Daily news - 10th July 2019

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UK news

Opioid drug use: Is the UK on the verge of a crisis?

The use and abuse of opioid drugs - ranging from painkillers to heroin - is on the rise in the UK, particularly in deprived parts of northern England. [Our director, Harry Shapiro quoted] | BBC, UK

Minister hopes drug deaths record will be 'wake-up call'

As many as 1,200 people may have died from drug abuse in Scotland in 2018, with MPs told this should be a "wake-up call" over government policy. New figures are to be published in the coming days, with drug-related deaths in Scotland already at a record high | BBC, UK

Problem drug use in Scotland

Discussion on drug use in Scotland. Witnesses include James Wolffe QC, Lord Advocate, and Iain Logan, Principal Procurator Fiscal Depute, Policy Unit, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Joe FitzPatrick MSP, Minister for Public Health, Sport, and Beverley Francis, Drug Law and Health Harm Lead, Scottish Government | Parliament.uk, UK

Implementing the NHS long-term plan - call for written submissions

The Health and Social Committee is conducting a short inquiry in the run-up to the November 2019 Budget, aimed at assessing the case for investment in each of the following areas: capital expenditure on the NHS, education and training, social care, and public health, including the impact these areas of spending have on the implementation of the Long-term Plan | Parliament.uk, UK

Alcoholic Drinks: Minimum Prices

To ask the Secretary of State for the Department of Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the findings in The evaluation of Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) for alcohol report, published by NHS Scotland in June 2019, that alcohol sales in Scotland have dropped during the last year, while they have risen in England and Wales | They work for you, UK

Addictions: Health Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he plans to return addiction services to NHS commissioning; and if he will make a statement | They work for you, UK

Smoking must be stamped out in the UK within 11 years, according to timeline set out in ambitious new Government plan

Under leaked plans seen by the Daily Mail, tobacco firms would be forced to pay the cost of helping people stop smoking instead of over-stretched local health services | Mail Online, UK

Pharmacists advised to check legal status of CBD products before supply or risk indemnity breach

The National Pharmacy Association has warned that pharmacists should be carrying out a broad range of checks before supplying cannabis-based products | Pharmaceutical Journal, UK

Jails too slow to react to 'deluge of drugs', says HM chief inspector

Annual report also reveals 15% rise in suicides in English and Welsh prisons | Guardian, UK

Vape stores open in two West Midlands hospitals

The retail outlets, run by Ecigwizard, are based at Sandwell General Hospital, in West Bromwich, and Birmingham City Hospital, both of which are run by Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust | ITV, UK

Make cannabis legal and cut crime, says Adam Smith think tank

A leading think tank today called for cannabis to be sold over the counter in pharmacies — and said legalisation for adult recreational use is a matter of “when, not if” | Evening Standard, UK

Drug dealer spared prison after judge learns he now has £45,000-a-year job as a florist

A£45,000 a year floristry job has saved a convicted drug dealer from a prison sentence, as a judge said she was impressed by the “positive picture” of his future career | Telegraph, UK

Sunninghill crash: Driver had taken drugs before killing two men

The son of a police officer who ran over and killed two men had taken a mix of opiates and cannabis, an inquest heard | BBC, UK


International news

Teens less likely to use cannabis when it's legal, US study finds

Researchers at Montana State University looked at health surveys of US high school pupils between 1993 and 2017 | BBC, UK

Trump administration drug officials clash over how to combat fentanyl copycats

Trump administration officials are divided over part of a proposal to crack down on illicit versions of fentanyl, the deadly synthetic painkiller that U.S. President Donald Trump targeted in declaring a national opioid abuse emergency | Reuters, USA

'They just kill’: Ongoing extrajudicial executions and other violations in the Philippines’ ‘war on drugs

This new report shows police operating with total impunity as they murder people from poor neighbourhoods whose names appear on manufactured “drug watch lists” established outside of any legal process | Amnesty International, UK

Traces of 'Dr Death' found in festival overdose victim's blood test, inquest told

Toxicological report for Hoang Tran, who died in 2017, revealed trace elements of the drug PMA | Guardian, UK

Personal drug use may lead to cautions rather than criminal prosecution

Gardaí and the DPP are examining applying cautions rather than pursuing criminal prosecutions for people caught in possession of drugs for personal use | Irish Examiner, Ireland

Serbia — Early warning system profile

The profile presents the structure, objectives and working methods of the Serbian national early warning system. It describes functions of the institutions participating in the early warning system and mentions data collection tools. It was prepared within the EMCDDA-IPA6 project ‘Stepwise integration of the IPA beneficiaries in the activities of the EMCDDA and the Reitox Network’ funded by the European Commission | EMCDDA, Portugal

Do medical marijuana laws reduce deaths from prescription opioid and heroin overdoses?

In the United States alone, 47,600 people died due to prescription opioid overdoses in 2017, increasing by more than five-times between 1999 and 2017 | BASIS, USA

New Evidence on Pot During Pregnancy

As more states legalize marijuana, usage rates are going up, and so are questions about the plant’s health benefits or risks, including during pregnancy. Many women of childbearing age use marijuana recreationally, and wonder about continuing occasional use when they become pregnant | The Atlantic, USA

New North Carolina Drug-Induced Homicide Law Ramps Up Punishments

On July 8, North Carolina Governor Roy Morris signed into law a bill creating a new criminal offense category that carries harsher punishments for people allegedly distributing drugs involved in an overdose death | Filter Magazine, USA

The Psychedelics Evangelist: A German Financier Wants to Turn Magic Mushrooms into Modern Medicine

One company the entrepreneur invests in wants to develop psilocybin in a lab—so no need to extract it from mushrooms | STAT Magazine, USA

Problematic smartphone use linked to poorer grades, alcohol misuse, more sexual partners

A survey of more than 3,400 university students in the USA has found that one in five respondents reported problematic smartphone use. Female students were more likely be affected and problematic smartphone use was associated with lower grade averages, mental health problems and higher numbers of sexual partners | Science Daily, USA

Gang members could turn over a new leaf with medicinal cannabis proposals

Gang members well-versed in growing cannabis could take a turn to the straight and narrow under proposals for a legal medicinal cannabis market | NZHerald, New Zealand

Even no-alcohol beer can be harmful to kids, expert says

No-alcohol beer and wine might technically be fine for kids but they can still build brand loyalty in young consumers, one marketing expert has warned | Stuff.co.nz, New Zealand


Blogs, comment and opinion

Why secondhand drinking isn't like secondhand smoke

This week the Guardian have published a piece highlighting the indirect harms that can arise from drinking. This is important stuff that should be more prominent in alcohol policy debates. Too often, issues around alcohol policy drift into the classic libertarian territory of saying that it’s simply someone’s individual choice what they put into their body | Thinking to some purpose blog, UK

The bigger picture on what alcohol costs us

Academics and leading medical experts on alcohol suggest the economic burden has been ‘generally underestimated’, says Daniel Clayton | Guardian, UK

Why the secrecy? Bringing transparency to alcohol labelling

It's time for accurate, transparent alcohol labelling; read this helpful summary of the subject, as well as an update on the 25 June 2019 meeting hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Harm | Alcohol Change UK blog, UK

Zoe Carre: Take home naloxone is not reaching those who most need it

Naloxone is key is to addressing the current opioid crisis, but poor systemic distribution means it isn’t saving the lives it should, says Zoe Carre | BMJ opinion, UK

Mischievous ‘Centre for Medicinal Cannabis’ Report Smears UK CBD Industry With Misleading Data

For nearly three years the leading CBD businesses in the UK have been in engaged in serious, responsible self-regulation and consumers can be confident if they buy from members of Cannabis Professionals (CannaPro) or Cannabis Trades Association (CTA). Take the results of this report with a very large pinch of salt, or perhaps with a tablespoon of hempseed oil containing only a trace of CBD | Clear, UK

To fight opioid epidemic, treat drug use with compassion, not judgment

As a researcher at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, I didn’t start thinking about America’s problems with pain and drugs through dispassionate research. I got there thanks to a motorcycle accident, after which I was given lots of prescription opioids and then left to my own devices | USA Today, USA

Cannabis: Misinformation about CBD can be life-threatening

Hyperbole can be rampant in health news, particularly with respect to cannabis. One recent headline declared: “CBD is effective in treating heroin addiction.” Another proclaimed: “New study finds CBD could curb heroin addiction.” | Conversation, Canada

Synthetics: We need to stop calling it cannabis

There’s a problem with “synthetic cannabis”, and not just the one you think. It’s the name | Public address blog, New Zealand