Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • Beijing says US legalization of marijuana is a 'threat to China'

    China has stepped up its efforts to combat the sale of illegal drugs in recent years
    CNN (US)
    Monday, June 17, 2019

    Liu YuejinBeijing's leading drug enforcement body has blamed the legalization of marijuana in Canada and parts of the United States for a spike in the amount of drugs smuggled into the country, describing it as a "new threat to China." Liu Yuejin, deputy director of the China National Narcotics Control Commission, said that the number of cannabis users in China had grown by more than 25% in 2018, rising to about 24,000 people. "In two years, we have found increasing cannabis trafficked from North America to China," he said, though he conceded there were "few cannabis abusers in China" relative to the total population. Anyone found with more than 50 grams of a controlled substance can face the death penalty in China. (See also: China nominates Hong Kong occupy-era police chief for UN post)

  • Global marijuana trade is still five to seven years off, but Canada aims to be world's cannabis king

    Canadian producers have a big advantage over American growers
    Financial Post (Canada)
    Monday, June 17, 2019

    canada cannabis stock brokerCam Battley believes that in the not-too-distant future, his company — one of Canada’s largest licensed producers — will be exporting a “significant chunk” of the cannabis it is growing domestically. “We have a massive market over in Europe, even in Latin America,” says Battley, chief corporate officer at Aurora Cannabis Inc. “These countries are legalizing medicinal cannabis one by one but they’re not growing as much as us. They’re going to need product, and we’ve already got the ball rolling on exporting.”  It’s a sentiment shared by other major producers that are spending tens of millions of dollars to build up international footholds with the intent of being key players in the emerging global cannabis industry. But before they can make good on those ambitions, some things will have to change.

  • Swiss police want more clarity on cannabis

    Fines for possession of cannabis have not been uniform throughout the country due to lack of clarity in the implementation of the law
    Swissinfo (Switzerland)
    Saturday, June 15, 2019

    The number of fines related to cannabis dropped from 18,000 in 2017 to barely more than 7,000 last year. French-speaking cantons and Zurich especially took a more lenient approach towards cannabis smokers with 70% fewer fines imposed. The reason for this massive decline is a 2017 Federal Court decision that ruled that "the mere possession of small quantities of drugs for consumption purposes" should not be punished. Even though consumption is still a punishable offence, the court’s decision has led to a change in police practice. The Association of Swiss Police Officers called for a greater say in cannabis policy.

  • The world’s largest pot farms, and how Santa Barbara opened the door

    The cannabis boom has caused a backlash from residents and vintners afflicted by the smell
    Los Angeles Times (US)
    Saturday, June 15, 2019

    In a sandy draw of the Santa Rita Hills, a cannabis company is planning to erect hoop greenhouses over 147 acres — the size of 130 football fields — to create the largest legal marijuana grow on Earth in the Santa Barbara County’s famed wine region. Lobbied heavily by the marijuana industry, Santa Barbara County officials opened the door to big cannabis interests in the last two years like no other county in the nation, setting off a largely unregulated rush of planting in a region not previously known for the crop. County supervisors voted not to limit the size and number of marijuana grows. They chose not to vet growers’ applications for licenses or conduct site inspections.

  • Big Dutch cities, coffee shops say no to regulated marijuana trials

    Coffee shops would not be allowed to sell any ‘foreign’ hashish, which currently accounts for up to 25% of sales
    Dutch News (Netherlands)
    Tuesday, June 11, 2019

    coffeeshoplicenseA handful of the Netherlands’ medium sized cities have come forward to take part in the government’s controversial regulated marijuana experiment but the five biggest cities have all said no, the Volkskrant said. Tilburg, Almere, Breda and Nijmegen had signed up for the trials by the June 11 deadline and Groningen is also considering the idea, even though the city’s 12 cannabis cafes are opposed. The experiment with regulated growing is supposed to remove the gray area between the sale of marijuana in council-licenced coffee shops and the illegal cultivation and supply. However, there are so many problems with the proposals that the big cities, where most of the coffee shops are located, see no point in taking part.

  • Drugs expert barred from policy panel after criticising Home Office

    Minister vetoed appointment of woman who called Home Office drug policy ‘utter BS’
    The Guardian (UK)
    Tuesday, June 11, 2019

    uk heroin injectingA government minister vetoed the appointment of an expert to a public body after vetting found she had criticised the Home Office and called for drug policy reform. Documents released under a subject access request also reveal that candidates for public bodies now have their social media profiles scrutinised by ministers. An online search by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) secretariat found that Niamh Eastwood, the director of Release, the UK’s centre on drugs and drug laws, had described a Home Office policy position as “utter BS” and claimed it was “just making s**t up” in a tweet. Eastwood had been deemed appointable to the ACMD, which makes drug policy recommendations to government. (See also: Home Office drugs policy panel decision condemned)

  • No charges for personal drug possession: Seattle’s bold gamble to bring ‘peace’ after the war on drugs

    Seattle’s new model has been hailed by criminal justice reformers as a humane alternative to the punitive drug policies of the ’80s and ’90s
    The Washington Post (US)
    Tuesday, June 11, 2019

    Late last year, prosecutors in King County, which encompasses Seattle, became the first in the nation to stop charging people for possessing small amounts of drugs — heroin, meth and crack included — in virtually all cases. Many people who once would have been locked up are now immediately offered help through Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD). It is a profound shift that builds on efforts launched here in recent years to divert low-level drug offenders into treatment and other programs to assist with recovery. The approach, which is being considered elsewhere, amounts to a bold experiment during a historic drug epidemic: Can a major American city beat drug abuse by treating it as a public health crisis rather than a crime?

  • 'Swazi Gold' dagga farmers fear new SA law could crush them

    While subsistence farmers worry about their future, a few African governments are waking up to the potential of a legal cannabis industry
    Reuters (South Africa)
    Monday, June 10, 2019

    Mbuso has been growing cannabis for 14 years. He lives and tends the illicit crop in Swaziland, which is now known officially as Eswatini. Mbuso is just one of scores who depend on high demand from their larger neighbour South Africa for their potent cannabis strain known as "Swazi Gold". They are worried that a recent legal amendment in SA could choke their businesses. In September, South Africa's Constitutional Court decriminalised the use and cultivation of cannabis in private space. But the decision did not legalise its trade or distribution. Florida-based company Profile Solutions Inc has recently received a coveted 10-year licence to produce and sell hemp and medical-grade cannabis in Eswatini. But small-scale farmers are still being prosecuted, detained and having their crops burnt.

  • 'These are healing plants': Oakland decriminalizes magic mushrooms

    Move by northern California city comes one month after voters in Denver approved a similar initiative to decriminalize psilocybin
    The Guardian (UK)
    Wednesday, June 5, 2019

    magic mushroomsOakland has become the second city in the US to decriminalize magic mushrooms and other psychedelics, with a policy that activists hope will spark a national legalization movement. The measure comes after voters in Denver approved a similar ballot initiative to decriminalize psilocybin, which supporters say can help treat depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions. The Oakland measure decriminalizes adult use of psychoactive plants and fungi, including mushrooms, cacti, iboga and ayahuasca. Decriminalization means the city is effectively directing law enforcement not to investigate or prosecute people for the use, sale or distribution of these plants and fungi. The resolution cited research linking psychedelics and natural hallucinogens to a range of mental health benefits.

  • China nominates Hong Kong occupy-era police chief for UN post

    Tsang is unapologetic about his tough approach to policing
    Bloomberg (US)
    Wednesday, June 5, 2019

    Andy TsangChina nominated a former Hong Kong police chief to lead the UN’s drug crimes division, the first time it has sought a global post since detaining Interpol’s chief last year. The effort to install Andy Tsang Wai-hung, who oversaw the department during the 2014 Occupy Central protests, is a sign of China’s support for multilateralism and the United Nations, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said. The move had been reported by the South China Morning Post. “China is ready to make a greater contribution in cracking down on cross-national organized crime and to cooperate in drug control,” Geng said. Tsang, 61, was in Vienna last month to canvas for votes to lead the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. (See also: Beijing says US legalization of marijuana is a 'threat to China')

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