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  • Blowing up: Britain’s cocaine glut

    The drug has become more plentiful — and more potent
    The Economist (UK)
    Thursday, December 7, 2017

    “It's as easy as buying a drink from an off-licence.” That is how Ellen Romans, a recovering drug addict, describes picking up cocaine near where she lives in London. And today top-notch blow is much cheaper than it was five years ago, when she started using it heavily. David McManus, her treatment worker at Blenheim, a rehabilitation charity, agrees. Pubs and bars are “flooded” with the stuff. Dealers know that their product is no longer scarce. They are more tolerant of hagglers and are resorting to gimmicks, including Black Friday discounts, to boost sales. Though overall use has not increased, supply seems to have soared and dealers are offering a purer product. (See also: Mixed messages: Is cocaine consumption in the U.S. going up or down?)

  • A comeback for the gateway drug theory?

    What the medical community knows about addiction has evolved significantly since the 1930s
    The New York Times (US)
    Thursday, December 7, 2017

    Scientists and politicians still debate whether using “soft” drugs necessarily leads a person down a slippery slope to the harder stuff. Critics note that marijuana has, in some cases, been shown to actually prevent people from abusing other substances. But new research is breathing fresh life into the perennially controversial theory, and the timing seems apt. As marijuana legalization and the opioid epidemic sweep across the country, parents are once again questioning the root causes of addiction. And politicians opposed to legalization, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, have routinely used the gateway effect as their chief argument against reform.

  • California’s limit on big growers just vanished. Here’s why

    The abrupt shift took many in the industry by surprise, and it comes on the heels of costly, intensive lobbying on behalf of some of the state’s most powerful cannabis businesses
    Leafly (US)
    Wednesday, December 6, 2017

    In an unexpected move that has small cannabis farmers and some state lawmakers up in arms, California regulators have created a licensing loophole that could allow large-scale cannabis growers to operate farms of unlimited size. Under the new regulations, only small and medium-size grow licenses will be issued between 2018 and 2023 (for up to quarter-acre and one-acre grows, respectively). While medium-size licenses are limited to one per person or organization, however, there is now no limit to the number of small-size licenses any person or commercial entity may obtain. That opens a way for larger commercial operators to effectively stack small-size licenses into commercial-scale farms. (See also: California’s small cannabis farms are facing the end of an era)

  • Portugal’s radical drugs policy is working. Why hasn’t the world copied it?

    Local harm-reduction advocates have been frustrated by what they see as stagnation and inaction since decriminalisation came into effect
    The Guardian (UK)
    Tuesday, December 5, 2017

    portugal dissuasionIn 2001, Portugal became the first country to decriminalise the possession and consumption of all illicit substances. Rather than being arrested, those caught with a personal supply might be given a warning, a small fine, or told to appear before a local commission – a doctor, a lawyer and a social worker – about treatment, harm reduction, and other support services. The opioid crisis stabilised, and the ensuing years saw dramatic drops in problematic drug use, HIV and hepatitis infection rates, overdose deaths, drug-related crime and incarceration rates. Despite enthusiastic international reactions, local harm-reduction advocates criticise the state for dragging its feet on establishing supervised injection sites and drug consumption facilities.

  • A taxing problem: how to price, tax legal weed to stamp out the black market

    The policy goals — including stamping out the black market, reducing underage consumption or drumming up tax revenue — are often at odds with each other
    National Post (Canada)
    Tuesday, December 5, 2017

    Stamping out the illicit market is one of Ottawa’s major goals as the country approaches a July 2018 deadline for the legalization of recreational marijuana — leaving politicians little time to lay out exactly how to sell, price and tax cannabis. As Washington state, which legalized recreational sales in 2014, has learned, pricing and taxation can heavily influence whether the black market blooms or shrivels. The state originally levied a 25 per cent tax on producer sales to processors, another 25 per cent tax on processor sales to retailers, and a further 25 per cent tax on retailer sales to customers. The high consumer costs, combined with a shortage of legal cannabis, fuelled the black market, according to analysts.

  • Legalization of marijuana unlikely to kill Canada’s black market right away

    Whether the black market shrinks and how quickly, observers say, will depend on what the legal market ends up looking like
    Global News (Canada)
    Monday, December 4, 2017

    From texting a local dealer to dropping into a neighbourhood dispensary or ordering online, Canada’s black market for recreational marijuana has seen significant changes in recent years and will see more as the country hurtles toward legalization next summer. What does seem clear is that the illegal market is unlikely to disappear in a puff of smoke come legalization day. “There’s a huge, complex system out there operating in the world that has been delivering excellent product to people at reasonable prices for 40 years now,” says Donald MacPherson of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition. “It’s really the degree to which the regulated system can, over a period of years, encroach on as much of that pre-existing market as possible – that is the key question.”

  • Israel eases sanctions on home marijuana growers

    The new shift in policy to differentiate between 'personal use' and 'commercial purposes' is an internal police order first reported by Cannabis magazine
    Haaretz (Israel)
    Monday, December 4, 2017

    When it comes to throwing the book at marijuana growers, police are distinguishing between those growing pot for their own use and those growing it for commercial purposes, as determined by an internal police order. A order issued this past summer by the police prosecution department states that growing marijuana in small quantities at home for personal use will, under certain conditions, be treated as the relatively minor violation of “personal use,” rather that the more serious offenses of “growing a dangerous drug” or “possession not for personal use,” which is what home growers are now suspected of, whether they are growing a single plant in a flower pot or a whole field of plants.

  • Lawlessness on cannabis attracts more tourists in Morocco

    “Here, you smoke where you want, except in front of the police station”
    Africa News
    Monday, December 4, 2017

    ChefchaouenIt may not feature in Morocco’s official tourism brochures but cannabis attracts thousands of visitors a year to the North African country. Northern Morocco is a key production centre for hashish for export to Europe, but it has also seen traffic in the other direction — an influx of European visitors heading to sample the local pleasures. While Moroccan law bans the sale and consumption of the drug, that has not stopped farmers growing vast plantations of it, providing a living for some 90,000 households, according to official figures for 2013, the most recent available. Smoking kif is seen as part of the local culture, and is largely tolerated by the authorities.

  • Légalisation du cannabis: oui de Berset aux études

    L'OFSP étudie comment compléter la loi actuelle afin qu'une étude sur la vente légale de cannabis y soit conforme
    Tribune de Génève (Suisse)
    Lundi, 4 decembre 2017

    L'Université de Berne pourrait être autorisée à mener son étude sur la vente légale de cannabis. L'Office fédéral de la santé publique (OFSP) est en train d'étudier comment compléter la loi actuelle afin que ce type de projets y soit conforme, a indiqué le ministre de la santé Alain Berset. Mi-novembre, l'alma mater s'est vu refuser par l'OFSP l'autorisation d'étudier les effets de la régularisation de la vente de cannabis sur les consommateurs et sur le trafic de stupéfiants à Berne. La loi sur les stupéfiants ne permet en effet pas une consommation pour des raisons non médicales.

  • Police have killed dozens of children in Philippines war on drugs, Amnesty says

    Rights group urges International Criminal Court to open investigation into crimes against humanity committed over past 18 months in brutal state crackdown
    The Guardian (UK)
    Monday, December 4, 2017

    Police have killed dozens of children in the “war on drugs” in the Philippines in the last 18 months, Amnesty International said. The rights group urged the International Criminal Court to open an investigation into crimes against humanity in the violent crackdown, including the deaths of an estimated 60 young people by police and vigilantes. Some of those killed were deliberately targeted in anti-drugs raids, while others were caught in the crossfire. There have also been “riding in tandem” attacks, carried out by vigilantes on motorcycles, which are often paid for by police, Amnesty said. (See also: Philippines: Rodrigo Duterte orders police back into deadly drug war)

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