Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • eSwatini: A brief tale of two laws

    An act passed to recover the proceeds of organised crime may now be used by eSwatini’s authorities to score points for a cannabis law that many think will benefit a powerful few
    New Frame (South Africa)
    Friday, September 18, 2020

    eswatini flag cannabis handcuffsThe U.S. company Stem Holdings reported in 2019 that it had “received preliminary approval to become the only licensed growing farm and processing plant for medical cannabis and industrial hemp in The Kingdom of eSwatini for a minimum of 10 years”. The government denied any knowledge of the deal, even as the country’s health ministry, in haste, pushed to pass a cannabis bill into law. What this means is that locals who have been secretly farming cannabis for years would not be able to farm and export their crops. Cannabis growers were not consulted; neither were the many traditional leaders who govern on communal land (about 54% of the country). The House of Assembly voted against it and instructed the health ministry to conduct thorough and representative consultations.

  • ‘Life-saving and life-changing’: BC’s safe supply program gets major expansion

    More drugs covered, more people eligible and increased access all promised as part of overdose crisis response
    The Tyee (Canada)
    Wednesday, September 16, 2020

    canada safe supplyBold changes and a dramatic expansion are coming to safe supply efforts in B.C. in response to an increasingly toxic drug supply and the deadly overdose crisis. Eligibility for safe supply — prescribed untainted drugs or alternatives — will expand to nearly all people who access the street drug supply, even intermittently, under a policy directive from the B.C. Centre on Substance Use being finalized with the province. And registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses will soon be able to prescribe controlled substances under a public health order from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. Previously, only doctors and some pharmacists were allowed to prescribe safer alternatives to illicit drugs.

  • Sky high: Mass. marijuana is among the most expensive in the nation

    Nearly four years after legalization, Bay State cannabis consumers still pay top dollar
    The Boston Globe (US)
    Wednesday, September 16, 2020

    us massachusets saleMassachusetts marijuana products consistently fetch around double the price of equivalents in the most mature recreational markets, according to a review of dispensary menus around the country and new data by several analytics firms. And in most cases, cannabis here is even pricier than in other states that legalized the drug more recently; only the nascent and heavily taxed Illinois market approaches the Bay State’s exorbitant prices. An eighth of an ounce of decent-quality marijuana flower retails for $50 to $60 on the Massachusetts recreational market before adding an effective 20 percent combined state and local tax. Compare that with $20 to $30 for an eighth of an ounce of exceptional cannabis in Oregon, the state with the cheapest legal weed.

  • Controversial new EU drug agenda puts Europe, Morocco at risk

    A hidden process is underway to radically shift Europe towards a repressive new drug agenda that merges migration, counter-terrorism, and security
    Morocco World News (Morocco)
    Saturday, September 12, 2020

    frontex smallThe EU is planning to combine migration, counter-terrorism, and security in its new repressive anti-drug agenda that could have far-reaching consequences for Morocco. The European Commission has been developing this new strategy far away from public scrutiny. The drastic new drug agenda was only revealed after 29 civil society organizations spoke up in protest of the EU’s shadowy dealings. “It’s worrying because drug policy is now captured in the security agenda, just as counter-terrorism and illegal migration, it’s all being put in the same package,” Tom Blickman from he Transnational Institute said. “Supply control policies don’t work, it has been tried for more than fifty years. They have not worked in the past, do not work now, and will not work in the future.” 

  • Farmers in western Makwanpur return to marijuana farming due to pandemic-induced poverty

    Poor crop harvest for a lack of fertilisers has driven the locals to destroy cash crops and plant marijuana to stay afloat
    The Kathmandu Post (Nepal)
    Friday, September 11, 2020

    nepal cannabis cultivationFarmers in rural municipalities in western Makwanpur district have started cultivating marijuana since the harvest in their maize and millet fields this year will see no returns. Hareram Negi, a local farmer, says maize and millet crops he had planted this year did not produce good yield for a lack of fertilisers. “The harvest is poor. The crops are yellowing,” said Negi. “We won’t have neither crops nor vegetables to sell this year. We are cultivating marijuana to have at least some income to keep us afloat.” After the local level elections in 2017, the police administration in coordination with the people’s representatives had launched a campaign to curb marijuana cultivation in Makwanpur. The local administration had deployed police personnel to destroy illegal marijuana and opium farming in rural areas in the district.

  • Medical cannabis big hit in Luxembourg

    Enough supplies after a shortage in July, government says
    Luxembourg Times (Luxembourg)
    Thursday, September 10, 2020

    medical cannabis docterDoctors in Luxembourg have given out cannabis to more patients so far this year than in all of 2019, Health Minister Paulette Lenert said, a sign that the legalisaton of the drug - which remains banned for recreational use - filled a gap in demand. Parliament approved the medicinal use of cannabis in June 2018 and government will evaluate the law at a later stage. It is mainly prescribed for serious diseases such as multiple sclerosis or cancer. The Covid-19 pandemic has delayed Luxembourg's plans to also legalise the recreational use of cannabis - an election promise that has irked neighbouring countries - which is likely to be another two years away. (Le Luxembourg en manque de cannabis médical)

  • The incredible story of Zürich’s journey to harm reduction

    Any society refusing to integrate its marginalized members is a looming danger to itself
    Filter (US)
    Wednesday, September 9, 2020

    zurich 1990sIt was in 1992 that the Platzspitz city park – right by Zürich train station and internationally nicknamed “Needle Park” – was cleared out by the police, who had previously tolerated drug use and sales there. This was eventually followed, however, by a far more enlightened policy. Switzerland found itself at a crossroads, and chose to take the path of careful consideration instead of ostracization, incarceration and destruction of fellow human beings. From the mid-1990s, we vastly expanded syringe services and methadone access, and also permitted the limited prescribing of heroin – a policy with many well-studied benefits, which spawned a number of imitators around the world. 

  • Swiss cannabis studies get the green light

    The debate around the tests goes back to 2017, when the University of Bern applied to begin such a study
    Swissinfo (Switzerland)
    Wednesday, September 9, 2020

    switzerland cannabis2Parliament has backed a legal change allowing for pilot studies that will distribute cannabis to control groups, in order to find out more about the effects of recreational use. The monitoring studies will be limited in size and duration, and will only include existing cannabis smokers over the age of 18. Interior Minister Alain Berset, who backed the amendment, said that the current situation was “unsatisfactory”. This is particularly the case in bigger cities like Bern, Geneva, Zurich and Basel, who have all expressed an interest in the potential of such trials. One third of the Swiss population has admitted to smoking cannabis at some point, while some 200,000 smoke regularly. But cannabis remains an illegal substance, and there is no oversight of the quality or origin of what’s consumed.

  • Police routinely use drug powers to 'bully people', says former Chief Inspector

    Police in the UK regularly use drugs as a pretext to stop and search people, despite three-quarters of these searches coming up empty
    Vice (UK)
    Friday, September 4, 2020

    A former chief inspector has said he believes that over a third of drug stop-and-searches by UK police are used “as an excuse to harass people”, after an analysis showed that officers are using the powers as a pretext to punish or exert control, rather than to find drugs. Despite a 2011 decision to rein in stop-and-search because so many Black and Asian people were being targeted, the tactic is back on the rise after a surge in knife crime. There was a sharp jump in the number of searches between 2017/18 and 2018/19, from 250,000 to 384,000. Despite the coronavirus lockdown, that figure has skyrocketed in London, increasing by 103 percent in the year up to May of 2020. (See also: As a police officer, I know stop and search is really about power)

  • Where calling the police isn’t the only option

    There’s a growing movement in the U.S. to hand some police duties over to social workers and alternative emergency responders
    Bloomberg CityLab (US)
    Thursday, September 3, 2020

    us defund policeSkeptics of the movement to defund or abolish police departments often invoke the threat of a 911 call in the middle of the night that goes unanswered. But a lot of 911 calls could be answered by someone who’s not an officer in a uniform with a gun: Medical concerns about unhoused people, reports about individuals in the throes of a mental health crisis, and complaints about minor nuisances like loud music dominate the 911 wires. Nationwide, an estimated 80% of 911 calls are made for nonviolent, non-property offenses, says Frankie Wunschel, a research associate at the Vera Institute. The New York Times found that the share of time officers spend handling violent crime in New Orleans, Sacramento and Montgomery County, Maryland, this year was only 4%.

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