Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media

 

  • Alcohol giant Diageo, Tobacco giant Reynolds, and Morgan Stanley among companies newly lobbying on cannabis

    The involvement of tobacco and alcohol companies is an unwelcome development for some cannabis reform advocates
    Cannabiswire (US)
    Wednesday, April 21, 2021

    dollar cannabisThe US House of Representatives passed a bill to expand cannabis industry access to banking. While a version of that bill stalled in the last Senate, Democrats now have a majority. Major companies are taking notice. Cannabis Wire was the first news organization to report that Marlboro maker Altria had started to get into cannabis lobbying at the state level, through its registration on cannabis sales in Virginia, and that the company planned to lobby at the federal level. Last month, Altria joined Molson Coors and other mainstream companies, like Brink’s, to launch the national Coalition for Cannabis Policy, Education, and Regulation. Then, this month, the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity and the Reason Foundation launched another national group called the Cannabis Freedom Alliance.

  • Lesotho firm first in Africa to be granted EU licence for medical cannabis

    Breakthrough could create thousands of jobs for villagers and help exports to other markets
    The Guardian (UK)
    Wednesday, April 21, 2021

    lesotho cannabis productionA company in Lesotho has become the first in Africa to receive a licence to sell medical cannabis to the EU. The country’s top medical cannabis producer, MG Health, announced it had met the EU’s good manufacturing practice (GMP) standards, allowing it to export cannabis flower, oil and extracts as an active pharmaceutical ingredient. It will export its first batch to Germany later this year. The GMP guidelines are the minimum requirements a manufacturer or producer must meet to ensure products are safe and of a consistent high quality. They are used to control the licensing for sale of food and pharmaceutical and medical products. (See also: A Lesotho dagga grower just landed Africa’s first approval to sell to the EU)

  • Senate Democrats split over legalizing weed

    Several are opposed to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's legalization push
    Politico (US)
    Tuesday, April 20, 2021

    Chuck SchumerTwo Democrats told Politico that they oppose removing federal penalties on marijuana. Schumer can't afford to lose a single vote on his side of the aisle in his legalization push, and that's before an even tougher battle to win over Republicans who have little interest in working with Democrats. If Schumer can't find a path to Senate passage this year, with a midterm election that's historically not been kind to the president's party, it could mean a long delay before pot is legal in the U.S. — even as 18 states have embraced full legalization. (See also: Schumer worries Senate marijuana banking vote could undermine broader legalization push)

  • Lebanon's crisis-hit farmers turn to growing hashish

    Hashish production was once limited to a few villages in the Baalbek, including Yammouneh, but its deputy mayor Hussein Shreif said it is now gaining traction across the whole region
    Agence France Presse (AFP)
    Tuesday, April 20, 2021

    For three decades Abu Ali planted potatoes to provide for his family, but Lebanon's economic crisis has driven up production costs and forced him to swap the crop for cannabis. "It's not for the love of hashish," the 57-year-old told AFP in the eastern Baalbek region, the heart of Lebanon's illicit cannabis industry. "It's just less expensive than other crops... and allows you to live with dignity." Lebanon is in the throes of a spiralling economic crisis compounded by the coronavirus pandemic. As the value of the local currency plunges on the black market, the cost of imported fuel, seeds, fertilisers and pesticides priced in dollars has skyrocketed. More and more small farmers, who were already in dire straits before the crisis, are deciding to grow cannabis instead.

  • Germany: Greens campaign for legal cannabis on 4/20

    In Germany it’s illegal, but Annalena Baerboeck and her Green Party could change that
    Deutsche Welle (Germany)
    Tuesday, April 20, 2021

    germany regulieren statt kriminalisierenApril 19 will go down in German political history as the day Annalena Baerbock was elected the Green Party's first-ever chancellor candidate. Assuming the party is ready to govern, the very next day may well be remarkable as well. April 20, referred to among marijuana enthusiasts as 4/20, has become an international counterculture holiday, where people gather to celebrate and consume cannabis. Many such events have a political nature to them, too, advocating the legalization of cannabis. On Twitter, the Greens wrote: "Cannabis is the most consumed illegal drug in Germany — the proportion of minors consuming it is increasing. For real youth & health protection there must be rules for the trade and a controlled distribution of cannabis!” 

  • After ‘Green Rush,’ Canada’s legal pot suppliers are stumbling

    Most marijuana producers in Canada are still reporting staggering losses two and a half years after legalization
    The New York Times (US)
    Sunday, April 18, 2021

    canada cannabis ottawaWhen Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government’s legalized marijuana in 2018, a primary goal was to create a more equitable justice system — not a major new business sector. Investors, however, thought otherwise, and in the time leading up to legalization, a “green rush” swept the Toronto Stock Exchange. Money poured into companies starting up to service not only the Canadian market, but also eyeing other opportunities, particularly the U.S. market. Analysts say one reason the sunny projections have failed to materialize is the tightly regulated distribution system introduced by Canada, which largely bans advertising and marketing. The halting roll out of stores in some provinces — particularly Ontario — is also a factor.

  • Americans overwhelmingly say marijuana should be legal for recreational or medical use

    Fewer than one-in-ten (8%) say marijuana should not be legal for use by adults
    Pew Research Center (US)
    Friday, April 16, 2021

    us flag cannabisAs more states, including Virginia and New York, continue to legalize marijuana, an overwhelming share of U.S. adults (91%) say either that marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational use (60%) or that it should be legal for medical use only (31%). Fewer than one-in-ten (8%) say marijuana should not be legal for use by adults. The new survey, conducted by Pew Research Center from April 5-11, 2021, comes as congressional Democrats consider legislation that would decriminalize marijuana nationally. Views of marijuana legalization have changed very little since 2019. From 2000 to 2019, the share of Americans saying marijuana should be legal more than doubled.

  • Norway opposition torpedoes plan to decriminalise drug use

    Proponents of the bill argued that criminal prosecution of drug users can be counterproductive as it deters those with abuse problems from seeking help
    Agence France Presse (AFP)
    Friday, April 16, 2021

    handcuffsNorway's main opposition Labour Party rejected a government plan to decriminalise the personal use of drugs in small quantities, saying the measure could incite young people to experiment with narcotics. Under the centre-right coalition government's proposal submitted in February, both the possession and use of small quantities of drugs, including heroin, cocaine and cannabis, would no longer have been punishable under the criminal code, but users would still have had to seek help. The ruling party however needed backing from the opposition in parliament in order for the bill to be approved. Although the Labour Party is in principal in favour of doing away with penalties for heavy drug users, it is against decriminalising drug use for the wider population.

  • Magic mushrooms show promise in treatment for depression, study says

    Trial suggests psilocybin combined with psychological therapy is as effective as antidepressant drug
    The Guardian (UK)
    Wednesday, April 14, 2021

    psilocybinMagic mushrooms have a long and rich history. Now scientists say they could play an important role in the future, with their active ingredient a promising treatment for depression. The results from a small, phase two clinical trial have revealed that two doses of psilocybin appears to be as effective as the common antidepressant escitalopram in treating moderate to severe major depressive disorder, at least when combined with psychological therapy. “I think it is fair to say that the results signal hope that we may be looking at a promising alternative treatment for depression,” said Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, head of the centre for psychedelic research at Imperial College London and a co-author of the study.

  • Overdose deaths have surged during the pandemic, C.D.C. data shows

    The latest numbers surpass even the yearly tolls during the height of the opioid epidemic and mark a reversal of progress against addiction in recent years
    The New York Times (US)
    Wednesday, April 14, 2021

    us ny end overdose nowMore than 87,000 Americans died of drug overdoses over the 12-month period that ended in September, according to preliminary federal data, eclipsing the toll from any year since the opioid epidemic began in the 1990s. The surge represents an increasingly urgent public health crisis, one that has drawn less attention and fewer resources while the nation has battled the coronavirus pandemic. Deaths from overdoses started rising again in the months leading up to the coronavirus pandemic — after dropping slightly in 2018 for the first time in decades — and it is hard to gauge just how closely the two phenomena are linked. But the pandemic unquestionably exacerbated the trend, which grew much worse last spring.

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