Is the European Union about to legalize recreational cannabis? (South Africa says don’t forget us!)

Germany, the Netherlands, Malta and Luxembourg host a historic meeting on cannabis

Officials from these European nations met a few days ago to discuss legalizing recreational cannabis, the first of what may be several more joint meetings that other countries may later attend.

Cannabis law reform is currently sweeping the European continent, despite the United Nations preventing member states from legalizing recreational marijuana. However, the countries released a joint statement, explaining that while their meeting did not end with major decisions, officials know that maintaining a prohibition stance on marijuana will not be met without criticism. Additionally, their statement said it is the “first multilateral exchange” with the intention of discussing how to regulate marijuana for both non-medical and scientific use.

They added that the discussions are necessary for many reasons, including ironing out the public health risks posed by the black market and identifying solutions for law enforcement to better identify different types of cannabis products. In addition, the statement stressed the importance of reviewing current marijuana policies, especially given that other countries have recently changed their own drug policies.

Will South Africa be the next big player in the global cannabis industry?

According to Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, a law firm in South Africa, the country has good potential to become a major player in the global cannabis industry.

South Africa already enjoys low agricultural production costs due to low labor costs and good environmental conditions, making it a prime destination for growing marijuana. Additionally, South Africa has a great track record when it comes to innovative agricultural processes, medicinal innovations and world-class quality controls for MMJ licensing. “Local production was primarily focused on raw cannabis flowers and extracts for export to foreign markets as active pharmaceutical ingredients in bulk. Demand is expected to increase as pharmaceutical product development pipelines around the world move closer to commercialization,” the company says.

On May 27, 2022, the Governing Board released a draft for public comment on the Country Investment Strategy (CIS). It indicates that marijuana is recognized as a legal and globally traded agricultural commodity. The CIS adds that the state still has doubts about recreational marijuana use and that more research is needed. “Considering South Africa’s agricultural competitive profile, the CIS concludes that medicinal cannabis grown and processed is the most profitable competitive sales channel that can be pursued on an industrial scale and that the skills developed for medicinal production can be rapidly deployed, to serve the recreation demand of either local or international markets,” the draft reads.

“Accordingly, priority will be given to the development of a supportive legal framework that both streamlines export-scale production and opens access to the domestic market through clear, sensible regulation of medical cannabis in conjunction with mobilizing investment and enabling government activity,” he adds added .

Mayor of Brussels calls for decriminalization of marijuana

Philippe Close, Mayor of the City of Brussels, steps forward again to push for the decriminalization of marijuana. He believes there should be a national debate and states that legalizing cannabis is needed to significantly reduce the violence associated with drug trafficking.

Close told Le Soir, a French-language newspaper, that there had been 22 shootings in Brussels since the beginning of the year, all linked to drug trafficking. “I have no doubt that after the publication of this interview I will be accused by some of being a big promoter of drugs or laissez-faire. But I do address societal issues,” he says. “Let’s have a quiet debate. I am convinced that if we take cannabis out of the criminal arena, we can focus on tackling hard drug trafficking,” he adds.

Marijuana remains the most commonly used illicit drug in Europe, but that’s not going to stop, so it’s up to nations to decriminalize it and address the black market instead.

According to Close, Brussels is already working on drug trafficking, collaborating with both the federal and Antwerp police. “But to think that we will solve a problem – drug addiction – only through police repression does not work. We have to get away from this hypocrisy,” he said.

He considers a national drug plan necessary so that all actors involved cooperate with the federal government. Close also reiterates that he is not concerned with promoting marijuana, but with managing the drug.

Ireland: Court questions ban on goods containing THC

Andrius Rogusas, who imported cannabis oils from Slovenia in October 2020, has challenged Ireland’s legal ban on products containing THC. The cannabis products were confiscated by customs because they were banned, even if the items were legally manufactured in another European country with less than 0.2% THC.

Mr. Rogusas, represented by Stephen Faulkner BI and Derek Shortall SC, explains that the total ban on all items containing any THC content in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 is contrary to European free movement laws. He adds that a ruling by the Court of Justice in the European Union allows products with less than 0.2% THC to be manufactured and sold on the continent. Because of this, it shouldn’t be possible to ban products entirely, even those that contain THC. However, he acknowledges that banning THC goods can only be done on public health grounds, backed by reviews and scientific data.

Unfortunately, his claims were rejected; Because THC is a state-controlled substance, they have complete freedom to ban it.

Mr. Rogusas’ claims are one of many challenges brought to court in relation to the state’s ban on THC products.

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