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North America: 'No More Drug War' Caravan Departs From Central America On Way To U.N.

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Caravan to Hold Events in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and the United States Culminating at UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs in New York on April 19-21

Ahead of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on Drugs, which will be taking place in New York City from April 19 to April 21, the Caravan for Peace, Life and Justice started its journey in Honduras on March 28 (see Caravan schedule). The Caravan is a far-reaching initiative brought together by civic organizations, social movements, and victims of human rights violations from multiple countries demanding an end to the drug war to create alternatives to prohibitionist policies that fuel violence and illicit drug trafficking.

The Caravan will visit some of the places most affected by militarization, organized crime and mass incarceration, bringing to public attention the voices of victims, migrants, indigenous and farming communities, women, youths and human rights defenders.

The goal is to promote an honest and diverse discussion of drug policy with a focus on the social costs of prohibition and the Drug War, as well as alternatives based on human rights, public health and reducing violence.

Uruguay: Cannabis Sales Stuck In Limbo Two Years After Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

More than two years after Uruguay became the first nation in the modern world to legalize and regulate marijuana, citizens are still waiting to buy the first legal cannabis at pharmacies.

Although Uruguay legalized in December 2013, the government has yet to implement a plan for mainstream cannabis commercialization, reports Ladan Cher at Foreign Policy, because they argue they can't rush such a complicated task. What was initially ballyhooed as the world's first controlled experiment of a nationwide marijuana economy is now stuck in limbo.

Uruguay has, rather than serving as a model for other countries hoping to legalize, become a cautionary tale about the difficulties which can be encountered on the way to creating a legal cannabis market.

The legalization law, passed with the support of groups like Regulación Responsable, permits Uruguayans who registered with the government to get cannabis in one of three ways: growing it at home, joining cannabis clubs (in which members grow a collective garden), or buying it from pharmacies.

But pharmacy sales are still unavailable, leaving only the 6,000 Uruguayans who grow their own plants with legal access to marijuana.

Uruguay: Wide World of Cannabis Explores First Country To Legalize Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Cannabis and pop culture media platform Merry Jane is investigating cannabis globally in their new original series, "Wide World of Cannabis," which premieres Wednesday.

The first episode, "Uruguay Part 1," travels to South America to explore the first country in the world to completely legalize recreational and medicinal marijuana.

"This is just the start of Merry Jane's deep dive into cannabis use around the world," publicist Katie Jang told us on Wednesday.

Merry Jane was recently launched by entertainment icon Snoop Dogg and media entrepreneur Ted Chung.

The website, including partners Seth Rogen, Guy Oseary and Miley Cyrus, features the latest news on cannabis, business and entertainment, as well as a location mapping service for dispensaries, and an encyclopedia of all things cannabis.

Uruguay: 3 Types Of Marijuana To Be Available In Pharmacies Next Year

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Adults in Uruguay will be able to choose from three varieties of marijuana when it starts being sold in state-licensed pharmacies next year, the National Drug Board announced on Saturday.

Each strain will have different levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), according to drug board president Milton Romani, reports Malena Castaldi at Reuters.

"There will be three options with indications about the effects of each that point beginners toward starting with the lowest level" of THC, Romani told Reuters on the sidelines of the marijuana forum Expocannabis 2015.

Romani wouldn't identify the three cannabis varieties which will be available in pharmacies.

Uruguay in 2013 became the first nation in modern times to legalize the cultivation and sale of cannabis. Authorities have developed genetically distinct plants in an attempt to stymie the black market and keep legal weed from leaving Uruguay's borders, according to Romani.

The government said registered cannabis users will be able to buy weed at pharmacies by mid-2016, when the country's two licensed growers start selling their first crop of about four tonnes.

"We want to do things right, and if it takes a bit longer, so be it," Romani said. "We have to be very careful with this because any slip-up could ruin an experience that is unique to the world."

Mexico: Supreme Court Opens Door To Legalizing Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Mexican Supreme Court on Wednesday opened the door to legalizing marijuana, delivering a direct challenge to the nation's harsh drug laws and adding to the debate in Latin America over the costs of the War On Drugs.

The vote, by the court's criminal chamber, declared that individuals should have the right to grow and distribute marijuana for personal use, report Elisabeth Malkin and Azam Ahmed at The New York Times.

The ruling applies only to a single cannabis club that brought the lawsuit, and does not strike down Mexico's current drug laws. But according to experts, it is likely the first of a wave of legal actions that ultimate could legalize marijuana.

The flow of drugs from Mexico to the United States continues, after decades of the America-backed War On Drugs has produced much destruction but few lasting victories. The drug traffic fuels political corruption in Mexico, which remains engulfed in violence.

“It’s the drama behind all of our efforts,” said Juan Francisco Torres Landa, a corporate lawyer who was one of the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case. "It's clearly a significant part of the business," said Peter Reuter, a University of Maryland expert on the global Drug War and a senior economist at the RAND Corporation.

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