Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • A step change in the approach to addiction

    The most significant change to drug laws in 40 years has passed despite a flurry of last-minute attempts to change the bill
    Newsroom (New Zealand)
    Thursday, August 8, 2019

    The passing of the Misuse of Drugs Amendment marks a significant shift in how the Government deals with the possession and use of controlled substances, especially for those caught in the web of addiction.The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act has four core parts: the Class A reclassification of the two most prevalent chemicals found in synthetics, the ability to temporarily reclassify emerging chemicals, increased penalties for manufacturers and suppliers, and enshrining police discretion over prosecution, and prioritising therapeutic options when dealing with possession and personal use of controlled drugs.Legislating police discretion is a remarkable move towards treating drug addiction as a health issue – something that’s been championed by the Greens and Labour.

  • 'Growing outside is a dream': Asparagus makes way for cannabis in Canada's fields

    Growing outdoors can cost as little as one-fifth that of greenhouse production and one exec says it makes for 'tastier' buds
    Financial Post (Canada)
    Wednesday, August 7, 2019

    cannabis bud2The amount of outdoor-grown cannabis will make up a small portion of the market this year — less than 10 per cent of the cultivation licenses granted in Canada are for outdoors — but many more are in the pipeline after the Canadian government changed its rules last year to allow pot farms. Growing outdoors eliminates the need for costly lighting, heating and cooling systems. WeedMD CEO Keith Merker said it can grow for about 20 cents at its farm versus $1 a gram in a greenhouse and $2 a gram for a typical indoor site. (See also: Cannabis can be grown outdoors for pennies on the dollar. So why is hardly anyone doing it?)

  • Boom in overdose-reversing drug is tied to fewer drug deaths

    Local, state and federal officials have embraced naloxone as a lifesaving measure
    The New York Times (US)
    Tuesday, August 6, 2019

    Prescriptions of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone are soaring, and experts say that could be a reason overdose deaths have stopped rising for the first time in nearly three decades. The number of naloxone prescriptions dispensed by U.S. retail pharmacies doubled from 2017 to last year, rising from 271,000 to 557,000, health officials reported. The United States is in the midst of the deadliest drug overdose epidemic in its history. About 68,000 people died of overdoses last year, according to preliminary government statistics reported last month, a drop from the more than 70,000 in 2017. "One could only hope that this extraordinary increase in prescribing of naloxone is contributing to that stabilization or even decline of the crisis," said Katherine Keyes, a Columbia University drug abuse expert.

  • Those caught with drugs won't face criminal conviction until third offence under radical 'three-strike' plan

    Tentative plans to decriminalise drugs were strongly opposed by Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan
    Irish Independent (Ireland)
    Friday, August 2, 2019

    A 'three-strike' plan that will see people caught with small amounts of illegal drugs avoid criminal conviction on the first and second occasion but face the courts on the third will be unveiled by the Government of Ireland. Reforms to how those caught in possession of illicit substances are dealt with stop short of full decriminalisation, but represent a shift in the State's approach. The plan will see a health diversion programme whereby a person in possession of drugs for personal use will be referred to the HSE for screening and intervention. Those repeatedly caught in possession will still be dealt with by the criminal justice system and many existing drug laws are set to remain. (See also: 'Destined to fail': Opposition parties say government's new drug possession plan falls short)

  • Drug laws on possession: several countries are revisiting them and these are their options

    No models lead to increased drug use
    The Conversation (UK)
    Friday, August 2, 2019

    decrimMany countries are changing the way they approach people who use drugs. The Irish government has just announced possible alternatives to criminalisation for possession of some drugs. Other countries, including Norway and Malaysia, are weighing options. But what can countries do if they don’t want to arrest or convict people because they use drugs? To inform the Irish government’s decision, we carried out a detailed review of approaches in various countries, including Australia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Jamaica, the Netherlands, Portugal, the UK and the US. We found three main approaches: depenalisation, diversion and decriminalisation. Given some models bring greater long-term gains, there is merit in arguing that governments ought to be bold.

  • The unbearable whiteness of weed: Canada’s booming cannabis industry has a race problem

    “Equity permit” programs have failed to address the domination of the legal market by people who are generally most privileged and least affected by cannabis’s previous illegality
    The Globe and Mail (Canada)
    Friday, August 2, 2019

    canada legalizationThe Canadian cannabis industry is booming. From giant industrial operations such as Canopy Growth to smaller “luxury” cannabis retailers, to an array of cannabis “lifestyle” brands and “cannabis brand consultancy” firms, the industry is a lucrative frontier for those seeking wealth. Canadians spent $1.6-billion on legal weed in 2018. Cannabis is quickly becoming mainstream, and – as is the norm for our capitalist society – firmly corporate. This is a failure. Revenue from legal weed should be used to fund meaningful reparations for communities targeted for decades by racist drug laws and enforcement. The rapidly growing cannabis industry in Canada reveals a troubling trend: The profits and wealth being generated are overwhelmingly landing in the pockets of white Canadians.

  • Ottawa unveils new pot-pardon application system

    U.S. authorities now unable to see convictions of pardoned Canadians, but travellers could still be barred
    CBC News (Canada)
    Thursday, August 1, 2019

    canada marijuana thumbJustice Minister David Lametti unveiled unveiled a free and quicker way for Canadians to apply for pardons for simple cannabis possession. The new online applications system aims to remove barriers to employment, housing, travel and volunteering opportunities for people who were convicted of simple possession before recreational cannabis use was made legal. Lametti said the announcement will help minorities who have been "disproportionately affected by cannabis laws." Canadians can now apply for pardons through the Parole Board of Canada's website. An online application is available and an email and toll-free number will help answer users' questions. (See also: Canadians convicted of cannabis possession can now apply for pardons, free of charge and purportedly without hassle)

  • Victoria's largest cannabis dispensary chain shuttered

    Some medical users rely on dispensaries like Trees which carry specialized products
    CTV News (Canada)
    Thursday, August 1, 2019

    canada marijuana thumbThe largest chain of unlicensed cannabis dispensaries in Victoria is no more. Police and provincial cannabis enforcement officers raided the downtown Trees dispensary location, one day after shuttering the company's location near Mayfair mall. In response, all three remaining Trees locations in the city have been shut down, while the future of the company's two shops in Nanaimo is up in the air. While cannabis has been legal in Canada since October 2018, retail operators are required to follow a rigid regulatory framework, attain a series of approvals from the city and provincial government, and source their inventory solely from federally licensed cannabis producers. The closure has left 92 people out of work and thousands of customers without a trusted medical cannabis supplier.

  • France is testing safe drug consumption rooms for opioid addicts

    Halfway through a six-year trial, more users are getting medical care and fewer are discarding needles in the street
    Bloomberg (US)
    Wednesday, July 31, 2019

    dcr parisParis’s supervised consumption room, close to the Gare du Nord train station, is preventing potential fatalities and delivering much-needed health care. In the first year, the team provided more than 800 treatments, including dressing wounds and directing users to opioid substitutes such as methadone, and screened more than 100 people for infectious diseases. Visitors were rushed to an adjacent hospital or given emergency medical care on-site on average once every three weeks. Users bring their own drugs (police won’t charge them with personal possession in the surrounding streets), while staff members issue clean needles, send drug samples to labs to check purity, and intervene in emergencies. The facility also has a lounge, library, and arts space.

  • Canada's cannabis industry just beginning to bud

    What looks like a once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity is proving to be an elusive pot of gold
    Deutsche Welle (Germany)
    Wednesday, July 31, 2019

    canada cannabis industrialMark Rendell, a business journalists  for Canada's second-largest daily, The Globe and Mail, says the decision to legalize cannabis has led to a gold rush mentality within the emerging industry. He saw even sober-minded investors get "high" on cannabis stocks. He is skeptical in view of the many broken promises made by a lot of companies about their production targets so far. "Companies had to drive their story forward, they had to come out with press release after press release ... saying we are going to build this and sell this because they were talking to a retail investor audience. So there was a real shock, how much they underperformed." (See also: Establishing territorial footprint has been what the race in Europe has been all about since mid 2016 for the Canadian LPs so far)

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