Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • ‘Movie-plot’ cocaine case highlights shipping industry drug problem

    The case is one of many highlighting the vulnerability of the global shipping industry — in which Switzerland is a key player — to criminal activity by drug traffickers
    Swissinfo (Switzerland)
    Monday, June 28, 2021

    msc gayane cocaine bustOn June 17, 2019, US law enforcement agents boarded a shipping vessel in Philadelphia and seized 19.75 tons of cocaine with a street value of over $1 billion. It was one of the largest drug seizures in US history and prompted the company to invest millions in security upgrades. The vessel in question – the MSC Gayane – was part of the fleet of the Geneva-based Mediterranean Shipping Corporation, which handles about 16 of the world’s seaborne trade, the second-most after Danish-based Maersk, according to a ranking of shipping operators. UN experts note the illicit drugs trade has been on the rise in the five-year period leading up to 2019 and that drug barons appear to be taking larger risks, sending more cocaine at one time. (See also: Jail sentence for first of MSC Gayane crew in cocaine smuggling case)

  • Mexico supreme court strikes down laws that ban use of recreational marijuana

    Adults will be able to apply for permits to grow and consume cannabis after decision that moves country toward legalisation
    The Guardian (UK)
    Monday, June 28, 2021

    mexico cannabis smoker protestMexico’s supreme court has struck down laws prohibiting the use of recreational marijuana, moving the country toward cannabis legalisation even as the country’s congress drags its feet on a legalisation bill. The court ruled that sections of the country’s general health law prohibiting personal consumption and home cultivation of marijuana were unconstitutional. Adults wanting to cultivate and consume their own cannabis will be able to apply for permits from the health secretariat. Criminal penalties for possessing more than five grammes of marijuana or selling the drug remain in place. The supreme court first granted injunctions in 2015 in favour of four applicants seeking injunctions to consume and grow marijuana. (See also: The Supreme Court is forcing Mexico to legalize weed, sort of)

  • Germany: Cannabis legalization becomes election campaign issue

    After Germany's upcoming parliamentary election, drugs legalization looks set to be a new issue on the political agenda
    Deutsche Welle (Germany)
    Saturday, June 26, 2021

    germany cannabis flagWith watershed elections looming in Germany, some politicians are talking about a new approach to drug control. The opposition Free Democrats (FDP), for whom civil liberties are a major issue, have called for the limited and legal sale to adults of "cannabis for leisure consumption." In view of growing global sales of cannabis for medical purposes and private pleasure, the business-friendly FDP is even looking to turn "Cannabis Made in Germany" into a lucrative export product. Four of the six parties currently represented in the Bundestag, the German parliament, are committed to backing an end to the cannabis prohibition policy.

  • Campaign for legal kratom use nears goal

    A local community sets the standard for responsible cultivation, which the government hopes to replicate once the plant is decriminalised
    The Bangkok Post (Thailand)
    Thursday, June 24, 2021

    After being listed as an illegal narcotic for many decades, Thais will finally be allowed to use and own Mitragyna speciosa, also known as kratom, as traditional medicine by August this year. On May 28, an announcement was made in the Royal Gazette which effectively removed the plant from the list of narcotics. As new laws take effect 90 days after their publication in the Gazette, kratom use and possession will be effectively decriminalised on Aug 24. Prior to its decriminalisation, kratom was categorised as a Class 5 Narcotic substance under the Narcotics Act, which made consuming, cultivating and possessing any part of the plant illegal.

  • French court overturns ruling banning legal sale of cannabidiol

    The Cour de cassation did not rule whether selling CBD in France was legal or not, and ordered a lower court to rule again on a case involving the owner of a shop selling CBD
    France24 (France)
    Wednesday, June 23, 2021

    france cofyshopFrance's highest appeals court overturned a ruling that stores in the country can't legally sell cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychotic compound related to cannabis that is being researched for a variety of medical applications. Based on the free trade of goods within the European Union, the Cour de cassation ruled that judges could not find the sale of CBD in France illegal if it had been legally produced in a member state of the bloc. The Court of Justice of the EU ruled last year that no national law can prohibit the sale of CBD legally produced in a member state, the French court also said.

  • MDMA gangs are literally polluting Europe

    Drug makers in Belgium and the Netherlands are poisoning nature reserves and damaging wastewater plants as they compete to supply the world with stimulants
    Vice (UK)
    Friday, June 18, 2021

    Noxious dumps in “drug pits” is one of many new ways  drug gangs in the Netherlands and Belgium are disposing of the toxic waste created in one of the world’s largest MDMA and amphetamine producing regions. While drug users may be aware of the price of an ecstasy pill and its psychoactive effects, the collateral damage on the environment caused by this huge illicit, and therefore unregulated, industry is not understood. Drug gangs in the Netherlands and Belgium, which have started setting up equally toxic meth labs and cocaine extraction labs on top of well-established MDMA and speed production industries, are increasingly resorting to dumping chemicals in more remote, pristine nature reserves and forests in order to escape detection. 

  • Autistic man set out of home ‘after growing single cannabis plant’

    His case adds to criticism of strict drugs law, dubbed the ‘sword of Damocles’, which allows majors to shut buildings and houses suspected of links with drugs and criminality
    Dutch News (Netherlands)
    Friday, June 18, 2021

    cannabis topThe mayor of a town in North Brabant has been accused of acting too harshly after allegedly setting an autistic man out of his home when he was discovered with a cannabis plant. In October 2019, 34-year-old Robin said he had grown a single plant in a forest nearby his home in Bergeijk, according to RTL Nieuws. He was drying the branches and leaves at home when neighbours smelled it and called the police, who confiscated the plant and judged the amount to be high enough to sell. Apparently against the advice of the man’s guidance counsellor and some city council staff, the mayor of Bergeijk Arinda Callewaert decided to close his home under strict opium laws. Last month, the ombudsman for Rotterdam said these closures may effectively bypass people’s housing rights.

  • Cannabis médical : aubaine ou mirage économique ?

    Considéré comme l’un des premiers producteurs mondiaux, le Maroc pourrait voir dans le cannabis une manne importante à emmagasiner dans ses finances publiques, là où elles s’évaporaient jusque-là dans l’illégal
    Tel Quel (Maroc)
    Vendredi, 11 juin 2021

    morocco cannabis farmerC’est la question qui brûle toutes les lèvres depuis l’annonce du projet de loi 13-21 : quelles seront, pour le Maroc, les retombées économiques de la légalisation de l’usage médical, thérapeutique et industriel du cannabis? A priori, la panacée. Du moins si l’on se fie à l’étude de faisabilité du ministère de l’Intérieur. De là à se demander s’il existe des possibilités d’ouverture pour le Maroc ? “Il pourrait y avoir un marché, mais il ne se crée pas facilement”, avance Tom Blickman. Ce dernier insiste sur le marché émergent du cannabis récréatif légal, “une solution pour réduire les trafics”. “Là ou d’autres pays ont légalisé le marché récréatif, comme le Canada, pourquoi ne pas produire pour ce marché?, suggère-t-il.

  • Political parties in Portugal propose adult-use cannabis legalisation bills in Parliament

    Momentum towards adult-use legalisation is gathering pace across Europe
    Prohibition Partners (US)
    Friday, June 11, 2021

    portugal cannabis parliamentTwo political parties in Portugal, Left Bloc and Liberal Initiative, each presented proposals for adult-use cannabis legalisation. The outcome of the debate was an agreement that both Bills be sent to the Health Committee for a period of 60 days, during which public hearings can be made, amendments presented and negotiations carried out before the deciding vote occurs in Parliament. Both parties are essentially proposing that the cultivation, distribution, purchasing, possession and consumption of adult-use cannabis [plant or derivatives] should be legalised. “Self-cultivation” for personal-use would also be allowed if either Bill was passed, with a maximum of five or six plants permitted per home (Left Bloc proposes five plants, Liberal Initiative proposes six).

  • Drug use steady despite lockdowns: EU agency

    Some substances became more popular, like psychedelic drugs and benzodiazepines
    Politico (US)
    Wednesday, June 9, 2021

    eu flagThe severe restrictions on movement and activities during the coronavirus pandemic had little effect on Europeans' appetite for illegal drugs in 2020, according to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). Cannabis use remained "stable" and at "high levels," said the EU agency in its yearly report. In 2020, it found, 15.4 percent of Europeans aged between 15-34 made use of the drug, mostly unchanged over 2019. The availability of harder drugs like cocaine also continued unchanged, notes the report, citing large seizures in 2020. In the case of heroin, it writes in a supplementary report, data from 10 hospitals shows "no overall change in the number of presentations associated with heroin between January and September 2020" when compared with the previous year.

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