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  • Uruguay revolutionises marijuana policy.
  • South Africa moves to ban alcohol advertising.
  • Wales may introduce min alcohol pricing and plain packaging.

South America – Uruguay revolutionises marijuana policy.

An unprecedented bill was passed in Uruguay last week legalising the sale of Marijuana to persons aged over 18. The bill also regulates the production, distribution and sale of the drug in the country. Marijuana will be available for $2.50 per gram (approximately $70 per Oz), a price cheaper than the black market, in bid to reduce the hold of organised crime and drug trafficking has on the region.

There is concern over the health and wellbeing ramifications of the newly introduced bill but supporters have stated that the legislation is systematic of the failure to tackle the global war on drugs. Whereby in counties like the Netherlands and Portugal that have made efforts to decriminalise the drug Uruguay controls the entire production and sale of the drug through state-run pharmacies.

Purchasers will have to register with the state and are allowed to purchase up to 40 grams a month for personal consumption. The effect this move will have on the population and other countries in the region is yet unknown as many countries watch on in interest.

Uruguay_2632936bAfrica – South Africa moves to ban alcohol advertising.

The South African government has unveiled policy that aims to seriously reduce alcohol advertising within the country. According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) study, the population of South Africa are among the biggest drinkers in the world. Alcohol kills approximately 120 people a day in the country, with over half of all road accidents involving alcohol consumption.

The recent move to reduce alcohol advertising as a mechanism to deter young persons from drinking alcohol has been met with a mixed response. The Control of Marketing of Alcoholic Beverages Bill is still in the “very earliest of stages”, according to health spokesman Joe Maila. But the bill could restrict alcohol advertising, and ban liquor-backed sport sponsorships.

According to the latest surveys, 49% people between the age of 18 and 35 thought the legislation was a good idea with a further 31% stating they think the governments measures are a bad idea.

Al-Jazera report of South African alcohol problems.

Europe – Wales could move for minimum alcohol pricing alone.

Health Minister Mark Drakeford has revealed he is giving serious consideration as to whether Wales could go it alone on major public health issues such as plain cigarette packaging and a minimum price for alcohol.

The minimum alcohol proposal was scrapped in England last month and the verdict on Scotland’s application to the EU to amend laws in order to pass the bill approved in Scottish Parliament last year is yet to be delivered. Wales could move to pass similar public health legislation without the Westminster government introducing similar proposals in England.

Plans to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes has also been discussed by the Welsh Assembly. Dr Richard Lewis, Welsh Secretary of the British Medical Association, said: “Evidence shows that packaging is a key marketing tool for the tobacco industry and an influence on younger people who start smoking.

“As doctors we see first-hand the devastating effects of tobacco addiction and therefore we urge the UK Government to reconsider and introduce legislation forcing the industry to adopt standard packaging and help put an end to a life-long addiction that kills and destroys health.

“The Scottish Government has said that it intends to proceed with legislation on standardised packaging in Scotland. Perhaps the Welsh Government could follow their lead.”

That’s the major world news this week in drugs, alcohol, addiction and recovery.

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