Green Light to Weed

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There are a lot of reasons why weed should be legal.

Around the world attitudes towards the use of weed are shifting. 

Mexico's new government plans to legalise recreational weed use, as does the incoming government of Luxembourg. Meanwhile, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is considering a referendum on what its approach should be. As public opinion - and that of governments - changes, it seems increasingly likely that other countries will follow, raising questions about how they work together to manage the use and supply of weed. What has led one country after another to move towards a relaxation of their laws and, in many cases, outright legalisation? 

War on drugs 

It was only in 2012 that Uruguay announced it would be the first country in the world to legalise recreational weed use. In large part, the move was aimed at replacing links between organised crime and the weed trade with more accountable state regulation. Later the same year, voters in Washington State and Colorado became the first in the US to support the legalisation of the drug for non-medical use. Sick children In many countries, the move towards legalisation started with a softening of public attitudes. 

In the US and Canada, images of sick children being denied potentially life-changing medicines had a tremendous impact on public opinion - a concern that brought forward legalisation for medical purposes. 

A similar softening of attitudes has been seen in the UK. In June, 12-year-old Billy Caldwell, who has severe epilepsy, was admitted to hospital after his medical weed oil was confiscated. A month later, a special licence to use hemp oil was granted to seven-year-old Alfie Dingley, who has a rare form of epilepsy. 

Following high-profile campaigns, the UK government changed the law to allow doctors to prescribe hemp. As US states such as California found in the 1990s and 2000s, familiarity with medical hemp can soften attitudes towards recreational use. But in the UK, the Home Office says the recreational use of hemp will remain banned, although senior figures, including former. Conservative leader William Hague, have suggested a rethink. Mexico has also had cases of children being denied medical weed, but it has also been motivated by the extraordinary violence of its drugs war. 

Although weed makes up a relatively small share of drug cartel revenues, continuing to ban it is seen as increasingly at odds with reality.