Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • How Canada's cannabis legalization is shaping laws elsewhere

    New Zealand is holding a referendum, and Luxembourg is adopting "the Canadian model"
    Associated Press (US)
    Thursday, October 17, 2019

    cannabis rollingEver since Canada became the first major country to legalize marijuana for adults a year ago, other nations have been paying attention. The small South American nation of Uruguay was the first to legalize marijuana for adults. New Zealand, Luxembourg and Mexico are among those that have looked to Canada for guidance or lessons, while Russia has chastised it for its “barefaced″ flouting of international anti-drug treaties. Mexico’s legalization is not likely to mirror Canada’s, where a few massive corporations have dominated production and more artisanal growers have largely been shut out. Russia laments the “barefaced″ and “blatant violation by Canada of its international obligations″ under anti-drug treaties.

  • Local governments are trying to make the cannabis industry less racist

    While recreational marijuana use is about the same across races in the U.S., black people are almost four times more likely to be arrested than white people
    Newsweek (US)
    Thursday, October 17, 2019

    us flag cannabis capitolLocal governments looking to legalize marijuana across the nation are starting to think about racial equity—at a time when a multi-billion dollar cannabis industry is excluding the communities most devastated by the War on Drugs. As of 2017, more than 80 percent of U.S. marijuana business owners and founders were white, while only 10 percent were Hispanic, Latino or black, according to a survey by the Marijuana Business Daily. From Chicago, Illinois, to Saint Paul, Minnesota, officials are trying to support better minority entry into cannabis businesses. In some cases, that means giving black and brown people grants to set up shop. In others, it means undoing criminal records leftover from the drug's prohibition.

  • ACT legalising cannabis will not stop it being a federal offence, warns Porter

    Attorney general says new territory law does not override federal law which prohibits cannabis possession
    The Guardian (UK)
    Wednesday, October 16, 2019

    australia cannabisThe Australian Capital Territory law to legalise cannabis possession appears to “do nothing to end the continuing operation” of commonwealth offences, Christian Porter has warned. The attorney general’s comments suggest Canberra cannabis users will be left in legal limbo when the laws take effect from February, contradicting the ACT government’s claim that its law provides a defence to the federal offence. The Morrison government has stepped up its rhetoric against the laws. Health minister, Greg Hunt, accused the ACT government of being “blind and indifferent to the health consequences” of cannabis after asking it what medical evidence was considered before legalising it.

  • A year in the weeds: Why the cannabis industry didn't take off the way everyone planned

    There is no shortage of answers to the question of what went wrong, but one thing seems certain: there is plenty of blame to go around
    Financial Post (Canada)
    Tuesday, October 15, 2019

    canada flag cannabisDozens of legal cannabis producers, backed by billions in investor capital, were expected to put the black market on its heels, launching Canada to the forefront of an expanding global industry with the promise of mass-produced, high-quality, heavily regulated marijuana. But scandals, sluggish earnings and executive shakeups have replaced the soaring expectations of a year ago. Government data show that the legal market has only supplanted 14 per cent of the black market since legalization on Oct. 17, 2018, and some are concerned that further inroads may be difficult to come by. One of the biggest problems was that the industry’s early focus on scale — something that was largely a symptom of the push to raise capital ahead of legalization — distracted it from other important considerations.

  • Dagga prohibition needs to end

    We need a rational approach, grounded in evidence, to growing, selling and consuming cannabis products
    Ground Up (South Africa)
    Tuesday, October 15, 2019

    Despite the far-sighted rulings by Judge Dennis Davis and two colleagues in the Cape High Court, and then the unanimous Constitutional Court, that allowed private use of cannabis, the state of dagga legislation in South Africa remains similar to that of alcohol during US prohibition.These are some of the common consequences: small-scale growers are constantly in skirmishes with the law, poor people end up in prison for selling, dangerous gangs form to enforce some order on the trade outside the law, and high-placed officials in justice administration become enmeshed in corruption, damaging the entire state. Prohibition, which for decades has criminalised people trying to make a meagre living, should end.

  • Philippines police chief and Duterte drug war enforcer resigns in meth scandal

    Oscar Albayalde denies allegations he profits from drug deals arranged by corrupt officers in 2013
    The Guardian (UK)
    Monday, October 14, 2019

    The chief of police in the Philippines has stepped down after facing historical accusations in the Senate that he protected officers who had resold confiscated drugs and received some of the profits. It was a rapid fall from grace for Oscar Albayalde, the head of the Philippine National Police (PNP), who rose to fame as the enforcer of Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs in Manila before Duterte was appointed president. Albayalde has denied the allegations. Thousands of people have been killed as part of Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs. Amnesty International called it a “large-scale murdering enterprise”.

  • “People feel betrayed”: small-scale dagga growers fear exclusion from legal trade

    At present, the only route into South Africa’s legal cannabis trade is by obtaining a South African Health Products Regulatory Authority licence for medical marijuana cultivation
    Ground Up (South Africa)
    Monday, October 14, 2019

    As South Africa looks to enter the booming commercial cannabis market, which could be worth up to R27 billion locally by 2023, the Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, has repeatedly reiterated the plant’s economic promise for the Eastern Cape, the country’s poorest province. “We must not be left behind as cannabis is brought into the spotlight and the world jumps to grab their drag on the spliff,” said the department’s MEC Nomakhosazana Meth at a stakeholder event in August. But despite the fanfare, Beecee Nombanga, a Manhlaneni community leader, remained sceptical that small-scale growers would see any benefits from a legal trade that was geared towards “big companies in big towns who have a lot of resources that we simply don’t have”.

  • The Great American cannabis experiment

    The contradictions between state and federal law are intensifying
    Politico (US)
    Monday, October 14, 2019

    us capitol cannabisWhile state legalization has allowed the cannabis industry to grow – it generated over $10 billion in sales last year and employs more than 211,000 people nationwide — state laws are increasingly unable to overcome hurdles created for the cannabis industry by the federal government. What this means is that while some Americans are making money producing and selling cannabis, other Americans are still being arrested and charged for the exact same activities. In 2017, the nascent industry neared $8 billion in sales, legal states made $745 million in cannabis tax revenue, and 659,700 people were arrested and charged with marijuana-related violations, including possession. (See also: Stop the “green rush”)

  • Cannabis extract may work as a treatment for cannabis addiction

    While THC tends to increase anxiety, CBD makes people calmer
    New Scientist (UK)
    Sunday, October 13, 2019

    For people who are addicted to cannabis, one treatment option may be, paradoxically, to take pills containing an extract of cannabis. The first test of the idea has found that people taking capsules of this extract, known as cannabidiol or CBD, nearly halved the amount of cannabis they smoked, according to results presented at New Scientist Live this week. Cannabis is usually seen as a soft drug, but some users – about 1 in 10 by one estimate – become addicted, getting withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety and insomnia when they try to stop. The number of people seeking treatment because they can’t quit smoking cannabis has been rising in the past decade, linked with a use of the more potent form known as skunk, said Val Curran of University College London at the event.

  • Grading cannabis strength ‘will improve mental health of users’

    Addiction experts say standard units, similar to those used for alcohol, would help consumers know the level of drug they are taking and its effects
    The Observer (UK)
    Sunday, October 13, 2019

    smoking jointsStandard units for grading the potency of cannabis – similar to those already used for alcohol – would result in significant improvements in the mental health of users, according to addiction experts. Researchers from the Addiction and Mental Health Group at the University of Bath, working with staff from King’s College London, UCL and the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, say more needs to be done to make people aware of the levels of THC – the main psychoactive component – in the cannabis they are consuming. Writing in the journal Addiction, the experts suggest a unit level should be set at 5mg of THC – the amount that would typically be found in a small joint. This is enough to induce intoxication but without psychotic symptoms.

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