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Exclusive: Trump finalizing opioid plan that includes death penalty for dealers

The Trump administration is finalizing a long-awaited plan that it says will solve the opioid crisis, but it also calls for law enforcement measures — like the death penalty for some drug dealers — that public health advocates and congressional Republicans warn will detract from efforts to reverse the epidemic. […]

NZ: Calls for early warning system over potentially harmful drugs

A drug harm reduction advocate says an “early warning system” needs to be set up to prevent drug harm in New Zealand. Wendy Allison is director of Know Your Stuff – a group that lets people test their drugs at music festivals. She put out an alert about N-Ethylpentylone three weeks before the mass hospitalisation. […]

Longer jail sentences will do nothing to solve the synthetic cannabis epidemic

We need to extend treatment services to effectively cover substances like synthetic cannabis, while implementing an early warning system to enable urgent action when particular drugs are becoming a problem. We need to make it easier for agencies at the coal face of dealing with the consequences of addiction to drugs to liaise with each other. […]

The Left Needs to Care About the Opioid Crisis

There will be a day when our demands for justice and our calls for compassion stretch to those whom movement politics have largely left out over the past half century. A day when we do not ask, “What did they do to themselves to end up here?” And instead ask, “How did we let this happen?” […]

Why it’s not ‘enabling’ to make drug use safer

When people feel valued rather than judged, regardless of whether they continue to take drugs, they begin to value themselves more. Once people feel safe and cared for, it’s much easier to make changes that otherwise frighten them. As with needle exchange and heroin prescribing, frequent safe infection facilities users are more likely to seek further help, not less. […]

EU Calls on Member States to Find Alternatives to Coercive Sanctions for Drug Users

This centralised decision to implement alternatives to the existing sanctions is a good omen for drug reformers. By encouraging the suspension of investigation and prosecution of drug users, and promoting the implementation of measures focusing on education, treatment and social reintegration, the European Union is alluding a decriminalisation of drug use in its member states. […]

Poke greed every day

While the question of cannabis reform has become a question of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’, the focus now needs to be on accelerating the process and ensuring legalisation is done right. Securing that is, as Dr. Wodak suggests, “an issue for our generation.” Many of us will have to deal with the social costs that stem from drug use being painted as deviant. […]

People With Drug Offenses in Australia Face Housing Ban

Social workers and drug policy experts have expressed concern over the NSW government strategy to give criminal background checks to public housing applicants. Many say that housing is a key part of recovery, and that this won’t help those people get off drugs. […]

Trump Administration Looking into Death Penalty for Drug Dealers

Since President Trump has repeatedly expressed his desire to execute U.S. drug dealers, his administration is looking into a new policy allowing just that. The potential policy, which is being studied by the Department of Justice and the White House Domestic Policy Council, could include making the trafficking of large quantities of fentanyl a capital crime, as well as other ultra-severe penalties for drug offenders. […]

Crime Does Pay, The War On Drugs Doesn’t

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different outcome. John Ryan from the Penington Institute weighs in on Australia’s never-ending, never-winning war on drugs. […]

Australian state parliament due to table report on drug law reform

The state parliament of Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital, is due to table a report on drug law reform this month. Victorian Upper House MP Fiona Patten, who lobbied for the inquiry in 2015, said the criminalisation of drug use prevented detailed information on health effects from being distributed, according to the news outlet. […]

Duterte to skip ASEAN summit in Australia

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is skipping a regional summit in Australia this month, his spokesman said Monday, as he faces international censure for Manila’s deadly drug war. Duterte’s decision to snub the meeting comes after he said he would not cooperate with United Nations investigators looking into alleged extrajudicial killings during the narcotics crackdown, which has left thousands dead. […]

Controversial plan to drug test for welfare back on agenda

Controversial plans to drug test welfare recipients are back on the agenda after the coalition party room endorsed new proposed laws. The Turnbull government had originally hoped to drug test 5000 Newstart and Youth Allowance recipients across three trial sites in NSW, Queensland and Western Australia from January


Finland Health Experts Call for Decriminalisation of All Drug Use, Igniting Public Debate

Experts from the Finnish government’s leading health agency have called for the decriminalisation of all drug use, igniting a debate that has drawn in top politicians and police authorities. The call was made by two senior members of Finland’s National Institute for Health and Welfare which operates under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. […]

Media madness about methadone

On February 27th, A Current Affair launched an extraordinary attack on people who are prescribed methadone. The program deliberately used stigmatising language to describe people utilising a prescribed, evidence-based medical treatment. Methadone use was described as “deadly epidemic” that is “putting everyone at risk”, without presenting the plethora of evidence of the benefits of methadone treatment. […]

More than 100 killed since Philippine police returned to Duterte’s drug war

More than 100 drug suspects have been killed since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the police to rejoin his “war on drugs”, an official said Saturday (Mar 3). Duterte was elected in 2016 on a promise to eradicate drugs, and launched an unprecedented campaign in which – rights activists allege – as many as 12,000 people have been killed. […]

Trump Suggests Executing Drug Dealers to Solve Opioid Crisis

“Some countries have a very, very tough penalty — the ultimate penalty,” Trump said at a White House summit on the opioid crisis. “And, by the way, they have much less of a problem. If you shoot one person, you get life in prison,” he added. “These people kill 1,000, 2,000 people and nothing happens to them.” […]

Putting Pressure on the Philippines, Activists Call Out Drug War Human Rights Abuses at D.C. Embassy Demo

Protesters gathered at the Philippine embassy in D.C. Wednesday to call for an end to the drug war and freedom for a leading Duterte critic. Since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in June 2016, police and mysterious “vigilantes” have killed more than 16,000 alleged drug users and sellers in a massive wave of extrajudicial killings condemned by human rights organizations, the Catholic Church, and political figures around the globe. […]

The ‘Methadone madness’ story run by a current affairs program was highly irresponsible, writes Anthony Tassone

This disgraceful piece ignores official guidance, veers away from interviewing any health or medical expert and alarmingly and possibly deliberately uses the term ‘meth’ for convenience and further shock effect. The potential consequences of such a story could be patients reluctant to seek treatment and further misinformation being peddled in the community for what has been proven to be an effective treatment for drug addiction and harm minimisation. […]

The International Criminal Court challenges Duterte’s drug war

Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), announced that there would be a preliminary examination on extrajudicial killings in the context of police anti-drug operations. This is an important step forward for the many victims, advocates and international supporters who argue that justice is not possible within the Philippines when the highest levels of government have promised to protect the police from repercussions. […]

Let Cities Open Safe Injection Sites

Critics of such sites raise legitimate concerns about normalizing drug use that could be fatal. But so far, the wealth of available evidence shows two things: Most of America’s past policies have failed catastrophically, and the regions that have tried these sites have saved people. States and other cities should follow the lead of Seattle and Philadelphia to open safe injection sites. […]

‘Game Changing’ Medicinal Cannabis Laws: An interview with MLC Adam Searle

An Australian politician has finally drafted a law which seeks to provide access to medicinal cannabis and is broad enough to get real product into the hands of patients who desperately need it. Leader of the NSW Opposition in the Legislative Council Adam Searle introduced the Medicinal Cannabis (Compassionate Access) Bill 2018 into the state’s upper house on February 15. […]

Weed Campaigner Calls for Decriminalisation of Meth

” Prohibition and punishment has never stopped anyone from ruining their lives, all it has ever done is to make the vulnerable the prey of the criminals and added a terrible burden to that of addiction through the loss of reputation and opportunity by their treatment as criminals by our society and our judicial system.” […]

NZ: Methamphetamine set to overtake cannabis as biggest drug burden on our court system

Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell said a new approach was needed with Kiwis being some of the biggest meth users in the world. When the issue was tackled only through law enforcement and the criminal justice system, courts got clogged up, Bell said. “If you talk to cops they say you can’t arrest your way out of this problem.” […]

Science Proves Marijuana Is Not A Gateway Drug, And Never Was

According to Canadian brain researcher, Dr. Matthew Hill, “I’d say the whole idea of cannabis being a gateway drug is a debunked thing at this point. …I don’t think there’s any evidence to support that,” said Hill, who is an assistant professor at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary. […]

‘Truly it will save lives’: Dublin first supervised injecting centre

The country’s first supervised drug injecting centre will be operated by Merchants Quay Project. The new facility will provide access to clean, sterile injecting equipment and have trained staff on hand to provide emergency care in the event of an overdose. Staff will also provide advice on treatment and rehabilitation. Proponents of such centres argue that they also help alleviate the problems associated with injecting on the street, including drug-related litter. […]

We All Use Drugs, So Treat Drug Users as You Would Want to Be Treated

The war on drugs is really a war on us. It is time to decriminalize all drugs and stop arresting people simply for using or possessing a certain substance. We are all using drugs, most non-problematically. How can we allow the police to target, arrest and lock up our brothers and sisters in cages for something we are all doing? […]

The shortage of publicly-funded rehab beds in Victoria is driving people to move interstate. But for people struggling with addiction, like Kane, it’s not easy.

Victoria’s public rehab services are struggling with the demand, and private centres are fairing little better. Councils like Geelong and Shepparton have recently knocked back plans for private facilities in the face of staunch public opposition. In the midst of increasing addiction rates, many taxpayers refuse to see their money going into rehabilitation services. […]

Malaysia Set to Execute More People for Drug Offenses

Last month, six people were sentenced to death for drug trafficking by a Malaysian court. Two are Malaysian and the rest are Indian nationals – another country that maintains the death penalty for drug offenses. While Malaysia has taken steps to make the death penalty for certain drug offenses non-mandatory, slow implementation of the law and the retention of the death penalty means that many more will executed in the name of the war on drugs. […]

Teen widows and the war on drugs

“In a country with the highest teen pregnancy rates in the region, Durana is a teen mother. She has lost her coparent and breadwinner to a state-sanctioned drug war that has claimed the lives of thousands of mostly young men.


To Cut Drug Deaths, City Considers Sanctioned Places to Shoot Up

In 2016, the opioid epidemic claimed 1,374 lives in New York City. That’s roughly four drug overdose deaths each day. One death every seven hours. It’s a harrowing statistic that continues to soar, and New York City officials are floating an idea that so far has not been tried in the United States: sanctioned locations where drug users can shoot up under the supervision of medical staff ready to revive them if they overdose. […]

Rights groups laud Int’l Criminal Court preliminary examination of PH drug war

Human rights organizations lauded the decision of the International Criminal Court to conduct a preliminary examination of the killings under President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. Human Rights Watch called the ICC’s action as a “rebuke” of the government’s efforts to deny the existence of extrajudicial killings in the country. […]

How labels like ‘addict’ and ‘junkie’ mask class contempt for drug users

A recent report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy (GCDP) – a group of drug policy reformers including political and business personalities such as Kofi Annan, Richard Branson and Nick Clegg – challenged the stigma surrounding widely held preconceptions about problematic substance use. Many prejudiced views are embedded in the everyday language we use around drugs. […]

Jeff Sessions Makes False Link Between Marijuana and the Opioid Crisis

A study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2014 found that the ten states that legalized medical marijuana between 1999 and 2010 saw significantly fewer opioid deaths compared to states that completely outlaw pot. And in a report published just this week by the RAND Corporation, the 2014 findings were confirmed — though the new study found that the reduction in opioid deaths was the strongest in states that permitted medical marijuana dispensaries to open up. […]

ICC to examine Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ in Philippines

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutors have opened a preliminary examination into Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs”, which has led to the deaths of thousands since it began in July 2016. Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said on Thursday the examination was a review of whether crimes against humanity had been committed and whether the Hague-based court might have jurisdiction to eventually bring suspects to trial. […]

Time to think about decriminalising dope

We spend millions searching for and incarcerating people for growing and selling a bit of dope. Who are we to tell someone what they should or shouldn’t do with their lives, so long as they do not directly affect the lives of others? Why not spend all that money actually helping people if they have a drug problem? […]

Safe drug injection sites in San Francisco expected to open in July, be first in nation

The San Francisco Health Commission on Tuesday voted unanimously to support the opening of safe injection sites, which will offer intravenous drug users a clean spot to inject drugs, despite the fact that this drug use is against the law and could draw the ire of the Trump Administration. This vote comes after years of hard work from activists in the liberal city who have steadily argued that it’s important to have these sites, which would have proper hygiene supplies, a trained staff, needle disposal boxes, and access to drug counseling, SF Weekly reported. […]

NZ: Cannabis bills both miss the point

In a continuing effort to stem the tide of male bovine excrement from its polluting effect on our stream of rational consciousness, let’s all understand that, regardless of what opposition politicians claim, neither bill legalises cannabis. They both merely add an exemption from prosecution. […]

Why Legalizing Marijuana Makes Sense for New York

There is no reason why New York, a global economic powerhouse, should not be able to provide its residents with the same opportunities that are being afforded to individuals in states that are generating millions of dollars in revenue from legalization. New York State has the potential to generate billions of dollars in all types of tax revenues from the legalization of marijuana. […]

Nightfall in Philippine slum revives spectre of deaths in drugs war

Bullet-ridden corpses are found hours or even days later, often just a few minutes away, although police say there have been no illegal killings in their anti-drug campaign. Yet the frequent police operations and shadowy murders have hit the slum hard and those who live there say more blood has been spilled since Duterte was elected president on the promise to wipe out drugs and crime in six months.


Calls for use of medicinal cannabis for pain relief amid codeine restrictions

Doctors are concerned access to codeine – which is only available by prescription from today – has been cut off with no viable alternative. Canberra emergency doctor David Caldicott said the use of medicinal marijuana was an obvious solution for pain relief, which he believes is safer and more effective. […]

SF will wipe thousands of marijuana convictions off the books

San Francisco will retroactively apply California’s marijuana-legalization laws to past criminal cases, District Attorney Gascón said Wednesday — expunging or reducing misdemeanor and felony convictions going back decades. The unprecedented move will affect thousands of people whose marijuana convictions brand them with criminal histories that can hurt chances of finding jobs and obtaining some government benefits. […]

Why cannabis is a gateway drug in the right direction

For those who argue that cannabis is a gateway drug, they’re right. It’s a gateway to finally treating people who use and misuse ALL drugs that are currently illegal with compassion. Because it is not just those who are terminally ill who need our compassion and understanding. […]

NZ: Pass both bills: Medical cannabis campaigners to MPs

“Let the people have their say,” said medicinal cannabis patient Rebecca Reider. “The Government bill would force most cannabis patients to remain criminals. Patients are desperately hoping the Swarbrick bill will pass. If MPs have concerns they should let it get to select committee so those concerns can be answered.”


NZ: ‘They’re not doing it because they want to smoke weed’

“The people who are trying to access this medicine are not a bunch of hippies and stoners – they’re not doing it because they want to smoke weed, they’re doing it because they don’t want to be in pain. “And an extension of that, the people who will be cultivating it for them and preparing their oils and their ointments and stuff to relive their pain, they’re not Tony Montana, they’re not trying to make money out of this enterprise they’re trying to relive the suffering of the people that they love.” […]

Act now before more lives before lives are lost to drugs

The time has come for Victorians to take a stand to prevent serious harm and death from illegal drugs and that’s exactly what Buninyong MP Geoff Howard is doing about pill-testing at events like music festivals. Mr Howard believes pill-testing at events like Rainbow will help prevent hospitalisation or even deaths of people who really don’t know what substances they are putting in their mouths. […]

Government discussions on pill testing long overdue, says MP at Rainbow Serpent

President of Harm Reduction Australia Gino Vumbaca said government and society should not be afraid of the evidence that shows the benefits of pill testing. “We are not condoning drug use, but we are living in the real world,” Vumbaca said. “The pragmatic view is that there will be people who do take drugs and we should minimise the risk that can occur to them. […]

Safe Injection Facilities Save Lives

The evidence for increased safety is compelling. At Insite, a safe-injection site in Vancouver, there was a 35 percent reduction in fatal overdoses in the area around the facility, compared with a 9.3 percent reduction in other parts of the city that may have had other interventions. People who used Insite were also much less likely to share needles than individuals who shot up in unsupervised places. […]

Pill testing push, Vic man still critical

Greens leader Richard Di Natale said Premier Andrews needed to “get his head out of the sand” and acknowledge that young people would experiment with drugs. “When Australia was confronted with the HIV epidemic in the ’80s, we were one of the first countries on earth to provide injecting drug users with clean needles,” Senator Di Natale told reporters on Monday. […]

Pill testing is proven. I Am Hardstyle shows how much we need it

This debate has been raging for decades, but the time to act is now. Festival season is in full swing and although the police presence usually verges on the military, with vigorous searches and barking police dogs greeting revellers as they enter, at every festival young people will be taking ecstasy pills and MDMA to enhance their experience. […]

No pill testing: Daniel Andrews stays firm on state policy

Premier Daniel Andrews says he will not reconsider his opposition to recreational drug testing despite a mass overdose on Friday night at a Festival Hall rave. But Yarra Drug and Health Forum executive director and former police officer Greg Denham said drug testing would certainly reduce the risk, particularly when there was a bad batch. […]

8 Things We Now Know That Happen (and That Don’t Happen) When We Legalize Marijuana

The prophets of doom warned of all manner of social ills that would arise if marijuana were legalized. From hordes of dope-addled youths aimlessly wandering the streets to red-eyed carnage on the highway, the divinations were dire. And they were wrong. In a report released Tuesday the Drug Policy Alliance takes a long look at just what has happened in the states have legalized weed. […]

Nine in hospital after suspected drug overdoses at Festival Hall dance party

Victorian Greens MP Colleen Hartland, who has been campaigning for pill testing to be made available at festivals and dance parties, said the overdoses once again highlighted the need for such a service. “What happens in Europe is people can anonymously give over their drugs, they are tested, and then an authority such as the health department or a police department actually issues timely warnings to people so they know that that particular drug is really dangerous.” […]

Warning about elephant sedative drug Carfentanil seized in Canberra

Emergency department doctor David Caldicott, who has been pushing for a drug testing trial in the ACT, said it was another example of how testing of drugs at the point of consumption could save lives. He warned while the best way to avoid harm was to avoid drugs, opioid addicts faced the most risk. […]

We now know sniffer dogs cost NSW more than $9m per

Today we’ve learned the New South Wales police detection dog unit – the largest in the country – costs more than $9 million per year. That’s not including the wages of the 6-12 officers who accompany the dogs on operations. Drug sniffer dogs have long been controversial, but the criticism has mostly focused on whether the dogs are any good at finding drugs, rather than the actual cost of the unit. […]

Norway is aiming to decriminalise drugs. The UK should choose legalisation

In the wake of Norway’s decision to decriminalise drugs, politicians from all parties should use this opportunity to take a different approach to our drug policy. By opting for legalisation, we can take the market out of the hands of criminals and raise some money for treating vulnerable users while we’re at it. […]

Legalising marijuana leads to significant drop in violent crime – study

The introduction of medical marijuana laws in the United States has led to a significant drop in violent crime. The decrease is strongest in areas closest to Mexico, where counties near the border experienced a 12.5 percent drop in violent crime, including murders, robberies and violent assaults.


Philippines: Duterte’s “drug war” claims 12,000+ lives

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s murderous “drug war” entered its second year in 2017, resulting in the killing of more than 12,000 drug suspects, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2018. Duterte has responded to increased criticism of his anti-drug campaign by impugning, harassing, and threatening critics of the government and human rights defenders. […]

Helen Clark pushes for drug laws to focus on treatment, not punishment

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark says people who use drugs are unfairly painted as criminals, and instead wants an evidence-based system based on treatment, social services and safe spaces. Clark is one of several prominent members – including former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and a dozen former heads of state – of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which advocates for less punitive drug laws. […]

Attitudes drive drug policy, not facts, says Global Commission

Terms such ‘drug user’, ‘drug abuser’, ‘addict’ and ‘junkie’ should be avoided as they are derogatory and dehumanise people who take drugs, fuelling harmful drug policies which affect their health and human rights. These views are voiced in a new report launched on 9 January by the Global Commission on Drug Policy – a leading advocate speaking to the failures of the international drug control regime and the repressive laws it has inspired. […]

New Zealand’s First Cannabis Grower Is Being Considered for Sainthood

Unlike other Europeans who scorned aboriginal medicine in favor of Western medicine, Aubert studied traditional Maori medicine and incorporated it into her healing practice. Aubert also recognized the medicinal properties of cannabis, and is believed to be the first New Zealander to ever cultivate the plant in the country. The prospective saint created numerous medicinal formulations, many of which contained cannabis extracts, and sales of these popular products provided the majority of the income for her convent. […]

US: Going After Weed in the Middle of a Deadly Opioid Crisis Is Insane

On Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions opened a new front in the War on Weed, rescinding Obama-era policies that discouraged federal prosecution of pot crimes in legal-weed states. Given that study after study suggests marijuana availability is linked to lower overdose death rates, reduced use of opioids for chronic pain, and lower rates of opioid addiction, a stranger, more ill-advised policy is hard to imagine. […]

The World Drug Perception Problem

The fear of drugs has translated into messages for prevention that promote complete abstinence and state that all drugs are equally bad. However, providing information which is incomplete and often even incorrect lessens any chance of trust between the authorities and young people. A better way forward would be to offer honest information, 9 encourage moderation in youthful experimentation, and provide knowledge on safer practices. […]

There are more positive ways to engage an effective community response to methamphetamine

Why are the local media so interested in publishing stories updating their readership of the latest results of the national methamphetamine wastewater analysis competition? It provides the media with an opportunity to perpetuate the so called “ice epidemic” and associated moral panic. It is worth noting that the ACIC data does not mention cannabis, giving methamphetamine a much higher profile than it deserves. […]

Ineffective drug policies can no longer be ignored

Here is a plan for governments of all persuasions in 2018:

1. Convene a national summit to commit to introducing policies that reduce drug harm.

2. Redirect funding from ineffective policies and practices to those that are effective.

3. Stop criminalising people for the simple act of possessing or using drugs and expunge the existing records of people with such convictions […]

US: Stop Calling it an Opioid Crisis—It’s a Heroin and Fentanyl Crisis

This is a crisis caused by drug prohibition—an unintended consequence of nonmedical drug users accessing the black market in drugs. Policymakers should stop harassing doctors and their patients and shift the focus to reforming overall drug policy. A good place to start would be to implement harm reduction measures, such as safe syringe programs, making Medication Assisted Treatments like methadone and suboxone more readily available, and making the opioid antidote naloxone available over-the-counter, so it can be easier for opioid users to obtain. […]

Hailed NZ needle exchange turns 30

“Needle and syringe programmes are an important harm-reduction intervention,” says Kathryn Leafe, the current executive director of the NZ Needle Exchange Programme. “Harm reduction is based on empathy and a non-judgmental approach, working with people where they are at and however they understand their drug use.” This is the “support don’t punish” model. […]

Why Jeff Sessions’ War on Weed Is a Futile Pursuit

Jeff Sessions is leaving decisions about marijuana enforcement to his U.S. attorneys. They could impose huge disruptions on the legal, regulated marijuana business, which is bad enough, but they can’t bring back pot prohibition. Sessions is fighting a lonely, rear-guard battle not even supported by his own party or the president he serves. […]