In France this week we have a new parliamentary report that recommends the full legalization of cannabis, with state control of the sale.
The report presents yet more proof, if any was needed, that prohibition does not limit cannabis use:
"there are 13.4 million people in this nation of 62 million who are either regular or occasional cannabis users - one million more than when statistics were gathered five years ago. This makes France's level of consumption among the highest in Europe alongside Spain, the UK and Germany."
Wonderful news from Italy where the supreme court has just decriminalised personal cultivation of cannabis.
Italian damsels, long accustomed to being serenaded on their balconies, may now do so as the perfumed scent of potted cannabis plants drifts around them on the evening breeze... legally...
Italians can breathe a collective sigh of relief, but over in the USA the tokers of New Jersey are still holding their breath as plans to decriminalise possession of small amounts of cannabis go before the state legislature.
Unlike Italy, the proposed New Jersey laws will not make the essential step of cutting the link between the cannabis market and organised crime. Citizens would still be forced to purchase their cannabis from the black market. As it is, the bill has little chance of passing, so cannabis users in NJ will likely be harassed and imprisoned for some time to come.
Italy need not worry about an explosion in cannabis use due to the new laws as there is no evidence that prohibition limits consumption, nor that "liberal" laws encourage use. Portugal and the Netherlands, for example, are well known for having substantially lower rates of cannabis use than countries such as the UK, France and Denmark. And the rewards of decriminalising personal production can benefit users and non-users alike. Less money going to organised crime, less of the violence associated with gang competition over control of the illegal cannabis market, and an end to the harassment of cannabis users by law enforcement. Congratulations to the Italian Supreme Court. Let's hope the hacks and politicians of the UK are paying attention...