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The state of marijuana today

Marijuana joint and plants
Marijuana joint and plants

Marijuana or cannabis is the most widely cultivated, produced, trafficked and consumed drug in the world and an increasing number of countries have legalized or are in the process of legalizing the use of marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes.

The changing attitudes towards marijuana has led to several countries seriously considering legislative changes that would allow the use of marijuana at least for medical purposes if not for recreation.

For instance Canada plans to follow the lead of Uruguay by legalizing and regulating the use of marijuana this year, while Ireland, Australia, Jamaica and Germany have approved measures for its medicinal use. South Africa is also giving serious thought to the idea of legalization.

Canada and Uruguay have taken a similar regulatory step towards marijuana by providing government-controlled sources of approved marijuana for anyone – medical or recreational use.

In 2001, Portugal took an even more radical approach when the country decriminalized the possession for personal use not just marijuana but all drugs.

Other countries like the Netherlands, Mexico, Czech Republic and Costa Rica have have decriminalized personal possession of marijuana.

In the US, medical marijuana is legal in half of the 50 states, Washington D.C. and 8 states allow recreational use of marijuana and 28 states have approved medical marijuana programs.

There is widespread recognition of the medical benefits of marijuana, including its analgesic effects on chronic pain, as well as in alleviating muscle spasms, anxiety, and nausea and vomiting, mostly linked to disorders such as multiple sclerosis and cancer treatment.

These benefits are attributed to two main components of cannabis: Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) the psychoative component, and cannabidiol (CBD), which has a counter effect to the psychotive component.

Many medical experts still believe that a lot more data and information is needed, especially in relation to developing policies about recreational use of marijuana.

Consequently, fifteen years on from the implementation of its pioneering drugs policy, Portugal should have a considerale body of data and evidence to share with the rest of the world.

It is important to collate this information along with data from the other countries that have adopted progressive marijuana policies in order to move the marijuana debate forward.

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