Latest news on drug policy issues in the international media

 

  • Switzerland to legalise recreational and medical cannabis usage

    Switzerland will legalise cannabis production and consumption, although the specifics of the law remain to be seen
    The Local (Switzerland)
    Tuesday, October 19, 2021

    switzerland cannabis3Switzerland will draw up a draft law for the legalisation of cannabis usage, after a parliamentary commission ruled the drug should no longer be banned. The production, cultivation, trade and consumption of cannabis will no longer be banned after a commission investigating the drug said the laws should be changed, Swiss news outlet Blick reported on Tuesday. The Social Security and Health Commission of the Council of States (SGK-S) said cannabis should be regulated in order to control the “cannabis market for better youth and consumer protection”. The aim of the SGK-S is to eliminate the black market for the drug in Switzerland. A draft law will now be drawn up in Swiss parliament.

  • Germany should make cannabis available at pharmacies not ‘coffee shops’, says FDP boss

    Germany's possible new government could well relax the country's strict cannabis laws. But FDP leader Christian Lindner says he doesn't want to go down the Netherlands route
    The Local (Germany)
    Monday, October 18, 2021

    medical marijuana2The Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) are set to engage in coalition talks in a bid to become the next German government. And the future of cannabis will likely be one of the topics to be thrashed out. In drug policy, the three parties are not too far apart in their positions. So it’s possible that the drug could be decriminalised. The leader of the Liberal FDP, Christian Lindner, has now come out in favour of allowing cannabis products such as hashish to be sold in a controlled manner. Consumers should be allowed “to purchase a quantity for their own use, for example, in a pharmacy after health education,” Lindner told a live broadcast on German daily Bild on Sunday.

  • A roundup of countries that permit recreational cannabis

    Germany's budding coalition is considering the legalization of cannabis. DW takes a look at a few countries that have already adopted a softer stance
    Deutsche Welle (Germany)
    Friday, October 15, 2021

    cannabis leaf plantsMarijuana may be an issue of easy agreement in the ongoing coalition talks between Germany's leading parties. Despite numerous points of contention, the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), neoliberal Free Democrats (FDP) and Greens can find themselves aligned when it comes to cannabis legalization. The FDP emphasizes the revenue that the state could earn from taxing prerolled joints, cannabis flower and edibles. The Greens say legalization would put an end to illegal sales and reduce organized crime. Social Democrat health expert Karl Lauterbach urged the next government to legalize cannabis. Here is a look at countries that have already loosened their policies.

  • Three years post-legalization, Canada's cannabis industry ready for a reset

    At 776 producers, the amount of licensed cannabis companies has reached a staggeringly high figure that many industry observers and analysts alike believe contributed to the oversupply of legal pot in the market
    BNN Bloomberg (US)
    Friday, October 15, 2021

    canada cannabis ottawaThree years after Canada legalized cannabis, the industry appears ready for a reset. When midnight struck on Oct. 17, 2018, Canada became the first developed nation to allow the sale of cannabis for recreational purposes, and since then the industry has had its share of ups and downs. While billions of dollars worth of legal pot has been sold across thousands of licensed stores, helping to stamp out roughly half of the illicit market, it's also seen many cannabis companies cumulatively post billions of dollars in losses as market dynamics warped lofty expectations made in the early days of legalization. But change may be afoot as the Canadian government undertakes a lengthy 18-month-long review of the legislation that legalized cannabis.

  • Sanjay Gupta explains his marijuana reversal and discusses ‘very biased’ U.S. research with Joe Rogan

    Scientists outside of the U.S. were taking a different approach, investigating potential therapeutic applications for marijuana for conditions like pain and seizures
    Marijuana Moment (US)
    Thursday, October 14, 2021

    cannabis scientificCNN’s chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta wasn’t always on board with medical marijuana, but things changed when he looked for the science, he said during an interview on the Joe Rogan Experience. But to find the science that ultimately convinced him of the therapeutic potential of cannabis, he had to look internationally, because there seemed to be a “very biased set of data” in the U.S. that focused almost exclusively on the potential harms rather than benefits. “If you’re just looking at papers—well, this one [says there’s] potential long harm, this one possible addiction, this one gateway—you know, you’re seeing all those individual studies, but at a broader level, one step upstream, you realize that most of the studies that are getting funded are designed to look for harm,” Gupta said.

  • German SPD health expert calls on next government to legalize cannabis

    'Traffic Light' parties all in favor of legalization
    Deutsche Welle (Germany)
    Wednesday, October 13, 2021

    Social Democratic Party (SPD) health expert Karl Lauterbach ourged the SPD, Greens and Free Democrats (FDP) hoping to form Germany's next government to legalize cannabis should they come to power. Speaking with the Rheinische Post newspaper, Lauterbach said, "I was against legalizing cannabis for years. But now, as a doctor, I have come to a different conclusion." His change of heart was prompted by the fact that police now report finding other substances mixed into cannabis. Lauterbach said legalization would protect consumers. Coalition negotiations between the SPD, Green Party and the FDP are ongoing, with many of those involved voicing optimism about the prospects of success in forming a government. (See also: Why Germany could be on the brink of legalising cannabis)

  • Ottawa must act fast on safe drug supply as tainted-drug deaths continue daily: advocates

    'What is our safety compared to the lives of thousands of people a year currently dying from overdoses?' Vancouver advocate says of pledge to hand out drugs illegally if necessary
    Vancouver Sun (Canada)
    Monday, October 11, 2021

    A safe supply of free drugs were given out during an event last summer organized by the Drug User Liberation Front in VancouverDowntown Eastside residents at high risk of overdose now have Vancouver’s support to get untainted drugs, but the federal government has the final say whether they’ll get access to a legal supply. A motion to support an application from the Drug User Liberation Front — to run North America’s first compassion club to give members access to untainted heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine — was approved by Vancouver council last week. Drug User Liberation Front co-founders Jeremy Kalicum and Eris Nyx submitted an application for a federal exemption to Canada’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act on Aug. 31 and had asked for city support. While awaiting the federal decision, Liberation Front is considering whether to purchase more illicit drugs from the dark web to hand out in the DTES.

  • A global fight looms over Kratom, a possible opioid alternative

    The U.S. government has twice tried to classify kratom as a controlled substance, but public outcry and pushback from Congress thwarted those efforts
    Politico (US)
    Saturday, October 9, 2021

    kratom capsulesA World Health Organization meeting could determine the future of kratom, a widely available herbal supplement some tout as an alternative to opioid painkillers. Kratom, a plant indigenous to Southeast Asia, produces narcotic-like effects. Advocates say the substance is a promising replacement for opioids that could help wean people addicted to those drugs, which killed nearly 70,000 people in the U.S. in 2020. The WHO's drug dependence committee will conduct a "pre-review" of kratom. Kratom advocates suggest Washington a attempts to end run the federal regulatory process by taking the international route to finish what it could not accomplish domestically. (See also: Kratom: the creation of a threat: A policy commentary on the WHO pre-review of kratom)

  • Cocaine, heroin and meth buyers' club gets Vancouver's approval to secure a safe supply

    Council voted unanimously in favour of amended motion to back club, which is seeking federal approval
    Vancouver Sun (Canada)
    Thursday, October 7, 2021

    The City of Vancouver voted unanimously in favour of supporting a peer-led program that would help get a safe supply of drugs to individuals at high risk of overdose. Coun. Jean Swanson called for the approval of North America’s first compassion club that gives access to prescription heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. Swanson said that given the overdose crisis, blamed on tainted street drugs, federal approval is needed for the project run by the Drug User Liberation Front, which has teamed up with Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users to host giveaways of substances purchased from the dark web — “so they won’t be arrested for saving lives.” (See also: Vancouver votes to support application that would create safe drug 'compassion clubs' | Toronto’s bid to decriminalize drugs hangs in the balance)

  • Graft, drug trafficking threaten Albania's chances of joining EU

    Leading politicians have been repeatedly accused of being involved in the business
    Deutsche Welle (Germany)
    Monday, October 4, 2021

    Researcher Fatjona Mejdini states that the drug problem had its roots in 1991, when Albania went from an isolated communist dictatorship straight to capitalism. "They were tough times for everyone," Mejdini said. "And, as many people lost their state jobs, they turned to cannabis cultivation to sustain their families." Over the years, the government has turned a blind eye to the business — and "in some cases, we saw the collusion of state structures with people growing cannabis," Mejdini said. Criminal groups gained more influence. And, in the past 10 to 15 years, there has also been a new development: Networks have added cocaine to their business model. The networks and routes they had already built up in Europe were the perfect starting point.

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