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 Guidance on Federal Cannabis Enforcement in the US

Posted 17-Jan-18

The US Attorney General issued a memo on 4 January that rescinded “previous guidance documents” related to cannabis enforcement.  Among the memos rescinded are two memos written by Deputy Attorney General James Cole in 2011 and 2013 which had limited the federal enforcement of cannabis laws.  The Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, said in support of the memo, “It is the mission of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws of the United States, and the previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law and the ability of our local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement partners to carry out this mission.”  The new memo gives federal prosecutors more discretion to pursue cannabis-related cases but is not an order to enforce all federal cannabis laws. The Department of Justice website memo states that “This return to the rule of law is also a return of trust and local control to federal prosecutors.” Commentators have noted that this wording may provide federal prosecutors with the leeway they need to respond to cannabis enforcement in a way consistent with local preferences.

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/04/jeff-sessions-to-crack-down-on-legalized-marijuana-ending-obama-era-policy

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-issues-memo-marijuana-enforcement

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/usappblog/2018/01/09/why-it-will-be-difficult-for-jeff-sessions-to-put-the-genie-back-into-the-bottle-on-marijuana-policy/

Indian Court Rules Against Tobacco Health Warnings

Posted 10-Jan-18

In 2014 the Indian government introduced the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Amendment Rules which were due to come into effect from 1 April 2016. The federal rules required 85 percent of a tobacco pack’s surface to be covered in health warnings, an increase from the existing 40 percent. In 2016 India’s Supreme Court ordered enforcement of the rules and moved all the petitions from tobacco manufacturing companies and others against the new rules to the Karnataka high court for disposal. In December the Karnataka court struck down the 2014 amendment rules. According to The Wire the Karnataka court declared that the Indian health ministry did not have any jurisdictional power to make such rules. The court further added that even if the health ministry did have the power to make such rules, those rules violated constitutional norms as they were an “unreasonable restriction” on the right to do business. The court also said that the 40% pictorial health warning rule would remain in force.  Following an appeal filed by Health for Millions Trust, a non-government organisation, the Supreme Court stayed the order from the lower court in January, with a final hearing of the appeal against the Karnataka court’s decision to be heard in March.  Health Issues India reports that the Supreme Court said in its decision that “Health of a citizen is of primacy,” adding, “He or she should be aware of that which can affect or deteriorate the condition of health.”

Source:

https://thewire.in/205757/health-professionals-slam-karnataka-hcs-decision-to-reduce-pictorial-warnings-on-tobacco-packaging

Distribution of "Clean" Opioids for Drug Users to Be Tested in British Colombia

Posted 10-Jan-18

The Canadian government has approved a pilot project allowing health officials in British Columbia   to distribute the opioid hydromorphone to drug users as part of the effort to stem the rise in opioid-related deaths in the province. The Globe and Mail reports that Dr Mark Tyndall, executive director of the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), said that under the proposed pilot scheme people at high risk of overdose, once registered, will be able to pick up hydromorphone pills at either supportive housing units or supervised consumption facilities.  The participants in the pilot could collect pills two or three times per day and self-administer them.  On-site consumption of the pills will be in place initially, but after a short evaluation process the participants would be able to take home their doses, according to Dr Tyndall. The pilot is expected to recruit around 200 people in Vancouver and Victoria, but a primary aim for the project is to extend its scope as quickly as possible.

Source:

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/bc-pilot-project-to-distribute-clean-opioids-to-people-at-high-risk-of-overdose/article37392053/?utm_medium=Referrer:+Social+Network+/+Media&utm_campaign=Shared+Web+Article+Links

Yukon Halts Alcohol Warning Label Study

Posted 10-Jan-18

In 2016 the Yukon Liquor Corporation in Canada agreed to implement a trial of cancer warning labels and health messages promoting low-risk drinking guidelines on all alcohol containers sold in their main government liquor store.  The trial started in November 2016 but according to The Globe and Mail the trial was stopped abruptly just before Christmas after threats from the alcohol industry. Patch Groenewegen, a spokesperson for Yukon Liquor Corporation, said that the alcohol industry had a "large range of concerns," including questioning whether the territory had the legislative authority to undertake the public-health measure, a concern that the labels could block other product information and a belief that the stickers infringed on trademark protections. According to The Globe and Mail the liquor authority stopped the trial fearing legal action for defamation and trademark infringement.

Sources:

http://nationalpost.com/health/yukon-rolls-out-world-first-labels-warning-alcohol-can-cause-cancer

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/removing-warning-labels-on-yukon-liquor-is-shameful/article37459759/

Gaming Disorder to Be Included in ICD-11

Posted 10-Jan-18

BBC News reports that gaming disorder is to be included as a mental health condition in the World Health Organization’s 11th International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).  According to BBC News the draft ICD-11 describes gaming disorder as a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour so severe that it takes "precedence over other life interests."  Abnormal gaming behaviour should be in evidence over a period of at least 12 months "for a diagnosis to be assigned" but the draft says that the period might be shortened "if symptoms are severe."

Source:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-42541404

UK Smoking Ban Does Not Apply in English and Welsh Prisons

Posted 10-Jan-18

Paul Black, a prisoner suffering from poor health and who has been attempting to get the UK smoking ban enforced in English and Welsh prisons, finally lost his case when the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom ruled in December that crown premises are effectively exempt from the enforcement of health regulations. The court’s judgement will prevent Mr Black from calling the NHS’s smoke-free compliance line to report breaches of the ban. The Guardian reports that Lady Hale, the president of the Supreme Court, said she was driven with “considerable reluctance” to conclude that when parliament passed the 2006 Health Act, prohibiting smoking in offices, bars and enclosed areas, it did not mean to extend it to government or crown sites. According to The Guardian statutory provision does not bind the crown unless legislation adopts words explicitly stating so or by what is known as “necessary implication.” Lady Hale said that “had parliament intended part 1 of chapter 1 of the 2006 act to bind the crown, nothing would have been easier than to insert such a provision.”  Lady Hale also said that “the report of the health committee [at the time] does indicate that parliament was alive to the question of whether the smoking ban would bind the crown and aware of the case for further exemptions if the act were to do so,” and that “it might well be thought desirable, especially by and for civil servants and others working in or visiting government departments, if the smoking ban did bind the crown,” adding “but the legislation is quite workable without doing so.”  The UK Ministry of Justice aims to have a phased introduction of the ban on smoking in all state prisons in England and Wales. At an earlier court appeal by Mr Black, government lawyers had warned that a “particularly vigorous” ban on smoking in state prisons could cause discipline problems and risk the safety of staff.

 Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/mar/08/prison-smoking-ban-overturned-by-court-of-appeal

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/dec/19/jails-exempt-smoking-ban-uk-supreme-court-rules    

Police Return to Drug War Duties in Philippines

Posted 10-Jan-18

The Guardian reports that Philippines President Duterte signed an order in December reinstating the police to the country’s drug war. Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said that “there has been a notable resurgence in illegal drug activities and crimes committed” and that there had been a “public clamour” for the return of police to anti-drug activities.  According to The Guardian the Philippines police have reported killing about 4,000 people as a result of the drug war. In October 2016 President Duterte had announced that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency would replace the police in the drug war following increasing public opposition from human rights campaigners, Catholic bishops and the European Union and street protests in the Philippines. This opposition had resulted from the widely reported killing of three teenagers by police officers. But Duterte had also warned that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency only had about 2,000 officers compared with the police force’s 165,000 and would not be able to enforce the anti-drug campaign effectively.

Source:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/06/philippines-rodrigo-duterte-orders-police-back-into-deadly-drug-war

Minimum Alcohol Pricing in Scotland to Start in 2018

Posted 09-Dec-17

Scotland’s Health Minister announced in the Scottish parliament in November 2017 that, following consultation on the regulations in December, the order setting the minimum unit price for alcohol will be presented to the parliament at the start of March 2018 so that the scheme can start on 1 May 2018. Scotland will be the first country in the world to set a minimum unit price.  According to The Telegraph, the Health Minister also said that the consultation will consider whether the minimum unit price of 50 British pence ($US0.67) is still an appropriate price; the legislation on minimum pricing was passed in 2012. 

 Source

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/11/21/minimum-alcohol-price-introduced-scotland-may-1

Tobacco Companies Place "Corrective Statements" in US Media

Posted 09-Dec-17

The New York Times reports that the court-ordered tobacco industry advertisments illustrating the harms of tobacco smoking started to be shown on US primetime television and placed in newspapers in November 2017. The advertisments were ordered as part of a court settlement with the US Justice Department.  The Justice Department brought a case to court in 1999 that the tobacco industry had conspired to mislead the public on health problems associated with smoking for more than 50 years. Ruling in favour of the Justice Department, District Judge Gladys Kessler said in 2006 that Philip Morris and other tobacco companies had “marketed and sold their lethal product with zeal, with deception, with a single-minded focus on their financial success, and without regard for the human tragedy or social costs that success exacted.” The order had been contested by the tobacco companies since 2006, but the Kessler decision was enforced after the US Supreme Court declined to hear the tobacco companies' case in 2017.  All the original defendants in the case are now owned by Altria Group Inc. and British American Tobacco PLC. According to The New York Times, Altria estimated it would spend $US31 million on the advertisement spots, which are scheduled to run five times per week for a year.

Source:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/24/opinion/cigarettes-tobacco-ads-smoking-death.html

FDA Announces New Nicotine Steering Committee

Posted 09-Dec-17

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in November that it is forming a new Nicotine Steering Committee to review nicotine replacement-therapy products (NRTs). In an official FDA blog, FDA officials said that the committee “will be charged with re-evaluating and modernizing FDA’s approach to development and regulation of nicotine replacement therapy products that help smokers quit.” The officials also note in the blog the public debate that has surrounded “the potential for modified-risk tobacco products like electronic, nicotine-delivery systems and e-cigarettes,” and continues, “FDA also sees compelling opportunities to explore additional opportunities for the development of new and improved products that can be sold as new drugs, typically as over-the-counter pharmaceuticals.”

Source:

https://blogs.fda.gov/fdavoice/index.php/tag/fdas-nicotine-steering-committee

Plan for Drug Testing Trials of Welfare Recipients in Australia Suspended

Posted 09-Dec-17

Pro Bono Australia reports that the Australian Government’s plan to drug test unemployed welfare recipients as part of a welfare reform bill has been suspended indefinitely. The Australian Senate had refused to endorse the plan. The Social Services Minister Christian Porter said that the plan would be withdrawn from the  welfare reform bill to enable secure passage of the rest of the bill. The minister said: “I have already publicly said that I would not hold up the entire bill and the significant reforms it provides to consolidate working age payments and a simpler compliance system, if the drug testing measure appears unable to win adequate support at this time.”  According news.com.au, the plan for the drug-testing trials will be suspended for at least several months, as enabling legislation will probably have to wait until the Australian parliament returns in February after its Christmas recess.

Sources:

https://probonoaustralia.com.au/news/2017/12/concerns-welfare-remain-govt-abandons-drug-testing-scheme

http://www.news.com.au/national/unemployed-welfare-recipient-drug-testing-dropped-from-legislation-lineup/news-story/5710e45a99205c13a0de540dafaaeb11

Tobacco Companies Impede Tobacco Tax Increases in Southeast Asia

Posted 09-Dec-17

The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) has published its fourth Tobacco Industry (TI) Interference Index. The index monitors the region’s compliance with the 2003 WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and, in particular, its compliance with FCTC Article 5.3. The article states that countries signed up to the Convention should protect their tobacco control policies “from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law.” Nine countries (i.e., Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam) participated in the 2016 survey and were ranked from the lowest level of TI interference to the highest. According to the report, the tobacco lobby stopped proposed cigarette tax increases in Malaysia and Indonesia in 2016 and Vietnam waived all duties on dried tobacco imports from Cambodia.  According to The Guardian Mary Assunta Kolandai, senior policy advisor for SEATCA and author of the report, said: “We have found that the tobacco industry does not take a holiday from undermining or thwarting or delaying government efforts to control tobacco use.”

Sources:

https://seatca.org/dmdocuments/TI%20Index%202017%209%20November%20FINAL.pdf

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/nov/27/blow-to-tobacco-control-treaty-as-industry-wins-tax-fight-in-south-east-asia

Illicit Fentanyl to Be Scheduled In US

Posted 09-Dec-17

The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) announced in November that it plans to classify illicit fentanyl as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule 1 controls drugs that have a high potential for abuse and have no currently accepted medical use. The move is an attempt to counter a legal loophole through which producers of fentanyl have been slightly altering its chemical composition so that it becomes a legal substance. The US Justice Department said: “Anyone who possesses, imports, distributes, or manufactures any illicit fentanyl analogue will be subject to criminal prosecution in the same manner as for fentanyl and other controlled substances.” The Department also said that around 20,000 of 2016’s 64,000 drug overdose deaths involved fentanyl, alone or mixed with other drugs.

Sources:

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-11-overdose-epidemic-fentanyl-type-drugs.html

http://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/news-and-analysis/news/synthetic-opioid-to-be-classified-at-same-level-as-heroin-to-tackle-us-opioid-crisis/20203962.article

Medical Cannabis Bill Passed in Irish Parliament

Posted 09-Dec-17

The Irish Dáil passed a bill in December to make cannabis available in Ireland for medical use. According to RTÉ News, Health Minister Simon Harris said that, despite his concerns about some elements of the bill, he did not oppose the bill’s progression. The Irish Health Products Regulatory Authority has been asked to advise the Health Minister on the scientific and clinical value of cannabis as a medicine. RTÉ News also reported that Mr Harris had indicated that amendments would have to be made to the proposed bill to avoid the unintended effect of making cannabis legal for recreational use.

Source:

https://www.rte.ie/news/2016/1201/835669-cannabis-medicinal-use-dail

EU Passes New Legislation on NPS

Posted 09-Dec-17

On 15 November 2017, the Parliament and the Council of the European Union (EU) passed new legislation to increase Europe’s ability to respond more rapidly to new psychoactive substances (NPS).  NPS will be included in the official definition of a ‘drug’ at the European level as a result of this legislation. The legislation is a response to the growing NPS market in Europe and seeks to strengthen the current EU Early Warning System (EWS) and accelerate current data collection and risk assessment process procedures. This legislation came into force on 22 November 2017 and will be applicable 12 months after that date.

Sources:

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=OJ:L:2017:305:FULL&from=EN

http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/news/2017/16/new-legislation-response-new-psychoactive-drugs_en

FDA Approves New Drug for Treating Opioid Dependence

Posted 09-Dec-17

Reuters reports that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of an injectable drug, known as RBP-6000 or Sublocade, for treating opioid dependence. The approval comes after an advisory committee to the FDA voted 18-1 that the drug could benefit patients. Sublocade is the first monthly injectable buprenorphine treatment and is expected to be available to patients in the United States in the first quarter of 2018.

Sources:

https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-indivior-opioids/indivior-drug-to-fight-opioid-addiction-approved-by-u-s-fda-idUKKBN1DV47M?feedType=RSS&feedName=healthNewsMolt

https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm587312.htm

UK Supreme Court Approves Minimum Pricing Legislation in Scotland

Posted 15-Nov-17

BBC News reports that the UK’s Supreme Court has ruled in the Scottish government’s favour and dismissed the appeal by the Scottish Whisky Association (SWA), spiritsEUROPE and the Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins against the introduction of minimum alcohol pricing in Scotland. The Scottish Parliament approved legislation setting a 50 pence-per-unit minimum price in 2012 but the introduction of the law has been held up by legal challenges. The appellants in the Supreme Court case claimed that the legislation breached European law and that the minimum price policy was a "restriction on trade" and on  “the proper functioning of the Common Agricultural Policy’s Common Market Organisation on the production, marketing and sale of wine.”  The appellants also argued that there were other pricing measures that would be “less disruptive of free trade and less disruptive of competition” across the European single market but would have at least the “equivalent level of effectiveness in achieving the aim of the Scottish Government to improve public health.” In rejecting the appeal the judges said that the legislation did not breach European Union law and ruled that ruled the measure was a "proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim." This decision means that Scotland becomes the first country in the world to establish a minimum price for alcohol. According to BBC News, Scottish government ministers said that the minimum pricing law would be introduced "as quickly as is practicable", possibly early next year.

Sources:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-41981909

https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/docs/uksc-2017-0025-judgment.pdf

National Public Health Emergency Declared in US

Posted 13-Nov-17

The US administration declared a Nationwide Public Health Emergency on 26 October 2017 to address the opioid crisis. The declaration followed more than two months of review by administration officials over what kind of emergency to declare and whether additional public funding would be linked to the declaration.  Earlier in the year the President's Commission on Combatting Drug Addiction had recommended that the administration declare a national emergency under either the Public Health Service Act or the Stafford Act.  Under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, US states can draw on the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Disaster Relief Fund.  But according to CNN, administration officials say that designating the opioid crisis an emergency under the Stafford Act would be too broad and would also overburden the Disaster Relief Fund already under strain after the three major hurricanes in the US in 2017.  A White House press statement says that the Nationwide Public Health Emergency declaration allows some grant money to be used to address opioid abuse, permits the hiring of specialists to tackle the crisis more quickly, and expands the use of telemedicine services to treat people with opioid problems in rural areas where doctors are often in short supply. 

Sources:

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/10/26/politics/national-health-emergency-national-disaster/index.html

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/10/26/president-donald-j-trump-taking-action-drug-addiction-and-opioid-crisis

DEA: Prescription Painkillers Are Biggest US Drug Threat

Posted 13-Nov-17

The US Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA’s) 2017 National Drug Threat Assessment (NDTA) outlines the threats posed to the United States by domestic and international drug trafficking and the abuse of illicit drugs. Introducing the 2017 report released in October, the DEA’s Acting Administrator, Robert Patterson, said: “This report underscores the scope and magnitude of the ongoing opioid use crisis in the United States.” The report notes that controlled prescription drugs (CPDs) have been linked to the largest number of overdose deaths of any illicit drug class since 2001. CPDs are still used by more people than cocaine, heroin, MDMA, methamphetamine, and phencyclidine combined. The report also notes that heroin and cocaine availability and use in the US have increased.

Source:

https://www.dea.gov/docs/DIR-040-17_2017-NDTA.pdf

FDA Plans to Encourage Wider Use of Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Posted 13-Nov-17

In his evidence to a US House Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing on the opioid use epidemic in the US, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that the FDA plans to encourage wider use of methadone and buprenorphine for treating opioid addiction. The FDA proposes that every addict who suffers a non-fatal overdose would be treated with an opioid substitute, for long periods if necessary.  Reuters reports that Gottlieb said of the proposal that “I know this may make some people uncomfortable,” adding that the “FDA will join efforts to break the stigma associated with medications used for addiction treatment.”  Reuters remarks that the proposal marks a step toward harm reduction rather than abstinence-based approaches in US treatment policy. Gottlieb also said that the FDA will issue guidance for drug companies to promote the development of new addiction treatments that will follow the FDA’s interest in “novel, non-abstinence-based” products.

Sources:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-opioids-fda/u-s-to-promote-use-of-opioid-alternatives-to-treat-addiction-idUSKBN1CU2F2

https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm582031.htm

New EMCDDA Guide to Responding to Drug Problems

Posted 13-Nov-17

The European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Abuse (EMCDDA) has published Health and Social Responses to Drug Problems: A European Guide.  The guide provides evidence reviews and examples of best practice, as well as information on the European situation regarding drug-related problems. In the guide’s foreword, the EMCDDA’s Director, Alexis Goosdeel, identifies particular issues for attention, especially how to respond to new psychoactive substances, opioid-related deaths and high rates of hepatitis C among injectors. The guide is constructed as a reference document that can be used as route map to a range of additional online materials produced by the EMCDDA.

Source:

http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/responses-guide

Second Safe Injecting Site for Australia

Posted 13-Nov-17

The Age reports that the Victorian government has approved a two-year trial of a safe injecting room in North Richmond, a suburb of Melbourne. It will be the second such room in Australia after the Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre was established in 2001. The move was prompted by a reported increase in heroin-related deaths in the area and comes despite the state government’s earlier opposition to injecting rooms. Unlike at the Sydney facility, users will have to provide identity details and methamphetamine (ice) use will not be permitted on the premises. The site is expected to begin operating in mid-2018.

Source:

http://www.newsjs.com/url.php?p=http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/ice-wont-be-allowed-in-melbourne-safe-injecting-room-20171031-gzbydr.html

Philippines Police Stripped of Leading Role in Drugs War Again

Posted 13-Nov-17

President Rodrigo Duterte has demoted the Philippine National Police (PNP) from leading the country’s drug war. The Philippine Drugs Enforcement Agency will take responsibility instead. President Duterte had suspended the PNP in January 2017 following the killing of a South Korean businessman by the police but reinstated them shortly afterwards. The BBC comments that the move is part of a restructuring of drug policy, following continuing criticism of the drug-related killings by the police, including condemnation by the country’s Catholic church. According to the BBC there has been a recent decline in the rate of drug-related killings and the PNP has started a community drug rehabilitation programme.

Source:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-41591534

State of New York Bans E-cigarette Use Indoors

Posted 13-Nov-17

In October 2017 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill to prohibit e-cigarette use in workplaces, bars and restaurants in the state. New York will become the 11th US state to ban e-cigarettes indoors. The New York Times reports that the American Lung Foundation say that around 70% of the state’s municipalities already have such bans in effect and such a ban has been in place in New York City since 2013. 

Source:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/23/nyregion/new-york-bans-vaping-ecigs-bars-restaurants.html

Heroin Refining Increases in Afghanistan

Posted 13-Nov-17

The New York Times reports that the Taliban in Afghanistan are becoming more directly involved in every stage of the heroin trade than before. In previous years the Taliban have taxed and provided security for opium producers and smugglers. Most of the opium production was smuggled out of Afghanistan to be refined into heroin in other countries. According to the New York Times, Afghan and Western officials estimate that half, if not more, of Afghan opium is getting some level of processing in the country and that the Taliban have been involved in this increase in refining operations. Refining makes it easier to smuggle the opium product out of the country and helps increase profits from the heroin trade. In the New York Times, General Abdul Khalil Bakhtiar, Afghanistan’s deputy interior minister in charge of the Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan, said the insurgents had used the growing insecurity of the past two years to establish more refining operations and to move them closer to the opium growing fields. But a Taliban spokesman said the group “had nothing to do” with processing heroin, and he also denied that major laboratories existed in the areas under its control.

Source:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/29/world/asia/opium-heroin-afghanistan-taliban.html

Cannabis Law Reform Referendum Planned for New Zealand

Posted 13-Nov-17

BBC News reports that the new Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, has announced that New Zealand will hold a referendum within the next three years on legalising the recreational use of cannabis.  Ardern said she did not personally support the criminalisation of cannabis use but said "I also have concerns around young people accessing a product which can clearly do harm and damage to them."  Ardern leads a coalition government of her own Labour Party, together with the Green Party and NZ First. According to CNBC, the proposed change in the law over cannabis is being driven by the Green Party manifesto, which states the drug should be legal for personal use, including possession and cultivation. CNBC also reports that Ardern will work with her Cabinet and take advice before deciding on any referendum date.

Source:

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/20/legalizing-cannabis-new-zealand-government-open-to-referendum.html

First Needle-syringe Programmes in Uganda

Posted 13-Nov-17

In September 2017 the Ugandan Health Ministry agreed to allow the Uganda Harm Reduction Network and Community Health Alliance Uganda to pilot needle-syringe programmes (NSPs) in the country. According to an International Drug Policy Consortium blog, people who inject drugs account for about 21% of new HIV infections in Uganda and the government and the general public now recognize the issue of unsafe injecting drug use in relation to HIV and hepatitis transmission. Demonstration NSPs will be set up in five designated health facilities in the country.

Source:

http://idpc.net/blog/2017/09/finally-the-ugandan-government-agrees-to-start-harm-reduction