The status of cannabis in the UN drug conventions is controversial. It is now scheduled among the most dangerous substances. How and why did cannabis in the conventions? Does it belong there? What are the options to review the status of cannabis according to current scientific data? Is making cannabis subject to a control regime similar to harmful substances like alcohol and tobacco a solution?
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  • Possession of cannabis for personal use

    International Drug Policy Consortium

    The legal status of cannabis for personal use is one of the most controversial policy issues in the European Union. Although cannabis is a classified narcotic drug placed under control by the United Nations and by all EU Member States, the measures adopted to control it at national level vary considerably, as shown in the table, click here to access the information country by country.

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  • Fair(er) Trade Options for the Cannabis Market

    Martin Jelsma, Sylvia Kay & David Bewley-Taylor
    Cannabis Innovate
    Policy Report 1, March 2019

    Policy changes over the past five years or so have dramatically reshaped the global cannabis market. Not only has there been an unprecedented boom in medical markets, but following policy shifts in several jurisdictions a growing number of countries are also preparing for legal regulation of non-medical use. Such moves look set to bring a clear range of benefits in terms of health and human rights. As this groundbreaking Report, highlights, however, there are also serious concerns about the unfolding market dynamics.

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  • The WHO’s First-Ever Critical Review of Cannabis

    A Mixture of Obvious Recommendations Deserving Support and Dubious Methods and Outcomes Requiring Scrutiny
    Transnational Institute (TNI), Global Drug Policy Observatory (GDPO-Swansea University) & Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)
    March 2019

    The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD or Expert Committee) released in January 2019 the outcomes of the first-ever critical review of cannabis, recommending a series of changes in the current scheduling of cannabis-related substances under the UN drug control conventions. Eagerly awaited, the ECDD recommendations contain some clearly positive points, such as acknowledging the medicinal usefulness of cannabis by removing it from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs; clarifying that cannabidiol (CBD) is not under international control; and addressing some long-standing scheduling inconsistencies.

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  • Better to Ask Forgiveness Than Permission

    Spain’s Sub-national Approach to Drug Policy
    Constanza Sánchez & Michael Collins
    GDPO Policy Brief 12
    June 2018

    In recent years, the international debate on drug policy reform has intensified, and with it has come a productive exchange of information between academics, activists and advocates on the diverse models and approaches in different countries. Portugal’s decriminalization model is the subject of numerous reports and articles, the legalization of cannabis in a number of U.S. states and Uruguay is heavily studied. Heroin-Assisted Treatment (HAT) in Switzerland is often discussed, and the Czech Republic’s progressive drug policy has been much heralded. On the outside looking in is Spain, a country with a curious mix of cannabis clubs, decriminalization of drug possession for personal use, innovative harm reduction policies, drug checking, and more. It also occupies an interesting geographical position as a transit hub for drugs entering Europe from the Americas and North Africa. Yet in mainstream drug policy discussions, little is known of the Spanish approach to drug policy, with the possible exception of cannabis clubs.

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  • Medicinal cannabis policies and practices around the world

    Sofía Aguilar, Víctor Gutiérrez, Lisa Sánchez & Marie Nougier
    International Drug Policy Consortium
    April 2018

    Although cannabis remains a prohibited substance worldwide, in recent decades a series of political, legislative and judicial processes in various parts of the world have given rise to various forms of legal regulatory regimes for the medical and therapeutic use of the plant. This trend seems to be consolidating in the Americas, in particular in Latin America and the Caribbean, where the largest number of available experiences is concentrated, and where the regulatory changes are occurring successively, in a sort of domino effect.

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  • Want teens to smoke less pot? Legalize it

    Evolutionary psychology predicted it, data now confirms it
    Psychology Today
    Monday, February 5, 2018

    Those favoring strict drug laws believe that, as marijuana becomes more available and less stigmatized, teen drug use will go up. It's a straightforward and logical belief. The reality is that, to date, not one jurisdiction, either in the U.S. or elsewhere, has seen a marked increase in teen drug use following the relaxation of marijuana restrictions. Not one. Both Colorado and Washington, the pioneer states of marijuana legalization, have actually seen drops in teen marijuana use following legalization. The drop in Colorado was particularly dramatic. Despite the wave of legalization, nationwide, teen drug use is at a 20-year low.

  • CBD may protect against psychiatric risk from high-THC cannabis strains

    Neuroscientists find cannabidiol reduces symptoms such as impaired memory in adolescent mice simultaneously exposed to THC
    Indiana University (US)
    Wednesday, 6 September, 2017

    A study by neuroscientists at Indiana University finds that a nonpsychoactive compound in cannabis called cannabidiol, or CBD, appears to protect against the long-term negative psychiatric effects of THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. "This is the first study in a rigorously controlled animal model to find that CBD appears to protect the brain against the negative effects of chronic THC," lead author Dr. Ken Mackie, said. "This is especially important since heavy use of cannabis with higher levels of THC poses a serious risk to adolescents." An analysis of cannabis seized by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration found that while THC levels rose 300 percent from 1995 to 2014, the levels of CBD have declined 60 percent.

  • Let’s learn from the mistakes of drug reform pioneers

    It is just as important to discuss how cannabis is going to legalised as it is whether it is going to be legalised
    Volteface (UK)
    Tuesday, May 2, 2017

    Countries around the world are moving towards a legally regulated cannabis market. But what can we learn from them about the implications of cannabis legalisation? What are the different models available to those looking to draft legislation? What mistakes have been made by the pioneers in this area? These are questions that are addressed in the International Journal of Drug Policy. The journal contains a variety of articles and studies examining specific consequences of cannabis policy reform, from levels of consumption to pesticide regulations. The editorial, entitled ‘Advancing knowledge on cannabis policy, using evidence from North America’ gives background to the debate and offers a neat synthesis of the content of the journal.

  • Risk of psychosis from cannabis use lower than originally thought, say scientists

    Previous research at York showed that regulating cannabis use could result in more effective strategies aimed at helping drug users to access the right support and guidance
    University of York (UK)
    Thursday, April 20, 2017

    Scientists at the University of York have shown that the risk of developing psychosis, such as hallucinations, from cannabis use is small compared to the number of total users. The research, published in the journal, Addiction, also showed for the first time that there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that for patients who already have schizophrenia, cannabis makes their symptoms worse. In order to prevent just one case of psychosis, more than 20,000 people would have to stop using cannabis, as shown by a previous study led by the University of Bristol.

  • Cannabis legislation in Europe

    An overview
    Brendan Hughes
    EMCDDA
    March 2017

    At a time of increased debate on the laws controlling the use of cannabis in the European Union, this report answers some of the questions most often asked about cannabis legislation. Using a question and answer format, basic definitions and the obligations of countries under international law are set out in a section on ‘What is cannabis and what are countries’ obligations to control it?‘ Two following sections examine the links and disparities between the content of the laws and their guidelines on the one hand and the actual implementation of the laws on the other. The final question and answer section considers whether changes in law have affected cannabis use and how much public support for legal change exists, as it looks at the future direction of cannabis legislation in Europe.

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