Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • After 30-year jail sentence for cannabis users, protesters demand decriminalization

    Law 52 allows authorities to detain dissidents and protesters on grounds that don’t appear to be political
    Meshkal (Tunisia)
    Monday, February 22, 2021

    tunis protestA series of protests which began on January 15 in various cities and neighborhoods across Tunisia have largely focused on economic inequality and police repression. But recently, some of those protesting have revived an old demand of decriminalizing cannabis usage. One event appears to have pushed some to take up this demand again with renewed visibility in the streets and on social media: on January 21, 2021 a judge in El Kef handed out 30-year jail sentences to three young men for cannabis consumption in a public place. The high attendance at these protests may stem in part from widespread anger at the 30-year jail sentence. However, some of the recent street activism may be traced to planning going back even further, to six months ago, according to one organizer.

  • Burt warns London over cannabis licensing act

    The new Act will make a series of licences available through the Cannabis Licencing Authority, which would allow people to not only possess more, but also to grow, harvest, sell, and export the product
    Royal Gazette (Bermuda)
    Saturday, February 20, 2021

    bermuda cannabis reformPremier David Burt has expressed doubt over whether a new law to license cannabis production in Bermuda will get the royal assent from Governor Rena Lalgie, and says the island’s relationship with the United Kingdom would suffer serious damage. Burt told the House of Assembly there were indications that Lalgie would be unable to give assent to legislation that contravened Britain’s international obligations. But he added: “This legislation will pass . . . . If Her Majesty’s representative in Bermuda does not give assent to something that has been passed lawfully and legally under this local government, this will destroy the relationship that we have with the United Kingdom. (See also: Bermuda plans adult-use, medical cannabis industry)

  • Norway seeks to decriminalise recreational drug use

    The proposal comes with set thresholds for what should be considered a small amount for different illicit substances
    Agence France Presse (AFP)
    Friday, February 19, 2021

    norwayNorway's government proposed a bill aimed at decriminalising the possession and use of small amounts of narcotics, saying users should be offered treatment rather than face jail. "Decades of repression have taught us that punishment doesn't work. On the contrary, punishment can make things worse," Education Minister Guri Melby told a press conference. "Drug addicts need help, not punishment," she added. Under the centre-right coalition government's proposal, both possession and the use of small quantities of drugs, including heroin, cocaine and cannabis, would no longer be punishable under the criminal code, but users would still have to seek help. "They are still forbidden, but no longer punishable," Health Minister Bent Hoie said. (See also: The Norwegian decriminalization model (proposed bill))

  • Cannabis reform will allow users to grow plants for personal use, Robert Abela says

    Prime Minister Robert Abela says cannabis users should not go to jail as he fleshes out some aspects of government’s proposed reform
    Malta Today (Malta)
    Thursday, February 18, 2021

    malta cannabis flagCannabis users will not be sent to prison and will be able to grow a limited amount of plants as part of government’s reform, Prime Minister Robert Abela said. This is the first time that a government official has given a clear indication of the direction the promised reform will take. Abela said Cabinet will shortly be discussing a White Paper that will be published for public consultation. He said the reform will end police arrests for people caught in possession of a small amount of cannabis and hinted that the current limit of 3.5g allowed at law would increase. He added that the right to grow a small number of cannabis plants for personal use will be considered. (See also: Cannabis users should have right to make safe and legal choices, Labour deputy leader)

  • B.C. asks federal government for exemption to decriminalize illicit drugs

    British Columbia has already eased some rules, allowing for prescription opioids to be given to illicit drug users
    Global News (Canada)
    Thursday, February 11, 2021

    canada opiod crisisBritish Columbia is asking the federal government to grant the province an exemption under federal law to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use. If the request is granted B.C. would become the first jurisdiction in Canada with the exemption. B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Sheila Malcolmson sent a letter to Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu on Feb. 3 formally asking for the exemption. The request is in line with Premier John Horgan’s repeated calls for the federal government to decriminalize small amounts of illicit drugs. (See also: 2020 was B.C.'s deadliest year ever for drug overdoses, coroner says)

  • How tobacco giant Altria is becoming a cannabis company

    Altria supports the federal legalization of cannabis under an "appropriate regulatory framework"
    Forbes (US)
    Tuesday, February 9, 2021

    marlboro marijuanaAltria, one of the world’s biggest tobacco companies, is well on its way to also being one of the world’s biggest and most influential cannabis companies. After spending $1.8 billion to buy a stake in a multi-national cannabis company in 2018, Altria is now applying pressure in the halls of Congress and at the state level to push cannabis-friendly laws, recent filings and reporting show. Whispers of a power play from Big Tobacco to capture the cannabis industry have swirled for years in marijuana legalization and cannabis-industry circles. And now it appears to be happening, albeit slowly, out in the open, and in form similar to other big-business techniques: acquisition, intellectual property, and lobbying for friendly regulation.

  • ReLeaf calls on government to decriminalise cannabis cultivation, consumption and sharing

    ReLeaf, an organisation campaigning for the legalisation of cannabis, says time for discussion is over, and government should look at introducing proper reforms
    Malta Today (Malta)
    Tuesday, February 9, 2021

    malta reform nowCannabis legalisation advocacy group ReLeaf has told the Prime Minister to get on with the decriminalisation of cannabis cultivation and consumption in a meeting. ReLeaf president Andrew Bonello said decriminalising cannabis would serve to promote human rights, eliminate stigma and promote public health. “Action needs to be taken on the subject. There always seems to be an interest in the issue, but than nothing happens,” he told MaltaToday after the meeting. Decriminalising cultivation, consumption and the right to share marijuana, would serve to reduce the number of small-time offenders, he said. (See also: Decriminalise adult cultivation of cannabis with clear rules, ReLeaf says | Politicians need more humane approach to cannabis users – Releaf)

  • Jamaica faces marijuana shortage as farmers struggle

    Heavy rains during last year’s hurricane season pummeled marijuana fields that were later scorched in the drought that followed
    Associated Press (US)
    Friday, February 5, 2021

    jamaica flag ganjaJamaica is running low on ganja. Heavy rains followed by an extended drought, an increase in local consumption and a drop in the number of marijuana farmers have caused a shortage in the island’s famed but largely illegal market that experts say is the worst they’ve seen. People caught with 2 ounces (56 grams) or less of cannabis are supposed to pay a small fine and face no arrest or criminal record. The island also allows individuals to cultivate up to five plants, and Rastafarians are legally allowed to smoke ganja for sacramental purposes. But enforcement is spotty as many tourists and locals continue to buy marijuana on the street, where it has grown more scarce — and more expensive.

  • Virginia legislature approves marijuana legalization bills on key mid-session deadline

    A bicameral conference committee will be empaneled to resolve the differences between the two chambers’ bills and merge them into a single proposal
    Marijuana Moment (US)
    Friday, February 5, 2021

    The Virginia House of Delegates and Senate approved bills to legalize marijuana, meeting a key mid-session deadline and getting the major policy change one step closer to being enacted. The bills have been heard and amended by numerous committees and subcommittees since Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and top lawmakers unveiled their legalization proposal last month. The House approved the final version of its bill in a 55-42 vote, with two abstentions. Hours later, the Senate passed its proposal 23-15. The bill “is a forward-thinking, deliberative approach to create a regulated adult use market for cannabis, which will reform our criminal justice system and begin the long process of undoing the harms of prohibition,” Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) said on the floor, adding that prohibition on cannabis has clearly failed.

  • Tunisia's heavy jail terms for cannabis use spark reform calls

    Tunisians have taken to social media to demand changes to the law after a court in Kef, northern Tunisia, sentenced three men to 30 years in jail for smoking a joint
    Agence France Presse (AFP)
    Thursday, February 4, 2021

    Thirty years' jail for smoking a jointtunisia police everywhere2 after a football game? Tunisia has seen calls for reforms to dictatorship-era drug laws after a court handed down heavy sentences to three young men. Tunisians have taken to social media to demand changes to the law after the court in the northern city of Kef issued the sentence last month. The three -- all aged in their 30s -- had shared a joint in a disused locker room after a football match between friends. They faced heavier penalties because they were caught in a public place. Thousands of Tunisian youth are incarcerated every year on drug charges, with little in the way of prevention, rehabilitation or alternative punishment, in a country where around a third of young people are unemployed.

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