. What are the lessons learnt from this experience? Can the legal market beat the black market? How legislators cope with new challenges? Why do we see so many Canadian cannabis companies lobbying in other countries? We interviewed Scott Bernstein from Canadian Drug Policy Coalation.
For more than 500 years, cannabis, called dagga locally, has been culturally embedded among many indigenous communities in South Africa. In September 2018 the South African Constitutional Court ruled that the criminalisation of the use and cultivation of cannabis in a private space is unconstitutional. It has given 24 months for the cannabis laws in South Africa to be amended. After long decades of prohibition, activists and business lobbyists see a window of opportunity for a regulated market – with different views on how the regulation should look. Watch our interview with Myrtle Clarke, an activist from Fields of Green for All!
A civil initiative collected 50,000 signatures in favour of decriminalising cannabis use in Finland, which is set to be discussed in parliament. It signals changes in public attitudes to drug policies in a country where cannabis laws have been restrictive (watch our video about decriminalisation in another Nordic country, Norway!). We interviewed Aleksi Hupli, one of the activists behind the initiative – who was also part of our filming team this year.
You can listen to the interviews in podcast format as well, here:
Films: Istvan Gabor Takács and Peter Sarosi
Text: Peter Sarosi