Daily news - 18th February 2019

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UK news

Ministers press ahead with 50p minimum unit price for alcohol in Wales

The Welsh Government is pressing ahead with plans to introduce a 50p minimum unit price for alcohol in Wales following a public consultation, Health Minister Vaughan Gething announced today | Welsh Government, UK

50p minimum unit price for alcohol set to go ahead

With the price of alcohol having increased significantly over the past two decades, Ministers have been clear about the need for pricing intervention to tackle alcohol misuse | ITV, UK

Britain’s fake Xanax crisis: how young Brits got hooked on super-strong benzos

Inspired by Soundcloud rap, British teens are developing an appetite for addictive benzos – and the demand is being met by UK-based labs cooking up dangerous counterfeit pills. Jordan Bassett investigates | NME, UK

Medicinal cannabis: Why has it taken so long to get to patients?

Medicinal cannabis was legalised last year but so far, virtually no-one in the UK has been able to access it | BBC, UK

The First Legal Bulk Cannabis Shipment to the UK Has Arrived

Patients prescribed cannabis now don't have to wait months for their medicinal weed | VICE, UK

Long-standing Labour MP Paul Flynn dies aged 84

Mr Flynn was a strong advocate for the medicinal use of cannabis, and in 2017 urged people to “break the law” by using cannabis at the Houses of Parliament | UTV, UK

Cannabis: Medical Treatments

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many people have accessed cannabis-derived medicinal products under schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 | They work for you, UK

Cannabis: Sentencing

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing a mandatory custodial sentence for people charged with repeated possession of cannabis | They work for you, UK

Drugs: Misuse

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent progress he has made on the implementation of the Drug Strategy, published in July 2017 | They work for you, UK

Drugs: Death

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he has made an assessment of the implications for his Department's policies of the findings of the National Aids Trust report, Drug-Related Deaths in England, published by the National Aids Trust, published on 5 February 2019; and if he will make a statement | They work for you, UK

Alcohol abuse: 'I didn't stop drinking for a decade'

Louise, now in her mid-twenties, began drinking at school and did not stop for almost a decade | BBC, UK

Care quality commission rates north yorkshire horizons' clinical services “outstanding”

Clinical care in our North Yorkshire Horizons service has been rated “Outstanding”, with outcomes that were above the national average, in a report published by the Care Quality Commission | Humankind, UK

Drug addicts 'will be pushed back onto streets' as prescriptions scrapped in Plymouth

A pharmacist has warned that if the prescriptions stop, many may go back to using street drugs | Plymouth Live, UK

Llanelli hit by wave of 'county lines' drug gangs

Seaside town an unlikely new market for gangs using teenagers to sell class A drugs | Guardian, UK

Teesside gangs 'recruit children, from age six, to deal drugs'

Children as young as six are being used by gangs to deal drugs, a police chief has warned | BBC, UK

Cocaine: Portuguese man jailed for Belfast drug smuggling

Mario Orlando Dacruz, 52, had swallowed 35 "small packages" of the drug, Belfast Crown Court heard | BBC, UK

Cannabis factory discovered in underground bunker beneath Wolverhampton home

More than 250 plants, lights, fans and heaters found under outbuilding hidden behind false panelling | Independent, UK

'Three-wheel' drink-driver admits actions were 'disgraceful'

Steven Lambert's front-right wheel was down to the metal rim when he was found to be three times the legal limit | BBC, UK


International news

Is policy ‘liberalization’ associated with higher odds of adolescent cannabis use? A re-analysis of data from 38 countries

[Open access] Policy makers worldwide face the choice of whether to reform cannabis policy from the ‘full prohibition’ model. A paper by Shi et al. (2015) suggested that such ‘liberalization’ is significantly associated with higher odds of adolescent cannabis use. This study aimed to test the validity and reliability of Shi et al’s conclusion that the HBSC data show an association between policy ‘liberalization’ and increased likelihood of adolescent cannabis use | IJDP, UK

Philippines: Drugs

To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the proportion of overseas development and aid funding they provide to the Philippines which is spent on the public health effects of drug use and abuse, in particular in prisons and detention centres; and what estimate, if any, they have made of the amount of funding that has been provided by international and multinational funds for such purposes | They work for you, UK

Nan Goldin threatens London gallery boycott over £1m gift from Sackler fund

Artist brands planned donation from pharmaceutical family to National Portrait Gallery unethical over OxyContin link | Guardian, UK

Analysis: Implications of cannabis use in family law matters in Canada

Miller Thompson's Joanna Harris reviews implications of cannabis use in family law matters, primarily custody and access of children. It follows the introduction of the Cannabis Act, which came into force in Canada in October last year | Family Law, UK

Popular book on marijuana's apparent dangers is pure alarmism, experts say

Doctors and scientists criticize ‘flawed pop science’ of Tell Your Children – but author Alex Berenson stands by his claims | Guardian, UK

Stock market turmoil turns investors to drink as sales of fine whisky skyrocket

More than 100,000 bottles of rare whisky were sold at auction in 2018, with a growing number of people investing in fine alcohol to avoid stock market turmoil | Telegraph, UK

US Jury Finds El Chapo Guilty, But Mexico Drug War Wages On

A US jury has found former Sinaloa Cartel kingpin “El Chapo” Guzmán guilty of heading a massive, murderous drug trafficking organisation. The landmark conviction, however, has not shaken Mexico’s political actors accused of corruption, nor has it managed to take down the cartel itself | Talking Drugs, UK

Tale of two drugs lords: from Cosa Nostra to Guzmán – it’s strictly business

With the end of the El Chapo trial, Ed Vulliamy charts the lives of two dons a continent apart | Observer, UK

Cancún shooting: five people gunned down in Mexico's tourist hotspot

Bar attacked near hotel zone amid rising drug-related violence in the Caribbean resort city | Guardian, UK

Music festivals call for NSW to delay changes until after drug deaths inquest

Big cost increases for police and medical services have already prompted festival cancellations | Guardian, UK

How did music festivals become an election issue? – explainer

Event organisers have accused the NSW government of being ‘hell-bent on destroying’ their industry. What’s going on? | Guardian, UK

Trump “Most Excited” About China Executing People for Selling Fentanyl

President Trump has lauded the use of the death penalty for people convicted of drug offences, and claims to have convinced the Chinese president to execute people who sell fentanyl | Talking Drugs, UK

Irish psychiatrists treating children for 'gaming disorder'

Children altering their sleeping patterns to play games online in different time-zones | Irish Times, Ireland

Trump Said China Doesn't Have a Drug Problem. The Data Tells a Different Story

President Donald Trump on Friday said that China does not have a drug problem, and suggested that the U.S. should emulate its harsh drug-regulation tactics — but data from China tells a different story | TIME, USA

Drinking contexts associated with early onset of alcohol intoxication among adolescents

New research has begun to identify the circumstances by examining relationships between early age of first intoxication (less than 15 years), drinking in different contexts such as one's own home, at friends' homes, or outdoor settings, and problems that arise in those contexts | Science Daily, USA

Study finds genetic vulnerability to use of menthol cigarettes

A genetic variant found only in people of African descent significantly increases a smoker's preference for cigarettes containing menthol, a flavor additive | News Medical, USA

Getting behind the wheel on opioids: could be a road to tragedy

Driving while on prescription opioids plays an increasingly significant role in fatal motor vehicle crashes, irrespective of alcohol use and demographic characteristics, according to a new study conducted at Columbia University... | EurekAlert, USA

Drug company used rap video to push for higher doses, sales

Employees at a drug company accused of bribing doctors rapped and danced around a person dressed as a bottle of the highly addictive fentanyl spray in a video meant to motivate sales reps into getting patients on higher doses | Medical Xpress, USA

Taking Ketamine Can Feel a Lot Like a Near-Death Experience

"It can generate a sense of detachment from the body and the self and, at higher doses, a full-blown dissociative experience." | TONIC, USA

Most Canadians in favour of compulsory treatment for people struggling with opioid addiction: poll

Opioid related deaths are on the minds of more and more Canadians. That’s according to an Angus Reid Institute poll, which finds a large majority (85%) of people across the country would be in favour of compulsory treatment for those battling an opioid addiction | City News 1130, Canada

Teen girls influenced by fathers' heavy drinking

Teenage girls are more influenced by their fathers’ drinking habits than boys of the same age | Age, Australia

‘There’s no reason not to trial pill testing’: UNSW drug policy scholar stands firm on the evidence

Alison Ritter has moved the Drug Policy Modelling Program from Medicine to Arts & Social Sciences to have more impact on drug policy | UNSW, Australia

'It just gets bigger': Canberra sales surge for DIY pill-testing kits

As the debate surrounding pill testing continues, many Canberrans are resorting to testing pills themselves | SMH, Australia

A systematic study of microdosing psychedelics

The phenomenon of ‘microdosing’, that is, regular ingestion of very small quantities of psychedelic substances, has seen a rapid explosion of popularity in recent years. Individuals who microdose report minimal acute effects from these substances yet claim a range of long-term general health and wellbeing benefits | PLOS One, Australia

Strong dose of regulation needed with medicinal cannabis, ESR warns

Environmental Science and Research (ESR) has tested illcitly-obtained medicinal cannabis for concerned patients and parents – and its cannabis expert says the results can be alarming | Stuff.co.nz, New Zealand

Inside the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court: Helping addicts help themselves

The Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court supports users who want to break their habit. It's a successful system, so why might it be shut down, asks Paul Little | NZHerald, New Zealand


Blogs, comment and opinion

Legalisation of cannabis in the UK would help protect its users from harm

Mental health issues in teenagers could be minimised by age controls and regulation over the strength of the product | Guardian, UK

With councils and the NHS at loggerheads, vital services are at risk

As with Brexit negotiations, some people prefer to walk away or refuse to budge, rather than work together to find solutions | Guardian opinion, UK

Preventing the cycle of alcohol-related harm

To meet the Secretary of State’s goal of truly prioritising prevention, we need a comprehensive new alcohol strategy, argues Dame Professor Kumar | IAS blog, UK

The ‘war on drugs’ is causing great damage

Readers discuss whether the ‘war’ is the right way to combat the violence fuelled by the drugs trade | Guardian, UK

My daughter was an addict so I took in four of her children

Life as a grandmother changed unexpectedly when my daughter’s life was overtaken by drugs and prison | Guardian, UK

We ignored the evidence linking cigarettes to cancer. Let's not do that with vaping

Since 2011, e-cigarettes and vaping has increased in teens since 2011, and we still don’t know the long-term health effects | Guardian opinoin, UK

It’s time to change our drug dog policies to catch dealers, not low-level users at public events

In the early 2000s New South Wales became the first Australian state to introduce drug detection dogs for policing, with the aim of “targeting drug supply” and “attacking the root causes of drugs” in society. It gave police powers to use specially trained dogs to sniff for drugs in designated public places without the use of a warrant | Conversation, Australia

No arrests, fines or stigma. Why we should legalise cannabis in Canberra

My first experience with cannabis did not result in the attention of law enforcement. For many, this is not the case | Age, Australia