Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • Cannabis banking prospects improve; scepticism and stigma remain

    The SAFE Banking Act aims to protect banks that service the cannabis industry from being penalised by US federal legislators
    Jamaica Observer (Jamaica)
    Wednesday, April 10, 2019

    jamaica flag ganjaThe nascent medical cannabis business in Jamaica is challenged by limited access to banking facilities. Many of the major banks have asked clients engaged in legal medical cannabis businesses to close their accounts for fear of breaching federal laws in the USA. Further, despite provision in law for researchers to investigate and innovate, projects are being held until financial rules are settled. On top of this structural barrier, scepticism and stigma perfuse the system. (See also: Jamaican ganja is a US$250-million industry)

  • Mother of girl with epilepsy has supply of medical cannabis confiscated

    Campaigner Emma Appleby was stopped with £4,500 worth of cannabis oil for her daughter
    The Observer (UK)
    Saturday, April 6, 2019

    The law in the UK was changed last November to make access to medical cannabis legal, but parents have been struggling to secure prescriptions, due to reluctance within the medical community. NHS England says it expects cannabis-based products for medicinal use should “only be prescribed for indications where there is clear published evidence of benefit”. Hannah Deacon, mother of one of the first children to be prescribed medical cannabis, said that people need help from the government, rather than an insistence on randomised control trials to prove the efficacy of medical cannabis. “We need observational trials and modern thinking from clinicians and ministers to make these life-changing medicines truly accessible.” (See also: Teagan Appleby to have confiscated medical cannabis returned)

  • A budding trade: Industrial cannabis is booming in China

    Hemp stocks reach an all-time high
    The Economist (UK)
    Thursday, April 4, 2019

    The hemp plant has a history in China. It was probably twisted into the world’s first rope there around 2,800BC. Since its cooler sister, marijuana, became legal for recreational use in Canada and many American states, industrial-use hemp—a variety of cannabis that contains trivial amounts of weed’s mind-altering substance, THC—is flourishing in a country that until a few years ago banned its cultivation outright. China grows nearly half the world’s legal hemp. In 2018 sales, mostly of textile fibre made from the plant’s stalk, totalled $1.2bn. Now global demand for its seeds, leaves and flowers is surging. Packed with fulsome fatty acids, seeds go into snacks and oil. Leaves and flowers contain cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating compound that reduces anxiety and inflammation.

  • How cannabis is firing up the U.S. supply chain

    U.S. companies cannot stop talking about marijuana, hoping in part they can catch investor interest as the booming economy around the drug lifts revenues throughout the supply chain
    Reuters (UK)
    Thursday, April 4, 2019

    us cannabis deliveredWith the recreational use of cannabis now legal in 10 states and the District of Columbia and medical marijuana legal in 23 states, marijuana is on its way to becoming an $80 billion industry in the United States by 2030, according to estimates by Cowen Inc. That outsized growth is starting to bleed into adjacent industries ranging from energy to packaging to point-of-sale technology whose products are used in the production or sale of marijuana. As investors circle the cannabis space, supply-chain companies are showing a new willingness to associate themselves with an industry that remained largely illegal a decade ago.

  • Street cannabis 'contains dangerous amount of faecal matter'

    The hashish obtained in Madrid was found to contain dangerous levels of E.coli bacteria
    BBC News (UK)
    Thursday, April 4, 2019

    Cannabis resin sold on the streets of Madrid is contaminated with dangerous levels of faecal matter, a study says. Traces of E.coli bacteria and the Aspergillus fungus were found by analysts who examined 90 samples bought in and around the Spanish capital. The samples of hashish were wrapped up in plastic "acorns" were the worst offenders, reportedly because of the way they are smuggled into the country. Some 40% of these also had the aroma of faeces, the study's lead author said. Buying, selling and importing cannabis is against the law in Spain, as is using it in public - although it is technically legal to grow it for personal use, provided it is not publicly visible, and to consume it in private. (See also: Poo traces found in majority of cannabis sold on Madrid streets)

  • A death foretold: Colombia’s crop substitution program

    The government is planning to eradicate coca that has not even been planted yet
    InSight Crime
    Monday, April 1, 2019

    The government’s failure to comply with the coca crops substitution program in Colombia has left the future of almost 100,000 families in limbo and sets up a major setback in the country’s drug policies. The latest report on the monitoring and verification of the illicit crops substitution commitment issued by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) showcases breaches by the Colombian government within the National Comprehensive Program for the Substitution of Illicit Crops (Programa Nacional Integral de Sustitución de Cultivos Ilícitos – PNIS). This program was a crucial part of the peace agreement between the government of former president Juan Manuel Santos’ and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in late 2016.

  • War on drugs has helped cocaine traffickers conquer swathes of Central America, study suggests

    Almost 20 per cent of US drug control spending goes on attempts to intercept shipments, with a ‘dismal’ success rate
    The Independent (UK)
    Monday, April 1, 2019

    A new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, which simulated the complex dynamics between drug traffickers and US drug control efforts in Central America, suggests the efforts of successive US governments have led to a “cat-and-mouse arms race”, in which traffickers have massively expanded their networks of operations in ever greater efforts to out-manoeuvre authorities. The model demonstrated that narco-trafficking is as widespread and difficult to eradicate as it is because of interdiction, and increased interdiction will continue to spread traffickers into new areas, allowing them to continue to move drugs north.

  • Genève fait cavalier seul sur la distribution de cannabis

    Stupéfiants - Le canton n’attendra pas de changement légal. Une demande d’autorisation pour un essai pilote va être déposée à Berne
    Tribune de Genève (Suisse)
    Dimanche, 31 mars 2019

    Le Canton de Genève sera-t-il le premier de Suisse à accueillir un projet pilote de régulation du cannabis? Le défi est lancé. Selon nos informations, une demande d’autorisation pour mener une expérience de remise contrôlée d’herbe va prochainement être envoyée à l’Office fédéral de la santé publique (OFSP). Le Conseil d’État genevois a accepté il y a peu un tel programme, qui, s’il reçoit le feu vert, serait mené par l’Université de Genève. La requête peut surprendre: les expériences pilotes développées dans plusieurs villes suisses se trouvent actuellement au point mort, dans l’attente d’un vote au parlement. L’échantillon restreint de participants à Genève implique que l’effet sur le marché noir d’une distribution contrôlée ne pourra pas être étudié.

  • Partial decriminalization of public cannabis use takes effect Sunday night

    Legalization activists warn substituting fines for criminal indictments may lead to stricter enforcement by police
    The Times of Israel (Israel)
    Sunday, March 31, 2019

    Marijuana possession will be partially decriminalized at midnight Sunday night when a plan two years in the making goes into effect, replacing criminal prosecution for personal marijuana use in public with fines and a less stringent enforcement regime. A version of the plan was first put forward in early 2017 by the government’s Anti-Drug Authority, and was approved by cabinet ministers in March of that year. It is based on the so-called Portugal Model, which treats marijuana use as a public health issue akin to cigarette smoking rather than a criminal problem. The current policy of arrest for criminal prosecution will change at midnight to a three-strikes policy. (See also: The highs and lows of Amos Silver, Telegrass cannabis kingpin nabbed in Ukraine)

  • Majority of parties support re-evaluating Sweden's strict drug policies

    Sweden’s long-standing zero-tolerance drugs policy deserves a fresh look, a majority of parliament’s Committee on Health and Welfare told broadcaster SVT
    The Local (Sweden)
    Saturday, March 30, 2019

    Drug laws in Sweden have not been evaluated in decades, even as the country’s harsh approach has left it increasingly isolated from its neighbours. After the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (Sveriges kommuner och landsting, SKL) recently came out in support of re-evaluating the nation’s penal code for drug offenses, SVT found that a majority of the political parties on the Committee on Health and Welfare also believe it is time to give drug laws a new look. While SKL’s proposal and the committee members’ openness might perhaps reveal a shift in thinking, it is far from universal. (See also: 79-year-old Swedish woman jailed for using cannabis to treat pain)

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