Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media

 

  • 5 Years After: Portugal's Drug Decriminalization Policy Shows Positive Results

    Street drug-related deaths from overdoses drop and the rate of HIV cases crashes
    Brian Vastag
    Scientific American
    Tuesday, April 7, 2009

    In the face of a growing number of deaths and cases of HIV linked to drug abuse, the Portuguese government in 2001 tried a new tack to get a handle on the problem—it decriminalized the use and possession of heroin, cocaine, marijuana, LSD and other illicit street drugs. The theory: focusing on treatment and prevention instead of jailing users would decrease the number of deaths and infections.

  • Coffee shop trial is test for Dutch drugs policy

    NRC Handelsblad (The Netherlands)
    Tuesday, March 17, 2009

    The owner and several employees of the biggest coffee shop in the Netherlands are being prosecuted for membership of a criminal organisation. The outcome of the trial can have a huge impact on soft drugs policy in the Netherlands. If Meddy Willemsen, the owner of the mega coffee shop Checkpoint in Terneuzen, is convicted of encouraging illegal cannabis cultivation and running an organised supply chain, more proprietors of coffee shops could face prosecution as gang leaders. (See also: Owner of massive cannabis café cleared of most charges on appeal)

  • Let Me Chew My Coca Leaves

    Evo Morales Ayma
    The New York Times (US)
    March 14, 2009

    evo-morales-coca-unIn 1961, the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs placed the coca leaf in the same category with cocaine — thus promoting the false notion that the coca leaf is a narcotic — and ordered that “coca leaf chewing must be abolished within 25 years from the coming into force of this convention.” Bolivia signed the convention in 1976, during the brutal dictatorship of Col. Hugo Banzer, and the 25-year deadline expired in 2001. Mistakes are an unavoidable part of human history, but sometimes we have the opportunity to correct them. It is time for the international community to reverse its misguided policy toward the coca leaf.

  • Bolivia calls on Obama to back coca campaign

    Reuters
    Wednesday, March 11, 2009

    President Barack Obama should recognize traditional uses of the coca leaf because not all production becomes cocaine, Bolivian President Evo Morales said. Morales, a former coca farmer, also called on participants at a United Nations drug policy meeting in Vienna to lift a ban on coca for some uses.

  • Ecstasy 'no more dangerous than horse riding'

    The risks of horse riding showed that society "does not adequately balance the relative risks of drugs against their harms".
    The Daily Telegraph (UK)
    Saturday, February 7, 2009

    Writing in an academic journal, Professor David Nutt said taking ecstasy was no worse than the risks of "equasy", a term he invented to describe people's addiction to horse-riding. Prof Nutt is the chairman of the Home Office's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs which next week is likely to say that ecstasy should be downgraded to a Class B drug. Campaigners last night called for him to resign, suggesting that he was on a "personal crusade" to decriminalise the drug. "The point was to get people to understand that drug harm can be equal to harms in other parts of life. There is not much difference between horse riding and ecstasy."

  • Banks told to accept cannabis cafe customers

    Finance minister cannot force the banks to accept coffee shop accounts
    Dutch News (Netherlands)
    Friday, February 6, 2009

    Banks must accept cafes which sell cannabis and marijuana as clients, says finance minister Wouter Bos. The minister fears that if these businesses, known as coffee shops, are refused bank accounts they could turn to the criminal circuit for financial services, reports Friday’s Volkskrant. At present all the banks are turning down these cafes as new customers and terminating existing accounts even though they are legitimate businesses, the paper says. Coffee shops are licenced by local authorities and allowed to sell small amounts of cannabis. Although Bos cannot force banks to accept coffee shops as customers, he has asked the anti-cartel authority to investigate the situation because it seems that the banks are acting collectively.

  • Voters agree heroin scheme, but throw out dope

    Swissinfo (Switzerland)
    Sunday, November 30, 2008

    referendum-switzerlandThe Swiss look set to approve the government's drugs policy, including the prescription of heroin to addicts, but will reject a plan to decriminalise cannabis. More than two-thirds of voters approved a plan to enshrine the government's four-pillar drugs policy in law. The official drugs strategy is based on prevention, harm reduction, therapy and repression. It was devised in response to the open drugs scene in Zurich and other Swiss cities during the 1990s.

  • Dutch mayors call for growing marijuana

    NRC Handelsblad (Netherlands)
    Monday, November 24, 2008

    The Dutch government should licence the growing and supply of marijuana to the country’s 700 or so coffee shops that sell cannabis, according to a group of around 30 Dutch mayors. This is the conclusion of the ‘cannabis summit’ at which the mayors discussed the country’s policy on soft drugs. The mayor of Eindhoven, Rob van Gijzel, said his city is prepared to run a ‘monitored pilot scheme’ to assess if a system of licenced growers reduces drugs-related crime.

  • Local councils support tolerant cannabis policy

    NRC Handelsblad (Netherlands)
    Wednesday, November 19, 2008

    Most of the Dutch local councils that have so-called coffee shops which sell marijuana say they have no problem with the current policy of tolerating these outlets, according to a survey by NRC Handelsblad. The newspaper sent a questionnaire to the 105 local councils which, between them, have a total of 353 coffee shops. Of the two-thirds that responded, only 14 felt these establishments should be closed. But over 75 percent want the national government to regulate wholesale supply to the coffee shops.

  • Fate of drug laws hazy but voters will decide

    Cannabis and heroin are once again high on the agenda as the campaign ahead of a nationwide vote on Switzerland's drugs policy gathers pace
    Swissinfo (Switzerland)
    Friday, October 24, 2008

    A first opinion poll found that the prescription of heroin for addicts stands a good chance of passing on November 30. However, a proposal to decriminalise cannabis attracts neither a clear majority of supporters nor opponents six weeks before the ballot. Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin said decriminalising pot smoking could pose problems for Switzerland as a signatory state of international drug control conventions. In its campaign the government cautioned against rushing through legislation for which there was no majority in parliament four years ago.

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