LAST UPDATED: 16 November 2016

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CANNABIS SITUATION AROUND THE WORLD

In France it is called Chanvre; in Spain Canamo in Russia Konoplya;

in China Tal Ma; in Hungary Kender.

It has many other names.

Cannabis is illegal almost everywhere. In many countries there is what appears to be decriminalisation for personal possession of small amounts, but this is largely due to the ineffectiveness of the law and the inability of the police to cope. Nevertheless you can be arrested for small amounts, even on suspicion, and will be fined or imprisoned for selling, almost everywhere.   Some countries even KILL people for it.

(SCROLL DOWN OR CLICK HERE   for more details on each country.)

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THERE IS THE RISK OF DEATH FOR SMUGGLING OR POSSESSING MORE THAN SPECIFIED AMOUNTS IN THESE COUNTRIES

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MORE DETAILS COUNTRY BY COUNTRY WITH LINKS

England

African and Asian Countries

Afghanistan

Algeria

Brazil

Bulgaria

Cambodia

Cameroon

Finland

France

Germany

Ghana

Greece

Greenland

Gyana

Holland

Italy

Jamaica

Japan

Kenya

Lebanon

Luxembourg

Macedonia

Malaysia

Malta

Mexico

Morocco

Nepal

New Zealand

Norway

North Korea

Philippines

Poland

Portugal

Russia

Saudi Arabia

Scotland

Singapore

Spain

Sweden

Switzerland

Thailand

United Kingdom

Ukraine

Uruguay

USA

Vietnam

Zambia

 

EUROPE

 

 

AFGHANISTAN

 

ALGERIA

 

ARGENTINA

 

AUSTRALIA

 

AUSTRIA

 

BELGIUM

1. Consumption and possession
Drug consumption is considered an offence only if it takes place in a group. Since a ministerial decree of January 2005, possession of cannabis for personal use is depenalised. This means: if you are above 18, and have less than 3 grammes on you, and if you are not causing public nuisance according to the police officer or the judge, you will not be persecuted. If you are under 18, if you have more than 3 grammes, if you are into public nuisance, if there are aggravating circumstances or if you are stopped by police outside the district where you live, you may have a problem. Punishment is with fines or prison in case of aggravating circumstances.

2. Cultivation
Cultivation of one female plant per person is allowed. In practice, judges have acquitted growers with up to 100 plants on the argument of personal consumption. Others were less lucky.

3. Distribution
Illegal. More heavily punished then before the depenalisation of cannabis (now it is always jail, before it was jail or treatment)

4. Provision of seeds, tools to produce and consume cannabis etc.
The last Belgian growshop, FLOW in Antwerpen, was closed in March 2006. Some small efforts to open new ones are on-going.

5. Production and distribution of hemp products
It is legal, but difficult to find. One hemp shop opened in Leuven early 2006. http://www.hempmade.be/

Amounts
Small amount is not defined by the law - except Cannabis. From the 2003 reform the possession of not more than 3 gramms of Cannabis is a minor offence which is punished by fine.

Thanks to ENCOD for the above

 

BRAZIL

 

BULGARIA

LEGAL STATUS OF CANNABIS

1. Consumption and possession The possession and use of marijuana is punished by law with imprisonment (max. 15 years for any amount) plus fine

2. Cultivation The cultivation is not regulated by the law. Marijuana is planted illegally and according the penal code the punishment for cultivation is 15 to 25 years imprisonment.

3. Distribution Absolutely illegal.

4. Provision of seeds, tools to produce and consume cannabis etc. Absolutely illegal again. Tools to produce and consume cannabis are sold legally nowhere.

5. Production and distribution of hemp products Hemp products are produced and sold in Bulgaria, but there is no legal regulation for it. It is not forbidden but it is not admitted either.

Thanks to ENCOD for the above

 

CAMBODIA

 

CAMAROON

 

CANADA

 

CHILE

 

COLUMBIA

 

CROATIA

 

CUBA

The Cuban Parliament has approved a law that introduces the death penalty for possessing, producing and trafficking drugs: LE MONDE, 18 February 1999

 

CZECH REPUBLIC

 

DENMARK

Denmark has allowed cannabis to be grown, sold and consumed, in an area which is part of Copenhagen. Unfortunately the people who live there are mostly poor and the area is quite run-down, giving cannabis a bad press.

 

DUBAI

 

ESTONIA

 

EGYPT

In 1868, possession was made a capital offence. 1874, importation was allowed but not possession. 1879 importation again made illegal. 1884 growing became a criminal offence. These laws were reissued in 1891 and 1894.
(From Hemp-Lifeline to the future, Chris Conrad) and thanks to Shug
It is still illegal today, although many locals smoke. Crops in the Sinai are being destroyed and Westerners are being given long sentences by the courts

 

FIJI

 

FINLAND

1. Consumption and possession Drug laws were changed in Finland a couple of years ago. A new separate category of "drug use crime" was created. Previously there was only "drug crime", which applied to use, possession, and trafficing. Under the new rules cases of personal use usually yield a small fine, which can be paid without even going to court.

2. Cultivation This is one of the real drawbacks with the new law. Even small-scale cultivation of cannabis qualifies as "production", which is automatically considered more serious than personal use. We have tried to point out that this actually favours the illegal drugs trade by providing a disincentive for users to grow their own.

3. Distribution Criminalised - those convicted of small-scale dealing might get off with a fine, but prison sentences are frequent when large amounts are involved.

4. Provision of seeds, tools to produce and consume cannabis etc. Possession and/or sale of seeds is not criminalised, and head shops seem to operate without any problems. Sale of pipes and rolling papers (intended for use with tobacco) are restricted to those 18 and over.

5. Production and distribution of hemp products No problem: hemp clothing, soaps, shampoos, oils, and even chocolate and other food products are sold at a few stores in Finland. Amounts Limits of small amount: 10 g Hashish, 15 g Marijuana, 10 Ecstasy pills, 3 g Amphetaimine, 1 g Heroin, 1,5 g Cocaine - the offender is fined or jailed for 5-15 days.

Thanks to ENCOD for this

FRANCE

LEGAL STATUS OF CANNABIS

Law on pot-based medicine takes effect : 10 June 2013

1. Consumption and possession In addition to penalising the debate on cannabis (presenting it in a "favorable" way is an offence), the French law prohibits the use of cannabis with more or less severe sanctions according to the act ; as example, the simple use can lead to up to one year of imprisonment which can be accompanied or substituted by a fine going up to 3.750 euros; Possession or use of drugs in a private or public place (in the street, in a bus, in your own car if it is in the street, in a bar, etc.) is totally forbidden. No distinction is made for use for therapeutic or religious purpose in continental France, but there are some special laws in overseas territories like Polynesia. This approximate application of the law, which is dependent on the interpretation of individuals (judge and police) as much as geographical localizations (larger tolerance downtown and big cities), has regularly put the problem of the revision of this law on table.

2. Cultivation Cultivation for your own use (for recreational or medicinal or another purpose) is totally forbidden. As a producer, you should face the hight criminal court, but then it is generally not the case, because it will overloaded this court which is already overloaded. (punishable from fine up to 7 500 000 euros to 30 years).

3. Distribution Smuggling (traffic), can lead to the criminal reclusion to perpetuity (30 years) and 7.500.000 euros of fine. Selling drugs is a crime. The French law thus distinguishes clearly the user, considered more as one patient than like a delinquent, who raise of the Code of the Public health, and the "dealer" who sells drug in addition to his possible consumption, which is considered as smuggler and raises of the Penal code.In practice, the marked judgments are seldom also severe and the continuations seldom as systematic as the law prescribes.

4. Provision of seeds, tools to produce and consume cannabis etc. It is illegal to sell or to buy seeds. Hemp products (it depends on THC levels) are legal, but some hemp shops face prosecution because they did present cannabis in a favorable way.

5. Production and distribution of hemp products See above This is the law. Then the police have their own laws and judges make their own laws

Thanks to ENCOD for the above

 

GERMANY

 

GHANA

 

GREECE

Recently GREECE has stopped prosecuting possession of small amounts of cannabis.
Last year stiff prison sentences for possessing recreational drugs such as marijuana were revoked, although smokers caught red-handed are still required to have long periods of counselling. The state has also funded the opening of 36 therapeutic and drug prevention centres in less than a year.
Six of Greece's 15 self-styled Kannabishops have been shut down in a move that could soon bring the country before the European Court.
Each of the 500 items sold by the chain carried the very visible warning: "Don't try to smoke this product. If you do, you will get nothing but an awful headache. It does not contain THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana)."

GREENLAND

Here is an article John Yates translated from the Finnish newspaper, Hufvudstadsbladet.
Cannabis trade out of control.
It is impossible to fight the massive cannabis trade in Greenland as it involves the whole of society according to Hans Haahr, chief of Greenland's Drug Squad, in a statement to Radio Greenland.
The Drug Squad estimates that the trade in cannabis is worth 75 million US dollars, which is equivalent to nearly 10 per cent of the annual gross national product, including the economic assistance from Denmark. This makes the cannabis trade Greenland's third largest industry measured in annual turnover.
Businessmen are involved, according to the police, as they accept drug money and launder it in trading with snow-scooters, boats and stereo equipment.
Large segments of the population smoke cannabis regularly, while businesses earn millions through money laundering, says Hans Haahr. He adds that all social groups smoke cannabis and that there are school teachers who sell cannabis to pupils.
According to Hans Haahr politicians are responsible for the out of control cannabis trade.
Source: Hufvudstadsbladet 21.August.1998

GUYANA

 

HOLLAND / THE NETHERLANDS (click here)

 

 

HUNGARY

LEGAL STATUS OF CANNABIS

1. Consumption and possession There is no distinction in Hungarian law between illicit drugs according to dangers. Heroin use has the same consequences as cannabis use. Use or possession of small amount of drugs cause you up to two years of prison, but after the penal code modification (March 1 2003) there is a possibility for choosing "diversion into therapy," which means if you participate in a 6 months therapy you can avoid jail. The amount of the drug is counted as the amount of the pure psychoactive substance, in case of cannabis the limit of small amount is 1 gram pure THC. No medical use is permitted. If you possess more, you can go to jail for 5-10 years.

2. Cultivation The limit of small amount for cultivation is 5 cannabis plants, in this case you face the same punishment as described above. If you grow a significant amount of cannabis, you can go to jail from 5 to 10 years.

3. Distribution Small amount - up to 2 years. Significant amount - 5-15 years or lifelong imprisonment.

4. Provision of seeds, tools to produce and consume cannabis etc. Seeds cannot be distributed, because police will accuse you of "preparation of crime," but for this they should prove the intention of crime. Distributing seeds is risky. Cannabis parapharnelia can be distributed.

5. Production and distribution of hemp products Hemp products: if there is no significant THC in the products they can be distributed and purchased legally. 6. Shops that sell cannabis-related products

Thanks to ENCOD for the above

 

INDIA

 

INDONESIA

 

IRAN

 

ISRAEL

 

ITALY

TRADITIONAL ATTITUDE TOWARDS DRUGS

In 1990, the Italian Parliament passed a drug law (known as "Legge 309/90") whereby personal consumption of illegal drugs became a criminal offence.

The anti-prohibitionist movement reacted to the new situation by proposing a referendum which was succesfully held in 1993. Personal consumption of illegal drugs was decriminalized "from below" on that occasion, but administrative sanctions have remained.

The attitude toward alcohol and tobacco has been traditionally quite tolerant; tobacco can only be produced or imported by the Italian government.

CURRENT STATE OF HARM REDUCTION

Harm reduction policies such as needle exchange or drop in projects are being implemented on a local basis, so situations can be very different from one place to the other. Pill testing is considered illegal and thwarted by Italian government, and consumption rooms are non-existent.

CURRENT STATE OF CANNABIS POLICIES

Personal consumption is decriminalized, but users still risk administrative sanctions (such as suspension of driving licence, suspension of passport etc.). Moreover, if they are found with an illegal drug, they can be indicted and asked to prove personal use themselves. If they are not able to prove that, possession can be equated to drug dealing, which is a criminal offence. Cultivation is not permitted.

TOPIC OF LATEST DISCUSSION

In recent months the press has been dealing with the Government's proposal for a new, very repressive anti-drug law. Medical marijuana has also received some attention in the last few months. Mainstream media usually cover drug seisures made by police forces.

CURRENT GOVERNMENTS' ATTITUDE

Italian vice-premier Mr Gianfranco Fini has presented a new bill which, if passed by the Parliament, would reintroduce consumption as a criminal offense.

In practical terms, this would mean more drug-users in prison or in treatment-instead of prison programmes. Also, the new law would non make any distinction between "soft" and "hard" drugs. If consumers are found in possession of very small quantities (thresholds) of an illegal drug, administrative sanctions and treatment programmes will be activated, but they will not be accused of a criminal offence.

Here are some of the thresholds indicated with the proposal: THC: 250 milligrammes; heroin: 200 milligrammes, cocaine: 500 milligrammes.

Drug policy is directly exercised by the vice premier, Mr Gianfranco Fini, together with Mr Alfredo Mantovano, undersecretary of state. Mr Pietro Soggiu is the national coordinator of drug policies.

FUTURE PERSPECTIVE FROM A DRUG POLICY REFORM POINT OF VIEW

The political battle against the government's approach will not be easy because the Italian government has a very b hold on the Parliament, but local governments and civil society might make a difference by exercising political pressure from below.

A referendum might also be a possibility. The present legal regulation of drugs is also unsatisfactory, and a political reform is to be advocated anyway. For that reason, Fuoriluogohas launched a petition where a pragmatic reform of national drug policies is advocated in order to achieve a full depenalization of drugs consumption. This text was signed by nearly 3900 people and has become the basis for a bill which was presented in Parliament in June 2003 by around 70 MPs from all the opposition parties.

Thanks to ENCOD for the above

 

JAMAICA

JAPAN

Although criminalised in Japan by the post World War II occupying US administration in 1948, marijuana never completely went away. Successive US-friendly Japanese governments have demonised marijuana, describing all use of marijuana as "drug abuse" and claiming that cannabis use can cause mental illness, mood swings, hallucinations and threats of violence to others. Most people in Japan believe that marijuana is a narcotic and are unaware that this same "dangerous" substance is the familiar crop that has been growing all over Japan for over 2,000 years. Every year in Japan, over a million wild cannabis plants are destroyed by narcotics agents. Cannabis was for centuries part of Japan's culture and was used for everyday fibres and fabrics as well as for sacred rituals. To this day, the Emperor wears hemp clothes on some religious occasions. Possession of cannabis can bring prison sentences of up to 5 years and cultivating or trading in cannabis can bring prison sentences of up to 7 years. (Most arrests for possession for personal use result in suspended sentences which are strictly imposed in the event of re-arrest.) In 1995, 1,555 people were arrested under the Cannabis Control Act, a drop from the previous year's figure of 2,103. The falling number of arrests is likely a reflection of the police focussing on the widespread use (by injection) of amphetamines.
There has been a growing re-legalisation movement since the early 1970s. Hemp stores around Japan are doing a good trade in hemp products and smoking paraphernalia, spreading more balanced information on the value of the marijuana plant and the harm caused by prohibition. The medical marijuana movement is beginning to bloom there, too.
Japan Medical Marijuana Association: e-mail
iryotaima@ha.bekkoame.ne.jp

KENYA

LEBANON

LUXEMBOURG

The new law has still a repressive spirit. There will be no depenalisation of consumption of drugs
Consumption of cannabis is punished with 10001 to 100000 Belgian Francs (Luxembourg has Belgian and Luxembourgish Francs)
Cannabis consumption in presence of minors should be punished additionally with 8 days to 6-month imprisonment.
Consumption of hard drugs the same fine and directly the same imprisonment.
Before under the old Labor/Christ Democratic-Government there was a move to depenalise the consumption of cannabis from persecution, but after the elections 1999 the situation changed. We now have a democratic /christdemocratic-government. Before the election the law could not pass the state-council. The major opposition was that it is not possible that consumption will be allowed and selling, buying and detention is not allowed. [Johnny]

MACEDONIA

LEGAL STATUS OF CANNABIS

1. Consumption and possession The current drug policy in Macedonia makes no difference between recreational and medical use of cannabis. The existing laws make no difference between different types of drugs or quantity. It’s up to the lawyer (what kind of case he is going to build) and the judge on what kind of verdict he/she is going to bring. So, if you are caught with a smaller quantity of any drugs (including cannabis) that you can prove it is for a personal use, you should be prosecuted according to the “Law for Misdemeanours Against Public Peace and Order”, for which you can be punished with a fine or with 30 ­ 60 days of prison. According to the latest experiences from the people that have been caught with a small quantity of cannabis ( a joint or so) for a personal use, it seems that it’s up to the police officers from the Department for Drugs and Crime to decide weather they are going to be processed to the court or not. If you are caught with a bigger quantity of cannabis, you will be prosecuted according to the Criminal Code, Article 216, for Enabling the taking of narcotics, psychotropic substances and precursors”, which can lead to imprisonment of three months to five years, and in case the act is committed towards a minor or it caused severe consequences, of one to ten years.

2. Cultivation and

3. Distribution According to the law mentioned above, the narcotics, psychotropic substances and precursors shall be confiscated. This covers all the questions regarding cultivation, distribution or provision of seeds. According to the information we have from the regions in Macedonia (South-Eastern part of Macedonia) where there is a tradition of growing cannabis, the police is usually more liberal, they just confiscate the plants and do not raise any case. Very often people grow cannabis on the land which is a state property.

4. Provision of seeds, tools to produce and consume cannabis etc. With regards to tools for production or consumption of cannabis, there is no problem. The same goes for the distribution of hemp products.

5. Production and distribution of hemp products With regards to the production of hemp products, there may be no problem. On the contrary, there is a long tradition of producing hemp products in Macedonia, but this tradition is slowly disappearing or you can find it only in rural parts of Macedonia.

Thanks to ENCOD for the above

MALAYSIA

Not a good place to smoke cannabis!

 

MALTA

 

MOROCCO

In Morocco many of the older men smoke kif, a mixture of leaf cannabis and black (and illegal) tobacco. This is probably very damaging to their health, they mostly smoke small amounts in long pipes. In the Katama area, in the North in the mountains, huge crops of cannabis are grown, providing valuable income through sales to the rest of the world. Possession is not prosecuted in Katama. Elsewhere in Morocco one is more than likely to be able to bribe one's way out of a court appearance, which is why many police arrest foreigners. Moroccan hash used to be a light brown substance which fluffed up when heated and smelled gorgeous, and pressed pollen. When travellers who had been to Asia went to Morocco they encouraged the farmers to make black hash. Nowadays hash and cannabis is mixed with a variety of other substances to produce unpleasant bars called 'soaps' and an even worse concoction called 'squeegee black'. This is due to lack of quality control.

MEXICO

 

NEPAL

 

NEW ZEALAND

NORTH KOREA

NORWAY

 

PHILIPPINES

 

POLAND

 

PORTUGAL

LEGAL STATUS OF CANNABIS

1. Consumption and possession in Portugal, recreational use of cannabis is forbidden by law; also the medicinal use is not yet officially recognized (there are a debate and some law projects in Parliament). Portugal signed all the UN conventions on narcotics and psychotropic to date. With the 2001 decriminalization bill, the consumer is now regarded as a patient and not as a criminal (you can buy, posses, the amount usually used for ten days) but repression persists. You can be sent to a dissuasion committee and have a talk or you must pay some money.

2. Cultivation and

3. Distribution The cultivation of cannabis, even if in very small scale home grow can legally be persecuted. In 2003 another update to the "drugs law" brought the criminalization of the possession of cannabis seeds, except certified industrial hemp seed. A shady tone of a law that in practice while targeting the personal non-problematic home growers, benefits the black market of near-monopoly of Moroccan commercial hashish.

4. Provision of seeds, tools to produce and consume cannabis etc. Illegal

5. Production and distribution of hemp products There are a few hemp shops in Portugal and hemp products are legal. 6. Shops that sell cannabis-related products Amounts Limits of small amount: 40 g Hashish, 3 g Heroin, 5 g Cocaine, 30-50 doses of LSD - only punished if it is used in public (with a fine, 301 - 300 000 EUR).

Thanks to ENCOD for the above

 

PUERTO RICA

 

RUSSIA

 

RWANDA

 

SAUDI ARABIA
Not a good place to smoke cannabis!

 

SINGAPORE
Not a good place to smoke cannabis!

 

SCOTLAND

 

SOUTH AFRICA

 

SPAIN

LEGAL STATUS OF CANNABIS

1. Consumption and possession Use of drugs in a private place is allowed. Possession or use of drugs in a public place (in the street, in a bus, in your own car if it is in the street, in a bar, etc.) is not a crime, but it is a violation of the law: fines are 300 euros minimum.

2. Cultivation Cultivation for your own use (for recreational or medicinal or another purpose) is allowed. If the judge thinks that this cultivation is not for own use, it will be a crime (punishable from 1 to 3 years).

3. Distribution Selling drugs is a crime. For cannabis, the conviction goes from 1 year till 3 years of jail and a fine.

4. Provision of seeds, tools to produce and consume cannabis, hemp products etc. It is legal to sell or to buy seeds and other hemp products (it depends on THC levels).

5. Production and distribution of hemp products It is legal to sell or to buy seeds and other hemp products (it depends on THC levels). This is the law. Then the police have their own laws

Thanks to ENCOD for the above

 

 

SWAZILAND

 

SWEDEN

The Swedish prohibitionists are much nuttier than you have thought or can think. They train their police to watch people for 'signs' of drug influence (lip licking, inappropriate exuberance, finger twiddling are amongst some of the 'signs') someone who projects the 'wrong' signals can then find themselves hurled against a wall while a flashlight is shone in their eyes to check pupil reaction. If the cop thinks they might be under the influence of a drug, they can be frog marched to the station for compulsory blood and urine tests. Young people are afraid of giving the 'wrong' signals and so try to hold an expression of neutral contentment. Rather like the body language the citizens of Oceania learned to use in George Orwell's 1984. It is election time in Sweden and politicians are beating the drug war drum to win votes. They say the laws are too 'soft on drugs' and want the police to be given power to forcibly inject emetics into suspects. God help us if 'The Swedish Model' becomes accepted in the EU. The Swedes are putting a lot of money and effort into it.
As far as allies go, Barry Macaffrey, the US drug czar, has praised Swedish drug policy. In Europe, the French have been big allies of the Swedes, but are beginning to make heretical noises (as you pointed out, the draconian restrictions on alcohol the Swedes want will terrify the French). Finland will support Sweden in whatever drug war nuttiness they come up with. And, of course, Sweden is the driving force and paymaster behind ECAD (European Cities Against Drugs) which has a membership of 180 European cities, including the City of London.
John Yates: September 1998

 

SWITZERLAND

 

THAILAND

 

TURKEY

 

UKRAINE

Source: "reconsider" Date: Thu, 2 Aug 2001
Personal Use of Drugs to be De-Criminalized in Ukraine
Dateline: Odessa, Ukraine, exclusive to ReconsiDer by Mary Barr
In an exclusive interview with ReconsiDer member Mary Barr, the Chairman of Prisons in the Ukraine confirmed that in a committee meeting on June 5th, 2001 it was approved that 35-45,000 prisoners will be released by September 2001 to relieve overcrowding. He also announced that in September small amounts of drugs, or amounts deemed for personal use, will no longer be an arrestable offence. Viktor Vasilina, a retired KGB Colonel, accompanied Ms. Barr on her tour of a women's' prison in Odessa.

 

URUGUAY

 

USA

The mother of prohibition, the whore of illegal drug profits, America is possibly one of the most hypocritical countries in the world; the vast majority of citizens and politicians are caffeine addicts!
Cannabis, or marijuana as it is often known, is banned as a Schedule 1 drug along with LSD and heroin, regarded as a substance with a high potential for abuse and no therapeutic value (that is all use is abuse according to the feds).
Simple possession is considered a misdemeanour and attracts a lighter penalty, although these are often extremely inhumane and seem to make no allowance for medical necessity. Under the federal law first time possession may be punished with a fine of 500 to 1000 dollars or one year's imprisonment. This varies greatly from state to state.
In 1973, Oregon became the first state to adopt civil rather than criminal penalties for possession for personal use. Ten other states have followed suit.
Since the 1970's the call for medical marijuana has grown and is now a central issue. Between 1978 and 1982, 32 states acknowledge medical benefits and attempted to make cannabis available, but it remains a federal offence. Few patients ever received medical marijuana that can be supplied only by the federal government.
This is the list of states with medical marijuana to the best of my knowledge - California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Arizona, and Nevada. Colorado and the District of Columbia both voted in favour of it but were both denied by the government.
The USA created the IND program - Investigative New Drug - in order to activate their Compassionate use or Single Patient programme to satisfy public demand. In total 34 patients became INDs, all seriously ill. Since then many have died or had their supply withdrawn and the programme was closed down in 1992.
In the early 1990's cannabis buyers' clubs emerged as a source of medical marijuana. In November 1996 California passed the Compassionate Use Act as a result of Proposition 215, voted in by the people. However, the Federal government of Bill Clinton has continually opposed this and even threatened to arrest any doctor who recommends marijuana. Not only does this interfere in the rights of Americans to good health and the pursuit of happiness, it also interferes with doctor-patient confidentiality.
The federal government has continually closed down buyers clubs, but in Oakland, CA, the City authorities have ordered the City Manager to designate cannabis providers as city officers thereby making them immune from prosecution.
In November 1998, voters in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington DC will consider initiative like Proposition 215, to allow medical marijuana to patients in need.
On the other hand it is reported that many judges have refused to allow medical necessity as a defence against prosecution.

The passage of voter initiatives in California and Arizona allowing the medical use of marijuana has caused renewed interest in a little-known government program at the University of Mississippi that supplies marijuana for medicinal purposes to eight people across the country.

There has definitely been more public attention to medical marijuana, said Allen St. Pierre, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. But the increased attention has been bittersweet because there has been so much misinformation on the subject. We get so many calls when people hear of the program and want to know how they can apply or how it can be legal for eight and not for others.

Under contract with the National Institute on Drug Abuse for 26 years, the University of Mississippi has grown marijuana for the eight patients and for research. It is the only legal marijuana plot in the country.

And 20 years ago, the university began supplying a select group of patients with marijuana under a separate program, overseen by the Food and Drug Administration, to provide "compassionate care" to relieve symptoms from diseases like multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, cancer, glaucoma and rare genetic diseases. Even though federal law classifies marijuana as an illegal narcotic with no recognised therapeutic value, the university's garden today supplies the eight patients with up to 300 marijuana cigarettes a month.

Created in 1976 when Robert Randall, a glaucoma patient, won a court ruling in Washington that marijuana was a medical necessity for his condition, the program stopped taking new patients in 1992 when the Department of Health and Human Services began its official policy of disavowing marijuana as a legitimate form of treatment.

Five of the original 13 patients have subsequently died.

One of those patients, Corinne Millet, a 65-year-old woman who has glaucoma, believes smoking marijuana saved her sight. After two operations and trying every drop on the market, Ms. Millet was told there was nothing more that could prevent her from going blind. Ms. Millet believes that prognosis was nullified on Oct. 14, 1989, when she was accepted into the federal program that provides her with five marijuana cigarettes a day along with, she says, her sight.

Although the new state laws allow doctors to prescribe marijuana in Arizona and recommend it in California, federal law makes it illegal for patients to get it. By federal definition, marijuana is a controlled substance with high potential for abuse and no medical value. Proponents of legalising marijuana for medicinal purposes argue that this classification seems illogical when forms of cocaine and morphine are listed as drugs that can be prescribed despite the risk of abuse.

But the very existence of the compassionate-care program contradicts Federal policy and puts the Food and Drug Administration in an "awkward position," said Don McLearn, a spokesman for the agency. Despite its name, the Compassionate Investigative New Drug program, known as compassionate IND, is not a research study with any goals of evaluating the medicinal value of smoking marijuana.

It is not a clinical trial, McLearn said. There was never any intent of using reports from the compassionate IND's to reach approval for the drug.

In fact, the reports submitted regularly by the participants' doctors are used only to evaluate whether to keep them in the program. The reports have no effect on a policy that discounts the medical value of smoking marijuana, McLearn said.

The compassionate-care program exists today because of the FDA's longstanding policy to keep an individual in an investigative drug program as long as they and their doctors think they're benefiting, McLearn said.

Advocates of medicinal marijuana wonder why the government has not used this copious information.
(c)Copyright 1996 The New York Times

 

VIETNAM

 

ZAMBIA

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