Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • Cannabis referendum: Marijuana not so bad for you, won't turn your hair green

    Stop wasting the money on the police, the helicopters, the prosecutors, the courts, the jails
    New Zealand Herald (New Zealand)
    Wednesday, July 8, 2020

    Former Prime Minister Helen Clark says cannabis won't make your teeth fall out or turn your hair green - and criminalising it is an injustice to thousands of people every year. And she says it's not as bad for your health as legal substances tobacco or alcohol, a claim backed up by an expert panel's work that was published yesterday. Her comments come on the back of a new poll showing a tight race for the September referendum on legalising cannabis for recreational use, with 48 per cent support in favour and 43 per cent opposed. (See also: Legal cannabis has potential to reduce harm, but many unknowns: PM's chief science adviser)

  • Thousands more pot shops needed to end illicit market: Fire & Flower CEO

    The illicit market still controls roughly 70 to 80 per cent of all cannabis household spending in the country, according to Statistics Canada
    BNN Bloomberg
    Monday, July 6, 2020

    canada ottawa cannabisCanada needs to open as many as 4,000 cannabis stores, more than triple the current number of licensed outlets, if policymakers want to eliminate the illicit market, according to the head of one of the largest marijuana retailers in the country. Trevor Fencott, chief executive officer of Fire and Flower Holdings Corp., said that Canada would need to mirror what other legal markets such as Colorado have done to compete directly with the illicit market, where one cannabis store would be open for every 10,000 people served. That would result in Canada needing to open about 3,500 to 4,000 cannabis stores. Canada has just shy of 1,000 licensed cannabis stores across the country less than two years after legalizing recreational pot.

  • Magic mushrooms could help ex-soldiers to overcome trauma

    As more troops self-medicate with psychedelic drugs to help with PTSD, a group of experts lobby for proper clinical trials
    The Observer (UK)
    Saturday, July 4, 2020

    magic mushroomsA growing number of soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder are turning to “magic mushrooms” and LSD to treat their condition. But drug laws make it almost impossible to establish whether they work. Now a new body, the Medical Psychedelics Working Group, a consortium of experts, academics, researchers, policy specialists and industry partners, is to begin lobbying for a change in the law so that scientists can conduct clinical trials. “This is something that’s been developed by veterans,” said Professor David Nutt from Drug Science, an independent scientific body which calls for an evidence-based approach to the legislation and is part of the group.

  • 5 ways the UK could legalise cannabis

    Given the wide spectrum of legal models surrounding cannabis worldwide, what could legalisation in the UK look like?
    Leafie (UK)
    Thursday, July 2, 2020

    uk legalize cannabisWith more than half of people in the UK in favour of legalising the recreational use of cannabis, and countries around the world adopting more liberal stances to cannabis legislation, it seems inevitable that the fierce debate over cannabis regulation will resurface. The main question still stands – will cannabis be legalised in the UK? The legalisation and regulation of cannabis in the UK has multiple benefits that could help revive our lagging economy including job creation, tax revenue and savings in public services. These benefits have stimulated the conversation surrounding the legalisation of cannabis and caught the attention of government officials looking to cushion the inevitable realities of a recession as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

  • Lester Grinspoon, influential marijuana scholar, dies at 92

    He believed pot was dangerous until his research convinced him otherwise. He then became a leading proponent of legalization
    The New York Times (US)
    Thursday, July 2, 2020

    Lester GrinspoonDr. Lester Grinspoon, a Harvard psychiatry professor who became a leading proponent of legalizing marijuana after his research found it was less toxic or addictive than alcohol or tobacco, died on June 25 at his home in Newton, Mass. He was 92. He concluded that marijuana was a relatively safe intoxicant that should be regulated like alcohol. The real danger, he said, was criminalizing its users. After previewing his findings in an article in Scientific American in 1969, Dr. Grinspoon wrote “Marihuana Reconsidered.” It was published in 1971. “The greatest potential for social harm lies in the scarring of so many young people and the reactive, institutional damages that are direct products of present marihuana laws,” Dr. Grinspoon wrote.

  • UNM study: Cannabis is effective in treating depression, improving mental health

    Up to one in five individuals who used cannabis flower containing high levels of THC experienced some negative side effects, such as feeling unmotivated
    Forbes (US)
    Thursday, July 2, 2020

    cannabis topsAccording to a research study published by the University Of New Mexico and Releaf App in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, cannabis flower may be effective in providing immediate relief for the symptoms of depression – a condition affecting roughly 1 in 5 adults in the U.S., and often leading to other ailments like cancer, substance use disorders, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, dementia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and chronic pain. “The findings suggest that, at least in the short term, the vast majority of patients that use cannabis experience antidepressant effects, although the magnitude of the effect and extent of side effect experiences vary with chemotypic properties of the plant,” the paper reads.

  • Is the Netherlands finally heading for legalisation?

    A problem the coffeeshops might be facing is the supply of hash
    Volteface (UK)
    Wednesday, July 1, 2020

    coffeeshopSupplying coffeeshops with cannabis is illegal, so this is being done through a complicated ‘back-door’ policy. There might be a change coming with the start of the ‘controlled cannabis supply chain experiment’. Ten municipalities with a grand total of 79 coffeeshops have been selected for the experiment. These coffeeshops will start selling legally produced cannabis supplied by ten government-designated growers. The aim is to find out whether it is possible to regulate a quality-controlled supply of cannabis to coffeeshops and to see if the experiment has any effect on crime, safety and public health. A lot of people are happy about the new direction the Netherlands seems to be moving in, but others are critical and think progress is too slow.

  • ‘War on drugs’ blamed for deaths of at least 122 children in Philippines

    Activists claim young people are deliberately targeted and call for UN to investigate human rights record of Duterte regime
    The Guardian (UK)
    Tuesday, June 30, 2020

    philippines stop killingAt least 122 children, including a one-year-old, have been killed during President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs” in the Philippines, according to a report that concluded some children have been deliberately shot at and targeted as proxies. The study, by the World Organisation Against Torture, adds to growing calls for the UN human rights council to establish an independent investigation into abuses committed under Duterte. Rights groups estimate that tens of thousands of people may have died as a result of unlawful killings during anti-drug operations launched after his election in 2016.

  • Growing majority of Kiwis support legalising cannabis, new poll finds

    Support for legalising cannabis also contrasted sharply according to political allegiance with National voters by far the lease in favour
    New Zealand Herald (New Zealand)
    Monday, June 29, 2020

    nz cannabis referendum2A growing majority of New Zealanders support legalising cannabis for personal use, according to a new poll just three months from a national referendum. Licensed medicinal cannabis company Helius Therapeutics commissioned the independent Horizon Research survey of nearly 1600 Kiwis. It found 56 per cent of respondents plan to vote for legalising cannabis for personal use on September 19. Support for legalising pot continues to grow after the last Horizon poll in February registered 54 per cent support for the bill. The poll also found women, at 59 per cent, favoured legalisation more than men, at 52 per cent. (See also: Maori strongly support cannabis reform ahead of referendum)

  • Not all WHO cannabis recommendations would loosen international control, UN drug agency says

    The Board did not position itself in favor or against any of the WHO’s recommendations
    Marijuana Business Daily (US)
    Friday, June 26, 2020

    un logo cannabisAn analysis by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) concludes that most of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) cannabis scheduling recommendations would either have little impact on international drug controls or actually tighten requirements. The analysis was provided to member states shortly before the start of the first in a series of UN meetings. The WHO recommendations are often celebrated as a positive step toward the easing of the international control of cannabis, which would be a positive development for the industry. But regarding practical implications in the level of international control, the INCB document found that, if adopted two recommendations would imply no meaningful change and two others would mean more control for pure THC.

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