Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • Fact or fable: Will cannabis be Africa’s economic saviour?

    For Africa’s cannabis industry to be viable, a sizable local market is necessary, as legalising for export may not bring in the returns that member states desire
    Mail & Guardian (South Africa)
    Sunday, July 18, 2021

    In recent years several African governments have changed their stance and implemented policies that legalise cannabis cultivation, manufacturing and processing, mostly for the export market. In southern Africa, Lesotho led from the front with South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and Eswatini also coming to the party in an effort to capitalise on what has been positioned as a future answer to dwindling foreign currency earnings for crops such as tobacco. What is enticing for these states is the existing size and purported potential of the industry over the next few years. (See also: A Sustainable Future for Cannabis Farmers)

  • Coming out about illicit drug use: ‘The hush-hush attitude has to end’

    A campaign to decriminalise illicit drugs is asking people to speak up about their recreational use as a way to de-stigmatise and change the conversation
    The Guardian (UK)
    Saturday, July 17, 2021

    unharm change conversationThe ultimate goal of a campaign by charity Unharm called Let’s be honest/Change the story, is to decriminalise all drug use in Australia by 2030. One of the major tactics Unharm is mimicking the strategy of gay equality law reform movements: by persuading people to “come out” about their use. Will Tregoning, Unharm’s CEO, sees a decriminalised future looking like an improved form of the system we have for alcohol. The idea of incremental change is based on the model proposed by the Queensland Productivity Commission in 2019: “Begin by decriminalising drug use and move from there to legalisation of supply starting with cannabis and MDMA. Without the fear of criminalisation we can also have more open and honest conversations about drugs, to help get the later law reforms right.”

  • Will Berlin make good on a promise to legalise cannabis?

    Federal regulators shot down plans for a pilot project in 2016. Politicians are reportedly giving legalisation another try
    Berliner Zeitung (Germany)
    Wednesday, July 14, 2021

    germany flag cannabisDespite opposition from federal drug regulators, the Berlin Senat is reportedly pushing ahead with a pilot project to sell cannabis legally in pharmacies. The city-state government plans to fight the regulator's objections in court. The news was broken by tabloid BZ, but Senat sources have confirmed the report to Berliner Zeitung. The controlled sale of cannabis is part of the coalition agreement between the SPD, Die Grüne and Die Linke. "The aim is to encourage consumers to use less risky and reduced amounts," a government spokesperson told the paper. The project envisages offering cannabis for sale in Berlin pharmacies to a limited number of customers. Buyers would be required to keep a diary of their use.

  • Ministerial committee advances cannabis decriminalization

    By the end of September, the government expects Israelis will be able to carry 50 grams of cannabis, or 15 seeds, for recreational use, and reclassify CBD as a food additive
    The Jerusalem Post (Israel)
    Monday, July 12, 2021

    israel cannabis2Just over a year after the last government passed two now-defunct draft bills to legalize and decriminalize recreational cannabis, the Ministerial Committee on Legislation voted to advance a bill that would decriminalize the possession of up to 50 grams of cannabis or 15 cannabis seeds for individual recreational use. The law would also change the current fines system for cannabis use in public. While users now face first time offense fines of NIS 1,000 and second time offense fines of NIS 2,000 before criminal charges are issued, the new law would lower the fines to NIS 500 and eliminate the option to criminalize the user.

  • Morocco moves to legalise some cannabis cultivation

    But some pot farmers fear they won’t benefit
    The Economist (UK)
    Saturday, July 10, 2021

    morocco cannabis grower1Few countries produce more cannabis than Morocco, where locals mix it with tobacco and call it kif, meaning “supreme happiness”. The pleasure extends to Europe, where much of the cannabis ends up. Farmers in the Rif, a poor mountainous region in northern Morocco, produce most of the supply. They operate in a legal grey area. Growing cannabis is against the law in Morocco, but it is tolerated in the Rif. A bill passed by parliament, but yet to be approved by the king, may clarify the situation, at least somewhat. It would legalise the cultivation, use and export of cannabis for medical and industrial purposes (such as for hemp in textiles). The proposed law, though, would not legalise cannabis for recreational use. And it would allow cannabis farming only in certain regions of the country, such as the Rif.

  • Treat illegal drug use as health issue, says UK government review – here’s why

    One of the biggest recommendations Black makes is that we need to stop continuing to frame problem drug use as a criminal activity
    The Conversation (UK)
    Thursday, July 8, 2021

    uk police time wastedThe scale of the illicit drug trade in the UK is immense. Last year, the first part of an independent review of the drugs trade found the market in the UK was estimated to be worth £9.4 billion a year – with the health, social and criminal damage from this industry costing society an estimated £19 billion annually. The review was conducted by Dame Carol Black. Her first report revealed that around 3 million people used illicit drugs in England and Wales in 2020 and drug-related deaths have risen to record numbers for the past eight years. The second part of the review makes a number of recommendations for how the government can best tackle drug problems in the UK. (BMJ: The government must invest in treatment for people with drug problems, as new report shows stark consequences of cuts)

  • MPs accuse Cannabis Licensing Authority of ignoring small farmers

    The situation is distressing as the pilot was an attempt to integrate the small farmers into formal cannabis cultivation but was doomed before even getting off the ground
    Jamaica Observer (Jamaica)
    Thursday, July 8, 2021

    jamaica ganja growingThe Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) and the State have been accused of having no real interest in ensuring that small farmers get their fair share of the legal marijuana pie, as pilot cultivation programmes have been allowed to fall by the wayside and emphasis placed on heavy regulation. This sentiment was expressed by Government and Opposition politicians at a meeting of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC), which had in attendance senior representatives of the CLA and its parent ministry. The pilot project for cultivation launched in Accompong, St Elizabeth crashed out with the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic, while that planned for Orange Hill, Westmoreland did not get off the ground due to problems with land access.

  • Majority of Swiss support the legalisation of cannabis

    One third are clearly in favour of the legalisation of cannabis with effective health protection, one third is rather in favour
    Swissinfo (Switzerland)
    Thursday, July 1, 2021

    switzerland cannabis3Most Swiss accept the idea of legalising cannabis for recreational purposes provided there are rules to protect minors, according to a survey. Nearly two-thirds of people surveyed want the minimum age of consumption to be set at 18, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) said. Two-thirds are in favor of conducting pilot tests on the controlled distribution of cannabis for recreational purposes. The survey was conducted by the Sotomo Institute from the end of January to the beginning of April. It consulted 3,166 adults living in Switzerland. About 70% of the respondents find it important to reform the cannabis law in Switzerland, according to the survey. They cite limiting the black market and improving consumer safety as important reasons for legalisation.

  • Licenced marijuana experiment may be delayed: NOS

    Not all the cities involved will be ready to participate in the autumn and that the start date of September/October would not be met
    Dutch News (Netherlands)
    Thursday, July 1, 2021

    netherlands cannabis flagA Dutch experiment involving the licenced production and sale of cannabis which is due to start this autumn is likely to be delayed, broadcaster NOS reported. Arnhem mayor Ahmed Marcouch has told the city council that there are still many uncertainties that need to be ironed out and although a justice ministry spokesman did not use the word ‘delay’ he did point to the tough conditions surrounding the experiment. In total 10 cities, but not the big four, are taking part in the experiment which aims to remove the grey area between licenced cannabis cafes, or coffee shops, and the illegal drugs trade. Independent research will assess the impact of having a closed chain from plantation to retail on crime and public order. (See also: Dutch legal cannabis cultivation trial stalled)

  • Massachusetts cannabis workers unionize, part of a national movement

    “Workers have the opportunity to shape the industry and make sure the jobs are good, family-sustaining jobs with a living wage, affordable and quality health care and a secure retirement”
    Filter (US)
    Thursday, July 1, 2021

    cannabis workersMany cannabis cultivation workers share common challenges. They frequently lack a living wage, benefits (like health care and retirement plans) or pathways for professional development. Workers and advocates are concerned that the growth of many companies amid the nationwide cannabis boom is coming at the expense of underpaid employees, while corporation heads rake in profits. United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) is the most active union working with cannabis workers, organizing with them since 2013. It now has more than 10,000 members in working laboratories, processing and manufacturing plants, cultivation facilities and medical and adult-use dispensaries. 

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