Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • Residents-only rule for coffeeshops proposed in Amsterdam

    Increasing numbers of councillors believe that a vote could be a close one, with a new drive to change the type of tourist who chooses to visit
    Dutch News (Netherlands)
    Friday, September 25, 2020

    coffeeshop menuAmsterdam city council is gearing up for a new discussion on banning non-residents from its coffeeshops next month, after two new proposals were submitted. Although a national law says only Dutch residents can buy cannabis from the shops, Amsterdam has never enforced the ruling. When Dutch drug laws were tightened in 2013, there were concerns that the residents-only rule would drive dealing onto the street and create more nuisance, the late Amsterdam mayor Eberhard van der Laan said at the time. But now thanks to a citizen’s petition and new set of proposals from the opposition VVD party, a foreign visitor ban is back on the table and up for debate again.

  • Overdoses are killing more people in Western Canada than COVID-19. B.C. has a bold new plan

    The Globe and Mail (Canada)
    Friday, September 25, 2020

    canada opiod crisisCanada’s other epidemic, the opioids overdose crisis, is more deadly than ever this year. Deaths in British Columbia hit new highs over the spring, including a monthly record of 181 illicit drug toxicity deaths in June, and Alberta revealed that opioid poisoning killed 301 people in the spring – also a record. In both provinces this year, overdoses have taken far more lives than COVID-19. This public-health challenge, like the fight against the virus, is far from over. Work to date has saved thousands of lives, but more must be done. Last week, B.C. took a major step toward ensuring a safer supply of clean drugs, regulated and overseen by medical professionals. The goal is to protect addicted people whose lives are at risk because of the toxicity of illicit drugs sold on the street.

  • Swiss cities authorised to distribute cannabis for scientific studies

    Any pilot projects that involve the distribution of cannabis will be regulated by a strict framework along with an enforcement order
    Swissinfo (Switzerland)
    Wednesday, September 23, 2020

    switzerland cannabis3Parliament has approved a modification to the Swiss narcotics law that will allow studies of recreational cannabis use in the country’s largest cities. Both houses approved the change to the law following debate over whether the cannabis had to be of local or organic origin. The right-wing Swiss People’s Party saw this as an opportunity to support the country’s agriculture sector. Parliament ultimately decided that Swiss and organic cannabis should be used as far as possible. The vote paves the way for scientific studies on the effects of the controlled use of cannabis. This is intended to help evaluate the effects of new regulations on the recreational use of cannabis and ultimately, combat the black market distribution of cannabis.

  • Draft cannabis bill ‘completely misses the mark’

    Legislators seem oblivious to the business and tax-generating potential of the industry
    Moneyweb (South Africa)
    Wednesday, September 23, 2020

    sa dagga is my rightTwo years ago, the Constitutional Court of South Africa decriminalised the possession and cultivation of cannabis in private by adults for personal private consumption. It was a historic day that left many weed lovers on a natural high. After the long wait for the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill to be made public, the industry’s hopes and expectations slumped when it was tabled in Parliament on September 1. (The call for comments opened on September 9 and closes on October 9.) According to industry experts, it’s not what is in the Bill that resulted in the anti-climax, it’s how it has ‘completely missed the mark’ by failing to highlight the business opportunities that lay before it.

  • Colombia lawmakers seek to take control of cocaine market. It’s a long shot

    Colombia has suffered a slew of massacres this year, many of them linked to the ongoing conflicts
    Los Angeles Times (US)
    Monday, September 21, 2020

    colombia coca reguladaLegislators weary of Colombia’s whack-a-mole anti-narcotics efforts propose to stop the often violent trafficking of cocaine that has plagued the country for decades. The plan calls for the national government to take control of the drug market by purchasing coca leaf harvests and regulating cocaine sales. The challenges include cost, pushback from an international community that wants to maintain the status quo, and the potential reaction of an illegal drug empire that does not hesitate to use violence to get its way. The legislators who authored the bill, which is scheduled for congressional debate in October, insist the approach could reduce the waste of public funds, help protect Colombia’s environment and generate a better public health approach to the issue of drug consumption.

  • BC to allow “small-scale producers” to deliver cannabis directly to licensed retailers as well as farm-gate sales beginning in 2022

    “This is clearly an attempt to shore up the cannabis vote right before a potential early election”
    Stratcann (Canada)
    Sunday, September 20, 2020

    cannabis plantsThe British Columbia government announced that they will allow “small-scale producers”, including nurseries, the option of delivering cannabis directly to licensed retailers, as well as farm-gate sales, in the coming years. The provincial government says the decision came from recommendations from long-time cannabis growers, Indigenous leaders and other stakeholders, and is one more step towards allowing for so-called “farm-gate” sales, which the Province also says it continues to work towards. The “targeted launch” for both programs is 2022. How they are defining “small scale” producers is unknown. Federal regulations require that licence holders selling into a provincial retail system must have a processing licence, as well as product sales licences.

  • Should India make cannabis legal?

    Given its widespread use and the ancient and well-established culture of marijuana consumption in this country, it's time for a conversation on decriminalising the drug
    India Today (India)
    September 19, 2020

    india chillumAccording to former Narcotics Commissioner Romesh Bhattacharjee cannabis is cultivated in nearly 60 per cent, or 400, of India’s 670 districts. “Since we criminalised cannabis in India [in 1985],” he says, “we haven’t curbed production or consumption. The law is redundant and has become a tool to harass small-time or poor buyers and sellers. Bhang is already legal in some states. There are millions of weed and hash users in major cities. You might as well legalise cannabis, and follow it with drug awareness outreach if you are worried about addiction. Sensitisation and dialogue are more effective in curbing addiction than half-hearted criminalisation.” As to how to legalise cannabis, he has a simple answer: “Just remove it from the Narcotics Act. It is already ‘legal’ on the streets given its availability, only ‘illegal’ on paper.”

  • South Africans are setting up ‘cannabis clubs’ across the country – are they legal?

    “If we have the constitutionally entrenched human right to privately cultivate, possess and consume our own cannabis, then we surely may exercise the right to freely associate with others in doing so”
    BusinessTech (South Africa)
    Friday, September 18, 2020

    sa legalize demoThe Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill provides clarity around the growing and private use of cannabis in South Africa. In its current form the bill is ‘far from perfect’ as it permits and prohibits arguably arbitrary quantities, and creates some curious offences with harsh sentences. ‘Cannabis clubs’ for private use are proliferating across the country as the rules around cannabis remain in a form of limbo, following the 2018 Constitutional Court ‘Prince’ judgement. “Given that the prohibition against so-called recreational dealing in cannabis is here to stay, and that many cannabis users are not in a position to privately cultivate their own cannabis, the bill must by-hook-or-by-crook be read to legitimise cannabis clubs across the vast rural-urban and high-low income divides in South Africa.”

  • eSwatini: A brief tale of two laws

    An act passed to recover the proceeds of organised crime may now be used by eSwatini’s authorities to score points for a cannabis law that many think will benefit a powerful few
    New Frame (South Africa)
    Friday, September 18, 2020

    eswatini flag cannabis handcuffsThe U.S. company Stem Holdings reported in 2019 that it had “received preliminary approval to become the only licensed growing farm and processing plant for medical cannabis and industrial hemp in The Kingdom of eSwatini for a minimum of 10 years”. The government denied any knowledge of the deal, even as the country’s health ministry, in haste, pushed to pass a cannabis bill into law. What this means is that locals who have been secretly farming cannabis for years would not be able to farm and export their crops. Cannabis growers were not consulted; neither were the many traditional leaders who govern on communal land (about 54% of the country). The House of Assembly voted against it and instructed the health ministry to conduct thorough and representative consultations.

  • ‘Life-saving and life-changing’: BC’s safe supply program gets major expansion

    More drugs covered, more people eligible and increased access all promised as part of overdose crisis response
    The Tyee (Canada)
    Wednesday, September 16, 2020

    canada safe supplyBold changes and a dramatic expansion are coming to safe supply efforts in B.C. in response to an increasingly toxic drug supply and the deadly overdose crisis. Eligibility for safe supply — prescribed untainted drugs or alternatives — will expand to nearly all people who access the street drug supply, even intermittently, under a policy directive from the B.C. Centre on Substance Use being finalized with the province. And registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses will soon be able to prescribe controlled substances under a public health order from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. Previously, only doctors and some pharmacists were allowed to prescribe safer alternatives to illicit drugs.

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