oD Drug Policy Forum: Front Line Report - Week of May 16th 2010

We lead this weeks report with a message from the Drug Policy Alliance's Executive Director, Ethan Nadelmann, on the correlation between America's 40th anniversary of the war on drugs and prohibition related violence in Mexico. Ethan also discusses President Obama and recent U.S. medical marijuana raids ~ MW & CS
Mark Weiss Charles Shaw
15 May 2011

Drug War Update: Prohibition Violence in Mexico & Obama and Medical Marijuana Raids 

We lead this weeks report with two videos from the Drug Policy Alliance in New York. In the first, DPA Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann discusses the correlation between America's 40th anniversary of the war on drugs and prohibition-related violence in Mexico.

In the second video, Ethan talks about the latest developments in the world of medical marijuana in the US and President Obama's difficulties keeping his campaign promises and word as President to not interfere with medical marijuana dispensaries in states that have approved medical marijuana law. Please keep reading the report to see more updates from across the world on international drug policy.

Source: Drug Policy Alliance

Bill Introduced in Albany to Clarify Law, Standardize Penalties for Simple Marijuana Possession 

ALBANY: Bi-partisan legislation was introduced this week in Albany to address the fiscal and human costs of the meteoric rise in arrests for marijuana possession in New York. Senate Bill 5187, introduced by Senator Mark Grisanti (R-Buffalo), and Assembly Bill 7620, introduced by Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (D, WFP - Brooklyn) seeks to save taxpayer dollars, protect against illegal searches, and reduce unwarranted racial disparities in arrests by clarifying the law and standardizing penalties for marijuana possession offenses.

In 2010, over 54,000 people were arrested in NY for possessing small amounts of marijuana – over 50,000 of those arrests occurred in New York City alone. A major study released in March by the Drug Policy Alliance found that each arrest for simple marijuana possession, conservatively estimated, costs between $1,000 - $2,000 – thus New York taxpayers are spending about $75 million every year on arresting people for possessing small amounts of marijuana. To learn more please follow this link 

Source: Drug Policy Alliance

DrugScope responds to new report on legal highs 

DrugScope has responded to a joint report on new drugs published by Europol, the European law enforcement agency, and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. The two agencies state that a total of 41 new psychoactive substances were officially reported across Europe in 2010. This is almost double the 24 reported in 2009.

Most new drugs are slight modifications of the chemical structures of known substances such as ecstasy or amphetamine. While ‘designer’ drugs are not a new concept, the report suggests there is now an ever greater interaction between the illicit and non-illicit pharmaceutical markets. Chemicals sourced legally are being sold as replacements for illicit psychoactive substances intended for illicit drug markets in Europe and the rest of the world. 

The UK government is introducing new measures to respond to new so-called ‘legal highs’. A power to introduce temporary bans is included in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill. The Government will consult the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs on known or potential health risks and harms before any temporary ban is introduced. An early warning system to detect new drugs is also being developed. To learn more please follow this link

Source: DrugScope

DrugScope responds to government reports on over the counter and prescription medicines 

DrugScope has responded to the publication of two new reports commissioned by the Department of Health on addiction to prescription and over-the-counter medicines. Addiction to Medicine was published by the National Treatment Agency (NTA), while a literature review was jointly published by Kings College and the University of Bristol.

DrugScope was involved in supporting the publication of an All Party Parliamentary Group inquiry on addictions to prescription and over-the-counter medication in January 2009. The report recommended that more research needed to be undertaken in the field of dependence to prescription and over-the-counter medication to determine the scale and related implications of the problem. To learn more please follow this link

Source: DrugScope

Meth, crack and "Sesame Street" 

I HAD lunch yesterday with an old friend, who like me is both a DC native and the father of a toddler. Naturally, talk turned to "Sesame Street". Looking back on my own childhood, it is interesting to think of the idealistic portrayal of city life in the morning—an urban, multi-ethnic neighbourhood where kids wandered freely around the streets and wonderful, magical things happened—and contrast that with the evening news' version—which invariably portrayed urban, multi-ethnic neighbourhoods as dangerous, violent, crack-ridden and decaying.

Cities were not actually as one-dimensional as they seemed on the evening news, but that does not mean they were fine. Crack was certainly a problem, but it was more of a symptom than a cause of urban decay. Today, 90% of the counties with persistent poverty are rural counties. Which makes me wonder how America's reaction toprescription-drug abuse, a largely rural and suburban problem, will differ from its reaction to crack, a largely urban problem, in the 1980s? Initial signs are encouraging. We have conservatives embracing criminal-justice reforms

We have more and more states using drug courts to steer non-violent offenders toward treatment rather than jail, and making drugs harder to manufacture rather than simply punishing manufacturers more. All of this is good news. In the 1980s we couldn't lock crack dealers and users up fast enough and keep them locked up long enough. It has taken far too long to unwind some of the unjust sentencing laws passed in the crack days, and one could make the argument that they have done at least as much damage to inner cities and the people that live there as crack itself. To learn more please follow this link 

 Source: The Economist

High levels of mental distress, unprotected sex, needle sharing, unmet prevention needs found among HIV-infected patients in St Petersburg

Risky sex and drug use are common among HIV-positive individuals in Russia, investigators report in AIDS and Behavior. Discrimination was a common experience, and there was a high prevalence of depression and anxiety.

“Policies and public health programs for PLH [people living with HIV] need to focus on comprehensive strategies to address continuing transmission risk behaviors as well as improve…psychological well-being [and] social circumstances,” comment the study’s authors.

Russia has one of the fastest growing HIV epidemics in the world, and it is estimated that as many as 940,000 individuals in the country (1.1% of the population) are HIV-positive. However, little is known about the transmission risk behaviours, mental health characteristics, and levels of adherence to antiretroviral therapy among Russia’s HIV-positive patients.

St Petersburg is an epicentre of the epidemic in Russia, and in 2008-09 investigators from the city conducted a cross sectional study that included 492 HIV-positive adults. To learn more please follow this link 


AP Bombshell: "US Drug War Has Met None of Its Goals" 

The Associated Press has just dropped a bombshell on America's longest running war and the headline says it all: "The US Drug War has Met None of its Goals". The extensive piece reviews the last 40 years, starting with President Nixon's official launch of the War on Drugs all the way to President Obama's annual strategy released this week.

I have been the director of media relations at the Drug Policy Alliance for ten years and this is one of the hardest hitting indictments against the drug war I've ever seen. And because the story comes from the Associated Press, it will run in hundreds of papers around the world, reaching tens of millions of people. To learn more  please  follow this link

Source: Huffington Post 

Shallow graves, deepening alarm 

OFFICIALLY, nearly 35,000 people have been killed since Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderón, began an assault on his country’s drug-trafficking “cartels” at the end of 2006. But the true body count will never be known. On April 6th police discovered mass graves near San Fernando, a town in Tamaulipas state near the border with the United States, which so far have yielded 183 bodies. Two weeks later hidden tombs were discovered in the north-western city of Durango from which 100 corpses have so far been extracted. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Economist

First come, first served

AS DRUG traffickers go, Walid Makled was a rather small catch. His family in Venezuela owns an airline, a transport company, and loading docks and warehouses in the port of Puerto Cabello, all of which he allegedly used to ship at least 10 tonnes of cocaine to the United States. But since his arrest last August in the Colombian border town of Cúcuta, the United States and Venezuela have both been salivating over the prospect of getting their hands on him. Their interest was not so much in trying him for his alleged crimes—although he is wanted on drug charges in America and for both murder and trafficking in Venezuela—but rather because he seems willing to incriminate members of Hugo Chávez’s government. “High officials received my money. Monthly among all of them about $1m,” he said in a jailhouse interview with Colombian television. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Economist

Let's Legalize Drugs to Save Cops' Lives 

This week, tens of thousands of police officers and their families will travel to Washington, DC to commemorate law enforcers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. To me, a 34-year veteran cop in Maryland, the roster of fallen comrades to be read on Peace Officers Memorial Day is far too long, and especially troubling is that so many of these deaths needlessly resulted from police being charged with enforcing an unwinnable war on drugs.

Deputy U.S. Marshal Derek Hotsinpiller, 24 years of age, never should have died the way he did: gunned down in February when a drug suspect opened fire during a police raid in Elkins, West Virginia. 

And in a just world, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Jaime Zapata would not have been shot to death in his car earlier this year by a drug cartel in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Sadly, there's nothing unique or new about such drug war deaths. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Huffington Post

Highlights from the International Harm Reduction Conference 

This series of videos provides a comprehensive overview of the main discussions that took place at the 2011 International Harm Reduction Conference in Beirut, Lebanon. Download the videos: 

Source: IDPC

Channel 4 to air live drug-taking 

Channel 4 is planning to air live footage of people taking class A drugs and alcohol to show their effects on the body as part of a drive to "bring a sense of mischief" back to the broadcaster.

Science series Drugs Live will take place under strict clinical conditions, with programme makers working "closely with leading research institutes from around the world to bring much-needed clarity to a social issue often mired in controversy or confusion", according to Channel 4.

"The issue of class A drugs is something that I think is incredibly important and an area of social policy that Channel 4 can be on the front foot about and provide some interesting and useful data," said Jay Hunt, Channel 4's chief creative officer. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Guardian

Addaction comments on Channel 4's new 'Drugs Live' show 

Channel 4 have announced that a new television series, broadcast on the network, will show people taking class A drugs: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/may/11/channel-4-live-drug-taking

The channel has said that the series, 'Drugs Live', will show the psychological and physical effects of drugs on people's bodies, as well as how users interact with others 'as the drugs enter their systems'. This will be monitored under 'strict clinical conditions'. 

Simon Antrobus, Chief Executive of Addaction says: 'We feel that the series runs the risk of being voyeuristic, and unrepresentative of the wider reality of street drug taking. We see the adverse social effects of drugs in our services every day. We would hope that Channel 4 provides a balanced view in it's programme, and includes an insight into how people can and do recover from substance misuse. We believe that this is a more interesting and worthwhile story'.

Source: Addaction

“Sasha” – long term recreational drug user 

“Sasha” has been using drugs for many years. She holds down a good job and considers herself a good citizen. Her favourite and most regularly used drug is cannabis, especially since she ran into difficulties with alcohol some years ago. 

What’s remarkable about this interview is how unremarkable many of you will find it – yet how people like ‘Sasha’ are barely heard from in mainstream media. Or if they are heard from, they are forced to appear repentant about their choice of drugs if use of those drugs is not legal. 



Source: Know Drugs

Missouri Welfare Drug Test Bill Heads for Governor's Desk 

A Missouri bill that mandates the drug testing of welfare recipients and applicants if case workers have "reasonable suspicion" they are using illegal drugs has passed out of the legislature and is now headed for the governor's desk. It passed the House Tuesday on a vote of 113-34. It had passed the Senate last month.

The bill, House Bill 73, also known as the "TANF Child Protection and Drug Free Home Act," requires Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) case managers to report to the Children's Division if an applicant or recipient tested positive or refused to take a drug test related to employment or employment training. Caseworkers would also have to report to the division if they have "reasonable suspicion to believe that such individual is engaging in illegal use of a controlled substance." To learn more please follow this link

Source: Stop the Drug War

Montana Medical Marijuana Industry Fights Back 

In the wake of the passage of a medical marijuana "reform" bill that would criminalize dispensaries and large, multi-patient grows, some dispensary operators and growers are already closing up shop. But others are organizing to undo the legislature's attempt to destroy the industry.

The newly formed Montana Cannabis Industry Association(MCIA) has announced that it is moving forward on two fronts: It has hired an attorney to seek a temporary injunction blocking the law from going into effect and it has begun a signature-gathering campaign to put the issue directly to the voters on the November 2012 ballot.

 "We are moving forward on the injunction and the referendum," MCIA board member Kate Cholewa told the Chronicle. "The injunction challenges the law. That's one prong. The other prong is the signature-gathering campaign. If we are successful in gathering those signatures, that would keep the law from going into effect and we would be on the ballot in 2012."

 Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) vetoed an outright repeal bill passed by the Republican legislature, but he has said that while he finds the second bill unpalatable, he will allow it to become law without his signature. Activists hold little hope that Schweitzer can be persuaded to change his mind before his 10-day period to act ends on Friday. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Stop the Drug War

One-stop drugs clinic is first of kind in Scotland 

A NEW one-stop centre for people with drugs problems - the first of its kind in Scotland - has opened in Aberdeen city centre. The Timmermarket Clinic houses up to 30 staff, including doctors, nurses, social workers and rehabilitation workers.

It is part of the Timmermarket Centre with the floors above given over to affordable flats, provided through the Grampian Housing Association. The centre is a partnership of the association, NHS Grampian and Aberdeen City Council.

Richard Carey, chief executive of NHS Grampian and chairman of the Aberdeen City Alcohol and Drugs Partnership, said: "Aberdeen, like the other cities, has a significant problem with people misusing drugs. I welcome the opening of this new clinic. To learn more please follow this link 

Source: New Scotsman

The crucial role of coca crop monitoring in Bolivia 

12 May 2011 - With Bolivia hosting the world's third largest area of coca plantations UNODC's work is in the country is seen as a critical endeavour. Amongst the array of aspects carried out in working towards curbing drug production, trafficking and use, a crucial one at source is that of crop monitoring. 

It was with immense sadness, that UNODC learnt late-last week of the death of four colleagues whose work in crop monitoring was key in efforts aimed at reducing the supply of illicit drugs. Leonardo Iván Alfaro Santiago, Patricia Olga Delgado Rúa, Mariela Cinthia Moreno Torreblanco and Stephan Javier Campos Ruiz were all dedicated members of UNODC whose commitment towards their work and unwavering knowledge and belief that they were building a better world encapsulates the spirit of the United Nations. To learn more please follow this link

Source: UNODC

Not what the doctor ordered - the growing links between fraudulent medicines and organized crime 

12 May 2011 - With an annual estimated value of $1.6 billion in Africa and Asia alone, the dangerous and often deadly fraudulent medicine industry has become not only a key health-related concern across the world but also a growing area of organized crime. With low risks and high returns, the attraction to criminal groups is evident.

Affecting both developed and developing regions, the production and trafficking of these illicit goods is increasingly placing lives at risk across the world and spurring criminal operations.

The World Health Organization indicates that 3 in 10 pharmaceutical products in the combined African, Asian and Latin American markets are fake. Up to 50-60 per cent of anti-infective medications tested in parts of Asia and Africa have been found to contain active ingredients outside acceptable limits. To learn more please follow this link

Source: UNODC

UNODC Executive Director lauds container control programme in tackling the smuggling of drugs and cultural artefacts 

Vienna. 11 May 2011. More than two tons of cocaine and numerous cultural artefacts have been seized in Ecuador over the past two months as part of the work of the first ever inter-agency seaport container profiling unit. 

On 9 April 2011, drug detector dogs discovered approximately 290 kg of cocaine in a shipment with bananas destined for Spain. This followed a seizure the previous day when 1,000 kg of cocaine was found hidden in a shipment of pineapples destined for the Port of Antwerp in Belgium and a 1 March bust by the unit when they intercepted 796 kg cocaine which had been hidden inside pre-cooked tuna loin. According to officials of the unit, the containers were identified as high-risk based on the training delivered to the unit under the joint UNODC-World Customs Organization (WCO) Container Control Programme (CCP) launched in 2003. To learn more please follow this link

Source: UNODC

UNODC addresses G8 Ministers on cocaine trafficking

Paris. 10 May 2011. The issue of illicit drugs took centre stage this week at a G8+ Ministerial Meeting being held in Paris as representative countries met to enhance their efforts in the international fight against transatlantic cocaine trafficking.

Addressing the G8 and other members at the meeting, the UN's anti-drugs chief, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov commented on what he called "the dramatic evolution of the international market for cocaine" over the past decade: "Despite a declining market in North America, the use of cocaine continues to rise in Europe. In 1998, the US cocaine market was four times higher than that of Europe. Since then, there has been a complete rebalancing with the value of Europe's market now estimated to be worth some US$ 33 billion, almost equivalent to that of the United States' US$ 37 billion." 

Through its focus on cocaine trafficking, the G8 Ministerial Meeting is a critical one in today's world. In source countries, transit areas, and final destinations, illicit drugs continue to pose a serious danger to the lives of people across the world. With drug-related gang violence, social and political destabilization, and addictions which affect not only the lives of users, but also those of their family members and community, the situation is one which warrants this high-level attention. To learn more please follow this link

Source: UNODC


Leading European and international experts on new drugs met in Lisbon from 11–12 May at the First international multidisciplinary forum on new drugs, organised by the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA).

The participating experts were invited for their technical expertise and research in the field of new psychoactive substances and included: forensic scientists; epidemiologists; clinicians; law-enforcement experts; and staff from European and international organisations. 

In addition to participants from 27 EU countries, Croatia, Turkey and Norway, technical experts attended from: Australia, Belarus, Canada, Hong Kong SAR, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Switzerland and the United States. To download the concluding remarks please follow this link

Source: EMCDDA

New drugs becoming available at ‘unprecedented pace’, says report

New psychoactive substances are becoming widely available at an ‘unprecedented pace’. This is according to the EMCDDA–Europol 2010 annual report on new drugs entering the European market released today in Lisbon. In 2010, a record number of new drugs were officially reported to the EMCDDA and Europol via theEU early-warning system (EWS) on new psychoactive substances.

A total of 41 new psychoactive substances were officially notified for the first time to the two agencies in 2010. This represents the largest number of substances ever reported in a single year, considerably up on 2009     (24 substances) and 2008 (13 substances). The full list of substances notified, annexed to the report, shows a ‘rather diverse’ group, including: synthetic cannabinoids, synthetic cathinones, synthetic derivatives of well-established drugs, as well as one plant-based substance.   

Under the so-called ‘Spice’ phenomenon, 11 new synthetic cannabinoids were picked up in 2010, bringing the total number of these substances monitored by the EWS up to 27. Responding to health concerns, at least 16 European countries have now taken legal action to ban or otherwise control ‘Spice’ products and related compounds.

The 2010 report is available in English at: www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications/implementation-reports    

Source: EMCDDA 

Stop Your Bullshit - Mat Southwell Liverpool 2011


Stop Your Bullshit - Mat Southwell Liverpool 2011 from Matthew Southwell on Vimeo.


Stop Your Bullshit - Mat Southwell Liverpool 2011 from Matthew Southwell on Vimeo.

Stop Your Bullshit - Mat Southwell Liverpool 2011 from Matthew Southwell on Vimeo.

Source: Vimeo

Family Members and/or Carers of People with Drug Problems - Take Part in the UKDPC Survey 

The UK Drug Policy Commission, with financial support from Scottish Families Affected by Drugs (SFAD), Adfam and the Pilgrim Trust, have commissioned Professor Alex Copello and Lorna Templeton to undertake research to map the extent and nature of current provision of support for adult family members and/or carers of people with drug problems to identify gaps and highlight good practice. We want to look at all types of provision, both those that support the family members themselves and those that involve family members in the treatment of their drug-using relative.

If you are a service that provides support to adult family members and/or carers of people with drug problems, we would be very grateful if you could complete a short survey (it should not take more than 10 minutes). You can access the questionnaire by clicking on this Link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/UKDPC_Families_Survey12.   

We do hope you will take part - this research will help us promote the importance of support for families and identify areas of greatest need for development as well as spread good practice. If you have already received a link to this survey from another source and completed a questionnaire thank you very much for your help, you do not need to complete another one. More information about the UK Drug Policy Commission and previous research undertaken about families and carers can be found at: http://www.ukdpc.org.uk/current.shtml#Families_research.

Source: NTA

Lady Browning will take on responsibility for the drugs strategy 

James Brokenshire has been appointed Crime and Security Minister following the departure of Baroness Neville-Jones. The move comes after Lady Neville-Jones stepped down on Monday "at her own request" amid reports of tensions within the Government.

Baroness Browning will take over Mr Brokenshire's previous role of Crime Prevention Minister. Home Secretary Theresa May said: "Maintaining public safety and security remains my top priority and I will continue to take the lead for the department in ensuring the UK's national security and counter-terrorism strategy responds to the evolving terrorist threat. 

"To support me in this important work, I am pleased to announce that James Brokenshire will be taking on the role of parliamentary under-secretary for crime and security."

Lady Browning will take on responsibility for the drugs strategy, licensing, community activism and football safety, and will also lead all Home Office business in the House of Lords. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Independent

Broken Britain's children are still losing under Cameron

Naturally, the Conservatives are not nearly so keen to bang on about Broken Britain now that they are in charge. A snappy phrase that slags off the entire country is all very well when you are in opposition. But when you are in charge, well, cracks you once might have gleefully called attention to start to look like little imperfections that it's best to paper over.

The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), founded by the work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, provided much of the thinking that backedDavid Cameron's erstwhile thesis. Duncan Smith is still the thinktank's patron, but the organisation has become much less important to the Conservatives in the past year. Suddenly, all that stuff about family breakdown and welfare dependency being the sources of the nation's woes has subsided. But the CSJ is clearly stung by such rejection. 

An audit published this week by the group suggests that some government policy in this area has been "a disappointing confirmation of the government's failed approach". (Although Duncan Smith's own welfare reform proposals are warmly praised.) The centre mourns the fact that one of its big ideas, "a transferable tax allowance for four million married couples worth £150 a year", has failed to materialise. It laments that the withdrawal of universal child benefit will, in effect, "penalise mothers who stay at home". To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Guardian

Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions Aged 12 to 14 

Reports on the characteristics of youth aged 12 to 14 admitted to substance abuse treatment in 2008. Includes demographic characteristics, substances of abuse, age of first use, treatment characteristics, and prevalence of co-occurring disorders. To read the report please follow this link 

Source: SAMHSA

Addiction scientists call for end to executions for drug offenders 

The death penalty for those convicted of drug trafficking and other drug-related offences should be abolished as it is both ineffective as a policy measure and a violation of human rights. 

So write a group of prominent addiction scientists who believe that the international addiction community has a responsibility to support the abolitionist cause. 

The editorial Drug trafficking: time to abolish the death penalty, published online today in the August issue of the journal Addiction, argues that capital punishment is not an effective deterrent for drug-related offences, since it is usually poor and replaceable mules and “runners” who are likely to be caught and executed. To learn more please follow this link 

Source: Addiction Journal

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