Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • Teen marijuana use remains lower than pre-legalization levels, federally funded survey finds

    Even as teens’ attitudes toward marijuana’s harms continue to relax, they are not showing corresponding increases in marijuana use
    Marijuana Moment (US)
    Monday, December 17, 2018

    Fewer young people are using marijuana now as compared to 2012, when the first states moved to legalize cannabis, according to a federally funded study. The 2018 Monitoring the Future survey found that annual, monthly and daily marijuana use remained lower among the nation’s 8th, 10th and 12th grade students compared to pre-legalization levels. Teens’ perceived availability of cannabis continued to decline in 2018 as well. Fewer adolescents are saying they perceive occasional or frequent cannabis use as harmful. Experts have long believed that lower perceptions of risk are correlated with more frequent use, but the data doesn’t seem to bear out those concerns. (See also: Teen marijuana use actually declined in Washington State after legalization, study finds)

  • Thames Valley Police 'won't arrest drug users' in pilot

    The three-month pilot will offer a "tailored diversion route" to address people's use of drugs instead of seeing them prosecuted
    BBC News (UK)
    Monday, December 17, 2018

    People found with "small quantities of illegal drugs" will not be arrested and instead urged to engage with support services, as part of a police pilot. Thames Valley Police (TVP) hopes the approach will reduce deaths, prevent reoffending and lower service demands. Assistant Chief Constable Jason Hogg has denied the scheme is a soft approach, saying there is "nothing soft about trying to save lives". Figures showed drug deaths nationally increased by 29% in 2017. ACC Hogg said people would not be prompted to attend appointments, but if they failed to engage with addiction services "they could find themselves being prosecuted" if found in possession in the future.

  • New gangs 'Uberise' Europe's cocaine supply and bring more violence

    Rising production from Latin America has led groups from North Africa and the Balkans to change the drug trade, EU agency says
    The Guardian (UK)
    Friday, December 14, 2018

    A surge in the supply of pure cocaine to Europe has led to a rise in drug-related murders as new criminal gangs muscle into a market previously dominated by the mafia, the EU drugs agency has said. The extra output from Latin America, especially by the biggest producer, Colombia has led to growing numbers of gangs including from Morocco and the Balkans setting up their own smuggling lines straight from producers. This has seen an “Uberisation” of the cocaine trade characterised by faster, anytime-anywhere delivery, a report by the Lisbon-based agency said, which has also kept prices lower.

  • French study recommends legalising therapeutic cannabis

    The committee ruled out recommending that cannibis be administered by smoking, given the associated health risks
    France 24 (France)
    Friday, December 14, 2018

    A scientific committee convened by the French government has concluded that it might be “appropriate” to legalise cannabis for therapeutic use in a report. The committee, convened by France's ANSM (the French National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products), stated that it would be “appropriate to authorise the use of therapeutic cannabis […] in certain clinical situations and in cases where [existing] therapies provide insufficient relief or are not well tolerated”. According to the committee, the law should authorise the use of the plant in cases of severe pain, for certain types of epilepsy, as part of ancillary care for cancer patients, in certain “palliative situations” and for the muscular contractions linked to multiple sclerosis.

  • St Vincent Parliament approves legislation decriminalising marijuana

    The Caricom Marijuana Commission recommended that the plant be decriminalised for all purposes, and warned against a medical marijuana only approach to reform
    Jamaica Observer (Jamaica)
    Friday, December 14, 2018

    caribbean ganjaSt Vincent and the Grenadines has become the first Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) member to pass legislation allowing for the decriminalisation of marijuana for medicinal and scientific purposes. Parliament approved two pieces of legislation that also allows for the production of the crop under a tightly controlled framework. Agriculture Minister Saboto Caesar, who piloted the measure, said that it would end many of the sufferings people had endured in the illegal marijuana trade. Lawmakers also approved the Medical Marijuana Amnesty Bill amidst calls by the Opposition and some members of the Rastafarian for the Ralph Gonsalves Government to go the full length and legalise small portions of the plant for recreational use.

  • Safer opioids actively being reviewed for epidemic: chief public health officer

    A safer supply of opioids is a “no-brainer” to ensure people are not forced to turn to a “deadly, illegal market”
    National Post (Canada)
    Wednesday, December 12, 2018

    Heroin being prepared at a supervised injection site in VancouverPublic health officials across Canada are seriously considering increasing the supply of safer opioids to quell a crisis that newly released data show helped claim more than 2,000 lives in the first half of the year. Canada’s chief public health officer said Wednesday a toxic drug supply is a key part of Canada’s opioid epidemic. Creating a safer opioid supply is “being actively reviewed and discussed” with provinces and territories, Dr. Theresa Tam said, and will require exploring what treatments people require. (See also: Ending the overdose epidemic starts with a safe supply of drugs)

  • A promising way to help drug users is ‘severely lacking’ around the world, report says

    The evidence is clearly in favour of harm reduction
    Time (US)
    Tuesday, December 11, 2018

    Global funding for harm reduction programs is in “crisis,” according to the latest Global State of Harm Reduction report, potentially threatening the effectiveness of HIV, hepatitis and drug overdose relief programs worldwide. Harm reduction policies and programs are meant to curb the negative effects associated with illicit drug use — such as overdoses and the spread of blood-borne illnesses like HIV and hepatitis C — rather than focusing solely on stopping substance use. Proponents, and plenty of research, suggest these practices can have a sizable impact on public health, and help drug users who can’t or don’t want to quit.

  • New Zealand passes laws to make medical marijuana widely available

    Legislation comes ahead of a referendum on recreational marijuana use in next two years
    The Guardian (UK)
    Tuesday, December 11, 2018

    New Zealand’s government has passed a law that will make medical marijuana widely available for thousands of patients over time, after years of campaigning by chronically ill New Zealanders who say the drug is the only thing that eases their pain. The legislation will also allow terminally ill patients to begin smoking illegal pot immediately without facing the possibility of prosecution. The new law allows much broader use of medical marijuana, which was previously been highly restricted and subject to approval by the health minister. Patients wanting to use marijuana for conditions like chronic pain will have to wait a year until a new set of regulations, licensing rules and quality standards are put in place.

  • Testing drugs at festivals is ‘a lifesaver’, study finds

    Drug-related hospital admissions down 95% after onsite testing at festival in Cambridgeshire
    The Observer (UK)
    Sunday, December 9, 2018

    the loopAn alarming rise in drug-related deaths at music festivals can be countered by testing illicit substances onsite, according to the first academic study of its kind, which has triggered calls for similar services to be rolled out at all major events. Testers found that one in five substances sold at the Secret Garden Party, a four-day festival in Cambridgeshire in July 2016, were not as described by dealers. Chemists from the non-profit social enterprise The Loop analysed 247 drug samples brought in anonymously by festivalgoers. Two-thirds of people who discovered they had had substances missold to them subsequently handed over further substances to the police, according to the study. (See also: Pill testing could save lives – so why are we letting people die?)

  • Barbados PM comments on decriminalisation of marijuana

    Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, president of the CARICOM Marijuana Commission, calls for change in the region's cannabis laws, as majority of Caribbean governments continue to urge caution on the way forward
    Jamaica Observer (Jamaica)
    Saturday, December 8, 2018

    marijuana plantingThe Barbados government says it will soon develop a framework for medical cannabis, even as it noted that decriminalisation of marijuana for recreational use will have to be decided by a referendum. “There is no doubt that we will put a framework in place for medical cannabis within the next week or so. In fact, we have more or less taken a decision, we just need some refining and training with practitioners,” Prime Minister Mia Mottley said, adding that the island could no longer afford to miss out on the emerging cannabis industry. Mottley said that Barbados would not be going about the decriminalisation of marijuana carelessly, adding that careful research would guide her administration's position.

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