Thursday, 15 May 2014

The Medical Minute: Cannabis' Impact on Alcohol, Stress, and Vision Loss

“The momentum to treat marijuana as a legal drug is irreversible,” Barry McCaffrey told the Washington Post. The former U.S. drug czar is right: cannabis -- both medical and recreational -- is here to stay. Through education and research, massive strides have been taken in recent years, and we at Leafly are delighted to share with you three more ways cannabis is changing lives in its medical application.

1. Breaking Up With Alcohol

Cannabis is stealing the hearts of former booze enthusiasts, according to a recent review published in Alcohol and Alcoholism. The survey aimed to identify whether or not cannabis satisfies the same criteria (a published checklist of seven items) by which people choose to consume alcohol. In other words, could marijuana be used to replace unhealthy drinking habits?

Data indicates that all criteria items were fully or partially met by cannabis, and while the researchers believe the study’s design was flawed, they did state that “cannabis does appear to be a potential substitute for alcohol” and “[it] is both safer and potentially less addictive than benzodiazepines and other pharmaceuticals that have been evaluated as substitutes for alcohol.”

In a recent High Times poll, 65% of respondents noted decreases in their alcohol intake after taking up marijuana. Has cannabis had this impact on you?

2. The Science of Cannabis Stress Relief

It doesn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to know cannabis relieves stress, but it might require a scientist to find out why. A study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology explains how activating our body’s cannabinoid system, specifically C2 receptors, reverses inflammation caused by overexposure to stress. This discovery could also lead to advances in the treatment of neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases.

3. Cannabis and Degenerative Vision Disease

We often associate cannabis use with red or dry eyes, but a new study published in Experimental Eye Research suggests there’s something therapeutic going on. Retinitis pigmentosa is a genetic eye disease in which cells in the retina die, resulting in vision loss. Using synthetic THC, researchers in Spain discovered that cannabinoids may slow retinal degeneration, as treated rats maintained 40% more photoreceptors than those left untreated.

Given marijuana’s success in treating other eye diseases like glaucoma, we’re excited to see what possibilities will open up with further research.


8 Lies We Have to Stop Telling About Marijuana

Legal marijuana will lead to criminals smashing through your door and stealing your money. 

Marijuana has no medical use.

Do these claims sound familiar? Drug warriors have been extremely successful in alarming America about the dangers of marijuana for decades. But where they haven't been successful is spreading accurate information about ganja to the populace.

Here are 8 of the top myths people tell about marijuana, and how to rebut them.

1. Marijuana is a gateway drug.

Marijuana's opponents claim marijuana is a "gateway drug" — that once someone smokes marijuana, they're much more likely to try other, harder drugs and eventually end up using something much more dangerous. There is, in fact, a correlation between marijuana use and other drugs: The National Institute on Drug Abuse claims that a person who smokes weed is 104x more likely to use cocaine than someone who never touched a joint.

But that's all it is — a correlation. As TIME's Healthland wrote all the way back in 2010, scientists have discarded the gateway hypothesis since the 90s. A report on the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 1999 said that:

"In the sense that marijuana use typically precedes rather than follows initiation of other illicit drug use, it is indeed a "gateway" drug. But because underage smoking and alcohol use typically precede marijuana use, marijuana is not the most common, and is rarely the first, "gateway" to illicit drug use. There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs."

And the majority of marijuana users never touch cocaine or heroin. In 2009, 2.3 million people reported trying pot, compared to 617,000 for cocaine and 180,000 for heroin.

The Marijuana Policy Project says that 107 million Americans (nearly 40% of the country) have tried marijuana, while only 37 million have tried cocaine and less than 0.1% of Americans have used either in the past month. Spokesman Morgan Fox says marijuana has never been demonstrated to have any chemical component that would make it particularly dangerous and that if there is a gateway, it's because dealers have an incentive to push other illegal drugs on buyers.

"When you go to a liquor store for a bottle of wine, there isn't a person there trying to sell you cocaine or other dangerous products," he says. "An illegal narcotics dealer has incentive to push dangerous drugs."

Another study of 12th graders published in the Journal of School Health indicated that if there is a "gateway drug," there's more evidence to point towards alcohol as the culprit. A 2012 review of the evidence in Drug and Alcohol Dependence for the gateway drug hypothesis noted that 83.2% of hard drug users in Japan had never touched cannabis, while noting that the theory of a variety of gateway behaviors stood up to more rigorous review.

Reason's Jacob Sullum wrote that the gateway drug hypothesis' "durability is largely due to its ambiguity: Because it's rarely clear what people mean when they say that pot smoking leads to the use of 'harder' drugs, the claim is difficult to disprove."

2. It's as dangerous as LSD or heroin.

This argument is based off of the DEA's list of controlled substances, which places marijuana among "the most dangerous drugs," "with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse." Schedule I drugs are said to leave users with "potentially severe psychological or physical dependence," and in addition to weed, that list includes heroin, (LSD), ecstasy, methaqualone, and peyote.

That's some pretty hefty, dangerous-sounding company. But in 2010, 38,329 people died from drug overdoses. Pharmaceutical drugs killed 22,134 people, of which opoid analgesics killed 16,651. An additional 25,692 people died from alcohol overdoses (for comparison, the CDC says that alcohol kills 88,000 a year including conditions like liver failure and drunken driving accidents).

But in not a single documented case has marijuana killed someone from overdose — technically, with a lethal dose that would require ingesting the THC of at least dozens and probably hundreds of pounds of marijuana or more, it's less lethal than water. Even the National Institute on Drug Abuse admits that it's "not very likely" you could overdose on marijuana, while still warning users they can experience anxiety attacks or get in marijuana-related accidents.

So by the most obvious metric of marijuana's danger — whether or not you can die or even be seriously injured through an overdose — the answer is plainly no.

Other Schedule I and even Schedule II drugs like meth and cocaine are plainly far more dangerous. That might explain why 38% of the country has tried it and walked away fine from the experience.

3. It's causing an epidemic of car crashes.

But if we were going to settle on another metric of how dangerous marijuana is — how many car crashes it causes — marijuana is still not anywhere near as dangerous as other illicit drugs. In general, the performance of drivers on THC is not impacted nearly as much as drivers on alcohol. A 2004 observational case study in Accident Analysis and Prevention found that "no increased risk for road trauma was found for drivers exposed to cannabis," while alcohol and benzodiazepines were linked to vehicular accidents.

There's some bad news here: a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology that assessed 23,591 road fatalities found that the presence of cannabis in a dead driver rose from 4.2% in 1999 to 12.2% in 2010. But since THC can be present in blood for days after use, it's unclear how many drivers were actually high at the time of the accident. Furthermore, alcohol was found in over three times as many drivers — around 39.7%.

Additionally, car crash fatalities have been trending downwards for years. There were 51,091 fatalities in 1980, 41,945 in 2000, 37,171 in 2008, and 25,580 in 2012. So even if marijuana use has increased, American roads are still getting safer.

As Jenny Hollander writes for Bustle:

"Here's what we do know: Stoned drivers behave differently from drunk drivers. Stoned drivers are more aware that they’re intoxicated — the opposite applies for drunk drivers — and so they tend to actually drive more slowly and carefully. Therefore, drivers who are a little stoned are generally safer drivers than those who are a little drunk. As a rule, drunk driving has been understood to be far more dangerous than driving when high."

So while no one would advise getting high and driving, there's no solid evidence that marijuana-related traffic fatalities are a major national epidemic.

4. Pot smoking leads to more crime.

Sheriff Tom Allman of Mendocio County, Calif., had a warning for Colorado residents three months after they voted to legalize marijuana in Nov. 2012: "Thugs put on masks, they come to your house, they kick in your door. They point guns at you and say, 'Give me your marijuana, give me your money.'"

"Expect more crime, more kids using marijuana and pot for sale everywhere," said Douglas County Sheriff David Weaver in 2012. "I think our entire state will pay the price."

But Denver crime rates remained stable and in some places actually fell. (Arson was up 109% from the same period, but represented just 23 of 3,757 crimes — so if you want to blame every count on smouldering doobies, whatever.)

A study in PLOS One that examined states which legalized medical marijuana over the period 1990-2006 found that there were actually minor reductions in the homicide and aggravated assault rate.

It's debatable whether legalizing marijuana has a substantial downward effect on the crime rate. But what's clear is that looser marijuana laws have not been behind any noteworthy crime waves. And what's more, fewer people are going to jail in Colorado now that marijuana has been legalized.

5. It makes you lazy and unsuccessful.

Opponents of marijuana reform point to studies like this one from researcher Christer Hyggen that linked marijuana use to lower motivation at work. During the study, 1,997 respondents born between 1965-1986 were tracked and found to have a statistically significant reduction in their work commitment. Sixty-three "repeat users" had an average score of 3.9 on questions of work commitment, compared to scores of 4.2 and 4.3 among limited users and those who hadn't tried it at all.

But that study wasn't able to finger pot as the culprit, saying it could have also been the social environment in which pot is used or whether the repeat pot-smokers were less committed to begin with. It also didn't tell us anything about the quality of lives of the smokers. And even if we assume that marijuana use was directly responsible for the decline in work commitment, habitual marijuana use might just be one of many contributing factors to below-average career commitment.

And many, many successful people have used pot at least once in their lives — from President Barack Obama and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Of all the anti-marijuana arguments, this one is the silliest, encompassing 38% of Americans.

6. It's highly addictive.

Studies have discovered cannabis to be less addictive than nicotine, alcohol and even caffeine. A large-scale survey in 1994 by epidemiologist James Anthony of the National Institute on Drug Abuse asked more than 8,000 people between the ages of 15-64 about their drug habits. They found that less than 9% of marijuana users ever fit a diagnosis of dependence, compared to 15% of drinkers, 17% of cocaine users, 23% of heroin users, and 32% of cigarette smokers. By and large, it seems marijuana is less addictive than a plethora of legal and illegal substances.

It's true that some 957,000 people aged 12 and over sought treatment for marijuana in 2012. But the large majority of treatment-seekers were referred by the criminal justice system, which has in many places decided referring marijuana users for drug programs instead of locking them up is a better use of public time and funds.

Psychology Today's Dr. J Wesley Boyd wrote that "the vast majority of marijuana users are neither addicted nor almost addicted to cannabis," comparing it to totally-legal alcohol. He also says that the current medical understanding is that physiological withdrawal symptoms from marijuana are "generally mild." CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a former opponent of medical marijuana, now admits that "It is hard to make a case that it has a high potential for abuse. The physical symptoms of marijuana addiction are nothing like those of the other drugs I've mentioned [morphine, heroin or cocaine]."

7. Legalization will lead to mass pot usage.

Sorry, but that train has long since left the station. Some 19-25 million Americans claim to smoke marijuana at least once per year, all under a strict regime of prohibition across most of the country.

Decriminalization, however, has had little to no effect on consumption rates. One study found that while decriminalization pretty much had a negligible effect on prevalence of use, it generated substantial savings in the criminal justice system. A 2001 paper by Don Weatherburn and Craig Jones found that "Fear of arrest, fear of imprisonment, the cost of cannabis or its availability do not appear to exert much effect on the prevalence of cannabis use." And all this for the small minority of users who ingest marijuana regularly; they found that 54.2% of self-identified users use it "every few months" or less, while just 9.7% smoked every day.

A wide range of literature suggests that not only is marijuana prohibition not convincing people to abstain from drugs, its social costs may outweigh any perceived benefits. What's more, the anti-drug crowd has lost of the faith of teenagers because they offer hyperbole and panic rather than factual explanations of marijuana and responsible use.

8. It has no medical use.

This one ignores not just widespread medical evidence, but what the medical community itself says. WebMD found that 69% of doctors believe medical marijuana delivers benefits to patients, while 82% of oncologists and hematologists were in favor of medical marijuana. Another study published in the New England Journal of Medicine of 1,446 doctors from 72 countries and 56 states and provinces in North America found that 76% supported medical marijuana.

Doctors currently prescribe medical marijuana for pain, multiple sclerosis, chemotherapy-induced nausea, poor appetite and weight loss from chronic disease, seizure disorders, and Crohn's disease. It may even potentially help treat traumatic brain injury and Alzheimer's disease. Weed's illegal status and Schedule I classification means that patients have no federally recognized access to medical marijuana and doctors can't adequately study it.


Thursday, 8 May 2014

Spain: Basque City Votes To License and Regulate Private Marijuana Clubs

By Steve Elliott

The Spanish city of San Sebastian, also called Donostia in the Basque region of Spain, has voted to license and regulate -- and thus legalize -- private marijuana clubs.

The city plans to pioneer the opening and operation of legal cannabis clubs for both therapeutic and recreational purposes, reports Beatriz C. Alonso Velazquez at Noticias de Gipuzkoa.

The legislation, first approved in March by the local governing board, on April 30 received the first plenary ratification without any dissenting vote. After a period of arguments, it will pass the House after which the law will come into force.

Donostia city officials estimated that 2,000 people are currently members of the 21 cannabis clubs that already operate discreetly in the city.

City council members are currently drafting a manual of practices and regulations for the clubs, saying the rules are meant to protect users.

"You can not ignore reality," said city council member Meredith Aguilera, adding that having a record of marijuana clubs which exist in the city will be helpful.

With these regulations, the government is attempting to fix a contradiction in the law -- while the personal consumption of cannabis products is allowed, their sale isn't.

According to the draft legislation, the clubs may not be closer than 300 meters to schools, and a minimum of 500 meters must be between two marijuana clubs. The clubs will be prohibited at places where smoking isn't allowed, such as shopping centers, malls and sports facilities, and they will not be allowed to install terraces on the street, as bars do.

The clubs will not be allowed to admit minors, or to be open in hours other than 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.


Thursday, 1 May 2014

Classically Cannabis: The High Notes Series

Colorado Symphony Orchestra Teams With Weed Industry

The Colorado Symphony Orchestra has devised a plan to raise interest in classical music by holding a number of upcoming weed-friendly events. It may be the state's only full-time professional orchestra, but it faces the same budget concerns and diminishing audiences plaguing other ensembles. So why not exploit the state's budding marijuana business? "The cannabis industry obviously opens the door even further to a younger, more diverse audience," the Symphony's CEO Jerome Kern told The Associated Press. For the marijuana producers, Kern said, the symphony offers its legitimacy.

The concert series, "Classically Cannabis: The High Notes Series," will feature small ensembles of musicians playing in a downtown Denver gallery. It will culminate with a concert at the Mile High City's vaunted Red Rocks venue. "This is a cannabis-friendly event," the Symphony's website said of the latter event. "But cannabis will NOT be sold at this event; it's strictly B.Y.O.C. (bring your own cannabis)." (Smoking pot is officially illegal at Red Rocks, though music fans have been scoffing at that law for years.)

A business called Edible Events Co. has organized the events, encouraging concertgoers to bring joints, baked goods or tinctures of marijuana. "We try to create upscale events where people can come and enjoy some cannabis just like they would a glass of wine," Edible Events' Jane West said. Attendees must be 21 and over and have $75 for a ticket.

The symphony has also scheduled a series called "Beethoven and Brews," putting classical music in hotel bars and local breweries. Tickets for those events are slightly cheaper, ranging from $40 to $65.

Read more:

Friday, 25 April 2014

A tour through Barcelona’s Hash,Marihuana&Hemp Museum. By WeedmapsTV

WeedMapsTV visits the Hemp Museum in Barcelona!

Retired justice says marijuana should be legalized

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens says he thinks the federal government should legalize marijuana.

The 94-year-old retired justice tells NPR that public opinion has changed on the issue.

Stevens also says that there isn't much distinction between marijuana and alcoholic beverages. He says that the prohibition against alcohol in the early 20th century is generally thought not to have been worth the cost and that he believes that will be how marijuana is viewed in the future.

Stevens is the author of a new book, "Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution," in which he proposes banning capital punishment and limiting gun rights.


Uruguay to limit licensed marijuana users to 10g a week

Leaked details of overdue new regulations for legal market intended to thwart illegal resales

Uruguay is to limit marijuana sales to 10 grams a week for each licensed user when it publishes the rules for its legal market.
The full set of rules are already two weeks overdue.

Uruguay's president, José Mujica, had asked that no details be released until the regulations were finally published on Friday or Monday, but an official in the drug control office, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the 10g weekly limit was intended to thwart illegal resales.

Pharmacies would also not be permitted to sell the 40g monthly allocation all at once.

The delay in publishing the full set of rules was blamed on the law creating Uruguay's legal marijuana market not including measures on taxing sales, so authorities are developing fees to match highly taxed alcohol and cigarette sales.

Another problem was figuring out how to trace the plants from seed to smoke.


Monday, 14 April 2014

Uruguay opens its first cannabis library

Uruguay opened its first Cannabis Library in Montevideo on Saturday, where people can come and read books on cannabis or take classes on how to grow the plant or even how to cook with it.

Marijuana Vending Machine Unveiled In Colorado

An automated pot-selling machine was unveiled at an event held at an Avon, Colo., restaurant Saturday, promising a potential new era of selling marijuana and pot-infused snacks from vending machines directly to customers.

Its creators say the machine, called the ZaZZZ, uses biometrics to verify a customer's age. The machine is climate-controlled to keep its product fresh.

You may be picturing a vending machine on a sidewalk, ready to dispense pot brownies to anyone with correct change. That's not quite what backers of the machine have in mind. For now, at least, the ZaZZZ is aimed for use only by medical marijuana patients. And it'll be in licensed stores, where it will serve a purpose like that of an automated checkout line at a grocery, they say.

The machine is built by American Green; its first model is geared toward selling snacks and other items at dispensary Herbal Elements in Eagle-Vail, Colo. — after the company is sure it has met all regulations.

Stephen Shearin of American Green parent company Tranzbyte tells Denver blogger The Cannabist that the vending machine "uses the same technology that checks age/ID fraud under the Control Meth Act. Your identity is confirmed against active biometrics. The machine on display this weekend will not be taking medical cards, but we are prepared to integrate."

Shearin also acknowledges that the idea of buying marijuana from a machine will likely have a "wow factor" that could help boost business.

The pot machine could also help dispensary owners cut down on employee theft.

"We're going to eliminate the middle man," Herbal Elements owner Greg Honan tells Denver's Fox 31 TV. Describing the vending machine's benefits, Honan added that the snacks will go directly "to our budtender, right into the machine. There's no room for theft by patients, by employees — there's no way to lose track of the inventory."

The ZaZZZ isn't the only marijuana vending machine out there. Both Arizona's Endexx and California's Medbox have made headlines for their efforts to streamline pot sales. But as far as we've seen, those companies' products are kept behind stores' counters — for now, at least.


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Uruguay to give medicinal marijuana to prisoners

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) — Prisoners in the jails of Uruguay will be able to use marijuana if a doctor says it will benefit their health.

Uruguay's drug czar Julio Calzada told The Associated Press on Tuesday that any inmates with doctors' orders will be prescribed marijuana to their improve physical or mental health.

Meanwhile, social development minister Daniel Olesker told a medical marijuana symposium in Montevideo that medicinal pot will be incorporated into the country's public health system, alongside acupuncture and homeopathic remedies.

Calzada says his agency needs two more weeks to complete the regulations for the government's legal marijuana market, which he now expects to issue between April 20 and 25. He says the actual rollout won't be until the end of the year.


Tuesday, 28 January 2014

First Ever Marijuana Superstore


It will be the Menards of marijuana, the Wal-Mart of weed, or maybe the High Depot; whatever the illustrious industrialists choose to call it, Colorado may soon be the birthplace of the first ever marijuana superstore.

According to a report in Vail Daily, a Denver-based developer has submitted a proposal for a $5 million marijuana mega-complex to be built in Eagle. The facility, which will operate under the name Rocky Mountain Pure Retail Marijuana, would consist of a 6,000-square foot retail storefront that would operate self-sufficiently with the use of a 22,500-square-foot indoor cannabis farm. 

In addition, the super complex would also include a 45,000-square-foot green house facility, a 3,600-square-foot extraction lab, a 3,750-square-foot “prohibition museum,” and another 12,000-square-feet of “other commercial space.”

The Eagle Planning and Zoning Commission reviewed the proposal earlier this week, and while there was some skepticism, they voted to approve it under a number of stipulations. Now, it must go before the Eagle Town Board for final approval.

“There was a lot of discussion about the size of the proposal. Some members felt it is terribly large,” said Eagle Town Planner Tom Boni. “This whole project is something quite different for the Western Slope and the some of the commission members felt it is not in keeping with the character of the town.”

However, representatives for Colorado Cannabis Company, the developers requesting permission to build the facility, say they fully intend to work with the town of Eagle to ease their concerns and create “the nation’s premier retail marijuana destination.”

“Rocky Mountain Pure will be a destination that Coloradans and visitors alike will come to know as the location to not only purchase the best available products, but to learn about the wonders of cannabis and the last 90 years of prohibition, to enjoy the facilities and to even gather together for a cup of coffee in our world-class botanical gardens,” said Ethan Borg with the Colorado Cannabis Company.

A public hearing on this proposal is scheduled for February 11.

Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in High Times, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73.


Monday, 20 January 2014

Obama: Marijuana No More Dangerous Than Alcohol

With a majority of Americans now in favor marijuana legalization, President Barack Obama is now saying weed is no more dangerous to individuals' health than alcohol.

In an interview with the New Yorker's David Remnick published Sunday, Obama said while he believes marijuana is "not very healthy," the drug isn't as harmful as some insist.

“As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol," Obama told Remnick.

When asked if he believes marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, Obama said it is less damaging "in terms of its impact on the individual consumer."

"It’s not something I encourage, and I’ve told my daughters I think it’s a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy," he added.

Marijuana is currently classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule 1 substance, which the DEA considers "the most dangerous class of drugs with a high potential for abuse and potentially severe psychological and/or physical dependence." Other Schedule 1 drugs include heroin, ecstasy and LSD.

Obama said his focus on reforming laws that punish drug users, noting the racial disparity in drug arrests.

"We should not be locking up kids or individual users for long stretches of jail time when some of the folks who are writing those laws have probably done the same thing," he said.

In August, the Obama administration announced it would not stop Washington and Colorado from legalizing recreational marijuana use, marking a major step away from the administration's war on drugs.

In the New Yorker interview, Obama said he believes these new laws are "important."

“It's important for it to go forward because it’s important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished," he said.


Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Financial news roundup: Banks don’t want marijuana money, even the legal kind

It’s T-minus 1 day until bank earnings start, and the big banks are expected to grease the skids of a season that is otherwise full of profit warnings. But that’s not all that’s happening in the world of banking. Here’s more:

Just saying no: It’s a heady time for marijuana supporters, as 20 states have relaxed laws pertaining to the drug’s medical or recreational use. But as the New York Times reports, banks are wary of opening accounts for the legal dispensers. Using a credit card to buy pot, on the other hand, is not out of the question, as the Wall Street Journal previously reported.

What I did on my (kinder, gentler) summer internship: Bank of America Corp.’s BAC +2.39%  Merrill Lynch unit is recommending that junior staffers take off at least four weekend days a month, making it the latest bank to wise up to the idea that new grads would rather skip off to Silicon Valley if they’re going to have to live at the office. For Bank of America, though, it’s a delicate subject after an intern died last year from a seizure that may or may not have been brought on by his long hours at the bank.

That other rate-rigging probe: The investigation into whether banks colluded to manipulate prices in the foreign-exchange market is still simmering. Bloomberg now reports that the Federal Reserve is investigating.

–Christina Rexrode


Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Italy: Turin says yes to marijuana legalization

Turin’s local city assembly has called for the legalization of sale and consumption of marijuana. The local legislative body asked the city council to put pressure on both the Parliament and the government for the current set of prohibitionist norms to be abolished, in favor of a new one allowing “the production and distribution of soft drugs”.

The motion, proposed by the leftist party SEL (Left, Ecology and Freedom) passed by a very narrow majority, 15 votes against 13, with 6 abstained. The therapeutic use of marijuana is allowed by some Italian regions like Liguria, Tuscany and Veneto – Turin’s La Stampa reports – but the recreational consumption is still a taboo.

In that, Turin’s vote is groundbreaking: many other big Italian cities are ready to follow the same path and have asked to receive the documentation from the Piedmont’s capital. But by the same token, it leaves the legal framework substantially unchanged. Any modification of the laws regulating soft drugs’ consumption will be decided in Rome.

Even if the anti-prohibitionist tide is rising, few believe change is possible any time soon. The issue is too sensitive, and the narrow majority with which the motion was passed is revealing. Even the center-left Democratic Party, leading the ruling coalition, yesterday split in two and its leader, the mayor Piero Fassino, abstained from voting.