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

Opposition to Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients Trial in Australia

Posted 11-Sep-17

Australia’s coalition government has named Mandurah in the state of Western Australia (WA) as the third site for its trial of drug testing for recipients of welfare payments. Canterbury-Bankstown in Western Sydney and Logan City in the state of Queensland are the other two sites named by the government. According to The Guardian, Canterbury-Bankstown had been selected as a trial site because of the high number of people registered for welfare benefits there and the recent growth in the number of methamphetamine-related hospitalizations in the area. Under the proposed scheme to be trialled, welfare recipients who test positive to an initial drug test would be placed on income management, in the form of a cashless welfare card. The card would restrict the way 80% of the income support could be spent. A second failed test would see those who fail referred to treatment and forced to cover the cost of drug tests. If the welfare recipient fails to engage in treatment, then their welfare payments could be stopped. WA’s community services minister, Simone McGurk, said:  “I think what a lot of families who are experiencing the effects of drug and alcohol abuse, particularly methamphetamine, understand is that it’s quite a complex issue,” adding, “To think you can do one policy change and it will solve the problem is incredibly naïve.” WA is the second state Labor government to say it opposed the drug-testing trial. The state of Victoria refused in June to take part in the trial, with Victoria's Mental Health Minister Martin Foley saying: “It simply won't work, and it's cheap, populist nonsense designed to create a smokescreen as to what really drives disadvantage." It has also emerged at an Australian Senate inquiry into the government’s welfare reforms that government departments did not have specific data on waiting lists for drug treatment services in the three trial sites before they were chosen.  Despite this, the Senate inquiry gave its approval to the trial.

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/aug/28/wa-criticises-incredibly-naive-plan-to-drug-test-welfare-recipients-in-mandurah

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-13/victorian-government-rejects-federal-welfare-drug-testing-plan/8613482

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/aug/31/rehab-waiting-lists-not-checked-in-welfare-drug-test-sites-australian-senate-inquiry-told

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/sep/06/coalition-should-proceed-with-plan-to-drug-test-welfare-recipients-inquiry-says

Criticism of Philippines Drug War Intensifies After Killing of Schoolboy

Posted 11-Sep-17

Protests and government investigations have followed the killing of a 17-year-old schoolboy in the Philippines. Kian Delos Santos was allegedly shot three times by undercover police after being taken from his home as part of an operation to clamp down on drug dealers. CCTV captured two men dragging Kian along a street.  Kian pleaded with the policemen, saying: “Please stop. Please stop. I have a test tomorrow,” according to a witness. The Telegraph reports that the public, senior politicians and the Catholic Church in the Philippines have condemned the killing. President Rodrigo Duterte, who instigated and has enthusiastically supported the national ‘War on Drugs’ and the wave of state-driven killings that followed, said: “I saw the tape on TV and I agree that there should be an investigation. Should the investigation point to liabilities by one, two, or all, there will be a prosecution, and they have to go to jail if convicted.” The Philippines Department of Justice, Senate, and Commission on Human Rights have all launched investigations. UNICEF, in a statement, said: “The Philippines, as a State Party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, has a legal and moral obligation to promote, protect and fulfil the human rights of every child. Every child’s right to life, to develop to her or his full potential, to be heard, and to be protected from all forms of violence are universal and inalienable. There are no exceptions. These rights apply without qualification.”

Sources:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/22/duterte-faces-nationwide-revolt-drugs-war-killing-schoolboy/

https://www.unicef.org/media/media_100687.html

Increased Tobacco Control in New York

Posted 11-Sep-17

Bloomberg News reports that the mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, signed a seven-point package of laws in August that increased the minimum price of a packet of cigarettes by 24 percent to US$13. Many retailers in New York already charge that much or more for a pack, but the average price in the city is currently US$11.24, according to the local health department.  The new laws also 1) limit the number of tobacco sellers in the city, 2) create a retail license fee for sellers of electronic cigarettes and almost double the licensing fee for tobacco retailers to US$200, 3) require all apartment buildings of three or more units to create explicit smoking policies and ban smoking in all common areas, and 4) prohibit pharmacies from selling tobacco as their licenses begin to expire in 2018.

The new bills are intended to help decrease the smoking prevalence in New York by 160,000, and down to a historically low rate of 12 percent of the city’s population, by 2020.  “Even though tobacco is a leading cause of premature death across the country, Big Tobacco will stop at nothing to hook people on these deadly products,” de Blasio said while signing the bills, adding: “We are sending a loud and clear message that we will not let their greed kill any more New Yorkers without a fight.”

Sources:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-28/nyc-boosts-price-of-cigarettes-to-13-bans-sales-by-pharmacies

http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/565-17/mayor-de-blasio-signs-sweeping-legislation-curb-smoking-tobacco-usage#/0

Phase Three Trials for MDMA Approved

Posted 11-Sep-17

Science reports that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has designated MDMA as a "breakthrough therapy" for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a status that may lead to faster approval of its therapeutic use. In August, the FDA also approved the design for two phase III trials of MDMA for PTSD. The trials would be funded by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). The trials will cost an estimated US$25 million. The trials may start in spring 2018 and finish in 2021 if MAPS can raise the funding.

Source:

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/08/all-clear-decisive-trial-ecstasy-ptsd-patients

Substance Abuse Librarians and Information Scientists (SALIS) Announce a New Digital Archive

Posted 11-Sep-17

Andrea Mitchell, SALIS, writes: Have you ever wanted to see an Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs (ATOD) book, but just couldn’t find a copy?  The SALIS organization is currently working to develop an international digital archive of ATOD books and documents.  Anyone anywhere in the world with an internet connection has access to borrow or browse these materials for free, by simply registering his or her name with the Internet Archive (IA) at https://archive.org.  In partnership with the IA Archive, SALIS collects the material and pays the IA to digitize.  The SALIS Collection, as it is called, contains nearly 1500 items with a goal to reach 1800 by the end of 2017.  With the loss of more than 30 ATOD libraries and specialized databases over the past 15 years, SALIS’s mission is to preserve the ATOD literature and make it freely accessible in digital format.   Academic work and popular press, biography, history, social and biomedical science may all be found in the Collection.   Books/document donations have come from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Library, the Center for Addiction and Mental Health library, the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Library, the Prevention Research Center Library, the Drug Policy Alliance, Joel and Maria Fort Foundation, St.  George’s, University of  London, Observatoire Français des Drogues et des Toxicomanies, Vereniging voor Alcohol en andere Drugproblemen, the Alcohol Research Group Library,  and many  individuals who are committed to this project.  With the cost of digitizing at US$30 per book, SALIS is planning a crowd funding campaign to be launched on 28 November (2017’s Giving Tuesday).   We hope you can assist our effort to preserve the ATOD literature and make it available to all in The SALIS Collection.  Contact the SALIS Home, salis@salis.org, for more information.

American Banks Intervene in Uruguay Cannabis Legalization

Posted 11-Sep-17

Following the start of legal sales of cannabis by pharmacies in Uruguay, American banks, including Bank of America, said that they would stop doing business with banks in Uruguay that provide services for these sales. According to the New York Times, the letters from these banks cited The Patriot Act as the reason for their warnings. The Patriot Act makes it unlawful for American financial institutions to do business with dealers of certain controlled substances, including cannabis. The law is intended to curb money laundering and drug trafficking. Subsequently Uruguayan banks, worried about losing access to the American banking system, warned some of the pharmacies selling cannabis that their accounts would be shut down.  The threat of losing their bank accounts has led some of the pharmacies that initially signed up to participate in the new legal market to stop selling cannabis, said Pablo Durán,  legal counsel at the Center of Pharmacies in Uruguay. Twenty other pharmacies that were expected to join the legal cannabis market are delaying further action while the government explores solutions, according to Mr. Duran. Adolfo Garce, a political scientist at Uruguay's University of the Republic, said: "Having made so much progress, having planted and harvested the marijuana and delivered it to the pharmacies... not being able to sell it due to an unforeseen problem is a very hard blow."  “We can’t hold out false hope,” said Uruguay’s president, Tabaré Vázquez. The move may have implications for other countries like Canada that plan to legalize cannabis for recreational use.

Source:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/25/world/americas/uruguay-marijuana-us-banks.html?mcubz=3&_r=0

Indian Government Warns Philip Morris about Advertising

Posted 11-Sep-17

Reuters reports that India’s Health Ministry has written to the Indian arm of Philip Morris International and threatened the company with “punitive action” after the company’s alleged violation of India’s Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act and its accompanying rules. The letter follows an investigation by Reuters that found Philip Morris targeting young people in its marketing by advertising cigarettes at kiosks, distributing free cigarettes at nightclubs and bars and also using television screens to promote their products at these venues. Reuters have identified internal documents from the tobacco company making its marketing strategy explicit, with a key aim of the strategy being “winning the hearts and minds of LA-24,” those between the legal age for smoking, 18, and 24, according to one slide in a 2015 commercial review presentation. The Indian Health Ministry also wrote to ITC, India’s leading cigarette manufacturer, which Reuters found was using similar tactics to Philip Morris such as point-of-sale advertising.

Sources:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/india-philip-morris-cigarettes-young-people-marlboro-pushing-anti-tobacco-laws-health-ministry-a7899501.html

http://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/pmi-india/

Oregon Reduces Penalties for Drug Possession

Posted 11-Sep-17

Governor Kate Brown of Oregon signed House Bill 2355 (HB-2355) and House Bill 3078 (HB-3078) into law in August. Both bills had been approved by the state’s Senate and House of Representatives in early July. HB-2355 redefines the classification of unlawful possession of Schedule I drugs such as heroin and MDMA and Schedule II drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine from felonies to misdemeanours.  Consequently the penalties for these offences have been reduced from up to 10 or five years in prison, respectively, to a maximum sentence of one year’s imprisonment, a US$6,250 fine, or both. Selling drugs, and possessing drugs with the intent to sell, continue to be felonies.  According to US News the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police and the Oregon State Sheriffs' Association supported the bill and in a letter to a state senator said the new law "will only produce positive results if additional drug treatment resources accompany this change in policy." HB-3078, also known as the Safety and Savings Act, reduces penalties for offences related to drug use, in particular low-level acquisitive property crime.

Source:

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/oregon/articles/2017-08-15/oregon-makes-drug-possession-a-misdemeanor

Deadline for Alcohol Labelling in Europe

Posted 11-Sep-17

Under the current European Union (EU) rules, unlike other foods, alcoholic beverages are not obliged to display a list of ingredients and a nutrition declaration. On 13 March 2017, the European Commission adopted a report to the European Parliament and the Council regarding the mandatory labelling of the list of ingredients and the nutrition declaration of alcoholic beverages. The Commission gave the alcohol industry a year to develop its own voluntary initiatives. EURACTIV.com has been told by EU sources that if the industry does not present a sufficient proposal then the Commission will consider both regulatory and non-regulatory options. EURACTIV.com reports that the deadline has led to intense debate. According to EURACTIV.com the alcohol industry is claiming that self-regulation is the only way to address diverging national attitudes towards alcohol but that the Commission’s deadline is “too tight” and that mandatory rules will eventually be put in place. Public health bodies have commented that the alcohol industry was given too much room to avoid regulation.  Mariann Skar, the secretary general of Eurocare, said: “We are extremely disappointed with the reactions of some sectors of the industry such as wine producers, for instance, some of their delaying and diversion tactics resemble the tobacco industry approach.” 

Sources:

https://www.euractiv.com/section/alcohol/news/eu-health-chief-says-all-alcoholic-beverages-should-be-labelled/

https://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/labelling_nutrition/labelling_legislation/alcohol_en

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