Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • Ottawa must act fast on safe drug supply as tainted-drug deaths continue daily: advocates

    'What is our safety compared to the lives of thousands of people a year currently dying from overdoses?' Vancouver advocate says of pledge to hand out drugs illegally if necessary
    Vancouver Sun (Canada)
    Monday, October 11, 2021

    A safe supply of free drugs were given out during an event last summer organized by the Drug User Liberation Front in VancouverDowntown Eastside residents at high risk of overdose now have Vancouver’s support to get untainted drugs, but the federal government has the final say whether they’ll get access to a legal supply. A motion to support an application from the Drug User Liberation Front — to run North America’s first compassion club to give members access to untainted heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine — was approved by Vancouver council last week. Drug User Liberation Front co-founders Jeremy Kalicum and Eris Nyx submitted an application for a federal exemption to Canada’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act on Aug. 31 and had asked for city support. While awaiting the federal decision, Liberation Front is considering whether to purchase more illicit drugs from the dark web to hand out in the DTES.

  • Despite layoffs and losses, cannabis CEOs awarded millions in bonuses

    The Globe and Mail (Canada)
    Monday, October 11, 2021

    canada cannabis industrialDespite stagnant revenue, layoffs, facility closings and big losses, the top executives of some of the largest cannabis companies in Canada were awarded millions in bonuses and performance stock grants on top of their sizable salaries in their most recent fiscal years, company filings show. The pay decisions at Canopy Growth Corp, Tilray Inc. (the former Aphria Inc.) and Aurora Cannabis Inc. show the companies are rewarding executives for minimizing cash losses and simply surviving in the Canadian weed industry. Canopy Growth chief executive officer David Klein received a cash bonus of US$1.72-million in addition to his base salary of US$975,000 for the fiscal year ending March 31, even as the company’s net losses grew to $1.7-billion in that time period.

  • A global fight looms over Kratom, a possible opioid alternative

    The U.S. government has twice tried to classify kratom as a controlled substance, but public outcry and pushback from Congress thwarted those efforts
    Politico (US)
    Saturday, October 9, 2021

    kratom capsulesA World Health Organization meeting could determine the future of kratom, a widely available herbal supplement some tout as an alternative to opioid painkillers. Kratom, a plant indigenous to Southeast Asia, produces narcotic-like effects. Advocates say the substance is a promising replacement for opioids that could help wean people addicted to those drugs, which killed nearly 70,000 people in the U.S. in 2020. The WHO's drug dependence committee will conduct a "pre-review" of kratom. Kratom advocates suggest Washington a attempts to end run the federal regulatory process by taking the international route to finish what it could not accomplish domestically. (See also: Kratom: the creation of a threat: A policy commentary on the WHO pre-review of kratom)

  • Cocaine, heroin and meth buyers' club gets Vancouver's approval to secure a safe supply

    Council voted unanimously in favour of amended motion to back club, which is seeking federal approval
    Vancouver Sun (Canada)
    Thursday, October 7, 2021

    The City of Vancouver voted unanimously in favour of supporting a peer-led program that would help get a safe supply of drugs to individuals at high risk of overdose. Coun. Jean Swanson called for the approval of North America’s first compassion club that gives access to prescription heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. Swanson said that given the overdose crisis, blamed on tainted street drugs, federal approval is needed for the project run by the Drug User Liberation Front, which has teamed up with Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users to host giveaways of substances purchased from the dark web — “so they won’t be arrested for saving lives.” (See also: Vancouver votes to support application that would create safe drug 'compassion clubs' | Toronto’s bid to decriminalize drugs hangs in the balance)

  • Cannabis legalisation will allow regulated associations and home growing of plants

    Equality Minister Owen Bonnici announces draft Bill for private cannabis use
    Malta Today (Malta)
    Wednesday, October 6, 2021

    cannabis plantUnder proposed cannabis legalisation in Malta, non-profit associations can grow cannabis to distribute among their members, Equality Minister Owen Bonnici said. The minister also said that people would be allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants at one residence. Bonnici made the announcement during a press conference. He insisted that the reforms were not to "incentivise cannabis culture or cannabis consumption" but to reduce the harm of drug rings. The regulation of cannabis clubs plugs a gap in the original proposal floated by the government earlier this year. A White Paper on Strengthening the Legal Framework on the Responsible Use of Cannabis was launched on 30 March 2021.

  • Graft, drug trafficking threaten Albania's chances of joining EU

    Leading politicians have been repeatedly accused of being involved in the business
    Deutsche Welle (Germany)
    Monday, October 4, 2021

    Researcher Fatjona Mejdini states that the drug problem had its roots in 1991, when Albania went from an isolated communist dictatorship straight to capitalism. "They were tough times for everyone," Mejdini said. "And, as many people lost their state jobs, they turned to cannabis cultivation to sustain their families." Over the years, the government has turned a blind eye to the business — and "in some cases, we saw the collusion of state structures with people growing cannabis," Mejdini said. Criminal groups gained more influence. And, in the past 10 to 15 years, there has also been a new development: Networks have added cocaine to their business model. The networks and routes they had already built up in Europe were the perfect starting point.

  • Owen Bonnici presents first reading on cannabis reform

    The White Paper also proposes allowing the cultivation of up to four cannabis plants per household and the expungement of cannabis related criminal records
    Malta Today (Malta)
    Monday, October 4, 2021

    The minister for reforms Owen Bonnici has tabled the first reading of Malta's government proposed cannabis reform. Taking to Twitter, Bonnici said the bill “will establish a new legal framework governing responsible use of cannabis.” The cannabis reform White Paper attracted more than 350 submissions from organisations and individuals when the public consultation closed last May. Government is proposing full decriminalisation for adults in possession of 7g or less of cannabis for personal use and proceedings before the Commissioner for Justice, rather than the criminal court, for those with more than 7g but less than 28g.

  • UK drug laws used as tool of systemic racism, says ex-No 10 adviser

    Simon Woolley says failure of drugs legislation is having a devastating impact on public health
    The Guardian (UK)
    Wednesday, September 29, 2021

    Simon WoolleyBritain’s drug laws are racist and cause “high levels of mental health harm” among black people, a former No 10 race adviser has said. Simon Woolley said drugs legislation introduced 50 years ago had failed to cut the use, supply and harms associated with illegal drugs, and instead was used “as a tool of systemic racism”. Despite white people reporting higher rates of drug consumption, black people were more likely to be stopped and searched for suspected drug possession and were more likely to be arrested, charged and imprisoned for drug offences, he said. (See BMJ: Our drug laws are racist, and doctors must speak out—an essay by Simon Woolley)

  • Drug decriminalization movement gaining momentum in Canada as overdose deaths surge

    Prominent mental health teaching hospital joins calls to decriminalize all illicit drugs
    CBC News (Canada)
    Wednesday, September 29, 2021

    bc fentanyl muralAs overdose deaths keep surging in Canada, the movement to decriminalize illicit drugs is gaining steam, with one of the country's largest mental health facilities joining national advocates and several major cities in putting pressure on the federal government to act. Earlier this summer, mayors from across B.C. signed a letter in support of Vancouver city officials who are seeking Health Canada's approval to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of illegal drugs. Toronto is gearing up to submit a similar request, a move which follows the city recently hitting its highest one-day opioid overdose count in late July. (See also: BC’s rate of drug toxicity deaths has overtaken Ohio and Pennsylvania)

  • Stand for craft: How Canada’s craft cannabis cultivators are pushing for tax reform

    Craft cultivators ‘marching rapidly towards insolvency’
    Forbes (US)
    Wednesday, September 29, 2021

    canada craft cannabisIt’s been just three short years since cannabis was legalized in Canada, but it’s already clear the nation’s exorbitant taxation on cannabis cultivators is not only unsustainable; it’s killing craft growers that are paying more in tax than they earn in margins. Earlier this month, Tantalus Labs CEO Dan Sutton outlined exactly how problematic Canada’s cannabis excise tax is, with small businesses paying as much as 30 percent of their top line revenues to it, in a Twitter thread. “We are milking a calf to death,” he wrote. The industry emphatically agreed, and since then, the conversation has evolved into a campaign to raise the issue with lawmakers.

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