Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • ‘You can’t arrest your way out of record drug-related deaths,’ say police

    Police forces across the UK are offering drug users pre-arrest education and treatment instead of a caution or charge
    The Guardian (UK)
    Wednesday, April 24, 2019

    In what is effectively de facto drug decriminalisation, people caught in possession of personal amounts of controlled substances in a number of police areas are being directed towards treatment and education services through “diversion schemes”, rather than facing prosecution. The radical policies, often spearheaded by elected police and crime commissioners (PCCs), come amid a growing realisation that reoffending and drug-related harm can be reduced by adopting a public health approach and inviting people to address their own substance use. Just over 1,000 people in England and Wales were imprisoned in 2017 for possessing drugs, with around 22,000 others handed down non-custodial sentences.

  • B.C.’s chief health officer calls for decriminalization of illicit drugs

    Drug policy is a federal mandate, but provinces and municipalities can take steps to de facto decriminalize
    The Globe and Mail (Canada)
    Wednesday, April 24, 2019

    British Columbia’s top public health officer is urging the province to decriminalize people who use and possess small amounts of illicit drugs in the province, calling it a “fundamental underpinning and necessary next step” in the response to the overdose crisis. But B.C.’s Public Safety Minister is resisting the proposal, citing federal drug laws and a reluctance to direct the province’s police forces. Bonnie Henry made her case for decriminalization, releasing a report that provided an overview of the history of Canada’s drug laws and strategies, the harms that prohibitionist policies have caused and a look at alternative approaches in other jurisdictions. (See also: B.C. should decriminalize drug possession to reduce fentanyl deaths—province's top doctor outlines a plan)

  • CBD in cannabis could reduce psychosis risk from high strength skunk, study shows

    Buffer effect could point to a protective mechanism that may help 'treat disorders like psychosis and addiction'
    The Independent (UK)
    Wednesday, April 24, 2019

    Cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical derived from the cannabis plant, can counteract the effects of high strength "skunk" strains and may help to reduce the risk of serious mental health conditions like psychosis, according to a new study. After using scans to study the effects of different strains of cannabis on the brain for the first time, the team from the University College London said boosting levels of CBD could act as a “buffer” to ill effects. They found that strains with the same level of THC, which causes users to get “stoned”, but higher CBD caused less disruption to parts of the brain linked to addiction and psychosis. (See also: "Skunk" cannabis disrupts brain networks – but effects are blocked in other strains | High-strength cannabis increases risk of mental health problems)

  • Sunny Portugal: A gateway to Europe's medical pot market

    Tilray's site was given the green light by Portugal's regulator Infarmed in 2017
    Swissinfo (Switzerland)
    Wednesday, April 24, 2019

    Famous for its roasted suckling pig and wines, the Portuguese city of Cantanhede now hosts the country's first medical cannabis production farm - a budding European hub of efforts to meet growing demand for the flowering herb. Portugal's California-like weather caught the eye of Canada-based Tilray as its CEO Brendan Kennedy roved around Europe from 2015 to 2017 in search of the perfect spot for a new production site. Kennedy said Portugal had the ideal climate for cannabis cultivation and the country's young, educated workforce and its major agricultural sector were further attractions.

  • Trump Justice Department goes after overdose prevention sites as ‘crack houses’

    Federal prosecutors dust off an ’80s war on drug law to go after Seattle and Philly for trying to save lives
    Daily Beast (US)
    Wednesday, April 24, 2019

    Two major U.S. cities are trying to open facilities to save drug users’ lives, but the Trump administration is trying to stop them, arguing the facilities are no different than crack houses. Seattle and Philadelphia plan to curb overdose deaths by opening facilities where drug users can ingest illicit substances like heroin under medical supervision. So-called overdose prevention sites are part of a strategy that seeks to reduce harm from drug use. The facilities were first popularized in Western Europe and have made their way to Canada and now potentially the U.S. While controversial and seemingly counterintuitive, over 100 such facilities currently operate in several countries, and public health experts consider them a staple of a robust strategy to prevent overdoses.

  • People's Cooperative could solve ganja banking woes — Silvera

    PC banks, which provide credit and other financial facilities to the agricultural sector, are perfectly positioned to serve this niche market.
    Jamaica Observer (Jamaica)
    Tuesday, April 23, 2019

    The Ganja Growers and Producers Association of Jamaica (GGPAJ) is proposing the National Peoples' Cooperative Bank as a solution to the banking services conundrum in which the country's fledgling legal marijuana industry finds itself. The GGPAJ says entrepreneurs are having a difficult time establishing businesses because the island's commercial banks are refusing to accept ganja money.  Special advisor to the GGPAJ, Orville Silvera says a cannabis bank, using the existing PC bank system, would relieve mainstream financial institutions of the apprehension surrounding facilitating transactions linked to ganja. (See also: Shaw says no to PC Bank as financial institution for ganja)

  • Germany to launch cannabis farming as Canada's Aurora, Aphria win tenders

    Germany has depended on imports of medical cannabis, mainly from Canada and the Netherlands
    Reuters (UK)
    Thursday, April 18, 2019

    medical cannabis docterGermany has awarded contracts to supply domestically-grown cannabis to two Canadian companies, as it seeks to develop its own medicinal marijuana industry and reduce reliance on imports. Drugs regulator BfArM said it would purchase 4,000 kg and 3,200 kg of cannabis over four years from German production subsidiaries of Canada’s Aurora Cannabis and Aphria, respectively. Another tender over a four-year harvest of 3200 kg has been delayed because an unidentified bidder who lost out is challenging the procedure with a regulator. The first home-grown harvest is slated for late 2020. (See also: Canopy Growth CEO expects to hit $1B in revenue for fiscal year 2020)

  • 4/21 organizers want to reclaim cannabis from corporations

    Legalization has to be done right—with guaranteed jobs, guaranteed economic benefits, and guaranteed community benefits
    Leafly (US)
    Thursday, April 18, 2019

    On 4/20, cannabis consumers across the United States will light one up in celebration of cannabis culture. In 10 states and counting, that celebration is perfectly legal. But as the annual ritual transitions from grassroots activism to commercialized indulgence, advocates want to remind consumers that the social justice work isn’t over just yet. On April 21, a coalition of justice and reform-minded organizations are launching what they’re calling the 421 For All campaign with a fundraiser designed to spotlight the ongoing need for comprehensive cannabis reform, especially in those states that have legalized but have yet to fulfill promises of “righting the wrongs of the drug war.” (See also: How the cannabis industry defeated legalization in New York)

  • Calls for drug law reform in Sweden as drug deaths continue unabated

    Despite the large number of opioid-related deaths, the government has failed to introduce evidence-based health policies
    Talking Drugs (UK)
    Thursday, April 18, 2019

    The debate around Sweden’s zero-tolerance drug policy has been reignited in recent months, due to the approach’s failure to reduce drug deaths. Sweden currently has one of the highest rates of drug-related deaths in Europe. This rate is more than four times the EU average. The Swedish government claims its strict legislation is aimed at reducing drug use, but that may be on the rise too. Recent government data indicates a slight rise in cannabis use among young people, while “ecstasy” (MDMA) use is also on the increase. Possession of drugs for personal use continues to be criminalised, and can be punished by a fine or prison sentence. A majority of political parties in the government's Committee on Health and Welfare now support reevaluating this approach.

  • The cannabis ‘gold rush’ is underway and shows no sign of stopping, says pot CEO

    Cannabis is an opportunity for monstrous tax revenue
    CNBC (US)
    Thursday, April 18, 2019

    cannabis investingWith 33 states now offering some form of legal medical or recreational marijuana, and pot companies expanding their footprints across the country, the cannabis “gold rush” is underway — and it won’t stop anytime soon, says Ben Kovler, founder, chairman and CEO of Green Thumb Industries. “The opportunity in cannabis is here in the U.S.,” Kovler said adding that “the phone rings a lot” as companies in diverse sectors start to field opportunities in the space. “This is where the market is,” he said. “This is a $50 [billion] to $80 billion industry where total market capitalization is still under $15 billion. So it’s a really exciting time, and you can see that the U.S. is where the operators want to be.” (See also: Cannabis CEOs bet on US pot legalisation within a year | Canopy Growth CEO expects to hit $1B in revenue for fiscal year 2020)

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