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Colombian senate debates plan to regulate cocaine

Transform Drug Policy Foundation 3 March 2021
What does this new cocaine regulation Bill propose?

The proposed Bill was based on Transform’s three-tier regulation framework to regulate stimulants. The main idea is to have three types of regulatory levels depending on the risks of the products:

  • The first set of regulations would cover low potency or non-psychoactive products such as the coca leaf itself, as well as beverages, food and cosmetic products based on the coca leaf. These products would be subject to lighter regulation, similar to those already in place for similar products such as coffee, with private actors allowed to buy and sell these products more freely.

  • The second type of regulation would cover psychoactive products derived from the coca leaf that are used for recreational purposes, such as cocaine. Under this type or regulation, consumers would have to go through a medical check-up and register in a database before being allowed to buy a certain dose of cocaine in registered pharmacies. All types of advertisements and sponsoring would be forbidden and only adults would be allowed to purchase cocaine.

  • The third type of regulation would cover psychoactive products derived from the coca leaf that, due to their health consequences, would remain prohibited for sale, such as crack cocaine. However, use would not be criminalised and a harm reduction strategy adopted, ensuring that all problematic consumers can receive adequate social and medical treatment.

The harvest of coca plants and the production of cocaine would also be subject to a strict regulation. Coca plantations would be authorized only in the areas where coca is currently being grown, as long as they remain outside of the environmentally protected areas. This is to ensure that the regulation of this market benefits the areas and communities most affected by the war on drugs and prevent new actors with potential advantages from entering the market. In addition, only local farmers and Indingeous communities would be allowed to grow coca plants and would benefit from the technical and financial assistance of the State. The harvest would then be bought by the State who would sub-contract the transformation of the coca leaf into cocaine to research centers and pharmaceuticals.
READ MORE: https://transformdrugs.org/blog/interview-with-lorenzo-uribe-lead-writer-of-the-colombian-cocaine-regulation-bill

 

Legal weed’s first year in Chicago: High arrest rates for Black people, a boutique experience for others

Chicago Tribune 15 April 2021
Three times the number of African Americans were arrested for marijuana-related offenses in Chicago than other ethnicities combined in 2020, according to Chicago Police Department arrest totals retrieved under a Freedom of Information Act request.

The arrest figures are only the latest sign of disparity in the state’s fledgling marijuana industry.

Critics point out what they see as a troubling double standard: At the same time the state’s legal weed industry is making millions and white smokers are enjoying the boutique experience with designer weed in clean, fashionable North Side dispensaries, Black and brown people are left out of the windfall and continue to be arrested for selling weed illegally.

During the first year of marijuana legalization, Black people led all ethnic groups in arrests with 2,311, making up more than three-quarters of all marijuana arrests in Chicago. Latinos made up the second highest number of arrests with 506.

Whites made up about 4% of arrests in Chicago, with 117 arrests across the city for the entire year. Asians and Pacific Islanders made up fewer than 1% with just 25 arrests.
READ MORE: https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/breaking/ct-marijuana-legalization-parallel-worlds-20210415-4hydfuinvje27mtctklm7dq4r4-story.html

 

New Zealand not ready for ‘liberalisation’ of drug laws says Health Minister

TVNZ One News 13 April 2021
Health Minister Andrew Little has shot down calls for a swift overhaul of drug laws, saying any major change would first have to go back to a referendum.

A host of health and social organisations – including the Medical Association, Public Health Association and Mental Health Foundation – have published an open letter, asking for drug use to be treated as a health issue, not a criminal one.

Speaking to RNZ, Little said the signatories had an admirable goal, but should have acted sooner.

“Their gesture today is 12 months too late,” he said.

Little said the Government was now constrained by last year’s public vote on cannabis legalisation, which returned 50.7 per cent in opposition.

“I would interpret that as ‘no, we’re not quite ready for this level of liberalisation just yet’,” Little said.

“Doesn’t mean to say New Zealand won’t be [ready] in the near future, but it would benefit from more public debate and scrutiny.
READ MORE: https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/new-zealand-not-ready-liberalisation-drug-laws-says-health-minister

Andrew Little says drug reform off the cards, Ardern challenges National over past criticism
NewsHub 12 April 2021
Health Minister Andrew Little has shot down calls for a swift overhaul of drug laws, saying any major change would first have to go back to a referendum.

A host of health and social organisations – including the Medical Association, Public Health Association and Mental Health Foundation – have published an open letter, asking for drug use to be treated as a health issue, not a criminal one.

Speaking to RNZ, Little said the signatories had an admirable goal, but should have acted sooner.

“Their gesture today is 12 months too late,” he said.

Little said the government was now constrained by last year’s public vote on cannabis legalisation, which returned 50.7 percent in opposition.

“I would interpret that as ‘no, we’re not quite ready for this level of liberalisation just yet’,” Little said.

“Doesn’t mean to say New Zealand won’t be [ready] in the near future, but it would benefit from more public debate and scrutiny.”
READ MORE: https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2021/04/andrew-little-says-drug-reform-off-the-cards-ardern-challenges-national-over-past-criticism.html

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A founding father of Colorado’s legal pot reveals regrets

National Families In Action, April 2021
Robert Corry, a lawyer who helped write Colorado’s Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana for recreational use in the state in 2012, has issued a searing indictment of how legal pot has turned out. His efforts to legalize were built on the notion that marijuana is safer than alcohol, but he writes in Sunday’s Gazette, The outcome of 64 is shameful, hurts people, and Colorado is not ‘safer’.”

While he still supports legalization, he laments the way it has turned out: “a commercialized, for-profit, elitist, government-protected, privileged, monopolistic industry that perpetuates itself and its obscene profits, to the detriment of the public good and the planet earth.” Given that one of the three goals that motivated his advocacy, he says, was to “create a free-enterprise system, taxed and regulated similar to alcohol for commercial sales,” one must ask why is he surprised?

He says the “pot lobby threw a temper tantrum” against proposed legislation to cap THC levels in commercial pot and scoffs at Colorado’s governor and Denver’s mayor for declaring marijuana businesses “essential” while schools, churches, and gyms were shut down during the pandemic.

He takes down the practice of indoor growing, which he says is done for the sole purpose of genetically altering the plants to produce supercharged THC levels. Indoor growing also brings environmental pests that require powerful chemicals, pesticides, and herbicides, whose “toxic carcinogens are ingested by the consumer or run off directly into Colorado’s scarce water.”

He repeatedly notes that the law he helped write violates federal law, and now sees it as a way to end commercialization because “licensees have made a deal with their devil; in exchange for the license, they consent to future search of their premises or documents, without a warrant, by any government officer, including federal.”

He says the restrictions Congress has placed on using federal funds to enforce federal law in legalization states apply only to medical, not recreational marijuana businesses. So federal officials could investigate recreational businesses and subpoena the banks who do businesses with them and newspapers they advertise in because they are “aiding and abetting” criminal activity.

He warns that the house the recreational business is built on is made of “sand and in need of serious renovations.”

Read Robert Corey’s Gazette op-ed here.

New Study: Secondhand Marijuana Smoke More Hazardous Than Secondhand Tobacco Smoke

SAM-USA Media Release 6 April 2021
new study found that secondhand marijuana smoke could be more hazardous to one’s health than secondhand smoke from cigarettes.

The study compared emissions of fine particles, or particulate matter (PM 2.5) from tobacco smoke and marijuana smoke and found that the PM 2.5 emission rate of pre-rolled marijuana joints was 3.5 times higher than the average PM 2.5 emission rate of Marlboro cigarettes. Furthermore, the study also found that smoking marijuana indoors produced much more secondhand smoke emissions than the use of cigarettes indoors.

“Previous research has shown us that secondhand smoke from marijuana is a hazard to health to both smokers and non-smokers alike, and now this study shows that marijuana smoke distributes more harmful particles into the air than cigarettes do,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president and co-founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and a former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration. “With the recent declaration that the use of marijuana in public areas will be allowed under the new legalization law in New York State, this new research solidifies the need for further public health guardrails to be put in place, not only in New York but also in other states where the public use of marijuana proliferates. These risks to health cannot be ignored.”

This study follows previous research finding marijuana users had higher levels of smoke-related toxins in their blood and urine than non-smokers. Marijuana users were found to have higher levels of dangerous toxins such as naphthalene, acrylamide, and acrylonitrile than those who do not smoke marijuana or tobacco. These toxins are associated with severe harms such as cancer, anemia, and liver and mental health damage.

Legalization organizations have long targeted provisions of the Clean Indoor Air Act to allow for a marijuana exception. They have also denied the harms of secondhand smoke in areas such as public housing, which exposes the most vulnerable. Recent studies have found public housing exposes children to secondhand smoke more so than tobacco.
https://learnaboutsam.org/new-study-secondhand-marijuana-smoke-more-hazardous-than-secondhand-tobacco-smoke/

Washington State Poison Center sees increase in cannabis exposures (including age 0-5)

The Courier Herald 15 December 2020
During the first 9 months of 2019, there were 338 total cases of marijuana exposures to the WAPC. This rose to 424 exposure cases in the first 9 months of 2020, an increase of 25 percent.

For the 0 to 5 age group, the number of cases rose from 85 to 122, a 44 percent increase; likewise, in the 21-59 age group, which suffered the most exposures in both 2019 and 2020, exposure reports increased from 128 to 154, a 20 percent jump.

According to the WAPC, close to half (47 percent) of all exposures in 2020 were due to edibles, whereas plant exposures contributed to about 27 percent of exposures. Concentrates accounted for another 15 percent of exposures, and other products the remaining 11 percent of cases.

The poison center lists 115 of the exposures for kids ages 0 to 5 to be unintentional; the rest were undefined, with the exception of one child supposedly using a cannabis product inappropriately, albeit unintentionally.

However, the vast plurality of exposures for the 21 to 59 age group (67) were due to intentional abuse; another 21 exposures were due to unintentional misuse.

The WAPC estimates roughly $266,000 total was saved due to 73 percent of THC exposure reports made to the center were managed at home, rather than at an ER.
READ MORE: https://www.courierherald.com/news/poison-center-sees-increase-in-cannabis-exposures-decrease-in-nicotine-exposures/

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Meth convictions hit a record high but police suggest numbers could be higher

Stuff co.nz 24 March 2021
Criminal charges for methamphetamine have hit record numbers but police say the figures could be higher still as they are using discretion to keep people out of courts.

Changes to the Misuse of Drugs Act in 2019 encouraged police to use discretion when people were caught with drugs for personal use and said a health approach – rather than prosecution – should be considered unless prosecution was in the public interest.

But new figures out from the Ministry of Justice show that more than half of all drug charges are now for methamphetamine, also called P or meth, and the numbers have almost doubled in the past decade with 8262 individual charges for the drug in 2020.

“It is across every stratum of society,” said Lieutenant Colonel Lynette Hutson​, national director of the Salvation Army’s alcohol and drug addiction Bridge programme.

“Professional people, high-functioning people, high-income people, to people in low socio-economic conditions.”

Meth use was on the rise and “doesn’t seem to be slowing”, but alcohol remained the most harmful addiction, she said.

The ministry figures show that 15,434 people faced drug charges in 2020. Of those, 8262 – more than half – were for methamphetamine, or P.

“Methamphetamine is a horrendous drug that can have a devastating impact, not only on the person using it, but their families, friends and their wider community.”
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/124607517/meth-convictions-hit-a-record-high-but-police-suggest-numbers-could-be-higher

Medicinal cannabis blacklisted by Australian pain specialists

Sydney Morning Herald 23 March 2021
Doctors are being told not to use medicinal cannabis to treat patients with chronic pain, warning there is no solid evidence it is effective, as Australia’s medical regulator approves its 100,000th cannabinoid script.

The recommendation from the country’s peak pain advisory body to doctors is: “Do not prescribe currently available cannabinoid products to treat chronic non-cancer pain unless part of a registered clinical trial.”

The Faculty of Pain Medicine at the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) says there is no robust evidence from gold-standard studies that proves cannabinoid products effectively treat these patients’ suffering. Cannabinoids are the active chemicals in cannabis.

But the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is allowing doctors to apply for special access to prescribe medicinal cannabis products. Proponents argue the substances should be given the benefit of the doubt and offered to patients on compassionate grounds.

Dean of ANZCA’s pain medicine faculty Professor Michael Vagg said medicinal cannabis products on the market “are not even close” to showing they are effective in the management of patients with complex chronic pain.

“The research available is either unsupportive of using cannabinoid products in chronic non-cancer pain or is of such low quality that no valid scientific conclusion can be drawn,” the pain specialist and physician said.

Cannabidiol-only formulations have never been the subject of any published randomised controlled trial (which are considered the scientific gold standard), yet they are the most commonly prescribed type of cannabis product.

“Substances like alcohol are more effective pound-for-pound but we don’t have extended opening hours at Dan Murphy’s for pain patients,” Professor Vagg said.
READ MORE: https://www.smh.com.au/national/medicinal-cannabis-blacklisted-by-australian-pain-specialists-20210322-p57cyw.html

Confirmed!! Recreational Cannabis Use Among Adults at Home Is On the Rise In Legalised States (US)

Recreational Cannabis Use Among Adults at Home Is On the Rise, But What About the Children?
Columbia Public Health 17 March 2021
Among adults with children living in the home, cannabis use was more common in states with legalized cannabis use, according to a new study by Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia Irving Medical Center and the City University of New York. Legalization for recreational and medical use were both linked with significantly higher prevalence of past-month and daily cannabis use. Until now, most tobacco control and harm reduction efforts protecting youth from exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke focused on parental cigarette smoking, ensuring smoke-free homes, and not smoking in the presence of children. The findings are published in the journal Addiction.

The potential risks of exposure to secondhand cannabis smoke and education on the merits of protecting youth from exposure to secondhand cannabis smoke have received little attention in the cannabis legalization effort, according to  Renee Goodwin, PhD, MPH, in the Department of Epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, and lead investigator.

“If legalization for medical or recreational purposes has increased cannabis use among adults living in the home with children, adults deserve education about the risks of secondhand smoke to youth, as well as information on any other risks to their children associated with parental cannabis use,” said Goodwin. “In contrast to cigarettes, there are no public health or clinical guidelines for parents designed to address or educate about best practices for use of cannabis toward avoiding or reducing harmful exposures of secondhand smoke to children’s health.”

The researchers analyzed data from the 2004-2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an annual representative survey on substance use and mental health of individuals ages 12 and older, to determine past-30-day cannabis use and daily cannabis use by age, gender, annual family income, and educational attainment as well as cannabis legalization.

In states where cannabis is legal for recreational purposes, 12 percent of the adults reported past-month use, and 4 percent used daily. For states with medical marijuana laws, the percentage of users in the month dropped to 9 percent, and to 6 percent in states without legalization laws. On a daily basis, adults reported using at 4.2 percent, 3.2 percent, and 2.3 percent, respectively.

Legalization for recreational use was associated with significant jumps in cannabis use among adults with children living in the home. The effect of legalization for medical use was concentrated more among parents who are older, with higher income and education levels. While increases in states with recreational legalization were observed consistently across all demographic groups.
READ MORE: https://www.publichealth.columbia.edu/public-health-now/news/recreational-cannabis-use-among-adults-home-rise-what-about-children

 

Colorado’s legal cannabis farms emit more carbon than its coal mines

NewScientist 8 March 2021
Legal cannabis production in Colorado emits more greenhouse gases than the state’s coal mining industry, researchers analysing the sector’s energy use have found.

The production and use of cannabis for medical or recreational reasons is now legal in several US states, which has led to a booming industry.

Hailey Summers and her colleagues at Colorado State University have quantified and analysed the greenhouse gas emissions produced by cannabis growers.

They found that emissions varied widely by state, from 2.3 to 5.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per kilogram of dried flower produced.

In Colorado, the emissions add up to around 2.6 megatonnes of CO2e, which is more than that from the state’s coal mining at 1.8 megatonnes of CO2e.

“The emissions that come from growing 1 ounce, depending on where it’s grown in the US, is about the same as burning 7 to 16 gallons of gasoline,” says Summers.

Most US cannabis is grown indoors, as some states don’t allow outdoor growing and the crops are also at risk of theft. This means that the majority of cannabis production emissions come from climate-control systems and high-powered lights that take the place of the sun.
READ MORE: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2270366-colorados-legal-cannabis-farms-emit-more-carbon-than-its-coal-mines/#ixzz6oepDryEg