Since 2012, a few States across the Atlantic have passed initiatives to remove prohibition and legalize cannabis. These unprecedented moves have rehashed the debate in Europe regarding the legal status of cannabis. Yet, the terms of the issue remain poorly understood. This pedagogic contribution provides a glossary of legal terminology and a review of the national legislations implemented in Europe, along with a brief assessment of the ongoing developments throughout the world. It also recalls evidence on some badly known facts: depenalization does not necessarily mean lifting the ban; in the Netherlands, cannabis is still illegal even if this country has a 40-year long cannabis tolerance policy; cannabis law and levels of use are disconnected. This paper aims to contribute to the conversation around cannabis policy and help policy-makers and general readers separate hard facts from conjecture.
- drug policy
- drug offence