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Daily news - 27th April 2022

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UK news

Mental health quality indicator profile

Of the 7,269 referrals to community-based specialist drug and alcohol treatment services completed in the quarter ending 31 December 2021, 93% involved a wait of three weeks or less | Public Health Scotland, UK

Drugs: Misuse

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what the (a) mean and (b) median number of days taken was from offence to completion of drug offence cases for (i) Crown and (ii) Magistrates Court in England and Wales, by (A) individual court and (B) region for each of the last three years for which figures are available | They work for you, UK

Spiking: Alcoholic Drinks

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many people have been prosecuted for drink spiking-related offences in the West Midlands in the last three years | They work for you, UK

Carmarthenshire schools: Pupils' vaping and social media sparks fears

A group of secondary school head teachers have written to parents urging them to talk to their children about their "detrimental behaviour" | BBC, UK

SSA names new Head of Communications

Rob Calder takes on this new role in the SSA, building the Society’s capacity for improving the scientific understanding of addiction | SSA, UK


International news

Nagaenthran: Singapore executes low IQ Malaysian man on drugs charge

Nagaenthran Dharmalingam had been on death row for more than a decade for attempting to bring around three tablespoons of heroin into Singapore | BBC, UK

New Law Removes The Word ‘Marijuana’ From State Bills Over Racism Fears

Legislators in Washington state have passed a bill to remove the word 'marijuana' from all of its state laws amid accusations the term is racist | UNILAD, UK

‘We need an evidence-based drug policy that comes from a position of harm reduction’ – Neasa Hourigan TD launches Citizens’ Assembly framework proposal

Neasa Hourigan TD has today published the Citizens’ Assembly on Evidence Informed Drugs Policy from a Harm Reduction Perspective, which proposes a framework for how the upcoming assembly might approach its work. The paper calls for people’s lived experience to be made central to the Citizens’ Assembly | Green Party, Ireland

Cannabis for Medical Use: Versatile Plant Rather Than a Single Drug

Medical Cannabis and its major cannabinoids (−)-trans-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are gaining momentum for various medical purposes as their therapeutic qualities are becoming better established. However, studies regarding their efficacy are oftentimes inconclusive. This is chiefly because Cannabis is a versatile plant rather than a single drug and its effects do not depend only on the amount of THC and CBD | Frontiers in Pharamcology, Israel

Biden's first pardons ease punishment for non-violent drug crimes

U.S. President Joe Biden will issue the first pardons of his term on Tuesday, part of a series of steps aimed at shoring up his record on crime and racial justice in an election year | Yahoo, USA

Trends in Prevalence of Cigarette Smoking Among US Adults With Major Depression or Substance Use Disorders, 2006-2019

Among US adults with major depressive episode, substance use disorder, or both, there were significant declines in the prevalence of cigarette smoking between 2006 and 2019 | JAMA Network Open, USA

The impact of COVID-19 on drug use—and how it contributes to overdose risk

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of people who use drugs in ways that hurt their mental health and changed drug use behaviors, increasing their risk for overdose, according to surveys and interviews with individuals in rural Illinois captured in a new study in Addiction Science and Clinical Practice | Medical Xpress, USA

FDA Authorizes NJOY Tobacco-Flavored E-Cigarettes

The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday said it will allow tobacco-flavored e-cigarette refill cartridges made by NJOY Holdings, deciding their benefits for smokers outweighed the risks of underage vaping | MarketWatch, USA

Just over half of Michigan pharmacies offer overdose-fighting naloxone without prescription

Despite the ability of any Michigan pharmacy to dispense medication to combat opioid overdose without writing prescriptions, slightly more than half of pharmacies in the state offer the drug in such a way | Medical Xpress, USA

Alabama 1 of 6 states with no needle exchange, has nation’s highest opioid rate

To help slow the spread of injection-related infectious diseases, many states have implemented syringe service programs (SSPs), also referred to as syringe or needle exchange programs. These programs offer safe disposal of used syringes, access to sterile needles and syringes, vaccination and testing, and substance use treatment resources | AL.com, USA

California inmate overdoses plummet under drug program

The spiraling number of overdose deaths and hospitalizations among California prison inmates fell dramatically during the first two years of a program that uses prescribed drugs to treat more incarcerated addicts than any such program in the country, officials said Tuesday | Macon, USA

Treatment plus…? What additional components sustain treatment effects among youth?

Adolescents and emerging adults with substance use disorder have worse outcomes including higher substance use and treatment drop-out compared to their older adult counterparts. Strategies sensitive to their developmental realities that are helpful in reducing substance use and the need for additional treatment episodes can help to reduce the burdens associated with substance use. This study examined whether different components added to a standardized evidence-based treatment increased the time between treatment episodes and reduced criminal convictions among adolescents and emerging adults in Denmark | Recovery Research Institute, USA

Building the Future of Cannabis Clinical Trials Using Real-World Evidence

Wed, April 27, 2022, 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM BST. A panel discussion with global experts about integrating real-world evidence into the development of clinical trials on cannabis products | Canadian Childhood Cannabinoid Clinical Trials (C4T), Canada

National survey about alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs currently in the field

In mid-2022, the AIHW will manage the fieldwork for its National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS). The survey is a national household survey of randomly selected persons aged 14 years and over living in residential dwellings. The fieldwork is being conducted by Roy Morgan. The survey started in 1985 and is held every 3 years. The 2022 survey is the 14th in the series | AIHW, Australia

Underworld figure charged with directing massive drug smuggling operation from inside prison

The head of a Melbourne-based organised crime gang has been charged with directing a massive drug smuggling operation from inside Barwon Prison following a phone tapping sting by the Australian Federal Police | Age, Australia

Meth use rises significantly during August lockdown, remains elevated

Police wastewater figures show use more than doubled between July and September 2021, and has stayed well above the historical average right through to January 2022, the most recent available figures showed | RNZ, New Zealand


Blogs, comment and opinion

Drug Related Deaths Summit: Urgent and united action needed to curb rising drug related death toll

Third sector and NHS healthcare experts to unite at historic summit and pledge to deal with the escalating drug related death crisis | Collective Voice blog, UK

We are repeating mistakes from the 1970s when it comes to antidepressants

We could and should draw on the experience of women who were prescribed benzodiazepines | Independent voices, UK

Understanding the health impacts of smoke-free prison policies

Dr Emily Tweed blogs for the SSA website about an evaluation of smoke-free prisons in Scotland. The policy could stand to produce major health benefits, but due to the centrality of tobacco to prison life, could put a strain on people already at high risk of poor mental health | SSA blog, UK

Russian Harm Reduction Director Condemns "Collaborationist" Requirements as Condition for Global Funding

TalkingDrugs has translated and published the position of Anya Sarang, director of Andrey Rylkov Foundation (recognized as a “foreign agent” in Russia), on Russia's war against Ukraine. The Andrey Rylkov Foundation promotes more tolerant and human drug policies in Russia, as well as support for people suffering health-related issues from drug use | Talking Drugs, UK

Points Interview: Harry Shapiro

Today we’re excited to feature a Points Interview with Harry Shapiro, the author of Fierce Chemistry: a History of UK Drug Wars (Amberley, 2021). Shapiro has had a long career in drugs information and advocacy, with key roles at the Institute for the Study of Drug Dependence and DrugScope. He is also an experienced music journalist. Shapiro’s previous books include Waiting for the Man: the Story of Drugs and Popular Music, and Shooting Stars: Drugs, Hollywood and the Movies | Points blog, USA

Pill testing really does reduce the risk of harm for drug users

Days out from the event, festival goers for Canberra’s Groovin the Moo festival were told the event would no longer be offering a free drug checking service after Pill Testing Australia, which provides the testing service, had public liability insurance withdrawn, without explanation from insurers | Conversation, Australia