In this article, Sensi Seeds gives an update on the most recent developments in the Americas regarding cannabis regulation, decriminalisation and legalisation. The acceleration we saw in Q1 2014 doesn't look like it will be slowing any time soon. Guatemala and the United States take centre stage in this story.
In this article, Sensi Seeds gives an update on the most recent developments in the Americas regarding cannabis regulation, decriminalisation and legalisation. The acceleration we saw in Q1 2014 doesn’t look like it will be slowing any time soon.
Guatemala and the United States take centre stage in this story. First up: Guatemala. President Otto Perez announced on 2 April that he had submitted a proposal to a government committee that will research whether the legalisation of drugs – and cannabis in particular – is feasible. In an interview with Reuters news service, Perez indicated that he expects the committee’s results in October this year. In anticipation thereof, Perez is considering legalising cannabis production this year.
Fighting crime by making cannabis legal
The reasons for the legalisation plans, which the president announced shortly after his appointment in 2012, are comparable to those given by the president of Uruguay. Guatemala is one of the largest coffee bean suppliers in the world and it is also one of the most violent countries in the Americas, primarily as a result of United States and Mexico’s War on Drugs and violent invasions by drug cartels in the Guatemala-Mexico border regions. Guatemala is suffering from the War on Drugs and – just like the president of Uruguay – Perez sees the legalisation of cannabis as the solution to crime.
He has always been fiercely against the American and Mexican War on Drugs and has often commented on its failure. Recently, however, the winds have changed and are picking up pace. The president has noticed this and feels encouraged to turn things on their heads. Not only that, with the legalisation of opium in his plans, he wants to go further than anywhere else in the world. Perez explains, “The other thing we’re exploring … is the legalization of the poppy plantations on the border with Mexico, so they’re controlled and sold for medicinal ends. These two things [legal cannabis and opium production, ed.] could be steps taken on a legal basis.”
Sensi Seeds will, of course, report further information on the legalisation process in Guatemala as soon as it is available.
Rescheduling of cannabis in the US
On 20 February 2014, Sensi Seeds published another update on the recent developments in the United States, namely Barack Obama’s now famous statement that he does not consider cannabis any more dangerous than alcohol. Since then there have once again been heated discussions on the rescheduling of cannabis in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Cannabis is currently scheduled on list 1, together with the very strongest anaesthetics.
Despite cannabis legislation being liberalised in many states, a lot still needs to happen at federal level. Obama’s statement seems to have created a stir. On Friday 4 April, Eric Holder, the Attorney General, even joined in the discussion by saying that he would be prepared to collaborate on rescheduling. During a committee meeting with the Congress he said that he, “would be more than glad to work with Congress if there is a desire to look at and reexamine how the drug is scheduled.”
Convulsions of the DEA
The situation is, however, complex at federal level. As Sensi Seeds reported previously, there are lots of parties involved in rescheduling, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). This body is led by Michele Leonhart who has repeatedly indicated that she is strongly against cannabis legalisations and will block all initiatives in that direction. The fact of the matter is that the DEA is part of Eric Holder’s Department of Justice, which in turn is part of the Administration, with Obama at the head of the executive branch. Perhaps that is why Holder wants the support of the Congress. After all, with the Congressmen and women on his side, there isn’t a single body that could stand in the way of legalisation.
Colorado domino must fall
There is less positive news from California. While the state can be seen as the cradle for the legalisation of cannabis for medical purposes, the democrat Governor Jerry Brown has averted all initiatives to legalise recreational use. “I think we ought to kind of watch and see how things go in Colorado,” commented Brown in an interview with The New York Times. He doesn’t seem to be the only Governor taking his approach. While 17 other states have submitted proposals for new legislation to follow in Colorado’s footsteps, no governor has yet given a resounding ‘yes’ to such plans. They aren’t against it, but they are cautious.
Is this a bad sign? Sensi Seeds doesn’t think so. While it is a shame that a lot of – mostly democrat – governors are hesitant at this stage, the developments demonstrate that as soon as the new cannabis policy has been successfully rolled out in Colorado, no fewer than 17 states could be added to the list, which would mean that in one fail swoop half of the United States would have access to legal cannabis.
The final chapter for the War on Drugs?
Is this history being written? Is this the final chapter for the War on Drugs? It looks a lot like it. The initiator, the United States, seem to be slowly but surely closing the book. Furthermore, according to a study by the Pew Research Center that was published on 2 April 2014, in addition to many policymakers, 75% of the population are convinced that the cannabis ban will be lifted. Meanwhile, Guatemala has strong potential for becoming the second South American country to turn its back on the War on Drugs.
2014 is the year of the cannabis revolution. Sensi Seeds is excited to see what will happen next. Follow our blog for the latest news.