Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • 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)

  • 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?

  • '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.

  • 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)

  • Hope for cannabis growers

    Jamaica to lobby US on correspondent banking rules
    Jamaica Observer (Jamaica)
    Friday, May 31, 2019

    jamaica cannabis leafJamaica is to lobby the United States on the issue of legitimising licensed cannabis growers and processors under correspondent banking rules. Audley Shaw — Jamaica's minister of industry, commerce, agriculture, and fisheries — raised the matter in his address on plant medicine and cannabis at the Global Health Catalyst Summit at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. Shaw noted that financial institutions in Jamaica and many international jurisdictions do not allow banking transactions for legally licensed medical cannabis companies because of the restrictions imposed by United States banks in their correspondent banking arrangements.

  • Colombia has 100-plus licensed cannabis firms, but only a handful have registered cultivars

    Colombia’s cannabis framework allows sales only of cannabis extracts, not flower
    Marijuana Business Daily (US)
    Friday, May 31, 2019

    colombia flag cannabis medicalInterest in Colombia’s medical marijuana market is booming, but out of over 100 licensed cannabis companies operating in the country few have finished registering their first cultivars, a prerequisite to growing crops for commercial purposes. So far, no company is selling or exporting medical cannabis commercially. That highlights the challenges still facing businesses operating in Colombia’s medical marijuana industry. A year ago, most Colombian cannabis companies were focused on obtaining licenses and securing funding. Today, many boast immense licensed areas, theoretical production capacities, sophisticated marketing plans and low expected costs of production. But mandatory regulatory issues still remain the key hurdle likely to separate the leaders from the rest of the pack.

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