Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • 40 mayors call on next Dutch government to legalise marijuana

    The government has sanctioned experiments with regulated marijuana production in 10 cities, but that process is not due to start until next year
    Dutch News (Netherlands)
    Thursday, September 23, 2021

    nl cannabis cultivation policeAlmost 40 Dutch mayors, mainly from the south of the Netherlands, have signed a manifesto calling on the government to legalise soft drugs (cannabis) as part of a campaign to tackle organized crime and the infiltration of legitimate companies and organisations by drugs criminals. The issue must have a prominent place in the next cabinet’s plans, the mayors say. ‘By removing the criminals’ earnings model, vulnerable citizens can be protected,’ the manifesto states. According to the Parool, Amsterdam’s mayor Femke Halsema told city councillors that she supported the manifesto as well. (See also: Mayors push for tougher approach against organized crime | Drugs crime costs Dutch society up to €4.1bn a year, report claims)

  • Italy will be first to light up Europe’s weed biz

    A new approach to cannabis would have multiple financial and economic benefits
    Reuters (UK)
    Wednesday, September 22, 2021

    italy coloseum cannabisItaly may soon jump on the weed bandwagon. A nationwide referendum to legalise cannabis will likely take place early next year. If Italian voters embrace dope, it will spark a domino effect across Europe. Backers of the pro-weed referendum have already gathered more than 500,000 signatures, the minimum required to hold a nationwide plebiscite. That paves the way for a decriminalisation vote, mirroring what happened in 18 U.S. states. With 57% of Italian voters expected to back the proposal, according to pollster Sondaggi Bidimedia, Italy has a concrete chance to turn its current restrictive system into Europe’s most liberal one.

  • Warnings instead of prosecution for Class A drug users

    Scotland logged a record 1,339 drug-related deaths in 2020 - by far the highest rate in Europe
    BBC News (UK)
    Wednesday, September 22, 2021

    uk heroin injectingPeople caught with Class A drugs in Scotland could be given a police warning instead of facing prosecution. Officers can already issue a formal warning for possession of lower category drugs. Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain told MSPs this would now include Class A drugs in a bid to address the underlying causes of Scotland's drugs death crisis. The Conservatives said the move amounts to "de facto decriminalisation" of deadly substances. Ms Bain insisted this was not the case, adding that there is "no one size fits all" response to drug addiction and that every case should be judged individually. (See also: Warnings for Class A drugs is good step but there's still more to do)

  • Italy set for referendum on liberalising cannabis use, say weed advocates

    "The speed of the support shows the desire for change on cannabis," said the referendum's organising committee
    Reuters (UK)
    Saturday, September 18, 2021

    italy flag cannabis2Weed advocates in Italy said they had gathered enough signatures to trigger a referendum on liberalising the use of cannabis, setting the stage for a nationwide vote on the issue early next year. The referendum proposal seeks to legalise the growing of weed for personal use and ease sanctions on other cannabis-related crimes, with offenders no longer risking prison sentences for selling small amounts of the drug. Organisers of the petition gathered the required 500,000 signatures in seven days, far more quickly than usual due to a law approved in July that allows signatures to be collected online. Previously, only in-person signing was allowed.

  • Minister casts doubt over Luxembourg legal weed plan

    Coalition agreement of 2018 promised legalisation of consumption, production, sale and possession of cannabis
    Luxemburger Times (Luxembourg)
    Friday, September 17, 2021

    luxembourg cannabisJustice Minister Sam Tanson on Friday refused to confirm Luxembourg will legalise cannabis for recreational use in an apparent U-turn over a government promise from 2018 that drew widespread international attention. "I can't confirm anything," Tanson said in an interview when asked whether the sale of cannabis would still be made legal, as foreseen in the 2018 coalition agreement. Earlier, she had sidestepped questions about the overall plan to legalise the production, sale, possession and consumption of cannabis. Tanson is set to publish a package of measures for security and drug policy issues in October, which would include the regulation of cannabis use. (See also, in French: Le cannabis bientôt légal, voilà ce que l'on sait déjà)

  • International court backs probe into Philippines' 'war on drugs'

    Human rights groups accuse Duterte of inciting deadly violence and say police have murdered unarmed drug suspects on a massive scale as part of the campaign
    Reuters (UK)
    Wednesday, September 15, 2021

    Judges at the International Criminal Court approved a formal investigation into possible crimes against humanity allegedly committed under the leadership of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in the context of his "war on drugs". The ICC said in a statement that judges had approved a request by prosecutors to begin the investigation into potential murder as a crime against humanity. Judges' assessment of material presented by prosecutors, was that "the so-called ‘war on drugs’ campaign cannot be seen as a legitimate law enforcement operation", but rather amounted to a systematic attack on civilians. (See also: Philippines: The International Criminal Court goes after Duterte’s drug war | Duterte is worried about the ICC. He should be)

  • Zurich to launch recreational cannabis trial

    Switzerland’s largest city, Zurich, will next year allow people to buy cannabis products from pharmacies and social clubs under controlled conditions.
    Swissinfo (Switzerland)
    Tuesday, September 14, 2021

    cannabis switzerlandThe three-and-a-half year pilot scheme, announced on Tuesday, takes advantage of a change in the law that was approved by parliament last year. This allows cities to conduct scientific studies on the effects of the cannabis market and of the recreational use of the drug. The ‘Züri Can - Cannabis with Responsibility’ study will start in the autumn of 2022, making different products available, each with a different THC/CBD content. Local manufacturers must have a production permit from the Federal Office of Public Health, ensuring quality standards. Consumers of cannabis products will also be limited to protect health, public safety and minors. (See also (in German): Was ist «Züri Can» und wer kann daran teilnehmen?)

  • Serotonin helps curb cocaine addiction

    Only one in five consumers get addicted to cocaine, thanks to the protective role played by serotonin, scientists at the University of Geneva (UNIGE) have foundOnly one in five consumers get addicted to cocaine, thanks to the protective role played by serotonin, scientists at the University of Geneva (UNIGE) have found
    Swissinfo (Switzerland)
    Friday, September 10, 2021

    The team has revealed a brain mechanism specific to cocaine which triggers a massive increase in serotonin (the ‘happy’ hormone) in addition to the increase in dopamine (the neurotransmitter that causes addiction) common to all drugs. Serotonin acts as an intrinsic brake on the overexcitement of the reward system prompted by dopamine. The results are published in the latest edition of the prestigious journal Science. Contrary to popular thinking, cocaine only triggers an addiction in 20% of consumers, a statement issued by the university said. “The same principle applies to all potentially addictive products,” said Christian Lüscher, a professor in the Department of Basic Neurosciences at the UNIGE Faculty of Medicine, who led the research.

  • Antwerp and Rotterdam are new epicentre of European cocaine trade

    Dutch customs officers impounded some 48,000 kilos of cocaine in the ports and at Schiphol airport last year, a rise of 24% compared to 2019
    Dutch News (Netherlands)
    Thursday, September 9, 2021

    antwerp harbourThe increased use of shipping containers to conceal drugs has made the high volume ports of Antwerp, Rotterdam and Hamburg the new epicentre of the European cocaine market, according to a new report on the industry by European police organisation Europol. This means Europe’s North Sea coast has now overtaken the Iberian peninsula as the primary point of entry for cocaine reaching Europe, Europol says. While Antwerp is the biggest arrival port for cocaine, most of the drug is ‘is likely intended for organisations operating out of the Netherlands. (See also: Belgium and Netherlands centre of cocaine traffic in Europe | Nine arrested in drugs container)

  • Italy set to decriminalise cultivation of cannabis plants for personal use

    Backers say rule change necessary for therapeutic users of drug
    The Independent (UK)
    Thursday, September 9, 2021

    italy flag cannabisItaly is to decriminalise the growing of cannabis plants at home for personal use. The measure, adopted by the country’s Lower House's justice committee, approves the cultivation of up to four cannabis plants. Backers of the law change say it is necessary to allow people to grow cannabis for therapeutic and medicinal uses. “The cultivation of hemp at home is essential for patients who must make therapeutic use of it and who often do not find it available, as well as to combat the [street] sale [of the drug] and the consequent criminal behaviour,” Mario Perantoni, of the Five Star Movement, said. In 2019, Italy’s Supreme Court ruled that growing small quantities of cannabis at home for private usage was legal. (See also: Italy to allow small-scale cannabis growing at home)

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