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North Carolina Senate committee passes medical cannabis bill
The North Carolina Senate committee has approved a bill introducing the Compassionate Care Act, which would enable individuals with specific conditions such as cancer and epilepsy to access medical cannabis treatment. The bill must be approved by the Finance Committee and two additional committees before being considered for a vote.
Australia to introduce new vaping regulations
The Australian government has introduced new regulations covering all vaping products brought into the country and that are not on the current Register of Therapeutic Goods. There are currently no nicotine vaping products on the Register of Therapeutic Goods. From October 2021, all people purchasing vaping products from overseas must have a prescription to do so. The vaping products must contain no active ingredients other than nicotine and must be clearly labelled.
HK$130 million worth of cocaine seized in Hong Kong’s largest drug bust in 20 years
Hong Kong customs officials have reported that HK$130 million (approx. £12 million) worth of cocaine has been seized in the city’s largest drug bust of its kind in 20 years. Approximately 110kgs of the illicit substance were discovered hidden in hydraulic devices originating from Brazil.
South Africa introduces its fourth ban on alcohol to prevent COVID-19 transmission
The South African president has announced a 2-week ban on alcohol sales as the country faces a third wave of COVID-19. The new measures also include a ban on all social gatherings. This is the fourth time the country has banned alcohol sales since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Netherlands bans smoking areas in public buildings
The Dutch government has announced an imminent ban on smoking zones in all government and public buildings across the country. The restrictions, originally due to be implemented in 2022, are part of the National Prevention Agreement to make workplaces safe and smoke-free.
Mexico decriminalises recreational cannabis use
Mexico’s Supreme Court has signed a bill legalising recreational cannabis use for adults. The ruling follows Congress’s failure to enact legislation by the April 30th deadline. Under the new law, individuals over the age of 18 wishing to use cannabis recreationally must apply for a permit from the Federal Commission for Protection against Health Risks.
Rwanda legalises medical cannabis use
Rwanda’s government has passed a bill to legalise medical cannabis products. Under the new regulations, people in Rwanda will be allowed to cultivate, import, export and use cannabis products for medical or research purposes. Licenses have been made available and will be valid for 5 years. Recreational cannabis products remain illegal.
Iran’s drug seizures increase fivefold
The Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration (IRICA) has reported that drug seizures between March and June 2021 increased by 523% compared with the same period in 2020. During the 3-month period, more than 117kgs of opium, 5kgs of methamphetamine, 140 kgs of heroin, and 8kgs of cannabis were seized.
Northern Ireland Assembly passes liquor licensing bill
The ‘Liquor Licensing Laws in Northern Ireland’ bill has passed the final stage of Assembly and will come into effect later in 2021. Under the new regulations, pubs and hotels will be granted extended opening hours and the restrictions on trade over Easter will be relaxed. Restrictions on off-sales, alcohol promotions and self-service purchasing by vending machines will be introduced.
Jersey introduces new tobacco packaging restrictions
Jersey’s States Assembly has agreed new regulations requiring standardised packaging on all tobacco products. Under the new restrictions all promotional aspects, including logos and colours, will be removed from tobacco packaging to reduce their appeal. The change will also involve replacing European Union images with UK images following the UK’s departure from the European Union.
Increase in alcohol and gambling problems during COVID-19 lock-down in the UK
YouGov has reported that the number of individuals experiencing alcohol and gambling related problems increased significantly one year into the COVID-19 pandemic. Data from a national poll indicate that 20% of UK adults reported an increase in drinking and 17% said that their alcohol use had caused them problems. Thirty seven percent of those who said they had been in recovery before the COVID-19 pandemic reported having relapsed.
UK pilots free vaping products for homeless people
A project led by London South Bank University (LSBU) and University College London (UCL) will provide free vaping starter kits and care group sessions to people who are homeless. The project will study whether the vaping kits helped people to quit smoking. If the intervention is effective, centres for people who are homeless would be able to adopt this approach in the future.
Illegal drug treatment centre discovered in Indian state of Haryana
The Haryana government in India has reported the discovery and closure of a drug rehabilitation centre that was operating illegally in the state. The centre was established without permission from the government. All 37 treatment seeking patients were rescued and admitted to hospital for treatment.
High court refuses to dismiss child labour case against UK tobacco companies
Two UK tobacco companies, British American Tobacco (BAT) and Imperial Tobacco, have failed to persuade the UK’s high court to strike out child labour claims brought against them. The tobacco companies deny allegations that they are responsible for exploiting farming families and children in Malawi. The claims are set to proceed to trial.
North Macedonia drafts cannabis legalisation bill
North Macedonia’s government has devised a working group to draft changes to the law on recreational cannabis possession and cultivation. The working group will examine recreational cannabis models in European countries and US states to develop a legal framework for decriminalising cannabis.
US state of Connecticut legalises recreational cannabis use
On 1 July 2021, Connecticut became the 19th US state to legalise recreational cannabis use. Adults aged 21 and over are now allowed to possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis on their person and up to 5 ounces in their property or vehicle.
UNODC World Drug Report 2021 published
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Drug Report 2021 has been released. The report highlights the impact of COVID-19 on drug use and drug trafficking. The report indicates that there was a 22% increase in the number of people using drugs between 2010 and 2019. Opioids continue to be responsible for the largest burden of disease associated with drug use.
Alcohol banned at Tokyo Olympics
Tokyo’s Olympics and Paralympics organising committee has released safety guidelines ahead of the event, which include a ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages at all venues. Spectators will also be prohibited from bringing their own alcohol to Olympic venues.
235kgs of heroin seized in Moldova’s largest drug bust
The Prosecutor General’s Office has reported that police in Moldova discovered 235kgs of heroin in the country’s largest drug bust of its kind. The substances were concealed in small batches being transported to Germany.
US state of Colorado approves bill to regulate cannabis concentrates
Colorado’s House has approved a bill that will increase regulations on medical and recreational cannabis designed to reduce the harms from high-potency forms of the drug. When passed into law, dispensaries will have to sell cannabis products in packaging that displays explicit guidance on serving size. There will also be a new daily limit to cannabis product sales of 8 grams per person, down from 40 grams. The bill will also impose further restrictions on access to medical cannabis for 18- to 20-year-olds.