Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • Nine pill testing myths

    In all the talk, some myths keep being trotted out. Here’s the facts
    Australia's Science Channel (Australia)
    Monday, February 4, 2019

    From politicians to the public, the same myths keep being rolled out about pill testing. They’ve been testing pills in 20 other countries for at least two decades and there is considerable evidence that it helps reduce harm. There’s only been one sanctioned trial in Australia – at last year’s Groovin The Moo festival in Canberra – but there were positive signs. Only 20 people sought assistance from ACT Ambulance (most for intoxication linked to alcohol and/or MDMA) compared with 30 the previous year. Two people were taken to hospital for intoxication, but neither had attended the testing facility. A UK study showed that where when pill testing was in operation, hospital attendances dropped in nearby areas by as much as 95%.

  • A California conundrum: How to crack down on illicit sales without echoing the war on drugs?

    A nascent industry needs protection, but so do certain neighborhoods
    Cannabis Wire (US)
    Monday, February 4, 2019

    In October 2018, the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ newly-established Cannabis Enforcement Unit teamed up with the Los Angeles Police Department to carry out a raid on an unlicensed shop in Sylmar, a predominantly Latino and working-class neighborhood. The seizure took place ten months after the state had begun allowing the sale and taxation of cannabis for adult use. The end of prohibition has hardly ended illicit cannabis sales. A nascent industry—not to mention local governments eager for tax revenue—is pushing for rigorous enforcement. But who gets hurt? Calibrating a crackdown that does not hurt the same people and neighborhoods that suffered in the War on Drugs is not so easy.

  • Struggling to compete with fentanyl, Mexico’s poppy farmers ask for legalization

    "Not growing poppies means not having money"
    Filter (US)
    Monday, February 4, 2019

    Guerrero is Mexico’s third-poorest state and the center of its opium industry. If the state of 3.5 million were an independent country, it would be the top opium producer in the Americas. The roughly 50,000 hectares planted with poppies in the state support the economies of thousands of communities and hundreds of thousands of people. Starting about two years ago, traffickers began offering less and less, and rumors circulated that the price drop was due to competition from a new synthetic drug, manufactured in China and also in some fentanyl-producing laboratories detected in other parts of Mexico. (See also: Fentanyl overdoses spike on Mexico’s northern border but remain invisible | As opium poppies bloom, Mexico seeks to halt heroin trade)

  • 'Legalize marijuana without corporatized marijuana,' says New York mayor Bill de Blasio

    "It's a way to say we had an injustice, now let's give the very people who were the victims, the economic benefit"
    Civilized (US)
    Sunday, February 3, 2019

    De BlasioNew York Mayor Bill de Blasio supports Governor Andrew Cuomo's pledge to legalize recreational marijuana, but he doesn't want the the market to be overrun by big corporations when cannabis prohibition is repealed. "We have an industry that is just licking its chops, waiting to come in and corporatize marijuana—to do exactly what the tobacco industry did with cigarettes, to do exactly what the pharmaceutical industry did with things like oxycontin. What we need [to do] is legalize marijuana without corporatized marijuana," Mayor De Blasio told Bill Maher. To prevent that from happening, the mayor wants to hand the market over to former victims of cannabis prohibition—people who were arrested and imprisoned for marijuana-related offsenses.

  • World Health Organization recommends rescheduling marijuana under international treaties

    Marijuana and cannabis resin would also remain in Schedule I of the 1961 treaty
    Forbes (US)
    Friday, February 1, 2019

    Health experts at the United Nations are recommending that marijuana and its key components be formally rescheduled under international drug treaties. The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for whole-plant marijuana, as well as cannabis resin, to be removed from Schedule IV—the most restrictive category of a 1961 drug convention signed by countries from around the world. The body also wants delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and its isomers to be completely removed from a separate 1971 drug treaty and instead added to Schedule I of the 1961 convention, according to a WHO document. (See also: Though a ‘positive step,’ WHO recommendations on cannabis fall short for some)

  • Why legal cannabis growers can’t compete with the black market — yet

    Federally licensed production is increasing at a breakneck pace and that adequate legal supplies should be available countrywide by early next year
    The Toronto Star (Canada)
    Friday, February 1, 2019

    Despite the persistent media buzz, there are no cannabis supply shortages in Canada, pot industry expert Michael Armstrong explains. “There’s all kinds of cannabis in Canada,” says Armstrong, “It’s the legal cannabis that we’re short of.” And to successfully compete with a stocked and still-thriving illegal market, the country’s licensed cannabis producers must — among a series of moves — ramp up their crop outputs exponentially, offer cheaper, more varied strains and get them into a vastly increased number of stores. “This is not a new industry, there is an existing industry,” says Armstrong, who analyzed new Health Canada data on the country’s marijuana market for a recent article. “What we have is this new legal version that has to compete with it.”

  • Canada’s cannabis shortage could be over quicker than we thought, researcher says

    Right now though, provincial retailers are pointing towards significant shortages
    Financial Post (Canada)
    Friday, February 1, 2019

    If Canada’s licensed cannabis producers continue ramping up production at their current exponential pace, there will be more than enough pot to meet the government’s projected demand by the end of 2019, predicts one cannabis researcher who conducted an analysis of the government’s most recent data. While some have suggested shortages in the sector could last for years, Brock University professor Michael Armstrong argues that barring any unforeseen circumstances that supply concerns will be resolved much more quickly than that. Total legal production of cannabis began drastically increasing about six months before legalization, Armstrong notes, as evidenced by how quickly cannabis inventories were growing.

  • Egypt approves death penalty for drug dealers

    Tramadol is the most popular drug among users, followed by cannabis and heroin
    Middle East Monitor (UK)
    Thursday, January 31, 2019

    Egypt’s cabinet has approved a draft law that would see drug dealers sentenced to death. The law was part of a broader bill to combat the spread of narcotics in the country and drugs trafficking. The draft amendment states that anyone who “brought or exported synthetic substances with an anaesthetic effect, or harmful to mind, body, or psychological and neurological condition shall be punished by death”, adding that those who possessed drugs for the purpose of trafficking could face life imprisonment and a maximum fine of $28,000. According to Amnesty, Egyptian civil and military courts issued more than 1,400 death sentences, mostly related to incidents of political violence, following grossly unfair trials, with testimonies often obtained through torture.

  • Outdated drug policies leave millions of Africans in agony

    The war on drugs has hurt patients who need painkillers
    The Economist (UK)
    Thursday, January 31, 2019

    Providing palliative care without morphine is like “driving a car without fuel”, says Emmanuel Luyirika, of the Kampala-based African Palliative Care Association in Uganda. It is also unnecessary, because opioids are cheap. Providing pain relief for their populations can cost governments as little as $2-16 per person each year, according to a study commissioned by the Lancet. The morphine shortage stems from bad policies. In the 1980s and 1990s, as part of its “war on drugs”, America cut aid and imposed sanctions on countries that were not tough enough on trafficking. It listed Nigeria as unco-operative from 1994 to 1998 (during a criminal dictatorship), suspended military aid and blocked loans.

  • People take drugs for pleasure and fun – so why do we drown that out by obsessing over the harm?

    We have been rather snooty about ignoring the wisdom of cultures that have found benefits to drugs that go beyond ritual
    The Independent (UK)
    Thursday, January 31, 2019

    Are you one of the 10 million people who have used drugs like cannabis or cocaine? Make no mistake, drugs are fun. They must be, given the scale of drug use and the long history we humans have of using them. Despite the upside of using drugs, it’s not an aspect that’s given the attention it deserves, a bit like the way no one seems interested in good news stories. Instead, when drugs are featured in the media it’s usually to panic about the latest incarnation of some new pill or powder. Then there’s the fear of becoming addicted, but in truth this is rare and our understanding of how this happens and who is at risk is still being unravelled.

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