Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • From the Philippines to Indonesia and Afghanistan, Asia’s brutal drug policies have failed

    Ten years of heavy-handed drug policy has not lowered use but it has increased the misery for addicts and for those who enter the trade out of economic necessity. It’s time for a new strategy
    South China Morning Post (China)
    Wednesday, February 20, 2019

    The so-called “war on drugs” has persisted without an honest assessment by governments of its effectiveness, nor its impacts, despite UN reports showing ever-increasing drug markets year on year, as well as many harmful consequences. In a report on the past decade of drug policy in Asia, the International Drug Policy Consortium presents a comprehensive assessment that portrays a grim reality. In the face of this damning report card, it is not surprising that governments are reluctant to evaluate whether progress has been made. This March, at the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, it will be a serious neglect of duty if Asian governments do not openly acknowledge that violent law enforcement strategies and harsh punishments have failed.

  • Rodrigo Duterte: Philippines president suggests deadly war on drug dealers will get even ‘bloodier’

    Controversial leader pledges harsher crackdown to eradicate drugs
    The Independent (UK)
    Wednesday, February 20, 2019

    Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte warned his signature anti-narcotics campaign will be even harsher in the future, signalling no let-up in a bloody crackdown that has alarmed the international community. Mr Duterte won the presidency by a wide margin in 2016 on promises of eradicating drugs and crime, and recent opinion polls indicate broad support for him and for the crackdown. The support has maintained despite widespread allegations of police cover-ups and summary killings resulting from weak intelligence. Critics, including the Catholic Church, say the campaign has overwhelmingly targeted the urban poor and left drug kingpins largely untouched.

  • Tough cannabis policies do not deter young people – study

    Analysis of more than 100,000 teenagers found no link between liberal policies and higher use
    The Guardian (UK)
    Monday, February 18, 2019

    There is no evidence that tough policies deter young people from using cannabis, a study has found. Analysing data about cannabis use among more than 100,000 teenagers in 38 countries, including the UK, USA, Russia, France, Germany and Canada, the University of Kent study found no association between more liberal policies on cannabis use and higher rates of teenage cannabis use. “My new study joins several others which show no evidence of a link between tougher penalties and lower cannabis use,” said Prof Alex Stevens, from the University of Kent’s school for social policy, sociology and social research.

  • The trend towards exotic ganja flavours

    Recently, the cannabis industry has been paying more attention to terpenes
    The Gleaner (Jamaica)
    Monday, February 18, 2019

    Cultivators have been experimenting with unique flavours through selective breeding and phenotyping – adjusting the plant’s grow environment to see what genetics are triggered and the resulting physical expression. Consumers’ expectations have evolved from the days of purchasing weed in secrecy. They want quality, consistency and a variety that matches their fleeting moods and therapeutic needs. “Consumers are not leaving their euphoria to chance, they want to predict it,” says Dr Machel Emanuel, horticulturalist and principal investigator at the Life Science Cannabis Research Group at The University of the West Indies (UWI). “And it’s being done based on the classification of these popular strains.”

  • Popular book on marijuana's apparent dangers is pure alarmism, experts say

    Doctors and scientists criticize ‘flawed pop science’ of Tell Your Children – but author Alex Berenson stands by his claims
    The Guardian (UK)
    Sunday, February 17, 2019

    cannabis genomeA group of 75 scholars and medical professionals have criticised a controversial book about the purported dangers of marijuana, calling it an example of “alarmism” designed to stir up public fear “based on a deeply inaccurate misreading of science”. Tell Your Children, by Alex Berenson, was released last month, arguing that proponents of marijuana use have ignored evidence that the drug’s active compound, THC, may precipitate the onset of schizophrenia and provoke acts of violence in individuals who experience a psychotic “break”. 75 scholars and clinicians signed an open letter, joining a chorus of disagreement with Berenson by arguing that “establishing marijuana as a causal link to violence at the individual level is both theoretically and empirically problematic”.

  • Legalisation of cannabis in the UK would help protect its users from harm

    Study finds one in 14 cases in under-35s could be avoided if teenagers did not use the drug
    The Guardian (UK)
    Friday, February 15, 2019

    New research highlights associations between teenage cannabis use and a range of mental health problems. The results suggested that use of the drug was associated with an increased risk of depression and a significantly higher risk of suicide attempts. As usual in a study based on survey data, the authors noted that a clear line of causation from cannabis use to the reported effects cannot be drawn. There are always other potential mechanisms in action. Young people who use cannabis regularly may already be experiencing mental health issues that make drug use more likely; or be facing adverse life experiences that influence both their mental health and drug consumption. (See also: The government should proceed with caution when it comes to cannabis)

  • Amnesty underway for users, possessors of cannabis

    Authorities are taking concrete steps towards granting amnesty to those who use or have cannabis in their possession if they report to the authorities within a given time frame
    The Nation (Thailand)
    Friday, February 15, 2019

    The Drug Committee in Thailand approved three draft legislations for amnesty. If these drafts become law, even possessors of cannabis, who are not patients or research units, will be pardoned. “We have already passed the draft regulations, but there are still many steps left. The Food and Drug Administration [FDA] will have to put these drafts through public hearings and gather opinions for further review,” FDA secretary-general Tares Krassanairawiwong said. The approved drafts included three announcements designed to grant amnesty to government agencies, private firms, community enterprises, practitioners of traditional Thai medicine, research organisations, patients and everybody else who use and possess cannabis.

  • Drugs: researchers shouldn’t just focus on the harms

    Most research is preoccupied with problematic drug use, ignoring the fact that most people who use drugs don’t develop problems
    The Conversation (UK)
    Thursday, February 14, 2019

    Most drug research focuses on the harms they cause, but studying the pleasure they provide will improve our understanding of why people use them. Among other things, this knowledge could be used to help people who develop drug problems, such as dependency. These people have often experienced significant trauma in their lives and use drugs to self-medicate. If we knew more about how this self-medication worked, we could radically transform our approach to treatment. By concentrating research funding on problems people develop rather than investigating motives and benefits of drug use, research has contributed to a distorted view of drugs and the people that use them.

  • Cannabis smoking in teenage years linked to adulthood depression

    Study finds one in 14 cases in under-35s could be avoided if teenagers did not use the drug
    The Guardian (UK)
    Wednesday, February 13, 2019

    Scientists believe they have identified about 60,000 cases of depression in adults under 35 in the UK, and more than 400,000 in the US, that could be avoided if adolescents did not smoke cannabis. An international team of scientists looked at 11 studies published from the mid-1990s onwards, involving a total of more than 23,000 people, they report in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. They explored the use of cannabis for non-medicinal purposes in under-18s. Participants were then followed into adulthood to see who developed clinical depression, anxiety or suicidal behaviour. No single study looked at all three mental health issues. (See also: Teenage cannabis use linked to depression in later life)

  • European Parliament passes cannabis resolution, joins WHO in supporting medical marijuana

    While non-binding, the resolution seeks to incentivize European nations to increase access to medical marijuana
    Forbes (US)
    Wednesday, February 13, 2019

    Following reports about the World Health Organization (WHO) recommending a rescheduling of cannabis and several of its key components under international drug treaties, the European Parliament voted on a resolution that would help advance medical cannabis in the countries that form the European Union. While non-binding, the resolution seeks to incentivize European nations to increase access to medical marijuana, prioritizing scientific research and clinical studies. Same as the WHO’s recommendation, the European Parliament’s resolution shows how wide support for cannabis legalization is, but does not change any actual laws on the international or local levels.

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