Weekly news - 28th June 2019


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In date order, Monday to Friday

Home Office refuses to defend UK Government drugs policy

The Home Office has refused invitations from the Scottish Affairs Committee to give evidence on the UK’s drugs policy, despite rising numbers of drug-related deaths in Scotland | Parliament.uk, UK

Councils blamed for jump in drink and drug deaths

[Free registraton may be required] The number of people dying from drug and alcohol misuse has almost doubled in the five years since councils were given responsibility for providing treatment, according to official figures | Sunday Times, UK

Campaigners accuse Tory politicians of drugs hypocrisy

Marchers calling for laws to be relaxed criticise MPs who have used cocaine and cannabis | Guardian, UK

Neuroscience research questions current alcohol limit

New research by neuroscientists from the University of Sussex shows that drinking only one pint of beer or a large glass of wine is enough to significantly compromise a person’s sense of agency | University of Sussex, UK

Financial headache: The cost of workplace hangovers and intoxication to the UK economy

As many as 89,000 people may be turning up to work hungover or under the influence of alcohol every day, costing the economy up to £1.4 billion a year, according to new research from the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) | IAS, UK

Medical cannabis firms press UK to loosen prescription rules

Manufacturers say not allowing GPs to prescribe drug fails patients and forfeits gains | Guardian, UK

New substances, new challenges

In May 2016 the Psychoactive Substances Act placed a ‘blanket ban’ on new psychoactive substances. While the national focus shifted to this legislation, relatively little consideration was given to developing a treatment response. Interviews with people who use drugs and treatment providers in Manchester (England) reveal emerging drug trends around ‘spice’ and ‘chemsex’, and how services may need to adapt to new substances | Drug and Alcohol Findings, UK

Hard edges Scotland (PDF)

Hard Edges Scotland was commissioned by Lankelly Chase and supported by The Robertson Trust to bring separate datasets together to reveal how some harms interconnect in the lives of people in Scotland | Lankelly Chase, UK

'Encouraging signs' as consumption falls one year after Scotland's MUP

The first official data on alcohol sales has been released since the introduction of minimum unit pricing (MUP) in Scotland on 1st May 2018, indicating a fall in consumption to 'the lowest level seen' in Scotland since 1994 when data collection began | Alcohol Policy UK, UK

Drug Science Announce a 20,000 Patient UK National Medical Cannabis Pilot: Project TWENTY21

Drug Science’s newly formed medical cannabis working group, which includes the United Patients Alliance, several academic researchers and several medical cannabis companies, is launching the UK’s first national pilot for medical cannabis: Project TWENTY21 | Drug Science, UK

Cannabis should be legalised within five years, says former Conservative Minister 

Cannabis will be legalised in the UK in the next five years, a former Tory minister chairing an influential parliamentary group on drug reform has predicted | Telegraph, UK

San Francisco becomes first US city to ban e-cigarettes

Officials on Tuesday voted to ban stores selling the vaporisers and made it illegal for online retailers to deliver to addresses in the city | BBC, UK

After long delays, access to cannabis for medical reasons is now allowed under new law

Simon Harris has today signed legislation to allow for the operation of the Medical Cannabis Access Programme on a pilot basis for five years | Journal, Ireland

New EMCDDA report highlights greater diversity of cannabis products, increasing potency and the need for close monitoring of health effects

Cannabis products have become increasingly diverse in Europe and close monitoring of their potency and potential health effects is essential. These are among the conclusions of a new report published today by the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) ahead of International day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking (26 June). The report — Developments in the European cannabis market — provides an overview of emerging and established cannabis products in Europe | EMCDDA, Portugal

Classification of Psychoactive Substances: when science was left behind

In Classification of Drugs: when science was left behind, the Global Commission on Drug Policy explains how the biased historical classification of psychoactive substances has contributed to the "world drug problem". It is the first-ever comprehensive report providing a political reading of the current evaluation and classification, or "scheduling" of drugs according to their harms | GCDP, Switzerland

Illegal drug classifications are based on politics not science – report

Global Commission on Drug Policy calls for a reclassification of drugs including cocaine, heroin and cannabis | Guardian, UK

Addiction deaths are soaring as support is slashed

[free registration may be required] The UK is experiencing a surge in fatalities from drug and alcohol misuse. Over the last five years overdose deaths from heroin and other opioids are up 50 per cent, though there has been no rise in heroin use. This is a public health crisis requiring a complete rethink of drug strategy to focus on reducing the harm to individuals and society | The Times, UK

Medical cannabis should not face usual regulatory checks, says former health minister

Medical cannabis products should not be subject to the usual regulatory checks before patients can use them, as cannabis is “the oldest medicine of all”, Sir Norman Lamb has said | Pharmaceutical Journal, UK

E-cigarettes: How safe are they?

San Francisco has become the first US city to ban sales of e-cigarettes. Yet in the UK they are used by the NHS to help smokers quit - so what is the truth about the safety of e-cigarettes? | BBC, UK

World Drug Report 2019: 35 million people worldwide suffer from drug use disorders while only 1 in 7 people receive treatment

Improved research and more precise data have revealed that the adverse health consequences of drug use are more severe and widespread than previously thought. Globally, some 35 million people are estimated to suffer from drug use disorders and who require treatment services, according to the latest World Drug Report | UNODC, Switzerland

Scotland in grip of drugs crisis as more than 1,000 die every year with deadly pills costing less than Mars bar

ITV News understands statistics set to be published next month will show drug deaths in the country have hit a record high | ITV, UK

Police and ex-addicts in Edinburgh team up for drugs fight

The prevention work with Aid and Abet preceded this week's enforcement action, and will continue after the police stop knocking down doors. Their work is based on information shared by other agencies. When someone has narrowly survived an overdose, the Scottish Ambulance Service passes their name to the police, who give it to the outreach team, who then try to speak to the person involved | BBC, UK

Police let users of class A drugs like heroin and cocaine escape prosecution 'to give people a second chance'

Police forces are allowing users of illegal class A drugs including heroin and cocaine to escape prosecution, The Daily Telegraph can reveal | Telegraph, UK

Introducing the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group

CDPRG is a new professional organisation. We will provide a policy forum promoting evidence-based assessment and discussion of drugs policy.  Our overall aim is to facilitate authoritative and informed consideration of current prohibition policies and any reforms which could reduce the public harm caused by drugs. | CDPRG, UK

Additions to the Effectiveness Bank 27 June 2019

Cumulative stress, deprivation, and exclusion are associated with poor health outcomes and risky behaviours, and in these entries, factor into the motivation for tailored and targeted substance use interventions. ‘Hot button’ issues include treatment for new psychoactive substances (previously known as ‘legal highs’), support on leaving the military, mitigating the (often disproportionate) impact of prison on women, and marrying recovery with life on the streets | Drug and Alcohol Findings, UK

CBD in the UK: Towards a responsible, innovative and high-quality cannabidiol industry (PDF)

Market research commissioned by the CMC estimates that the CBD market is currently one of the fastest growing wellbeing product categories in the UK. At the current rate it will be worth almost £1B per annum by 2025, equivalent in size to the current entire UK herbal supplement market | CMC, UK

Millions misled over cannabis oil mania

[Free subscriprion may be required] Millions of people are being misled by companies exploiting the latest health craze sweeping the country, an investigation by The Times has found | The Times, UK