Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • New Zealand passes laws to make medical marijuana widely available

    Legislation comes ahead of a referendum on recreational marijuana use in next two years
    The Guardian (UK)
    Tuesday, December 11, 2018

    New Zealand’s government has passed a law that will make medical marijuana widely available for thousands of patients over time, after years of campaigning by chronically ill New Zealanders who say the drug is the only thing that eases their pain. The legislation will also allow terminally ill patients to begin smoking illegal pot immediately without facing the possibility of prosecution. The new law allows much broader use of medical marijuana, which was previously been highly restricted and subject to approval by the health minister. Patients wanting to use marijuana for conditions like chronic pain will have to wait a year until a new set of regulations, licensing rules and quality standards are put in place.

  • Testing drugs at festivals is ‘a lifesaver’, study finds

    Drug-related hospital admissions down 95% after onsite testing at festival in Cambridgeshire
    The Observer (UK)
    Sunday, December 9, 2018

    the loopAn alarming rise in drug-related deaths at music festivals can be countered by testing illicit substances onsite, according to the first academic study of its kind, which has triggered calls for similar services to be rolled out at all major events. Testers found that one in five substances sold at the Secret Garden Party, a four-day festival in Cambridgeshire in July 2016, were not as described by dealers. Chemists from the non-profit social enterprise The Loop analysed 247 drug samples brought in anonymously by festivalgoers. Two-thirds of people who discovered they had had substances missold to them subsequently handed over further substances to the police, according to the study. (See also: Pill testing could save lives – so why are we letting people die?)

  • Barbados PM comments on decriminalisation of marijuana

    Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, president of the CARICOM Marijuana Commission, calls for change in the region's cannabis laws, as majority of Caribbean governments continue to urge caution on the way forward
    Jamaica Observer (Jamaica)
    Saturday, December 8, 2018

    marijuana plantingThe Barbados government says it will soon develop a framework for medical cannabis, even as it noted that decriminalisation of marijuana for recreational use will have to be decided by a referendum. “There is no doubt that we will put a framework in place for medical cannabis within the next week or so. In fact, we have more or less taken a decision, we just need some refining and training with practitioners,” Prime Minister Mia Mottley said, adding that the island could no longer afford to miss out on the emerging cannabis industry. Mottley said that Barbados would not be going about the decriminalisation of marijuana carelessly, adding that careful research would guide her administration's position.

  • Marlboro owner Altria invests $1.8 billion in cannabis company Cronos

    Altria hopes pot is the key to help it grow beyond its stagnant cigarette business
    CNN (US)
    Friday, December 7, 2018

    marlboro marijuanaTobacco giant Altira is investing $1.8 billion in Canadian cannabis company Cronos Group. That will give Altria a 45% stake in the company, with an option for Altria to increase its stake to 55% over the next five years. Reports of an Altria-Cronos deal first surfaced earlier this week. The decision by Altria to go ahead with an investment in Cronos shows that Altria is serious about investing in marijuana as a new growth area as sales of traditional cigarettes slow. Altria's stock has fallen nearly 25% this year and the company is expected to report revenue growth of only about 1% this year and in 2019.

  • UN committee unexpectedly withholds marijuana scheduling recommendations

    The committee’s recommendations for its international scheduling are still expected to go up for a vote in the CND in March
    Marijuana Moment (US)
    Friday, December 7, 2018

    The World Health Organization (WHO) was expected to make recommendations about the international legal status of marijuana, which reform advocates hoped would include a call to deschedule the plant and free up member countries to pursue legalization. But in a surprise twist, a representative from the organization announced that WHO would be temporarily withholding the results of its cannabis assessment, even as it released recommendations on an opioid painkiller and synthetic cannabinoids. The marijuana recommendations are now expected to come out in January. Earlier this year, the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) released a pre-review of marijuana that included several positive, evidentiary findings.

  • Cannabis firm confirms investment talks with Marlboro maker

    Several other companies around the world are pushing into the marijuana sector
    BBC News (UK)
    Tuesday, December 4, 2018

    Altria, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, is in talks with a Canadian cannabis producer over a potential investment in the firm. Canada's Cronos Group confirmed the discussions but said it had not yet reached an agreement. It follows reports that Altria was in talks to acquire Cronos as it moves to diversify from traditional smokers. Canada legalised recreational cannabis in October - the second country in the world to do so. Cronos confirmed in a statement "it is engaged in discussions concerning a potential investment by Altria Group Inc. in Cronos Group." Several other companies around the world are pushing into the marijuana sector.

  • Navigating cannabis legalization 2.0

    The market price of cannabis plummets with legalization
    RAND Blog (US)
    Tuesday, December 4, 2018

    marijuana dispensaryLegalization is not a simple yes-or-no decision, and its consequences for health, public safety, and social equity will be shaped by choices about production, prices, and the enforcement of regulations. As the next round of states debate legalization, they would do well to contemplate allowing state governments to control the wholesale prices and linking the price of cannabis to its potency. Low prices mean low wages for workers and potential bankruptcy for all but the most efficient producers, with craft-scale production driven out by industrial farming and “mom and pop” retailing driven out by sellers with big budgets for marketing. This price drop is a problem for those who want the legal cannabis market to provide economic opportunities for the individuals and communities that have been disproportionately affected by cannabis prohibition.

  • War against drug users ineffective for combating abuse: Study

    It just causes overcrowded prisons, where erstwhile drug users are recruited to become dealers upon their release
    The Jakarta Post (Indonesia)
    Tuesday, December 4, 2018

    handcuffsThe government’s focus on jailing drug users while providing only little funding to help users get healthy again is not effective in combating drug abuse in Indonesia and amounts to “a waste of money”, a study finds. The policy study from Rumah Cemara, a community-based organization helping drug users and people living with HIV/AIDS, proposes an increase in spending on health treatment for drug users from 0.3 percent of the total antidrug budget to 10 percent by 2020. Dubbed 10 by 20, such a policy would be more effective in reducing drug abuse, the researchers believe. Ingrid Irawati Atmosukarto, a researcher with Intuisi Inc. and Rumah Cemara, said the government currently allocated only Rp 6.5 billion of the total “war on drugs” budget of Rp 1.9 trillion to health programs.

  • Trump says China will curtail fentanyl. The U.S. has heard that before

    The United States has long pushed China to systemically control all fentanyl substances
    The New York Times (US)
    Monday, December 3, 2018

    China vows to stem the supply of the powerful opioid fentanyl flowing into the United States. It pledges to target exports of fentanyl-related substances bound for the United States that are prohibited there, while sharing information with American law-enforcement authorities. Such promises, echoed in the recent meeting between the countries’ presidents, ring familiar. Cracking down on the manufacturing and distribution of fentanyl in China is no easy task. Many classes of the drug are already considered controlled substances in the country. Fentanyl’s chemical structure and those of related analogues can be modified to create similar yet distinct substances, so new versions can be concocted quickly.

  • Legalization of recreational marijuana will result in international sanctions – PM

    He said that a country must put legislation in a sensible strategic frame as this country is now doing
    Searchlight (St Vincent)
    Friday, November 30, 2018

    Ralph GonsalvesSt Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) cannot legalize marijuana for recreational purposes without facing sanctions internationally. And persons who say we can just "free up the weed" are opportunistic and misleading says Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. He explained that because of the nature of the international legal regime, this country could face sanctions if we do not approach the cannabis issue correctly. "We are a small country, we are not Canada or California," stressed the Prime Minister who noted also that "freeing up the weed" in SVG does not add significant income to persons selling it locally because the base is too small. "The international conventions to which we subscribe make an exception to do medical cannabis, not to do recreational."

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