Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • Drug deaths: ‘Scotland should decriminalise and dare Westminster to block it’

    The death rate from overdoses in Scotland is 15 times above the European average and is approximately three-and-a-half times higher than the UK as a whole
    The Courier (UK)
    Friday, January 15, 2021

    uk heroin injectingScotland should tackle its drug deaths crisis by pushing towards decriminalisation and daring Westminster to try to block it. The powers to decriminalise drug use or possession are currently reserved to Westminster but Michael Collins, a former director at the Drug Policy Alliance in the U.S.,  believes Scotland should follow the examples of US jurisdictions that faced down the White House to tackle their own crises. He cites the examples of cannabis reforms in Colorado and Washington, and Oregon, which voted to decriminalise the possession of heroin and other hard drugs in favour of advocating addiction recovery centres, despite federal opposition. “I think one of the things the Scottish Government has to do is recognise that it has a lot of ability to push the envelope right now.”

  • 2020 was S.F.’s deadliest year for overdoses, by far

    More than 70% of this year’s victims were found with the opioid fentanyl in their system
    San Francisco Chronicle (US)
    Friday, January 15, 2021

    San Francisco lost a total of 699 people to overdoses last year, a 59% rise from 2019, according to new data released by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. That number is more than three times the amount of people that died of COVID-19 in the city during the same period. It also represents 699 sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, friends and loved ones felled by an epidemic that the city has been unable to control. “It didn’t have to happen,” sighed Kristen Marshall, director of the Drug Overdose Prevention and Education Project, which manages the city’s overdose response. “The root of these overdose deaths in San Francisco is homelessness, poverty and racism that has been institutionalized throughout our systems of care.”

  • Appeals Court overturns ruling that legalized SCS; Safehouse fights on

    The evidence in other countries with legal SCS speak for themselves: Safe consumption sites save lives
    Filter (US)
    Wednesday, January 13, 2021

    us philly overdose prevention site

    A three-judge panel from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals voted to overturn a Philadelphia District Court’s prior ruling that effectively legalized safe consumption sites (SCS). In a 2-1 decision, the Appeals Court adopted a broad interpretation of 21 USC S856—the section of federal code known as the “crack house statute” that was added to the Controlled Substances Act in 1986, making it a felony to “knowingly open, lease, rent, use, or maintain any place for the purpose of manufacturing, distributing, or using any controlled substance.” The nonprofit group Safehouse maintained that the law does not apply to SCS, since the “purpose” of such a facility is not to facilitate drug use, but to to save lives. (See also: Impact of an unsanctioned safe consumption site on criminal activity)

  • Mexico moves to create world’s largest legal cannabis market

    The reforms would allow the legal cultivation of marijuana on Mexican soil after decades of violence between drug cartels and authorities
    Al Jazeera (Qatar)
    Tuesday, January 12, 2021

    mexico marchaMexico’s health ministry published rules to regulate the use of medicinal cannabis, a major step in a broader reform to create the world’s largest legal cannabis market in the Latin American country. The new regulation, signed off on by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, will now allow pharmaceutical companies to begin doing medical research on cannabis products. The cannabis reform taking place includes the recreational use of marijuana and would create the world’s biggest national cannabis market in terms of population. The new medicinal rules state companies that wish to carry out research have to obtain permission from the Mexican health regulator, COFEPRIS, and this research has to be done in strictly controlled and independent laboratories.

  • Mayor: no more weed for tourists in Amsterdam

    Mayor Femke Halsema wants foreign visitors out of Amsterdam’s coffeeshops. In exchange, owners will be allowed to hold larger stocks
    Het Parool (The Netherlands)
    Tuesday, January 12, 2021

    nl amsterdam weedThe mayor is taking steps to change Amsterdam's image as the international cannabis capital. Coffeeshops attracted an estimated 1.5 million tourist visits a month before the pandemic, and the new policy is intended to draw a line in the sand. With the support of police and judicial authorities, Halsema plans to regulate the so-called “back door”, meaning the coffeeshops’ suppliers, and cut the number of people coming in through the front door by imposing a residence requirement. “We’re absolutely not working towards a cannabis-free Amsterdam,” Halsema says. “But there’s also huge demand to get tourism under control. Our freedom shouldn’t be a licence for big groups of youngsters to throw up in the canals because they’ve smoked and drunk too much.”

  • Cuomo vows New York 'will legalize adult-use recreational cannabis'

    The state estimates that legalization of recreational marijuana would help rake in over $300 million in tax revenue
    The Hill (US)
    Monday, January 11, 2021

    us ny liberty statueNew York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) vowed that his state will legalize recreational cannabis as he begins ramping up efforts in the new year to green-light legislation to legalize it. “We will legalize adult-use recreational cannabis, joining 15 states that have already done so,” he tweeted on Monday. The move, Cuomo said, will “raise revenue and end the failed prohibition of this product that has left so many communities of color over-policed and over-incarcerated.” Last week, Cuomo, who has made efforts in the past to make recreational marijuana legal in the state, announced a new proposal that aimed to legalize and establish an office that would oversee and regulate cannabis.

  • Experts: Legal cannabis can spur Caribbean economies

    Anti-monopoly clauses and social equity clauses in Trinidad & Tobago's bill but they were removed.
    Newsday (Trinidad & Tobago)
    Sunday, January 10, 2021

    trinidad cannabis legalizeEntrepreneurs eager to enter the marijuana business are calling on the Government of Trinidad & Tobago to bring legislation which will allow them to do so without fear of being arrested. The Cannabis Control Bill, aimed at legitimising marijuana retail businesses in Trinidad and Tobago, has been a topic of discussion since the amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act in December 2019. The amendments allowed for the possession of up to 30 grammes of marijuana and growing four female plants for every adult in a home. The bill was sent to a joint select committee (JSC) led by Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi in 2019, which was initially due to report to Parliament in February last year, but there have been some setbacks.

  • Blown off: Amsterdam will ban foreign tourists from coffeeshops in future

    Research suggests a large proportion of foreign tourists would not want to come to Amsterdam if they cannot go to a coffeeshop
    Dutch News (Netherlands)
    Friday, January 8, 2021

    cofeeshop bulldogForeign tourists will be banned from coffeeshops in Amsterdam in future. In a letter to the council, mayor Femke Halsema, the public prosecution service and the police have said that in the future they only want Dutch residents to have access to the shops to buy and smoke cannabis. The mayor also intends to limit the number of coffeeshops in any chain and regulate the supply with a new ‘quality mark’. Although coffeeshops fall under the mayor’s responsibilities, the new proposal will be discussed by Amsterdam council and there is likely to be a transition period before it is enforced. (See the letter from the mayor: Proposal to ban overseas visitors from Amsterdam cannabis coffeeshops | Foreigners face ban from Amsterdam's cannabis cafes)

  • CDC and NIDA will finally study potential of safe consumption sites

    No sanctioned SCS currently exist in the US, although many underground sites do operate
    Filter (US)
    Thursday, January 7, 2021

    For the first time ever, Congress has weighed in on the issue of safe consumption sites (SCS). A bill tied to the stimulus package signed into law on December 27 included a direction to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to release a report on the potential public health impact of SCS. The direction was handed down in a report by the House Committee on Appropriations that accompanied HR 7614. According to the report, the NIDA and CDC must provide Congress with “an updated literature review and evaluation of the potential public health impact of Overdose Prevention Centers in the US” before the end of June 2021.

  • The top cannabis research studies of 2020

    A natural THC-like cannabinoid discovered
    Leafly (US)
    Thursday, January 7, 2021

    cannabis topWhile the world seemed to arrest, the cannabis industry’s pulse grew stronger. Cannabis research, though temporarily stymied as universities scrambled to get COVID-19 protocols in place, continued to plod ahead. Although the number of cannabis-related publications were down in 2020 compared to the previous year (what wasn’t, other than stock market indices?), scientists continued to unlock the mysteries of the fascinating plant. Here are some of the top stories in cannabis research in 2020. Italian scientists isolated a new cannabinoid, THCP (tetrahydrocannabiphorol), and cannabinoids may treat symptoms of Parkinson’s disease

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