Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • Final push to legalize pot fails in New York

    State legislators were considering a backup plan to decriminalize the drug after a legalization effort collapsed amid disagreement about how to regulate the industry
    The New York Times (US)
    Wednesday, June 19, 2019

    us ny legalize nowNew York’s plan to legalize marijuana this year collapsed, dashing hopes for a potential billion-dollar industry that supporters said would create jobs in minority communities and end decades of racially disproportionate policing. Democratic lawmakers had been in a headlong race to finalize an agreement before the end of the legislative session this week. But persistent disagreement about how to regulate the industry, as well as hesitation from moderate lawmakers, proved insurmountable. A recent poll showed that 55 percent of voters supported legalization. But the external pressure could not resolve an intraparty battle between state officials over who should control the estimated $1.7 billion in sales the recreational market could generate each year.

  • Want to grow your own cannabis? Get ready to fight ‘Big Marijuana’

    Big Marijuana joined forces to push homegrow out of New York
    Leafly (US)
    Wednesday, June 19, 2019

    cannabis home growingIllinois is about to make history as the first state to legalize recreational cannabis and allow commercial sales through the state legislature instead of via a voter initiative. But this historic piece of legislation almost died along the way over the increasingly contentious issue of homegrow. Lawmakers compromised by allowing only medical cannabis patients to cultivate for themselves; recreational consumers can’t grow at all. It actually represents a worrying trend for those who believe that the right to grow your own cannabis is an essential part of a truly equitable legalization plan. Lawmakers in New York and New Jersey appear poised to make the same mistake. Some of the biggest players in New York’s nascent cannabis industry have been aggressively lobbying against homegrowing.

  • Swiss smoke 'legal cannabis’ in record amounts

    The Swiss boom in legal, low-THC cannabis shows no sign of abating and is bringing in plenty of tax for the government, new figures suggest
    The Local (Switzerland)
    Tuesday, June 18, 2019

    switzerland 100percent legalSince 2011, the sale of cannabis products containing up to one percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the ingredient that makes users high – has been legal in Switzerland. These legal products won’t make you stoned but have proven hugely popular, especially in recent years. Tax revenues from legal cannabis as a tobacco alternative hit 15.1 million francs (€13.5 million) last year, up from just 400,000 three years earlier, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) told Swiss weekly SonntagsZeitung. Most smokers of the products are young, a survey from Addiction Switzerland suggests. Respondents touted the benefits of their active component cannabidiol (CBD), saying it helped with sleep problems and stress, while promoting well-being.

  • The real failure of Southeast Asia’s drug wars

    Wars against drugs may be winning political campaigns, but they are losing socioeconomic battles
    The Diplomat
    Tuesday, June 18, 2019

    philippines prisonThere may come a day when Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is brought before the International Criminal Court to answer questions about his “war on drugs.” We might have moved one step closer to that end after UN human rights experts this month called on the United Nations to launch an independent investigation into Duterte’s signature policy. But amid the focus on the headlines of drug wars – not just in the Philippines but in Asia more broadly – it is also worth asking broader questions about their effectiveness.  In a report published in February, “10 years of drug policy in Asia: How far have we come?”, the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) basically concluded that there was not a whole lot to show for these policies.

  • Beijing says US legalization of marijuana is a 'threat to China'

    China has stepped up its efforts to combat the sale of illegal drugs in recent years
    CNN (US)
    Monday, June 17, 2019

    Liu YuejinBeijing's leading drug enforcement body has blamed the legalization of marijuana in Canada and parts of the United States for a spike in the amount of drugs smuggled into the country, describing it as a "new threat to China." Liu Yuejin, deputy director of the China National Narcotics Control Commission, said that the number of cannabis users in China had grown by more than 25% in 2018, rising to about 24,000 people. "In two years, we have found increasing cannabis trafficked from North America to China," he said, though he conceded there were "few cannabis abusers in China" relative to the total population. Anyone found with more than 50 grams of a controlled substance can face the death penalty in China. (See also: China nominates Hong Kong occupy-era police chief for UN post)

  • Global marijuana trade is still five to seven years off, but Canada aims to be world's cannabis king

    Canadian producers have a big advantage over American growers
    Financial Post (Canada)
    Monday, June 17, 2019

    canada cannabis stock brokerCam Battley believes that in the not-too-distant future, his company — one of Canada’s largest licensed producers — will be exporting a “significant chunk” of the cannabis it is growing domestically. “We have a massive market over in Europe, even in Latin America,” says Battley, chief corporate officer at Aurora Cannabis Inc. “These countries are legalizing medicinal cannabis one by one but they’re not growing as much as us. They’re going to need product, and we’ve already got the ball rolling on exporting.”  It’s a sentiment shared by other major producers that are spending tens of millions of dollars to build up international footholds with the intent of being key players in the emerging global cannabis industry. But before they can make good on those ambitions, some things will have to change.

  • Swiss police want more clarity on cannabis

    Fines for possession of cannabis have not been uniform throughout the country due to lack of clarity in the implementation of the law
    Swissinfo (Switzerland)
    Saturday, June 15, 2019

    The number of fines related to cannabis dropped from 18,000 in 2017 to barely more than 7,000 last year. French-speaking cantons and Zurich especially took a more lenient approach towards cannabis smokers with 70% fewer fines imposed. The reason for this massive decline is a 2017 Federal Court decision that ruled that "the mere possession of small quantities of drugs for consumption purposes" should not be punished. Even though consumption is still a punishable offence, the court’s decision has led to a change in police practice. The Association of Swiss Police Officers called for a greater say in cannabis policy.

  • The world’s largest pot farms, and how Santa Barbara opened the door

    The cannabis boom has caused a backlash from residents and vintners afflicted by the smell
    Los Angeles Times (US)
    Saturday, June 15, 2019

    In a sandy draw of the Santa Rita Hills, a cannabis company is planning to erect hoop greenhouses over 147 acres — the size of 130 football fields — to create the largest legal marijuana grow on Earth in the Santa Barbara County’s famed wine region. Lobbied heavily by the marijuana industry, Santa Barbara County officials opened the door to big cannabis interests in the last two years like no other county in the nation, setting off a largely unregulated rush of planting in a region not previously known for the crop. County supervisors voted not to limit the size and number of marijuana grows. They chose not to vet growers’ applications for licenses or conduct site inspections.

  • Big Dutch cities, coffee shops say no to regulated marijuana trials

    Coffee shops would not be allowed to sell any ‘foreign’ hashish, which currently accounts for up to 25% of sales
    Dutch News (Netherlands)
    Tuesday, June 11, 2019

    coffeeshoplicenseA handful of the Netherlands’ medium sized cities have come forward to take part in the government’s controversial regulated marijuana experiment but the five biggest cities have all said no, the Volkskrant said. Tilburg, Almere, Breda and Nijmegen had signed up for the trials by the June 11 deadline and Groningen is also considering the idea, even though the city’s 12 cannabis cafes are opposed. The experiment with regulated growing is supposed to remove the gray area between the sale of marijuana in council-licenced coffee shops and the illegal cultivation and supply. However, there are so many problems with the proposals that the big cities, where most of the coffee shops are located, see no point in taking part.

  • Drugs expert barred from policy panel after criticising Home Office

    Minister vetoed appointment of woman who called Home Office drug policy ‘utter BS’
    The Guardian (UK)
    Tuesday, June 11, 2019

    uk heroin injectingA government minister vetoed the appointment of an expert to a public body after vetting found she had criticised the Home Office and called for drug policy reform. Documents released under a subject access request also reveal that candidates for public bodies now have their social media profiles scrutinised by ministers. An online search by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) secretariat found that Niamh Eastwood, the director of Release, the UK’s centre on drugs and drug laws, had described a Home Office policy position as “utter BS” and claimed it was “just making s**t up” in a tweet. Eastwood had been deemed appointable to the ACMD, which makes drug policy recommendations to government. (See also: Home Office drugs policy panel decision condemned)

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