Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • Cannabis use disorder is rising in U.S. states where weed is legal

    It is difficult to draw firm conclusions from observational studies
    Newsweek (US)
    Wednesday, November 13, 2019

    smoking pot3Rates of cannabis use disorder have risen in U.S. states where the drug has been legalized, including among children and teenagers, according to a study. The authors of the research published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry argued that while the policies have provided "important social benefits, particularly around issues of equity in criminal justice," the climb in conditions like cannabis use disorder are "a potential public health concern." "Given our findings on problematic use across age groups, legalization efforts should coincide with prevention and treatment." (See also: A new study found marijuana legalization leads to more problematic use |Study finds declining trend in prevalence of cannabis use disorder among frequent users)

  • Vancouver pilots new fentanyl-patch program to combat opioid crisis

    Illicit fentanyl is much stronger than heroin, meaning conventional treatments might be inadequate
    The Globe and Mail (Canada)
    Wednesday, November 13, 2019

    A Vancouver physician is prescribing fentanyl to patients with opioid-use disorder in the latest effort by the medical community to curb overdose deaths caused by a toxic supply of illicit drugs. The pilot project began in July with eight patients who sought treatment for illicit-drug use but have not benefited from existing oral or injectable substitution therapies such as methadone, buprenorphine (Suboxone) or hydromorphone. Each patient gets a fentanyl patch – commonly used to treat chronic pain for conditions such as cancer – that is applied to the skin and changed every two days by a nurse. To address misuse, the patches are signed and dated, and a transparent film is applied to prevent tampering.

  • Drug law failing its purpose as undeserving people get jailed

    Magistrate complains about the wording of the law
    Times of Malta (Malta)
    Monday, November 11, 2019

    A “draconian” drug law in Malta has forced a magistrate to jail a 39-year-old woman for six months for cultivating six small cannabis plants for her personal use – because “it fails to distinguish between who deserves an effective jail term”. Due to the wording of the law, the woman would have benefited from a legal provision that would spare her a jail term – had she cultivated one large plant instead of six small ones with a total leaf weight of five grams. Magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras said that the Drug Dependence Act, enacted in 2014, was originally intended to ensure that those found guilty of simple possession of small quantities of drugs were not jailed but fined. (See also: Flawed drug law - woman appeals jail term)

  • NSW coroner says punitive policing tactics increase risk of drug deaths and calls for reform

    Harriet Grahame also recommends pill testing and removing police drug dogs after inquest into the deaths of six young people
    The Guardian (UK)
    Friday, November 8, 2019

    The use of high-visibility policing tactics such as drug dogs and “large scale” strip searching at music festivals “increases rather than decreases” the risks associated with drugs, the New South Wales deputy coroner has said. In landmark findings, Harriet Grahame recommended pill-testing be introduced and said she was satisfied there was “significant evidence” that “intensive and punitive drug policing operations” were increasing “drug-related risks and harm”.  The “wholesale practice of strip-searching young people” was of “grave concern”, and its use to target people suspected of drug possession was “out of line with the purposes” of the legislation. (See also: 'Faces of these young people will remain with me': Coroner urges sweeping changes on drugs)

  • Cannabis in Thailand: How far will the green gold rush go?

    A draft bill would allow households to grow six cannabis plants for personal consumption for medical use
    Deutsche Welle (Germany)
    Thursday, November 7, 2019

    thailand medical cannabis flagThailand made headlines all over the world last December when it became the first country in Southeast Asia to legalize cannabis for medical use and research purposes, sparking a race to cash in on what could someday become the country's main cash crop. Full legalization was a core policy of the Bhumjaithai party's campaign in the March 24 election, which helped it win the fifth most seats in Thailand's new parliament. The government has also made the development of the industrial potential of the drug one of its priorities, saying its study and development "should be sped up for the medical industry to create economic opportunity and income for the people."

  • Delhi HC seeks Centre's stand on use of cannabis

    Plea filed by Great Legalisation Movement India Trust
    The New Indian Express (India)
    Thursday, November 7, 2019

    india ganja legalizationThe Delhi High Court has sought Centre's response over a plea filed by Great Legalisation Movement India Trust (GLMIT) challenging certain provisions of the law that prohibits and criminalises the use of cannabis. The GLM has challenged the constitutional validity of provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act) and the NDPS Rules which prohibit and criminalise the use of cannabis or industrial hemp and restrict its use. The plea has sought court's directions to the government to frame rules permitting and regulating use of cannabis, especially for medicinal purposes. (See also: HC issues notice on plea against cannabis use)

  • Rastas to get approval for cannabis use in Barbados

    The local Rastafari community intended to challenge government’s refusal to change cannabis laws in court
    The Loop (Caribbean)
    Thursday, November 7, 2019

    jamaica rastaRastafarians in Barbados will be permitted to use cannabis for sacramental purposes. The announcement was made during a Sitting in the House of Parliament by Attorney General Dale Marshall during the debate on the Medical Cannabis Bill (2019). Marshall admitted changes needed to be made to the way government treats religious use of cannabis considering it does not fall into the category of recreational or medicinal. He also pointed to the legal precedent based on cases in Antigua and South Africa where the court acknowledged it was an infringement on the constitutional rights of Rastafarians to criminalize them for using cannabis. (See also: Rastas to bring cannabis case against Barbados government)

  • Decriminalization of personal use is a responsible pathway to controlling drugs

    The reality is that the demand for drugs is there and is not going anywhere despite fifty years of inhumane and blind prohibition
    Ghanaian Times (Ghana)
    Wednesday, November 6, 2019

    Olusegun ObasanjoSimilar to other countries in the region, Ghana is experiencing growing drug availability, trafficking and consumption. This phenomenon, more and more visible and problematic for a decade now, is related to the development of a new cocaine trafficking route through West Africa, from Latin America and towards Europe or North America. The strategic choice of traffickers to use our region for transit is based on many issues that provide opportunities for drug traffickers: the weakness of institutions; the lack of transparency of financial institutions; and corruption. One can wonder why Ghana is unsuccessful in controlling drugs, when it applies the harshest penalties for drug-related offences in West Africa?

  • Is the ‘War on Drugs’ over? Arrest statistics say No

    Arrests for marijuana possession are most common, even as public opinion has shifted in favor of its legalization
    The New York Times (US)
    Tuesday, November 5, 2019

    us fbi crime statistics 2019Despite bipartisan calls to treat drug addiction as a public health issue rather than as a crime — and despite the legalization of marijuana in more states — arrests for drugs increased again last year. According to estimated crime statistics released by the F.B.I. in September, there were 1,654,282 arrests for drugs in 2018, a number that has increased every year since 2015, after declining over the previous decade. Meanwhile, arrests for violent crime and property crime have continued to trend downward. Drugs have been the top reason people have been arrested in the United States for at least the past 10 years, and marijuana has been the top drug involved in those arrests.

  • Cannabis shows potential for treating PTSD: New study

    Findings suggest that cannabis could be of possible therapeutic use in the treatment of PTSD, but cannabis use is not without risks
    The Conversation (UK)
    November 5, 2019

    cannabis plantsThe results of clinical trials testing cannabis as a PTSD treatment are pending. Previous research has linked cannabis use with poorer mental health in PTSD patients, but it’s unclear whether cannabis exacerbates PTSD symptoms, or if patients with worse symptoms are simply self-medicating more. Much of the existing evidence for cannabis as a PTSD treatment comes from patient reports of success. A recent study, published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that PTSD increased the risk of major depressive episodes among Canadians who didn’t use cannabis by roughly seven times, and suicidal ideation by roughly five times. But, among Canadians who did use cannabis, PTSD was not statistically associated with either outcome.

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