Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • Mexico may become the third country to legalise cannabis

    It would be the first with such a strong underworld to take that step
    The Economist (UK)
    Saturday, November 21, 2020

    mexico mariguana liberacion marcha2On November 19th the Senate began debating a bill that would make Mexico the third country in the world, after Uruguay and Canada, to legalise cannabis for recreational use nationwide. For Mexico, the change seems riskier. It was once the world’s largest producer of cannabis. Campaigners for legalisation are watching how it will go in a country where organised crime is strong, the rule of law is weak and much of the economy is undocumented. Mexico’s route to legalisation has been unusual, and its arrival may yet be delayed. The president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has so far been a bystander. In contrast to the United States, where voters have endorsed reform in state referendums, legalisation has little popular support in Mexico. Surveys suggest that just over a third of voters favour it.

  • How a man with a van is challenging UK drug policy

    A former drug user turned activist is addressing Scotland’s alarming drug death crisis by running the nation’s first drug consumption room — and risking arrest to do it
    The New York Times (US)
    Saturday, November 21, 2020

    Every Friday for the past two months, Peter Krykant has parked his white van on Parnie Street in central Glasgow and waited for people to come by and inject illegal drugs. Inside the van are two seats and two tables, each with a stainless steel tray and hypodermic needles, as well as several biohazard trash cans. The van is also equipped with naloxone, the medication used to reverse an opioid overdose, and a defibrillator. Scotland is in the midst of its worst drug crisis on record, and one of the worst in the world. The country has tallied five straight years of record-setting, drug-related deaths and now holds a per capita death rate three times higher than anywhere else in Europe. (See also: Lord Advocate has a role to play over safe consumption rooms)

  • North Macedonia moves to make recreational marijuana use legal

    The government has not made any final decision yet, and insists that if the majority in the country says no to the idea, he is ready to retreat
    Balkan Insight (Bosnia)
    Friday, November 20, 2020

    cannabis euroThe government in North Macedonia is considering allowing recreational use of marijuana in cafes and hospitality places in the capital, Skopje, and in other tourist hotspots, like the lakeside town of Ohrid, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said. “The idea is to allow consumption of marijuana in cafes, both in existing and new ones, and in tourist places, including Skopje, if they respect certain standards on ventilation, proof of origin of the marijuana and so on,” Zaev told Deutsche Welle. He added that the government envisages strict regulation in this sphere, taking Amsterdam in the Netherlands as an example. The Prime Minister said this was part of the government’s planned package of measures aimed at stimulating the economy, which has been hit hard by the COVID health crisis.

  • EU top court rules that CBD is not a narcotic drug

    ‘CBD doesn’t appear to have any … harmful effect on human health,’ the judges wrote
    Politico (US)
    Thursday, November 19, 2020

    eu flagThe European Union's highest court ruled today that cannabidiol (CBD) isn't a narcotic drug. The decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) is a setback for EU countries that are cracking down on CBD products, arguing they are harmful to people's health. At issue was a French case against a Czech company that sold CBD extracted from the whole cannabis plant to use in electronic cigarette cartridges. France only allows extraction from cannabis seeds and fiber — not the whole plant. The court ruled the law that prompted this legal action against the Czech producers was an unnecessary restriction of the free movement of goods because the substance doesn't pose a threat to human health. 

  • Vancouver proposes decriminalizing possession of small amounts of drugs

    Calls for decriminalization have grown louder as overdose deaths have shattered records across the country
    The Globe and Mail (Canada)
    Wednesday, November 18, 2020

    Vancouver is proposing to become the first Canadian city to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of illicit drugs. Mayor Kennedy Stewart, who is forwarding the motion, says it would allow the city to fully embrace a health-focused approach to substance use. “We all know that the overdose crisis is getting worse, it’s been impacted by COVID, and the level of deaths is intolerable,” Mr. Stewart said. “This can help to reduce stigma and connect folks with health care.” The mayor will introduce the motion Tuesday. If approved by council, the city and Vancouver Coastal Health will submit a formal request to the federal ministers of Health and Public Safety and to Justice Minister and Attorney-General David Lametti. (See also: Vancouver mayor proposes decriminalization of simple drug possession)

  • Cannabis resin now 25% more potent, global study reveals

    Concentrations of intoxicating THC have risen, data from more than 80,000 street drug samples gathered over 50 years shows
    The Observer (UK)
    Sunday, November 15, 2020

    hash cannabis leafCannabis resin – or “hash” – has increased in strength by nearly 25% over the past half century, a major international study has revealed. Researchers with the Addiction and Mental Health Group at the University of Bath analysed data from more than 80,000 cannabis street samples tested in the past 50 years in the US, UK, Netherlands, France, Denmark, Italy and New Zealand. The findings reveal concentrations of THC – the intoxicating component of cannabis responsible for giving users a “high” – have changed over time. In herbal cannabis, THC concentrations increased by 14% between 1970 and 2017. This was primarily due to a rising market share of stronger varieties, such as sinsemilla. Concentrations in cannabis resin increased by 24% between 1975 and 2017.

  • Mexican Senate committees approve marijuana legalization bill with floor vote planned soon

    Advocates are still hoping for further revisions to promote consumers’ rights and social equity in the legal market
    Marijuana Moment (US)
    Friday, November 13, 2020

    mexico debate cannabisSeveral Mexican Senate committees on Friday tentatively approved a revised bill to legalize marijuana during a joint hearing, with a formal in-person vote scheduled next week. The legislation, which has circulated in draft form this month and further amended ahead of the meeting, would establish a regulated cannabis market in Mexico, allowing adults 18 and older to purchase and possess up to 28 grams of marijuana and cultivate up to four plants for personal use. Members of the Senate’s United Commissions of Justice, Health, and Legislative Studies advanced the bill, months after passing an earlier version. The panels first voted to dispense with that previous bill during Friday’s session.

  • Israel announces plan to legalize recreational cannabis within 9 months

    According to recommendations of interministerial team, marijuana will be sold to users aged 21 and up, but not for consumption in public
    The Times of Israel (Israel)
    Thursday, November 12, 2020

    israel cannabisIsrael is planning to legalize cannabis for recreational use within nine months while balancing “liberalism and responsibility,” Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn said. Nissenkorn presented the recommendations of an interministerial team that has been reviewing the matter, alongside Likud MK Sharren Haskel and Blue and White MK Ram Shefa, who have been leading their respective parties’ efforts on the issue. The justice minister said an explanatory memorandum of a bill formulated in accordance with the recommendations would be published by the end of November and that the legalization would go into effect nine months after it is approved. (See also: Israel lays out plan to legalize recreational cannabis, looking to Canada as a blueprint)

  • Government committee said set to recommend full cannabis legalization

    Recommendation reportedly to be released in coming days, after Health Ministry changed tack to back recreational use
    The Times of Israel (Israel)
    Monday, November 9, 2020

    A governmental committee tasked with reviewing Israel’s cannabis laws is reportedly set to recommend full legalization in a report. The inter-ministerial committee made up of representatives from the Israel Police, the Public Security Ministry and the Health Ministry will recommend that the government continue efforts to decriminalize cannabis on the way to full legalization. The recommendations come after a change in tack from the Health Ministry, which was previously opposed to legalizing the drug beyond medical use, the report said. In June, two linked bills to legalize cannabis use passed preliminary readings in the Knesset ahead of the three votes required for them to become law. (See also: Israel lays out plan to legalize recreational cannabis, looking to Canada as a blueprint)

  • Mexico is poised to legalize marijuana, but advocates don’t like the details

    Advocates fear the legislation, if approved as written, will cut Mexican-owned businesses out of a lucrative new market while doing little to loosen the grip of organized crime on the drug trade
    The Washington Post (US)
    Sunday, November 8, 2020

    mexico mariguana liberacion marcha2It's the moment for which advocates of legal marijuana here have been waiting: Mexican lawmakers, working under a court order, have until mid-December to finalize rules that will make the country the world's largest market for legal pot. Advocates have long argued that legalization would put a dent in the black market; allow for safe, regulated consumption; create jobs; and cut down on crime. But rather than counting down the days with glee, they’re waging an 11th-hour campaign to change legislation that they say would favor large corporations over small businesses and family-owned farms, while doing little to address the issues at the root of the country’s illegal drug trade.

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