Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • The cannabis-psychosis debate is being driven by fear mongering, not facts

    The narrative around psychosis and cannabis often ignores the importance of the varying social and structural factors that shape health outcomes
    Globe and Mail (Canada)
    Monday, July 1, 2019

    As the legalization of recreational cannabis gains traction across North America, one of the most-debated health concerns is psychosis and cannabis use, particularly for young people. Frustratingly, both sides often resort to cherry picking data or conflating correlation with causation. Anecdotes, not science, often prop up these arguments. We’ve all heard it: “Consuming cannabis can lead to psychosis.” While this is partially true, it reflects only a restricted, conveniently framed piece of the picture. Others dismiss the association completely, which is also not productive to evidence-informed conversation. For the most part, we’re getting the conversation wrong, and doing a disservice to young people, caregivers, people experiencing psychosis, and those at risk. 

  • The Cannabis Debate: 63 per cent of Londoners think UK should follow Canada and make drug legal

    Major Evening Standard poll shows fast-changing attitudes to legalisation of the drug
    Evening Standard (UK)
    Monday, July 1, 2019

    uk evening standard cannabisLondoners overwhelmingly support the legalisation of cannabis for adult recreational use, according to a poll commissioned by the Evening Standard and the independent think-tank Volteface. Sixty-three per cent of residents in the capital back legalisation and regulation of the class B drug, with just 19 per cent opposing the idea. In the country at large, 47 per cent back legalisation, with 30 per cent against and 23 per cent undecided. Cannabis is the UK’s most widely used illicit drug with an estimated 3 million users. Overall it is a market worth an estimated £2.5 billion, with potential tax revenues of £1 billion, according to the Institute of Economic Affairs. (See also: Legalisation could mean opportunities for investors but disruption for thousands of dealers on London estates)

  • Reefer Madness or Pot Paradise? The surprising legacy of the place where legal weed began

    Colorado’s first-in-the-nation experiment with legalized marijuana has infused the drug into almost every corner of life
    The New York Times (US)
    Sunday, June 30, 2019

    colorado marijuanaColorado’s first-in-the-nation experiment has reshaped health, politics, rural culture and criminal justice in surprising ways that often defy both the worst warnings of critics and blue-sky rhetoric of the marijuana industry, giving a glimpse of what the future may hold as more and more states adopt and debate full legalization. Some families rattled by their children’s marijuana problems have moved, seeking refuge in less permissive states. But over all, state surveys do not show an increase in young people smoking pot. And while low-level marijuana charges have plummeted, the racial divide in drug arrests has persisted.

  • ‘There’s no opposition now’: how a quiet Canada town became a world leader in growing weed

    In an abandoned chocolate factory in Ontario, Canopy Growth is nurturing global ambitions
    The Guardian (UK)
    Saturday, June 29, 2019

    In 2018 Canada became the second country, after Uruguay, to legalise recreational use. By catching the green wave, Canopy Growth’s co-chief executive, Bruce Linton, has built, in under six years, a company valued by the stock market at £11.5bn, positioned to be the number one global player. Though Canopy has yet to make a profit, revenues reached C$225m last year. More than half comes from its recreational cannabis brand Tweed, even though legalisation only took hold halfway through the year. But breaking America is the biggest prize in the near future. Canopy recently signed a C$4.5bn deal giving it an option to buy the US cannabis firm Acreage, putting it in pole position to grab a slice of the US if it opens up further.

  • Seiveright urges European stakeholders to bolster cannabis push

    Much more is needed to be done to ensure the full incorporation of small traditional players who need to be brought into the regulated environment
    The Gleaner (Jamaica)
    Thursday, June 27, 2019

    Delano SeiverightDirector of the Cannabis Licensing Authority, Delano Seiveright, encouraged European stakeholders to continue to pursue further cannabis-related reforms in their respective countries as it will, in part, assist “small developing states like Jamaica to further deepen its cannabis liberalisation efforts so as to bring much-needed benefits to small traditional farmers who are suffering from marginalisation due to complicated laws and regulations brought on by geopolitical realities, and to foster growth and development in emerging market economies”. Much more is needed to be done to ensure the full incorporation of small traditional players who need to be brought into the regulated environment. (See also: CLA director lobbys Europe to push cannabis reforms)

  • Freeing craft cannabis from 'grey market' worth $3 billion to B.C: report

    Licensing just 15 per cent of B.C.'s 6,000 craft cannabis growers could legitimize nearly $3 billion in cannabis sales in two years
    Vancouver Sun (Canada)
    Wednesday, June 26, 2019

    canada craft cannabisHealth Canada rules for micro-cultivation of recreational cannabis have kept most of the pot sold in B.C. — and the expert growers who made B.C. bud a global brand — locked up in the grey market, industry leaders say. Licensing just 15 per cent of B.C.’s 6,000 grey market craft cannabis growers and raising production caps could legitimize nearly $3 billion in cannabis sales in two years, according to an analysis by the cannabis business accelerator Grow Tech Labs. The cost of entering the regulated market, combined with tight limits on capacity, conspire to create a business model that isn’t viable for growers currently working in the unregulated market, said CEO Barinder Rasode, a former Surrey city councillor. (See also: Health Canada 'build first' policy a blow to craft cannabis industry: critics)

  • Push to decriminalise ice use as bar backs public health approach

    The model draws on the approach taken in Portugal, where personal drug use was decriminalised in 2001
    The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
    Wednesday, June 26, 2019

    australia police methThe personal use and possession of ice and other illicit drugs would be decriminalised in NSW under a public health-driven plan backed by the Bar Association and other top lawyers. In a submission to the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug Ice, which began public hearings across the state last month, the association says that criminalising personal drug use "may result in greater harm to the individual, and to society more broadly", than the harm caused by the use of illicit drugs. Under the Bar Association's plan, the production, trafficking and supply of illicit drugs including ice and other amphetamine-type stimulants would continue to be criminalised.

  • Global marijuana use rose by 60 percent over the past decade

    More people than ever are smoking weed around the world
    Deutsche Welle (Germany)
    Wednesday, June 26, 2019

    The global story about cannabis — the most-used recreational drug in the world — is about as fuzzy as your body feels after taking your first hit. While some places, such as states in the US, have legalized the drug, it is strictly prohibited in others. Almost 200 million people smoke pot worldwide according to the 2019 World Drug Report, and that number is rising. Whether this is a good or bad thing seems somewhat hard to decipher with inconsistent global regulations on the drug, conflicting research studies and little concrete evidence of its long-term effects. But how can we decide whether to condemn or support the devil's lettuce when our own governments can't seem to figure it out?

  • Illegal drug classifications are based on politics not science – report

    Global Commission on Drug Policy calls for a reclassification of drugs including cocaine, heroin and cannabis
    The Guardian (UK)
    Wednesday, June 26, 2019

    Illegal drugs including cocaine, heroin and cannabis should be reclassified to reflect a scientific assessment of harm, according to a report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy. The commission, which includes 14 former heads of states, said the international classification system underpinning drug control is “biased and inconsistent”. A “deep-lying imbalance” between controlling substances and allowing access for medicinal purposes had caused “collateral damage”. Such damage included patients in low- and middle-income countries forced to undergo surgery without anaesthetic, to go without essential medicines and to die in unnecessary pain due to lack of opioid pain relief. (See also: What is the most dangerous drug? |Regulation on substance abuse disproportionate to health risks, says report)

  • Switzerland aims to legalise medical marijuana

    Just how insurers will handle reimbursement for medical marijuana will be dealt with separately
    Reuters (UK)
    Wednesday, June 26, 2019

    The Swiss government aims to make it easier for patients to get medical marijuana, proposing to allow prescriptions for cannabis to treat people suffering from cancer or other serious conditions. The proposal, separate from a Swiss government push to allow some cities to experiment with recreational marijuana, would replace the current system, in which those seeking medical cannabis must apply for an exception from the Federal Health Office to get what is otherwise an illegal drug. Marijuana is sometimes used to help cancer patients manage chronic pain, to help boost their appetites, and to reduce spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis. "The proposal makes it possible for doctors to directly prescribe cannabis as part of their treatment," the Swiss cabinet said in a statement.

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