Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media

 

  • Canada’s cannabis shortage could be over quicker than we thought, researcher says

    Right now though, provincial retailers are pointing towards significant shortages
    Financial Post (Canada)
    Friday, February 1, 2019

    If Canada’s licensed cannabis producers continue ramping up production at their current exponential pace, there will be more than enough pot to meet the government’s projected demand by the end of 2019, predicts one cannabis researcher who conducted an analysis of the government’s most recent data. While some have suggested shortages in the sector could last for years, Brock University professor Michael Armstrong argues that barring any unforeseen circumstances that supply concerns will be resolved much more quickly than that. Total legal production of cannabis began drastically increasing about six months before legalization, Armstrong notes, as evidenced by how quickly cannabis inventories were growing.

  • Egypt approves death penalty for drug dealers

    Tramadol is the most popular drug among users, followed by cannabis and heroin
    Middle East Monitor (UK)
    Thursday, January 31, 2019

    Egypt’s cabinet has approved a draft law that would see drug dealers sentenced to death. The law was part of a broader bill to combat the spread of narcotics in the country and drugs trafficking. The draft amendment states that anyone who “brought or exported synthetic substances with an anaesthetic effect, or harmful to mind, body, or psychological and neurological condition shall be punished by death”, adding that those who possessed drugs for the purpose of trafficking could face life imprisonment and a maximum fine of $28,000. According to Amnesty, Egyptian civil and military courts issued more than 1,400 death sentences, mostly related to incidents of political violence, following grossly unfair trials, with testimonies often obtained through torture.

  • Outdated drug policies leave millions of Africans in agony

    The war on drugs has hurt patients who need painkillers
    The Economist (UK)
    Thursday, January 31, 2019

    Providing palliative care without morphine is like “driving a car without fuel”, says Emmanuel Luyirika, of the Kampala-based African Palliative Care Association in Uganda. It is also unnecessary, because opioids are cheap. Providing pain relief for their populations can cost governments as little as $2-16 per person each year, according to a study commissioned by the Lancet. The morphine shortage stems from bad policies. In the 1980s and 1990s, as part of its “war on drugs”, America cut aid and imposed sanctions on countries that were not tough enough on trafficking. It listed Nigeria as unco-operative from 1994 to 1998 (during a criminal dictatorship), suspended military aid and blocked loans.

  • People take drugs for pleasure and fun – so why do we drown that out by obsessing over the harm?

    We have been rather snooty about ignoring the wisdom of cultures that have found benefits to drugs that go beyond ritual
    The Independent (UK)
    Thursday, January 31, 2019

    Are you one of the 10 million people who have used drugs like cannabis or cocaine? Make no mistake, drugs are fun. They must be, given the scale of drug use and the long history we humans have of using them. Despite the upside of using drugs, it’s not an aspect that’s given the attention it deserves, a bit like the way no one seems interested in good news stories. Instead, when drugs are featured in the media it’s usually to panic about the latest incarnation of some new pill or powder. Then there’s the fear of becoming addicted, but in truth this is rare and our understanding of how this happens and who is at risk is still being unravelled.

  • The next major marijuana exporter will be in the Middle East

    The Israeli industry was estimated to be worth about $11 billion four years ago and had grown since then
    Newsweek (US)
    Thursday, January 31, 2019

    The Israeli cabinet approved legislation that will transform the Middle Eastern country into an exporter of marijuana for medical use. “I am glad this is finally happening. It opens a very big market in Israel. The technology is here in Israel and until now we simply had to give the technology to other countries,” Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said, Reuters reported. “Therefore, I am glad we can reap the profits here in Israel.” Elsewhere in the Middle East, Israel’s neighbor Lebanon has voiced plans to legalize medical cannabis for cultivation and export as well. Last July, Lebanese House Speaker Nabih Berri told the U.S. ambassador to his country, Elizabeth Richard, that his country planned to move forward with the legalization, CNN reported.

  • Illicit drugs should be regulated and distributed by pharmacies, leading doctor suggests

    Putting substances like MDMA and marijuana in pharmacies would take the power out of the hands of “backyard amateur operators”
    News Com (Australia)
    Wednesday, January 30, 2019

    A leading drug reform advocate and esteemed doctor is calling for a shake up to the illicit drug market, suggesting substances like MDMA, marijuana and ecstasy should be regulated and sold at chemists. Speaking on Today, Dr Alex Wodak, head of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, called for the idea to be considered as a way of reducing deaths. “You can’t prevent deaths completely. But if you reduce them a lot that’s well worthwhile,” Dr Wodak said. “I’m not saying (it’s) safe, I’m saying it’s safer. Nothing is safe — it is only you can reduce the risk, you can’t eliminate the risk. And we should try to reduce the risk.” (See also: Former top cop backs Dr Alex Wodak's call to regulate MDMA)

  • History, not harm, dictates why some drugs are legal and others aren’t

    Legal status isn’t based on risk or harm
    The Conversation (UK)
    Wednesday, January 30, 2019

    Drug-related offences take up a lot of the resources within Australia’s criminal justice system. In 2016–17 law enforcement made 113,533 illicit drug seizures and 154,650 drug-related arrests. Harm-reduction advocates are calling for the legalisation of some drugs, and the removal of criminal penalties on others. And there’s public support for both. But how did some drugs become illegal in the first place? And what drives our current drug laws? Australia, like the rest of the world, has had a patchy approach to criminalising substances, driven mostly by a desire to maintain international relations – particularly with the United States – rather than by concern for the public’s health or welfare.

  • A run on medicinal cannabis causes concern amongst doctors

    Far more people are requesting their doctors to prescribe cannabis than expected
    The Copenhagen Post (Denmark)
    Tuesday, January 29, 2019

    A year ago, and in the teeth of opposition from some doctors, the Danish health authorities decided to approve a four-year pilot project under which GPs were able to give patients medicinal cannabis as pain relief for certain ailments. It was estimated that around 500 people would request the drug, but figures reveal that almost three times as many – 1,400 patients – have done so over the first year. The Danish College of General Practitioners has been sceptical from the start, and the new figures do nothing to dispel its reservations. Not all doctors have the requisite knowledge to prescribe cannabis and that most GPs have too few patients on the drug to assess the effects of the treatment. (See also: Danish medicinal cannabis prescriptions exceed expected numbers)

  • Le cannabis légal permet de panacher sa conso

    Depuis 2011, l'émergence d'un marché du cannabidiol CBD a éclipsé le tétrahydrocannabinol (THC). Addiction Suisse a fait le point sur ce «cannabis légal»
    Tribune de Genève (Suisse)
    Lundi, 28 janvier 2019

    De nouvelles variétés de cannabis contenant très peu de THC et beaucoup de CBD ont été développées en Amérique du Nord. Elles ont été adoptées par des producteurs suisses et mises sur le marché, communique ce 28 janvier 2019 «Addiction Suisse». Addiction Suisse a été mandaté par l'Office fédéral de la santé publique (OFSP) pour étudier ce phénomène. Plus de 1500 personnes vivant en Suisse et ayant déjà consommé du cannabis CBD ont été interrogées. Cinq profils type d'usagers ont pu être identifiés. Le plus fréquent comprend des usagers de cannabis illégal (THC) plutôt jeunes qui modèrent ou panachent cette consommation avec du CBD.

  • Israeli cabinet approves law to allow medical cannabis exports

    Israeli companies are among the world’s biggest producers of medical cannabis
    Reuters (UK)
    Sunday, January 27, 2019

    Israel’s cabinet approved a law to allow exports of medical cannabis in a move expected to boost state revenues and the agriculture sector, and which frustrates critics who fear it could lead to more recreational use of the drug. The bill, backed last month by parliament, allows companies approved by the health regulator and police to export medical cannabis to countries that permit its use. Israeli media said exports could start in as little as nine months. “I am glad this is finally happening. It opens a very big market in Israel. The technology is here in Israel and until now we simply had to give the technology to other countries,” said Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. (See also: Stocks soar as Israel allows cannabis exports)

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