Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • Are your illegal drugs pure? New Zealand will check them for you

    A law will allow controlled substances to be tested without penalty to ensure their authenticity. The goals are to reduce health risks and, perhaps, change users’ behavior
    The New York Times (US)
    Friday, April 9, 2021

    New Zealand has enshrined into law a one-year experiment allowing drug users to have illegal substances tested without penalty to ensure their authenticity and to weed out dangerous chemicals. The testers will not call the police. The drug users will not be thrown in jail. To tackle an endemic drug problem, New Zealand became what is believed to be the second country to formally legalize such drug checks, after the Netherlands. The European nation began a similar program in 1999 — though the practice is spreading around the globe. (See also: Drug-testing to be made permanent at music festivals - Health Minister Andrew Little)

  • Big tobacco is coming for legal marijuana

    It’s no coincidence that in 2018 Altria, which owns the Marlboro brand, invested $1.8 billion in a cannabis company and $12.8 billion in JUUL, a nicotine vape product
    Boston Globe (US)
    Thursday, April 8, 2021

    marlboro marijuanaBig Tobacco has been planning for this moment for decades. A 1983 industry list titled New Product Ideas, made public as part of a court settlement, reveals that tobacco companies even then were anticipating the opportunity to blend marijuana into cigarettes if the government legalized cannabis. Now tobacco behemoths are pouring billions of dollars into the new legal marijuana industry. We don’t have to let them. Announcing a comprehensive bill to legalize marijuana, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said, “We don’t want the big tobacco companies and the big liquor companies to swoop in and take over.” Tobacco companies are convicted racketeers who knowingly misled the public with false claims about their products for decades.

  • Cannabis bill to be law by 2023

    Bill is currently before the National Assembly for consideration
    Moneyweb (South Africa)
    Tuesday, April 6, 2021

    sa dagga handThe possession, cultivation and use of cannabis for private use is expected to be passed into law in two years’ time. The legalisation of the private and commercial use of cannabis forms part of the country’s plan to revive its ailing economy which has been further battered by Covid-19. Decriminalising cannabis has previously been touted by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni as one of the ways the country could plug in the hole in dwindling tax revenues. By 2023, South Africa ought to have declared hemp as an agricultural crop, made amendments to the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act, and developed a new policy and legislation for the commercialisation of cannabis. (See also: New cannabis rules proposed for South Africa – to be introduced within next 2 years)

  • Mayor of London to examine benefits of cannabis legalisation

    Sadiq Khan says he will set up an independent drugs commission in the capital if re-elected
    The Guardian (UK)
    Monday, April 5, 2021

    Sadiq KhanThe mayor of London is to launch a review examining the feasibility of decriminalising cannabis as part of a new approach to tackling drug-related crime. Should he be re-elected on 6 May, Sadiq Khan said he would set up an independent London drugs commission to examine the potential health, economic and criminal justice benefits of decriminalising the class-B drug. Khan believes there is widespread public support for a more relaxed approach to decriminalisation, citing polls showing more than half of the UK – and nearly two-thirds of those in the capital – support legalising cannabis for adult recreational use. (See also: By 52% to 32% Britons say they would support the legalisation of cannabis in the UK | Why cannabis reform is a vote winner in London)

  • Schumer: Senate will act on marijuana legalization with or without Biden

    Schumer pointed to the decade-long experiment with state legalization as evidence that the worst fears of what would happen were overblown
    Politico (US)
    Saturday, April 3, 2021

    Chuck SchumerSenate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer really likes to talk about weed. Schumer has been making waves on cannabis policy since he first introduced a bill to legalize marijuana in April 2018. It was part of his pitch for voting Democrat in the 2020 election, and now — with the majority in hand — he is putting together new federal marijuana reform legislation with Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). This week, Schumer’s home state of New York legalized marijuana use for adults, after years of failed efforts. More than 40 percent of Americans now live in states that have embraced full legalization. (See also: Schumer says bill to legalize marijuana federally will be filed ‘shortly’)

  • New chairman of CLA wants ganja industry to earn maximum benefits globally

    "When the time comes, we are in a prime position to capitalise on the global market"
    Jamaica Observer (Jamaica)
    Friday, April 2, 2021

    LeVaughn FlynnReforming the Cannabis industry into one which earns maximum benefits globally, is the goal of newly appointed Chairman for the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA), LeVaughn Flynn. Flynn, who has written several articles advocating for the cannabis industry, said he believes the industry is at a very interesting point, where there is transformation, and is elated to lead the process that will benefit Jamaicans. “We've seen the rescheduling and reclassification of cannabis by the United Nations and also by the US Government, and those things give us the impression that potentially, in another couple years, we could have cannabis legalised at the Federal level in the US, and when that happens, that completely opens the global free trade for cannabis,” he said.

  • Pilot trials with cannabis

    The aim is to provide a solid scientific base for any future decision-making on cannabis regulation
    Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) (Switzerland)
    Thursday, April 1, 2021

    switzerland cannabis3On 15 May 2021, an amendment to the Narcotics Act permitting pilot trials involving the controlled dispensing of cannabis for recreational purposes in Switzerland will come into force. The trials will provide a scientific basis on the advantages and disadvantages of controlled access to cannabis, and to provide a solid scientific basis for any future decision making on cannabis regulation. On 25 September 2020, Parliament passed an amendment to the Federal Act on Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances (NarcA). With its new article 8a NarcA the revised act provides a legal basis for conducting scientific pilot trials with cannabis that are limited in terms of both time and place. The amended Act enters into force on 15 May 2021 and will remain in effect for ten years.

  • New Mexico primed to join US recreational pot wave

    Possession of up to 2 ounces (57 grams) of marijuana would cease to be a crime, and people would be allowed six plants at home — or up to 12 per household
    Associated Press (US)
    Thursday, April 1, 2021

    us capitol cannabisNew Mexico is joining a wave of states that are legalizing recreational marijuana as its Democrat-dominated Legislature sent a package of cannabis bills to a supportive governor. Lawmakers used a marathon two-day legislative session to push through marijuana legalization for adults over 21 and a companion bill that automatically erases many past marijuana convictions, overriding skeptical Republicans. By signing the bills, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham would extend legal recreational pot sales in the American Southwest by April 2022, when the New Mexico legislation kicks in, and join 16 states that have legalized marijuana. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a legalization bill, and a proposal in Virginia is awaiting the governor’s signature.

  • New York legalizing weed could mean big things for the future of the cannabis industry

    New York makes at least 15 states that have legalized adult-use cannabis, and a few more, such as Virginia, New Mexico and Pennsylvania, are looking to join the crowd
    CNN Business (US)
    Thursday, April 1, 2021

    New York became the latest state to legalize recreational cannabis, and is poised to become one of the nation's largest markets. The multibillion-dollar business opportunity would be lucrative for cannabis businesses, but industry members and insiders also think that having a prominent state such as New York enact legalization could influence cannabis' future trajectory nationally and potentially help it shed its federally illicit status. Cannabis was one of the few industries to go into the pandemic-dominated 2020 and come out stronger. Sales increased in places where cannabis operations were deemed essential businesses; state legalization measures made a clean sweep at the ballot box in November; and the new administration and slim Democratic majority in Congress fueled optimism about federal law changes.

  • New York is latest state to legalize recreational marijuana

    New York will start automatically expunging the criminal records of individuals with certain past marijuana-related convictions
    Associated Press (US)
    Wednesday, March 31, 2021

    us ny cannabisNew Yorkers over the age of 21 can now possess and use up to 3 ounces of cannabis in public under a legalization bill signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, while sales of recreational-use marijuana won’t become legal for an estimated 18 months until the state draws up regulations. Advocates for criminal justice reform hope it will also help redress the inequities of a system that has locked up people of color for marijuana offenses at disproportionate rates. The legislation provides protections for cannabis users in the workplace, housing, family court and in schools, colleges and universities, and sets a target of providing half of marijuana licenses to individuals from underrepresented communities. And police could no longer use the odor of cannabis as pretext for searching someone’s car for contraband.

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