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USA. Endocrinologist Allegedly Ran Pill Mill With Bike Gang, Murdered His Wife

A New Jersey endocrinologist, James Kauffman, MD, has been charged with arranging the murder of his wife, April Kauffman, who was a local radio host. She was shot dead aged 47 at their home five and a half years ago, in May 2012, and Dr Kauffman had been the subject of much speculation regarding her death, with her family long suspecting him of playing a role.

Prosecutors, who charged Dr Kauffman on Tuesday, outlined a lurid tale that they say led him to hire someone to kill his wife. This involved him running an opioid 'pill mill' together with a motorcycle gang called Pagan Outlaw according to a report on Philly.com. (Medscape, 11.01.2018)

https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/891192

USA. Preventing Opioid Overdose: Understanding Good Samaritan Laws

Overdose Good Samaritan laws are policies that provide legal protections for individuals who call for emergency assistance (such as 9-1-1) in the event of a drug overdose. This may include protection from arrest and/or prosecution for crimes related to drug possession, drug paraphernalia possession, and other crimes. These laws are designed to encourage people to summon emergency assistance if they experience or witness a drug overdose. (SAMHSA - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, USA, 08.11.2017)

https://www.samhsa.gov/capt/sites/default/files/resources/good-samaritan-law-tool.pdf

When 55-year-old Sheila Bartels left her doctor's office in Oklahoma, she had a prescription for 510 painkillers.

She died the same day of an overdose.

Her doctor, Regan Nichols, is now facing five second-degree murder charges—one for each patient who overdosed after she prescribed them opioid drugs, such as Oxycontin—prescriptions that can lead to addiction. (medicalxpress.com, 10.08.2017)

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-08-doctors-heart-opioid-crisis.html

Bolivien. Morales' Controversial Coca Law Backed by Bolivian Court

Coca has a unique history in Bolivia: considered a medicinal and religious plant by Indigenous communities, it's often used in teas and to combat altitude sickness.

Bolivian President Evo Morales has welcomed the decision of the country's highest court to declare as constitutional a controversial coca law that will boost legal cultivation. (telesur, 11.11.2017)

https://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Morales-Controversial-Coca-Law-Backed-by-Bolivian-Court-20171111-0022.html

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is taking action against an increasing number of doctors for prescribing opioids to patients who overdose, according to CNN.

The DEA took action against 479 doctors in 2016, compared with 88 doctors in 2011. (Partnership News Service Staff, 03.08.2017)

https://drugfree.org/learn/drug-and-alcohol-news/dea-takes-action-doctors-prescribing-opioids-patients-overdose/

USA. An Overdose Death Is Not Murder: Why Drug-Induced Homicide Laws Are Counterproductive and Inhumane

We are in the middle of a tragic increase in drug overdose deaths. Countless lives have been lost – each one leaving an irreparable rift in the hearts and lives of their families and friends. These tragedies are best honored by implementing evidence-based solutions that help individuals, families, and communities heal and that prevent additional avoidable deaths.

This report examines one strategy – “drug-induced homicide” – that the evidence suggests is intensifying, rather than helping, the problem and calls for leaders to turn toward proven measures to address rapidly increasing rates of overdose deaths.

What is “drug-induced homicide”?

Drug-induced homicide refers to the crime of delivering drugs that result in a death. (DPA, 06.11.2017)

http://www.drugpolicy.org/resource/DIH

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — After three defendants fatally overdosed in a single week last year, it became clear that Buffalo’s ordinary drug treatment court was no match for the heroin and painkiller crisis.

Now the city is experimenting with the nation’s first opioid crisis intervention court, which can get users into treatment within hours of their arrest instead of days, requires them to check in with a judge every day for a month instead of once a week, and puts them on strict curfews. Administering justice takes a back seat to the overarching goal of simply keeping defendants alive. (wtop – Washington’s Top News, 09.07.2017)

http://wtop.com/national/2017/07/goal-of-nations-first-opioid-court-keep-users-alive/

Italien. Italian court rules its 'okay for Rastafarians to smoke marijuana when meditating'

Lawyer successfully argues cannabis regarded as sacred to religion. (The Inedependent, UK, 02.11.2017)

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/marijuana-smoking-meditating-italian-court-rastafarian-cannabis-possession-a8033891.html

This report is the product of a comprehensive review of the public health and criminology literature, an analysis of drug policies in the U.S. and abroad, and input from experts in the fields of drug policy and criminal justice. By highlighting the benefits of eliminating criminal penalties for drug use and possession, we seek to provide policymakers, community leaders and advocates with evidence-based options for a new approach. (DPA – Drug Policy Alliance, USA, Juli 2017)

http://www.drugpolicy.org/sites/default/files/documents/Drug-Policy-Alliance-Time-to-Decriminalize-Report-July-2017.pdf

USA. Advocates Denounce White House Opioid Commission’s Emphasis on Drug Courts and Proposed Increase in Drug Sentences

Advocates Question How Opioid Commission’s Health-Focused Recommendations Fit With President Trump’s Escalation of War on Drugs. (drugpolicy.org, 01.11.2017)

http://www.drugpolicy.org/press-release/2017/11/advocates-denounce-white-house-opioid-commissions-emphasis-drug-courts-and

Prop. 64 legalized marijuana for adults 21 and over in California. It also allows individuals with prior marijuana convictions to apply to have their conviction dismissed. By reducing and removing these offenses from people’s records, Prop. 64 eliminates thousands of barriers that prevent people from reentering society after incarceration, obtaining employment, and getting a second shot at life. (DPA – Drug Policy Alliance, 20.06.2017)

http://www.drugpolicy.org/blog/cas-marijuana-law-retroactively-reducing-or-eliminating-peoples-records-changing-their-lives

This report analyzes the sentence commutations granted under the 2014 Clemency Initiative. It provides data concerning the offenders who received a sentence commutation under the initiative and the offenses for which they were incarcerated. It examines the extent of the sentence reductions resulting from the commutations and the conditions placed on commutations. It also provides an analysis of the extent to which these offenders appear to have met the announced criteria for the initiative. Finally, it provides an analysis of the number of offenders incarcerated at the time the initiative was announced who appear to have met the eligibility criteria for the initiative and the number of those offenders who received a sentence commutation. (United States Sentencing Commission, Published September 5, 2017)

https://www.ussc.gov/research/research-reports/analysis-implementation-2014-clemency-initiative

Drug courts in the United States routinely fail to provide adequate, medically-sound treatment for substance use disorders, with treatment plans that are at times designed and facilitated by individuals with little to no medical training.  In a report published today by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), researchers found that drug courts – designed to reduce incarceration and provide necessary treatment – struggle to meet medical and human rights standards. (PHR, Juni 2017)

http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/library/reports/neither-justice-nor-treatment.html

Managing Increasing Liability Risks Related to Opioid Prescribing

Yang, Y. Tony et al.

The American Journal of Medicine , Volume 130 , Issue 3 , 249 - 250

http://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(16)30932-9/fulltext

An Alabama internist who had received a second chance after running afoul of his state's licensing agency was sentenced last week in a federal district court to 10 years in prison for operating an opioid pill mill and laundering the illegal proceeds. (Medscape, 19.05.2017)

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/880220

A 93-year-old physician in Las Vegas, Nevada, was sentenced to 10 years in prison earlier this month for illegally prescribing oxycodone and, in the words of federal prosecutors, having "contributed to the opioid epidemic that plagues this community and nation." (Medscape, 14.08.2017)

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/884241