Daily news - 16th January 2019

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UK news

NIHR awards £2.4 million to research to reduce overprescribing of opioids

The NIHR has awarded £2.4 million to researchers at Keele University to investigate overprescribing of opioid painkillers in primary care and improve treatment of patients with persistent pain - without the use of long-term opioids | NIHR, UK

Pilot project to support children of alcohol dependent parents

Addaction has been awarded more than £200,000 to support children of alcohol dependent parents | Addaction, UK

Drugs: Death

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has held discussions with representatives of (a) drug support charities and (b) other organisations on the level of drug-related deaths in relation to the abstinence and recovery agenda set out the Drug Strategy | They work for you, UK

Alcoholic Drinks: Rehabilitation

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he plans to increase funding for treatment of alcohol misuse | They work for you, UK

Tobacco products and e-cigarette cross-border sales registration

How businesses that supply tobacco products and e-cigarettes via cross-border distance sales can register with the UK government. [Updated list of retailers] | PHE, UK

Magic circle law firm launches cannabis newsletter

Allen & Overy eyes up legal weed deals | Legal Cheek, UK

Polo sweets made in York not to be used to promote vaping

The move comes amid rising concern over manufacturers using sweet type flavours which could encourage the use of vaping products by young teenagers | Northern Echo, UK

'County lines' gang boss who took over woman's home jailed

A gang boss known as "Black Pepsi" has been jailed for eight years after being caught with crack cocaine and heroin | BBC, UK


International news

'We're dealing with a black market': is taking pills becoming more dangerous?

[Australia] Those calling for pill-testing and other harm minimisation say young people are dying while the debate becomes more polarised | Guardian, UK

OxyContin maker expected 'a blizzard of prescriptions' following drug's launch

Massachusetts accuses Purdue Pharma of ‘deceiving’ patients and doctors about the addictive and deadly risks of drug | Guardian, UK

Can Philadelphia 'stop people from dying' as drug crisis and gun violence rage on?

The prevalence of drug overdoses and homicides is helping drive down life expectancy in the nation’s sixth largest city as premature deaths have been rising since 2015 | Guardian, UK

Flight attendant smuggled drugs in 'highly organised' ring, police say

Australian police say they have busted a "highly organised" drug ring which allegedly used a flight attendant to smuggle drugs into the country | BBC, UK

El Chapo paid $100m bribe to former Mexican president Peña Nieto, witness says

Alex Cifuentes, a close associate of the cartel chief, testified that he told US authorities about the alleged bribe in 2016 | Guardian, UK

'They come back with big eyes': pétanque rocked by drug allegations

Game’s image of elderly men in sleepy squares at odds with claims some Belgian players use cocaine | Guardian, UK

Trinidad and Tobago to Decriminalise Cannabis, Consider Legalisation

As cannabis reform sweeps the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago has announced it will hold public consultations on the matter, prior to decriminalising the drug for personal use in June 2019 | talking Drugs, UK

Government to press ahead with minimum alcohol pricing plans

The government is set to press ahead with minimum unit pricing for alcohol, despite previously indicating that the measure would be introduced at the same time as Northern Ireland | Irish Examiner, Ireland

Every day, about 800 people in Europe die from alcohol-attributable causes

According to a recently published WHO fact sheet, Europe is still challenged by the need to reduce the burden of alcohol. Levels of alcohol consumption, and harm attributable to alcohol, remain very high – causing about 800 deaths a day | WHO, Switzerland

Fraction of US outpatient treatment centers offer medication for opioid addiction

Study finds that most substance use disorder treatment facilities still do not offer medication treatment for opioid use disorder | EurekAlert, USA

One time use of Marijuana could affect teen brains finds study

A survey from 2018 had found that 2.1 million students from middle and high schools have smoked marijuana at least once. A new study looked at the effects of marijuana or cannabis on the brains of adolescents | News Medical, USA

The Haunting Memorials of Philly’s Drug Wars Have Much to Teach Us

Three weeks before Christmas, a car made its way slowly up Howard Street, a narrow one-way thoroughfare in the Latino section of West Kensington, Philadelphia | Filter Magazine, USA

Chemsex First Aid Is Part of Queer Men’s Long History of Activism

Chemsex—or the use of GHB, methamphetamine or mephedrone in sexual settings in the queer and trans community—provides a means for many to experience intimacy that is otherwise hindered by shame and stigma | Filter Magazine, USA

Denver could become the first city in America to decriminalize the use of magic mushrooms

Voters may soon have another big decision to make this coming May | Denver Channel, USA

Bill Barr Says He’s “Not Going After” Marijuana In States Where It’s Legal

Bill Barr told senators he’d take the same stance of the Obama administration — not that of former attorney general Jeff Sessions | BuzzFeed, USA

Family of Alex Ross-King will seek sit-down with the Premier to discuss drug reform

Grieving family says they will seek out an opportunity to discuss drug reform with Gladys Berejiklian in the wake of the 19-year-old's sudden death | Age, Australia

NSW Coroner to hold hearing into music festival deaths

The deaths of five young music festival revellers in as many months will be scrutinised before the NSW Coroner's Court next week | SMH, Australia

Dying patients to be given 'magic mushrooms' at Melbourne hospital

The controversial trial aims to reduce anxiety about death among terminally ill patients | SBS, Australia

State of the Nation 2018

The Drug Foundation’s State of the Nation report is a snapshot of how New Zealand is dealing with alcohol and other drugs. The report shows while we are doing well in some areas, there is massive room for improvement | NZDF, New Zealand



Blogs, comment and opinion

40 years practicing criminal law showed me that UK drugs laws are a catastrophe

I was a criminal lawyer for over 40 years – indeed I still am, now pushing my last couple of cases through the Criminal Cases Review Commission.  My big takeaway from such a long career? Easy, and here it is in one sentence. Our criminal justice approach to drugs is a national catastrophe | Transform blog, UK

London’s gangs have changed, and it’s driving a surge in pitiless violence

Jaden Moodie, 14, was killed in Waltham Forest, where gangs have moved focus from postcodes to drugs profits | Guardian, UK

The Guardian view on Jaden Moodie’s murder: criminals targeting children

Awareness of the exploitation of teenagers has grown – but much more must be done to protect them | Guardian, UK

Trust me on this – in 2019 we should all try to be a little more like Ed Sheeran

The singer claims he gets more inspiration from a cup of tea than from weed, instantly becoming a beacon for those who are more comfortable with gentle sobriety than unfettered hedonism | Guardian, UK

How Dangerous is Marijuana, Really?

On Jan. 7, The Marshall Project published an interview with Alex Berenson, a former New York Times reporter and author of "Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence," which warns that the rush to legalize the drug has obscured evidence of its dangers. The interview stirred up a storm on social media, so we decided to enlarge the discussion | Marshall Project, USA

Lessons from the heroin injecting room

In the more than 18 years since it opened, there have been more than one million injections supervised in Kings Cross, 8000 overdoses, but not one single death writes Tracey Burton | Age, Australia

Pill testing needs to start now but is not a silver bullet

Pill testing – where people attending music festivals can submit a sample of illicit drugs to test their chemical composition – is an important public health intervention and, I believe,  must be implemented in NSW as soon as possible. But it's only part of the solution | SMH opinon, Australia

Weekly Dose: new drug MDPV, or ‘monkey dust’, found in Australia. What is it and what are the harms?

Recent media reports have suggested a rise in a dangerous new party drug known as “monkey dust”. This is a slang name for the drug MDPV (3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone), as well as other members of the chemical class known as “synthetic cathinones”, or “bath salts” | Conversation, Australia