Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • 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.

  • ‘Tide is turning’: New Zealand’s cannabis referendum sparks debate in Australia

    Leader of the Australian Greens and federal MP for Melbourne Adam Bandt said the the era of cannabis criminalisation was coming to an end
    The New Daily (Australia)
    Sunday, October 18, 2020

    australia cannabis mapThe cannabis legalisation referendum was watched closely by progressive politicians and campaigners in Australia. For the first time, the 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey showed that more Australians now support the legalisation of cannabis (41 per cent) than oppose it (37 per cent). Professor at the National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University Nicole Lee said the survey results were ‘significant’. “At the moment the states and territories are responsible for drug policies. Depending on what state you’re in there are different consequences for using it.” The Australian Capital Territory became the first state or territory in Australia to legalise cannabis a year ago, and police data shows there has not been any meaningful increase in cannabis-related arrests since.

  • Black and Indigenous entrepreneurs struggle for traction in Canada's cannabis industry

    Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation report shows little diversity in leadership of cannabis sector
    CBC News (Canada)
    Saturday, October 17, 2020

    canada black entreprenuersA policy brief by the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation and the University of Toronto looked at c-suite level executives, parent companies and licensed producers in Canada. The research reveals that two years after legalization, 84 per cent of cannabis industry leaders are white and 86 per cent are men; only 2 per cent of industry leaders are Indigenous, and just 1 per cent are Black. Lead author Akwasi Owusu-Bempah says the lack of Black and Indigenous leadership in the industry goes beyond just an issue of representation or diversity: "Black and Indigenous people that we found to be underrepresented in leadership in cannabis were the two groups that were most targeted by prohibition. So they were the groups that were most criminalized, for example, for minor possession."

  • California outdoor marijuana cultivators to designate products by growing region

    The designation of origin will be especially useful in the event of federal cannabis legalization – as well as if and when cannabis growers are allowed to ship products nationwide
    Marijuana Business Daily (US)
    Thursday, October 15, 2020

    us cannabis field humboldtCalifornia’s marijuana market is borrowing a page from the state’s world-famous wine industry thanks to a new law intended to help outdoor cannabis growers brand and market their products by highlighting where and how they’re produced. When Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 67 on Sept. 30, the law established that any cannabis product claiming an “appellation of origin” from a California region must have been grown in the soil and with the sun from that region – in other words, without artificial light or shelter, such as a greenhouse or hoop house. California is leading the way with this legislation, and other West Coast states, including Oregon and Washington state, might take notice. Such designations can help smaller growers distinguish their cannabis.

  • Cannabis referendum: More than 100 doctors back legalising recreational use

    The NZMA had an existing policy formed in 2012 opposing the legalisation of recreational cannabis, but advocating for a decriminalisation of the drug
    RNZ (New Zealand)
    Thursday, October 15, 2020

    nz cannabis referendum2More than 100 doctors have come forward to put their names behind cannabis legalisation, in response to the New Zealand Medical Association's backtracking from opposing the bill to neutrality. They say they fear the Medical Association's decision to oppose the cannabis referendum and legalisation, without having consulted its members, could lead to the referendum failing. The NZMA only changed its stance to a neutral one after several doctors came forward complaining about its stance, and NZMA chair Dr Kate Baddock admitted that it did not consider the proposed legislation before opposing the referendum. Many doctors thought the referendum would pass, and so did not speak up about the NZMA's anti stance. That was until polling showed the referendum was unlikely to pass.

  • Medical cannabis doesn't cause cognitive decline in seniors, study finds

    "Although the cannabis patients have been using it consistently for at least a year, we have not found that their cognitive function is lower than of people similar to them in age and background"
    The Jerusalem Post (Israel)
    Tuesday, October 13, 2020

    cannabis seniorsA new study conducted at Haifa University's School of Public Health has found no evidence of cognitive decline in senior citizens who regularly smoke medical cannabis to treat chronic pain. Chronic pain affects 19%-37% of the adult population worldwide and medical cannabis has, in recent years, been raised by patients and researchers alike as a "highly effective" possible treatment. According to the researchers however, most studies done to date have mainly examined the effect of cannabis use on cognitive function in young people. "Previous studies have shown that medical cannabis can have long-term effects on the brain when consumed at a young age, but this is not necessarily the same effect when consumed in old age." 

  • amaMpondo traditional leaders reject Private Use Cannabis Bill

    The cannabis farmers want the Bill to open more economic doors for them, and not one that will smother their business
    SABC News (South Africa)
    Saturday, October 10, 2020

    sa cannabis pondoland womenTraditional leaders from the amaMpondo nation and cannabis farmers in the Eastern Cape have rejected the Private Use Cannabis Bill. They are calling for a comprehensive consultation process that must also be extended to the indigenous cannabis farmers in deep rural areas. The area known as Mpondoland is the cannabis belt of South Africa. Cultivating and selling cannabis provides a livelihood to many here. Now they believe that the new bill threatens their only means of generating an income. Cannabis farmers says the Bill proposes that a household will only be allowed to have up to eight plants for private use. “We have been planting cannabis in our fatherland here in Pondoland. Now there are restrictions that prohibit us from using and selling it. The restrictions seek to deprive us and enrich the rich.”

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