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  • Trouble in Europe's pot paradise

    A bloody gang war is raging in Amsterdam
    Vice (Netherlands)
    Tuesday, April 19, 2016

    Though the Dutch have struck a compromise with international treaties that shows great results for reducing harm for drug users, the approach has largely shielded problems with drug crime in the Netherlands from public view. All common illegal drugs are officially forbidden, but penalties for the possession are non-existent to low, depending on the substance and the amount in question. In reality, there are different gradations to the decriminalization of various substances, as well as a number of contradictory policies. Amsterdam's coffee shops are a notorious example. They dispense cannabis to locals and tourists alike, though the drug is illegal to produce, possess, and sell.

  • Swiss health minister open to cannabis distribution trials

    Health Minister Berset has welcomed the possibility of organised trials for cannabis in Switzerland, within the parameters of existing laws
    Swissinfo (Switzerland)
    Sunday, April 17, 2016

    In an interview with the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper, Berset said that his department welcomes trying out "new models and directions" such as controlled cannabis trials, as long as the necessary special permits are sought. When asked whether such trials would open a back door for legalisation of the substance, Berset answered with a clear "no". "The Swiss people voted down a legalisation initiative in 2008, but they also accepted the new drug law, which allows for special permits for medical treatments or research projects." (See also: Kann die Cannabisabgabe funktionieren?)

  • Cannabis: scientists call for action amid mental health concerns

    Warning reflects growing consensus that frequent use of the drug raises the risk of psychotic disorders in vulnerable people
    The Guardian (UK)
    Friday, April 15, 2016

    Global public health campaigns are needed to make clear the risks of heavy cannabis use, particularly for young people who are more susceptible to mental health problems, senior drugs researchers have said. The call for action from scientists in the UK, US, Europe and Australia reflects a growing consensus among experts that frequent cannabis use can increase the risk of psychosis in vulnerable people and lead to a range of other medical and social problems. The researchers are keen not to exaggerate the risks; cannabis alone is neither necessary nor sufficient to cause psychosis.

  • Hazy legality: how legal is Dutch weed really?

    ‘The current system, in which you can sell cannabis but not grow it, is unsustainable’
    DutchNews (The Netherlands)
    Friday, April 15, 2016

    coffeeshop-menuLast November, the local authorities’ association VNG, which represents all 393 Dutch municipalities, issued a report stating that ‘the current situation cannot continue’. ‘By turning a blind eye [to marijuana], the government is giving criminals free rein to sell their products. The cannabis industry is closely entwined with organised crime, which is also involved in ecstasy and human trafficking,’ the report said. The government, however, has consistently refused to consider any form of licensed growing. (See also: Marijuana cuttings soar in price as police crackdown hits growers)

  • Open letter to UN chief calls for global drug policy shift

    The signatories of the letter call for an emphasis on drug use as a health policy issue with the focus on harm reduction
    Associated Press (US)
    Thursday, April 14, 2016

    ungass2016_nyAn open letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon signed by more than 1,000 people, including financier Warren Buffett, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and rock star Sting, says the war on drugs has failed and calls for a shift in global drug policy from emphasizing criminalization and punishment to health and human rights. The letter signed by former presidents of Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Switzerland and others, was made public Thursday in advance of a United Nations special session on the topic beginning April 19. It was released by the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance.

  • ‘Addicted to punishment'

    Despite reform, Latin America still criminalises drug use
    IRIN News
    Thursday, April 14, 2016

    prison-handLatin American leaders may be patting themselves on the back for engineering next week’s Special Session of the UN General Assembly in New York to review global drug enforcement policy. But the thousands of drug users suffering in prison or punitive drug centres back home won’t have much to celebrate. Despite the rhetoric, and a move towards more constitutional freedoms on personal drug use in many Latin American countries, research shows that drug users continue to be treated as criminals, lumped together in the same category as drug dealers and violent offenders, clogging up courts and prisons.

  • Ahead of a key meeting, Russia is driving global drug policy into the ground

    The Russian government is out of step with the world on drug policy — and it’s working to perpetuate failed policies of the past
    The Huffington Post (US)
    Wednesday, April 13, 2016

    As the first major global meeting on drug policy in two decades approaches, Russia is quietly emerging as a powerful force working to perpetuate the war on drugs in the face of growing weariness with the quagmire worldwide. Later in April, the United Nations will convene a special session on drug policy aimed at shaping the global approach in the decades to come. Key nations convened last month in Vienna to move the negotiations forward ahead of the gathering, and Russia threw up roadblocks at every opportunity. (See also: Just Say Nyet | Russian drug policies fuel Europe’s worst HIV pidemic)

  • Canada on drugs at the UN: Standing up for a long-overdue policy shift

    Canada’s statement read like a checklist of progressive drug policy positions
    The Hill Times (Canada)
    Wednesday, April 13, 2016

    canada-trudeau-cannabis2The applause persisted until the chair of the session eventually gavelled it to an end. The occasion? Canada’s statement at the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in Vienna, where countries were negotiating the text of a declaration to be adopted at the UN General Assembly’s Special Session on drugs (UNGASS) in New York. Sadly, at the CND, a faction of states ensured that the document fails to respond to the current realities of the “the world drug problem.” Hence, it was important that Canada’s applause-worthy statement read like a checklist of progressive drug policy positions, reflecting many points Canadian civil society groups have been advocating for years.

  • Call for legalisation reignites cannabis debate in France

    Some experts say France needs to do some soul searching on its drug laws
    France 24 / AFP (France)
    Tuesday, April 12, 2016

    Jean-Marie Le GuenFrench politicians slammed a Socialist minister's call to legalise marijuana, re-igniting the debate in a country where cannabis use is common. A day after minister for parliamentary relations Jean-Marie Le Guen said prohibition had not caused drug use to fall, his own party called decriminalisation a bad idea. Le Guen, who is also a doctor and public health expert, stressed that "cannabis is a very bad thing for public health, in particular for young people." But he said: "prohibition has not led to a decrease in consumption." (See also: 6 graphiques qui montrent les limites de la répression des drogues en France | Ces élus qui souhaitent ouvrir le débat sur la dépénalisation du cannabis)

  • Illicit drugs are not the only problem

    It’s outdated drug policy that needs fixing
    Fernando Henrique Cardoso
    The Huffington Post (US)
    Monday, April 11, 2016

    cardoso2Next week the United Nations is convening the largest gathering on drug policy that the world has seen in two decades. It was the brainchild of three Latin American presidents — from Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico — who wanted to end decades of poorly conceived and executed counter-narcotics programs. Their hope was that the General Assembly Special Session, or UNGASS, would stimulate new thinking on ways to reverse the political, social and economic wreckage of a failed war on drugs.

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