Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • ‘License to Kill’: Inside Rio’s record year of police killings

    A Times analysis found officers shoot without restraint, protected by their bosses and by politicians, certain that illegal killings will not be held against them
    The New York Times (US)
    Monday, May 18, 2020

    brasil upp mareOfficially, the police in Brazil are allowed to use lethal force only to confront an imminent threat. But an analysis of four dozen police killings in a violent Rio district shows that officers routinely gun down people without restraint, protected by their bosses and the knowledge that even if they are investigated for illegal killings, it will not keep them from going back out onto the beat. In at least half of the 48 police killings analyzed by The New York Times, the deceased were shot in the back at least once, according to autopsy reports, immediately raising questions about the imminent threat required to justify such killings. One quarter of the police killings examined involved an officer who had previously been charged with murder.

  • Licensed retail herb houses can now sell to qualified patients online

    Jamaica's long delay in promulgating regulations for the commercial export of cannabis has resulted in a Canadian company pulling back on its expansion plans in Jamaica
    Jamaica Observer (Jamaica)
    Saturday, May 16, 2020

    jamaica flag ganja2The Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) has established interim measures to facilitate online sales by licensed retail herb houses to registered patients in keeping with the Government's initiatives to practise safety while ensuring business continuity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CLA said the measures for the online sale and subsequent pick up of the ganja at licensed retail facilities, were established in consultation with the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries. In a separate move last week, CLA also established interim regulations for the import and export of cannabis products, while a Canadian company pulled out of expansion plans in Jamaica's cannabis industry.

  • Dutch and Mexican gangs are teaming up to sell high-end meth to Asia

    A VICE investigation reveals that meth shards "the size of your arm" are the latest product of the globalized drug trade
    Vice (UK)
    Thursday, May 14, 2020

    crystal methA new and rapidly evolving Dutch meth trade shows evidence of collusion between Mexican and Dutch organized crime groups to produce and traffic high quality meth to Asia and Australasia. Until 2016 police had busted just three meth labs in Holland. Yet in the last three years they have busted 27. Holland’s rising meth producing industry is notable for its links with Mexican criminals.Dutch crime gangs, which already produce and export huge quantities of ecstasy and amphetamines around the world, are utilizing existing labs, trafficking routes and infrastructures to smuggle meth to the other side of the world. (See also: Crystal meth: Europe could now see a surge in supply and use)

  • Minimum legal age for cannabis use should be 19, study suggests

    The authors found different optimal minimum legal ages depending on the outcome of interest
    Medical Xpress (Canada)
    Wednesday, May 13, 2020

    cannabis sharingThe optimal minimum legal age for non-medical cannabis use is 19 years of age, according to a study published in BMC Public Health. Researchers investigated how Canadians who started using cannabis at several young ages differed across important outcomes (educational attainment, cigarette smoking, self-reported general and mental health) in later-life. "Our results indicate that, contrary to the Canadian federal government's recommendation of 18 and the medical community's support for 21 or 25, 19 is the optimal minimum legal age for non-medical cannabis use. Keeping the legal age below 21 may strike a balance between potential increases in underground markets and illegal use, and avoiding the adverse outcomes associated with starting to use cannabis at an earlier age."

  • Cambodian official says human rights 'need to be put aside' in drug war

    Amnesty International report describes arbitrary arrests by police and torture in prison and drug treatment centres
    Reuters (UK)
    Wednesday, May 13, 2020

    cambodia drug warA Cambodian official defended an anti-drug campaign that has been decried as rife with abuses, saying human rights “need to be put aside” to fight drugs that destroy families and fuel violent crime. The comments came in response to rights group Amnesty International, which said in a report that the campaign that has seen 55,000 people arrested had led to torture and caused dangerous prison overcrowding while fuelling corruption. Amnesty cited interviews with dozens of people who described arbitrary arrests by police and torture in prison and drug treatment centres. (See also: Cambodia: Abusive “war on drugs”, rife with torture and corruption, must be overhauled)

  • Albania, once haven of illicit cannabis, set to legalise crop for medical use

    Albania holds a parliamentary election next year, and the idea of regularising a potential source of jobs and money could be a vote-winner
    Reuters (UK)
    Tuesday, May 12, 2020

    Albaniaalbania cannabis eradication2 plans to legalise the cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes, six years after beginning a crackdown on an illegal trade that turned it, by some accounts, into Europe’s largest outdoor grower of cannabis. Prime Minister Edi Rama said the time was ripe for one of Europe’s poorest countries to enter the lucrative market, emulating its neighbours North Macedonia, Greece and Italy - the latter a destination of tonnes of cannabis from Albania. “Illegal cultivation is completely under control,” Rama said. “This is the third or fourth year of consolidation. We plan to pass the bill in this session of parliament.” Villagers were asking for a full amnesty for those convicted on cannabis charges - not merely the amnesty for dodging tax on illicit earnings that Rama is proposing in addition to the legalisation.

  • B.C. moves to 'safe supply' as overdose deaths spike during COVID-19 pandemic

    ‘It took two ... health crises to get this to happen,' says advocate
    CBC News (Canada)
    Tuesday, May 12, 2020

    canada covid19 muralThe new guidelines were announced in late March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic — concerns about the drug supply becoming even further adulterated because of disrupted global supply chains and about people being able to access their treatment while in self-isolation. "It will ensure that less people turn to the poisoned drug supply and it will ensure that less people have to venture out to pharmacies regularly and still put themselves at risk and put the community at risk," said B.C.'s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy in late March. (See also: As homeless people were moved out of Oppenheimer Park, many were prescribed a safe supply of drugs)

  • Albanian gov't working to legalize cultivation of medical cannabis

    Currently, cannabis possession - excluding amounts for personal use-, cultivation and transport is illegal in Albania and there is no medical marijuana program
    Tirana Times (Albania)
    Sunday, May 10, 2020

    albania cannabis eradicationThe Albanian government is close to concluding a draft law which allows for the cultivation of medical cannabis in the country. According to Rama, the government has been working on the draft law for a year now after continuous consultations with foreign experts. "The draft will be available very soon for public discussion, just like the one on the fiscal amnesty, which is ready and is being discussed with several international institutions," Rama said, emphasizing the importance of these discussions. The EU delegation to Albania stepped in to clarify that it had not been involved "in preparation, drafting or consultation of draft reports concerning plans for cultivation and legalization of cannabis for medical purposes in Albania."

  • Coronavirus: The tide is coming for medicinal cannabis

    Cannabis researchers in Canada say the plant-based drug may provide resistance to SARS-CoV-2
    Deutsche Welle (Germany)
    Friday, May 8, 2020

    med marijuanaPreliminary research is emerging out of Canada that certain strains of the psychoactive drug cannabis may also increase resistance to the coronavirus. If the study, which is not yet peer reviewed, can be verified, it would appear that cannabis works in a similar way to nicotine. As with the research into nicotine's effect on the coronavirus, it is thought that some strains of cannabis reduce the virus' ability to enter the lungs, where it takes hold, reproduces and spreads. In a paper on,  where scientists can publish non-peer-reviewed results, the researchers write that their specially developed strains of cannabis effectively stop the virus from entering the human body.  

  • The opioid epidemic was already a national crisis. Covid-19 could be making things worse

    Walk-in clinics and syringe exchange programs have been closed. Community support groups are meeting virtually
    CNN Health (US)
    Thursday, May 7, 2020

    Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the nation was in the throes of another public health crisis: the opioid epidemic. More than 2 million Americans struggle with opioid use disorder, and about 130 Americans on average die every day from an opioid overdose. Opioids account for a majority of drug overdose deaths, the leading cause of accidental death in the US. It's a crisis that's been a priority for officials at the federal, state and local levels for years. Now, the coronavirus has disrupted all matters of life across the country -- including efforts to combat the nation's opioid problem. As local officials report spikes in overdose calls and deaths, experts and advocates say they're concerned the coronavirus pandemic is making an already serious problem worse.

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