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Where is Cannabis Legal in Europe?

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Europe is a huge continent with over 40 countries included. Therefore, it is often hard to generalize when it comes to their view on cannabis laws. Each nation has its own opinion and this can differ drastically from one country to another. We’re going to be delving into every European country and displaying their summarized laws on weed. Let’s go. 

Albania 

Medical: No

Recreational: No

Due to the Law of Narcotic and Psychotropic Substances that was made in 1994, cannabis is firmly included on the list of illegal substances. Therefore, cultivation, possession, production and essentially anything involving weed is illegal. This includes even the medical use of the substance. In July of this year, Albania drafted their first cannabis law to attempt to legalize it for medicinal purposes but it faced opposition. 

Andora

Medical: No

Recreational: No

Cannabis both medically and recreationally is strictly illegal in Andorra. You can face up to two years in prison for the trafficking of the substance, and individual use can also leave you with a large fine of up to 600 euros and an arrest. The only hope is that it borders Spain, where there are far more liberal views on cannabis. 

Austria

Medical: No

Recreational: Decriminalised

In Austria, it is illegal to consume, buy, sell or grow the plant. They also still do not have a medical cannabis market. However, in 2016, the personal use of it was essentially decriminalized. 30-40% of the nation’s young people, aged 15-24, enjoy hash and cannabis.  

Belarus 

Medical: No

Recreational: No

Belarus is very strict when it comes to cannabis laws. It is illegal in every way you look at it, even the industrial use of hemp.  

Belgium

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Decriminalised 

Belgium is definitely in the higher end of Europe when it comes to acceptance of cannabis. Medical cannabis exists, although it’s limited to only Sativex products. Plus, whilst recreational weed is illegal in Belgium, possession of under 3 grams by a person of age is decriminalized. 

Bosnia and Herzegovina 

Medical: No

Recreational: No

Similar to Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina have banned cannabis both medically and recreationally and do not look to be changing that any time soon. 

Bulgaria

Medical: No

Recreational: No

Medical and recreational cannabis is illegal in Bulgaria. However, farmers can grow industrial hemp with a permit, so at least that’s something. Plus, in 2019, Bulgaria was the first EU country to legalize the selling of CBD products. As one of the EU’s poorest members, many believe that legalizing THC could benefit their economy. 

Croatia

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Decriminalised 

In 2015, Croatia legalised the use of medical cannabis. Plus, the personal use of the substance is also only considered a misdemeanour and not a crime, meaning at worst you’ll face a fine. They are not quite at the stage of having a recreational cannabis market yet, but perhaps this could change. 

Cyprus

Medical: Yes

Recreational: No

As of 2019, Cyprus legalized the use and cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes. However, the use of the substance for recreational purposes is dealt with heavily by authorities. 

Czech Republic

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Decriminalized

As of 2010, the Czech Republic decriminalized the use of the possession and cultivation of cannabis for personal use. You do need a license to grow it. Medical usage was also legalized in 2013 for certain conditions. 

Denmark

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Decriminalized

Denmark is considered one of the most liberal nations in the world, but how do they fair when it comes to cannabis? Denmark legalized medical cannabis in 2018, but the access to it remains limited and only certain products like Sativex are available. The substance remains illegal but they are lenient with small amounts for personal use. 

Estonia

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Decriminalized

Estonia is another example of a nation that legalized medical cannabis a while ago, but have yet to really do anything about it. You can expect leniency if you’re found with a small amount of weed but, overall, it’s illegal.

Finland

Medical: Yes

Recreational: No

Since 1972 it has been illegal to use cannabis recreationally and that has not changed since. However, as is the case with many nations in Europe, a small amount will probably be given only a small fine. Medical cannabis is also legal, but the industry is far from booming, with only around 250 people actually having access to it. 

France

Medical: Yes

Recreational: No

It is illegal to produce, import and sell recreational cannabis in France. In January 2022 the government dismissed a drafted law that tried to legalize it. In fact, it is believed that France has some of the harshest drug laws in Europe. As you can predict, even the medical weed is limited and hard to access. 

Germany

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Almost

Germany has recently laid out plans to legalize cannabis for recreational use. This would make it one of the first and largest countries in Europe to do so. As of yet, there is no exact date that this could happen. Medical cannabis has also been accessible since 2017.

Greece

Medical: Yes

Recreational: No

Greece has legalized medical cannabis but the industry has not yet gotten off the ground. In regards to recreational use, it is completely and firmly illegal. A small amount won’t amount to a criminal record. 

Hungary

Medical: No

Recreational: No

Hungary supposedly treats cannabis use with the same amount of seriousness as heroin. The use of the substance is illegal both medically and recreationally. 

Iceland

Medical: No

Recreational: No

The best cannabis product you’re going to get in Iceland is maybe some CBD and prescribed Sativex. Other than that, it is completely illegal. 

Ireland

Medical: Yes

Recreational: No

Medical cannabis and CBD in Ireland has been legal since 2019, however it requires approval by the Minister for Health. Recreational weed is completely illegal.

Italy

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Decriminalized

Recreational cannabis is illegal in Italy, however some cannabis-lite products are available for purchase in smart shops with very small amounts of THC. Medical cannabis is, yet again, legal but strictly regulated.

Kosovo

Medical: No

Recreational: No

Kosovo is another strict nation, no use of cannabis is legal here. However, yet again, people are suggesting it be a good idea for their economy to create a legal weed market. 

Latvia

Medical: No

Recreational: No

Latvia has banned all use of cannabis except hemp production, but if you’re found with a gram or so then you can expect only a fine. 

Liechtenstein

Medical: No

Recreational: No

Liechtenstein does not even have Sativex available for medical use, the nation has made weed illegal in all ways. 

Lithuania

Medical: Yes

Recreational: No

Since 2018, medical cannabis has been legal in Lithuania, but the industry is limited and hardly accessible. You can expect a small fine if found with limited cannabis in this country but larger amounts will be an issue.

Luxembourg 

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Yes

In 2021, Luxembourg shocked the world by becoming the first country in Europe to legalize growing and using a limited amount of cannabis for personal use. However, it’s now being revealed that – without a cannabis market being created – it feels more like decriminalization than actual legalization. Nonetheless, it has paved the way for the rest of the continent. 

Malta

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Yes

Malta is the most progressive nation in Europe when it comes to cannabis. Both medical and recreational use is legal and has been since 2021. However, as of yet, there has been limited news on how this change of law has been actioned. 

Moldova

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Decriminalised

Medical cannabis in Moldova is legal but limited. Recreational weed is illegal but decriminalized – in essence, simple drug use is not a crime. 

Monaco

Medical: No

Recreational: No

Tax avoidance may be legal in Monaco, but cannabis most certainly is not. 

Montenegro

Medical: No

Recreational: No

Montenegro is far from legalizing cannabis in any way. In 2014 a political party attempted to present a bill but it was instantly rejected.

The Netherlands

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Decriminalized

The Netherlands have the most successful recreational cannabis market in Europe, with hundreds of thousands of tourists coming to Amsterdam to enjoy their coffeeshops. However, the actual use of cannabis is still technically not legal, it is just completely decriminalized. 

North Macedonia

Medical: Yes

Recreational: No

Medical cannabis is legal but limited in North Macedonia, and products containing 0.2% THC or less are also available. There is no likelihood that their stance on recreational weed changes any time soon. 

Norway

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Decriminalized

Norway only allows for the medical use of the cannabis plant and nothing else. However, they are lenient to small amounts for personal use, probably only resulting in a fine. 

Poland

Medical: Yes

Recreational: No

As of yet, hemp cultivation and a 2017 medical cannabis program is all that Poland currently has. Yet again, small amounts will be dealt with leniently. 

Portugal

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Decriminalized

In Portugal it is possible to access medical cannabis if other methods have proven to fail for your specific condition. The use of small amounts of cannabis will not give you jail time but may result in a fine. 

Romania

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Decriminalized

In 2019, Romania stated that they are looking to make their medical cannabis more accessible. Whilst recreational cannabis is illegal, they do not deal with the substance strictly due to it not being a high-risk drug. 

Russia

Medical: No

Recreational: Decriminalised

Russia has made possession of up to 6 grams a smaller crime, and therefore will result only in a fine. However, there is still a long way to go for the country, without even a medical cannabis market. 

San Marino

Medical: Yes

Recreational: No

In 2019, San Marino came close to legalizing recreational cannabis after a citizen’s initiative but backtracked at the last minute, stating they would rather wait for Italy to do it first. Limited medical cannabis is also available. 

Serbia

Medical: No

Recreational: No

Serbia is another strict nation when it comes to cannabis.

Slovakia

Medical: No

Recreational: No

The best you will find in Slovakia is prescribed Sativex and some CBD products, the rest is completely illegal. 

Slovenia

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Decriminalized

Medical cannabis and CBD products are legal in Slovenia, but not always easy to access. There is also quite a lenient approach to small amounts of the illegal use of the substance. In fact, there’s even a secret cannabis bar in the capital Ljubljana. 

Spain

Medical: Decriminalized 

Recreational: Decriminalized 

Spain has their own underground coffeeshop market, with cannabis cafes that require membership to smoke in them. You are also able to indirectly purchase cannabis here. However, their medical weed market is basically non-existent and the drug is completely illegal when used in public.

Sweden

Medical: Yes

Recreational: No

You would expect more from Sweden, but their medical cannabis industry is highly limited and seems to have no future for recreational weed legalization.

Switzerland

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Decriminalized

If you’re found with less than 10 grams of cannabis then you can expect a lenient fine in Switzerland. They are also currently in the process of improving their medical cannabis industry. 

Ukraine

Medical: No

Recreational: Decriminalised

Whilst both medical and recreational cannabis use is illegal in Ukraine, technically possession of small amounts is only a petite offence. The president is also a fan of legalizing medical cannabis, so perhaps when the war is over this could be his next move. 

United Kingdom

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Decriminalized

The United Kingdom is working on improving their medical cannabis industry, which began in 2018. In fact, the UK is the biggest exporter of medical cannabis in the world, and yet a limited amount of their population actually have any access to it. Small amounts of weed are often ignored in the nation but it is unlikely that the UK will legalize recreational cannabis until other major players in Europe do it first.

Conclusion

Europe has definitely been slower in accepting cannabis than other places, especially North America. However, it is the smaller nations that have been the heroes of the story, with Luxembourg and Malta paving the way. But now with Germany looking imminent to legalizing cannabis, this could completely change the way the rest of Europe sees the substance. 

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Biocapton

The Lowdown On Syria As The New Captagon Narco State

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The Mid-East countries might be outwardly against drugs, but that doesn’t mean their people aren’t using, or involved in the trade. From published research showing the growing trend of hash among youth in Saudi Arabia, to Syria and its new position as a Captagon narco state, it kind of seems like the Mid-East, is right in the middle of it all.

What’s a ‘narco state’?

We hear the term ‘narco state’ a lot, particularly when talking about the international drug trade. For those who don’t follow the news, the word ‘narco’ is still pretty out there, what with the array of television shows portraying the lives of famous illicit drug entrepreneurs. But what exactly does it mean? According to collinsdictionary, it’s pretty simply:

“A country in which the illegal trade in narcotic drugs forms a substantial part of the economy.” That certainly paints a picture, but more in depth definitions explain the concept even better. Oxford reference explains it further, saying,

“A nation state whose government, judiciary, and military have been effectively infiltrated by drug cartels, or where the illegal drug trade is covertly run by elements of the government. It can also refer to a region under the control of organized crime for the purposes of producing or trafficking drugs where legitimate political authority is absent.”


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It then goes on to explain that the term “‘Narco state’ is more a journalistic phrase than an entity under international law. It has been used to describe Colombia, Guinea-Bissau, Suriname, and Mexico at various times….”

Basically, a narco state refers to a situation whereby those who control the drug trade, also hold a substantial power in governance. This generally undermines the political parties and/or laws of a country, often making such entities look rather powerless in comparison (though they’re often involved). Take Mexico, for example. It’s one of the most well-known examples of a country which is essentially run by its criminal organizations, and where very few people expect the government to do much about it.

A country dubbed a ‘narco state’ can go from being a narco state to a non-narco state if the structure that allows the criminal organizations their power, is fundamentally changed. Likewise, a country not known by this term, can easily become associated with it, if for some reason its drug trade is suddenly elevated. Such is the current case with Syria, as the drug Captagon propels it to narco state status.

What’s Captagon?

A country can become a narco state based on the trade of different drugs. Some of the drugs most responsible for incurring large drug trades, include heroine (opium), cocaine (coca), and cannabis. But there are plenty more drugs that rise and fall in popularity, and right now, the Mid-East is home to one of the burgeoning drugs to create a narco state – Captagon.

Captagon – or fenethylline – is a codrug and prodrug of amphetamine, meaning it works well with amphetamine, and breaks down into it within the body. It also goes by the spellings phenethylline and fenetylline, and by the names: amphetamin​oethyl​theophylline and amfetyline. Its been marketed under the names Captagon, Biocapton, and Fitton, as a psychostimulant. And as of now, it comes with no identifiable death toll. At all.

Psychostimulant is a nonspecific word that goes hand in hand with the word ‘uppers’. It applies to drugs that increase activity in the central nervous system, and bring on positive feelings like euphoria. The category includes everything from cocaine, to methamphetamine, to caffeine, to Captagon.

Captagon was first synthesized in 1961 by German chemicals company Degussa AG. For many years it was used as an alternative to amphetamine as it provides a milder response. One of its benefits over amphetamine, is not causing quite as extreme an increase in cardiovascular function. Even as it proved safer than amphetamine, and enjoyed use as a medication for narcolepsy, ADHD, and depression; the US illegalized it, putting in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances list in 1981.

This was followed up in 1986 by the World Health Organization adding it to the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, essentially leading to its illegalization in much of the world. And this while amphetamine remained legal, with Schedule II designation in the US. Though the drug certainly exists in many places, it’s found most in the countries of the Middle East. Like most any illicit drug industry, this also means the trafficking and sale of counterfeit Captagon.

As is stands now, Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest Captagon consumers, and the majority of the drug gets trafficked in through Syria. The industry has grown so exponentially in the country, that Syria has become a Captagon narco state.

Saudi Arabia biggest Captagon importers
Saudi Arabia biggest Captagon importers

Syria and Captagon

Syria – the Syrian Arab Republic – sits in Western Asia. To its west are the Mediterranean, Turkey, Lebanon, and Israel; to its south is Jordon; to its south and east is Iraq; and to its north is also Turkey. Arabs are the largest ethic group in the country, but are joined by Kurds, Turkmens, Assyrians, Armenians, Circassians, Albanians, and Greeks. The most common religion is Muslim, but there are also plenty of Christians, Alawites, Druze, and Yazidis.

Since March of 2011, there’s been civil war in Syria, mostly because of the leadership of Bashar al-Assad, who took over in 2000, upon the death of his father Hafez al-Assad. The current leadership has been roundly associated with human rights abuses like executions of political prisoners, and wide-ranging censorship. Assad’s rule is challenged by political groups like Syrian Interim Government, Syrian Salvation Government, and Rojava. This civil war has claimed the lives of over a half million people, and led to a refugee crisis involving upwards of seven million displaced residents, and around five million refugees.

All of this is important because it shows the instability of the leadership of the country. Captagon at one point was associated with Islamic State fighters (part of the a militant Islamist group that promotes the Salafi jihadist branch of Sunni Islam), which makes it less surprising that its manufacture and use has spread so far. In fact, this illegal $10 billion/year industry is directly tied to al-Assad…as well as his enemies. According to international French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP), Captagon exports dwarf all legal exports out of the country.

Now, to be clear, there are no hard numbers for an illegal drug industry, or at least none that get reported. The size of an illegal industry is approximated through drug busts and seizures. Which realistically means that a country that puts more effort into rooting out drugs and making seizures, could look to have a bigger industry than a country with more drugs, but less push to catch them. It’s said that Syria is the biggest producer and Saudi Arabia the biggest importer, but these assumptions are only based on who has been caught.

In the case of Captagon, its approximated that pills average at about $5. A real Captagon pill costs approximately $25 on the high end, while a knockoff can be as low as $1. In 2021, 460 million pills were taken in seizures, which leads to the total estimate of 2.3 billion pills produced, if 80-90% of trades go through. And this accounts for about $10+ billion in revenue. It’s expected that for every shipment which gets intercepted, that nine others likely make it alright. In reality, the $10 billion estimated from 2021, is probably a low number.

Whether Syria really is the biggest narco state, is arguable at best. Though it makes for killer headlines, its hard to imagine Syria outdoing a country like Mexico. Even so, the real meat of the story, is simply that the growing popularity of Captagon, has led Syria to join the list of countries considered narco states.

Further details of Syria and its relationship with Captagon

Captagon has its place in Syria as a party drug, but its cheapness, and ability for discretion make it a popular choice over the more socially unacceptable alcohol. As the kind of stimulant associated with pulling an all-nighter in school, and for helping soldiers fight longer, its not shocking its used by workers who want to get more work done. There are even stories of bosses spiking their worker’s drinks with the pills, in order to get more work out of them.

France24 spoke with several illegal operators out of Syria, and though most required anonymity, they were able to shed some light on the situation. Said one fixer and trafficker, a big shipment is usually organized by five or six different entities in order to cover the cost of the raw materials, transporting, and necessary bribes; all of which can total around $10 million.

Captagon
Captagon

He explained, “The cost is low and the profits high,” and that getting intercepted sometimes isn’t the worst thing because even just one shipment out of ten making it, means enough profit for all involved. In terms of who these people are, he explained “There’s a group of more than 50 barons… They are one big web, Syrians, Lebanese and Saudis.”

Though the Syrian government plays some role (or at least takes money from it), much of the trade happens through Bedouin confederation Bani Khaled, which can often support the entire process of production in Syria, through delivery in a country like Saudi Arabia. This means less hand offs between different organizations, and an easier ability to maintain control. As the network reaches to Jordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, from Syria and Lebanon, this gives a large area to work within with one entity overseeing it.

Syria is currently the biggest producer of Captagon, manufacturing approximately 80% of the circulating Captagon globally. This is according to security services, that go on to say that the Captagon trade is worth three times the entire Syrian national budget. Assad-controlled areas are some of the biggest hotspots for this trade, though Assad’s brother Maher al-Assad plays a role as well, and is said to be one of the biggest winners in the Captagon game. It’s reported that many labs get “the raw material directly from the 4th Division, sometimes in military bags,” of which Maher is the de facto head.

The trade has done well to build up groups like Hezbollah, which is said to play a part in patrolling the Lebanese border to ensure safe trafficking. Said an ex-Syrian government adviser who remains anonymous, “Syria is in dire need of foreign currency, and this industry is capable of filling the treasury through a shadow economy from importing raw materials to manufacturing and finally exporting.”

The trade is big enough that many other organizations, including rebel groups, are in on it, particularly in the south of Syria. Sweida and Daraa, two provinces along the border with Jordan, have smuggling routes to Saudi Arabia. Abu Timur, a spokesman for the armed group Al-Karama, explained,

“The smuggling is organized by the tribes who live in the desert in coordination with over 100 small armed gangs,” and that “Captagon brought together all the warring parties of the conflict… The government, the opposition, the Kurds and ISIS.”

Syria might be the new Captagon narco state, but the drug isn’t killing anyone. If you look up ‘Captagon deaths,’ nothing comes up; which greatly begs the question why this matters. Why would anyone go this far to care about something not causing a problem? The only real assumption, is money. The situation has now gone so far, that this no death-toll drug, is reason for a shoot-to-kill policy in Jordan, concerning traffickers of Captagon out of Syria. Meaning a drug that doesn’t kill anyone (much like cannabis), is now the reason for many deaths.

Conclusion

While its always nice to see different sides come together, perhaps the pursuance of a drug trade isn’t the best reason. However, low-grade knock-offs aside, Captagon isn’t the most intense drug, and far better than other options like opioids, which cause many deaths.

If you had the choice, you’d probably prefer your kid took a couple Captagon pills, over ever popping a fentanyl; but today’s reality is that you can get shot and killed over a drug, that doesn’t actually kill anyone.

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All about Cannabis

Health Canada: Let’s Ban Potent Cannabis Extracts  – Cannabis | Weed | Marijuana

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Despite a healthcare system already on the verge of collapse pre-COVID, Health Canada bureaucrats have focused on cannabis companies selling extracts.

Health Canada recently requested federally licensed cannabis companies to discontinue the sale of cannabis products the bureaucracy considers mislabeled. Health Canada is concerned adults are consuming products labelled “extracts” as “edibles.”

The move is expected to cost cannabis companies millions of dollars. And it comes at a time when most publicly traded cannabis producers are still losing money.

Why target products that have been on the market for three years? Health Canada has not responded to any media on the topic, including Cannabis Life Network’s request for clarification.

Health Canada: Let's Ban Cannabis Extracts 

While Health Canada’s targeting of cannabis extracts surprises many, others, like CLN, have been expecting this move for a while.

In the letter seen by MJBizDaily, Health Canada said that “upon further review of the products in question, Health Canada has assessed that this product is edible cannabis and, consequently, it contains a quantity of THC that exceeds the allowable limit of 10 mg per immediate container.”

The letter goes on to define “extract,” “edible,” and “food.”

“Health Canada has determined that (the products in question) are consumed in the same manner as food, and therefore fit the definition of edible cannabis,” the Health Canada letter says.

Cannabis extracts cannot exceed 1,000 milligrams per container, one hundred times more than Health Canada permits in the edible class. Ergo, companies would instead produce extracts than edibles.

However, the line has gotten blurred, and this is likely what concerns the bureaucracy’s busybodies. For example, New Brunswick-based cannabis producer Organigram has a “Jolts” product advertised as a lozenge. While each candy is 10mg, the entire pack of 100mg.

Likewise, Redecan has a cannabis extract containing 800 to 1000mg of THC per bottle. However, the oral dispensing syringe caps each “dose” at 8-10mg. 

Are these the products Health Canada wants discontinued?

Health Canada On Extracts: Useless

Health Canada: Let's Ban Cannabis Extracts 

Why Health Canada? And why now? Why at all?

Industry sources expect to lose tens of millions if Health Canada demands extracts and lozenges get pulled from the Canadian cannabis market. They also expect the illicit and legacy markets to fill the void.

Regardless of what you think about public health and safety or an individual’s freedom to consume as much THC as they want, there’s significant concern about how Health Canada is going about this.

This kind of regulatory enforcement is akin to banana republics. Health Canada has already approved these products. Organigram’s “Jolts” have been on the market for over a year.

Producers of these extracts followed all the rules and regulations. And now Health Canada will arbitrarily limit (or ban) these products because… what? Canadian consumers prefer potent extracts over weak-ass edibles?

The lesson here is to remove all THC limits, not bring the hammer down on companies producing legal products. This is not how you regulate an industry.

Infantilizing Adults

While Health Canada hasn’t responded to a request for comment, I suspect the justification will likely be over “public health” and “increased hospitalizations from high-THC products.”

Another way of saying: we’re so bad at delivering health care that instead of improving it, we’re going to start controlling the behaviours that may lead people to need a hospital bed.

That’s the most insulting part of all of this. Health Canada treats adult cannabis consumers like children by limiting their autonomy and decision-making.

Actions speak louder than words. Health Canada bureaucrats (who live off our taxes) lack trust in cannabis-consuming adults to make their own choices and take responsibility for their actions.

When regulations are not based on evidence or are not well-reasoned, they are an infringement on personal liberty and autonomy.

Even with “conventional thinking,” in which government regulations are effective and immune to corruption and politics, it’s essential that regulators balance the need to protect public health and safety with the need to respect adults’ autonomy and decision-making abilities.

Health Canada’s crackdown on cannabis extracts clearly violates that balance. 

This situation would be like if Health Canada discovered that vodka and whiskey were stronger than beer. And so they order distilleries across the nation to arbitrarily limit their alcohol content and take the products off the shelves.

Health Canada has no business regulating cannabis. 

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Bring On the Psychedelics: States Looking to Reform Policy in 2023

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2020 brought us Oregon and the first legalization for psychedelic mushrooms in the US. 2022 brought us Colorado doing the same, but with more compounds legalized, and a separate pre-emptive legalization for MDMA. Now, it’s a new year, so let’s take a look at which states are looking to reform their psychedelics policies, going into 2023.

The first two: Oregon and Colorado

In the 2020 elections, Oregon put Measure 109 and Measure 110 to the voters, both of which passed, with 55.75%, and 58.46% of the vote, respectively. The first law is a measure to legalize some use of psilocybin mushrooms, and the second is a decriminalization measure for the personal possession of illicit drugs. Together they make for a full drug decriminalization in the state, as well as a drug legalization under certain parameters.

The parameters were made more clear in 2022 upon the release of rules for the new industry. For one thing, the legalization only covers psilocybin mushrooms, and of those mushrooms, only one species: Psilocybe cubensis. Furthermore, all legal use must be done in a certified center under the watchful eye of a non-medical tripsitter. Different municipalities have the option of opting out of this allowance.

In the 2022 elections, Colorado joined in as the second state to legalize some form of  a psychedelic, though Colorado went a bit further. Instead of focusing on just psilocybin mushrooms, the state made it about entheogenic plants as part of a natural medicine program, though not all medicinal plants are a part of this. It includes the compounds: psilocybin, psilocin, DMT, mescaline (minus Peyote), and ibogaine. It also sets up regulation for trip centers, but does allow administration of the compounds outside of this. It decriminalizes use of these compounds outside legal administration.


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Colorado made it so that when the measure passed, the entire state was obligated to oblige. Unlike Oregon, no individual locations have the ability to say no, making for a standard law throughout the state. Colorado also was the first state to pass a pre-emptive legalization for medical MDMA. This legalization lies in wait for a federal legalization first, and has no power until that happens. When it does, Colorado is set to go with regulations for its medical MDMA industry.

States to watch for psychedelics reform in 2023 – California and Washington

California and Washington are both coming off of failed psychedelics bills in the previous year. And both are already back with new bills to offer, both of which have been tweaked to create more passable versions in the hopes of having a better chance this time around.

California is offering SB 58 as an improved version of SB 519. SB 519 didn’t actually die like other failed bills, but instead was intentionally pulled by its creator, Sen. Scott Wiener. SB 519 would have decriminalized the possession of both natural and synthetic compounds, as well as legalizing medical use for patients in need, and mandating further research. The new SB 58 narrows its scope to the same five compounds as Colorado: psilocybin, psilocin, DMT, ibogaine, and mescaline; with synthetics like LSD and MDMA removed. It omits the research requirement.

As the previous bill passed the Senate in California, as well as its first two Assembly committees, there’s plenty of reason this newer version should also do well. Wiener pulled the previous bill because of the edits made to it, which downgraded it to nothing more than a research initiative; taking out everything else. The hope is that with the scope minimized to just the chosen entheogenic plants, the bill will pass through.

Washington is coming back with SB 5263 to take the place of the failed SB 5660. Some of the revisions to this new bill include a longer implementation time of 24 months, to make sure everything goes smoothly; greater worker protections for those administering the drugs; the requirement of group sessions for drug administration; the ability for administration outside of a service center (like Colorado); greater privacy for users; and no maximum doses under 50mg. It also doesn’t allow individual locations to opt-out.

One of the other things this new bill does, is move away from the standards of tripsitting that have thus far been employed by the two legal states. Washington will instead require a new license that is earned with 120 classroom hours, and 250 practice hours. In comparison, Oregon only mandated tripsitters to go through 40 hours of training.

Classroom training for tripsitting license
Classroom training for tripsitting license

Other states looking for psychedelics reform in 2023 – CT, IL, NY

The psychedelics industry is moving at breakneck speeds, going from a snowball to an avalanche in no time at all. Connecticut is one state looking for psychedelics reform in 2023. It’s doing so with a bill (H.B. No. 5102) which legalizes “the use of psilocybin for medicinal and therapeutic purposes, including, but not limited to, the provision of physical, mental or behavioral health care.” The bill is being spearheaded by democratic democratic Representative David Michel, who had this to say:

“Decriminalizing will help end the targeting of certain communities… and authorizing psilocybin for medical and therapeutical use, I believe, is key when mental health is at an all-time low.” He went on, that “It’s more needed than ever,” and that its senseless to be “constantly going through pharmaceutical products when nature-based approaches can be very effective.”

Illinois is another state looking for psychedelics reform in 2023. In the beginning of January, democratic Representative La Shawn Ford pre-filed the Compassionate Use and Research of Entheogens Act. This law would take psilocybin out of the controlled substances list of the state, and create an advisory board concerning therapeutic services for the compound. According to Ford, this bill, which would also expunge criminal records, is a main point for the season.

New York also wants in on psychedelics reform for this year. Democratic Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal pre-filed a bill early in January to legalize some entheogenic plants for an adult-use market of 21 and above. State statutes would be updated to allow the “possession, use, cultivation, production, creation, analysis, gifting, exchange, or sharing by or between natural persons of twenty-one years of age or older of a natural plant or fungus-based hallucinogen.”

The wording of the bill means inclusion of the standards like psilocybin, DMT, and mescaline, and could work to legalize more if not naming the drugs specifically. The bill would open up an industry of psychedelics services, and allow use of the plants in religious ceremonies (something that already applies to mescaline.)

Even more states looking to get in on it in 2023 – NJ, MO, VA, MO, MN, NH

No, we’re not done, there are several more states looking for psychedelics reform in 2023. Like New Jersey. Democratic Senate President Nicholas Scutari filed a bill last year that’s still in play. The bill would legalize not just the possession of psilocybin mushrooms, but their cultivation as well. Like most others of its kind, it would seek to set up locations where psilocybin services could be administered. New Jersey already signed off on a bill in 2021 to substantially reduce penalties for up to one ounce of psilocybin possession.

psychedelics reform to allow psilocybin
psychedelics reform to allow psilocybin

In Missouri, Representative Tony Lovasco re-filed a previously failed bill for psychedelics reform (HB 869), on January 18th of this year. The revised version would set up psilocybin service centers for issues like treatment-resistant PTSD and depression, and would require a doctor’s recommendation. Said Lovasco to Marijuana Moment, “We’re going to have to limit it to psilocybin initially as that’s what we have the most data and research on.”

Virginia also has a take on how to reform the issue. Out of several initiatives in the state, one of the most promising is from democratic Delegate Dawn Adams who put forth HB 1513, which would legalize psilocybin for “refractory depression or post-traumatic stress disorder or to ameliorate end-of-life anxiety.” All requiring a doctor’s prescription. The law comes with provider protections, and decriminalizes the non-medical use of the drug as well. Adams has yet another bill in play (HB 898) to decriminalize a host of psychedelic compounds.

A third bill in the state, filed by democratic Senator Ghazala Hashmi (SB 932), moves psilocybin from schedule I to schedule III. This bill would also seek to set up strategies for setting up psilocybin clinical services via a Virginia Psilocybin Advisory Board.

Next up is Montana which hasn’t released anything yet, but is working on two bills so far this year. The first would legalize medical psilocybin for psychiatric purposes. The second one is simply to set up a research initiative about psychedelics for medical use in general. Both are still in the draft stage.

Minnesota isn’t missing out, with a bill also in draft stage by democratic Representative Andy Smith. This bill would legalize, in some capacity, medical psychedelics. According to Smith, “For decades scientific research into the positive effects of psychedelic medicine has been muzzled by the ‘war on drugs,’ but that is [starting] to change.” No official bill is released yet.

Last up? New Hampshire. On January 5th, republican Representative Kevin Verville submit HB 328 which would institute an adult use market of 21 and above for a number of psychedelic compounds including synthetics like LSD, and entheogenic plants like psilocybin. The bill actually isn’t more specific than this in terms of exactly which drugs it applies to. Beyond creating an adult-use market for these drugs, it would work to lower penalties for the manufacture, possession, and sale of LSD and PCP.

LSD
LSD

Conclusion

It’s unlikely that all of the psychedelics reform bills for 2023 will go through, but some of them should. And then next year? Even more. The psychedelics world is really opening up, and within a few years we can easily expect the landscape to look very, very different.

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