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Norway to Decriminalize All Drug Use. Following the example of Portugal, in December 2017, Norway’s Parliament voted to decriminalize all drugs. The Norway Parliament directed the Government to make all necessary legislative changes and enforce the adopted decision. The solution, according to the MPs, was prompted by evidence on the inefficiency and harm caused by the drug war measures so far. They believe that instead of prosecution, the state should provide proper support for people who use drugs. Despite initial enthusiastic reactions, competent officials remain realistic and believe the complete introduction of the reforms will take more time. (Source: Huffington Post)

Scientific Debate on Cannabis Legalization in Macedonia. In December 2017, the Cannabis and Green Policies Association “BILKA”, joined by the Organization of Young Penalists held a scientific debate on the subject “Cannabis Legalization in Macedonia – Yes or No?.” Prof. d-r Nikola Tupančeski and prof. d-r Aleksandra Deanoska, professors at the Iustinianus Primus Faculty of Law at the St. Cyril and Methodius University – Skopje, Vladimir Tufegdžić, a judge at the Primary Court Skopje 1 – Skopje, Lenče Ristoska, public prosecutor from the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office and Janaki Mitrovski, lawyer and co-founder of Bilka presented their views at the debate. The discussion was moderated by Ognen Janeski, TV host, human rights activist and co-founder of Bilka. The participants came to the conclusion that current legislative regulation on cannabis does not correspond to the citizens’ needs, it encourages corruption and human rights violation and is not beneficial for the state.

Panel Discussion: Night Life, Drugs and Harm Reduction. A panel discussion on “Night Life, Drugs and Harm Reduction” was held in December 2017 in Skopje. Speakers at the discussion were Mirko Popov, DJ, promoter and owner of PMG Recordings,  Katerina Evgo, representative from Password Production, Nataša Boškova, lawyer and human rights advocate and Mihail Solakov, owner of Oak Tales. The discussion was moderated by Davor Smilanov. The prevailing topic was drug use at parties, concerts and festivals, particularly harms caused by police prosecution of people who use drugs instead of prosecuting big drug producers and traffickers. State institutions were urged to focus more on people’s health, particularly young people, and rather than prosecution based on drug use provide them with proper information and the chance to make a uniform decision regarding this issue, and how to protect their health if they do use drugs. The panel discussion was organized by HOPS – Healthy Options Project Skopje.

Training for Working with Children and Young People Who Use Psychoactive Substances. At the start of November 2017, in Berovo, HOPS – Healthy Options Project Skopje organized training on working with children and young people who use psychoactive substances. The goal was to create staff capable of providing comprehensive support for children and young people who use psychoactive substances in Macedonia. The organizer has been calling attention to the need for introducing urgent measures for supporting children and young people who use psychoactive substances for years, the training being part of those efforts. The training was one of many extensive activities organized by the Network for Social Empowerment of Young People at Risk, financed by the European Union.

Civil Disobedience Regarding New Cannabis Policy. In October 2017, a group of thirty patients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, Chron’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic and neuropathic pain, anxiety and other health disorders gathered in front of the Parliament of the United Kingdom to protest with public cannabis consumption. This act of civil disobedience, encouraged by veteran MP and cannabis advocate Paul Flynn, was directed towards allowing research and free medical consultations on cannabis for medical purposes. Although aware that quick changes in policies are impossible, the protesters announced their determination to persist in their intentions and demonstrate again civil disobedience since their health and lives depend on it. (Source: HOPS)

International Training on Working with Children at Social Risk. From 16 to 18 October 2017, training for working with children and young people at social risk was held in Skopje. The training covered topics on the protection of patients’ rights, application of the fundamental principles for working and the standards for providing social and health protection for children and young people: who use drugs, who are in conflict with the law, who are brought up in a drug use environment or an environment in conflict with the law, who live on the street, who are without parental care, as well as Roma children and young people. The training was organized by the regional Network for Social Empowerment of Young People at Risk, comprised of several organizations from Macedonia, Albania, Serbia, Kosovo, Monte Negro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Macedonian representative is HOPS – Healthy Options Project Skopje. (Source: HOPS)

National Coordinative Body on Children Who Use Drugs Established. Concerned about the growing trends of psychoactive substance use among minors in Macedonia, and dedicated to finding proper solutions beneficial for the children, several institutions and organizations established the National Coordinative Body on Children Who Use Drugs on 22 September 2017. During the session, the members of the Coordinative Body stressed the need for mutual exchange of information and increased cooperation towards promoting mechanisms for monitoring drug use situation among minors, as well as towards prevention, making contact, treatment and resocialization of children who use drugs. (Source: HOPS)

Families Allowed to Grow Kratom Trees in Thailand. Thailand enforced a law that allows families to grow kratom trees (Mitragyna speciose), native to Southeast and South Asia and with psychedelic substances. Thais are allowed to grow and consume the kratom for personal needs for sustaining the folklore culture, however most probably will not be allowed to carry it outside their homes. In addition, there is an ongoing public discussion on cannabis legalization for medical and research purposes. (Source: The Nation)

Oregon Abolishes Drug Criminalization. In August 2017, Oregon abolished drug criminalization. According to the new law of this federal state, drug use will no longer be considered a felony but a misdemeanour. Oregon now joins the policies of 200 institutions in 28 states, created towards helping people who use drugs instead of criminal prosecution. Activists for more humane drug policies welcomed the decision, stressing that arguments in favour of drug criminalization have failed to come to fruition and that drug use imprisonment is counterproductive for the individual and society. (Source: The Free Thought Project)

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