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  • An opioid crisis foretold

    The New York Times (US)
    Saturday, April 21, 2018

    us overdose vs hivToday’s opioid crisis is already the deadliest drug epidemic in American history. Opioid overdoses killed more than 45,000 people in the 12 months that ended in September, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The epidemic is now responsible for nearly as many American deaths per year as AIDS was at the peak of that crisis. The death toll from opioids could climb for years to come. Millions of people are dependent on or addicted to these drugs, and many of them are increasingly turning to more potent, illicit supplies of heroin and fentanyl, which are cheap and readily available. Yet only about 10 percent of Americans who suffer from substance abuse receive specialized addiction treatment.

  • Drug reform gets a push

    The Bangkok Post (Thailand)
    Saturday, April 21, 2018

    New plans for treatment of drug addicts and abusers are a welcome step on the way to badly needed drug reform. The steps announced last week by the chief of the prime ministers Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), Sirinya Sitdhichai, may make it possible to begin rehabilitation instead of criminal treatment. As welcome as the new programme is, it is still only a tentative step towards what is needed. It is time for bold steps and a new outlook on the problem. Because the five-decade "war on drugs" is such an obvious failure, it is vital to find and employ new methods. Sitdhichai has put in motion what he is too grandly calling "a comprehensive drug rehabilitation programme". In fact, the new policy brings only some small, if highly important changes.

  • Most banks won’t touch America’s legal pot industry

    Lawmakers and businesses are demanding clarity for an industry that could generate as much as $11bn in revenue in 2018
    The Economist (UK)
    Friday, April 20, 2018

    us banking cannabisProviding banking services to pot-sellers is a risky endeavour. Despite being legal in one form or another in 29 states, marijuana is banned under the federal Controlled Substances Act, and classified as a so-called Schedule 1 drug alongside cocaine and heroin. This is why the vast majority of American banks refuse to do business with the industry, lest they run foul of federal statutes on money-laundering, drug-trafficking and racketeering. As of September 2017, just 400 of America’s 5,700 banks catered to the sector. Without access to financial services, most marijuana-related businesses operate on a cash-only basis, stashing piles of money in duffel bags and hiring armed guards to protect employees from robberies.

  • Cannabis products sold in Lidl Switzerland

    Health and addiction experts are less enthusiastic about the normalisation of a product whose effects remain relatively unknown
    Swissinfo (Switzerland)
    Thursday, April 19, 2018

    Hemp containing active ingredient cannabidiol (CBD) can now be bought in Swiss branches of German discount supermarket chain Lidl. Start-up company The Botanicals, from Thurgau in northeastern Switzerland, will be supplying pure hemp flowers grown exclusively in Switzerland in partially automated greenhouses and specially designed indoor facilities. They say they support sustainable agriculture and are renouncing the use of chemical, synthetic or genetically modified substances. The hemp is obtained according to the Good Agricultural and Collection Practice guidelines of the European Medicines Agency. The hemp flowers, which are produced as a tobacco replacement intended to be used in roll-up cigarettes, are available in stores in French and German-speaking Switzerland.

  • Schumer to introduce bill to decriminalize marijuana

    It comes amid a shift in opinion on marijuana among voters and lawmakers
    Politico (US)
    Thursday, April 19, 2018

    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that he would introduce legislation to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, marking a significant shift in policy for the Democratic leader and lending the movement to lower government barriers to the drug a powerful ally. The top congressional Democrat told VICE News in an interview that legislation to increase access to marijuana is “long overdue” and that far “too many people” have been affected by the government’s crackdown on the drug. “I’ll be introducing legislation to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level from one end of the country to the other,” Schumer said, according to a clip of the interview released by the outlet.

  • Cannabis harm to teenagers' brains 'overstated', finds study

    Marijuana’s impact on adolescents’ brain development and mental health remains a major concern
    The Independent (UK)
    Wednesday, April 18, 2018

    Fears that cannabis causes irreparable harm to teenager’s brains have been stoked by trials which “overstated” the effects on intelligence and other functions, according to a review which found little ill-effect after three days abstinence. Studies have shown it is 114 times less harmful than alcohol, but marijuana’s impact on adolescents’ brain development and mental health is a major concern for policy makers in debates over legalisation. This is a key time developmental period and studies have found negative impacts on attention, learning, memory and organisation in heavy or frequent cannabis users. The study found that the “persistence and magnitude of impact” on teenagers had been overblown.

  • The plan to save California's legendary weed from 'Big Cannabis'

    Small operators have to cope with a sprawling new bureaucracy governing the cultivation and distribution of marijuana
    Wired (US)
    Tuesday, April 17, 2018

    The cannabis industry in California historically has been anything but centralized. That has made the cannabis in the Emerald Triangle legendary. Thousands of small farms have developed strains unique to their microclimates: A prized varietal needs specific conditions to thrive. But these farmers are in danger of losing their livelihood to consolidation. "As the cannabis industry is just coming out of prohibition and companies are beginning to get licensed, there are a lot of investment dollars going towards large indoor and greenhouse grow operations in the Central Valley of California," says Michael Steinmetz, founder and CEO of Flow Kana which quest is to save this cannabis culture to compete with the supply chains of Big Cannabis.

  • U.S. has been quietly helping Mexico with new, high-tech ways to fight opium

    The Drug Enforcement Administration said in a report last year that Mexico supplies 93 percent of all heroin consumed in the United States
    The Washington Post (US)
    Sunday, April 15, 2018

    In the past few opiate-soaked years, U.S. officials say, nearly all the heroin coursing through American cities has come from one place: Mexico. “There are still a lot of question marks around the figures,” said Martin Jelsma, director of the drug program at the Transnational Institute, a research organization based in Amsterdam, and the co-author of a forthcoming study on Mexican and Colombian poppy production. Equally challenging, Jelsma said, is identifying the source country of a heroin sample. He doubts that the DEA can always tell whether heroin is made from Mexican or Colombian poppy, given that Mexican drug traffickers in some cases have hired Colombians to teach heroin-production techniques, so the product is similar.

  • U.S. marijuana friends and foes cautious at signs of softer Trump

    The agreement made it "even more politically difficult for Sessions to initiate a crackdown"
    Reuters (UK)
    Saturday, April 14, 2018

    us buying marijuana dispensaryBoth advocates and opponents of legalized marijuana reacted with caution to signs from the White House that growers in U.S. states where the drug is permitted would be shielded from federal prosecution, saying it was too early to know the final impact. U.S. Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado announced that he had convinced President Trump, a fellow Republican, to protect from federal interference those state laws that legalize marijuana for certain uses. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who opposes marijuana use, rescinded a memo issued by Obama, that dialled back enforcement of the federal ban in states that legalized the drug. That decision unnerved the fast-growing U.S. marijuana industry, which has been legalized in more than half of all states.

  • 'I will arrest you': Duterte threatens ICC lawyer over 'war on drugs'

    Duterte has cited numerous reasons why he believes the ICC has no jurisdiction over him
    SBS News (Australia)
    Friday, April 13, 2018

    rodrigo dutertePhilippines President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to arrest an International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor if she conducts activities in his country, arguing it was no longer an ICC member so the court had no right to do any investigating. Hitting out at what he said was an international effort to paint him as a “ruthless and heartless violator of human rights”, Duterte withdrew the Philippines from the ICC’s Rome Statute a month ago and promised to continue his crackdown on drugs, in which thousands have been killed. ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in February announced the start of a preliminary examination into a complaint by a Philippine lawyer which accuses Duterte and top officials of crimes against humanity, and of killing criminals as a policy.

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