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  • Trump calls for death penalties for drug dealers as focus of opioids plan

    Trump’s policy rollout focuses on punishment for dealers and traffickers but doesn’t propose new legislation to combat the crisis
    The Guardian (UK)
    Monday, March 19, 2018

    Donald Trump called for some drug dealers to receive the death penalty in a new opioids policy rollout in New Hampshire, a state hard hit by the national crisis. “We’re wasting our time if we don’t get tough with drug dealers, and that toughness includes the death penalty,” said Trump. Some states already charge drug dealers with murder if customers overdose. Drug-induced homicide laws, which emerged in the 1980s, are being used more frequently because of the opioids crisis, according to a November 2017 report by the Drug Policy Alliance. However, there is no evidence that such laws reduce drug use. (See also: Trump’s proposal to execute drug dealers has some fearing people of color will be harmed most)

  • Why is carrying or holding under 50g of marijuana not a criminal offence in the ACT?

    Criminalising young people is 'ludicrous and cruel'
    ABC (Australia)
    Sunday, March 18, 2018

    If you're caught with less than 50 grams of cannabis in Canberra, it's unlikely you'll end up with a criminal record. But just a few kilometres away in New South Wales, carrying the same amount of marijuana can mean a conviction or even jail time. The variation between drug laws in each jurisdiction is a complex issue. The ACT's scheme, called the Simple Cannabis Offence Notice (SCON), was first introduced in 1992 and amended in 2005 to exclude all hydroponically grown plants. It's part of a broader drug diversion strategy, which aims to move drug users away from the criminal justice system and into education and treatment programs.

  • Feds say 5 NYC doctors took bribes from drug maker to prescribe opioid

    An email from one sales representative gave explicit instructions on how many new patients were needed to help meet a company target
    NBC News (US)
    Friday, March 16, 2018

    Five Manhattan doctors were paid more than $800,000 by a pharmaceutical company to prescribe a spray version of the highly potent and addictive opioid fentanyl to more and more patients whether they needed it or not, according to an indictment handed up in federal court. The money was earmarked as "speaker fees" for educational lectures on the drug that the doctors had agreed to give to medical professionals. In reality, according to federal prosecutors, the "lectures" were just booze-fueled social gatherings, and the fees were kickbacks paid to prescribe the drug, Subsys.

  • Swiss Parliament adopt bill allowing studies and pilot projects with cannabis

    The Swiss Ministry of Health (BAG) had pointed out that the Narcotics Act must be amended and supplemented by an “experiment paragraph,” (US)
    Friday, March 16, 2018

    The Swiss Council of States has adopted a bill allowing studies and pilot projects with cannabis. The Council is calling for an experimental article in the Narcotics Act that allows for scientific research projects such as coffeeshop model trials or pilot programs. Five cities have requested such studies. The bill will now be presented to the National Council. Until now, these applications have been rejected because there was no legal basis for such exceptions in the Swiss Narcotics Act. Between 200,000 and 300,000 people in Switzerland regularly consume cannabis. In most cantons, the possession of up to 10 grams is not punished and public consumption is atoned for with a fine of 100 Swiss francs. (See also: Could medical cannabis be the next cash cow for Swiss farmers?)

  • There’s an opioid abuse problem unfolding in African cities and it’s not getting the attention it needs

    The WHO is concerned that scheduling Tramadol could inadvertently limit the licit use of the medication especially in the developing world where effective pain relief is already hard to come by
    Friday, March 16, 2018

    TramadolAfrica remains one of the regions least served with effective pain relief medicine and although Tramadol is not the strongest of analgesics, it is a darling on prescription lists. That’s because unlike other opioids such as methadone and fentanyl, Tramadol is not internationally regulated, hence it is cheap and readily available for patients. Doctors prescribe Tramadol in cases of post-surgical pain, bone deficiencies and cancer and the medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) classifies it among its ‘essential drugs’ list. However, in the last decade, the continent has seen a significant rise in the non-medical use of Tramadol, which produces similar effects to the “high” caused by heroin.

  • Duterte to withdraw Philippines from ICC after 'outrageous attacks'

    Reuters (UK)
    Tuesday, March 14, 2018

    The Philippines said it is withdrawing from the International Criminal Court (ICC) due to what President Rodrigo Duterte called “outrageous” attacks by U.N. officials and violations of due process by the ICC. The decision marks a stunning about-face by Duterte, who has repeatedly dared the ICC to indict him and said he was willing to “rot in jail” or go on trial to defend a war on drugs that has killed thousands of his own people. In a 15-page statement Duterte said he was withdrawing from the ICC’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute, because of “baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks” by U.N. officials, and ICC actions that he said failed to follow due process and presumption of innocence. (See also: How to leave the ICC)

  • Narcopisos: Spain's 'drug flats' give focus for fight against heroin threat

    Neighbourhood groups want more action from police and politicians to shut down apartments
    The Guardian (UK)
    Monday, March 12, 2018

    el ravalEmpty properties in El Raval (Barcelona), many of which are owned by banks and investment funds following Spain’s property crash, serve as distribution-points-cum-shooting galleries; places where people come to buy, smoke and inject cheap heroin. Three decades after the drugs epidemic that ravaged Spain in the 1980s, the proliferation of narcopisos in Barcelona, Madrid, Seville and Valencia is a reminder that heroin is far from gone – even if times have changed. Barcelona’s city council has spent €500,000 on securing properties in Raval and cleaning up the area, but they have limited powers and the dealers are much more agile than the courts and the police.

  • Sessions: US prosecutors won’t take on small-time pot cases

    It remains to be seen whether prosecutors will seek to punish state-sanctioned pot businesses
    Associated Press (US)
    Saturday, March 10, 2018

    Federal prosecutors won’t take on small-time marijuana cases, despite the Justice Department’s decision to lift an Obama-era policy that discouraged U.S. authorities from cracking down on the pot trade in states where the drug is legal, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. Federal law enforcement lacks the resources to take on “routine cases” and will continue to focus on drug gangs and larger conspiracies. The comments come after the Trump administration in January threw the burgeoning marijuana legalization movement into uncertainty by reversing the largely hands-off approach that prevailed during the Obama administration, saying federal prosecutors should instead handle marijuana cases however they see fit.

  • Colombia looks to become the world’s supplier of legal pot

    The biggest potential market, the United States, remains closed off, with even states that have legalized use banning cannabis imports
    The Washington Post (US)
    Saturday, March 10, 2018

    Tens of thousands of Colombians died in the U.S.-backed war on drugs. But after an official about-face on marijuana, Colombia is looking to exchange gun-toting traffickers for corporate backers in a bid to become the Saudi Arabia of legal pot. Two years ago, the country passed a landmark law legalizing medical marijuana for both domestic use and export, laying the groundwork for the new industry. The government started handing out the first licenses to grow, process and export medicinal cannabis in September and has approved 33 companies so far. Legal growers such as Canadian-owned PharmaCielo are now raising test crops for upcoming product lines, with the first commercial sales and exports slated for the coming weeks and months.

  • FDA is using 'bad science' by claiming kratom is an opioid

    Thirty-five thousand Americans have signed a petition urging the White House to step in and conduct real research on kratom
    The Hill (US)
    Friday, March 9, 2018

    Last month, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) continued its attacks on kratom, a natural plant used by millions of Americans for an improved quality of life and pain reduction. According to the FDA, kratom should be banned for its opioid-like qualities, its potential deadliness, and its link to 23 salmonella poisonings across the country. Let’s break down all of these falsehoods. First, regulation is the better approach than banning. Kratom users won’t go away if it’s made illegal; the plant has been imported for years because of its popularity and safe use in Asia.

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