Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media


  • New panel to probe growing use of marijuana and stiffen draconian pot law

    Even though Japan has one of the world’s lowest rates of marijuana abuse, there has been a worrying upward trend in recent years
    The Japan Times (Japan)
    Friday, January 22, 2021

    japan cannabisAlarmed by a recent spike in the number of youngsters abusing marijuana, also known as cannabis or pot, Japan’s health ministry is looking to stiffen what is already one of the world’s most draconian anti-cannabis laws. The ministry convened a new panel of experts tasked with discussing possible revision to the Cannabis Control Law, under which owners and growers of the illicit plant currently face up to five and seven years of imprisonment, respectively. While moves have been afoot in some parts of the world to legalize cannabis for medical or recreational purposes, such momentum is almost non-existent in Japan, where the plant — along with other illegal drugs — has long been deeply stigmatized under the much-hyped government slogan “dame zettai” (“absolutely not”).

  • Is France moving towards legalising cannabis for recreational purposes?

    As the French people are being asked whether they favour legalising cannabis for recreational purposes, half of the mayors in Paris region are in favour, a new survey shows
    The Local (France)
    Monday, January 18, 2021

    france cannabis2When French newspaper Le Parisien rang up 36 elected officials across the greater Paris Île-de-France region to ask their opinion on whether or not cannabis should be legalised for recreational purposes, only 22 percent said no. Twenty-eight percent did not want to give their opinion, sometimes expressing concern they lacked information about the topic. But the by far biggest group - 50 percent in total - said yes. "This is in line with opinion surveys," Alessandro Stella, director of research at the CNRS research centre, told Le Parisien. The informal survey comes as an online questionnaire aims to ask the wider French public for their views on the topic.

  • How some THC is legal — for now

    Delta-8-THC — a less-potent cousin of famed Delta-9-THC — is legal enough to sell in most states. But how does it work? And will the DEA shut it down?
    Rolling Stone (US)
    Monday, January 18, 2021

    cannabis pollinationAccording to the National Institute of Health (NIH), there are currently at least 144 known cannabinoids that have been isolated from the cannabis plant. The most popular among them is Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound known to provide all the stereotypical effects of getting high. Yet a lesser-known cannabinoid, with more than half of the psychoactive potency of Delta-9-THC, seems poised to challenge its dominance. No, it’s not CBD, CBN, CBG, or CBC – it’s Delta-8 THC, an analog of Delta-9-THC. People often report that due to its reduced potency, Delta-8 provides them with a smoother, more mild high that is less sedative and more functional than Delta-9.

  • Is the world running out of Ayahausca?

    It takes about five years for the vine to mature enough to be used for ayahuasca
    EntheoNation (US)
    Monday, January 18, 2021

    ayahuasca vineAfter years of increasing numbers of retreat centers and ayahuasca processing facilities opened, reports are starting to surface disclosing the apparent scarcity of harvestable ayahuasca vine in the Iquitos wilderness. A cry of alarm resounded throughout the online psychedelic communities with the publication of an article “We Are Harvesting the Ayahuasca Vine at an Alarming Rate” written by Carlos Suárez Álvarez, which discussed the “excessive” levels of vine harvesting due to increasing global demand. The article claims in foreboding language: “Over-harvesting ayahuasca is putting the sustainability of the medicine, the communities, and several branches of industry in question.”

  • France launches public consultation on legalising cannabis

    Successive French governments have shown themselves to be strongly opposed to decriminalisation
    France 24 (France)
    Sunday, January 17, 2021

    france bientot legaliserFrance is Europe’s biggest cannabis consumer, despite having some of the continent’s toughest laws against the drug. In response to this failure of the law to act as a deterrent, a group of MPs from across the political spectrum have launched an initiative to shift the terms of the debate on this issue. The first step in these MPs’ bid to encourage the French political class to be more open to the idea of legalising cannabis was a citizens’ consultation launched on January 13. More than 175,000 people responded on the Assemblée Nationale’s website – compared to an average of 30,000 responses to such consultations. This consultation, open until February 28, has two objectives: to better understand the French public’s views about cannabis, and to understand what government policies people want.

  • Illinois sitting on $62 million in cannabis revenue meant to foster businesses and help neighborhoods hurt by poverty and violence

    The funding is targeted to help areas that have been ravaged by high rates of shootings, poverty, unemployment and incarceration
    Chicago Tribune (US)
    Saturday, January 16, 2021

    us color in cannabisDespite promises that cannabis legalization in Illinois would fund more minority business participation and neighborhood improvements, the state has yet to spend $62 million collected for those purposes. Part of the delay in awarding the money is due to problems with the state’s system to award new cannabis business licenses. The other reason for the holdup, officials say, is because of an outpouring of requests for funding. The lack of help for communities and entrepreneurs who need it badly is another reason for state officials to issue new licenses as soon as they can, said state Sen. Heather Steans, co-sponsor of the law that legalized marijuana and taxed it to help people in the state’s most desperate areas.

  • 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.

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