Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • Tightly regulated framework likely for 2020 vote on cannabis

    Any controls have to consider whether they would create a legal vacuum that the black market could fill
    New Zealand Herald (New Zealand)
    Saturday, January 26, 2019

    The 2020 referendum to legalise cannabis looks likely to propose a tightly regulated framework, including strict rules on supply and possession, an age limit of at least 18, and a non-profit model where money from sales may be funnelled into health services. And while it is widely accepted that legalising personal use would not eliminate harm or kill off a black market, a political consensus appears to be emerging that the status quo is broken, but a profit-driven legal market would be just as bad. Justice Minister Andrew Little said the Government was still working on the referendum question, but he personally opposed to a framework similar to alcohol if the public voted for legalisation in 2020.

  • A safe fix for Bristol’s drug users and the city

    Saving lives and clearing needles off the streets: Bristol has the power to become the first UK city to set up a safe consumption room
    The Bristol Cable (UK)
    Friday, January 25, 2019

    Drugs Consumption Room in FrankfurtUnlike in Bristol, in 66 cities around the world, drug users don’t have to take their drugs in public or down an alleyway. Instead they do it in a clean, safe environment. Safe consumption rooms (SCRs) are legal medical facilities where drug users safely take their illegal substances – particularly heroin and crack – with staff on hand if they overdose. They have been found to reduce deaths, make drug use safer, and clean up the streets of public injecting and used needles. The council has done a feasibility study into whether Bristol could also become the first UK city to set up a SCR, but has delayed its review. The city’s main treatment provider, Bristol Drugs Project (BDP), has indicated to me that a SCR would reduce harm and they would support a pilot.

  • Danish law enforcement increasing pressure on Christiania cannabis trade

    A police review has found that over 700 people were arrested and 710 kilograms of cannabis confiscated in the alternative enclave of Christiania in 2018
    The Local (Denmark)
    Wednesday, January 23, 2019

    Illicit trade of cannabis at the Pusher Street market in Copenhagen’s Christiania is being put under pressure by an intensive effort from law enforcement, according to Copenhagen Police. “This is the result of an intensified effort which we initiated in May last year, whereby we increased our permanent presence on Pusher Street with both patrols and destruction of market stands,” Copenhagen’s chief of police Anne Tønnes said. Market stands on Pusher Street, from where cannabis is sometimes traded, reappear when police are not present in the area. But sales of cannabis have fallen to such an extent that organised crime behind the trade is now feeling the pinch, according to Tønnes. That does not necessarily prevent it from relocating to another part of the city.

  • I'm 'coming out' about drugs: it's time get real about pill testing

    "As lawmakers we won’t save lives by sticking our heads in the sand," Cate Faehrmann says
    The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
    Monday, January 21, 2019

    As a politician I’ve made the difficult decision to "come out" in this way because the government’s zero-tolerance approach to drugs has not only been a catastrophic failure in stopping drug use, it is costing people their lives. It is so out-of-touch with millions of people’s reality that everyone has stopped listening. Young people are not fools. They want us, as politicians, to "get real" about illegal drugs. Their parents want us to stop the moral crusade and listen to the evidence. This means being honest about the nature and extent of drug use and accepting the evidence that a harm minimisation approach, where illegal drug use is treated as a health issue not a criminal one, works. That's why we need pill testing and other harm minimisation measures to keep our young people safe.

  • Westmoreland ganja farmers welcome pilot but...

    Representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture are yet to meet with any of the ganja farmers ahead of the announced start of the pilot projects
    Jamaica Observer (Jamaica)
    Monday, January 21, 2019

    One of the nation's leading ganja advocates, Ras Iyah V, has welcomed Prime Minister Andrew Holness' announcement that the pilot project for the Alternative Development Programme (ADP), which will provide an avenue for small farmers to benefit from the ganja industry, is scheduled to start by March this year. But with less than two months to go, and what he says has been no word from the government, Iyah V said stakeholders are concerned that the pilot projects slated for Accompong, St Elizabeth and Orange Hill in Westmoreland will not be executed in a timely manner.

  • Does marijuana use really cause psychotic disorders?

    Alex Berenson says the drug causes ‘sharp increases in murders and aggravated assaults’. As scientists, we find his claims misinformed and reckless
    The Guardian (UK)
    Sunday, January 20, 2019

    Does marijuana cause psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, and do associated symptoms like paranoia lead to violent crimes? That’s what writer Alex Berenson is claiming. As part of his new book promotion, Berenson published a New York Times op-ed that also blames the drug for “sharp increases in murders and aggravated assaults” purportedly observed in some states that allow adult recreational marijuana use. As scientists with a combined 70-plus years of drug education and research on psychoactive substances, we find Berenson’s assertions to be misinformed and reckless.

  • Cannabis farms cover 500 square kilometers of Northern Morocco

    ”Most of the land cultivated for cannabis is public property," according to one environmental activist.
    Morocco World News (Morocco)
    Friday, January 18, 2019

    Between 47,000 and 50,000 hectares, mainly in the Rif region, are planted with cannabis in Morocco, the National Narcotics Commission (CNS) said. Mohamed Andaloussi, the president of the Azir Association for the Protection of the Environment in Al Hoceima, recently told EFE that 90 percent of the land cultivated for cannabis is public property that farmers exploit illegally. “A large part of these public lands were forests that farmers cut down to grow cannabis despite this being an illegal activity since 1974,” Andaloussi pointed out. (See also: Moroccan police seizes 15 tons of cannabis resin in Tangier | Le trafic de cocaïne met les autorités sous pression)

  • After legalization: Four things to know about cannabis in Quebec

    Legalization has highlighted the province's thirst for the "sticky icky" but also some chronic problems that have come with the new market
    The Montreal Gazette (Canada)
    Thursday, January 17, 2019

    In Quebec — where the product is sold by the government-run Société Québécoise du Cannabis (SQDC) — legalization has highlighted the province’s thirst for the “sticky icky” but also some chronic problems that have come with the new market. Quebecers had all but exhausted the province’s supply of legal weed within hours of legalization. Demand was so high that the government-run SQDC had to shut down three days a week to keep from running dry. The cannabis shortage rippled from the recreational market to the medical space within hours. Patients at Santé Cannabis frantically called the Montreal Clinic in October, worried that they wouldn’t be able to access their medicine. The black market and “grey market” are still thriving.

  • Luxembourg in talks with Canada over how to legalise recreational cannabis

    Discussions will clarify how cannabis will be sold and laws around national production
    Luxembourg Times (Luxembourg)
    Wednesday, January 16, 2019

    Discussions between Luxembourg and Canada are under way to establish how the Grand Duchy will legalise cannabis and sell the drug for recreational use. Luxembourg's health minister Etienne Schneider, who is also economy minister and deputy prime minister, told the government's health committee the talks will clarify how cannabis could be sold in Luxembourg and the laws around the national production of the drug. Within a month of Luxembourg's national elections in October last year the government announced cannabis would be made legal for non-medical use. Schneider said the drug would also be commercially distributed.

  • Overwhelming majority of voters support pill-testing – Guardian Essential poll

    Model where counsellors provide risk-reduction advice backed by 63% of sample
    The Guardian (UK)
    Tuesday, January 15, 2019

    An overwhelming majority of voters in the latest Guardian Essential poll say they support pill testing in Australia. The survey of 1,089 respondents, taken between 9 and 13 January found 63% of voters support pill testing where trained counsellors provide risk-reduction advice informed by on-site laboratory analysis of people’s drugs. The strong level of support crosses party-political lines. The poll found 57% of Liberal/National voters support pill testing, though support is strongest among Labor (73%) and Greens (74%) voters. Just 24% of voters oppose the idea, and roughly 12% say they “don’t know” if they support it or not.

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