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Italy signals major overhaul of drugs laws (EuroNews, France)

Location: 
United States
URL: 
http://euronews.net/create_html.php?page=detail_info&article=390711&lng=1

Artist obtains permit, grows pot for San Francisco exhibit (Alameda Times-Star)

Location: 
United States
URL: 
http://www.insidebayarea.com/timesstar/localnews/ci_4573481

New Drug Policy Alliance/Zogby Poll Finds 45 Percent Support Making Cigarettes Illegal

For Immediate Release: October 23. 2006 For More Info: Tony Newman at (646) 335-5384 New Drug Policy Alliance/Zogby Poll Finds 45 Percent Support Making Cigarettes Illegal -- Startling Numbers to be Discussed via Teleconference on Thursday, October 26 at 11:30 a.m. EST A new Zogby Poll commissioned by the Drug Policy Alliance asked a sampling of 1,200 Americans if they would support federal legislation making cigarettes illegal in five to ten years. The startling results will be released and discussed by Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, and others on a teleconference on Thursday, October 26, 2006 at 11:30 a.m. EST. What: Teleconference releasing new Zogby Poll by the Drug Policy Alliance. The question asks Americans if they would support a federal law making cigarettes illegal within five to ten years. When: Thursday, October 26, 2006 at 11:30 a.m. (EST) Who: Ethan Nadelmann, executive director, Drug Policy Alliance Norm Stamper, former Police Chief of Seattle and member, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) Allan Rosenfield, dean of the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University How: Call in number: 877-270-2156 Password: Zogby “The number of Americans who support criminalizing cigarette smokers is shocking,” said Nadelmann. “The question is not if cigarette smoking is dangerous and leads to premature death – as, surely, it is and does. The question is how to best address cigarette smoking as a public health problem. Based on history and current policies, we know that prohibition often leads to devastating consequences.” The Drug Policy Alliance is the nation’s leading organization working to advance drug policies grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights. The Zogby Poll, a Drug Policy Alliance press release and background material will be available at http://www.drugpolicy.org following the teleconference.
Location: 
United States

Europe: British Public Supports More Rational Drug Policies, Survey Says

A survey of British attitudes toward drug policy has found that a majority of people are ready to decriminalize marijuana or make it an offense equivalent to a parking fine. But the poll also found that a solid majority draws a distinction between "soft" drugs like marijuana and "hard" drugs like cocaine and heroin. Most people do not want to see any lessening of restrictions on the use or sale of hard drugs.

The survey's release this week comes with Britain in the midst of a battle over redefining its largely drug war-style drug policies. Just two weeks ago, a parliamentary committee studying drug policy released a report calling Britain's drug classification scheme unscientific. Marijuana policy continues to bedevil the British, as does rising cocaine use and high levels of use of other drugs. The government is also discussing drug policy now because in two years it must evaluate its current 10-year strategy.

Marijuana is currently a Class C drug -- the least serious drug category -- and possession offenders are typical ticketed, while marijuana sales remains a serious crime punishable by up to seven years in prison. Only 38% wanted both possession and sales to remain criminal offenses, while 30% wanted lesser criminal penalties for possession only, 13% wanted simple possession totally decriminalized, and another 15% wanted to see both sales and possession treated as not a crime. In other words, 58% of respondents favored marijuana policies more lenient than current policies.

Attitudes were much tougher toward "hard" drugs, with 73% of respondents favoring the status quo. Only 17% favored lesser criminal penalties for simple possession and only 6% favored entirely decriminalizing possession. The poll didn’t even ask whether anyone would favor legalizing the hard drug trade.

Respondents also broadly agreed that a new drug classification scheme, perhaps containing a Class D for drugs like alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana, would be a good thing by a margin of 56% to 30%. When it comes to comparing the harms of various drugs -- licit and illicit -- respondents ranked heroin as worst, followed closely by cocaine, solvents, ecstasy, and tobacco in descending order. Marijuana was rated as less harmful than any drugs except prescribed tranquilizers and coffee.

The British citizenry also displayed an awareness of the notion of harm reduction, with a whopping 89% agreeing that: "Whether we like it or not, there will always be people who use drugs and the aims should be to reduce the harm they cause themselves and others."

If this survey is any indicator, it looks like the British public is ready for some more rational drug policies. The question is: Is the British political class ready?

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