While more and more U.S. states consider cannabis legalization, Europe hardly moves anywhere in this direction. One of the reasons for this inactivity is the fact that the political power of people in Europe is limited, and they cannot simply address the question most politicians try to avoid.
There is no doubt that cannabis activists around the world are closely looking at the U.S. legalization measures this season. Apart from the U.S. and Switzerland, not many countries provide their citizens with the opportunity to directly change laws via initiatives. In our country, cannabis legalization in each state happened due to an initiative.
Unfortunately, in Europe, only the U.K. and the Netherlands allow referendums. However, their results offer only valuable advice to lawmakers and are not legally binding. That is why European marijuana enthusiasts have to take action in a different way.
American activists start from gathering a specific number of signatures to qualify the proposition for the ballot. Only then comes the campaigning. In Europe, these things are more complex. Even if you gather the signatures from every citizen of the country, nothing will change. The situation in Europe forces activists to lobby politicians directly. Almost all reforms in the cannabis policy were the results of bottom-up initiatives developed in big cities. The Netherlands' coffeeshops and Spanish social clubs are the bright examples of such actions. However, even though the poll results show that the Netherlands has greater marijuana support than even the U.S. does, the government does not allow any steps to be taken in the direction of regulated cultivation.
Another way to change weed policy in Europe is through the courts. This approach proved to be fruitful in Germany where a patient was allowed to grow cannabis at home. This case urged the authorities to introduce medical cannabis legislation next year.
Despite the differences, one thing is common for both parts of the world—the cannabis industry is moving forward. Only the European process is slower. The results of the Nov. 8 election are a watershed moment for the whole cannabis world. It was the U.S. that started the War on Drugs, and this country will also put an end to it.