Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media

 

  • What do you do with a billion grams of surplus weed?

    Cannabis legalization was supposed to be a licence to print money. Three years on, nobody is turning a profit
    The Walrus (Canada)
    Thursday, August 5, 2021

    canada flag cannabisBack in 2018, during those months before Canada legalized recreational cannabis, things were good for the pot industry. Companies were being hyped as pioneers in “the green frontier” and “proof that money grows on trees.” Cannabis stocks were going ballistic, and three of the largest companies’ share values had each increased by more than 200 percent over the course of 2017—according to media outlet MJBizDaily, the Canadian Marijuana Index had risen by 117 percent in December of that year alone. Investors were not just making money, they were making money fast. Three years later, much of that hype has vanished, and now both industry and government are beginning thorough post-mortems of what is, and isn’t, working with pot legalization.

  • Canadian cannabis producers have sold less than 20% of output since adult-use legalization

    Canada’s largest licensed producers didn’t have the know-how needed to produce cannabis at the scale they told their investors they could
    MJBizDaily (US)
    Wednesday, July 28, 2021

    canada cannabis industrialCannabis producers in Canada have sold less than 20% of their production since the country launched adult-use sales in October 2018, according to an MJBizDaily analysis. The newest data – which runs through 2020 – implies that most of the cannabis produced from 2018 through last year was either stored in inventory or destroyed, and less than one-fifth ended up in retail stores. That disconnect likely helps explain how the largest Canadian cannabis producers, which account for most of the industry’s production, together have lost more than 11 billion Canadian dollars ($8.8 billion) cumulatively. Some industry experts blame poor-quality cannabis for the sales shortfall.

  • Snap vote to decriminalize marijuana fails in Knesset due to Ra’am opposition

    New Hope MK blames her former Likud colleagues, who had supported law proposal in previous government; coalition MKs Walid Taha and Mazen Ghanaim vote against
    Times of Israel (Israel)
    Wednesday, July 28, 2021

    israel cannabisA bill to decriminalize recreational marijuana use failed to clear a vote in the Knesset plenum due to opposition from lawmakers in the coalition’s Ra’am party. New Hope MK Sharren Haskel hoped to have her law proposal pass in a snap vote, as many opposition MKs were not present. However, opposition MKs quickly returned to the plenum to vote against the law. The vote failed 52-55 after Ra’am MKs Walid Taha and Mazen Ghanaim voted against the law along with the opposition parties. Haskel’s bill would permit Israeli adults to possess up to 50 grams of marijuana and to grow up to 15 plants for personal use. Anyone possessing marijuana in excess of that amount could face a NIS 2,000 (over $600) fine.

  • Barcelona cannabis clubs face closure in new legal setback

    Police and city authorities agree that ‘pioneering’ model has reduced street dealing and consumption
    The Guardian (UK)
    Tuesday, July 27, 2021

    spain csc barcelona sellingBarcelona’s 200 cannabis clubs face closure after the supreme court shut a legal loophole that has seen the city become Spain’s marijuana capital. It is the latest in a series of setbacks for the asociaciónes, as they are popularly known. In 2017, the court overruled a law passed by the Catalan parliament which said “private consumption of cannabis by adults … is part of the exercise of the fundamental right to free personal development and freedom of conscience”. Since then the clubs have operated under a Barcelona city bylaw that regulated their use, but this too has now been overturned, with the judges ruling that the city authorities were not competent to legislate on matters governed by the state.

  • Fact or fable: Will cannabis be Africa’s economic saviour?

    For Africa’s cannabis industry to be viable, a sizable local market is necessary, as legalising for export may not bring in the returns that member states desire
    Mail & Guardian (South Africa)
    Sunday, July 18, 2021

    In recent years several African governments have changed their stance and implemented policies that legalise cannabis cultivation, manufacturing and processing, mostly for the export market. In southern Africa, Lesotho led from the front with South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and Eswatini also coming to the party in an effort to capitalise on what has been positioned as a future answer to dwindling foreign currency earnings for crops such as tobacco. What is enticing for these states is the existing size and purported potential of the industry over the next few years. (See also: A Sustainable Future for Cannabis Farmers)

  • Coming out about illicit drug use: ‘The hush-hush attitude has to end’

    A campaign to decriminalise illicit drugs is asking people to speak up about their recreational use as a way to de-stigmatise and change the conversation
    The Guardian (UK)
    Saturday, July 17, 2021

    unharm change conversationThe ultimate goal of a campaign by charity Unharm called Let’s be honest/Change the story, is to decriminalise all drug use in Australia by 2030. One of the major tactics Unharm is mimicking the strategy of gay equality law reform movements: by persuading people to “come out” about their use. Will Tregoning, Unharm’s CEO, sees a decriminalised future looking like an improved form of the system we have for alcohol. The idea of incremental change is based on the model proposed by the Queensland Productivity Commission in 2019: “Begin by decriminalising drug use and move from there to legalisation of supply starting with cannabis and MDMA. Without the fear of criminalisation we can also have more open and honest conversations about drugs, to help get the later law reforms right.”

  • Will Berlin make good on a promise to legalise cannabis?

    Federal regulators shot down plans for a pilot project in 2016. Politicians are reportedly giving legalisation another try
    Berliner Zeitung (Germany)
    Wednesday, July 14, 2021

    germany flag cannabisDespite opposition from federal drug regulators, the Berlin Senat is reportedly pushing ahead with a pilot project to sell cannabis legally in pharmacies. The city-state government plans to fight the regulator's objections in court. The news was broken by tabloid BZ, but Senat sources have confirmed the report to Berliner Zeitung. The controlled sale of cannabis is part of the coalition agreement between the SPD, Die Grüne and Die Linke. "The aim is to encourage consumers to use less risky and reduced amounts," a government spokesperson told the paper. The project envisages offering cannabis for sale in Berlin pharmacies to a limited number of customers. Buyers would be required to keep a diary of their use.

  • Ministerial committee advances cannabis decriminalization

    By the end of September, the government expects Israelis will be able to carry 50 grams of cannabis, or 15 seeds, for recreational use, and reclassify CBD as a food additive
    The Jerusalem Post (Israel)
    Monday, July 12, 2021

    israel cannabis2Just over a year after the last government passed two now-defunct draft bills to legalize and decriminalize recreational cannabis, the Ministerial Committee on Legislation voted to advance a bill that would decriminalize the possession of up to 50 grams of cannabis or 15 cannabis seeds for individual recreational use. The law would also change the current fines system for cannabis use in public. While users now face first time offense fines of NIS 1,000 and second time offense fines of NIS 2,000 before criminal charges are issued, the new law would lower the fines to NIS 500 and eliminate the option to criminalize the user.

  • Morocco moves to legalise some cannabis cultivation

    But some pot farmers fear they won’t benefit
    The Economist (UK)
    Saturday, July 10, 2021

    morocco cannabis grower1Few countries produce more cannabis than Morocco, where locals mix it with tobacco and call it kif, meaning “supreme happiness”. The pleasure extends to Europe, where much of the cannabis ends up. Farmers in the Rif, a poor mountainous region in northern Morocco, produce most of the supply. They operate in a legal grey area. Growing cannabis is against the law in Morocco, but it is tolerated in the Rif. A bill passed by parliament, but yet to be approved by the king, may clarify the situation, at least somewhat. It would legalise the cultivation, use and export of cannabis for medical and industrial purposes (such as for hemp in textiles). The proposed law, though, would not legalise cannabis for recreational use. And it would allow cannabis farming only in certain regions of the country, such as the Rif.

  • Treat illegal drug use as health issue, says UK government review – here’s why

    One of the biggest recommendations Black makes is that we need to stop continuing to frame problem drug use as a criminal activity
    The Conversation (UK)
    Thursday, July 8, 2021

    uk police time wastedThe scale of the illicit drug trade in the UK is immense. Last year, the first part of an independent review of the drugs trade found the market in the UK was estimated to be worth £9.4 billion a year – with the health, social and criminal damage from this industry costing society an estimated £19 billion annually. The review was conducted by Dame Carol Black. Her first report revealed that around 3 million people used illicit drugs in England and Wales in 2020 and drug-related deaths have risen to record numbers for the past eight years. The second part of the review makes a number of recommendations for how the government can best tackle drug problems in the UK. (BMJ: The government must invest in treatment for people with drug problems, as new report shows stark consequences of cuts)

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