Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • The next major marijuana exporter will be in the Middle East

    The Israeli industry was estimated to be worth about $11 billion four years ago and had grown since then
    Newsweek (US)
    Thursday, January 31, 2019

    The Israeli cabinet approved legislation that will transform the Middle Eastern country into an exporter of marijuana for medical use. “I am glad this is finally happening. It opens a very big market in Israel. The technology is here in Israel and until now we simply had to give the technology to other countries,” Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said, Reuters reported. “Therefore, I am glad we can reap the profits here in Israel.” Elsewhere in the Middle East, Israel’s neighbor Lebanon has voiced plans to legalize medical cannabis for cultivation and export as well. Last July, Lebanese House Speaker Nabih Berri told the U.S. ambassador to his country, Elizabeth Richard, that his country planned to move forward with the legalization, CNN reported.

  • Illicit drugs should be regulated and distributed by pharmacies, leading doctor suggests

    Putting substances like MDMA and marijuana in pharmacies would take the power out of the hands of “backyard amateur operators”
    News Com (Australia)
    Wednesday, January 30, 2019

    A leading drug reform advocate and esteemed doctor is calling for a shake up to the illicit drug market, suggesting substances like MDMA, marijuana and ecstasy should be regulated and sold at chemists. Speaking on Today, Dr Alex Wodak, head of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, called for the idea to be considered as a way of reducing deaths. “You can’t prevent deaths completely. But if you reduce them a lot that’s well worthwhile,” Dr Wodak said. “I’m not saying (it’s) safe, I’m saying it’s safer. Nothing is safe — it is only you can reduce the risk, you can’t eliminate the risk. And we should try to reduce the risk.” (See also: Former top cop backs Dr Alex Wodak's call to regulate MDMA)

  • History, not harm, dictates why some drugs are legal and others aren’t

    Legal status isn’t based on risk or harm
    The Conversation (UK)
    Wednesday, January 30, 2019

    Drug-related offences take up a lot of the resources within Australia’s criminal justice system. In 2016–17 law enforcement made 113,533 illicit drug seizures and 154,650 drug-related arrests. Harm-reduction advocates are calling for the legalisation of some drugs, and the removal of criminal penalties on others. And there’s public support for both. But how did some drugs become illegal in the first place? And what drives our current drug laws? Australia, like the rest of the world, has had a patchy approach to criminalising substances, driven mostly by a desire to maintain international relations – particularly with the United States – rather than by concern for the public’s health or welfare.

  • A run on medicinal cannabis causes concern amongst doctors

    Far more people are requesting their doctors to prescribe cannabis than expected
    The Copenhagen Post (Denmark)
    Tuesday, January 29, 2019

    A year ago, and in the teeth of opposition from some doctors, the Danish health authorities decided to approve a four-year pilot project under which GPs were able to give patients medicinal cannabis as pain relief for certain ailments. It was estimated that around 500 people would request the drug, but figures reveal that almost three times as many – 1,400 patients – have done so over the first year. The Danish College of General Practitioners has been sceptical from the start, and the new figures do nothing to dispel its reservations. Not all doctors have the requisite knowledge to prescribe cannabis and that most GPs have too few patients on the drug to assess the effects of the treatment. (See also: Danish medicinal cannabis prescriptions exceed expected numbers)

  • Le cannabis légal permet de panacher sa conso

    Depuis 2011, l'émergence d'un marché du cannabidiol CBD a éclipsé le tétrahydrocannabinol (THC). Addiction Suisse a fait le point sur ce «cannabis légal»
    Tribune de Genève (Suisse)
    Lundi, 28 janvier 2019

    De nouvelles variétés de cannabis contenant très peu de THC et beaucoup de CBD ont été développées en Amérique du Nord. Elles ont été adoptées par des producteurs suisses et mises sur le marché, communique ce 28 janvier 2019 «Addiction Suisse». Addiction Suisse a été mandaté par l'Office fédéral de la santé publique (OFSP) pour étudier ce phénomène. Plus de 1500 personnes vivant en Suisse et ayant déjà consommé du cannabis CBD ont été interrogées. Cinq profils type d'usagers ont pu être identifiés. Le plus fréquent comprend des usagers de cannabis illégal (THC) plutôt jeunes qui modèrent ou panachent cette consommation avec du CBD.

  • Israeli cabinet approves law to allow medical cannabis exports

    Israeli companies are among the world’s biggest producers of medical cannabis
    Reuters (UK)
    Sunday, January 27, 2019

    Israel’s cabinet approved a law to allow exports of medical cannabis in a move expected to boost state revenues and the agriculture sector, and which frustrates critics who fear it could lead to more recreational use of the drug. The bill, backed last month by parliament, allows companies approved by the health regulator and police to export medical cannabis to countries that permit its use. Israeli media said exports could start in as little as nine months. “I am glad this is finally happening. It opens a very big market in Israel. The technology is here in Israel and until now we simply had to give the technology to other countries,” said Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. (See also: Stocks soar as Israel allows cannabis exports)

  • Tightly regulated framework likely for 2020 vote on cannabis

    Any controls have to consider whether they would create a legal vacuum that the black market could fill
    New Zealand Herald (New Zealand)
    Saturday, January 26, 2019

    The 2020 referendum to legalise cannabis looks likely to propose a tightly regulated framework, including strict rules on supply and possession, an age limit of at least 18, and a non-profit model where money from sales may be funnelled into health services. And while it is widely accepted that legalising personal use would not eliminate harm or kill off a black market, a political consensus appears to be emerging that the status quo is broken, but a profit-driven legal market would be just as bad. Justice Minister Andrew Little said the Government was still working on the referendum question, but he personally opposed to a framework similar to alcohol if the public voted for legalisation in 2020.

  • A safe fix for Bristol’s drug users and the city

    Saving lives and clearing needles off the streets: Bristol has the power to become the first UK city to set up a safe consumption room
    The Bristol Cable (UK)
    Friday, January 25, 2019

    Drugs Consumption Room in FrankfurtUnlike in Bristol, in 66 cities around the world, drug users don’t have to take their drugs in public or down an alleyway. Instead they do it in a clean, safe environment. Safe consumption rooms (SCRs) are legal medical facilities where drug users safely take their illegal substances – particularly heroin and crack – with staff on hand if they overdose. They have been found to reduce deaths, make drug use safer, and clean up the streets of public injecting and used needles. The council has done a feasibility study into whether Bristol could also become the first UK city to set up a SCR, but has delayed its review. The city’s main treatment provider, Bristol Drugs Project (BDP), has indicated to me that a SCR would reduce harm and they would support a pilot.

  • Danish law enforcement increasing pressure on Christiania cannabis trade

    A police review has found that over 700 people were arrested and 710 kilograms of cannabis confiscated in the alternative enclave of Christiania in 2018
    The Local (Denmark)
    Wednesday, January 23, 2019

    Illicit trade of cannabis at the Pusher Street market in Copenhagen’s Christiania is being put under pressure by an intensive effort from law enforcement, according to Copenhagen Police. “This is the result of an intensified effort which we initiated in May last year, whereby we increased our permanent presence on Pusher Street with both patrols and destruction of market stands,” Copenhagen’s chief of police Anne Tønnes said. Market stands on Pusher Street, from where cannabis is sometimes traded, reappear when police are not present in the area. But sales of cannabis have fallen to such an extent that organised crime behind the trade is now feeling the pinch, according to Tønnes. That does not necessarily prevent it from relocating to another part of the city.

  • I'm 'coming out' about drugs: it's time get real about pill testing

    "As lawmakers we won’t save lives by sticking our heads in the sand," Cate Faehrmann says
    The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
    Monday, January 21, 2019

    As a politician I’ve made the difficult decision to "come out" in this way because the government’s zero-tolerance approach to drugs has not only been a catastrophic failure in stopping drug use, it is costing people their lives. It is so out-of-touch with millions of people’s reality that everyone has stopped listening. Young people are not fools. They want us, as politicians, to "get real" about illegal drugs. Their parents want us to stop the moral crusade and listen to the evidence. This means being honest about the nature and extent of drug use and accepting the evidence that a harm minimisation approach, where illegal drug use is treated as a health issue not a criminal one, works. That's why we need pill testing and other harm minimisation measures to keep our young people safe.

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