Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media

 

  • ‘I will be left with nothing’: Why Colombians are watching the U.S. election closely

    Anxiety is growing over the revival of a controversial coca eradication strategy, backed by the Trump administration
    Politico (US)
    Monday, November 2, 2020

    colombia fumigation plane helicopterCoca fumigations started in Colombia in the early 1990s and intensified during “Plan Colombia,” a $10 billion U.S. campaign that ran from 2000 to 2015 and was meant to tackle Colombia’s armed leftist insurgents and the drug trade that funds them. During those 25 years, American-funded and -piloted planes sprayed herbicides over more than 4 million acres of land in coca-growing regions in an effort to stamp out the drug supply. “Plan Colombia” officially ended in 2015, when the Colombian government reached a historic peace agreement with the country’s largest leftist guerrilla organization, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. But two decades later, the threat of fumigation is back—and could depend on the U.S. election.

  • NZ rejects cannabis legalisation in referendum, but glimmer of hope for yes camp

    By a narrow margin, the cannabis legalisation and control bill has been voted down based on preliminary referendum results. There remains, however, a slim chance it could still win on special votes
    The Spinoff (New Zealand)
    Friday, October 30, 2020

    nz cannabis referendumOn preliminary results, the cannabis legalisation and control bill will not become law, after falling short at the referendum. The Electoral Commision announced 46.1% of voters were in favour of the bill, while 53.1% of voters were against it. In raw vote totals, the difference is 167,333. Today’s results do not include a tally of almost 500,000 special votes, cast by a combination of people voting outside their electorate, New Zealanders overseas, and those who enrolled during the formal election campaign. Generally special votes lean left, which correlates with higher support for legalisation. Those special votes would need to break in favour of cannabis legalisation by a margin of more than 2-1. (NZ Drug Foundation: No vote not a vote for inaction: decriminalisation urged)

  • Germany firmly rejects recreational marijuana legalization bill as hope fades for reform

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right, Christian-democratic political alliance – the Union – opposes any liberalization
    Marijuana Business Daily (US)
    Friday, October 30, 2020

    cannabis reichstagThe German federal parliament rejected a bill to legalize a “strictly controlled” adult-use cannabis market, dealing a major setback to recreational marijuana reform efforts. The bill was tabled by the Green Party. The rejection came despite the fact that a majority of the members of the Bundestag belong to a political party that favors some type of reform. The Social Democratic Party (SPD) is in favor of some reform – at least allowing experimental pilot programs – but cannabis reform has taken a back seat among Social Democrats who prefer to vote in tandem with their government coalition partner, the Union. Without favorable votes from at least some members of the government coalition parties – which have a majority in parliament – no legalization scenario is possible.

  • Marijuana use among teens down 2 years after legalization

    Use among 18-24 year-olds stayed the same
    CBC News (Canada)
    Thursday, October 29, 2020

    marihuana handsTwo years after the sale of marijuana was legalized in Canada, and researchers have yet to see the feared increase in use, says Michael Boudreau, a criminology professor at St. Thomas University. About six per cent of Canadians report they consume cannabis on a daily basis, a number that's remained unchanged from before legalization. "So there, we're not seeing a skyrocket use of cannabis," said Boudreau. In fact, use of cannabis in the age bracket of 15 to 17 has been cut in half, down to 10 per cent from the 20 per cent it was before legalization. But cannabis consumption for those between the ages of 18 and 24 is 33 per cent, which Boudreau said is relatively unchanged. (See: ‘The kids are alright’: reflections on two years of legal cannabis in Canada)

  • Court rules 130g of cannabis were for personal use

    Man spared imprisonment for cannabis use after court rules more than 100g found on his person was for personal use
    Malta Today (Malta)
    Tuesday, October 27, 2020

    A court has spared a man a sentence of up to 10 years in prison after more than 100g of cannabis was found in his car, ruling it was for personal use. Magistrate Doreen Clarke observed that there was no doubt that the accused had possessed the drug, but said that the difficulty arose in determining whether it had been in his possession for his own use since there was no fixed legal criteria to assess when the drug was not for personal use. 118 grams was “not an insignificant amount,” said the court, but also took into account the fact that the accused was a regular cannabis user and that there was no forensic evidence to show that the joints had been smoked by anyone else. (See also: Labour's youth wing wants a debate on legalising cannabis)

  • Dominica parliament amends marijuana legislation

    Dominica has now joined several other Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries
    Jamaica Observer (Jamaica)
    Tuesday, October 27, 2020

    caribbean ganjaThe Dominica parliament approved the amendment to the Drugs Prevention Misuse Act even as government legislators urged that the passage of the bill should not be viewed as an opportunity for celebration and the excessive use of marijuana and its by-products. The amended legislation now allows for people over the age of 18 to be in possession of 28 grams of marijuana and National Security Minister Rayburn Blackmoore, who piloted the measure, said "there is a different view today than yesterday for persons who actually possess small quantities of marijuana for personal, religious use." Blackmoore added: "We are therefore taking a further approach towards decriminalising a small quantity of marijuana, to expunge the records of persons in respect of possession of 28 grammes."

  • Where recreational marijuana is legal, data show minimal impacts on teen use and traffic deaths

    States with legalized marijuana are finding more drivers impaired by the drug, but that comes in part because they are looking harder for it
    USA Today (US)
    Wednesday, October 21, 2020

    us flag cannabis capitolSince 2012, 11 states have legalized marijuana use for adults — which voters nationwide are considering on their ballots this year. Researchers are just beginning to understand the effects of those laws. Colorado and Washington were the first states to legalize the drug, and California, the most populous state in the nation, followed them. Among the most pointed concerns with legalization are whether it has caused more young people to use the drug and whether more people are dying in auto crashes caused by impaired drivers. Data show little change in either area. Surveys of young people in Colorado, for example, show a slight decline in the percentage of middle and high school students using the drug. In Washington, the rates have remained the same.

  • OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma to plead to 3 criminal charges

    The deal does not release any of the company’s executives or owners — members of the wealthy Sackler family — from criminal liability, and a criminal investigation is ongoing
    Associated Press (US)
    Wednesday, October 21, 2020

    oxycontinPurdue Pharma, the company that makes OxyContin, the powerful prescription painkiller that experts say helped touch off an opioid epidemic, will plead guilty to three federal criminal charges as part of a settlement of more than $8 billion, Justice Department officials announced. The company will plead guilty to three counts, including conspiracy to defraud the United States and violating federal anti-kickback laws, the officials said. The resolution will be detailed in a bankruptcy court filing in federal court. The settlement is the highest-profile display yet of the federal government seeking to hold a major drugmaker responsible for an opioid addiction and overdose crisis linked to more than 470,000 deaths in the country since 2000.

  • Government urged to sell cocaine and ecstasy in pharmacies

    Campaigners say sale of drugs should be nationalised to undermine organised crime
    The Guardian (UK)
    Monday, October 19, 2020

    Cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines should be “nationalised” and sold legally in government-run pharmacies to undermine global drug-related crime, the UK drugs reform charity Transform has recommended. In the book 'How to regulate stimulants: A practical guide' – with a foreword written by the former prime minister of New Zealand Helen Clark – Transform has sought to set out practical ways to sell the drugs in state-run special pharmacies as an alternative to what it calls the “unwinnable war against drugs”. The book includes a mock-up of what a packet of legal, prescription cocaine would look like, including health warnings, which Transform said could be sold over the counter by specially trained chemists. (See also: A plan for legalising cocaine, MDMA and amphetamines)

  • ‘If there were no hashish here, you wouldn’t see a single house’

    The hashish extracted from the plant and sold to smugglers who spirit it out of the country has done more than any other crop to help the village residents edge out of abject poverty
    The New York Times (US)
    Monday, October 19, 2020

    lebanon cannabis harvest5A village in Lebanon, where cannabis grows everywhere, has long counted on hashish for income. But the country’s economic crisis has farmers reconsidering the crop. The Lebanese pound has lost 80 percent of its value against the United States dollar since last fall, and farmers have taken the hit. The costs of imported fuel and fertilizer needed to grow the crop have soared, while the Lebanese pounds that growers earn by selling their hash are worth less and less. Lebanon’s financial crisis has also undermined the drug’s domestic market, and the war in Syria has snarled smuggling routes, making it harder for middlemen to reach foreign markets.

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