Daily news - 22nd March 2021

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UK news

Injectable opioid treatment: commissioning and providing services

Guidance on commissioning and providing injectable opioid treatment for people with opioid dependence who have not responded to oral treatment | PHE, UK

Cannabis health check-up tool

This cannabis health tool for health and social care professionals is designed to be used where someone’s cannabis use is identified as ‘increasing’ or ‘higher risk’ by the cannabis questions in the Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Tool-Lite (ASSIST-Lite) risk identification tool. The tool outlines how risky someone’s cannabis use is, how someone’s use compares to the general population, the benefits of cutting down or quitting, tips for reducing use and risks, and signposts to sources of advice, support and treatment. It also provides space for individuals to set their own goals | PHE, UK

Barriers to research beyond cannabinoids: call for evidence

Barriers to Research working group calls for written evidence about barriers to legitimate research for controlled drugs, excluding synthetic cannabinoids | ACMD, UK

Call for trials of age-verification technology in alcohol sales

Proposals sought for testing innovative technology in live settings | Office for Product Safety and Standards, UK

4 expert ACMD board members reappointed

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) has reappointed 4 experts in their fields to serve their third term on the council | ACMD, UK

Keir Starmer says safe safe consumption rooms are not answer to Scotland's drug deaths

The Labour leader left supporters of the plans to cut the death toll dismayed | Daily Record, UK

Drug Deaths and Harms

The next item of business is a debate on motion S5M-24396, in the name of Angela Constance, on a national mission to reduce drug deaths and harms | They work for you, UK

Differences between ethnic groups in self‐reported use of e‐cigarettes and nicotine replacement therapy for cutting down and temporary abstinence: a cross‐sectional population‐level survey in England

[Open access] This study aimed to assess (i) the association between ethnicity and use of e‐cigarettes and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) for temporary abstinence and cutting down, and (ii) trends in prevalence of these over time | Addiction Journal, UK

Devastated family of teenager who died after taking drugs at festival call for major rethink about the dangers

The family of a 17-year-old who died at a music festival after taking illegal drugs, have urged organisers to be "realistic" about substance use at their events this summer | ITV, UK

'Get Out of Jail' Cannabis Card Now Held By 17,000 in the UK

A new scheme to help UK medicinal cannabis users avoid arrest is being honoured by police on street stops | VICE, UK

Giving up alcohol: 'I feel like I’ve been reborn’

Recovering alcoholic Nikki gave up alcohol in July 2020. She posted two photos on Twitter to show the difference seven months of sobriety had on her | BBC, UK

Morrisons and Sainsbury's most likely to push alcohol and junk food online sales

Morrisons nudged online shoppers towards unhealthy snacks more times than any other supermarket in test purchases while Sainsbury’s was most likely to push customers towards alcohol | Herald, UK

FA Cup final to be alcohol-free under government’s cautious return of spectators

A major horse racing event will be among the first sporting events with crowds, alongside the FA Cup final and Snooker Championships | i news, UK

Why the CBD drinks sold in the Queen's farm shop have soared during lockdown

[Limited number of free articles per week] The pandemic has seen this British business boom and its canned drinks fly off the shelves at the royal farm shop in Windsor | Telegraph, UK

County Lines Drug Dealing

What recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the CPS in prosecuting offences relating to county lines drug dealing | They work for you, UK

Truck driver jailed for 19 years after trying to bring half a tonne of cocaine into the UK hidden in tyres

A German truck driver has been jailed for 19 years after attempting to bring almost half a tonne of cocaine into the UK hidden in tyres | ITV, UK

Flintshire drugs operation: Three men jailed for 15 years

Daniel Taylor, 41, from Holywell, Flintshire, intercepted parcels where he worked at a UPS depot in Deeside | BBC, UK

Gambling - awareness, advice and tools: a free training session

22nd March 12.00 – 1.30pm. Delivered by Rhondda Cynon Taff Citizens Advice Gambling Support Services Project, the session aims to support frontline advice workers, and anyone advising the public, to identify signs of gambling harm | LawWorks, UK


International news

QMJC February 2021 - ‘Common-sense’ research: Senses, emotions and embodiment in researching stag tourism in Eastern Europe

This fascinating study uses the stag weekend as a lens to explore men’s drinking, masculinities and the male body, adding to a relatively recent body of work which focuses on alcohol and men’s gendered identity | SSA, UK

French drugs haul 'was strawberry Haribo'

This week police in Paris announced a "fruitful investigation" and a raid netting MDMA and ecstasy with a street value of over €1m ($1.2m; £860,000) | BBC, UK

White House confirms five staffers have lost jobs for admitting cannabis use

Announcement comes less than 24 hours after staff members revealed they had been asked to resign | Independent, UK

1,251 drug seizures across 10 prisons in Ireland last year

The highest number of drug seizures from one prison occurred in Wheatfield prison in Dublin, where there were 479 recorded incidents of drugs being seized from prisoners | Breaking News, Ireland

Medical cannabis can reduce essential tremor by turning on overlooked cells in the central nervous system

Medical cannabis can reduce essential tremor in mice. By injecting a specific synthetic cannabinoid into the spinal cord of mice suffering from essential tremor, researchers from the University of Copenhagen have shown that the drug can reduce involuntary shaking – as the cannabinoid activates a particular type of cell, the so-called astrocytes | University of Copenhagen, Denmark

A Synthetic Age: The Evolution of Methamphetamine Markets in Eastern and Southern Africa

African drug markets are vastly under-researched environments. Ground-breaking new research by the Global Initiative is attempting to address this deficiency | Global Initiative, Switzerland

IASP Position Statement on the Use of Cannabinoids to Treat Pain

The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) said in a statement  that due to a lack of evidence from high quality research, it does not endorse the general use of cannabinoids to treat pain | IASP, USA

Evaluation of State Cannabis Laws and Rates of Self-harm and Assault

In this cohort study based on health insurance claims data from 75 395 344 beneficiaries between 2003 and 2017, rates of self-harm injuries among males younger than 40 years increased more in states legalizing recreational cannabis dispensaries compared with states without cannabis legalization laws. For other age and sex groups and for more restrictive legalization approaches, no association with self-harm and assault was found | JAMA Network, USA

Acute exposure of lung tissue to vape aerosol has lesser impact on gene expression than cigarette smoke

A new peer-reviewed study published in the journal Toxicological Research & Application shows acute exposure of a 3D human bronchial tissue model to e-cigarette aerosol has minimal impact on gene expression compared to smoke from combustible cigarettes | News Medical, USA

Sharp, 'Off The Charts' Rise In Alcoholic Liver Disease Among Young Women

For many years, Jessica Duenas led what she calls a double life. She was the first in her immigrant family to go to college. In 2019, she won Kentucky's Teacher of the Year award. That same year, Duenas typically downed nearly a liter of liquor every night | npr, USA

Ending America’s Forever Drug War

Until now, no US administration has wanted to accept the evidence that America's 50-year-long war on drugs has utterly failed to achieve any of its objectives. By reforming US drug policy over the next four years, President Joe Biden could chart a much more promising course for America and the rest of the Western Hemisphere | Project Syndicate, USA

West Virginia lawmakers are trying to bar needle exchanges despite an alarming spike in HIV cases

West Virginia's capital city, Charleston, is currently facing a dangerous surge in HIV cases related to intravenous drug use. But state lawmakers have bucked public health recommendations by passing a bill that would essentially halt needle exchanges across the state | Insider, USA

Psychedelic therapy: Air force veteran’s wild journey back from the abyss

An Aussie who had a decent job and a good home found himself staring into the abyss, until he took a life-changing decision | News.com.au, Australia


Blogs, comment and opinion

Psychedelics for medical purposes: time to change your mind?

One of my adult sons asked me if I wanted to try magic mushrooms for my 50th birthday. After I spat out my tea I suggested he just take me out for a nice lunch | BMJ opinion, UK

Is the impact of lived experience ‘fake news’?

The pandemic’s been tough. The repercussions have focussed the minds of researchers Louise Byrne and Til Wykes. Writing in the Journal of Mental Health (open access), they make the point that given the pandemic challenges, there has never been ‘a greater opportunity to stop pathologising the emotional experiences of human beings and start connecting over commonality, sharing stories and strategies to collectively work our way forward’ | Recovery Review blog, UK

Bloomberg’s misguided push to outlaw vaping in developing nations

Since the fallout from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a renewed focus on improving global health, and that’s been a welcome sign | Brussels Times opinion, Belgium

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it tougher to quit smoking

Call volume at quitlines has dropped precipitously. And cigarette manufacturers have reversed years of sale declines | Philly Voice, USA

What are the effects of promoting unsupported claims about psychedelics? A call for better media reporting

It’s been a long time since we have seen a big leap forward in the treatment of mental health issues. Most new treatments in the last few decades are mere tweaks on existing treatments. A slightly better medication, new strategies added to existing psychological therapies. So, it’s no surprise that the use of currently illicit drugs, like MDMA (ecstasy) and psilocybin, to treat some common mental health disorders is causing a bit of a buzz | AOD MediaWatch, Australia