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.

 

Albania to legalize medical cannabis

Government of Prime Minister Edi Rama will pave the way for the legalization of medical cannabis in Albania, as in the question of National Counselling, 61% of Albanian citizens have pronounced in favor of legalization. According to the results of the poll, 308.000 citizens voted for (61%), 148.000 against (29%), while 51.000 had no opinion on the matter. The survey was conducted online and on paper form from 19 January to 31 March.

In a statement to the media, the Head of Government, who published the results on Thursday said that what the citizens have asked will be done. “We will legalize cannabis and open a new front of work and economic growth, in addition to increasing the technological aspect. What the citizens have said will be realized. The voice of the citizens is resounding and we will do exactly what the citizens want, some things faster, some less slowly. This is a process, but very soon within a few days you will see the members of the cabinet who will come out with concrete commitments, to give people back the trust they have returned to this process“, stressed the Prime Minister.

Mr Rama hailed the government initiative as a ‘major achievement’ in getting the citizens’ opinion on crucial issues.

 

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.

Should sex work be regulated in Serbia?

President od “Prevent” Nebojša Đurasović (also DPNSEE President) was invited by the Nova S TV station to the discussion about legalisation of sex work in Serbia. Other guests in the TV show “Between Us” were Andrijana Radojčić Nedeljković from the non-governmental organization Atina and Blažo Marković, president of the Union of Police and Police Officers.

Nebojša promoted the approach that as the first step it would be important to decriminalise sex work. That would allow those involved to get health and other kinds of protection.

The discussion, in Serbian, is available following this link>>>.

A momentous day in US drug policy reform

Tuesday 3 November 2020 was the Election Day in the United States of America. The tensions of this important election threw into a shade some important decisions that were at the vote in several federal states. Important state-level votes took place on decriminalising all drugs, legalising cannabis and decriminalising psychedelics.

ALL of the key votes have passed, including:

  • Oregon decriminalisation of all drugs. The measures outlined would see people found in possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use given the option of paying a $100 fine or attending a free “drug addiction treatment and recovery program”, which would be funded in part out of the state’s cannabis tax revenue fund.
  • Arizona, South Dakota, Montana, New Jersey legalising cannabis. Cannabis is already legally regulated for non-medical purposes in 11 US states, although it remains illegal at a federal level.
  • Mississippi, South Dakota legalising medical cannabis. Medical cannabis is already legal in 33 US states, with many medical markets now well established.
  • Oregon legalising medical use of psilocybin. The measure allow Oregonians over the age of 21 to purchase and consume psilocybin at a ‘psilocybin service centre’ under the supervision and guidance of trained facilitators. It would be the first-of-its-kind in the US, and hopefully move the debate forward on psychedelic treatment worldwide.
  • Washington, DC decriminalising psychedelics. While not technically fully decriminalising psychedelics, the measure would clearly drastically reduce the scope for the criminal law to intervene in personal activities. Criminal laws would nominally remain on the books, but be unlikely to be used, effectively a form of de facto decriminalisation.

These developments are part of a broader effort to scale back the war on drugs. The new measures may be the beginning of a broader push in the next few years, similar to what the US has already seen with marijuana.

 

Cannabis legalisation in the United States – Towards a regulated market?

The French Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT) published a memo which describes the regulatory models that have been implemented since 2014 in the American states that have legalised cannabis, highlighting their differences and similarities. It also discusses the reform processes and common features of states that have legalised cannabis for medical and recreational use.

Author of the memorandum is Ivana Obradovic, OFDT Deputy Director.

After five full years of reform in Colorado and Washington State (2014 – 2018), first outcomes can be reported – although it is not clear whether they are directly attributable to cannabis being legalised. The most significant effects relate to the quick and large-scale industrial expansion of the cannabis supply chain. However, this economic boom has also seen the emergence of three public health concerns:

  • The substance is now aimed at all population profiles, from people who have never tried it to regular users and from young people to seniors. The increase in supply and its diversification have increased the incentives to use it, which is only made worse by marketing strategies emphasising cannabis’ “therapeutic virtues” or its dimension of socialisation.
  • The increase in the number of emergency calls and hospitalisations following acute intoxication highlights the difficulty of effectively regulating substances put on the market (particularly in terms of the concentration of active ingredients). At the same time, cannabis-related treatment demands have declined.
  • The decline in both the perceived dangerousness of cannabis and retail prices have led to it becoming more accessible and the substance being “normalised” which, according to public health stakeholders, could ultimately increase the risks and harm associated with its use (particularly among the younger generation).

To read the memo, follow this link>>>

The impact of legalization and regulation of marijuana for adults in USA

The legalization and regulation of marijuana for adults is associated with a drastic reduction in overall arrests, increased tax revenue, and is not adversely impacting public health or safety, according to a comprehensive report issued by the Drug Policy Alliance.

Among the report’s highlights:

  • Marijuana arrests are down. Arrests for marijuana in all legal marijuana states and Washington, D.C. have plummeted, saving states hundreds of millions of dollars and sparing thousands of people from being branded with lifelong criminal records.
  • Youth marijuana use is stable. Youth marijuana use rates have remained stable in states that have legalized marijuana for adults age 21 and older.
  • Marijuana legalization is linked to lower rates of opioid-related harm. Increased access to legal marijuana has been associated with reductions in some of the most troubling harms associated with opioids, including opioid overdose deaths and untreated opioid use disorders.
  • Calls to poison control centres and visits to emergency departments for marijuana exposure remain relatively uncommon.
  • Legalization has not made the roads less safe. DUI arrests are down in Colorado and Washington. The total number of arrests for driving under the influence, of alcohol and other drugs, has declined in Colorado and Washington, the first two states to regulate marijuana for adult use. There is no correlation between marijuana legalization and crash rates. The crash rates in both states are statistically similar to comparable states without legal marijuana laws.
  • Marijuana tax revenues are exceeding initial estimates.
  • The marijuana industry is creating jobs. Preliminary estimates suggest that the legal marijuana industry employs between 165,000 to 230,000 full and part-time workers across the country.

The full report is available online following this link>>>.

The report proposes several recommendations for the future, including the one that the tax revenues collected from marijuana sales must be reinvested in the communities most harmed by marijuana criminalization. These monies are essential to help rebuild communities most devastated by mass incarceration and the decades-long drug war by investing in programs that offer people a new start.

Legalize or not?

NGO “LEK lekalizuj, which has the mission is to launch initiatives for adoption of law on regulating medical cannabis, organised a public debate on medical cannabis on 24 December 2016 in Ruma, Serbia. The trigger for the debate was the forthcoming draft of the changes to the Law on psychoactive controlled substances.

The room was full of people who experienced different kind of progress in their health conditions claiming that it came from using medicaments based on cannabis oil.

DPNSEE representatives presented different experiences in regulating this item in countries of South East Europe.