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oD Drug Policy Forum: Front Line Report - Week of August 21st 2011

This week we lead with the alarming news that Irina Teplinskaya, friend of the openDemocracy Drug Policy Forum and renowned human rights activist currently undertaking litigation against the Russian Government, has been arrested while crossing the Russian border. Our lead article is an impassioned statement by Irina ~ MW & CS
Mark Weiss Charles Shaw
21 August 2011

Activist Irina Teplinskaya, who recently filed a complaint against Russia to UN, was planted with drugs 

The following is a statement from Irina Teplinskaya, OST advocate and EHRN Steering Committee member who, yesterday, was planted with drugs while crossing the Russian border. 

To: President of the Andrei Rylkov Foundation (FAR) for health and social justice, Ms. Anya Sarang
From: Irina Abdyushevа: Born 22/10/1966 Passport № 27 09 237528 

Statement: I have been most afraid of this since I started litigation against the Russian Government. In February 2011, I made a request to the Ministry of Health in Kaliningrad Oblast to provide me with drug dependency treatment in the form of opioid substitution therapy (OST) based on my drug treatment medical records, which date back to 1983. My request was denied on the grounds that OST is prohibited in Russia. I appealed the [Kaliningrad] Ministry of Health’s decision in the District Court of the Leningrad Oblast, with reference to the Russian Constitution and all international legal instruments. On May 27, 2011, the District Court of the Leningrad Oblast did not satisfy my appeal in which I challenged the Ministry of Health. After having received this response, I appealed to the Regional Court of Kaliningrad. On August 3, 2011, the Kaliningrad Regional Court upheld the District Court’s decision. I was then going to file a complaint with the Constitutional Court of Russia and the European Court of Human Rights.

From May 14th to yesterday, August 18th, I underwent drug rehabilitation in Ukraine. Meanwhile, my trustees were dealing with the legal process of filing complaints to the Constitutional Court of Russia and the European Court of Human Rights.

Yesterday, August 18, 2011, I arrived at Kaliningrad from Kiev at 14:45, and at the passport control, I realized that something was wrong. After I had my passport stamped and crossed the border, I placed my hand luggage on a baggage carousel. In this bag, I had two Kiev cakes, which I myself put into an absolutely empty bag. I still had to collect my check-in luggage (a sports bag). However, I was not allowed to enter the Russian territory. Indeed, four men in civilian clothes, an agent with a sniffer dog, and four women from airport services were waiting for me in the security aisle. The men in civilian clothes introduced themselves as FSB [Federal Security Service] officers from the airport, showed me their identity cards (a person named Eugene Drapp led this process) and told me that I had to undergo a personal search. I was brought into a room; and the dog sniffed my hand luggage.

The dog did not find anything, because I had nothing. When I said that I still had a check-in bag to collect, the FSB officers wanted to take the baggage ticket/tag from me and find this bag. I refused. I explained that the bag was not locked; and that it would be easy to open and plant something inside the bag. I therefore went with them to the luggage compartment. They called customs – there were now about 15 people. I found my bag and they began to search it. They only searched the checked-in luggage since the customs officials are not responsible for hand luggage. All other present witnesses were airport employees; I was therefore isolated from civilians.

They wrote up a report on the interrogation (I have the copy). The report included the list of all items that were in the bag and concluded that no illegal items intended for trafficking were found. In the bag were my personal belongings, soap supplies, washing powder and anti-retroviral therapy (ART). The washing powder was in a plastic bag–I packed it this way as it did not fit into my bag. I had a week supply of ART drugs, but it was largely in bulk, because a trusted person from Kaliningrad sent the drugs to me by postal mail when I was in Ukraine. There were 14 tablets of Epivir, 14 tablets of Ziagen in a jar labelled Epivir, and 28 tablets of Intelens in a plastic bag – as packaged as I received them by mail. In the inventory, the powder was recorded as a washing powder and the tablets – according to their names. I told them that I was taking HIV treatment.

After that, I was again taken to the room for a personal search and was left with the two female employees from the airport: they did a search on me but they were also witnesses. I was strip searched; yet, they found nothing. They sealed my laptop and other belongings, and searched the sports bag once again. Only powder and therapy already set aside as seized were found, and marked "unknown powder" and "unknown pills". Even though the pills were thoroughly described – color, size, shape, numbers and letters carved on them. After my urgent plea (ARV therapy cannot be interrupted), and calls to the authorities, they gave me ARV drugs for 2 days. The rest has been sealed, signed, and the same airport employee-witnesses may have put their signatures on these items.

The cakes were pulled out of the shopping bag, unpacked and everything was searched again. Having searched the cakes, the FSB officers suddenly asked me to give them my bag, although it was obvious that the bag was empty. I was surprised, but passed the bag to them, because I saw that there was nothing in there. When one of them began to shake it, one pill came out, as if from a sleeve. I had never seen such a pill before. It was the size of a Tsitramon, bright white, with one side stating "40", and the other side deeply divided into 4 parts– each part of the convex and sharp like little pyramids. The pill was also sealed. I wrote in the report that the ART drugs and washing powder are mine, but I had never seen this pill – it was not there when I was packing. I realized the full horror of what had happened: I would not be allowed into the Russian Federation territory due to accusations of drug smuggling. This pill did not appear by accident; it is an illegal drug.

I was then taken to the border control directorate (FSB), and ARV tablets and powder were sent for a test. I wrote an explanation, personally describing all that had happened, and expressed my concerns. In addition, I described the story with the pill, and stated that this pill is not mine. I was at the border control until 23:30. They took both passports so that I cannot leave Russia.

I would like to emphasize that the search was conducted illegally– the witnesses who attended were the same women who searched me – the airport customs officers.

Today, the investigator told me that the examination results of the tablet, which they planted on me, showed that this tablet was methadone. Now, I'm going to an investigator. I do not know what happens after that.

I think that they planted methadone just because I fought and argued for the removal of legislative barriers in Russia to the treatment of drug addiction with substitution therapy with methadone and buprenorphine. I believe that this was done in order to discredit my social position, out of revenge for my attempts to protect the rights of people who use drugs in the national and international bodies, including courts of Kaliningrad.

I want to say that the past two months that I spent in Ukraine, I did not take methadone or any narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances. My rehabilitation was in a drug-free environment. I am ready to do all necessary tests to confirm this.

Please provide any help in protecting my rights violated by the actions of law enforcement agencies. Herewith, I trust the Andrey Rylkov Foundation (FAR) to represent my interests in all Russian and international bodies and organizations, and disseminate information on everything that happens to me to all the media, web sites and other information sources. Also, I trust FAR to disclose my medical information on the diagnosis and my personal data in my interest as necessary.

Irina Abdyusheva (Teplinskaya) 

Source: EHRN 

Mexico's drug war inspires Gandhian-style protest

Paseo de la Reforma, one of Mexico City's most emblematic streets and home to frequent celebrations and protests, was overrun on Sunday with nearly 5,000 people clamouring for peace. As the crowd made its way to the president's residence and then to the senate, middle-class men and women mingled with street vendors selling everything from tamales to t-shirts. The protest, opposing a law that legally sanctions President Felipe Calderón's militarisation of the war on drugs, was led by Mexican poet and leading activist Javier Sicilia.

Earlier this year, Sicilia's 24-year-old son was tortured, bound and shot by members of a Mexican drug cartel. His body, along with those of six others, was found in a car in the city of Cuernavaca – just another chapter in a war that is threatening the viability of governance in Mexico. President Calderón offered Sicilia his condolences, most likely because of the poet's high profile, and assured him that justice would be served.

Those were empty words for Sicilia. "Estamos hasta la madre!" (we have had it), he declared. Sicilia demanded that if President Calderón was unable to guarantee peace and security he should resign and allow someone more capable to govern the war-torn country.  To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Guardian 

The Netherlands launches the world’s biggest HIV program aimed at gay men, drug users and sex workers

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands has reserved € 35 million so that gay men, people who use drugs and sex workers in 16 countries can get easier access to information, condoms, antiretroviral treatment and care. Never before has a country launched such a large HIV program aimed at these vulnerable groups. It could mean a huge turnaround in reducing the number of HIV infections in the 16 countries. The program will start in September and be implemented by seven Netherlands based organizations including GNP+. As well as the grant from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the program has been made possible by € 11.7 million from other sources.

Unique Dutch approach: The 4.5-year program has been judged the best by the ministry. Earlier this year there was a call for proposals for development cooperation projects aimed at vulnerable groups. The Dutch government’s decision to reserve funds for this project is highly important. It means a continuation of the ‘Dutch approach’ within international AIDS relief where access to prevention and care in combination with the decriminalization of drug use, homosexuality and sex work is central. This is the only way gay men, people who use drugs and prostitutes can get the care they need. A good example of this care is the integrated needle exchange program for injecting drug users. Many HIV infections are prevented as a result. The great success of the Dutch approach is recognized internationally.

Why these groups in particular?: Vulnerable groups are 10 to 20 times more likely to become infected with HIV than the general population. Only 8% has access to prevention, care, HIV treatment and support. Many countries have legislation that makes access to care difficult or impossible. To learn more please follow this link

Source: GNP+

A drug trafficker's paradise

Source: Al Jazeera

Maldives "1410": help for drug users is just one ring away 

"After three years of heroin abuse, I finally see hope," says Abdul as he marks his fifth day at a drug detoxification centre in Villi Male island, Maldives. Abdul is 26 and started using drugs three years ago in Sri Lanka, where he attended university. As drugs took over his life, he abandoned his studies and returned home to Male, the capital of Maldives. "No one in my family knew about my habit. It was like a secret disease that I was trying to get rid of," he says. "Three months ago I went to the local hospital and they suggested I enroll in their detoxification programme, but I did not have medical insurance. Then, my wife found out, and just as I was wondering what to do next, her brother-in-law told me about the "1410" drug helpline."

On 26 June, as part of activities to mark World Drug Day, President Mohamed Nasheed of Maldives launched "1410", a free national drug helpline operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The helpline aims to provide community members, especially in the remote islands of Maldives, with accurate information related to substance use and the various drug treatment, care and associated support services available in a confidential and professional manner. Launched as a collaboration between UNODC, the Department of Drug Prevention and Rehabilitation Services, the Government of Maldives and local telecom companies, the helpline is targeted at the general community, with a special focus on drug users seeking treatment and their families.

Abdul says that he was hesitant at first to give out his personal details when he called because he had always been discreet about his drug use: "However, when I called the helpline, the counsellor was very helpful. She gave me information about the different treatment options available, such as detoxification, rehabilitation and oral substitution therapy, and encouraged me to visit them at the Department of Drug Prevention and Rehabilitation Services. I went to meet them and opted for the 21-day detox programme, which I am now taking." To learn more please follow this link

Source: UNODC

Noam Chomsky Weighs In On Immigration And Drug Cartel Debates

In an interview with Luis Cárdenas of Guernica Magazine, Noam Chomsky hints that Mexican journalists are too scared to report on the U.S. government’s tolerance of Mexican drug cartels, argues that the drug war is being fought at the wrong end, and says that all Americans aside from Native Americans are technically illegal immigrants.

When asked if sovereign states should be able to deport immigrants at will, Chomsky asked his interviewer: “Should a community, say, a suburb of Boston, be free to enact legislation to say they don’t want blacks? Now that’s illegal. Fifty years ago it was legal. Is that progress or is that regress?” Read the whole story: Guernica Magazine 

Source: Huffington Post

Ayrshire drug deaths soar 

A SHORTAGE of heroin in Ayrshire has resulted in drug deaths more than tripling in a decade. Desperate drug addicts are topping up with other dangerous substances – and the results are deadly. Between 1996 and 2000, the average number of drug deaths in Ayrshire and Arran was 10. But between 2006 and 2010, it jumped to 34. Even more concerning is that 11 people on methadone programmes died after taking other drugs on top of the heroin substitute last year.

NHS Ayrshire and Arran record every drug traced in the system of someone who dies from an overdose. Heroin remains the most deadly drug in Ayrshire. It was found in the system of 19 people in 2010. Ten people were found to have diazepam in their bodies, while cocaine featured in the system of one person who had died from taking drugs.

Jim Crichton, director of mental health services in Ayrshire, explained: “There appears to be a national shortage of heroin and what is available would seem to be of poor quality.  “The consequences of this shortage may cause people who use illicit substances to seek other types of drugs. “This, in turn, may put people at a higher risk of harm as they may be using unfamiliar substances, especially when taken with other drugs or alcohol. “Another additional risk is that people's tolerance levels to heroin are lower due to the poor quality of available heroin.”

Source: Ayrshire Post

DoH Pilot

A pilot to raise awareness of the support needs of families and carers affected by another person's substance misuse has increased referrals to family substance misuse counselling services in Brighton & Hove by 180%. 

The Department of Health commissioned CRI to look at how carers' needs could be better addressed when conducting an initial assessment of people with substance misuse issues. The pilot was conducted by CRI's PATCHED project in Brighton & Hove, which works with families, friends and carers whose lives have been adversely affected by another adult's substance misuse.

The overall aim of the pilot was to improve understanding of the impact of substance misuse on family members and carers and to give those carers early access to support services. A series of measures were introduced to identify the needs of family and carers during the initial assessment of individuals seeking drug and alcohol treatment.

These measures included asking the substance misuser about the impact of their behaviour on their family or carers and seeking permission to share information with them. This enabled PATCHED to contact family members and carers and offer them access to specialist support services including duo counselling (counselling for any two people affected by drug/alcohol use). To learn more please follow this link

Source: CRI 

Russia’s alcohol problem

Alcohol misuse accounts for over half of deaths among working aged men in Russia. Shaun Walker looks at the reasons for the high rate and government attempts to reduce it. 

It is 8 in the morning at the square outside Belarus station in central Moscow, but the early hour has not stopped a large number of people from drinking. A man in an ill fitting suit is striding towards the metro entrance, a can of 9% “alcopop” in one hand, briefcase in the other. Several men with heavy luggage, just disembarked from an overnight train, are drinking bottled beers in the morning sunshine around a plastic table, while at an adjacent table a woman smokes a slim cigarette and quaffs a gin and tonic mix from a can. Two bearded tramps are asleep on one of the pavements, an empty vodka bottle by their side, and all around there are kiosks selling beer and shops that sell spirits.

The scene is not unusual in Russia, where alcohol consumption is legendary. Across the country’s vast Eurasian landmass, in cities, towns, and villages, millions of Russians engage in dangerous drinking that several studies have shown has an appalling effect on public health and has contributed to the country’s demographic crisis.

Last year, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin became the latest in a long line of Russian leaders to attempt to tackle the problem, pledging to halve alcohol consumption among Russians by 2020. Measures include cracking down on illegal alcohol, increasing minimum prices for alcohol, and a full ban on advertising. Tighter regulation of beer, previously classed as a soft drink in many respects, has also been announced. [Full text of this article]

Source: British Medical Journal 

Peru suspends US-funded coca eradication programme

Peru's new centre-left government is temporarily suspending its modest US-funded coca eradication programme to re-evaluate its strategy. The prime minister, Salomón Lerner, said the government was committed to reducing the illegal crop and would convene a special panel next month to chart a strategy that would stress alternative development, "social inclusion and fighting poverty".

The government had confirmed the suspension after several newspapers reported it without naming sources. The US ambassador, Rose Likins, told reporters earlier on her way to see Lerner that she had been surprised by the news. "It would have been nice to have been informed in advance," she said. Peru is the world's second biggest producer of cocaine after Colombia. Its area under coca cultivation has grown steadily for four years to reach 61,200 hectares last year, according the UN. Washington gave Peru more than $30m in anti-drugs aid last year.

The president, Ollanta Humala, promised to continue the eradication of the drug in his inaugural address on 28 July, and Lerner said the government was pausing Peru's programme after eradicating two-fifths of its 2011 goal of 10,000 hectares. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Guardian

City Council Members, Community Groups Call for End to NYC's Racially Biased, Costly Marijuana Arrest Crusade

NEW YORK – On Wednesday, community groups joined with Assembly member Hakeem Jeffries and City Council Members Melissa Mark Viverito, Robert Jackson, Letitia James, Brad Lander, Ydanis Rodriguez, Jumaane Williams, Gale Brewer, James Sanders, and others as the Council introduced a resolution calling for an end to the racially biased, costly marijuana arrest crusade in NYC. The Resolution calls on the Legislature to pass the bipartisan proposal to fix the law ( S.5187 – Grisanti /A.7620 – Jeffries).

Under the Albany proposal (S.5187 / A. 7620), possession and use of any amount of marijuana would remain illegal; penalties for both private and public possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana would be standardized. Violators could be punished by a court summons and fine, while multiple violations could lead to a jail sentence. The legislation has numerous co-sponsors.

"This resolution will send a strong message that we must close the loopholes in the law around marijuana enforcement that allow tens of thousands of young people to be criminalized and arrested for low-level offenses each year," said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. "These rampant marijuana arrests disproportionately target Black and Latino communities and costs the city tens of millions in taxpayer dollars each year. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Drug Policy Alliance

Open Society Public Health Program offers guidance for Global Fund Round 11 proposals

Recognizing that drug use is a major cause for the spread of HIV, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has long prioritized funding evidence-based interventions that prevent and treat the disease amid this population, while also caring for and supporting those living with HIV. In its Round 11 funding, the Global Fund offers specific guidance for how to incorporate a comprehensive package of interventions for people who inject drugs into country funding proposals. 

For those interventions to be most effective, however, the International Harm Reduction Development Program (IHRD) proposes five key areas that must be addressed: Legal aid; Gender-specific harm reduction programming; Integration of HIV and tuberculosis services for drug users; Overdose response with the overdose reversal medication Naloxone; Diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis C 

The briefing notes — available in English and Russian — offer detailed advice on how to add each of these five topics to country proposals in Round 11.

Source: IDPC 

Glasgow campaigner calls for radical response to gang violence after riots

One of the driving forces behind a successful crackdown on gang-related violence has warned that transforming the culture of inner-city youth could take up to 10 years. Karyn McCluskey, a single mother who pushed through the community initiative in Glasgow credited with reducing gang-related violence by half, told the Guardian the time to seize the moment and adopt similar initiatives in London and other cities was now, after the worst urban disorder ever seen in this country.

"What happened was criminal," said McCluskey, a former nurse and forensic psychologist, now a police intelligence analyst. "What would be more criminal is if we missed this opportunity to do something spectacular ourselves … We should do something really different so that when this happens in future people will look at Britain and praise what we did."

McCluskey, whose initiative has been cited by David Cameron, is clear that politicians talking about addressing the problem was one thing; having the will, political support and sheer bravery to tackle it is a different challenge: "There needs to be aspiration and resilience from everyone - from politicians, the police and the local communities, because this is hard work. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Guardian 

France and marijuana: an altered state

Should the use of cannabis be legalised to end the dealing that has poisoned life in France's banlieues, and to guarantee the quality of a substance that is widely consumed but is often of very poor quality? The economist Pierre Kopp, of Paris University, has compared the cost of combating cannabis abuse with its possible cost if legalised.

He considers that, as with tobacco use, the key factor in cannabis legalisation would be the duty levied by the state: ideally that duty should be high enough to prevent increased consumption of the substance, while bringing in sufficient revenue to fund prevention. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Guardian 

Treatment for addiction is bringing drug use down, not pushing it up

In the lively drugs debate following the tragic death of Amy Winehouse, it is important to keep a cool head for figures. A Datablog commentary by James Ball and Simon Rogers misunderstood some of the numbers it sought to explain (Drug deaths, misuse and overdose statistics in England, 24 July).

While correct that 206,000 people in England received an intervention for drug addiction at the last count, it was wrong that "around 62,600 completed some form of treatment". Not all who left the system in 2009-10 completed a course of treatment – many were referred to other agencies, sent to prison or dropped out.

That left about 143,400 remaining in the system, meaning they continued to derive real benefit from a course of structured treatment. They commit less crime, pose less of a risk to public health, and are in active therapy. This is an important milestone to recovery, given that four out of five patients are heroin addicts and experts acknowledge it takes several years to beat addiction. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Guardian

Arrests show that Drug Smuggling between US and Mexico is a Two –Way Street 

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Federal border inspectors are not only seizing drugs coming into the country from Mexico, but are also making arrests for drug smuggling that is going the other way. 

A doctor from the Los Angeles area and 14 other people have been charged in a conspiracy to smuggle prescription drugs into Mexico from California, the authorities said on Friday.

The operation sent opiates to pharmacies in Tijuana in exchange for bundles of cash that were brought back into the United States. American addicts crossing the border from San Diego were able to buy the pills over the counter in Tijuana, investigators said.  To learn more please follow this link

Source: New York Times

U.S. aid implicated in abuses of power in Colombia

The Obama administration often cites Colombia’s thriving democracy as proof that U.S. assistance, know-how and commitment can turn around a potentially failed state under terrorist siege.

The country’s U.S.-funded counterinsurgency campaign against a Marxist rebel group — and the civilian and military coordination behind it — are viewed as so successful that it has become a model for strategy in Afghanistan.

But new revelations in long-running political scandals under former president Alvaro Uribe, a close U.S. ally throughout his eight-year tenure, have implicated American aid, and possibly U.S. officials, in egregious abuses of power and illegal actions by the Colombian government under the guise of fighting terrorism and drug smuggling. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Washington Post

Numbers show rise in abuse of addictive painkiller hydrocodone

NEW YORK — Health agencies and drug counselors are warning of a dramatic and dangerous rise in the abuse of medicines containing the narcotic hydrocodone, including Vicodin, Norco and Lortab. Around the country, police seizures of hydrocodone-containing pills are second only to those of oxycodone, the related narcotic used in drugs like OxyContin and Percocet, according to a Drug Enforcement Administration review of police laboratories. Total seizures of hydrocodone pills rose from 13,659 in 2001 to 44,815 in 2010.

About 8 percent of the nation’s 12th-graders have abused hydrocodone in the last year, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. There are few national figures on deaths because many states lump hydrocodone, oxycodone and other opiates together when tallying fatal overdoses. But one study showed that in Florida alone, hydrocodone caused 910 deaths and was present in the bodies of 1,803 others between 2003 and 2007.

The increase is part of a growing wave of prescription drug abuse nationwide, the DEA says. Pharmacy robberies have nearly doubled from 380 in 2006 to 686 in 2010, as drug dealers and desperate addicts turn to violence to get their drugs. Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Washington Post 

Mexico’s Presidential Race: A flash in the PAN

TWO of Latin America’s three biggest economies, Brazil and Argentina, are headed by women (see article and article). Might Mexico make it a clean feminist sweep next year? The ruling National Action Party (PAN) has been struggling to find a popular candidate for the presidential election in 2012 (the constitution bars the president, Felipe Calderón, from seeking a second term). The opposition has mocked the PAN’s hopefuls as the “seven dwarves”. The American ambassador privately described them as “grey”. (He was withdrawn soon after the offending cable was leaked.) But polls suggest that Josefina Vázquez Mota, the PAN’s leader in the Chamber of Deputies, is emerging as a possible technicolour candidate.

Ms Vázquez has almost doubled her support among PAN sympathisers since January (although a poll this month suggests it has now plateaued). This surge followed a whirlwind national tour of characteristic hyperactivity. One opposition senator compares her to rising damp: “everywhere and impossible to tackle”. She does not have Mr Calderón’s endorsement, but since he is increasingly unpopular that may actually help her.

As social-development minister under Mr Calderón’s predecessor, Vicente Fox, Ms Vázquez cleared out incompetent officials. As education minister under Mr Calderón she clashed with Elba Esther Gordillo, the intransigent boss-for-life of the powerful teachers’ union. Mr Calderón, who made an electoral pact with Ms Gordillo in 2006, eventually sacked Ms Vázquez—a sign of her failure, say detractors, or of the president’s lack of backbone, according to her boosters. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Economist

Mexican Drug War Spreading To the Web

The Mexican drug war that has taken thousands of lives over the past four years isn’t just on the other side of the border. It’s now online.

Cartels are using Facebook and Twitter to find out information on potential victims and to track them down. “They use them as intelligence sources, I suppose, to gather information on people,” said Dr. Tony Payan, associate professor of political science at the University of Texas-El Paso.

Payan told Fox News Latino they’re also posting violent videos of victims being tortured YouTube to threaten and intimidate their enemies. “They are saying: ‘Look you guys, you contrary team, competitors, you enemy, this is what’s going to happen to you,’” he said. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Huffington Post

Ecstasy 'could be used in cancer treatment'

Researchers from Birmingham University claimed the designer drug, also known as MDMA, could be used to treat leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma after making it 100 times more effective at suppressing growth. Ecstasy was already known to be effective against more than half of white blood cell cancers, but previously the large dose required to treat a tumour would also have killed the patient.

In a study published in the Investigational New Drugs journal, the scientists said the new drug could be used by doctors to treat cancer if it can be produced in a safe form.

Lead author Professor John Gordon said: "This is an exciting next step towards using a modified form of MDMA to help people suffering from blood cancer. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Telegraph 

Oklahoma Bill Would End Life Without Parole Drug Sentences

Despite some recent sentencing reforms, Oklahoma has some of the toughest drug laws in the country, including life without parole for some drug offenses. One Oklahoma legislator says it is time for life without parole for nonviolent drug offenses to go. 

State Sen. Constance Johnson (D-Oklahoma City) Wednesday introduced Senate Bill 986 (no link yet available), which would end life sentences without parole for nonviolent drug offenses and require the state Pardon and Parole Board to review all existing life without parole sentences for those offenses. The measure also addresses punishment enhancements for felony offenses.

"Numerous studies have shown that these sentences do not reduce drug use, but rather result in lengthy prison terms that contribute to overcrowding and increased costs," Johnson said, citing research from the The Sentencing Project, a Washington, DC-based research and advocacy group. "We must develop more reasonable and cost effective policies to address drug crimes rather than locking up offenders for life, something that financially hurts the state as well as the families of these individuals." To learn more please follow this link

Source: Drug War Chronicle

Perry, Romney Burnish Drug Warrior Credentials

Two of the leading contenders for the Republican presidential nomination sought to win votes by talking tough on drugs this week, with Texas Gov. Rick Perry calling for unmanned drones to overfly the US-Mexico border and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney saying the war on drugs must continue.

Meanwhile Rep. Ron Paul, one of two GOP contenders who have staked out positions critical of the drug war (the other is former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson), has seemingly vanished from the mainstream media despite coming in a very close second to Rep. Michele Bachmann in last weekend's Iowa straw poll. 

Going on the offensive against President Obama as he announced his candidacy Saturday, Perry accused Obama of being "an abject failure in his constitutional duty to protect our borders in the United States." Perry waved his right hand toward Mexico as he made those remarks.

Source: Drug War Chronicle

Alabama Bill Would Drug Test Medicaid Recipients 

Lawmakers in Alabama are pushing the envelope on the drug testing of people who receive public benefits. While legislators in a number of states have targeted welfare or unemployment recipients for drug testing, a bill in Montgomery would require drug testing of Medicaid recipients.

Distinct from Medicare, the federal program aimed at senior citizens, Medicaid is run by the individual states and is designed to make health care accessible for low-income people who are blind or disabled. It also covers low-income pregnant women, children, seniors, and people residing in nursing homes. 

Pre-filed by state Sen. Dick Brewbaker (R-Montgomery), Senate Bill 26, also known as the Patient Accountability and Personal Responsibility Act, would require that Medicaid recipients undergo random suspicionless drug tests at least once each year and that new applicants undergo a drug test before deemed eligible for Medicaid benefits. The cost of the drug tests would be added to recipients' premiums (e.g. poor people will have to pay for the drug tests). To learn more please follow this link

Source: Drug War Chronicle

UK Riots - How the Drugs War Fits In

Most of us have an opinion, and many of us look higher than simple knee-jerk reactionary comments. To discuss the current situation of the UK riots rationally, you of course have to interject with the disclaimer of; "I do not condone riots but" - I'm sure no one advocates the actions of the violent few, and that much is a given. Society has had a fragmented democracy for many years, and it can be assumed that we now are seeing this dangerous malaise come to the fray in the spilling of engorged emotion.

With any riot scenario, there are those that have simply gone along for the ride and have no other ambition that to collect a shiny bounty. We can all insert opinion, we can bullet point the failings and decay of the inner cities, but we must also look to the top for our answers. Society has a habit of leading by example, and this has been less than exemplary. Banks, MP's expenses and interests, lack of accountability in parliament, media corruption, the PCC, and questionable actions in the MET within the last few months. Allegations are rife - and subject to investigations - but it still sets a precedent for a certain brand of apathy in a respect based community.

The drug war has played a part for many years in perpetuating a divide. In his book; Drugs, Crime and Public Health, Professor Alex Stevens of the University of Kent made a detailed analysis of the Ministry of Justice's data, and despite no evidence that drugs have a stronghold over any race in particular, it is perhaps surprising to learn that you are 6 times more likely to be arrested for drug offences in the UK if you are black, and you're also 11 times more likely to be imprisoned. These findings show an alarming incongruence. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Huffington Post

Expose the ‘dark money’ bankrolling our politics

US Christian ‘fundamentalists’, some linked to Donald Trump and Steve Bannon, have poured at least $50m of ‘dark money’ into Europe over the past decade – boosting the far right.

That's just the tip of the iceberg: we've got many more leads to chase down. Find out more and support our work here.

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