Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • Farmers giddy over new medical marijuana law

    Longtime cannabis activist Buntoon Niyamabhra called on the government to cancel patent applications from foreign multinationals
    The Bangkok Post (Thailand)
    Wednesday, December 26, 2018

    Thai farmers welcomed a new law allowing cultivation and use of marijuana for medical purposes, in an Asian first that promises an economic bonanza but also fears that foreign companies could reap the rewards. Thailand's National Assembly passed a bill legalising the use of marijuana and kratom – a traditional herb – for research and medical use. The bill, which still outlaws recreational use and has strict limits on the amount an individual can carry, requires royal assent. The National Farmers Council of Thailand praised the law as providing a "new economic crop" to help farmers diversify their production. But some fear foreign companies and pharmaceutical giants are in pole position to scoop up valuable patents to produce the medical cannabis and extracts.

  • Israeli lawmakers approve medical cannabis exports law

    There are eight cultivating companies in Israel - many of which have resorted to opening farms abroad to get into the international market
    Reuters (UK)
    Wednesday, December 26, 2018

    israel cannabisIsrael's parliament has given its final approval to a long-awaited and controversial law to allow exports of medical cannabis, a move that is likely to boost state coffers. Lawmakers voted 21-0 in favour of the bill, which still needs approval from cabinet ministers and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli companies - benefiting from a favourable climate and expertise in medical and agricultural technologies - are among the world's biggest producers of medical cannabis. The finance and health ministries estimate exports could raise tax income by 1 billion shekels (208.9 million pounds) a year. The bill to allow exports imposes tough regulations on exporters and threatens jail terms and hefty fines for violations.

  • Decriminalisation of marijuana in T&T by June 2019 says Rowley

    Consultations with stakeholders have already begun with public sessions to begin after feedback is received from interest groups
    Loop (Trinidad & Tobago)
    Saturday, December 22, 2018

    Marijuana should decriminalised in Trinidad and Tobago by mid-2019. Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley made the revelation while speaking with reporters. His comments come after Attorney General Faris Al Rawi said legislation on the decriminalisation of marijuana will be laid in Parliament in the first half of 2019. “We expect that by May to June of 2019, the decriminalisation would have been affected.” The Prime Minister further stressed that decriminalisation does not mean legalisation: “There is a big difference between decriminalisation and legalisation of marijuana. We have committed to decriminalisation. What we are working on now is the method by which and what that represents in terms of the use.”

  • Damning review of synthetics law

    The report said the law had not achieved its purpose of protecting health and minimising harm
    Newsroom (New Zealand)
    Wednesday, December 19, 2018

    synthetic cannabis2The long-overdue review of the Psychoactive Substances Act paints a damning, but unsurprising, picture of the law’s failing. The Act was put in place in 2013, and amended in 2014, in response to new substances popping up faster than lawmakers could regulate. The law aimed to safely regulate the chemicals used in party pills, and then synthetics (synthetic cannabis). But a Ministry of Health review of what was supposed to be a ground-breaking approach to drug law, instead speaks at length about its failures – a view shared by Minister of Health David Clark. The results of the review come hot on the heels of Clark’s new plan to deal with psychoactive substances and a look at the failed Psychoactive Substances Act will come as part of a wider review of drug policy.

  • Duterte's Philippines drug war death toll rises above 5,000

    Enforcement agency says 5,050 lives lost in president’s war on drugs, mostly at police hands
    The Guardian (UK)
    Wednesday, December 19, 2018

    Derrick Carreon, a spokesman for the Philippine drug enforcement agency (PDEA), said that, according to official figures, between July 2016 and the end of November this year, 5,050 lives were lost, mostly at the hands of the police. The official toll falls well short of estimates given by human rights groups and campaigners for victims, which vary from 12,000 to 20,000. Many of the undocumented killings, rights groups say, were carried out by “death squads” and unofficial militias. Last week, Chito Gascon, the chairman of the Philippine commission on human rights, said the toll could be as high as 27,000, though he emphasised that investigating the deaths was complex because police withheld records on anti-drug operations.

  • Tilray goes global with Novartis marijuana sales partnership

    Tilray and Sandoz Canada have been working together since March, when they announced an alliance to develop new medical cannabis products and collaborate on research and education
    Swissinfo (Switzerland)
    Tuesday, December 18, 2018

    Tilray Inc. has signed a global partnership with a division of Swiss drug giant Novartis AG to develop and distribute its medical marijuana in legal jurisdictions around the world. The Canadian pot firm said Tuesday it’s reached an agreement with Sandoz AG to boost the availability of medical cannabis products globally, building on an existing alliance with Sandoz Canada Inc. The two companies will work together to commercialize Tilray’s non-smokable medical marijuana offerings, co-brand certain products, develop new products and educate pharmacists and physicians about pot.

  • New Zealand to hold referendum on legalising recreational cannabis

    Vote will coincide with 2020 general election; it follows legalisation of drug’s use for medicinal purposes
    The Guardian (UK)
    Tuesday, December 18, 2018

    New Zealand will hold a referendum on whether to legalise cannabis for recreational use at the general election in 2020, a week after legalising cannabis for medicinal purposes. The governing Labour party promised the Green party they would hold a national referendum on legalising the drug, as part of the agreement between the two. Cannabis is widely consumed in New Zealand with police largely turning a blind eye to small-scale, personal use. The Cannabis Referendum Coalition welcomed the timing, saying it would maximise turnout, but was disappointed that there wasn't clarity on the referendum question. (See also: Binding referendum on legalising cannabis for personal use to be held at 2020 election | Sharp suits v gang patches: The battle for NZ's legal cannabis market)

  • Cuomo to push legalizing recreational marijuana in New York by early 2019

    63 percent of New Yorkers favor legalizing marijuana
    The New York Times (US)
    Monday, December 17, 2018

    Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that he would push to legalize recreational marijuana next year, a move that could bring in more than $1.3 billion in revenue annually and put New York in line with several neighboring states. The highly anticipated proposal came in a speech Mr. Cuomo gave in Manhattan, in which he outlined his agenda for the first 100 days of his third term. “The fact is we have had two criminal justice systems: one for the wealthy and the well off, and one for everyone else,” Mr. Cuomo said, describing the injustice that he said had “for too long targeted the African-American and minority communities.”

  • Gov't urged to regulate ecstasy production

    ‘We have to ask ourselves what the treaties have delivered’
    Dutch News (Netherlands)
    Monday, December 17, 2018

    The government should regulate the production of party drug ecstasy to remove it from the criminal circuit, GroenLinks parliamentarian Kathalijne Buitenweg says in the Volkskrant. ‘The government does not have to make the pills itself but should regulate production,’ to make sure they meet proper quality standards, Buitenweg said. ‘It is not just a question of health but a question of doing something about the worrying increase in criminal power,’ she told the paper. The MP wants the government to take the initiative to revise UN drugs treaties. Breda mayor Paul Depla also told the Volkskrant the government should take a stand.

  • Swiss eye local ganja

    Firm heading to Jamaica with ideas to ensure small farmers benefit from medical marijuana industry
    The Gleaner (Jamaica)
    Monday, December 17, 2018

    The possibilities for the explosion of Jamaica's medical marijuana industry have attracted the interest of another major multinational corporation that wants to set up shop in Jamaica. And it says it has a plan to ensure that the traditional small farmers are not left out. "We have systems to ensure compliance and shrink the illegitimate market, but also help to legitimise some of the historically marginalised people who want to be included in the industry and ensure that there are opportunities for the small cultivators, not only to be active in the market, but to ensure that they are able to sustain themselves," said Alex Spelman, vice-president of SICPA Holdings, a Switzerland-based company that operates in more than 160 countries across the globe. (See also: Swiss company eyes Jamaica's ganja industry)

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