Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • Coronavirus triggers UK shortage of illicit drugs

    Experts concerned heroin users will turn to more dangerous fentanyl
    The Guardian (UK)
    Sunday, April 12, 2020

    fentanyl dangerDrug treatment experts have raised concerns a drop in the supply of illicit drugs to the UK triggered by the lockdown is leading to an increase in the number of users turning to more dangerous alternatives. A reduction in global travel, increased border restrictions and a slowdown in movement within the UK has resulted in a drop in the supply of illicit drugs, including heroin and the designer drug spice. Border guards have noted a recent drop in seizures as traffic into the country subsides, while senior police sources have noted the dip in supply. There is a significant risk of heroin users substituting with fentanyl, a lethal drug 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin.

  • Spain’s cannabis patients in lockdown lockhold

    Cannabis clubs are “more or less” legalised and between 200,000 and 500,000 people currently use them for medicinal purposes
    Euro Weekly (Spain)
    Wednesday, April 8, 2020

    Thousands of patients who use cannabis for medicinal reasons no longer have access to this remedy. During Spain’s lockdown to combat the Covid-19 pandemic the cannabis clubs where they obtained supplies have closed, leaving the black market as their only solution. The Union of Patients for the Regulation of Cannabis (UPRC) has now asked the government to authorise the controlled re-opening of Spain’s 1,600 users’ clubs. Before they closed, the clubs provided an essential service for patients with multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and fibromyalgia. Cannabis can also help to alleviate the adverse effects of chemotherapy. The Podemos Cannabis Circle is asking the Unidas Podemos party, to which it belongs, to raise the issue in the national parliament in Madrid. 

  • Bundesinstitut lehnt Cannabis-Modellversuch in Berlin ab

    Die Entscheidung ist noch nicht rechtskräftig und das Land könnte noch Widerspruch einlegen
    Süddeutsche Zeitung (Germany)
    Mittwoch, 8. April 2020

    Ein in Berlin geplanter Modellversuch zur kontrollierten Abgabe von Cannabis als Genussmittel kann voraussichtlich nicht in die Tat umgesetzt werden. Das Bundesinstitut für Arzneimittel und Medizinprodukte (BfArM) lehnte den entsprechenden Antrag ab. Das Vorhabenverstößt  aus Sicht des Instituts gegen das Betäubungsmittelgesetz. Zudem sei der Modellversuch "weder medizinisch noch ethisch vertretbar". Im Zuge des Modellprojekts wollte der Berliner Senat Cannabis kontrolliert und wissenschaftlich begleitet an eine begrenzte Zahl erwachsener Studienteilnehmer abgeben. Ziel sei, Drogenkonsumenten zu einem risikoärmeren oder reduzierten Konsum zu bewegen.

  • Advocates call safe drug supply a victory but worry about logistics in pandemic

    Pandemic contributes to scarce supply, advocates worried about potential impact on the streets
    Victoria News (Canada)
    Monday, April 6, 2020

    canada homeless streetAdvocates say it took a pandemic for steps forward in the call for a safe supply of drugs for people dealing with substance use problems and there’s no guarantee progress will continue. On March 26, the provincial government of British Columbia introduced new clinical guidelines after the federal government announced a number of exemptions that would be made to the Controlled Substances Act. The changes would allow doctors, nurses and pharmacists to prescribe a safe supply of medication to people dealing with substance use disorder in support of social distancing in the face of two public health emergencies. “Prices are going up and supply is going down. People are getting desperate, it’s really scary.”

  • Cannabis bankruptcies start to roll in as pandemic halts financing

    The weakest companies are succumbing and even relatively healthy firms are showing signs of strain
    Bloomberg News (US)
    Monday, April 6, 2020

    The cannabis bankruptcy filings are starting to roll in. Already plagued by a tough regulatory environment, disappointing sales and capital markets that had closed to all but the strongest companies, the industry is now facing a pandemic-related collapse in stock markets and ever-shrinking financing options. Pot companies completed two capital raises worth just US$5.6 million the week ended March 27, according to data from Viridian Capital Advisors. That’s the lowest level of activity this year and compares to 17 capital raises worth $169 million for the same period in 2019. (See also: Global stock meltdown is a disaster for cannabis industry already on the brink | 'Extinction-level event' looms for some cannabis companies as cash dwindles)

  • Stoners cheered when Canada legalised cannabis. How did it go so wrong?

    Growers have gone bust, and the black market is still thriving
    The Observer (UK)
    Sunday, April 5, 2020

    canada cannabis stock broker2Two years on, the Canadian cannabis legalisation experiment hasn’t quite turned out as we reformers had hoped. The black market is still vibrant while cannabis stocks have crashed, medical patients say they can’t get hold of essential medicines, and thousands of jobs have been lost. So what went wrong – and what went right? Alastair Moore, co-founder of Hanway Associates, a London-based cannabis consultancy, says the Canadian industry has been driven by vulture capitalism and wishful thinking. “A mix of greed and naivety led this industry to great heights – and has left it on its knees. While some made lots of money, others lost their investments and now many others have lost their jobs.”

  • Amid the crisis, marijuana legalization in New York will have to wait again

    Marijuana legalization is an incredibly contentious and complicated issue for legislators even under normal circumstances
    Filter (US)
    Friday, April 3, 2020

    us ny liberty statueDuring New York’s worst health crisis in a lifetime, a deadline came up to put forth a provision to legalize adult-use marijuana. With other concerns to address, lawmakers are passing on legalization. Advocates are understanding of this. “While legalizing cannabis is necessary to reduce the decades of unjust, racist targeting of communities of color in New York, our state faces a public health crisis right now and efforts to contain COVID-19 demand legislators’ full attention,” said Kassandra Frederique of the Drug Policy Alliance. The new year started with high hopes that the state would finally pass a legalization bill. Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) placed it among his top priorities in his State of the State address in January, after convening a meeting with other Northeast governors.

  • Missed earnings, misdirection put Canadian cannabis executives in hot seat

    Some of the founders of today’s large cannabis companies were good at raising money but not good at making money
    Marijuana Business Daily (US)
    Wednesday, April 1, 2020

    The exodus of cannabis executives in Canada is in full swing after their companies raked up collective net losses exceeding CA$6 billion ($4.4 billion) in 2019, the first calendar year recreational products were allowed to be sold. Most of Canada’s top cannabis producers have replaced their chief executives or chief financial officers after failing to meet customer and investor expectations. Experts say the CEOs spent too much money on greenhouses, were too focused on investors and did not pay enough attention to customers, real markets or quality control. Many simply lacked the professional toolkit necessary to steer a cannabis company and ended up chasing too many opportunities in far-flung areas of the world where actual marijuana markets remain years away.

  • Cannabis scientists are chasing the perfect high

    Chemists at some of the biggest legal-weed companies are after an elusive prize: a predictable, reliable product
    The New York Times Magazine (US)
    Wednesday, April 1, 2020

    us buying marijuana dispensaryThe cannabis business has arrived at a critical moment. Now that pot has become something like a regular consumer product, customers are increasingly seeking the same “proven consistency” they expect from potato chips. The financial stakes are clear: Despite lingering prohibitions in 17 states, legal cannabis is already an $8 billion industry in the United States. Domestic sales of alcohol topped $200 billion last year. But to make cannabis as popular as booze requires solving that original problem: It’s hard to imagine millions of people becoming new recreational users without being able to promise them that the product they’re spending money on will give them the effect they want. (See also: Cannabis researchers want to take the mystery out of weed. Here's why that's a mistake)

  • Dutch marijuana back on sale, but don't forget to wash your hands

    Dutch authorities wanted to avoid driving the sales underground to an unregulated black market
    Reuters (UK)
    Tuesday, March 31, 2020

    coffeeshop menuWhile most of the Netherlands struggles through the coronavirus lockdown, marijuana smokers received the welcome news that “coffee shops” selling the drug have reopened for takeaway orders. All businesses selling cannabis and hashish were ordered to shut, along with sex clubs and saunas, when the Dutch government imposed on March 15 measures to curb the COVID-19 epidemic. A limited reopening has been allowed to avoid black market drug deals and ensure supplies of medicinal cannabis. With coronavirus regulations prohibiting gatherings of people, however, buyers are no longer permitted to stay for a smoke.

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