How countries can legalise their domestic non-medical cannabis market?

Augur Associates published the white paper “Obligations and flexibilities under European and International law: a path towards domestic cannabis adult-use regulation“. It is centered on how countries can legalise their domestic non-medical cannabis market while remaining compliant with international conventions and EU regulations. This work may be useful in dealings with national authorities and even help willing countries to move forward with legalisation.

You can download the report here: https://en.augur.associates/rapports

 

A Swiss pilot to sell cannabis for recreational use

From the Swiss Info news

The Federal Office of Public Health said it had approved a request for a pilot on the regulated sale of cannabis through local pharmacies. It will be restricted to just under 400 participants over the age 18 as part of a joint project by the University of Basel, its psychiatric clinics and the cantonal health department.

The trial, due to begin in September, is intended to help evaluate the effects of new regulations on the recreational use of cannabis and ultimately combat black market distribution, the office said on Tuesday.

Several other local authorities, including Zurich, Geneva and Bern, have also applied to roll out similar trials. The Swiss parliament laid the legal basis for such small-scale initiatives in September 2020.

The health office estimates there are 220,000 regular consumers of cannabis in Switzerland despite a legal ban.

Until now, the use of cannabis is only allowed for medical reasons.

In 2008 almost two-thirds of Swiss voters rejected an initiative to decriminalise cannabis consumption; it was the second national vote on the issue in a decade.

 

How to prevent marijuana industry monopolies?

With many U.S. cannabis executives arguing that federal legalization is only a matter of time, industry insiders and politicians are increasingly focused on how to structure a national marijuana marketplace that is both vibrant and diverse.

To that end, former Massachusetts cannabis regulator Shaleen Title published a white paper last month laying out proposals for how Congress can help ensure the marijuana industry won’t be dominated by multistate operators and national brands. The paper is titled, “Bigger is not better: Preventing monopolies in the national cannabis market”.

It is a crucial and vulnerable moment for the future of the cannabis market. While states are making historic progress creating paths for small businesses and disenfranchised groups, larger companies are expanding, consolidating, and lobbying for licensing rules to create or maintain oligopolies. Federal legalization will only accelerate the power grab already happening with new, larger conglomerates openly expressing interest. Left unchecked, this scramble for market share threatens to undermine public health and safety and undo bold state-level efforts to build an equitable cannabis marketplace.

This paper argues for intentionally applying well-developed antitrust principles to federal cannabis reform now, before monopolization of the market takes place, and offers eight concrete policy recommendations:

  1. Allow people to grow a reasonable number of marijuana plants for personal use.
  2. Prohibit vertical integration.
  3. Do not cap the number of business licenses available in total, but limit how much of a market any one person or entity may control.
  4. Create incentives for states to license small or disadvantaged businesses.
  5. Enforce ownership limits and review mergers based on existing evidence of predatory and anticompetitive tactics in state marijuana markets.
  6. Disqualify corporations from the cannabis industry if they have engaged in corporate crimes, defrauded the public, or caused significant public health damage.
  7. Create a multi-agency task force to enforce anti-monopoly limits.
  8. Authorize states to ban or delay interstate commerce in order to preserve state-level advantages to local businesses.

 

The document is available following this link>>>.

 

Amendments to the Law on the Production and Trafficking of Illicit Drugs without sufficient support

The legislative procedure for the proposal for an amendment to the Law on the Production and Trafficking of Illicit Drugs, which was submitted by part of the opposition, is coming to an end. The proposal was supported on the meeting of the parliamentary Health Committee on 17 February by eight members of the parliamentary committee on health, while one more was against.

The amendment was submitted to the legislative process by the parliamentary groups SD, Levica, LMŠ, SAB and NP. On behalf of the proponents, Dejan Židan (SD) and Violeta Tomić (PS Levica) explained today that they want to clearly define that the cannabis plant is a cultivated plant, which should be separated from cannabis as an illicit drug. According to them, this would correct the error resulting from the incorrect translation of the European Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which also led to the stigmatization and criminalization of the plant.

According to the proponents, the convention clearly defines the difference between cannabis and the cultivated cannabis plant, which is crucial for defining legal economic and amateur activities that do not require a drug control system, but only define the conditions of legal activities (agriculture, industry, horticulture, etc.).

The proposal would define the conditions under which the cannabis plant can be legally grown for industrial, food and horticultural purposes. As they explained, the goal is also to avoid monopolistic, especially French pressure on the Slovenian market, which eliminates old Slovenian varieties by setting 0.2 percent THC.

Although they emphasized that the proposal did not interfere in the field of medical or recreational use, and the proponents, following the opinion of the parliamentary legislative and legal service, also submitted several amendments, a number of concerns were heard at the meeting. State Secretary at the Ministry of Health Franc Vindišar explained that the proposal was not appropriate in the government’s opinion. They estimate that “the regulation does not only concern the agricultural production of industrial hemp, but also means deregulation, sometimes legalization, which will contribute to greater use of cannabis for recreational purposes”.

As he said, such important changes require an in-depth analysis in terms of potential benefits and, above all, negative health, social, security, financial and other consequences, which the proposal does not include. He assured that the terminology in Slovenian legislation is regulated in accordance with all conventions and European regulations, but at the level of the Ministries of Health and Foreign Affairs they will harmonize and ensure the translation of the convention, which was already proposed by the Health Committee. The Ministry of Health has also prepared a bill on the cultivation and trade of cannabis for medical purposes, which is currently in interdepartmental coordination.

He also criticized the proposal discussed today for being partial and for the new solutions not to be followed by a change in control and penal provisions. From the point of view of public health protection, according to him, the proposed limit of one percent THC in cannabis plants, which can be grown for seeds and fiber for industrial, food and horticultural purposes, is not particularly acceptable.

Several representatives of non-governmental organizations and institutions working in the field of health and addiction then presented their views. The proposal was largely opposed, described as ill-conceived and warned that it means liberalization in this area and leads to greater availability of cannabis, which means greater use and harmful consequences for public health, especially for children and adolescents.

The director of the National Institute of Public Health, Milan Krek, pointed out that “cannabis is the most commonly used drug in Slovenia today, ten times more used than other drugs”. However, the experience of other countries with cannabis liberalization is poor in terms of public health. According to him, the bill also “seriously interferes in the field of state security”, as it facilitates the work of organized crime in the production and trafficking of drugs in certain segments.

Robert Pavšič (LMŠ) pointed out that there are many plants whose use can have harmful consequences if misused, mentioning, among others, pears, plums, barley and poppies, as they can all be made into drugs – legally or illegally. Alcohol abuse can have dire consequences, but wine and beer are categorized as food, he added.

Like Tomić, he pointed out that today industrial hemp products sold in Slovenia mostly come from abroad. According to Tomić, Slovenian farmers are not competitive. Matjaž Grkman from the Ministry of Agriculture, on the other hand, said that Slovenian farmers, like others in the EU, could grow industrial hemp, but the problem was in the farmers’ organization itself.

 

Marijuana Referendum blocked

From the Marijuana Moment webpage

Italian Constitutional Court on Tuesday blocked voters from being able to decide on a referendum to legalize marijuana in the country, despite the fact that activists turned in hundreds of thousands of signatures that were validated by a separate court last month.

Late last year, activists turned in about 630,000 signatures for the measure – which would have also legalized personal cultivation of other psychoactive plants and fungi like psilocybin mushrooms – to the Supreme Court of Cassation.

While the proposal as drafted would have legalized the cultivation of several plant-based drugs, it would leave in place the prohibition on processing them. Marijuana and certain entheogenic substances like psilocybin don’t require additional manufacturing, and thus would effectively be made legal. By contrast, even hashish would be banned because it does require processing raw marijuana to some extent. Meanwhile, a current decriminalized fine on possessing and using cannabis would have also remained in place if the referendum were approved.

That court announced last month that there were enough valid signatures for ballot placement, but the referendum still needed to be reviewed by the separate Constitutional Court, which was tasked with determining the legality of the proposal’s provisions.

On Wednesday 16 February, the Constitutional Court announced that the cannabis and psilocybin initiative did not meet constitutional standards and, therefore, will not be placed on a ballot for voters to decide. It also rejected a separate measure related to the right to euthanasia.

The Constitutional Court is charged with looking into whether referendums will conflict with the Constitution, the country’s fiscal system or international treaties to which Italy is a party. While advocates were confident that the limited the scope of the proposed reform would satisfy the legal standard, the 15-judge court disagreed.

Malta approves legalisation of cannabis for personal use

The Parliament of Malta approved the legalisation of cannabis and its cultivation for personal use on 14 December 2021 with 36 votes in favour and 27 against. Malta is the first country in the European Union to make that move.

Equality Minister, Owen Bonnici, said the “historic” move would stop small-time cannabis users from facing the criminal justice system, and would “curb drug trafficking by making sure that users now have a safe and regularised way from where they can obtain cannabis”.

Possession of up to seven grams of the drug will be legal for those aged 18 and above. It will permissible to grow up to four cannabis plants at home, with up to 50g of the dried product storable.

Possession of up to 28 grams will lead to a fine of €50-€100 but with no criminal record. Those under the age of 18 who are found in possession will go before a commission for justice for the recommendation of a care plan rather than face arrest. Those who consume cannabis in front of a child face fines of between €300 and €500.

It will be legal for non-profit cannabis clubs to cultivate the drug for distribution among their members, similar to organisations tolerated in Spain and the Netherlands. Club membership will be limited to 500 people and only up to 7 grams a day may be distributed to each person, with a maximum of 50 grams a month. The organisations, which cannot be situated less than 250 metres from a school, a club or a youth centre, may also distribute up to 20 seeds of the plant cannabis to each member every month.

European Drugs Winter School 2022

The European Drugs Winter School 2022 (EDWS), organised by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and the University Institute of Lisbon (ISCTE-IUL) will be held from 14th to 25th of February 2022. EDWS prepares professionals and students to meet the complex policy challenges that face Europe and the World in the field of drugs.

This edition will have a special focus on Cannabis: practice, policies and debates in the EU and beyond.

The Winter School will be delivered through online and remote instruction. Following the success of the first Winter School, live sessions with experts and practitioners will be held from early afternoon until late afternoon (Lisbon Time, GMT +1 to GMT +3/4). Individual small exercises will be given and assessed every day, and an exam will be offered to those who wish to earn the credits. Virtual tours to field work will be included.

Candidates’ Profile include university students (undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate), researchers, professionals and administrators interested in or working in the drugs field, including participants from the EMCDDA’s network of focal points in 30 countries, or from programmes being developed by the EMCDDA with third countries (e.g. Western Balkans, North Africa, Eastern Europe).

Bursaries are available for Western Balkan region and European Neighbourhood Policy!

Professionals, academics and experts from the Western Balkan region and European Neighbourhood Policy countries will have an opportunity to participate in the 2022 European Drugs Winter School (EDWS), thanks to scholarships offered through two EMCDDA projects: the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA7) and EU4Monitoring Drugs (EU4MD). The scholarships will cover the course fees. All candidates from those regions who apply in the first phase (deadline 5th of December) will be eligible.

Deadline for applications: 5 December 2021 (Early Bird) | 23 January 2022 (Final).

Deadline for scholarship applications: 5 December 2021.

The EDWS will be followed by the European Drugs Summer School (EDSS) from 27 June to 8 July. Scholarships (covering course fees) are also available.

If interested, find more information following this link>>>.

 

 

Cannabis decriminalised in Luxembourg

Source: Herb

On Friday, Luxembourg’s government announced that citizens would be permitted to grow up to four cannabis plants on their property, making it Europe‘s first official country to decriminalise the production and consumption of cannabis, noted The Guardian.

The announcement follows Luxembourg’s government’s pursuit to provide fundamental changes towards the country’s perspective and view on recreational cannabis cultivation after failing to prohibit the drug. Now, people 18 and older are legally allowed to grow their own cannabis, up to four plants per household. Seeds received via trading are also deemed legal without having to specify the THC content. Luxembourg’s government also said that users could obtain seeds from shops, importation, or online purchases.

“The idea is that a consumer is not in an illegal situation if he consumes cannabis and that we don’t support the whole illegal chain from production to transportation to selling, where there is a lot of misery attached. We want to do everything we can to get more and more away from the illegal black market.” said Justice Minister Sam Tanson.

Consumption of cannabis in public spaces, selling it and transporting it remains forbidden. If someone is caught with up to three grams, they won’t be charged with a crime but a misdemeanour. But, fines are now reduced to 25 euros, a massive shift from the previous fine of 2.500 euros. “Above three grams, nothing changes, you will be considered a dealer,” Tanson stated. “Nothing changes for car drivers either: there is still zero tolerance.”

The government plans to implement a state-regulated production and distribution system to help users find quality and safe products. The majority of the revenue earned will help invest in “prevention, education, and healthcare in the broad field of addiction,” government sources added.

 

Cannabis Quick Tests and synthetic cannabinoids

Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network has published a factsheet on “Cannabis Quick Tests and synthetic cannabinoids“.

This factsheet aims to provide information to reduce the risk of unintentionally consuming synthetic cannabinoids by users of illegal cannabis containing Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) where they are unable to take advantage of drug checking services; if available, so-called Cannabidiol (CBD) Quick Tests can be used. Since the beginning of 2020, legal CBD cannabis has increasingly been mixed with synthetic cannabinoids and sold as illegal THC cannabis in Switzerland.

You can read the factsheet, available also in French and Italian, as well as many other factsheets Correlation produced, following this link>>>.

 

Media coverage on cannabis regulation in Serbia

Statement of the Minister of Health Dr Zlatibor Lončar that Serbia will regulate cannabis in line with the decision of the UN Committee on Narcotic Drugs triggered a lot of attention in the country.

Our Executive Director Milutin Milošević was invited to comment speculations that legalisation of cannabis may benefit those accused in the famous case of production of marijuana in the organic food farm Jovanjica” at the Nova S TV station. The segment from their news is available (in Serbian) following this link>>>.

Milutin was then invited for a talk with Prof Dr Vladimir Kovčin at the cable channel K1 where most of the attention was given to medical benefit of marijuana and possibilities to regulate it in Serbia.