Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • How Duterte’s exaggerations worsened the Philippines’ drug problem

    We’ve come to a point where drugs can be literally fished out of our waters. How can anyone hear these stories and reasonably claim them to be signs of success?
    Rappler (Philippines)
    Thursday, February 28, 2019

    We’re nearing the midpoint of the Duterte administration, yet we’re nowhere near solving the Philippines' drug problem. By all accounts, things even seem to have gotten worse. For example, Duterte proclaimed, “There are seven to eight million Filipinos reduced to slaves to a drug called shabu. Seven to eight million lost souls.” Later he said, “We are facing a serious problem… The Medellin Cartel of Colombia has entered the country so we will be seeing a lot of cocaine.” Painting an ever-direr picture of the country’s drug problem is part and parcel of Duterte’s overall political strategy: by exaggerating the drug problem's extent and continually framing it as a national security issue, he is able to justify his war on drugs. (See also: PH drug war not a model for any country, says UN rights chief)

  • Scientists brew cannabis using hacked beer yeast

    Researchers modify microbe to manufacture cannabis compounds including the psychoactive chemical THC
    Nature (US)
    Wednesday, February 27, 2019

    The yeast that has been used for millennia to brew alcoholic drinks has now been engineered to produce cannabinoids — chemicals with medicinal and mind-altering properties found in cannabis. The feat, described in Nature, turns a sugar in brewer’s yeast called galactose into tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a main psychoactive compound in cannabis. The altered yeast can also produce cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabinoid with potential therapeutic benefits, including its anti-anxiety and pain-relief effects. This fermentation process will enable manufacturers to produce THC, CBD and other rare cannabinoids more cheaply, efficiently and reliably than conventional plant-based cultivation. (See also: A cannabis high, no plant required)

  • Portugal rejects recreational cannabis, as medical becomes legal

    Officials want to see long-term positive results from Uruguay or Canada before making legislative change
    Talking Drugs (UK)
    Tuesday, February 26, 2019

    The Portuguese parliament has rejected two proposals to legalise the cultivation and sale of cannabis for recreational purposes. The first proposal, put forward by the People-Animal-Nature party (PAN), suggested limiting individuals to buying 75 grams of cannabis per month from licensed pharmacies, where sales would be overseen by state health agents who would provide information on the drug and its risks. If passed, the proposal would also have allowed people to grow six plants of cannabis per household. The second proposal, from the Left Block (BE), would have had a more relaxed approach to sale - permitting the sale of cannabis at any licensed establishment. It also would have permitted home cultivation.

  • Is marijuana really legal in Mexico?

    Mexico’s federal judges will now be required to grant appeals for the recreational use of marijuana
    El Universal (México)
    Tuesday, February 26, 2019

    Mexico’s federal judges will be required to grant amparo appeals for the recreational use of marijuana. However, this does not imply that marijuana has been legalized in Mexico. The Supeme Court of Justice (SCJN) published eight sentences, recognizing the right to the unhindered development of human personality, freedom of thought and expression, as well as the right to good health. With this in mind, the Mexican State is compelled to respect the citizens’ right to use cannabis for recreation purposes. These eight sentences shaped a case-law issued last October through which marijuana cultivation for recreation purposes was endorsed. Nonetheless, this does not translate into an immediate effect for citizens, nor does it imply that they will be able to file amparo appeals right away.

  • San Francisco to expunge thousands of marijuana convictions

    NPR (US)
    Tuesday, February 26, 2019

    San Francisco officials plan to expunge more than 9,000 marijuana convictions dating back to 1975, the city's highest law enforcement official said. It's the culmination of San Francisco's year-long review of past convictions after California voters legalized recreational marijuana throughout the state in 2016. Several California cities are taking on the task of expunging records, but San Francisco is the first one to finish the job, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. "It was the morally right thing to do," San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón told the Los Angeles Times. "If you have a felony conviction, you are automatically excluded in so many ways from participating in your community."

  • Home Office gives green light to first drug testing clinic

    ‘Life-saving’ scheme, licensed by the government, launched amid rising concern over potentially toxic substances
    The Observer (UK)
    Sunday, February 24, 2019

    drug checkingThe first drug-checking service licensed by the Home Office will allow users to have their illicit substances tested without fear of being arrested in a move that could be rolled out nationally if it is shown to save lives. The year-long pilot project will allow anyone over the age of 18 to take their drugs to the clinic, run by the charity Addaction. Testing the content will take about 10 minutes, during which time the user will complete a short questionnaire to allow harm reduction advice to be tailored to them. The launch of the service comes amid rising concerns that users are buying drugs which contain other potentially toxic or more potent substances. Cocaine laced with the synthetic opioid fentanyl has been linked to a number of deaths.

  • Doubts on pot use linger over amended drug law

    Groups which support alternative medical treatments should be given clear assurances that they can continue growing the plants without legal hindrances
    The Bangkok Post (Thailand)
    Friday, February 22, 2019

    Experts are saying that both users and producers of marijuana-based drugs for medical purposes will face numerous restrictions under the amended Narcotics Act, despite the fact the government had just legalised the medical use of marijuana. Several academics argued that under the newly-passed Narcotics Act, users and producers are subjected to rules that effectively serve to limit the use and production of marijuana-based drugs to the point where the production of such medication is no longer viable. Even the government's plan to pardon patients and researchers convicted of violating the 1979 Narcotics Act promises no happy ending.

  • St Kitts-Nevis joins 'ganja train' Gov't accepts recommendations on use of marijuana in federation

    The penalty for possession of less than 15 grams of cannabis should be reduced to a ticketable offence without a criminal record
    Jamaica Observer (Jamaica)
    Friday, February 22, 2019

    The St Kitts-Nevis Government says it will consider and consult further on creating the framework for the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes after a national commission submitted a number of recommendations. Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris told Parliament that the National Marijuana Commission, which had been appointed to consult with the public and enquire into the wide-ranging issues surrounding marijuana use, had issued 13 recommendations for consideration. Harris said that the commission had recommended that the Drugs Act be amended given the blanket criminalisation of cannabis has been overtaken by passage of time and regional and international developments. (See also: St Kitts & Nevis moves to decriminalise marijuana for medical use)

  • Sell regulated heroin to drug users to reduce overdose deaths: B.C. group

    The heroin would be sold to users at compassion clubs under tight regulations to help combat B.C.'s opioid overdose crisis
    Vancouver Sun (Canada)
    Thursday, February 21, 2019

    Heroin addicts should be granted access to a clean supply of the drug provided through “compassion clubs” similar to those that provide medical marijuana, recommends a new report from the B.C. Centre on Substance Use. Such clubs will save lives lost to overdoses through heroin tainted by fentanyl, “disrupt” profits for drug dealers from organized crime gangs, eliminate an avenue for money laundering and thereby make housing more affordable. But the model faces a number of challenges before being implemented, including the province seeking permission from Health Canada to forward the idea. (See also: Canada drug experts want regulated heroin supply to cut overdoses | Heroin buyers clubs proposed by researchers to reduce overdose)

  • Legalize pot? Amid opioid crisis, some New Hampshire leaders say no way

    Opioid addiction has ravaged communities in New Hampshire
    The New York Times (US)
    Wednesday, February 20, 2019

    The push to legalize recreational marijuana is sweeping the Northeast: Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine have done it, and the governors of Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey say they want their states to do it, too.But in New Hampshire, Gov. Chris Sununu and some other state leaders are opposed. The problem, they say, is not just about pot. It’s about opioids — drugs that have ripped across this state, devastating thousands of residents and leaving New Hampshire in recent years with one of the highest per capita death rates from opioid-related overdoses. But supporters of legalizing recreational marijuana are trying to flip the argument on its head. They say legal marijuana could actually help solve the crisis, by helping people get off opioids.

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