Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • Safe injection site for opioid users faces Trump administration crackdown

    San Francisco, New York, Seattle, Denver and Boston have also seriously considered safe injection sites
    The New York Times (US)
    Wednesday, February 6, 2019

    The Justice Department is suing to stop a Philadelphia group from opening what some public health experts and mayors consider the next front in fighting the opioid epidemic: a place where people who inject fentanyl and other illicit drugs can do so under medical supervision.The nonprofit group, Safehouse, was formed last year to house the country’s first so-called safe injection site in Philadelphia, which has one of the nation’s highest rates of overdose deaths. Safehouse had been planning to open the site as soon as next month. But the Justice Department says it would “normalize” the use of deadly drugs.

  • Why so many Americans now support legalizing marijuana, in 4 charts

    It’s not about use, geography or demographics
    The Conversation (UK)
    Tuesday, February 5, 2019

    American views on marijuana have shifted incredibly rapidly. Thirty years ago, marijuana legalization seemed like a lost cause. In 1988, only 24 percent of Americans supported legalization. But steadily, the nation began to liberalize. By 2018, 66 percent of U.S. residents offered their approval, transforming marijuana legalization from a libertarian fantasy into a mainstream cause. Many state laws have changed as well. Over the last quarter-century, 10 states have legalized recreational marijuana, while 22 states have legalized medical marijuana. So why has public opinion changed dramatically in favor of legalization? In a study published this February, we examined a range of possible reasons, finding that the media likely had the greatest influence.

  • 'In three years, medical cannabis could be sold in Swiss pharmacies'

    It is important to talk about its beneficial effects, but we should not conceal the harmful ones
    Swissinfo (Switzerland)
    Monday, February 4, 2019

    Switzerland’s national drugs policy is often cited as a pioneering, humane model. Twenty-five years ago, the small Alpine nation launched a project for the medical prescription of heroin and a four-pronged drugs strategy - prevention, therapy, damage limitation and repression. This pragmatic policy, introduced in 1991, was born out of the Zurich drug problems of the 1980s and 1990s. However, a progressive approach has not been adopted for medical cannabis, says Brenneisen, chairman of the Swiss Working Group on Cannabinoids in Medicine (SACM) and a former consultant to the United Nations Narcotics Laboratory. Tens of thousands of patients in Switzerland regularly use cannabis to relieve pain and discomfort. Most of them do so illegally, however.

  • Fears grow that Ketamine use by young is on the rise in England

    Guardian analysis of data show police seizures of the drug increased by 30% last year
    The Guardian (UK)
    Monday, February 4, 2019

    Public Health England has expressed concern that increasing numbers of young people are using ketamine as a Guardian analysis of government data shows the number of police seizures of the drug increased by 30% last year. Robert Ralphs, a senior lecturer in criminology at Manchester Metropolitan University, said ketamine had become firmly established as the third most popular drug among students after ecstasy and cocaine, partly because it is cheaper – a gram of ketamine costs about £30. Martin Raithelhuber, an expert on illicit synthetic drug at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said most ketamine for recreational use was being produced in clandestine labs in Asian countries, particularly China.

  • Nine pill testing myths

    In all the talk, some myths keep being trotted out. Here’s the facts
    Australia's Science Channel (Australia)
    Monday, February 4, 2019

    From politicians to the public, the same myths keep being rolled out about pill testing. They’ve been testing pills in 20 other countries for at least two decades and there is considerable evidence that it helps reduce harm. There’s only been one sanctioned trial in Australia – at last year’s Groovin The Moo festival in Canberra – but there were positive signs. Only 20 people sought assistance from ACT Ambulance (most for intoxication linked to alcohol and/or MDMA) compared with 30 the previous year. Two people were taken to hospital for intoxication, but neither had attended the testing facility. A UK study showed that where when pill testing was in operation, hospital attendances dropped in nearby areas by as much as 95%.

  • A California conundrum: How to crack down on illicit sales without echoing the war on drugs?

    A nascent industry needs protection, but so do certain neighborhoods
    Cannabis Wire (US)
    Monday, February 4, 2019

    In October 2018, the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ newly-established Cannabis Enforcement Unit teamed up with the Los Angeles Police Department to carry out a raid on an unlicensed shop in Sylmar, a predominantly Latino and working-class neighborhood. The seizure took place ten months after the state had begun allowing the sale and taxation of cannabis for adult use. The end of prohibition has hardly ended illicit cannabis sales. A nascent industry—not to mention local governments eager for tax revenue—is pushing for rigorous enforcement. But who gets hurt? Calibrating a crackdown that does not hurt the same people and neighborhoods that suffered in the War on Drugs is not so easy.

  • Struggling to compete with fentanyl, Mexico’s poppy farmers ask for legalization

    "Not growing poppies means not having money"
    Filter (US)
    Monday, February 4, 2019

    Guerrero is Mexico’s third-poorest state and the center of its opium industry. If the state of 3.5 million were an independent country, it would be the top opium producer in the Americas. The roughly 50,000 hectares planted with poppies in the state support the economies of thousands of communities and hundreds of thousands of people. Starting about two years ago, traffickers began offering less and less, and rumors circulated that the price drop was due to competition from a new synthetic drug, manufactured in China and also in some fentanyl-producing laboratories detected in other parts of Mexico. (See also: Fentanyl overdoses spike on Mexico’s northern border but remain invisible | As opium poppies bloom, Mexico seeks to halt heroin trade)

  • 'Legalize marijuana without corporatized marijuana,' says New York mayor Bill de Blasio

    "It's a way to say we had an injustice, now let's give the very people who were the victims, the economic benefit"
    Civilized (US)
    Sunday, February 3, 2019

    De BlasioNew York Mayor Bill de Blasio supports Governor Andrew Cuomo's pledge to legalize recreational marijuana, but he doesn't want the the market to be overrun by big corporations when cannabis prohibition is repealed. "We have an industry that is just licking its chops, waiting to come in and corporatize marijuana—to do exactly what the tobacco industry did with cigarettes, to do exactly what the pharmaceutical industry did with things like oxycontin. What we need [to do] is legalize marijuana without corporatized marijuana," Mayor De Blasio told Bill Maher. To prevent that from happening, the mayor wants to hand the market over to former victims of cannabis prohibition—people who were arrested and imprisoned for marijuana-related offsenses.

  • World Health Organization recommends rescheduling marijuana under international treaties

    Marijuana and cannabis resin would also remain in Schedule I of the 1961 treaty
    Forbes (US)
    Friday, February 1, 2019

    Health experts at the United Nations are recommending that marijuana and its key components be formally rescheduled under international drug treaties. The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for whole-plant marijuana, as well as cannabis resin, to be removed from Schedule IV—the most restrictive category of a 1961 drug convention signed by countries from around the world. The body also wants delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and its isomers to be completely removed from a separate 1971 drug treaty and instead added to Schedule I of the 1961 convention, according to a WHO document. (See also: Though a ‘positive step,’ WHO recommendations on cannabis fall short for some)

  • Why legal cannabis growers can’t compete with the black market — yet

    Federally licensed production is increasing at a breakneck pace and that adequate legal supplies should be available countrywide by early next year
    The Toronto Star (Canada)
    Friday, February 1, 2019

    Despite the persistent media buzz, there are no cannabis supply shortages in Canada, pot industry expert Michael Armstrong explains. “There’s all kinds of cannabis in Canada,” says Armstrong, “It’s the legal cannabis that we’re short of.” And to successfully compete with a stocked and still-thriving illegal market, the country’s licensed cannabis producers must — among a series of moves — ramp up their crop outputs exponentially, offer cheaper, more varied strains and get them into a vastly increased number of stores. “This is not a new industry, there is an existing industry,” says Armstrong, who analyzed new Health Canada data on the country’s marijuana market for a recent article. “What we have is this new legal version that has to compete with it.”

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