Published since 1884 by the Society for the Study of Addiction.
Editor-in-Chief, Robert West

We welcome suggestions and contributions from our readers. Send your material to John Witton, News and Notes Editor, Addiction, National Addiction Centre PO48, 4 Windsor Walk, London SE5 8AF. Fax +44 (0)20 7848 5966;
e-mail john.witton@kcl.ac.uk

New US Plan for Tobacco and Nicotine Regulation

Posted 07-Aug-17

On 28 July the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a new plan for tobacco and nicotine regulation.  The plan seeks to reduce deaths from tobacco and tobacco-related disease in the US and the plan’s main aim is to reduce the amount of nicotine in cigarettes. The FDA plans to begin a “public dialogue” about lowering nicotine levels and will also be seeking public comment on the role that flavours have in tobacco products. Writing in the New Scientist, Linda Bauld, deputy director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, warns: “Cigarettes are available globally, and selling less-addictive versions in the US could result in a black market in imported or counterfeit products. Reducing the nicotine might also mean smokers take in more toxicants such as tar by puffing harder and for longer on their cigarettes.” Bauld added: “Unfortunately, the announcements don’t include details of progress on some of the key measures needed to reduce smoking further, including banning tobacco advertising and making tobacco less available.” The FDA also said that makers of e-cigarettes and other newly regulated products will be given more time to submit them for review to gain FDA approval, moving the deadline from 2018 to 2022. The FDA will also issue new rules to make the product review process more efficient “and transparent for manufacturers, while upholding the agency’s public health mission.”

Sources:

https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm568923.htm

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jul/28/fda-plans-to-reduce-nicotine-in-cigarettes-to-non-addictive-levels

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2142378-us-plan-to-cut-smoking-with-non-addictive-cigarettes-has-flaws/

More Deaths in Philippine Drug War

Posted 07-Aug-17

BBC News reports that Reynaldo Parojinog, mayor of the city of Ozamiz on Mindanao island in the Philippines, was killed with his wife and 10 others at his home as police served an arrest warrant. Officials said that the police officers had been fired on by the mayor's security guards. Mr Parojinog is the third Philippine mayor to be killed in the government's national “War on Drugs” declared by President Duterte when he was elected president in 2016.  President Duterte had identified a number of local officials, policemen and judges as complicit in the illicit drug market, including the Parojinog family. The Age from Australia reports that, according to human rights groups, Philippine security forces and "unidentified gunmen" have killed almost 8000 Filipinos suspected of drug offences.  While the Philippine police are no longer releasing figures for deaths related to the Duterte campaign, The Age says that human rights investigators and media outlets have recorded dozens of cases where “mostly poor Filipinos have been dragged from their homes and executed.”

Sources:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-40768861

http://www.theage.com.au/world/philippine-fishermen-say-they-are-dumping-bodies-in-dutertes-war-on-drugs-20170730-gxlmhz.html

Commission on US Opioid Crisis Interim Report Released

Posted 07-Aug-17

The interim report of the bipartisan US Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis published on 31 July says that its “first and most urgent recommendation” is for the president to “declare a national emergency.” The goals of such a declaration would be to “force Congress to focus on funding” and to “awaken every American to this simple fact: if this scourge has not found you or your family yet, without bold action by everyone, it soon will.” The commission makes a number of public health recommendations that include expanding capacity for drug treatment under Medicaid, increasing the use of medication-assisted treatments for opioid use disorders, encouraging the development of non-opioid pain relievers, mandating every local law enforcement officer in the country to carry naloxone, and broadening “Good Samaritan laws” so that individuals reporting drug overdoses do not face prosecution. The Commission concluded that much of the opioid crisis is a result of a lack of education on pain relief and inappropriate prescribing in US medical and dental schools and a lack of continuing medical education for practising clinicians. The commission proposes that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should finalize, review and recommend national training standards for clinicians that provide detailed guidelines on safe dispensing of drugs and best doses. Figures released by the CDC in July show that the amount of opioids prescribed in the United States peaked in 2010 and has decreased each year through 2015, but remains at a high level.

Sources:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/ondcp/commission-interim-report.pdf

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/07/31/white-house-opioid-commission-to-trump-declare-a-national-emergency-on-drug-overdoses/?utm_term=.0ce1852160fa

https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p0706-opioid.html

New Approval System for Smokeless Tobacco Products in New Zealand

Posted 07-Aug-17

Following its decision in March to legalise e-cigarettes, the New Zealand government has announced a pre-market approval system for smokeless tobacco and nicotine-delivery products, other than e-cigarettes.  Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner said: “There are a number of products available internationally — including heat-not-burn, snus, moist snuff, dissolvables and inhaled nicotine — that may be significantly less harmful than tobacco smoking,” adding, “By creating a pathway to enable the sale of these products in New Zealand, smokers will have access to less harmful alternatives.”  Manufacturers of such products “will need to demonstrate their products are significantly less harmful than tobacco smoking and that their introduction into New Zealand will contribute to a smokefree future.”

Source:

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1708/S00022/new-pathway-for-smokeless-tobacco-products.htm

Legal Sales of Cannabis Begin in Uruguay

Posted 07-Aug-17

The Guardian reports that Uruguay became the first country in the world to sell cannabis legally over the counter for recreational use when sixteen pharmacies in the country started dispensing cannabis on 19 July. According to The Guardian, nearly 5,000 people have signed up to a national registry to be able to buy cannabis legally. They will be able to buy up to 10 grams (0.35oz) per week and no more than 40 grams per month. The cannabis is sold in five-gram (0.18oz) sealed packets for 187 Uruguayan pesos ($6.50; £5.00) each. Buyers can choose between two brands called Alfa 1 and Beta 1. Both brands contain 2% tetrahydrocannabinol. In The Guardian Raquel Peyraube, president of the Uruguayan Society for the Study of Cannabis, a collective of health professionals that promotes the investigation of cannabis for medical use, said: “I hope I’m wrong, but all the indications are that the effect will be weak, given the content.” The cannabis sold at the pharmacies comes from state-supervised fields and the Uruguayan law also allows users to grow their own cannabis at home or join co-operative clubs that farm it.

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/19/uruguay-marijuana-sale-pharmacies

http://www.insightcrime.org/news-analysis/weekly-insight-uruguay-historic-marijuana-legalization-experiment

Drug Policy Change Proposed in Iran

Posted 07-Aug-17

Iran Front Page News reports that the Judicial and Legal Commission of the Iranian Parliament has adopted a motion to distribute “diluted narcotics” among dependent drug users in order to keep them away from the illicit drug market. Hassan Norouzi, the spokesperson for the Commission, said: “The plan to distribute [low-grade] drugs is similar to what used to be implemented before the [1979 Iran’s Islamic] Revolution.” He also said: “We decided that the government hand out diluted drugs to addicts, so that they will be able to give up their addiction gradually and, instead of being drawn to drug-traffickers, turn to the Establishment and meet their needs through official channels.”  In pre-revolution Iran a government coupon system had provided limited opium maintenance to dependent opioid users over the age of 60 or with a severe or chronic illness. Methadone maintenance and detoxification programmes were concentrated on younger users deemed to have a greater chance of a positive treatment outcome.  Norouzi added that the drugs for distribution “include methadone and substances more diluted than previous ones, and the authority to decide on that rests with bylaws which are to be jointly drawn up by the Ministry of Justice and [Iran’s] Drug Enforcement HQ.” According to The Independent, the commission also proposed a draft law halting the death penalty for nonviolent charges of “production, distribution, trafficking and selling” less than 100 kilograms of traditional drugs such as opium or less than two kilograms of synthetic drugs. Human Rights Watch reported that the death penalty would apply only to cases where the accused had previously been sentenced for more than two years for drug-related offences. Human Rights Watch called for a stay in executions for drug-related offences while the policy changes are considered by the Iranian parliament.

Sources:

http://ifpnews.com/exclusive/iran-studying-plan-hand-diluted-drugs-addicts/

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iran-drug-use-decriminalise-diluted-addicts-treat-government-a7862351.html

https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/07/20/iran-halt-drug-related-executions

Report on Minimum Unit Price for Australian Northern Territory

Posted 07-Aug-17

A report, The Price is Right: Setting a Floor Price for Alcohol in the Northern Territory, published by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), recommends alcohol pricing reform to address alcohol-related harms in the state. The report finds that alcohol is now almost twice as affordable as it was 20 years ago in the Northern Territory (NT). A FARE spokesperson said that “The results of the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program published in March this year highlighted that in the Northern Territory, alcohol consumption in both capital city and regional locations is almost three times the national average,” according to the Katherine Times, a local NT newspaper. The FARE report finds that the proportion of deaths in the NT that are attributable to alcohol are three times the national rate and that alcohol accounts for a larger proportion of hospitalisations than in any other Australian jurisdiction. The report proposes that the NT government should explore options to prevent these alcohol-related harms and that setting a minimum unit price of $(Australian)1.50 per standard drink would be “the single most effective measure currently available.”

Sources:

http://fare.org.au/wp-content/uploads/The-Price-is-Right-NT-FINAL.pdf

http://www.katherinetimes.com.au/story/4823830/plan-to-lift-cheap-grog-prices/

Decline in Smoking Rates in Beijing

Posted 07-Aug-17

A report on health conditions in Beijing by the city’s Health and Family Planning Commission finds that Beijing had fewer smokers in 2016, the second year of the city's smoking ban introduced on June 1, 2015. According to China Daily, the report found that the rate of smokers aged 15 years old and above in 2016 was 22.3%, 1.1 percentage points lower than in 2014. This amounts to 200,000 fewer smokers in a city with around four million adult smokers. The quitting rate rose by 1.9 percentage points to 16.8% in 2016 and another 15.5% of the surveyed smokers said they will quit smoking in the next 12 months according to the report.

Source:

http://europe.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2017-07/27/content_30261076.htm

Coffee Shops Continue to Close in the Netherlands

Posted 07-Aug-17

Dutch News reports that there have been further coffee shop closures in the Netherlands. According to figures released by the Ministry of Justice there were 573 outlets in 2016 licensed to sell cannabis, 18 fewer than two years earlier and 41 fewer than in 2012. Owners said that the closures were partly due to city councils imposing stricter conditions on the coffee shops, including a national directive that coffee shops cannot be within 250 metres of a school. The government figures also show that Amsterdam has 173 of all coffee shops or 30% of the total. According to the Daily Telegraph, the Mayor’s Office in Amsterdam has been following the national directive and closing coffee shops too close to schools as part of a deal with the national government that will exempt Amsterdam from enforcing the “Weed Pass”, which prohibits non-Dutch nationals from visiting coffee shops. Amsterdam has resisted the “Weed Pass”, fearing its introduction would lead to an increase in street dealing of cannabis.

Sources:

http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2017/07/blow-for-cannabis-cafes-as-numbers-continue-to-decline/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/europe/netherlands/amsterdam/articles/future-of-coffeeshops-in-doubt-as-amsterdams-oldest-cannabis-cafe-faces-closure/

Alcohol Use and Liver Disease in England

Posted 07-Aug-17

A new report, Financial Case for Action on Liver Disease: Escalating Costs of Alcohol Misuse, Obesity and Viral Hepatitis, has been published by the Foundation for Liver Research, an independent group of medical and public health experts, and endorsed by the Lancet Commission on Liver Disease. Using modelling from the University of Sheffield’s Alcohol Research Group, the report projects that almost 63,000 people in England will die over the next five years from liver problems linked to heavy drinking and warns that alcohol will account for £17 billion in costs to the NHS, including £638m in cancer treatment costs. The report recommends that there should be a minimum unit price (MUP) for alcohol in England; the alcohol duty escalator, stopped between 2013 and 2014, should be re-introduced with a duty escalator 2% above inflation; there should be a new higher duty band for cider based on alcohol content between 5.5% and 7.5%; trading hours for off-licence should be limited to 10am-10pm and alcohol availability for on-licence after midnight limited; and there should be stronger regulation of alcohol marketing and advertising.  

Sources:

http://www.liver-research.org.uk/liverresearch-assets/financialcaseforactiononliverdiseasepaper.pdf

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jul/24/heavy-drinking-will-kill-63000-people-over-next-five-years-doctors-warn

France Plans Cannabis Decriminalization

Posted 17-July-17

French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb announced in May that the French government plans to issue new regulations under which people caught with small amounts of cannabis would be punished by a fine of about €100 Euros and not arrested. Currently offenders can face one year in prison and a fine of up to €3,750 (US $4,200) for cannabis possession offences. The new regulations were expected to be in place by September.  Justifying the proposal, a government spokesperson said that drug offence cases use an average of six hours of police time to process and another six hours of judicial resources. While police unions welcomed the plans, a representative of the French magistrates union said: "[the law] won't change much and it's not going to unclog the courts."

Source:

http://www.jurist.org/paperchase/2017/05/france-ends-prison-terms-for-marijuana-usage.php

Alcohol Tax Rises in Canada

Posted 17-July-17

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News reports that the Canadian Parliament agreed to pass the federal budget bill in June, a bill which included a measure to raise alcohol excise tax rates by 2%.  The bill also established regular indexation so that annual increases in alcohol excise duty will be linked to the rate of inflation. The passage of the bill followed the release of a report from the Canadian Institute of Health Information on alcohol sales and consumption, alcohol attributable morbidity and policy making across Canada’s provinces and territories.

Sources:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/senate-backs-down-budget-bill-1.4173090

https://www.cihi.ca/sites/default/files/document/report-alcohol-hospitalizations-en-web.pdf

Medicinal Cannabis Legalized in Mexico

Posted 17-July-17

The Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed a decree in June that gave the Ministry of Health the task of drafting and implementing “public policies regulating the medicinal use of pharmacological derivatives of cannabis sativa, indica and Americana or marijuana, including tetrahydrocannabinol, its isomers and stereochemical variants, as well as how to regulate the research and national production of them.”  Only medical products containing one percent of tetrahydrocannabinol or less will be allowed. The decree called on the Ministry to study the therapeutic effects of cannabis before creating the framework for a medical cannabis programme infrastructure. The decree was the result of a medical cannabis bill that had been passed overwhelmingly by Mexico’s senate and lower house.

Sources:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/06/21/mexico-just-legalized-medical-marijuana/?utm_term=.dac36ef34ac6

http://www.dof.gob.mx/nota_detalle.php?codigo=5487335&fecha=19/06/2017

Record Reductions in UK and US Smoking Rates

Posted 17-July-17

Figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) in the UK showed a record annual fall of smoking rates between 2015 and 2016 of 1.5 percentage points. The prevalence of smoking among people aged 18 and above in 2016 was 15.8%, the lowest on record. Commenting on these figures the directors of the United Kingdom Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies said: “the most likely explanation for the recent rapid decline is the increasing use by smokers of electronic cigarettes as a substitute for tobacco.” In the US the number of middle and high school students who used any tobacco product fell to 3.9 million in 2016 from 4.7 million in 2015, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is the first such decline since the CDC began reporting the measure in 2011. In Reuters Michael Siegel said: “These numbers are astounding," adding, "it really means that we may be within reach of a smoke-free generation." Current use of e-cigarettes showed a 0.6% increase among the students between 2011 and 2016.

Sources:

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthandlifeexpectancies/bulletins/adultsmokinghabitsingreatbritain/2016

https://ukctas.wordpress.com/2017/06/15/vaping-may-help-explain-the-record-fall-in-uk-smoking-rates-press-release-with-comments-from-ukctas-directors/

https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/youth_data/tobacco_use/index.htm

http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-usa-tobacco-youth-idUKKBN1962EE

Global Heroin and Cocaine Production Increasing

Posted 17-July-17

The latest United Nations Office of Drug Control (UNODC) World Drug Report finds that the world’s illicit drug economy is “thriving.”  Coca bush cultivation increased by 30% between 2013-15, as demand for cocaine increased in Europe and North America. Opium production rose by a third. A wider range of novel psychoactive substances (NPS) became available on the market. In 2015, the quantity of methamphetamine intercepted in East and South-East Asia surpassed the quantity intercepted in North America for the first time. The report also notes that around 29.5 million drug users, or 0.6 per cent of the global adult population, suffer from drug use disorders. The report also looks at the evidence for the links between drug markets and organized crime, illicit financial flows, corruption and terrorism. Writing in the foreword of the report, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedetov said that while “areas such as the links between drugs, terrorism and insurgency clearly touch upon sensitive intelligence,” there is “a need to strengthen international cooperation and information-sharing” to ensure effective joint action.

Source:

https://www.unodc.org/wdr2017/

US Insurance Figures Show Extent of US Opioid Epidemic

Posted 17-July-17

A report prepared by the major US health insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS), "America's Opioid Epidemic and its Effect on the Nation's Commercially-insured Population," used the medical and pharmacy records of 30 million of its members to identify trends in the US opiate addiction epidemic. By 2016, BCBS reported, nearly 1% of its members had been diagnosed with opioid use disorder, increasing by 493% since 2010. Around one in five privately insured adults in the United States filled at least one prescription for a prescription narcotic painkiller in 2015.  45% of those prescribed prescription opioids received high doses of narcotic painkillers, which were most likely to result in a later diagnosis of opioid use disorder. The highest rate of opioid use disorders was seen in patients who had been prescribed high doses of prescription pain relief medicine for short periods of less than 90 days. While the use of medication-assisted treatments by BCBS clients increased 65 percent overall between 2010 and 2016, the rate of increase in the use of these treatments did not match the rate of increase in opioid use disorder diagnoses.

Source:

https://www.bcbs.com/the-health-of-america/reports/americas-opioid-epidemic-and-its-effect-on-the-nations-commercially-insured

Supervised Injecting Facilities Approved in Ireland

Posted 17-July-17

The journal.ie reports that the Irish Senate approved a bill in May to set up supervised injecting facilities. The bill permits the preparation or possession of controlled substances in supervised premises and exempts certain users from the possession of controlled drugs under certain conditions. The facilities will provide access to clean, sterile injecting equipment and have trained staff on hand to provide emergency care in the event of an overdose, as well as advice on treatment and rehabilitation. The bill must be signed by the Irish president before becoming law.

Sources:

http://www.thejournal.ie/supervised-injection-centres-2-3382276-May2017/

http://health.gov.ie/blog/press-release/irelands-first-supervised-injecting-facility-a-step-closer-as-legislation-passes-all-stages-in-the-oireachtas/

Jellinek Award 2017

Posted 17-July-17

Nick Heather, Emeritus Professor of Alcohol and Other Drug Studies at Northumbria University, has won the 2017 Jellinek Award, established in memory of Dr. E. M. Jellinek's contribution to the field of alcohol studies. Harold Kalant, Jellinek Memorial Fund President, said: “The Jellinek Fund Board of Directors is delighted to offer its congratulations to Professor Heather for this richly deserved honour.  He has made many outstanding contributions to the field of alcohol studies, including the use of brief interventions in the treatment of alcohol problems. This year’s Jellinek Award, however, specifically recognises the great importance of his research and conceptual contributions to the understanding of the interaction of individual and socio-cultural factors in the origin, management and prevention of alcoholism.  Altogether a remarkable career.”

Source:

https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/about-us/news-events/news/2017/05/nick-heather-award/

New Oral Form of Buprenorphine Approved in Scotland

Posted 17-July-17

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has advised that buprenorphine oral lyophilisate (Espranor) is accepted for restricted use within NHS Scotland. The SMC said that buprenorphine oral lyophilisate provides an alternative to buprenorphine/naloxone sublingual tablets at reduced cost.  The oral lyophilisate formulation has the advantage of a faster dissolution time. The SMC restricts the use of the medication to patients in whom methadone is not suitable. 

Source:

https://www.scottishmedicines.org.uk/SMC_Advice/Advice/1245_17_buprenorphine_oral_lyophilisate_Espranor_Abbreviated/buprenorphine_oral_lyophilisate_Espranor_Abbreviated

Supervised Consumption Rooms in Canada

Posted 08-June-17

New legislation was passed in the Canadian parliament in May to simplify the process of setting up supervised consumption rooms for injecting drug users. Speaking in parliament in support of the bill, government health minister Jane Philpot said: “We need to create an environment that encourages communities that want and need these sites to apply for them. I can assure the House that Bill C-37 and the revised amendments our government is proposing will ensure that communities that want and need these sites do not experience unreasonable delays in their efforts to save lives.” The preceding Conservative government had introduced 26 criteria under The Respect for Communities Act 2015 for setting up safe consumption sites which, according to The Guardian, had prevented communities from following the example of Insite in Vancouver, British Columbia, the first supervised consumption room in North America. The new legislation replaces these requirements with five criteria set out by the Canadian Supreme Court when it rejected the Conservative government’s case for closing Insite. The factors are impact on crime rates, local conditions indicating need, regulatory structure in place to support the facility, resources available to support its maintenance, and expressions of community support or opposition. Two new safe consumption sites are set to open in Montreal and the government said it would also expedite another 18 applications from 10 cities.

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/21/canada-opioid-crisis-supervised-drug-injection-sites

https://openparliament.ca/bills/42-1/C-37/   

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/montreal-gets-federal-approval-for-two-supervised-injection-sites/article34978907/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&service=mobile

National Smoking Ban in the Philippines

Posted 08-June-17

An executive order signed by the president Rodrigo Duterte bans smoking in public places across the Philippines.  Offenders face a maximum penalty of four months in jail and a fine of 5,000 pesos (US$100).  The order also covers existing bans on tobacco advertisements, promotions or sponsorship. These are subject to fines of up to 400,000 pesos (US$8000) and a maximum jail sentence of three years.  Designated smoking areas not larger than 10 square metres will be set up for adults only and must be at least 10 metres from building entrances and exits. Members of the public are invited to join a Smoke Free Task Force to help carry out the provisions of the order and apprehend and charge offenders in their areas. The ban replicates an ordinance Duterte created in 2012 when he was mayor of Davao City.  The executive order does not cover non-tobacco products, but the Department of Health is considering regulating the use of e-cigarettes, according to The Philippine Star.

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/19/philippines-president-bans-smoking-in-public-with-offenders-facing-jail

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/05/23/1702634/doh-seeks-regulation-e-cigarettes-vapes

WHO Report on Smoking in China

Posted 08-June-17

A new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) on smoking in China, The Bill China Cannot Afford, says that “China is the epicentre” of the global epidemic of tobacco-related harms and “thus lies at the heart of global efforts to stop it.” According to the report, China is the world's largest producer and consumer of tobacco, with an estimated 315 million smokers. In 2014, 44% of the world's cigarettes were smoked in China. The report also estimates that the economic cost of tobacco use in China was 350 billion yuan ($57 billion) in 2014, more than 0.5% of GDP, and that one million people die of tobacco-related diseases in China every year.  With most of the health and economic costs being borne by poor and vulnerable people in China, the report suggests that this will threaten Chinese President Xi’s goal of eradicating poverty in China by 2020 unless immediate action is taken.

Sources:

http://www.wpro.who.int/china/publications/2017_china_tobacco_control_report_en.pdf?ua=1

http://shanghaiist.com/2017/04/18/smoking_kill_200_million.php

Standardised Packaging Begins in the UK

Posted 08-June-17

Regulations requiring tobacco packaging to be uniformly green and carry images of the harmful effects of smoking came into effect in the UK in May. All packs of cigarettes must contain at least 20 cigarettes so the packs are large enough for the health warnings that cover 65% of the front and back of the package. Brand names are restricted to a standard size, font and colour. Packaging of hand-rolled tobacco must also be in the same colour and pouches must contain a minimum of 30g of tobacco. E-cigarettes are also subject to the regulations, with tank sizes restricted to no more than 2ml and the nicotine strength of liquids to no more than 20mg/ml. The tanks must have a health warning on the front and back reading: “This product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance.” The new rules also include a ban on menthol cigarettes from 2020 as well as promotional statements such as “this product is free of additives” or “is less harmful than other brands.”

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/may/19/stricter-cigarette-packaging-rules-come-into-force-in-uk

http://ash.org.uk/media-and-news/press-releases-media-and-news/all-tobacco-packs-on-sale-will-be-in-standardised-plain-packs-from-20th-may-2017/

Medical Cannabis Available in Pharmacies in Chile

Posted 08-June-17

Pharmacies in Chile's capital, Santiago, began selling cannabis-based medicines to patients with their doctor’s authorization in May.  Chile legalized the use of medical cannabis in 2015 but patients had only been able to obtain it by importing it or from a limited number of dedicated farms set up by a charity in the country.  Reuters reports that the Canadian cannabis producer and distributor Tilray will be supplying the medical cannabis products in partnership with a local company, Alef Biotechnology, which is licensed by the Chilean government.

Source:

http://www.reuters.com/article/chile-marijuana-idUSL1N1IC22S

US Government Reverses Its Plan to Cut Office of National Drug Contol Policy Budget

Posted 08-June-17

The US government has backed down from its plans to cut back drastically its funding for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) after pressure from Republican and Democrat legislators. In response to initial plans to cut the ONDCP budget by 95%, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley and Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein led a bipartisan letter which urged the administration "to protect ONDCP and maintain the long-standing and effective programs that prevent and fight against the scourge of drug abuse.”  The government now proposes a $369 million budget for the ONDCP in 2018, amounting to a 5% cut.

Source:

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/23/trump-budget-drug-control-office-cuts-238720

Recreational Cannabis Use Approved by Vermont, USA Legislature

Posted 08-June-17

Both Vermont’s House of Representatives and its Senate have approved a bill that would allow adults aged 21 and over to buy and use cannabis. The measure would mark the first time cannabis has been legalized by legislation in the US rather than through a state ballot initiative. Governor Phil Scott vetoed the bill, citing concerns about public safety and health. But Scott said he was "offering a path forward" and wants the bill to have increased penalties for driving under the influence of cannabis and for providing cannabis. Scott also wants the bill to include money for regulation, enforcement and education.

Sources:

http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-vermont-marijuana-idUKKBN1862RQ

http://money.cnn.com/2017/05/24/news/vermont-marijuana-legalization/

Drug Tests Trial for Welfare Recipients in Australia

Posted 08-June-17

Announcing Australia’s 2017-18 budget in May, Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison said that a drug test trial will be conducted on 5,000 current welfare recipients. Beginning in 2018, the trial will take place at three sites and will last for two years. Any welfare recipients that test positive for drugs, including ecstasy, methamphetamine and cannabis, will have their regular payments locked onto a cashless card that can only be used for "essential living expenses." Those who fail the tests more than once will be referred to medical professionals for assessment and treatment.  The Guardian reports that the Australian Council of Social Service chief executive, Cassandra Goldie, said: “This is further demonising of people on social security, people on the lowest incomes in the country.”

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/may/10/budget-2017-drug-testing-will-demonise-australians-on-welfare-experts-say

https://theconversation.com/helping-drug-users-get-back-to-work-not-random-drug-testing-should-be-our-priority-77468?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=twitterbutton