Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • The cannabis black market will control 71 per cent of sales in Canada this year, Scotiabank says

    Lack of consistent supply in legal cannabis shops has been a major market stimulator for the illicit sector
    Montreal Gazette (Canada)
    Wednesday, February 13, 2019

    A new research note from Scotiabank analysts estimate that the black market will control 71 percent of cannabis sales in Canada in 2019. The logistical challenges and related supply issued of producing legal cannabis are many–and as a result, the cannabis black market is booming. Oliver Rowe and Ben Isaacson calculated the figure, which reduced its legal recreational sales prediction to about 30 percent, citing supply issues, government inspections, packaging snags and quality control issues as some of the reasons for the low percentage. “As we expect these issues, particularly the limited retail presence in key provinces, to continue through 2019, we have reduced those volumes by 100 metric tonnes, or 30 percent of legal demand,” according to Scotiabank.

  • Slowing the legal weed freight train

    A decriminalization crusader sees a different future for recreational marijuana
    Crain's (US)
    Tuesday, February 12, 2019

    Sabet's strategy for sabotaging legalization is to offer legislators what he calls "a true decriminalization and [social] justice" bill, which would do away with arrests for low-level offenses and replace them with a system for referrals and drug counseling. His idea of replacing arrests with warnings, citations and small fines is a far cry, however, from what most drug reformers have in mind. Although he says SAM is still formulating its approach and aims for flexibility, the recommendations in the "model legislation" on the group's website read almost like a parody of bureaucratic overreach. Many of SAM's purported goals, such as avoiding the overt commercialization of marijuana, could be achieved through legislation, prohibition's opponents say.

  • What is required for Jamaica to export its hi-grade ganja

    Even with legislation in place governing the trade of cannabis, Jamaica’s manufacturing standards must match those of the importing nation
    The Gleaner (Jamaica)
    Monday, February 11, 2019

    Jamaica’s decriminalisation of ganja in 2015 brought with it many expectations, one being the ability to export its hi-grade herb. With a relatively small marketplace (a 2016-2017 Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey says 17 per cent of Jamaicans use ganja), investors are eager to expand their market base beyond Jamaica’s 2.9 million citizens. Given Jamaica’s ideal growing conditions and its reputation for producing high-quality varieties, with potentially unique medicinal applications, a licensed producer would have a field of endless opportunities if it developed an international market for its strain. Intellectual property rights protecting that strain would also allow the producer to maximise its earning potential.

  • Cannabis co-ops seek to bring small producers, processors into legal market

    Entering the legal market is too costly and the regulations are too complex
    CBC News (Canada)
    Sunday, February 10, 2019

    British Columbia may be famous for its bud but some say Canada's new marijuana legalization framework is excluding the small producers with established know-how. A movement is growing in the province to address that problem with a common idea: cannabis co-operatives. "Some may argue we've lost our place to either Ontario or Alberta based on the number of licensed producers based out of those provinces," said Barinder Rasode, CEO and co-founder or Grow Tech Labs, a cannabis business accelerator. Grow Tech Labs and Victory Square Technologies launched a cannabis co-op this month that will begin with a provincewide consultation of small producers and processors, Rasode said.

  • Israel approves compassionate use of MDMA to treat PTSD

    Party drug or breakthrough treatment?
    Haaretz (Israel)
    Sunday, February 10, 2019

    MDMA, popularly known as ecstasy, is a drug more commonly associated with raves and nightclubs than a therapist's office. Emerging research has shown promising results in using this "party drug" to treat patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and Israel's Health Ministry has just approved the use of MDMA to treat dozens of patients. MDMA is classified in Israel as a "dangerous drug", recreational use is illegal, and therapeutic use of MDMA has yet to be formally approved and is still in clinical trials. However, this treatment is deemed as "compassionate use," which allows drugs that are still in development to be made available to patients outside of a clinical trial due to the lack of effective alternatives.

  • WHO recommends rescheduling cannabis in international law for first time in history

    The WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence has recommended that cannabis resin and other marijuana products should be removed from a schedule IV
    Newsweek (US)
    Friday, February 8, 2019

    The World Health Organization has suggested that cannabis should be removed from Schedule IV of the 1961 UN Single Convention given the mounting evidence showing that the drug could prove beneficial in treating a number of health problems. International drug policy expert Martin Jelsma from the Transnational Institute said this was the “first time in history” that the WHO had undertaken a proper critical review of cannabis and related substances. Nevertheless, he said the committee’s proposals don’t go far enough, noting that its rationale for keeping cannabis in schedule I is “highly questionable.”

  • Safe injection site for opioid users faces Trump administration crackdown

    San Francisco, New York, Seattle, Denver and Boston have also seriously considered safe injection sites
    The New York Times (US)
    Wednesday, February 6, 2019

    The Justice Department is suing to stop a Philadelphia group from opening what some public health experts and mayors consider the next front in fighting the opioid epidemic: a place where people who inject fentanyl and other illicit drugs can do so under medical supervision.The nonprofit group, Safehouse, was formed last year to house the country’s first so-called safe injection site in Philadelphia, which has one of the nation’s highest rates of overdose deaths. Safehouse had been planning to open the site as soon as next month. But the Justice Department says it would “normalize” the use of deadly drugs.

  • Why so many Americans now support legalizing marijuana, in 4 charts

    It’s not about use, geography or demographics
    The Conversation (UK)
    Tuesday, February 5, 2019

    American views on marijuana have shifted incredibly rapidly. Thirty years ago, marijuana legalization seemed like a lost cause. In 1988, only 24 percent of Americans supported legalization. But steadily, the nation began to liberalize. By 2018, 66 percent of U.S. residents offered their approval, transforming marijuana legalization from a libertarian fantasy into a mainstream cause. Many state laws have changed as well. Over the last quarter-century, 10 states have legalized recreational marijuana, while 22 states have legalized medical marijuana. So why has public opinion changed dramatically in favor of legalization? In a study published this February, we examined a range of possible reasons, finding that the media likely had the greatest influence.

  • 'In three years, medical cannabis could be sold in Swiss pharmacies'

    It is important to talk about its beneficial effects, but we should not conceal the harmful ones
    Swissinfo (Switzerland)
    Monday, February 4, 2019

    Switzerland’s national drugs policy is often cited as a pioneering, humane model. Twenty-five years ago, the small Alpine nation launched a project for the medical prescription of heroin and a four-pronged drugs strategy - prevention, therapy, damage limitation and repression. This pragmatic policy, introduced in 1991, was born out of the Zurich drug problems of the 1980s and 1990s. However, a progressive approach has not been adopted for medical cannabis, says Brenneisen, chairman of the Swiss Working Group on Cannabinoids in Medicine (SACM) and a former consultant to the United Nations Narcotics Laboratory. Tens of thousands of patients in Switzerland regularly use cannabis to relieve pain and discomfort. Most of them do so illegally, however.

  • Fears grow that Ketamine use by young is on the rise in England

    Guardian analysis of data show police seizures of the drug increased by 30% last year
    The Guardian (UK)
    Monday, February 4, 2019

    Public Health England has expressed concern that increasing numbers of young people are using ketamine as a Guardian analysis of government data shows the number of police seizures of the drug increased by 30% last year. Robert Ralphs, a senior lecturer in criminology at Manchester Metropolitan University, said ketamine had become firmly established as the third most popular drug among students after ecstasy and cocaine, partly because it is cheaper – a gram of ketamine costs about £30. Martin Raithelhuber, an expert on illicit synthetic drug at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said most ketamine for recreational use was being produced in clandestine labs in Asian countries, particularly China.

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