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Daily news - 7th April 2022

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UK news

Experts warn dangerous synthetic cannabis is being sold as cannabis gummies

A drug testing charity is warning dangerous synthetic cannabis, sold as marijuana sweets, could be putting buyers at risk of death | BBC, UK

Statistics from the Northern Ireland Substance Misuse Database: 2020/21

The report summarises information on people presenting to services with problem drug and/ or alcohol misuse and relates to the 12-month period ending 31 March 2021 | NI Direct, UK

Opening doors

Peers in Medway are taking partnerships to a new level with impressive results. DDN sees them in action | DDN, UK

New 5000-person cannabis trial to take place in the UK

Thousands of British people will be given cannabis for pain treatment as part of a clinical experiment that might lay the groundwork for millions of people to be able to access the medicine through the NHS. The Times reports that medical regulators have authorised the UK's first study of pure cannabis for those suffering from chronic pain caused by illnesses such as arthritis | MixMag, UK

Drug and Alcohol support funding welcomed in Western Isles

The Shed project will benefit from over £148,000 of new investment to recruit, train and match local volunteers with local families affected by drug or alcohol use by a parent | Oban Times, UK

MEAM Approach Annual Conference

On 30 March we hosted our annual conference for the MEAM Approach network and guests, ‘The Changing Landscape of Multiple Disadvantage’. You can revisit the five conversations that formed the conference here, as well as the opening and closing remarks | MEAM, UK

Extra stop and search powers after drugs-linked stabbing in Leeds

Extra stop-and-search powers have been introduced in part of Leeds after a teenager was stabbed in an attack linked to rival drugs gangs | BBC, UK

Senedd booze ban politicians cleared

Four politicians have been cleared of breaking the Senedd's code of conduct for drinking wine in a tearoom during a Wales-wide alcohol ban | BBC, UK



International news

Recreational Europe (PDF)

We produced ‘Recreational Europe’ to cut through the noise surrounding cannabis legalisation. The topic, once characterised by polarised viewpoints, is quickly becoming a more tame, bureaucratic conversation around civic priorities | Hanway Company, UK

US arrests Japanese yakuza leader over alleged missiles-for-heroin plot

Takeshi Ebisawa accused of planning to purchase surface-to-air missiles for rebel groups in Myanmar and distribute drugs in US | Guardian, UK

Health on Earth: a healthy planet benefits us all – World Health Day 2022

On this World Health Day, WHO/Europe calls on everyone to come together and recognize the importance of our planet, for the sake of our health and that of the generations to come | WHO, Denmark

Germany shuts down darknet platform specializing in drugs

German investigators on Tuesday shut down a Russian-language darknet marketplace that they say specialized in drug dealing, seizing bitcoin worth 23 million euros ($25.3 million) | Washington Post, USA

Smokers with heart disease could gain 5 healthy years by quitting

Smoking cessation adds the same number of heart disease-free years to life as three preventive medications combined, according to research presented at ESC Preventive Cardiology 2022, a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) | Medical Xpress, USA

Breathing restored within 10 minutes for 80% of overdose patients using nasal spray

A single dose of a nasal spray invented at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) restored breathing within ten minutes for 80% of overdose patients. More than 300 ambulance personnel in Trondheim and Oslo have administered the spray on suspicion of overdose to investigate its effectiveness and compare the nasal spray with syringes | Medical Xpress, USA

Magic Mushrooms Were Linked to Lower Opioid Addiction Risk in Huge New Study

New research has revealed an intriguing link between psilocybin – the psychedelic substance in magic mushrooms – and opioid addiction: people who have used psilocybin at some point in their lives are significantly less likely to become addicted to opioids | Science Alert, USA

ASHES, Vol. 18(4) - “I don’t smoke, I JUUL”: Nicotine dependence among e-cigarette users compared to traditional smokers

Despite smoking in the U.S. declining in the previous decades, a new epidemic has taken root. Specific e-cigarettes brands, such as JUUL, have become increasingly popular among youth, with many users unaware of the addictive levels of nicotine in these devices. Alarmingly, while e-cigarettes are often touted as a means to quit smoking, most first-time JUUL users do not report previous nicotine use | BASIS, USA

Biden Unlikely to Veto a Senate-Backed Marijuana Bill Despite Vague Stance

Almost a week has passed since the U.S. House passed a bill that would pave the way for legalizing and decriminalizing marijuana on a federal level, but there is still a long path to approval. However, some experts tell Newsweek that if the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE) passes the Senate and hits President Joe Biden's desk, he would be "hard-pressed" to veto it | Newsweek, USA

Federal Legalization Still Wouldn’t Free All Cannabis Prisoners

“Tell everybody in this government that y’all need to let everybody out of jail for selling weed before y’all start making it legal for people to sell it and make capital off it,” said Chance the Rapper in 2017. The legalization bill currently being considered by Congress, welcome as it is, would fall short of accomplishing this | Filter Magazine, USA

Province seeking feedback on possible recreational cannabis consumption spaces

The province has launched an online survey so British Columbians can weigh in on the possibility of allowing certain businesses to sell cannabis products for customers to consume on-site | CTV News, Canada

“We don’t live in a harm reduction world, we live in a prohibition world”: tensions arising in the design of high-risk drug alerts

[In review] Drug alerts designed for health workforces have potential to avert the acute harms associated with unpredictable illicit drug markets, by preparing workers to respond to unusual drug-related events and distribute information to service users. However, the design of such alerts is complicated by the socio-political contexts in which they operate. Here, we discuss the tensions that arose through the process of co-designing drug alert templates with healthcare workers | Research Square, Australia

Co-Designing High-Risk Drug Alerts for Health and Community Service Practitioners

[In review] Alerts about drug market changes (e.g., drug strength, purity, adulterations, or other trends) may be useful to assist health and community workers to anticipate, prevent and respond to unexpected adverse drug events. This study aimed to establish factors influencing the successful design and implementation of drug alerts for use in clinical and community settings in Victoria, Australia | Research Square, Australia

Alcohol advertising patterns and harm-reduction messaging

This presentation focussed on the strategies used by alcohol marketers to promote their products, impending trends in alcohol distribution, effective approaches for messaging about alcohol-related harms, and public support for a range of alcohol control policies | NDARC, Australia

New species of psychedelic mushroom believed to live in Kakadu National Park

Soil samples taken from Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks in the Northern Territory have revealed traces of what scientists believe is a new species of psychedelic mushroom | abc.net.au, Australia

Benny Scott, 28, walks the globe to shine light on addiction, recovery and need for pet-friendly rehab

Benny Scott knew he needed to go to rehab for his cocaine and cannabis addiction, but he couldn't do it without his beloved dog | abc.net.au, Australia


Blogs, comment and opinion

England has a new drugs strategy – what now lies ahead?

The new drugs strategy for England shows the government is serious about righting the wrong of nearly a decade of disinvestment and political neglect. £533 million has been committed over the next three years to community treatment and recovery services, with additional funding for prisons | Kings Fund blog, UK

Making rehab work for people involved with the justice system

The experiences of people involved with substances, crime and the justice system are complicated. Drug offences accounted for 16% of all prison sentences in the UK in 2021 and this figure does not account for the number of violent or acquisitive crimes where substances were involved. There is also growing concern for people exposed to substances during a custodial sentence, with UK government statistics showing that between 2014 and 2019 the proportion of people who developed a drug problem whilst in custody doubled from 8% to 15% | Phoenix Futures blog, UK

Cuts Cost Lives: Labour must embrace a health-led model to drugs policies

The United Kingdom has the unenviable title of being the drug death capital of Europe, with three times the number of deaths compared to the next country, Germany. Official data shows that drug deaths have risen year-on-year for eight consecutive years, which is in correlation with a decade of slashed drug treatment budgets | Centre Think Tank, UK

Why did the cannabis industry blossom during the pandemic?

Global legal cannabis sales in 2020 were up by 45% on 2019, with several leading companies reporting triple-digit revenue growth | Pharmaceutical Journal comment, UK

Was I really an addict? How the pandemic made me realize I had an alcohol problem

I finally saw myself as a person who didn’t need alcohol to make it through the day: I was enough without it | Guardian, UK

Harm Reduction Could Be Transforming Health in Japan

Something remarkable is happening in Japan; combustible cigarette use is disappearing. And, with the right policies in place, this collapse in deadly cigarette use can happen in every country | Inside Sources, UK

The Overdose Epidemic Is Devastating Black Communities. We Have to Start Saving Lives | Opinion

The devastating loss of life due to preventable drug overdoses in our country continues unabated. Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDCreported that 105,752 individuals died of an overdose in the one-year period ending October 2021. It's an incalculable toll | Newsweek opinion, USA

The pandemic had little impact on Canada’s legal cannabis sales

The pandemic saw a boom in legal recreational cannabis sales across Canada. From March 2020 to February 2021, sales totaled $2.5 billion, double the $1.25 billion of the previous 12 months. Surveys likewise reported more cannabis users and more frequent usage in 2020 than the year before | Conversation, Canada

The Cocaine Will Flow, Despite Police Parading Latest Seizure

Yet another image of police parading in front of a large haul of drugs appeared in the press last week. Located off the South Australian coast by the Australian Border Force on 18 March, the drugs were detected after intelligence suggested a bulk-carrier ship was being used to smuggle them in | Sydney Criminal Lawyers blog, Australia