Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media

 

  • NSW police pursue 80% of Indigenous people caught with cannabis through courts

    Data shows hugely disproportionate treatment, which experts say helps trap young Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system
    The Guardian (UK)
    Wednesday, June 10, 2020

    Police in New South Wales pursue more than 80% of Indigenous people found with small amounts of cannabis through the courts while letting others off with warnings, forcing young Aboriginal people into a criminal justice system that legal experts say “they will potentially never get out of”. Between 2013 and 2017 the police disproportionately used the justice system to prosecute Indigenous people, despite the existence of a specific cautioning scheme introduced to keep minor drug offences out of the courts. During the five year period, 82.55% of all Indigenous people found with a non-indictable quantity of cannabis were pursued through the courts, compared with only 52.29% for the non-Indigenous population.

  • A massive Asian drug bust has stirred a fentanyl mystery

    The operation targeted a string of warehouses and refineries in the northern hills of Myanmar, namely an area known as Kutkai
    PRI (US)
    Wednesday, June 10, 2020

    myanmar biggest seizureAs the UNODC put it, this was “one of the largest and most successful counternarcotics operations” in Asia’s history. Myanmar’s army and police, which conducted the raids, are naturally pleased. But the story behind the raid is quite messy — one involving double-crossing traffickers, Chinese mafia and even the White House. Myanmar’s government has known about the labs for years. The same goes for the United States’ Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Chinese intelligence. Even The World knew it was there, writing in 2015 that the area contains “a number of heroin and meth refineries.” The labs went undisturbed because they were protected by a militia — one that happens to serve under Myanmar’s army.

  • Netherlands to open applications for cannabis grow experiment next month

    The cultivation experiment will last at least four years, with an option to extend it for another 1½ years
    Marijuana Business Daily (US)
    Wednesday, June 10, 2020

    The Dutch government will start accepting applications in July from potential cultivators for its adult-use cannabis experiment. From July 1 until July 28, companies will be able to apply to grow adult-use marijuana for supply to coffee shops in 10 municipalities around the country. July marks the official start to the preparatory phase of the limited-scope experiment that will mandate all coffee shops in the 10 participating municipalities be supplied exclusively with legally grown cannabis. Until now, all coffee shops have carried cannabis only from the illicit market. The selection process of up to 10 growers is expected to take six months. (See alos: Cannabis firms can sign up for licensed growers test next month)

  • Government announces plan to advance cannabis legalization reforms

    Legislation easing restrictions on recreational, medical use to be advanced ‘responsibly’; report says process will take 4 months, use to be approved for ages 21+
    The Times of Israel (Israel)
    Tuesday, June 9, 2020

    israel cannabisThe two biggest parties making up the new government said they would push for increased legalization of cannabis use, a week after the police minister backed easing enforcement of existing laws. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud and Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White said in a joint statement that they would advance legislation “to resolve the issue of decriminalization and legalization,” apparently referring to recreational cannabis use. The matter will be done “via a responsible model that will be suited to the State of Israel and the Israeli population,” the statement said, without elaborating.

  • The coronavirus has gutted the price of coca. It could reshape the cocaine trade

    Data released last year showed coca production at all-time highs. Now, farmers are left with acres upon acres of coca leaf and little means to sell it
    The Washington Post (US)
    Tuesday, June 9, 2020

    coca raspacharAs a farmer eking out a living in Peru’s central jungle, Rubén Leiva grew one cash crop that seemed immune from global cycles of booms and busts. But the coronavirus pandemic has accomplished what neither other international crises nor a U.S.-backed “war” ever could: a collapse in the price of coca leaf, a natural stimulant that is the building block of cocaine. The great coca crash of 2020 — prices for the leaf in some regions of South America have fallen as much as 73 percent — illustrates the extent to which the pandemic is disrupting every aspect of global trade, including the traffic in illegal drugs. Lockdowns have sealed regional borders and sharply curbed domestic and international transit, challenging the ability of cartels to move product by land, air or sea.

  • We can no longer ignore the potential of psychedelic drugs to treat depression

    Psilocybin ( or “magic mushrooms”) can be used to assist psychotherapy for difficult-to-treat depression, making a significant difference when conventional antidepressants and talking therapy have not
    The Guardian (UK)
    Monday, June 8, 2020

    psilocybinThe world is experiencing a devastating physical health emergency. But the coronavirus pandemic has also seen a renewed focus on our psychological wellbeing. Loneliness, uncertainty and grief may be intensifying an already acute mental health crisis, and in the US there has been a 20% spike in the number of prescriptions for antidepressant and anti-anxiety drugs during lockdown. Demand for key antidepressants is threatening to exceed supply in the UK – where prescriptions have already more than doubled over the last decade. At Imperial College we’ve been comparing psilocybin to conventional drugs – and the results are potentially game-changing.

  • Safe injecting room trial extended in North Richmond

    New facility slated for near Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne CBD
    ABC (Australia)
    Friday, June 5, 2020

    australia dcr kings crossVictoria will keep its supervised injecting room in North Richmond open for another three years and is set to create a second facility near Queen Victoria Market, the Government has announced. The North Richmond Medically Supervised Injecting Room, which started as a trial in 2018, has been a controversial issue since before its creation and has been the subject of a community campaign against the facility. After a two-year review of the trial, an independent expert panel recommended a second facility be set up to take pressure off the North Richmond service. An independent review of the North Richmond facility found it had saved at least 21 lives.

  • Philippines police may have killed tens of thousands with 'near impunity' in drug war – UN

    Campaign of encouragement by high-level officials may have been seen by police as ‘permission to kill’, says damning report
    The Guardian (UK)
    Thursday, June 4, 2020

    phil end impunityTens of thousands of people may have been killed in the war on drugs since mid-2016 in the Philippines, amid “near impunity” for police and incitement to violence by top officials, the UN human rights office says in a report. The drugs crackdown, launched by President Rodrigo Duterte after winning election on a platform of crushing crime, has been marked by police orders and high-level rhetoric that may have been interpreted as “permission to kill”, according to the report. Police, who do not need search or arrest warrants to conduct house raids, systematically force suspects to make self-incriminating statements or risk lethal force. (See also: Children have become collateral damage with the Philippines’ “Drug War” scarring a generation)

  • Legalise it? Public invited to have a say

    The new proposal was based on Canada’s provincial and federal laws, as well as examples from the Caribbean
    The Royal Gazette (Bermuda)
    Thursday, June 4, 2020

    cannabis plantationDraft legislation for the legalisation of cannabis is to be put out for public consultation in Bermuda, the Attorney-General said. Kathy Lynn Simmons unveiled proposals for medical and recreational cannabis use in the Senate last December and the views of the public were also canvassed. But Ms Simmons said the original plans were seen to be “not going far enough” and “too complicated to be effective”. She added that the Government had amended the legislation to meet public expectations of “further decriminalisation of cannabis, to the greatest extent possible, via a regulated framework”. Ms Simmons said attitudes to the drug had evolved and that there was a recognition of the need for new industries. (See also: Bermuda government releases marijuana legalization bill for public feedback)

  • Police minister backs eased enforcement against cannabis users

    Responding to petition seeking annulment of laws barring recreational use and possession, Amir Ohana says he’ll seek to ‘minimize harm’ to offenders
    The Times of Israel (Israel)
    Wednesday, June 3, 2020

    Public Security Minister Amir Ohana signaled support for easing enforcement of laws against marijuana use. Ohana, whose ministry oversees the police, was responding to a High Court of Justice petition urging the court to annul the criminalizing of recreational marijuana use and possession. “The stance of the incoming public security minister is… to minimize harm as much as possible to [otherwise] law-abiding citizens who have offenses linked to the drug,” the ministry’s response said. It also said Ohana intended to appoint a team to weigh a more lenient policy toward recreational marijuana use.

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