Around the World in Cannabis | Smoke Signals | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Coverage for Central Oregon, by Central Oregonians.
100% Local. No Paywalls.

Every day, the Source publishes a mix of locally reported stories on our website, keeping you up to date on developments in news, food, music and the arts. We’re committed to covering this city where we live, this city that we love, and we hear regularly from readers who appreciate our ability to put breaking news in context.

The Source has been a free publication for its 22 years. It has been free as a print version and continued that way when we began to publish online, on social media and through our newsletters.

But, as most of our readers know, times are different for local journalism. Tech giants are hoovering up small businesses and small-business advertising—which has been the staple for locally owned media. Without these resources, journalism struggles to bring coverage of community news, arts and entertainment that social media cannot deliver.

Please consider becoming a supporter of locally owned journalism through our Source Insider program. Learn more about our program’s benefits by clicking through today.

Support Us Here

Culture » Smoke Signals

Around the World in Cannabis



This week, Smoke Signals goes around the world in cannabis news, starting in the Great White North:

Legalization in Alaska

Santa may be extra jolly this year, as last week brought the revelation that the North Pole has a commercial cannabis growing operation. OK, the grow op is not at the North Pole. As far as we know, Santa's elves are not busily tending a fresh crop of Afghani Kush. But Black Rapids LLC is growing such a crop in North Pole, Alaska.

And that was the strain sold last week at Arctic Herbery, the first cannabis store to open in Anchorage, Alaska's largest city. The first customer in a long line stretching around the block was 81-year-old Anna Ercoli, who told reporters she would be mixing her 2.5 grams of Afghani Kush flower into a medicinal cream. "This is really the only thing that when I put it on my skin, I can go to sleep and I can sleep because I have no pain," she said.

Canada's Cannabis Policy

Next door in Canada, the government's cannabis legalization task force issued its much-awaited report on cannabis policy. The report states that, "There is growing recognition that cannabis prohibition has proven to be an ineffective strategy for reducing individual or social harms" and recommends that Canada implement a public health and research-focused system to displace the illegal cannabis market.

The report makes 80 recommendations in all, including a minimum age of 18 for purchases, a 30-gram limit on public possession, a growing limit of four plants per home, separation of cannabis from alcohol and tobacco, both in products and in sales locations, and legalizing dedicated locations for cannabis consumption and cannabis mail-order services. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's administration is expected to introduce nationwide cannabis legalization legislation in 2017.

Mexico Moves Toward Medical

South of the border, the Mexican Senate passed a bill legalizing medical cannabis. Last week's vote was the latest in a series of actions by the Mexican government that have included decriminalizing possession of small amounts of cannabis and allowing individuals to grow cannabis for personal use. The bill will now be considered by Mexico's Chamber of Deputies. Over the past decade, an estimated 100,000 Mexicans have been killed and 30,000 have gone missing due to the war on drugs.

Colombia's War on Drugs Ends

And speaking of the war on drugs, Colombia's civil war, which dragged on for over 50 years, has finally ended. The conflict was closely tied to the war on drugs, as the FARC rebels were funded by proceeds from illegal drug trafficking. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos received the Nobel Peace Price for his efforts to end the war, and used his acceptance speech to address the issue. "The war on drugs has not been won, and is not being won. The manner in which this war against drugs is being waged is equally or perhaps even more harmful than all the wars the world is fighting today, combined," Santos said.

The Numbers from Portugal

Finally, in Portugal, 15 years after decriminalizing all drugs there still has been no increase in drug use and drug-related deaths, and illnesses have decreased dramatically since the policy change. A similar picture is emerging in the United States, where millions of people now have access to legal cannabis but teen drug use is at historic lows—but the connection, or lack thereof, still baffles officials.

"I don't have an explanation," Dr. Nora Volkow of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told U.S. News & World Report.

About The Author

Add a comment

More by Steve Holmes

Latest in Smoke Signals