Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • Ecstasy 'no more dangerous than horse riding'

    The risks of horse riding showed that society "does not adequately balance the relative risks of drugs against their harms".
    The Daily Telegraph (UK)
    Saturday, February 7, 2009

    Writing in an academic journal, Professor David Nutt said taking ecstasy was no worse than the risks of "equasy", a term he invented to describe people's addiction to horse-riding. Prof Nutt is the chairman of the Home Office's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs which next week is likely to say that ecstasy should be downgraded to a Class B drug. Campaigners last night called for him to resign, suggesting that he was on a "personal crusade" to decriminalise the drug. "The point was to get people to understand that drug harm can be equal to harms in other parts of life. There is not much difference between horse riding and ecstasy."

  • Banks told to accept cannabis cafe customers

    Finance minister cannot force the banks to accept coffee shop accounts
    Dutch News (Netherlands)
    Friday, February 6, 2009

    Banks must accept cafes which sell cannabis and marijuana as clients, says finance minister Wouter Bos. The minister fears that if these businesses, known as coffee shops, are refused bank accounts they could turn to the criminal circuit for financial services, reports Friday’s Volkskrant. At present all the banks are turning down these cafes as new customers and terminating existing accounts even though they are legitimate businesses, the paper says. Coffee shops are licenced by local authorities and allowed to sell small amounts of cannabis. Although Bos cannot force banks to accept coffee shops as customers, he has asked the anti-cartel authority to investigate the situation because it seems that the banks are acting collectively.

  • Voters agree heroin scheme, but throw out dope

    Swissinfo (Switzerland)
    Sunday, November 30, 2008

    referendum-switzerlandThe Swiss look set to approve the government's drugs policy, including the prescription of heroin to addicts, but will reject a plan to decriminalise cannabis. More than two-thirds of voters approved a plan to enshrine the government's four-pillar drugs policy in law. The official drugs strategy is based on prevention, harm reduction, therapy and repression. It was devised in response to the open drugs scene in Zurich and other Swiss cities during the 1990s.

  • Dutch mayors call for growing marijuana

    NRC Handelsblad (Netherlands)
    Monday, November 24, 2008

    The Dutch government should licence the growing and supply of marijuana to the country’s 700 or so coffee shops that sell cannabis, according to a group of around 30 Dutch mayors. This is the conclusion of the ‘cannabis summit’ at which the mayors discussed the country’s policy on soft drugs. The mayor of Eindhoven, Rob van Gijzel, said his city is prepared to run a ‘monitored pilot scheme’ to assess if a system of licenced growers reduces drugs-related crime.

  • Local councils support tolerant cannabis policy

    NRC Handelsblad (Netherlands)
    Wednesday, November 19, 2008

    Most of the Dutch local councils that have so-called coffee shops which sell marijuana say they have no problem with the current policy of tolerating these outlets, according to a survey by NRC Handelsblad. The newspaper sent a questionnaire to the 105 local councils which, between them, have a total of 353 coffee shops. Of the two-thirds that responded, only 14 felt these establishments should be closed. But over 75 percent want the national government to regulate wholesale supply to the coffee shops.

  • Fate of drug laws hazy but voters will decide

    Cannabis and heroin are once again high on the agenda as the campaign ahead of a nationwide vote on Switzerland's drugs policy gathers pace
    Swissinfo (Switzerland)
    Friday, October 24, 2008

    A first opinion poll found that the prescription of heroin for addicts stands a good chance of passing on November 30. However, a proposal to decriminalise cannabis attracts neither a clear majority of supporters nor opponents six weeks before the ballot. Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin said decriminalising pot smoking could pose problems for Switzerland as a signatory state of international drug control conventions. In its campaign the government cautioned against rushing through legislation for which there was no majority in parliament four years ago.

  • Coca Leaf: The Heritage of the Andes

    Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU)
    April 8, 2008

    A film by the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU)

  • Cannabis dreams drift away

    Authorities in Switzerland are clamping down on cannabis
    Swissinfo (Switzerland)
    Tuesday, April 4, 2008

    Following decades of rising cannabis use and talk of liberalisation, Switzerland had appeared poised to become the marijuana capital of Europe. The country still boasts some of the highest rates of cannabis use in Europe, but Switzerland's pot movement has taken a hit in the past few years: proposed liberalisation did not come to pass and enforcement has been on the rise.

  • Coca Leaf Defended by Growers, Scientists… and Taxi Drivers

    Bernarda Claure
    Inter Press Service (IPS)
    March 24 , 2008

    "They will have to kill us to make us stop planting coca," Bolivian coca grower Luis Mamani told IPS in response to a call from the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) to prohibit traditional uses of the plant like coca leaf chewing. "It is a historic error to try to ban coca. We are not going to allow it," Mamani vehemently stated.

  • Fighting for the Right to Chew Coca

    Time Magazine (US)
    Monday, March 17, 2008

    The Bolivian delegation was the first to issue what it called an "energetic protest" against the INCB's recommendations during the agency's annual meeting this week in Vienna. It also put forward a proposal to remove coca from the U.N.'s narcotics list. That's not likely to happen. The big question is whether the U.N. will adopt the INCB proposal — which would essentially leave Bolivia and Peru in breach of international law if they continue to allow coca's non-narcotic use and commercialization. That in turn could result in the U.N. calling for commercial or other embargoes against them.

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