Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • Zurich to launch recreational cannabis trial

    Switzerland’s largest city, Zurich, will next year allow people to buy cannabis products from pharmacies and social clubs under controlled conditions.
    Swissinfo (Switzerland)
    Tuesday, September 14, 2021

    cannabis switzerlandThe three-and-a-half year pilot scheme, announced on Tuesday, takes advantage of a change in the law that was approved by parliament last year. This allows cities to conduct scientific studies on the effects of the cannabis market and of the recreational use of the drug. The ‘Züri Can - Cannabis with Responsibility’ study will start in the autumn of 2022, making different products available, each with a different THC/CBD content. Local manufacturers must have a production permit from the Federal Office of Public Health, ensuring quality standards. Consumers of cannabis products will also be limited to protect health, public safety and minors. (Was ist «Züri Can» und wer kann daran teilnehmen?)

  • Antwerp and Rotterdam are new epicentre of European cocaine trade

    Dutch customs officers impounded some 48,000 kilos of cocaine in the ports and at Schiphol airport last year, a rise of 24% compared to 2019
    Dutch News (Netherlands)
    Thursday, September 9, 2021

    antwerp harbourThe increased use of shipping containers to conceal drugs has made the high volume ports of Antwerp, Rotterdam and Hamburg the new epicentre of the European cocaine market, according to a new report on the industry by European police organisation Europol. This means Europe’s North Sea coast has now overtaken the Iberian peninsula as the primary point of entry for cocaine reaching Europe, Europol says. While Antwerp is the biggest arrival port for cocaine, most of the drug is ‘is likely intended for organisations operating out of the Netherlands. (See also: Belgium and Netherlands centre of cocaine traffic in Europe | Nine arrested in drugs container)

  • Italy set to decriminalise cultivation of cannabis plants for personal use

    Backers say rule change necessary for therapeutic users of drug
    The Independent (UK)
    Thursday, September 9, 2021

    italy flag cannabisItaly is to decriminalise the growing of cannabis plants at home for personal use. The measure, adopted by the country’s Lower House's justice committee, approves the cultivation of up to four cannabis plants. Backers of the law change say it is necessary to allow people to grow cannabis for therapeutic and medicinal uses. “The cultivation of hemp at home is essential for patients who must make therapeutic use of it and who often do not find it available, as well as to combat the [street] sale [of the drug] and the consequent criminal behaviour,” Mario Perantoni, of the Five Star Movement, said. In 2019, Italy’s Supreme Court ruled that growing small quantities of cannabis at home for private usage was legal. (See also: Italy to allow small-scale cannabis growing at home)

  • Teen use of marijuana does not increase with legalization, U.S. top drug researcher admits

    U.S. policy does not listen to science
    Shepherd Express (US)
    Wednesday, September 8, 2021

    nora volkowFew individuals have as much influence on drug policy in the United States as Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), whose tenure at the head of the federal government’s top drug research institution started in 2003. In a new interview, Dr. Volkow came to admit that she was wrong about her expectations relating to the legalization of marijuana and that pro-legalization advocates were in the right. Ethan Nadelmann, founder of Drug Policy Alliance and pro-marijuana activist, challenged Volkow on his show. Volkow acquiesced, admitting, “I was expecting the use of marijuana among adolescents to go up, but overall, it hasn’t.”

  • South Africa’s cannabis master plan will finally establish a regulated industry

    While many are excited for the country’s dagga market to get off the ground, others worry that thousands of legacy operators will be left behind
    Mugglehead (Canada)
    Tuesday, September 7, 2021

    South Africa’s new master plan is a bright spark for those dismayed by lawmakers’ previous attempts to reform the country’s cannabis laws. Introduced in 2018, the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill legalizes personal cultivation but otherwise takes a punitive approach by criminalizing most cannabis activities, including buying and selling. After receiving public comments, the South African Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) led the development of the cannabis master plan, which was presented to the justice committee. Critics point out that the plan lacks a restorative justice component for communities hurt most by prohibition and ignores the thousands of Indigenous Black farmers who are the backbone of the dagga industry today.

  • New regime, same old drug myths in Myanmar

    It is high time that UNODC and other international agencies get serious and tackle the root causes of the scourge of drug production, smuggling and addiction
    The Irrawaddy (Myanmar)
    Tuesday, September 7, 2021

    burma opiumfieldIn the late 1980s as well as in Myanmar today, the military (or Tatmadaw) and the police could hardly be described as anti-drug crusaders. On the contrary, Myanmar’s security forces have a long history of working together with drug-trafficking gangs and the benefits have been both economic—personal gains for officers—and tactical: drug traffickers are useful intelligence assets and can be used to fight the country’s ethnic rebel armies. The first coup in 1962 and the introduction of the so-called “Burmese Way to Socialism” had a devastating impact on the country’s economy at the same time as it caused Myanmar’s ethnic rebellions to flare anew.

  • We should hand out free heroin to drug users

    The idea that abstinence works is more about our fear of drugs than it is about science
    The Nation (US)
    Wednesday, August 25, 2021

    Let’s give out heroin, for free, to anyone who wants it. This is not a provocation meant to make you gasp or to elicit angry clicks—rather, it’s a proven strategy for reducing the harm of opioids that’s already in use in several countries across the globe. We face two drug-related crises in the United States. The first we can all agree on: Drugs are killing people at unprecedented rates. Over 90,000 people die each year from overdoses in the US, an amount that has quintupled since 1999. The second crisis is disputed, but no less deadly: Our drug policy leaves people to fend for themselves, while we waste time and resources.

  • Decriminalisation of kratom hailed by rights advocates

    kratomThe decriminalisation of kratom, long used as a herbal remedy but which some health regulators around the world have criticised as potentially unsafe, was welcomed by human rights advocates. Kratom is part of the coffee family, used for centuries in Southeast Asia and Papua New Guinea for its pain-relieving and mildly stimulating effects. It has become increasingly popular in the United States. The change to Thai law means "the general public will be able to consume and sell kratom legally", government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said, while more than 1,000 prisoners convicted of offences related to the drug will be freed. (See also: Thailand legalizes kratom, popular plant-based painkiller)

  • Drugs Commissioner: Possession of six grams of cannabis should no longer be a criminal offence

    The offence should be considered a misdemeanour in future, Daniela Ludwig proposes
    Berliner Zeitung (Germany)
    Monday, August 23, 2021

    germany ludwig cannabisThe Federal Commissioner on Narcotic Drugs, Daniela Ludwig (CSU), advocates that in future the possession of cannabis up to a personal use limit of six grammes should be prosecuted nationwide as an administrative offence and no longer as a criminal offence. The amount of 15 grammes tolerated in Berlin, however, is "clearly" too high, Ludwig said. There, more young people smoke pot than anywhere else in Germany. Ludwig recommends that the CDU/CSU seek a compromise on the issue of cannabis with possible coalition partners after the federal elections. "It is clear that cannabis is not as dangerous as cocaine or heroin. It is also true that the issue must be about different, better sanctions and about relieving the police and the judiciary," she stressed.

  • Socialdemokratiet mayoral candidate to legalise cannabis sales

    Should she get elected in November’s council election, Sophie Haestorp Andersen plans to shake up Copenhagen’s established dealer scene
    The Copenhagen Post (Denmark)
    Friday, August 13, 2021

    Sophie Hæstorp AndersenSocialdemokratiet’s leading mayoral candidate for Copenhagen, Sophie Hæstorp Andersen, has big plans concerning the decriminalisation of cannabis. Should the votes in the upcoming election this November be in her favour, she has vowed to use her position as mayor to take large steps forward in “the fight against criminality and uncertainty”, according to her Facebook profile. Andersen wants cannabis sales to be legal and regulated. Similar to Sweden’s approach to controlling alcohol consumption – the Systembolagetof in which people order in advance before buying drinks with a more than moderate alcohol content – she proposes that a governmental monopoly should be established around cannabis sales in Denmark. (See also: Christianites find no solution to eliminate cannabis trade)

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