Daily news - 15th January 2019

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UK news

GPs prescribe more opioids for pain in poor Northern areas, study reveals

English patients living in poorer areas are likely to be prescribed more opioids by their GPs, according to a study led by University of Manchester and University of Nottingham researchers. The research also shows how smoking, obesity and depression are all associated with more prescribing of the drugs for problems such as lower back pain and arthritis | University of Manchester, UK

Fears over life-saving drug unfounded, finds review

Though the study found no evidence of any serious side effects linked to Naltrexone, many doctors hold back from prescribing the drug, often citing liver toxicity as a reason | University of Manchester, UK

New law will bring "zero tolerance" approach to drug driving

New laws to introduce a "zero tolerance" approach to drug driving are being proposed by the Scottish government | BBC, UK

Prison health inquiry: government response

This command paper sets out the government’s response to the Health and Social Care Committee’s inquiry into prison healthcare published in November 2018. [Includes a chapter discussing drug use in prisons] | DHSC, UK

Magic Mushrooms warning as foragers told mild winter has led to abundance of psychedelic fungi 

Foragers have been warned of an abundance of magic mushrooms after the mild winter caused the psychedelic fungi to thrive | Telegraph, UK

From homelessness, prison and drug addiction to ‘London’s happiest bus driver’

‘I was held hostage in a room, being beaten with iron poles, and I was powerless, and that’s when I thought they were going to kill me’ | Independent, UK

Londoners gather evidence of daylight drug deals

Residents in parts of east London say drugs are being openly sold on their doorsteps during the day | BBC, UK

Two jailed after major 'cuckooing' drugs operation

Two men have been jailed after a high-profile operation into organised crime in the north east of Scotland | BBC, UK


International news

Why are young people drinking less than earlier? Identifying and specifying social mechanisms with a pragmatist approach

[Open access] Recent surveys have found a strong decrease in alcohol consumption among young people and this trend has been identified in European countries, Australia and North America | IJDP, UK

China sentences Canadian man to death for drug smuggling

A court in China has sentenced a Canadian to death for drug smuggling, a verdict likely to reignite a diplomatic row between the two countries | BBC, UK

The mature stoner: why are so many seniors smoking weed?

Older people are the fastest-growing group of cannabis users, as stigma fades and some seek an alternative to prescription drugs | Guardian, UK

FedEx pays $35.4 million to end NY lawsuit over illegal cigarettes

FedEx Corp will pay $35.4 million to settle three lawsuits in which New York state and New York City accused the company of shipping millions of untaxed cigarettes to residents over a decade | Reuters, UK

Overwhelming majority of voters support pill-testing – Guardian Essential poll

[Australia] Model where counsellors provide risk-reduction advice backed by 63% of sample | Guardian, UK

“A more accurate understanding of drug use”: A critical analysis of wastewater analysis technology for drug policy

[Open access] The idea of identifying and monitoring urinary excretion of illicit drugs and their metabolites in wastewater has been seen by governments and international organisations as ‘promising’. It is claimed that such approaches will enable governments to effectively direct resources to priority areas, monitor the progress of demand and supply reduction strategies, as well as identify emerging trends | IJDP, UK

Cannabis: More people seeking treatment as strength doubles

Modern variants ‘like taking an acid trip’, with spike in addiction and psychosis | Irish Times, Ireland

Pain and substance abuse interact in a vicious cycle

Experiencing pain can motivate individuals to use substances and might make it harder to quit | Science Daily, USA

Sexual minorities more likely to suffer severe substance use disorders

Researchers know that lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals are more likely than heterosexuals to use alcohol, tobacco or other drugs, but until now they didn't know to what degree | Medical Xpress, USA

Demi Lovato's overdose causes surge in media, but few mentions of lifesaving hotline

Demi Lovato's drug overdose and Anthony Bourdain's suicide resulted in unequal news coverage of national help hotlines, finds a new study published Jan. 14 in JAMA Internal Medicine | Medical Xpress, USA

Many users prefer medical marijuana over prescription drugs

As more states legalize cannabis consumption, many more people will likely use medical marijuana as a supplement to or substitution for prescription drugs, says a University of Michigan researcher | University of Michigan, USA

A little weed may change the teenage brain

Researchers observe brain differences in teens who use the drug once or twice | EurekAlert, USA

Cannabis has downsides, but speculation and fear should be replaced with the best evidence available | NYTimes, USA

All the Things the New Anti-Weed Crusade Gets Horribly Wrong

It's Reefer Madness all over again, somehow | VICE, USA

Maryland regulators: Is medical marijuana effective for treating opioid addiction? Answer: It's complicated

As opioid overdose deaths continued to mount in Maryland last year, state lawmakers asked medical marijuana regulators to determine whether cannabis could be effective at treating addiction to heroin, fentanyl and oxycodone | Medical Xpress, USA

Juul’s Convenient Smoke Screen

After making billions of dollars and joining forces with Big Tobacco, Juul is trying to reinvent itself as a public-health crusader | NYTimes, USA

A Harm Reduction Guide for Parents of Teens Who Vape

The panic around teenagers who vape was ratcheted up a level last month, when the US Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams, declared... | Filter Magazine, USA

Hashish from Morocco was once smuggled to Europe a speedboat at a time. But the trafficking has escalated to huge cargo ships, on a route including a chaotic stretch of Libya | NYTimes, USA

Rose McGowan Has Avoided Jail Time After Pleading No Contest To Drug Possession

McGowan, who was originally charged with a felony, was given a suspended sentence Monday and ordered to pay a $2,500 fine | Buzzfeed, USA

A New Study Is Using Magic Mushrooms To Treat Terminally Ill Patients With Depression

Psilocybin has already shown promising results internationally | BuzzFeed, USA

Coroner to stage hearing into music festival deaths

The deaths of five young people in as many months at music festivals in NSW are set to come under the judicial microscope, with the Coroners Court to conduct a public hearing next week into the cluster of fatalities due to suspected drug overdoses | SMH, Australia

MDMA hospitalisation cases in NSW hit record

It's the busiest time of the year for ecstasy-related hospital presentations - and this summer has been particularly large | SMH, Australia

Pill testing: NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, here's your evidence

Pill testing campaigner Matt Noffs presents the evidence to the NSW government on how pill testing has worked in other countries | SMH, Australia

Sorry, but Your Nicotine-Free Vape Probably Contains Nicotine

Australian researchers tested ten different "nicotine-free" vape liquids to find 60 percent of them contain nicotine | VICE, Australia


Blogs, comment and opinion

Lessons from State Implementation of Marijuana Legalization

States should learn from each other to confront the challenges of regulating marijuana | Regulatory Review, USA

Media moral panic over ‘Monkey Dust’ (again)

Drug moral panics are not new. They often involve so called epidemics or drugs that have effects that read like the “taglines for a graphic novel B-movie adaptation”. The most recent moral panic involved ‘Monkey Dust’. On the 8th of January, the following outlets reported on a drug ‘sweeping the Australian party scene’ leading to ‘warnings from authorities | AOD MediaWatch, Australia

Cannabis reform is a serious matter – so be serious about it

I’ve wondered here several times where an organised “no” campaign in next year’s cannabis referendum might come from. Outside of Family First, it’s still hard to tell where the opposition emerges. But I think what we are starting to hear is the sound of two hands wringing | Punlic Address blog, New Zealand