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

Australia Plain Packaging Laws Upheld at WTO

Posted 22-May-17

Bloomberg News reported in May that Australia’s laws on plain packaging of cigarettes and other tobacco products have been upheld by a dispute resolution panel at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) following challenges from a number of countries including several major tobacco exporters. A confidential draft of the WTO ruling accepted Australia’s argument that its Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 did not violate trade law because it qualifies as a legitimate public health measure, according to Bloomberg News. The WTO's final ruling is not expected until July and the parties to the ruling, which include Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Indonesia, will then be permitted to appeal the decision, according to WTO rules.

Sources:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-04/wto-said-to-uphold-australia-s-ban-on-cigarette-logos  

http://www.worldtrademarkreview.com/Blog/detail.aspx?g=8ac77409-af50-4b21-bca1-30f70d250e9c

FDA's Standards for E-cigarette and Cigar Industries Delayed

Posted 22-May-17

In May 2016 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a rule that extended its authority under the Tobacco Control Act to enable it to regulate all tobacco products including e-cigarettes and cigars for the first time. The Washington Post reports that the US government has now delayed enforcement of the rule. Any deadlines established under the rule have been postponed as a result of this move, according to FDA officials.  Cigar manufacturers will not have to submit their plans for putting dependence risk warnings on their products, as originally planned by the FDA under the rule. Information on what ingredients are contained in e-cigarettes and cigars will not have to be submitted in August. Interstate commerce of Modified Risk Tobacco Products, including those with the label of “light,” “low” or “mild”, will not be banned as of that date. According to The Washington Post, court filings show that the rule has been challenged by Department of Justice legal representatives, together with the e-cigarette and tobacco industry, to give “new leadership personnel” at the Health and Human Services “additional time to more fully consider the Rule and issues raised in this case.”

Sources:

https://www.fda.gov/newsevents/newsroom/pressannouncements/ucm499234.htm

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/fda-suspends-enforcement-of-stricter-standards-for-e-cigarette-cigar-industry/2017/05/02/be7e557a-2ed6-11e7-9534-00e4656c22aa_story.html?utm_term=.837e3a73884a

Bill to Legalize Medical Cannabis Use Passed in Mexican Congress

Posted 22-May-17

Reuters reports that a bill to allow the use of cannabis for medical purposes was passed in Mexico’s lower House of Congress on 28 April 28, with 371 votes in favour and seven against. The bill had already passed in the Mexican senate in the previous December with a similarly overwhelming majority.  A statement on the House’s website said: "The ruling eliminates the prohibition and criminalization of acts related to the medicinal use of marijuana and its scientific research, and those relating to the production and distribution of the plant for these purposes."

Sources:

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mexico-marijuana-idUSKBN17U2ZJ

http://www5.diputados.gob.mx/index.php/esl/Comunicacion/Boletines/2017/Abril/28/3577-Diputados-aprueban-uso-medicinal-de-la-cannabis-sativa-indica-y-americana-o-mariguana

Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act Passed in Canada

Posted 22-May-17

The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act received Royal Assent and became law in Canada in May. The Act is intended to counter the fear among overdose witnesses that a call to emergency services may bring police involvement. Under the Act, people who call emergency services for themselves or another person suffering an overdose, as well as anyone who is at the scene when emergency help arrives, will be exempt from charges of simple possession of a controlled substance. The Act also exempts from charges those people who are on a probation order, serving a conditional sentence or who are on parole.

Source:

http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/good-samaritan-drug-overdose-act-becomes-law-in-canada-621367873.html

US Office of National Drug Control Policy Budget Under Threat

Posted 22-May-17

According to the New York Times the US government proposes to cut the budget of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) by about 95 percent, from US$388 million to US$24 million. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has proposed budget cuts for fiscal year 2018 that would cut 33 employees, half of the ONDCP’s staff. The OMB also propose to eliminate grant programmes administered by the ONDCP. These programmes include the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program and the Drug-free Communities Support Program, with the OMB stating that these grants are "duplicative of other efforts across the Federal government and supplant State and local responsibilities."

Source:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/05/us/politics/white-house-proposes-cutting-drug-control-office-funding-by-95.html?_r=0

Opposition to Smoking Ban in Japan

Posted 22-May-17

In 2010, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) agreed with the World Health Organization to promote a smokeless Olympics. But according to Reuters a bill to ban smoking indoors across Japan for the 2020 summer Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo has been opposed by politicians, the restaurant industry and Japan Tobacco. A bill from Japan’s Health, Welfare and Labor ministry, which aims to restrict smoking in public places, is opposed by about 90 per cent of the members of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) who argue it would put bars and restaurants out of business. The ministry revised its initial plan after opposition to allow smoking indoors in spaces around 30 square metres, as long as adequate ventilation is installed. Nevertheless the Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) health committee, whose support is essential to introducing the bill in parliament, refuse to meet ministry officials to discuss the bill, saying the revised bill is too strict. The committee chair, Naomi Tokashiki, acknowledged there should be protection against second-hand smoke, but that Japan's cultural emphasis on good manners and sensitivity to others would be enough. "I believe Japanese people really are considerate of others," she said. "It's more important for us to trust people than enact a really repressive law." The Mainichi reports that the new national stadium being planned for Tokyo is to be completely smoke-free, although the Japan Sport Council (JSC) said dignitaries might be allowed to smoke in VIP rooms.

Sources:

http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-japan-smokingban-idUKKBN17X2J8

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170331/p2a/00m/0na/003000c

Report on the Global Drug Market

Posted 22-May-17

A report from Global Financial Integrity (GFI) estimates that the illicit drug market has an annual global value of between US$426 billion and US$652 billion. GFI, a US-based non-profit research organization, produces value estimates of major illegal markets and advises governments on policy responses. The report, Transnational Crime and the Developing World, estimates the overall size of criminal markets in 11 categories: the trafficking of drugs, arms, humans, human organs, and cultural property; counterfeiting, illegal wildlife crime, illegal fishing, illegal logging, illegal mining, and crude oil theft. Mainly using data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime World Drug Reports, GFI estimates that drug trafficking is the second most valuable transnational crime after counterfeiting.  

Source:

http://www.gfintegrity.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Transnational_Crime-final.pdf

Report on Smoking in China

Posted 22-May-17

The Bill China Cannot Afford: Health Economic and Social Costs of China’s Tobacco Epidemic is a new report co-authored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The report says that China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of tobacco, estimating that 44% of the world’s cigarettes are smoked in China. Dr Bernhard Schwartländer, WHO Representative in China, said: “If nothing is done to reduce these numbers and introduce more progressive policies, the consequences could be devastating not just for the health of people across the country, but also for China’s economy as a whole. The rapid increase in costs associated with tobacco use in China is unsustainable, the report reveals, estimating the total annual economic cost in 2014 at RMB 350 billion (USD 57 billion), an increase of 1000% since 2000.”

Source:

http://www.wpro.who.int/china/mediacentre/releases/2017/20170414-tobacco-report/en/

Legislation to Legalize Cannabis Introduced in Canada

Posted 22-May-17

The Canadian government introduced legislation in April to establish a “strict legal framework” for the production, sale, distribution and possession of cannabis for recreational use. Under the proposed Cannabis Act adults would be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis or its equivalent in public, share up to 30 grams of dried cannabis with other adults and buy cannabis or cannabis oil from a provincially regulated retailer. Adults would also be permitted to grow up to four plants per residence for personal use, as well as make legal cannabis-containing products at home. The Toronto Sun reports that MP Bill Blair, who is leading on the legislation for the government, expects the legalized cannabis system to be in place by June 2018. Under the new Act it would remain illegal to import cannabis and cannabis products, and to export them without a valid permit. Permits may be issued for certain purposes, such as medical cannabis and industrial hemp. Provinces, territories and municipalities in Canada will be allowed to tailor the new rules for their own jurisdictions and permitted to set their own licensing, distribution and retail sales rules.

Sources:

http://www.torontosun.com/2017/04/13/what-to-expect-from-the-liberals-marijuana-bill

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/04/13/canada-introduces-legislation-allow-recreational-use-marijuana/

US commission on opioid addiction

Posted 10-Apr-17

The New York Times reports that a Presidential Executive Order of March 29th established the  President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. The Commission’s mission is to study the scope and effectiveness of the Federal response to drug addiction and the opioid crisis and to make recommendations to the President for improving that response.  Among the Commission’s objectives are: to assess the availability and accessibility of addiction treatment services and overdose reversal in the US and identify areas that are underserved and to identify and report on best practices for addiction prevention, including healthcare provider education and evaluation of prescription practices, and the use and effectiveness of state prescription drug monitoring programmes. The Commission will submit a report containing its final findings and recommendations by 1 October 2017. The Commission will be chaired by Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey, who made addiction a central policy issue for his administration in New Jersey.    

Sources:

https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2017/03/29/us/politics/ap-us-trump-christie.html

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/03/30/presidential-executive-order-establishing-presidents-commission

Cigarette tax increase in California

Posted 10-Apr-17

Following the majority vote in California on 8 November in favour of Proposition 56 to raise cigarette taxes in the state, a new law will raise the prices of cigarettes in California by as much as 40 per cent. The rise will also be applied to e-cigarettes. This tax rise is the biggest since the state began taxing cigarettes in 1959, according to the Daily Breeze. The expected revenue from the tax is US$1 billion to US$1.4 billion in the 2017-18 fiscal year, although that may decrease over time, according to the California Legislative Analyst’s Office. The revenue will be used to administer the tax, increase health-care spending on low income Californian residents, and fund more doctors, prevention programmes and research into tobacco-related diseases, according to the legislation.

Source:

http://www.dailybreeze.com/government-and-politics/20170331/why-the-cost-of-cigarettes-just-went-up-in-california

Uruguay to sell cannabis in pharmacies

Posted 10-Apr-17

Cannabis for recreational use will be sold over the counter in pharmacies in Uruguay from July. The 2013 law that legalised cannabis in Uruguay requires buyers to sign up to a national registry. Those who register must be Uruguayan citizens or permanent residents and can purchase up to a maximum of 40 grams per month. The price will be US$1.30 per gram. The cannabis will be produced in state-supervised fields. The law also allows users to grow their own at home, or join cooperative clubs that farm it. According to BBC News, many pharmacists in Uruguay have doubted the financial benefits of selling a cost-controlled product and only 16 pharmacies have signed up for the scheme so far. Presidential aide Juan Andres Roballo said there would be a public health campaign before the registry is opened.

Source:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-39522345

Social science and health policy

Posted 10-Apr-17

The Campaign for Social Science was launched in 2011 by the Academy of Social Sciences to promote social science to the UK Government and the wider public. A new report from the campaign, The Health of People, examines how social sciences can help improve population health around such behaviours as binge drinking, smoking and obesity. The report argues that many previous attempts to change behaviour, such as the provision of guidelines or information, were based on what the report calls “common sense” assumptions about how people behave and were unlikely to elicit behaviour change. In contrast, social sciences can provide models and methods for a more coherent approach to behaviour and behaviour change by paying attention to the physical and social context of the target behaviour, physical and psychological capability and people’s motivational processes.  The report’s recommendations include establishing a strategic coordinating body to support multidisciplinary health research and its translation into policy and practice; the creation of ‘implementation laboratories’, linking research, clinical care and policy to understand what works and improve uptake of effective interventions; and adopting a new ‘social consent model’ linking health and social data to improve the quality of NHS services and patient experiences.

Source:

https://campaignforsocialscience.org.uk/healthofpeople

E-cigarettes legalised in New Zealand

Posted 10-Apr-17

The New Zealand government aims to make the country smokefree by 2025. In March the Associate Health Minister, Nicky Wagner, announced that the sale of nicotine e-cigarettes and e-liquid will be made legal and that the law is likely to come into force later in 2017. "Scientific evidence on the safety of e-cigarettes is still developing but there's a general consensus that vaping is much less harmful than smoking," Wagner said, adding, "This is an opportunity to see if restricted access to e-cigarettes and e-liquid can help lower our smoking rates, reduce harm and save lives."

 Source:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/business/90962129/Government-legalises-e-cigarettes-in-effort-to-make-New-Zealand-smokefree-by-2025

UK parliamentary report on licensing laws

Posted 10-Apr-17

The Guardian reports that a Committee from the parliamentary House of Lords has recommended minimum unit pricing (MUP) for alcohol in England if MUP is successful and reduces excessive drinking after its introduction in Scotland. The UK coalition government pledged in March 2012 to introduce MUP but backtracked on its plans in 2013. The House of Lords report also recommended a reform of how licensing decisions are made by local council committees after hearing evidence that some councillors were guilty of a “scandalous misuse” of their powers. The report proposes that the UK’s Licensing Act should be redrawn to abolish local authority licensing committees and give their role to planning watchdogs at councils instead. The committee’s chairwoman, Lady McIntosh of Pickering, said: “The planning system is well suited to dealing with licensing applications and appeals, and the interests of residents are always taken into account.”

Source:

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/apr/04/peers-back-minimum-price-per-alcohol-unit-if-scotland-scheme-works

http://www.parliament.uk/licensing-act-committee

Standardised packaging for cigarettes in Ireland

Posted 10-Apr-17

The Irish Independent reports that the Irish Minister of State for Health Promotion, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, signed the commencement order in March giving effect to the standardised packaging provisions of the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Act 2015. Standardised packaging and graphic health warnings for cigarettes will be enforced from September 2017. Remaining stocks that are on shelves at that date that are in traditional packaging can continue to be sold for one year.  Ms Corcoran Kennedy said: “Ireland has the lowest age of children starting to smoke among all the EU Member States and almost 80pc of smokers in Ireland start when they are children. Standardised packaging will reduce the attractiveness of tobacco products and forms a key part of Ireland’s strategy to reduce tobacco use, particularly uptake among children and young people.”

Source:

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/cigarettes-will-be-sold-in-plain-packaging-with-graphic-health-warnings-from-september-35573182.html

First licence for growing medicinal cannabis in Australia

Posted 10-Apr-17

The first licence to grow and harvest medicinal cannabis in Australia has been granted by The Office of Drug Control (ODC) of the Australian Department of Health to Cannoperations Pty Ltd in Victoria.  Initially, the products will only be available in Victoria’s medicinal market. Processing of licences for other states and territories in Australia is currently underway.  Federal Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, said: “We are now making it easier to access medicinal cannabis products more rapidly, while still maintaining strict safeguards for individual and community safety.”  The government has authorised the importation and storage of medicinal cannabis from international sources for interim supply to patients as Australian sources continue to develop.

Source:

http://www.ibtimes.com.au/australian-company-granted-first-licence-commercially-grow-medicinal-cannabis-1547041

Major Cannabis Report Published in US

Posted 06-Mar-17

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine published The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research in January. The report reviews the research on cannabis or its constituents and health available since the Institute of Medicine’s report Marijuana and Medicine was published in 1999. The review was conducted by a committee of experts convened in March 2016 and, given the short time frame for the committee’s work, drew mainly on published systematic reviews. The eleven topic areas chosen for review were: therapeutic effects; cancer; cardiometabolic risk; respiratory disease; immunity; injury and death; prenatal, perinatal, and postnatal exposure to cannabis; psychosocial; mental health; problem cannabis use; and cannabis use and the abuse of other substances. Among the report’s conclusions are that there is  substantial evidence of a statistical association between cannabis use and increased risk of motor vehicle crashes, lower birthweight of offspring, and development of schizophrenia or other psychoses, and that initiating cannabis use at an earlier age is a risk factor for the development of problem cannabis use. The report also makes recommendations for a research agenda that will identify the most critical research questions regarding cannabis use and health outcomes that can be answered in the short term (within a 3-year time frame). An editorial in The New York Times drew attention to the report’s conclusion that research on the effects of cannabis is restricted by its status as a Schedule I substance under the US Controlled Substances Act.

Sources:

http://nationalacademies.org/hmd/reports/2017/health-effects-of-cannabis-and-cannabinoids.aspx

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/17/opinion/scientists-to-government-make-it-easier-to-study-marijuana.html?_r=0

New Tobacco Control Measures in France

Posted 06-Mar-17

A new law on plain packaging came fully into force in France on 1 January 2017. The Physicians for a Smoke-free Canada blogspot drew attention to other important new tobacco control measures that also came into force at the same time.  A new tax of 5.6% on tobacco company revenue is expected to raise about 130 million Euros per year (about 137 million US dollars) which will be administered  by a 12-member Board of Directors made up of the directors-general and directors of several health insurance funds; directors-general of the national Health Department, the Social Security Department, the Public Health Agency, and the National Cancer Institute; and two members at large appointed by the Minister of Health. Finally, in line with the an European Union (EU)  Directive that requires member states to restrict greatly tobacco product presentation, France issued a regulation on 1 February that lists all the brands of tobacco products available for sale in France.  The EU directive advises that neither the packaging nor the product shall include any element that “promotes a tobacco product or encourages its consumption” and the sale of a brand in France will only be allowed for one more year if any element of its name is judged to be contrary to the directive.

Source:

http://smoke-free-canada.blogspot.co.uk/

Dutch MPs Vote for Legal Cultivation of Cannabis

Posted 06-Mar-17

In February MPs in the  lower house of the Dutch Parliament voted by 77 votes to 72 in favour of the new law that would  allow the cultivation of cannabis in the country. The bill was put forward by an MP for the liberal party, D66, removing a legal grey area that allowed “coffee shops” to sell cannabis but left them unable to supply it themselves without fear of prosecution.  The proposed new law, the Closed Coffeeshop Chain Act, would create a regulated cannabis supply chain, with some suppliers permitted to cultivate the drug without facing arrest.  The proposed law “finally ends the current skew tolerance policy where you can sell weed [cannabis] but cannot grow or buy it,” said Vera Bergkamp, an MP with the D66 group.  It remained uncertain whether the bill will be approved by the Dutch Senate given the narrow majority of the vote in the lower house.

Source:

http://www.coffeeshopdirect.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=33465

Public Consultation on Tobacco Control in Canada

Posted 06-Mar-17

According to Health Canada the smoking rate in Canada dropped from 22% in 2001 to 13% in 2015. A proposed tobacco control policy aims to reduce Canada's rate of tobacco use to less than 5% by 2035.  A 7-week public consultation on the future of tobacco control in Canada was launched in February.  Other tobacco control measures planned by the Government of Canada include adopting stringent plain packaging for tobacco products; banning the use of menthol in cigarettes, blunt wraps and most cigars; addressing the risks and benefits of vaping products starting with the introduction of new vaping legislation; supporting First Nation and Inuit communities in the development and implementation of tobacco control projects that are socially and culturally appropriate; and developing new and innovative multi-sectoral partnerships to address tobacco use as a common risk factor for chronic disease.  

Source:

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/news/2017/02/government_of_canadalaunchespublicconsultationsonthefutureoftoba.html

Claims for the Economic Benefits of the Alcohol Industry Challenged

Posted 06-Mar-17

The UK Institute of Alcohol Studies report, Splitting the Bill: Alcohol’s Impact on the UK Economy, uses government and trade statistics and research evidence to demonstrate that raising the tax duty on alcohol is not likely to lead to a major cost to the UK economy. The report suggests that any reduction in employment and income resulting from lower spending on alcohol could be offset by spending on other goods; those data from US states suggest that a 10% decrease in alcohol consumption is associated with a 0.4% increase in per capita income growth; and that lower alcohol consumption could also reduce the economic costs of impaired workplace productivity, alcohol-related sickness, unemployment and premature death, which are estimated to cost the UK £8-11 billion per year.

Source:

http://www.ias.org.uk/uploads/pdf/IAS%20reports/rp23022017.pdf

Heroin and Fentanyl Related Overdose Deaths Continue to Rise in US

Posted 06-Mar-17

A report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention using data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) finds that the rate of fatal overdoses from all drugs has increased by more than 2.5 times since 1999, rising from 6.1 deaths per 100,000 people to 16.3 deaths in 2015. Heroin was involved in 8 percent of all drug overdose deaths in 2010 but involved in 25 percent of such deaths in 2015. Deaths related to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids (with the exception of methadone) rose from 8 percent in 2010 to 18 percent in 2015. The percentage of deaths caused by methadone, as well as by natural and semisynthetic opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, dropped during this period. Adults between 45 and 54 years old had the highest death rate from drug overdoses at 30 deaths per 100,000 people in 2015 but the rate also grew among adults between 55 and 64 years old.

Source:

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db273.pdf

Methamphetamine in Afghanistan

Posted 06-Mar-17

While data and information about synthetic drugs in Afghanistan and the wider South-Western and Central Asian region is scarce, Afghanistan Synthetic Drugs Situation Assessment from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Global SMART programme concludes that there is evidence of increasing activity in the synthetic drug market in Afghanistan. Drawing on reports from law enforcement officials, drug treatment providers, forensic experts and drug users in Afghanistan the UNODC report found an increase in the number of methamphetamine seizures, reports of methamphetamine manufacture in the country and an increase in treatment registrations related to methamphetamine in certain parts of the country.

Source:

http://www.unodc.org/documents/Reports/2017_Afghanistan_Synthetic_Drugs_Assessment_report.pdf

Heroin Epidemic Is Election Issue in Punjab

Posted 06-Mar-17

The New York Times reports that the Aam Aadmi Party, launched in 2012 to address corruption in Indian politics, is contesting the Punjab state elections and drawing on local public anger about the state’s heroin epidemic.  The Punjab is a transit point for heroin crossing from Afghanistan to the heroin markets of the west and The Times reports that an estimated 230,000 men and women in the state are dependent on opioids. The Times also reports that, while government statistics suggest that police activities have had some success in reducing the supply of heroin, these have done little to dispel public anger and dissatisfaction with the ruling party in the state, the Shiromani Akali Dal party, which is seen by many in the Punjab to be involved in the heroin trade.  

Source:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/03/world/asia/india-punjab-heroin.html?_r=0

National Cannabis Information Centre in Australia Is Closed Down

Posted 13-Feb-17

The Australian government withdrew its funding of the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC) and NCPIC ceased to operate on 31 December. A government spokesperson justified the decision, saying “There is a need to consider a more holistic, responsive and current approach to the provision of drug and alcohol research and information needs of the drug and alcohol sector and the community that is broader than focusing on a single substance,” adding, “In particular, consultations and information gathering over the past 18 months has identified a change in policy context and priorities, including the release of the National Ice Action Strategy.” In response, the centre's director, Professor Jan Copeland, said “Though ice may be more dramatic and noticeable, focusing only on it and other emerging drugs that aren't used by anywhere near as many people as cannabis, will be to the detriment of Australia.”

Source:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-04/cannabis-support-centre-to-close-after-funding-cut/7994558

Report from Cannabis Legalization Task Force in Canada

Posted 13-Feb-17

The Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation presented its final report to the Canadian government on 30 November. The task force had been established in June 2016 to design a new legislative and regulatory framework for legal access to cannabis in Canada. The Canadian government has said it will introduce legislation to legalize cannabis in spring 2017. The proposed framework is the result of consultations with local governments, industry, indigenous governments, professional groups, patients and advocates as well as submissions from the public. The Globe and Mail reports that Anne McLellan, the chair of the task force, said “most Canadians think it’s time to move away from the system we have. But they are less clear about words like ‘decriminalization’ and ‘legalization’.” The report’s recommendations “reflect a public health approach to reduce harm and promote health,” McLellan added, and also took a “precautionary approach to minimize unintended consequences, given that the relevant evidence is often incomplete or inconclusive.”  The model proposed by the report is similar to the one in place for sales of tobacco and alcohol.  The report said that Canadians should be able to buy or carry 30 grams of cannabis for personal use, while those who want to grow their own could have four plants at home. The proposed system would incorporate both shop sales and mail-order distribution and encourage a wide range of suppliers beside the current suppliers of medicinal cannabis.

Sources:

http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/task-force-marijuana-groupe-etude/framework-cadre/alt/framework-cadre-eng.pdf

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/marijuana-task-force-submits-report-outlining-framework-for-legal-system/article33118085

Report on Drug Treatment in England

Posted 13-Feb-17

A report from Public Health England (PHE) provides a comprehensive review of the evidence on the drug misuse treatment system in England and its expected outcomes. The review uses modelling to estimate the size, characteristics and needs of the drug treatment population in the next four years. The benefits of treatment are highlighted, with 60% of all opioid users in treatment and 97% of all users starting treatment within three weeks. However, the report registers concern with the number of drug-related deaths, which is predicted to continue to rise, and also with the numbers of people continuing to use opiates/heroin after starting treatment. There are challenges to meet the complex needs of older long-term heroin users. Services also need to be flexible and assist those seeking help for the first time get appropriate treatment, particularly with emerging problems such as novel psychoactive substances and the problematic use of medication.

Source:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/586111/PHE_Evidence_review_of_drug_treatment_outcomes.pdf

More Supervised Injecting Sites in Canada

Posted 13-Feb-17

Medical Xpress reports that Canada's health minister, Jane Philpott, approved the opening of new supervised injecting rooms in three sites in Montreal's downtown areas, Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and Ville-Marie. Vancouver established the first supervised injecting room in Canada in 2003, under special exemption from federal drug possession and trafficking laws. Ottawa, Toronto and several other Canadian cities are also considering opening their own sites according to Medical Xpress. In a statement, Philpott said the government had introduced legislative changes to Canada’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act in December 2016 to streamline the process of applying for supervised injecting rooms.

Sources:

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-02-canada-authorizes-drug-consumption-rooms.html

http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=1185959&tp=980

Germany Legalizes the Use of Medicinal Cannabis

Posted 13-Feb-17

Reuters reports that the German lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, passed a law in January that legalizes the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. Health Minister Hermann Groehe said:  "Those who are severely ill need to get the best possible treatment and that includes health insurance funds paying for cannabis as a medicine for those who are chronically ill if they can't be effectively treated any other way."  The law was likely to take effect in March 2017 after a procedural reading by the upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, according to a Health Ministry spokesperson. State-supervised cannabis plantations will be set up in Germany in the future and until then cannabis will be imported from the Netherlands and Canada. According to Reuters the move toward the legalization of medical use of cannabis began in 1999 with a complaint to the Federal Constitutional Court against the prohibition of cannabis for severe illnesses by 8 patients with such illnesses. A Federal Administrative Court decision supporting the complaint on constitutional grounds followed in 2005, eventually leading to the new law.

Source:

http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-germany-cannabis-idUKKBN1532Y5