Why Will Europe Be Slow in Legalising Medical Cannabis

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Drug policy usually moves like an iceberg: slowly. And while and it can be hard to turn, sometimes it changes course in an unexpected direction. In the case of cannabis or marijuana, it may be picking up speed, but there are rough waters ahead.

Cannabis has been around longer than the written word, 4000 BC or earlier, and has been used for medicinal purposes since at least 2737 BC. It entered the Western pharmacopoeia in the 19th century, then began to be demonised in the 20th century, including in laughable exploitation films such as 1936’s Marihuana: Weed with Roots in Hell (1936) and Reefer Madness (1938).

Cannabis Bans

Canada banned cannabis as part of the Opium and Drug Act of 1923. Great Britain joined the ban in 1928 – as did most of Europe – then reinforced it by passing the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, which ratified the UN’s Convention on Psychotropic Substances.

With 1937’s Marihuana Tax Act,...

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