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  • How Uruguay made legal highs work

    The South American country’s move to full legalisation of cannabis has so far proved a success, especially for its 17,391 users
    The Guardian (UK)
    Sunday, December 10, 2017

    Uruguay’s switch to a legal marijuana market has not been without its hitches. Notably the resistance of most pharmacists to act as outlets for the recreational marijuana (medical marijuana remains illegal in Uruguay). Only 12 of the country’s 1,100 pharmacies have signed up so far to supply the 17,391 government-registered consumers served by the system, which explains the long queues outside. The low price and slim profit margin partly explain their reticence. “But the main problem is that banks have threatened to close the accounts of pharmacies selling marijuana,” said one chemist who sells marijuana in Montevideo, but who did not want to reveal his name for fear of such bank intervention.

  • The legal marijuana market is exploding — it'll hit almost $10 billion sales in this year

    Analysts predict the market to hit $24.5 billion in sales by 2021, despite continued federal prohibition
    Business Insider (US)
    Friday, December 8, 2017

    The market for legal marijuana is heating up in a big way. Legal marijuana sales are predicted to hit $9.7 billion in North America in 2017, according to a new report from cannabis industry analysts Arcview Market Research, in partnership with BDS Analytics. That represents an unprecedented 33% increase over 2016, shattering previous expectations about how quickly the cannabis industry could grow in the face of federal prohibition. The report further predicts the entire legal cannabis market to reach $24.5 billion in sales — a 28% annual growth rate by 2021 — as more states legalize marijuana for recreational use and existing markets mature. 

  • Justice ministry manipulated studies into cannabis policy

    Officials deleted research questions, made notes in the margins of the study and removed an entire chapter with conclusions and recommendations on how government policy could be improved
    Dutch News (Netherlands)
    Thursday, December 7, 2017

    Senior justice ministry officials directly interfered with independent research into the ministry’s own cannabis policy, current affairs programme Nieuwsuur said. Researchers altered unwelcome conclusions and reformulated research questions at officials’ request. The aim was to manipulate the findings to ensure they supported existing policy rather than criticised it. Nieuwsuur based its findings on conversations with a whistleblower, who made a complaint in 2014, and on internal ministry documents. The programme looked at research carried out by the ministry’s independent research unit WODC into coffee shops and nuisance caused by drugs tourism and on the legalisation of cannabis cultivation. (See also: Dutch officials influence results of independent research: report)

  • Blowing up: Britain’s cocaine glut

    The drug has become more plentiful — and more potent
    The Economist (UK)
    Thursday, December 7, 2017

    “It's as easy as buying a drink from an off-licence.” That is how Ellen Romans, a recovering drug addict, describes picking up cocaine near where she lives in London. And today top-notch blow is much cheaper than it was five years ago, when she started using it heavily. David McManus, her treatment worker at Blenheim, a rehabilitation charity, agrees. Pubs and bars are “flooded” with the stuff. Dealers know that their product is no longer scarce. They are more tolerant of hagglers and are resorting to gimmicks, including Black Friday discounts, to boost sales. Though overall use has not increased, supply seems to have soared and dealers are offering a purer product. (See also: Mixed messages: Is cocaine consumption in the U.S. going up or down?)

  • A comeback for the gateway drug theory?

    What the medical community knows about addiction has evolved significantly since the 1930s
    The New York Times (US)
    Thursday, December 7, 2017

    Scientists and politicians still debate whether using “soft” drugs necessarily leads a person down a slippery slope to the harder stuff. Critics note that marijuana has, in some cases, been shown to actually prevent people from abusing other substances. But new research is breathing fresh life into the perennially controversial theory, and the timing seems apt. As marijuana legalization and the opioid epidemic sweep across the country, parents are once again questioning the root causes of addiction. And politicians opposed to legalization, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, have routinely used the gateway effect as their chief argument against reform.

  • California’s limit on big growers just vanished. Here’s why

    The abrupt shift took many in the industry by surprise, and it comes on the heels of costly, intensive lobbying on behalf of some of the state’s most powerful cannabis businesses
    Leafly (US)
    Wednesday, December 6, 2017

    In an unexpected move that has small cannabis farmers and some state lawmakers up in arms, California regulators have created a licensing loophole that could allow large-scale cannabis growers to operate farms of unlimited size. Under the new regulations, only small and medium-size grow licenses will be issued between 2018 and 2023 (for up to quarter-acre and one-acre grows, respectively). While medium-size licenses are limited to one per person or organization, however, there is now no limit to the number of small-size licenses any person or commercial entity may obtain. That opens a way for larger commercial operators to effectively stack small-size licenses into commercial-scale farms. (See also: California’s small cannabis farms are facing the end of an era)

  • Portugal’s radical drugs policy is working. Why hasn’t the world copied it?

    Local harm-reduction advocates have been frustrated by what they see as stagnation and inaction since decriminalisation came into effect
    The Guardian (UK)
    Tuesday, December 5, 2017

    portugal dissuasionIn 2001, Portugal became the first country to decriminalise the possession and consumption of all illicit substances. Rather than being arrested, those caught with a personal supply might be given a warning, a small fine, or told to appear before a local commission – a doctor, a lawyer and a social worker – about treatment, harm reduction, and other support services. The opioid crisis stabilised, and the ensuing years saw dramatic drops in problematic drug use, HIV and hepatitis infection rates, overdose deaths, drug-related crime and incarceration rates. Despite enthusiastic international reactions, local harm-reduction advocates criticise the state for dragging its feet on establishing supervised injection sites and drug consumption facilities.

  • A taxing problem: how to price, tax legal weed to stamp out the black market

    The policy goals — including stamping out the black market, reducing underage consumption or drumming up tax revenue — are often at odds with each other
    National Post (Canada)
    Tuesday, December 5, 2017

    Stamping out the illicit market is one of Ottawa’s major goals as the country approaches a July 2018 deadline for the legalization of recreational marijuana — leaving politicians little time to lay out exactly how to sell, price and tax cannabis. As Washington state, which legalized recreational sales in 2014, has learned, pricing and taxation can heavily influence whether the black market blooms or shrivels. The state originally levied a 25 per cent tax on producer sales to processors, another 25 per cent tax on processor sales to retailers, and a further 25 per cent tax on retailer sales to customers. The high consumer costs, combined with a shortage of legal cannabis, fuelled the black market, according to analysts.

  • Legalization of marijuana unlikely to kill Canada’s black market right away

    Whether the black market shrinks and how quickly, observers say, will depend on what the legal market ends up looking like
    Global News (Canada)
    Monday, December 4, 2017

    From texting a local dealer to dropping into a neighbourhood dispensary or ordering online, Canada’s black market for recreational marijuana has seen significant changes in recent years and will see more as the country hurtles toward legalization next summer. What does seem clear is that the illegal market is unlikely to disappear in a puff of smoke come legalization day. “There’s a huge, complex system out there operating in the world that has been delivering excellent product to people at reasonable prices for 40 years now,” says Donald MacPherson of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition. “It’s really the degree to which the regulated system can, over a period of years, encroach on as much of that pre-existing market as possible – that is the key question.”

  • Israel eases sanctions on home marijuana growers

    The new shift in policy to differentiate between 'personal use' and 'commercial purposes' is an internal police order first reported by Cannabis magazine
    Haaretz (Israel)
    Monday, December 4, 2017

    When it comes to throwing the book at marijuana growers, police are distinguishing between those growing pot for their own use and those growing it for commercial purposes, as determined by an internal police order. A order issued this past summer by the police prosecution department states that growing marijuana in small quantities at home for personal use will, under certain conditions, be treated as the relatively minor violation of “personal use,” rather that the more serious offenses of “growing a dangerous drug” or “possession not for personal use,” which is what home growers are now suspected of, whether they are growing a single plant in a flower pot or a whole field of plants.

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