Jamaica is about to legalize pot. Here are 11 others that could, too

A proposal to reform marijuana laws in Jamaica cleared a big hurdle this week when it gained the approval of the prime minister and her cabinet.

Jamaica isn’t the only nation ready to loosen laws that outlaw ganja. Here are 12 countries around the world that could end marijuana prohibition:

1. Jamaica

Bunny Wailer

Jamaica has been debating legalization for decades. Once Uruguay and several U.S. states approved cannabis for recreational use, however, public officials saw an opening to change their own pot policies.

The legislation would make marijuana possession of two ounces or less a ticketable offense that would not result in a criminal record.

The drug would also be permitted for religious, medical, scientific and therapeutic uses. This would allow the country’s Rastafarians, who use cannabis in sacred rites, to grow and consume it within the confines of the law.

The Jamaican Parliament is expected to debate the law within the next several weeks. If it passes there, the country could launch its own medical marijuana industry, available to tourists, as well.

“Jamaica definitely is going to be the pioneer in the Caribbean on marijuana law reform,” said Hannah Hetzer, policy manager of the Americas at the Drug Policy Alliance, which backs marijuana legalization.

Other neighbors in the Caribbean could follow: governments in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Puerto Rico are all debating the issue.

2. Canada

Visitors pose in front of a flag similia

Canada isn’t just famous for the maple leaf. The western province of British Columbia is well known for its marijuana production and activists there have been clamoring for the government to remove criminal penalties on pot.

Medical marijuana is already legal throughout the country. Last year, the government began allowing companies to grow and ship cannabis to patients.

Most Canadians are ready for a change, too. An August 2014 poll found that six in 10 think marijuana should be legal. The fate of the nation’s pot laws could rest on this October’s general election. Opposition candidates might be open to legalization; sitting Prime Minister Stephen Harper isn’t.

3. Colombia

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After decades of a brutal drug war, Colombia took a fresh approach in 2012 when the government legalized possession of small amounts of marijuana and cocaine. President Juan Manuel Santos had openly criticized the war on drugs a year earlier.

“A new approach should try and take away the violent profit that comes with drug trafficking,” he said. “If that means legalizing, and the world thinks that’s the solution, I will welcome it. I’m not against it.”

Colombia’s Congress is expected to vote on the medical use of marijuana in March.

4. Guatemala

Lake Atitlan

Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina first spoke of legalizing drugs in 2012, saying the fight against it was “too high a human cost.” But not much has happened since then.

During a visit to the U.S. in July 2014, he said he would review studies on marijuana legalization by the end of the year and a few months later, hetold Venezuela-based TeleSur he would make a decision in 2015.

“You have presidential leadership, but not necessarily a strong domestic movement pushing for it,” said Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. A 2012 Cid Gallup Latinoamérica poll found that 79 percent of Guatemalans opposed legalizing the use of marijuana, cocaine and heroin.

5. Costa Rica

Coasta Rica, Rincon De La Vieja, Sunset

Marijuana is illegal in Costa Rica and carrying more than a personal amount can land you some serious jail time. But medical marijuana is under consideration.

A Costa Rican lawmaker wants to make the country the first in Central America to legalize medical marijuana and introduced a bill last summer.

A 2013 survey from the University of Costa Rica found that while a sizable majority of Costa Ricans opposes legalization, more than half supported medical pot.

6. Mexico

A Mexican soldier walks at a marijuan fi

An estimated 60,000 people died in Mexico’s drug war during the six-year administration of its last president. The death rate is lower under the current president, Enrique Peña Nieto, who took office in December 2012—but not that much lower.

Reforming marijuana laws seems like an obvious move to combat the reach of drug cartels and Peña Nieto has hinted he’s open to the idea. He said in June that he’s not personally in favor of legalization, but that Mexico and the U.S. can’t have incongruent drug policies.

“We can’t continue on this road of inconsistency between the legalization we’ve had in some places, particularly in the most important consumer market, the United States, and in Mexico where we continue to criminalize production of marijuana,” he said.

Mexicans, however, aren’t crazy about the idea. A 2013 poll found only one in three supported legalization.

7. Netherlands

Coffee Shops In Amsterdam Remain Open To Tourists

Amsterdam is famous for its hazy coffee shops, where tourists can legally buy and enjoy all types of pot. But cannabis production is still illegal in the country, forcing the suppliers to operate outside of the law.

In November, Amsterdam’s city council called for regulated marijuana production, a position shared by mayors across the country. Although Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten opposes regulated production, the city still reportedly plans to go forward with the experiment.

8. Denmark

Street art, Copenhagen, Denmark, Oct 2012

If it was up to Copenhagen, marijuana would have been legal years ago. City officials there have been asking the national government for permission to set up a regulated cannabis market since 2012, to no avail.

Marijuana use is largely permitted in Copenhagen anyway (there’s an open-air drug market in Christiania, the city’s hippie “free zone”). But the mayor would like to set up a trial run of full legalization to see if it helps combat crime.

9. Spain

Cannabis Clubs Boom In Barcelona

Hundreds of cannabis clubs have opened up in Barcelona and the surrounding area in recent years, turning it into a more low-key alternative to Amsterdam, Europe’s established capital of weed tourism. The policy didn’t change—businesses took cover under a decades-old law permitting marijuana to be grown and smoked in non-profit clubs.

Cannabis is decriminalized in Spain, but trafficking and public consumption is illegal.

10. Czech Republic

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The freewheeling tourist destination tweaked its laws in 2010 to lessen criminal penalties for people caught with small amounts of marijuana, a move that seemed in line with its reputation as a Euro party town. Marijuana possession isn’t decriminalized—you’re still subject to a misdemeanor charge and a fine—but attitudes appear to be relaxed.

The laws around medical cannabis have changed in recent years, as well. In 2013, the Czech Republic began allowing doctors to prescribe the drug for pickup at pharmacies.

11. Australia

Heat Wave Hits South Australia

Marijuana is illegal in Australia, although the drug is decriminalized in some states. Full tax-and-regulate legalization probably isn’t on the horizon just yet, but popular support is mounting for medical marijuana.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is behind it, too. “I have no problem with the medical use of cannabis, just as I have no problem with the medical use of opiates,” he wrote in August.

12. United States

Colorado Scenics

Four states have already legalized marijuana and 23 states allow it for medical use. The next big push will come in California, where activists will try to legalize the drug for recreational purposes in 2016.

But even with all the changes at the state level, it’s unlikely Congress will roll back all prohibitions on the drug. Marijuana is still classified alongside heroin and LSD as one of the most dangerous illicit drugs.

Reform is coming incrementally, though. In December, Congress passed a measure that prohibited federal agencies from using their funds for enforcement operations against medical marijuana businesses. The president has shown he’s willing to let states experiment with recreational pot, as well.

Facebook has officially declared it wants to own every single thing you do on the internet

At Facebook’s F8 conference today, it unveiled a number of big new changes to its service that transforms Messenger into a platform, expands Facebook Video even further and offers deeper integrations than ever for developers.

The changes are actually really cool and great news for developers — Facebook is finally turning Messenger into the hub for everything, like LINE and WeChat already did in Asia — but they also signal something much larger.

Facebook is declaring that it effectively wants to own every single thing you do on the internet.

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Let’s quickly go through the things that Facebook is making inroads into controlling:

  • Social networking
  • Messaging your friends (Messenger, WhatsApp)
  • Messaging businesses (Messenger)
  • Advertising (Paid Ads, LiveRail, Pages)
  • Paying your friends
  • Buying and selling things online
  • Virtual reality (Oculus)
  • Gaming
  • News
  • Video/TV (Facebook Video)
  • Development platform (Parse)
  • How you actually receive the internet
  • Photos (Instagram)

Here’s the thing: with Facebook’s announcements today, it’s suddenly significantly harder to avoid the service at all.

If you didn’t have a Facebook already, like 1 billion other people, you’re going to find it even harder to avoid in the future with these changes. It’s now becoming the easiest way to do anything on the internet.

For example: you might wonder like I did this morning, why on earth you’d want to share your videos with Facebook over YouTube?

Think of it this way: with YouTube, you’re sharing videos into a vacuum and hoping they get picked up or discovered.

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On Facebook, you’re dropping them into the company’s entire friend graph immediately.

Your video shows up in News Feed for people straight away, without them needing to go to another service, and can naturally gain velocity from there as friends share, like or comment on it.

YouTube doesn’t have that friend graph so it could never pull that off; nobody other than Facebook can deliver content so directly to relevant audiences. Right now, Facebook prioritizes showing video uploaded to the service in your News Feed, but for how long?

Facebook can deliver your content to more people than any other service. It owns the eyeballs that everyone wants to reach and the News Feed can deliver more engagement/views/clicks than any other service could hope to.

These are the same reasons that news organizations are seemingly falling over themselves to publish their news directly to the service.

The problem is that Facebook controls what you see and when. If it becomes the primary way to consume news and watch videos, what happens when a news story is controversial about the company itself?

Or isn’t within its content guidelines (like pornography)? You’ll be receiving a filtered version of the internet that’s controlled by one company.

3 install from conversation Facebook has officially declared it wants to own every single thing you do on the internet

With Messenger now serving as a platform, you’ll be able to do everything from ordering a cab to creating stupid GIFs, without needing to leave the service.

You can message businesses directly to ask questions, reserve a table or organize an event. This is all possible from the same app.

Now that you can pay friends directly in the Messenger app too, there’s one less reason to leave.

Every day that another integration is built for Messenger, there’s another reason to stay on the service; Facebook now owns your private conversations and your payments.

All of these things are awesome, because we live in a time where it’s easier than ever to do everything you want to do, with no friction, in a single place.

Unfortunately, it also puts a lot of power in a single place. Google should be scared; the reasons to use its service are quickly decreasing as people stay inside Facebook’s walls longer.

For those in emerging countries, Facebook works with Internet.org to provide free access to a bunch of services in education, government and other areas. It also provides free access to Facebook.

Those who are connecting for the first time in these countries often don’t understand the difference between Facebook and “the internet.”

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Their first and last experience with the internet is on Facebook and they know nothing else.

While we’ve been busy fighting for net neutrality, Facebook has essentially pre-empted the idea of it in emerging countries. Who needs net neutrality when you’re providing the best of the internet, for free, inside your own platform?

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That’s Facebook’s logic at least; it completely owns those people’s eyeballs. Nobody is challenging it in those countries.

If the company continues to succeed at this strategy in those parts of the world, the internet as a whole will change completely.

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Facebook needs to fight for your eyeballs in the West — it’s winning, by the way — but everywhere else, it has no competition.

This weird, new reality should bring back repressed memories of when AOL fought tooth and nail to contain your internet experience inside its walled garden.

AOL wanted to own every single thing you saw in the 1990’s, but ultimately failed.

I believe Facebook could succeed at that failed vision of 20 years ago, and it’s terrifying.

The problem with this degree of control is that Facebook can change its mind about how many people should see your content at any moment, and could totally kill a business’ prospects in the process.

f8 day1keynote Facebook has officially declared it wants to own every single thing you do on the internet

Don’t believe me? Ask Zynga. Or The Washington Post. Facebook can and has pulled the rug from under companies before when it changes its mind and heads in a different direction in the past, and it’ll do it again.

At least on the open Web, you can control your own fate, but those days may be coming to an end.

Facebook is becoming overwhelmingly unavoidable; as much as 40 percent of news site traffic is delivered from Facebook. Those that don’t conform may have too much to lose.

Companies that avoid getting onboard with Facebook Messenger’s direct messaging service may miss out on customers altogether in the future. The list goes on.

It’s a huge and exciting time, in which Facebook has made simple tasks in life much easier, but it’s also scary that a single company is moving to control the entire internet.

This Chinese Megacity Rise Around The Chinese Farmers Who Used To Live There

The city is eating the countryside. People who have farmed all their lives don’t know what to do except keep working amid the construction.

Five years ago, the drive from the airport to downtown Chongqing—a city deep in the heart of China—passed fields of farmland. Now, it’s possible to drive half an hour seeing nothing but high-rises.

“Basically, the countryside is being eaten by the city,” says photographer Tim Franco, who started documenting the changes in Chongqing in 2009.

“I always wanted to capture urban development in China, but I was living in Shanghai, and I felt everybody already talks about Shanghai,” he says.

“I really wanted to see the whole process of a secondary city in China trying to become one of the biggest cities in China.”

The city is part of China’s larger plan to move around 250 million rural residents to cities over the next decade.

The changes in Chongqing have led to a new kind of urban farmer: people who don’t know what else to do in the city.

“Older farmers who have no idea what it is to live in a city, and basically have no education at all, are being moved to the city, and they have no idea what to do,” says Franco.

“They’re living in an apartment and given some basic money by the government, very little, and they have no way to adapt. The only thing they know how to do is to grow vegetables, so some of them just go back to doing that.”

For others, especially those who live in slums in the city, the changes are seen as positive—even when historic buildings are being bulldozed every day.

“It’s easy as a Westerner to be shocked seeing really beautiful old buildings being destroyed, and whole districts being removed,” Franco says. “But actually when you talk to people living there, it’s an incredible improvement of quality of life.”

People who might have lived in a stone house without windows suddenly have a modern apartment.

Since Franco began the project, the changes have made some areas almost unrecognizable.

“This year, two of my favorite old neighborhoods were completely flattened,” he says. “I was walking through small alleyways on my last visit, and then I went back and it’s disappeared, a giant pile of rocks.”

Franco has collected his photographs in a new book called Metamorpolis. Though the project is over, he plans to keep going back to see how the city continues to evolve.

“It’s an amazing, fast-forward urbanization of a city,” he says. “It’s interesting to see where it’s going to go, and how it’s going to change, and if it will be reorganized.”

Metarmorpolis – The rise of a chinese mega city

Metamorpolis is 112 hard cover photography book documenting the rise of the fastest growing city in the world : Chongqing. Tim Franco spent the last 5 years exploring this megacity taking over farmlands and absorbing a rural population who is struggling to find it marks in the modern and vertical city.

New Instagram Collage App Lets You Take Wild Mirrored Shots

Instagram’s new collage app, Layout, lets you take neat mirrored shots. INSTAGRAM Gallery Image

INSTAGRAM’S LAST STANDALONE app, Hyperlapse, made it possible to take striking steadicam-style videos on your smartphone. It was an awesome creative tool and an impressive technical achievement.

So it would be understandable to be a little bit, well, underwhelmed to hear that the latest creation to emerge from the Instagram laboratory is… an app for making photo collages. Thankfully, it’s cooler than it sounds.

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In addition to the usual collage stuff. INSTAGRAMGallery Image

Layout, available today for the iPhone, lets you painlessly arrange smartphone shots in all sorts of configurations. It’s far from the first app to do this, but a handful of thoughtful details make it especially easy to use.

Beyond those, it has some novel features, like the ability to flip images within compositions to create surreal mirrored shots, that make it an interesting creative tool in its own right.

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Its UI makes it easy to experiment with how photos are arranged. INSTAGRAM Gallery Image

Why build a collage app in the first place? For one thing, they’re popular. According to Instagram, one in five users already stitch photos together with some application of the sort.

There’s something satisfying about packing small things snugly into boxes, something any fan of the Container Store knows well.

As Instagram’s designers saw it, though, existing collage apps left room for improvement.

For example, upon launching these apps typically give you a slew of grids to choose from. Layout displays your pictures right away instead.

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And by stripping out the borders between the individual photos, you can come up with some neat effects. INSTAGRAM Gallery Image

This decision was based on a simple insight: People want to pick photos and experiment with different ways to combine them, rather than being forced to pick a grid and and then shoehorn pictures into it.

The app further facilitates quick experimentation with a split-screen design, which lets you you swap photos, resize them, and adjust your composition without jumping through a bunch of different menus.

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You don’t need an Instagram account to use it. INSTAGRAM Gallery Image

The app doesn’t let you put borders around individual photos within a composition—a choice made in the name of a cleaner-looking final product.

As one of the app’s designers explained, they wanted to avoid the “scrapbook-y” look that some kitschier collage apps embrace.

You can post your compositions to Instagram or Facebook, or just save them to your camera roll; you don’t need an Instagram account to use the app.

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Layout’s workflow is nice and speedy, but more interesting are the new types of collages it encourages users to explore.

The coolest is the mirrored shot. By placing two copies of the same image in the frame and flipping one of them, you can create seamless psychedelic portraits, dreamlike landscapes, and all manner of other kaleidoscopic compositions.

The app’s other neat feature is called photo booth. It takes four pictures in rapid succession and automatically stitches them together.

Looks like Interstellar! INSTAGRAM Gallery Image

The result is a different type of collage than we’re used to seeing, one that’s more about condensing time than simply reorganizing space. It hints at a story within a single frame.

The photo booth feature is also noteworthy in that it asks users to think of Layout as a place you go to create new images, not just an app you use to process ones you’ve already taken.

The mirror effect, too, will likely produce its best results when shots are planned ahead of time. It amounts to something a little more ambitious than a typical photo collage app.

While its main utility may be packing pictures into tidy little boxes, Layout also brings a few new prompts for thinking about mobile photography, and that’s never a bad thing.

Clever App Reveals a Snapshot of Your Location—In the Past

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THE MAKERS OF the augmented reality app Pivot want to create a time portal—on your phone.

The app aims to bring glimpses of history to your smartphone screen, using images tied to wherever you happen to be.

Users receive notifications when they’re near a “pivot” point; raising the phone brings up an image of that place as it appeared from that vantage point decades ago.

For creators Asma Jaber and her fiancée Sami Jitan, the inspiration for the project was personal: “I wanted to create a way to let people see what my father’s village looked like in the past,” Jaber says.

Jaber’s Palestinian father lived in Nazareth and, later, in a village north of Ramallah during a period of great conflict in the region. He arrived in South Carolina in 1971 after being denied entry to the West Bank and landing in Jordan.

Her father, determined to preserve his homeland in the family’s imagination, often told stories about life there and took Jaber to visit the places of his childhood.

“He showed me the house where he was born, the school he went to in the old city of Jerusalem, where he hiked as a Boy Scout,” she said. “It was very powerful.” When her father died years later, Jaber felt like she not only lost a parent, but a guide to her ancestral homeland.

Jaber, a recent graduate of Harvard’s school of public policy, and Jitan started developing Pivot last spring. With help from two computer science students from Harvard and MIT, they created a prototype that won an entrepreneurship contest at the Harvard Innovation Lab, which helped them continue developing the project.

The duo hopes Pivot could become a historical preservation platform. Though Pivot initially will rely upon online archives for its media, the service hopes to create a crowd-sourced model the founders call “shoebox archiving.”

The idea is to encourage people worldwide to upload old photographs and other multimedia.

It will be tied to a specific GPS coordinate and vetted for accuracy.

Pivot could offer a unique way to rediscover history—and address a desire to archive that history. Jaber has heard from people in Italy, Australia, Indonesia, and throughout the US interested in preserving their homes’ history.

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Pivot already has exceeded its Kickstarter goal of $30,000 in a campaign that ends Saturday. The Android and iOS compatible app launch with points in historic Palestine and Boston this fall, with plans to expand to other cities quickly thereafter.

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