Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • No charges for personal drug possession: Seattle’s bold gamble to bring ‘peace’ after the war on drugs

    Seattle’s new model has been hailed by criminal justice reformers as a humane alternative to the punitive drug policies of the ’80s and ’90s
    The Washington Post (US)
    Tuesday, June 11, 2019

    Late last year, prosecutors in King County, which encompasses Seattle, became the first in the nation to stop charging people for possessing small amounts of drugs — heroin, meth and crack included — in virtually all cases. Many people who once would have been locked up are now immediately offered help through Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD). It is a profound shift that builds on efforts launched here in recent years to divert low-level drug offenders into treatment and other programs to assist with recovery. The approach, which is being considered elsewhere, amounts to a bold experiment during a historic drug epidemic: Can a major American city beat drug abuse by treating it as a public health crisis rather than a crime?

  • 'Swazi Gold' dagga farmers fear new SA law could crush them

    While subsistence farmers worry about their future, a few African governments are waking up to the potential of a legal cannabis industry
    Reuters (South Africa)
    Monday, June 10, 2019

    Mbuso has been growing cannabis for 14 years. He lives and tends the illicit crop in Swaziland, which is now known officially as Eswatini. Mbuso is just one of scores who depend on high demand from their larger neighbour South Africa for their potent cannabis strain known as "Swazi Gold". They are worried that a recent legal amendment in SA could choke their businesses. In September, South Africa's Constitutional Court decriminalised the use and cultivation of cannabis in private space. But the decision did not legalise its trade or distribution. Florida-based company Profile Solutions Inc has recently received a coveted 10-year licence to produce and sell hemp and medical-grade cannabis in Eswatini. But small-scale farmers are still being prosecuted, detained and having their crops burnt.

  • 'These are healing plants': Oakland decriminalizes magic mushrooms

    Move by northern California city comes one month after voters in Denver approved a similar initiative to decriminalize psilocybin
    The Guardian (UK)
    Wednesday, June 5, 2019

    magic mushroomsOakland has become the second city in the US to decriminalize magic mushrooms and other psychedelics, with a policy that activists hope will spark a national legalization movement. The measure comes after voters in Denver approved a similar ballot initiative to decriminalize psilocybin, which supporters say can help treat depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions. The Oakland measure decriminalizes adult use of psychoactive plants and fungi, including mushrooms, cacti, iboga and ayahuasca. Decriminalization means the city is effectively directing law enforcement not to investigate or prosecute people for the use, sale or distribution of these plants and fungi. The resolution cited research linking psychedelics and natural hallucinogens to a range of mental health benefits.

  • China nominates Hong Kong occupy-era police chief for UN post

    Tsang is unapologetic about his tough approach to policing
    Bloomberg (US)
    Wednesday, June 5, 2019

    Andy TsangChina nominated a former Hong Kong police chief to lead the UN’s drug crimes division, the first time it has sought a global post since detaining Interpol’s chief last year. The effort to install Andy Tsang Wai-hung, who oversaw the department during the 2014 Occupy Central protests, is a sign of China’s support for multilateralism and the United Nations, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said. The move had been reported by the South China Morning Post. “China is ready to make a greater contribution in cracking down on cross-national organized crime and to cooperate in drug control,” Geng said. Tsang, 61, was in Vienna last month to canvas for votes to lead the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. (See also: Beijing says US legalization of marijuana is a 'threat to China')

  • In the land with a rich history of growing weed, cannabis capitalism is an uneasy fit

    Jamaicans say the cultural ownership they feel towards cannabis is getting ignored by foreign investors looking to make money in the weed mecca
    Financial Post (Canada)
    Wednesday, June 5, 2019

    jamaica flag ganja2There’s a hint of disappointment in Courtney Betty’s voice when he talks about the present state of Jamaica’s legal medicinal cannabis regime. “I don’t think some of the companies coming in to do business here want to understand the social realities of Jamaica, or the real history of ganja in my country,” he said from his home in the country’s capital, Kingston. “I don’t think it is out of ignorance; I think this is just the way Western companies conduct business abroad.” By “Western” companies, Betty — the chief executive officer of Jamaican medical marijuana company Timeless Herbal Care — means Canadian. Since Jamaica legalized cannabis for medicinal cultivation and sale four years ago, a slew of Canadian pot companies have flooded the tiny island nation.

  • Scientist in Jamaica finds, cultivates lost ganja

    Jamaica should take the lead in establishing a geographical indicator for its home-grown cannabis "just like Champagne in France"
    Jamaica Observer (Jamaica)
    Tuesday, June 4, 2019

    Machel EmanuelA supreme ganja, smoked by Rastas and even Bob Marley himself in the 1970s? This pipe dream of every ganja aficionado is becoming reality thanks to the horticultural talents of scientist Dr Machel Emanuel of the Biology Department at the University of the West Indies in Kingston. His specialty: landrace cannabis, which grew naturally in Jamaica before it disappeared as a result of human intervention. The reggae legends' ganja would not have been as strong as modern, artificially created cannabis, which has higher levels of THC — the plant's main psychoactive ingredient. But in the 1980s, during the US war on drugs, landrace cannabis was easily spotted because of its height and destroyed, and cultivation of the plant was abandoned. Over time, easier-to-hide hybrids replaced the landrace cultivars.

  • Millions use cannabis, but figures for how many become dependent aren’t reliable

    Most people who use cannabis won’t become dependent, but there needs to be raised awareness of the risk
    The Conversation (US)
    Monday, June 3, 2019

    dsmIV dependenceCannabis has an image of being a relatively harmless drug. But all drugs carry a degree of risk, and cannabis is no exception. One of those risks is dependence, which many people assume is only something that happens to those who use “hard drugs”, such as crack or heroin. In fact, the estimated risk of dependence on cannabis is about one in ten. It’s worth exploring how this figure of one in ten is constructed. Several studies of cannabis dependence used the criteria laid out in the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to determine cannabis dependence. Examining these criteria highlights just how challenging making this diagnosis is.

  • 'Chinese Ecstasy' drug linked to 125 deaths has arrived in Britain, NCA warns festival goers

    Each time we ban one generation, they produce a new generation which is more harmful
    The Telegraph (UK)
    Sunday, June 2, 2019

    warning test itA new ecstasy-like drug produced in China that has been linked to at least 125 deaths is feared to have spread to Britain, the National Crime Agency has warned in an alert to summer festival-goers. The United Nations (UN) has ordered a worldwide ban on N-Ethylnorpentylone in an attempt to close down its production in illegal psychoactive drugs “factories” in China which have flooded the market. It has been found in one in 20 samples of Ecstasy, or MDMA, tested by The Loop, a social enterprise set up by professor Fiona Measham, a former Government drugs adviser, which will this summer provide its free drug testing service at around a dozen festivals.

  • France to launch medical cannabis experiment in coming weeks

    No legalisation for recreational use
    France 24 (France)
    Sunday, June 2, 2019

    france cannabis2As a nearly unanimous French Senate gave medical marijuana the green light, France will start experimenting the use of medical marijuana for “about two years”, pending the approval of the health ministry. According to patient groups, somewhere between 300,000 and 1 million patients could be eligible to its use. The use of medical cannabis will be strictly controlled. Doctors will be permitted to prescribe it only as a last resort, after trying other available therapeutic treatments. In December 2018, the National Agency for the Safety of Health Products identified possible applications for medical cannabis: cancer, certain types of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, palliative care, and pain that does not respond to usual treatments. (See also: Is France about to legalise cannabis?)

  • Illinois will become 11th US state to legalise recreational marijuana use

    The bill will also pardon some past offences
    The Independent (UK)
    Sunday, June 2, 2019

    Illinois will likely become the 11th state in the US to allow small amounts of marijuana for recreational use. The state’s Democrat-controlled House sent a legalisation plan to governor JB Pristzker, also a Democrat. Pritzker was elected in 2018; he campaigned as a support of legalization. “This will have a transformational impact on our state, creating opportunity in the communities that need it most and giving so many a second chance,” Mr Pritzker said. The rule would make it legal for those 21 and older to buy marijuana at licensed dispensaries. Residents could possess up to 1 ounce (30 grams) and non-residents could have 15 grams. (See also: In landmark move, Illinois lawmakers approve adult-use cannabis program that could hit $2 billion in sales | Marijuana advocates hit unexpected roadblocks)

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