USA and cannabis - is the biggest runner-up toppling?

In Switzerland, the debate about THC decriminalization is practically frozen. The situation is different in the motherland of hemp prosecution: In the USA, not only are discussions underway, but weed is also being sold semi-legally.


This spring, the governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, surprised the press by announcing that a legalization of cannabis should be debated. Of course, he didn't want to reactivate his old hobby, his statement was much more made under the aspect that a tax on reefer would relieve California's troubled budget by about a billion dollars a year.


“I inhaled, frequently,” Mr. Obama said during his campaign trail. A step up from Clinton, who just pulled on it without inhaling. Also directional was his directive that the DEA (U.S. Federal Drug Enforcement Administration) no longer undertake prosecution of Medical Cannabis outlets. However, this is only in states that have already legalized Medical Cannabis. These include Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, California, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Islands, Vermont and Washington.

Two bills

Barney Frank, a member of the House of Representatives, has introduced two bills on cannabis in the House. The first would change federal law to allow states to experiment with medical cannabis without interference from the federal government. And the second would drastically reduce penalties for “personal possession.” It remains to be seen how the House will take up this proposal.


Cannabis is a far more important issue than most people in the US realize. There is a war going on just outside the gates of the USA. The Mexican Drug War, which has already claimed 12,000 lives since 2006. The 1:50 (cocaine to cannabis) seizure ratio clearly indicates that cannabis is the primary business of the drug cartels. The main market is the U.S., a fact indirectly acknowledged by Hillary Clinton during her visit with Mexican President Felipe Calderon. Clinton acknowledged U.S. complicity in the drug cartels' violence.


At the same time, prisons in the USA are overcrowded. 750 people per 100,000 inhabitants are in prison in the USA. In Switzerland, the figure is only 83 people. Estimates by the U.S. Department of Justice suggest that around a quarter of prison inmates in the U.S. are serving time for drugs. FBI statistics indicate that over 800,000 U.S. citizens have served time for hemp since 2006.

Positive direction

After the drug policy aberrations of Bush Junior, something is happening again in the country. The direction is taking a more positive turn for THC users. Recent polls by CBS already showed a sizable 41% in favor of legalization. In an internet Q&A with President Barack Obama, the question of legalization has been chosen as the most important question of the participants.

Medical certificate

The developments regarding medical cannabis in California are extremely interesting. Already now, the barriers to legal purchase in the Sunshine State seem to be lowering. With a doctor's certificate, it is possible to legally obtain the coveted herb in special medical cannabis stores or to grow it yourself. The law, which has been in place since 1996, states that any use of cannabis that alleviates suffering is allowed. This is an open-ended formulation. It is clear that even “healthy” people, who like to smoke a joint from time to time, are sensible to visit the “recommended” doctors. The advantage of the legal and reputable reference is enormous. We stoners in Switzerland also like to remember the time of the hemp whirlpools. The good quality, the freedom from stress, the tolerated semi-legality.


Yet, one does not need to invoke human rights to demonstrate that society and democracies in Western countries continue to culturally exclude and criminalize 99% of cannabis users. The U.S. is also far from transforming this plain injustice into a proportionate, fair and timely policy. The ideological opponents will soon enough use the usual arguments and continue to paint the picture of the pot-smoking loser, especially in the conservative sector.

Dominant USA

Nevertheless, shedding light on U.S. drug policy would undoubtedly call into question the ideologically obsessed work of the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) on cannabis. The influence of the Americans is weighty, if not to say dominant. But until then, the UNODC will commission one scientific work after another to prove the extreme danger of cannabis.


In this respect, the small hope remains for us discriminated stoners in this country that, starting from the USA, something will happen in the international area for decriminalization.

Last modified: 2024/03/27 08:56

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Legal overview

Shit happens 15 (Summer 2023)

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