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September 25 2012

The relaxation of cannabis laws shows the failure of the war on drugs

When the Uruguayan president José Mujica was asked about his proposal to make a historic break with global prohibition and put in place a legal, state-controlled market for cannabis, he replied: "Someone has to be first."

Most surprising have been reforms in the US, the spiritual home of the "war on drugs" ethos and still its primary cheerleader internationally, despite more than 50% of Americans now supporting cannabis legalisation. Fourteen US states have decriminalised cannabis possession, and 17 now allow medical cannabis in some cases with the distinction between medical and non-medical use becoming increasingly blurred. Most significant are the three state ballot initiatives, in Washington, Oregon and Colorado being voted on in November, which will legalise and regulate cannabis markets for non-medical use.

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