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North Korea introduces death penalty for counterfeit alcohol smuggling
A warning distributed by the North Korea Ministry of People’s Security (MPS) has stated that those caught trafficking counterfeit alcohol or medicines will face strict punishment up to and including the death penalty. Those confessing to contraventions within a month of the announcement will face lenient sentences; however, people with serious violations may face execution and their families may face deportation.
Kenya to introduce prison sentences for sports doping
Kenyan athletes caught using performance enhancing drugs could now face prison. The previous law had stipulated jail terms of up to three years for support staff, but not for athletes. The move is intended to help remove Kenya from the World Anti-Doping Agency’s category A list of countries to watch for doping violations.
Singapore approves first medical cannabis treatment
The Singapore government has approved the use of medical cannabis for a young girl with epilepsy. The proposal was approved by four government departments and is the first and only approval of its kind in the country. The patient has reportedly exhausted all other treatments and has had access to cannabis-based treatments outside of Singapore earlier in 2019.
In early December 2019, Brazil’s pharmaceutical regulator, Anvisa, approved a set of regulations to govern medical cannabis. Those regulations will now become law within 90 days of being published. The regulations contain requirements for the import, manufacture, marketing, packaging and sale of medical cannabis. Anvisa has also ruled out domestic production of cannabis products, meaning that all such products will need to be imported.
The Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador has banned sales of cannabis vaping products just weeks before sales of cannabis derivatives are due to be launched in the province. The provincial government has said that the ban will remain until more is known about the cause of severe lung injuries that have been associated with vaping products in the US.
The Turkish government implemented plain packaging for tobacco products on 5 December 2019. Sales of old, branded tobacco packets will cease on 5 January 2020. In line with other international approaches to plain packaging, the new packets must display heath warning messages alongside graphic images.
The president of Ukraine has approved a law that ends the state monopoly on alcohol production, effectively privatising the industry. The new law will be implemented from 1 July 2020 and will allow businesses from all sectors to apply for alcohol production licences. One condition of such licencing is that all premises must have 24hr video surveillance.
Ireland’s Medical Cannabis Access Programme has approved two new medical cannabis products. The products have been licenced for use with patients who have not responded to other forms of treatments and who have multiple sclerosis, nausea from chemotherapy or severe forms of epilepsy.
Drug deaths in the UK attributed to poisoning by drug misuse rose by 17% between 2017 and 2018 according to a report published by NHS Digital. The 2,917 reported deaths recorded in 2018 represent a 43% increase over ten years from 2008. People were five times more likely to be admitted to hospital for drug poisoning in the UK’s most deprived areas compared with the most affluent.