Drugs in the news

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  • The harm reduction movement needs to rediscover its soul

    Harm reduction is not just an HIV intervention – it is a basic human right that should be available to everyone
    The Influence (US)
    Friday, August 5, 2016

    People who use drugs are being marginalized even within the world of harm reduction advocacy; they were rendered virtually invisible at the AIDS2016 conference in Durban. The true spirit of the original harm reduction movement is about meeting people where they are at, without judgement, and helping them find them achieve their drug use aims (including abstinence) in the way that causes the least harm to them, irrespective of the current legal and policy framework.

  • Colombia’s new, legal drug barons focus on medical marijuana

    Businesses in Colombia like PharmaCielo believe they can establish a foothold in the drug industry
    The New York Times (US)
    Thursday, August 4, 2016

    colombia-pharmacieloLast year, President Juan Manuel Santos spearheaded an overhaul of Colombia’s 30-year-old drug laws, which formally legalized medical marijuana for domestic use. Crucially, the new law also allowed the commercial cultivation, processing and export of medical marijuana products — like oils and creams — although not the flower, the part of the plant normally rolled into a joint. Officials hope the move will put a dent in Colombia’s drug trafficking business by creating a legal opportunity in an industry historically controlled by the black market.

  • Why is coca leaf left out of the drug research renaissance?

    Years of bad science have blurred the line between plant and drug
    Inverse (US)
    Wednesday, August 3, 2016

    coca2While marijuana, magic mushrooms, and ayahuasca have all found their way into research labs, coca leaf, the mother of cocaine, seems to be off-limits, despite evidence that the plant is a nutritional powerhouse and potential wellspring of medical cures. “In theory, coca would be eligible for medical uses,” says Pien Metaal of the Transnational Institute (TNI). “But it has never been seriously recognized because of the stigma it has, caused by its content of the alkaloid cocaine.”

  • Too near our doorsteps: guns and the war on drugs

    How many deaths will be enough for us to say “Enough!”?
    The Inquirer (Phillipines)
    Tuesday, August 2, 2016

    Rodrigo DuterteThe spate of killings in the Phillipines has clearly drawn the divide – on the surface, between the rich and poor, but at the core, between those who have access to firearms and those who don’t. Stories abound, both in mainstream media and around neighborhood sari-sari stores, about people getting killed: some known to have been involved in drugs, others just unfortunate souls. It’s estimated that an average of 10 people die every day, courtesy of the new administration’s “war on drugs.” (See also: Over 300 NGOs call on the United Nations to take immediate action on the hundreds of extrajudicial killings)

  • The dark side of Duterte's deadly but popular drugs war

    Duterte has not condemned vigilante killings. He has previously promoted them
    Reuters (UK)
    Monday, August 1, 2016

    When the image of Jennelyn Olaires weeping as she cradled the body of her slain husband went viral in the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte called it melodramatic. There's not much Duterte hasn't said when it comes to his war on drugs, his only real election platform and his big promise to the 16 million Filipinos who swept him to power in May by a massive margin. Hundreds of suspected drug dealers have been killed since Duterte took office just one month ago. (See also: Philippine crime war packs decaying jails)

  • Legalize pot, but bring in quality controls

    Where dispensaries get their product from is one of the most uncomfortable and most-avoided questions
    The Globe and Mail (Canada)
    Sunday, July 31, 2016

    canada-pot-flag3The take-home message from a Globe and Mail investigation that tested pot purchased in dispensaries for chemicals, is a lack of quality controls on moulds and bacteria, as well as for their level of cannabinoids such as THC and CBN, the active and so-called medicinal ingredients of marijuana. Beyond that, the articles serve as a reminder that, in the current environment, what is legal, tolerable and desirable is utterly unclear, and that lack of clarity serves no one. (See also: Unregulated medicinal-pot industry is putting consumers are risk)

  • Drug-testing at music festivals: Cocaine or concrete?

    Revellers get the chance to see if their illegal drugs are what they claim to be
    The Economist (UK)
    Saturday, July 30, 2016

    Backstage at many of Britain’s summer music festivals, suspicious pills and powders seized from tents are analysed by lab technicians. Usually it is to advise on-site doctors and police on what symptoms to look out for in people who become unwell. But this year, for the first time, festival-goers have been given the chance to get their illegal drugs tested before they take them. As police turned a blind eye, technicians of a non-profit organisation called The Loop analysed nearly 250 drug samples, mostly of ecstasy, cocaine and ketamine. (Drug-related deaths at highest levels since records began)

  • Indonesia: families told that 14 death row prisoners will be executed

    The attorney general’s office has provided scant details about the latest executions, the third round to take place under Widodo
    The Guardian (UK)
    Thursday, July 28, 2016

    Fourteen prisoners on death row, including inmates from Nigeria, Pakistan, India and South Africa, and four Indonesians, have been moved to isolation holding cells on Nusa Kambangan. Thirteen are men and one – Utami – is a woman. All were found guilty of drugs offences. Human rights groups argue that many of the cases of prisoners on death row in Indonesia – including some of the 14 facing execution this week – are marked by questionable and inhumane practices, including beatings, torture and forced confessions. (UN urges Indonesia to halt looming executions)

  • Marijuana legalization might be fix to nation’s opioid problems

    Cannabis often acts as an exit drug rather than as a supposed gateway
    The Hill (US)
    Thursday, July 28, 2016

    Proponents of marijuana prohibition have long alleged that experimentation with pot acts as a “gateway” to the use and eventual abuse of other illicit substances. But the results of a just released national poll finds that most Americans no longer believe this claim to be true. According to survey data compiled by YouGov.com, fewer than one in three US citizens agree with the statement, “the use of marijuana leads to the use of hard drugs.” Among those respondents under the age of 65, fewer than one in four agree.

  • Restrictions on pot-safety testing put public at risk, scientists warn

    Patients’ requests to have their federally licensed medical marijuana tested to ensure its safety are also blocked
    The Globe and Mail (Canada)
    Thursday, July 28, 2016

    Health Canada’s restrictive approach to marijuana safety testing is putting the public at risk, a growing chorus of scientists and activists warns – saying consumers are potentially being exposed to contamination in products that are widely accessible since the federal Liberals took power promising legalization. A number of laboratories accredited by Health Canada say the regulator has repeatedly discouraged them from analyzing any cannabis that does not come directly from one of the country’s 31 licensed medical marijuana producers. (Medical marijuana: Does research back up claims of therapeutic benefits?)

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