Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media

 

  • Safer opioids actively being reviewed for epidemic: chief public health officer

    A safer supply of opioids is a “no-brainer” to ensure people are not forced to turn to a “deadly, illegal market”
    National Post (Canada)
    Wednesday, December 12, 2018

    Heroin being prepared at a supervised injection site in VancouverPublic health officials across Canada are seriously considering increasing the supply of safer opioids to quell a crisis that newly released data show helped claim more than 2,000 lives in the first half of the year. Canada’s chief public health officer said Wednesday a toxic drug supply is a key part of Canada’s opioid epidemic. Creating a safer opioid supply is “being actively reviewed and discussed” with provinces and territories, Dr. Theresa Tam said, and will require exploring what treatments people require. (See also: Ending the overdose epidemic starts with a safe supply of drugs)

  • A promising way to help drug users is ‘severely lacking’ around the world, report says

    The evidence is clearly in favour of harm reduction
    Time (US)
    Tuesday, December 11, 2018

    Global funding for harm reduction programs is in “crisis,” according to the latest Global State of Harm Reduction report, potentially threatening the effectiveness of HIV, hepatitis and drug overdose relief programs worldwide. Harm reduction policies and programs are meant to curb the negative effects associated with illicit drug use — such as overdoses and the spread of blood-borne illnesses like HIV and hepatitis C — rather than focusing solely on stopping substance use. Proponents, and plenty of research, suggest these practices can have a sizable impact on public health, and help drug users who can’t or don’t want to quit.

  • New Zealand passes laws to make medical marijuana widely available

    Legislation comes ahead of a referendum on recreational marijuana use in next two years
    The Guardian (UK)
    Tuesday, December 11, 2018

    New Zealand’s government has passed a law that will make medical marijuana widely available for thousands of patients over time, after years of campaigning by chronically ill New Zealanders who say the drug is the only thing that eases their pain. The legislation will also allow terminally ill patients to begin smoking illegal pot immediately without facing the possibility of prosecution. The new law allows much broader use of medical marijuana, which was previously been highly restricted and subject to approval by the health minister. Patients wanting to use marijuana for conditions like chronic pain will have to wait a year until a new set of regulations, licensing rules and quality standards are put in place.

  • Testing drugs at festivals is ‘a lifesaver’, study finds

    Drug-related hospital admissions down 95% after onsite testing at festival in Cambridgeshire
    The Observer (UK)
    Sunday, December 9, 2018

    the loopAn alarming rise in drug-related deaths at music festivals can be countered by testing illicit substances onsite, according to the first academic study of its kind, which has triggered calls for similar services to be rolled out at all major events. Testers found that one in five substances sold at the Secret Garden Party, a four-day festival in Cambridgeshire in July 2016, were not as described by dealers. Chemists from the non-profit social enterprise The Loop analysed 247 drug samples brought in anonymously by festivalgoers. Two-thirds of people who discovered they had had substances missold to them subsequently handed over further substances to the police, according to the study. (See also: Pill testing could save lives – so why are we letting people die?)

  • Barbados PM comments on decriminalisation of marijuana

    Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, president of the CARICOM Marijuana Commission, calls for change in the region's cannabis laws, as majority of Caribbean governments continue to urge caution on the way forward
    Jamaica Observer (Jamaica)
    Saturday, December 8, 2018

    marijuana plantingThe Barbados government says it will soon develop a framework for medical cannabis, even as it noted that decriminalisation of marijuana for recreational use will have to be decided by a referendum. “There is no doubt that we will put a framework in place for medical cannabis within the next week or so. In fact, we have more or less taken a decision, we just need some refining and training with practitioners,” Prime Minister Mia Mottley said, adding that the island could no longer afford to miss out on the emerging cannabis industry. Mottley said that Barbados would not be going about the decriminalisation of marijuana carelessly, adding that careful research would guide her administration's position.

  • Marlboro owner Altria invests $1.8 billion in cannabis company Cronos

    Altria hopes pot is the key to help it grow beyond its stagnant cigarette business
    CNN (US)
    Friday, December 7, 2018

    marlboro marijuanaTobacco giant Altira is investing $1.8 billion in Canadian cannabis company Cronos Group. That will give Altria a 45% stake in the company, with an option for Altria to increase its stake to 55% over the next five years. Reports of an Altria-Cronos deal first surfaced earlier this week. The decision by Altria to go ahead with an investment in Cronos shows that Altria is serious about investing in marijuana as a new growth area as sales of traditional cigarettes slow. Altria's stock has fallen nearly 25% this year and the company is expected to report revenue growth of only about 1% this year and in 2019.

  • UN committee unexpectedly withholds marijuana scheduling recommendations

    The committee’s recommendations for its international scheduling are still expected to go up for a vote in the CND in March
    Marijuana Moment (US)
    Friday, December 7, 2018

    The World Health Organization (WHO) was expected to make recommendations about the international legal status of marijuana, which reform advocates hoped would include a call to deschedule the plant and free up member countries to pursue legalization. But in a surprise twist, a representative from the organization announced that WHO would be temporarily withholding the results of its cannabis assessment, even as it released recommendations on an opioid painkiller and synthetic cannabinoids. The marijuana recommendations are now expected to come out in January. Earlier this year, the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) released a pre-review of marijuana that included several positive, evidentiary findings.

  • Cannabis firm confirms investment talks with Marlboro maker

    Several other companies around the world are pushing into the marijuana sector
    BBC News (UK)
    Tuesday, December 4, 2018

    Altria, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, is in talks with a Canadian cannabis producer over a potential investment in the firm. Canada's Cronos Group confirmed the discussions but said it had not yet reached an agreement. It follows reports that Altria was in talks to acquire Cronos as it moves to diversify from traditional smokers. Canada legalised recreational cannabis in October - the second country in the world to do so. Cronos confirmed in a statement "it is engaged in discussions concerning a potential investment by Altria Group Inc. in Cronos Group." Several other companies around the world are pushing into the marijuana sector.

  • Navigating cannabis legalization 2.0

    The market price of cannabis plummets with legalization
    RAND Blog (US)
    Tuesday, December 4, 2018

    marijuana dispensaryLegalization is not a simple yes-or-no decision, and its consequences for health, public safety, and social equity will be shaped by choices about production, prices, and the enforcement of regulations. As the next round of states debate legalization, they would do well to contemplate allowing state governments to control the wholesale prices and linking the price of cannabis to its potency. Low prices mean low wages for workers and potential bankruptcy for all but the most efficient producers, with craft-scale production driven out by industrial farming and “mom and pop” retailing driven out by sellers with big budgets for marketing. This price drop is a problem for those who want the legal cannabis market to provide economic opportunities for the individuals and communities that have been disproportionately affected by cannabis prohibition.

  • War against drug users ineffective for combating abuse: Study

    It just causes overcrowded prisons, where erstwhile drug users are recruited to become dealers upon their release
    The Jakarta Post (Indonesia)
    Tuesday, December 4, 2018

    handcuffsThe government’s focus on jailing drug users while providing only little funding to help users get healthy again is not effective in combating drug abuse in Indonesia and amounts to “a waste of money”, a study finds. The policy study from Rumah Cemara, a community-based organization helping drug users and people living with HIV/AIDS, proposes an increase in spending on health treatment for drug users from 0.3 percent of the total antidrug budget to 10 percent by 2020. Dubbed 10 by 20, such a policy would be more effective in reducing drug abuse, the researchers believe. Ingrid Irawati Atmosukarto, a researcher with Intuisi Inc. and Rumah Cemara, said the government currently allocated only Rp 6.5 billion of the total “war on drugs” budget of Rp 1.9 trillion to health programs.

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