Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • Morocco votes ‘Yes’ in historic UN vote on cannabis

    Today’s vote marks the recognition of the medicinal value of cannabis, an important step towards ending prohibition that was rooted in racism and colonialism from the start
    Morocco World News (Morocco)
    Wednesday, December 2, 2020

    morocco flag cannabisThe UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) met to vote on several rescheduling recommendations on cannabis. Morocco provided an important “yes” vote to remove cannabis from the UN’s Schedule IV category of drugs that have limited or no therapeutic use. The vote concluded with a 27-25 majority, meaning that without Morocco’s “yes” vote, the cannabis recommendation likely would not have passed. “Morocco’s vote today means that the country has joined the community of forward-looking states recognizing the historical error of denying the medical usefulness of cannabis,” the Transnational Institute’s (TNI) drug policy expert Tom Blickman said. (See also: Potential fall-out from the vote on the WHO cannabis recommendations)

  • United Nations approves WHO recommendation to reschedule cannabis in historic vote

    Member states took almost two years to analyze the implications of accepting or rejecting the proposals
    Marijuana Business Daily (US)
    Wednesday, December 2, 2020

    un cannabis2The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) accepted a World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation to remove cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. The historic vote could have far-reaching implications for the global medical cannabis industry, ranging from regulatory oversight to scientific research into the plant and its use as a medicine. The eagerly awaited approval of Recommendation 5.1 had a slim majority in favor with 27 votes for, 1 abstention and 25 votes against. The CND – the main drug policymaking body within the United Nations – turned down all five remaining recommendations. (See also: UN green lights medicinal cannabis but fails to challenge colonial legacy of its prohibition)

  • U.S. 'war on drugs' in Latin America needs overhaul amid COVID-19 challenges, report says

    The report found that counternarcotics policies have caused considerable harm
    Reuters (UK)
    Tuesday, December 1, 2020

    mexico drug warThe United States’ anti-drug policy in Latin America needs to change if Washington is to effectively combat a problem worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, a U.S. congressional commission will say in a bipartisan report. The 117-page report of the Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission urges “smarter” interagency policies led by the U.S. State Department to reduce the supply of dangerous drugs. It also calls on authorities to combat money laundering by blocking the flow of illicit funds using cryptocurrencies and complex cross-border financial transactions. It is the result of 18 months of research into the “war on drugs” that has cost billions of U.S. taxpayers’ dollars without ending high rates of violence and corruption in much of the western hemisphere.

  • Swiss cannabis market - a delicate balancing act

    When supply exceeds demand, the price of the product drops
    Swissinfo (Switzerland)
    Tuesday, December 1, 2020

    switzerland heimat cigProducing and selling hemp inflorescences (clusters of flowers on a stem) with a low THC content has been legal in Switzerland since 2017. However, this market has not proved to be the gold mine that some expected. Since 2011, hemp and its derivatives with a THC concentration of under 1% have no longer been considered drugs under Swiss law. The boom of so-called light cannabis, however, only came about in 2017, when it became possible to produce and market the unprocessed inflorescences of this plant in Switzerland, provided the THC content was below the 1% threshold. Many people saw an opportunity, a new Eldorado, and the number of registered producers jumped from five in early 2017 to 630 in 2018.

  • Netherlands to draw 10 recreational marijuana growers this week

    Ten growers could be formally designated by the end of February 2021
    Marijuana Business Daily (US)
    Monday, November 30, 2020

    netherlands cannabis flagThe Dutch government will hold a draw to choose 10 marijuana cultivators for the country’s upcoming pilot program, according to a letter to Parliament from the medical and justice ministers. The winners of the draw will likely be the first in Europe to legally grow adult-use cannabis for commercial purposes. The pilot program involves 10 cultivators supplying almost 80 “coffee shops,” which currently operate in a system where sales are legally tolerated but cultivation is prohibited. Ten municipalities are taking part in the program with all their coffee shops, but the growing locations do not necessarily need to be in those localities.

  • Upcoming UN vote may be watershed moment for global medical cannabis – if only symbolic

    What should not be expected is loosening of international controls
    Marijuana Business Daily (US)
    Saturday, November 28, 2020

    who cannabisDuring its reconvened 63rd session Dec. 2-4, the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) could – with a simple majority vote in a virtual meeting based in Vienna – accept a World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation to remove cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. Drugs in Schedule IV of the 1961 treaty – the current situation with cannabis or heroin – are a subset of those already in Schedule I, and Schedule I already requires the highest levels of international control. As such, a victory would be more symbolic than practical. (See also: Potential fall-out from the vote on the WHO cannabis recommendations)

  • Mexico may become the third country to legalise cannabis

    It would be the first with such a strong underworld to take that step
    The Economist (UK)
    Saturday, November 21, 2020

    mexico mariguana liberacion marcha2On November 19, the Senate began debating a bill that would make Mexico the third country in the world, after Uruguay and Canada, to legalise cannabis for recreational use nationwide. For Mexico, the change seems riskier. It was once the world’s largest producer of cannabis. Campaigners for legalisation are watching how it will go in a country where organised crime is strong, the rule of law is weak and much of the economy is undocumented. Mexico’s route to legalisation has been unusual, and its arrival may yet be delayed. In contrast to the U.S., where voters have endorsed reform in state referendums, legalisation has little popular support in Mexico. Surveys suggest that just over a third of voters favour it. (See also: Mexican Senate approves cannabis legalization bill, ending monthslong delay)

  • How a man with a van is challenging UK drug policy

    A former drug user turned activist is addressing Scotland’s alarming drug death crisis by running the nation’s first drug consumption room — and risking arrest to do it
    The New York Times (US)
    Saturday, November 21, 2020

    Every Friday for the past two months, Peter Krykant has parked his white van on Parnie Street in central Glasgow and waited for people to come by and inject illegal drugs. Inside the van are two seats and two tables, each with a stainless steel tray and hypodermic needles, as well as several biohazard trash cans. The van is also equipped with naloxone, the medication used to reverse an opioid overdose, and a defibrillator. Scotland is in the midst of its worst drug crisis on record, and one of the worst in the world. The country has tallied five straight years of record-setting, drug-related deaths and now holds a per capita death rate three times higher than anywhere else in Europe. (See also: Lord Advocate has a role to play over safe consumption rooms)

  • North Macedonia moves to make recreational marijuana use legal

    The government has not made any final decision yet, and insists that if the majority in the country says no to the idea, he is ready to retreat
    Balkan Insight (Bosnia)
    Friday, November 20, 2020

    cannabis euroThe government in North Macedonia is considering allowing recreational use of marijuana in cafes and hospitality places in the capital, Skopje, and in other tourist hotspots, like the lakeside town of Ohrid, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said. “The idea is to allow consumption of marijuana in cafes, both in existing and new ones, and in tourist places, including Skopje, if they respect certain standards on ventilation, proof of origin of the marijuana and so on,” Zaev told Deutsche Welle. He added that the government envisages strict regulation in this sphere, taking Amsterdam in the Netherlands as an example. The Prime Minister said this was part of the government’s planned package of measures aimed at stimulating the economy, which has been hit hard by the COVID health crisis.

  • Medical marijuana grow licences exploited by criminals to sell weed on the illegal market, police say

    Lack of oversight allows system to be exploited, activist says
    CBC News (Canada)
    Thursday, November 19, 2020

    canada pot flag2A lack of oversight into who is growing medical cannabis and how much is being grown is allowing criminals to sell pot on the illegal market, according to police and pot activists. That's creating tension in residential neighbourhoods in Winnipeg where large amounts of plants are being grown and with medical marijuana users who say it's not fair the laws meant to help people who need pot are being exploited for financial gain. "The lack of oversight by Health Canada has allowed the system to be manipulated and abused by people who are only in it for their own personal benefit," said cannabis activist and medical licence holder Steven Stairs. 

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