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USA. Physician 'Predator' Sentenced for Opioid-Related Patient Death; More

Thomas K. Ballard III, MD, of Jackson, Tennessee, pleaded guilty to causing the death of one of his patients in 2015 by illegally prescribing hydrocodone. He faces a minimum of 20 years in prison for one count of illegal drug distribution resulting in death. He will be sentenced in September. (Medscape, USA, 10.08.2021)

https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/956331

USA. Vermont becomes first state to legalize limited possession of buprenorphine

On Tuesday, Vermont became the first state in the nation to legalize possession of buprenorphine, a prescription drug used to treat opioid use disorder. 

This week, Gov. Phil Scott signed H.225, a bill that will allow people to possess up to 224 milligrams of the drug — roughly a two-week prescription of the substance — even if they don’t have permission from a doctor. Previously, that qualified as a misdemeanor. (VTDigger, USA, 03.06.2021)

https://vtdigger.org/2021/06/03/vermont-becomes-first-state-to-legalize-limited-possession-of-buprenorphine/

A public health based vision for the management and regulation of opioids. 

Emerson B, Haden M. 

Int J Drug Policy. 2021 Mar 27:103201. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2021.103201. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33785246.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0955395921000992#!

Drug Decriminalisation: Progress or Political Red Herring? Assessing the Impact of Current Models of Decriminalisation on People Who Use Drugs

International Network of People who Use Drugs, 2021

https://www.inpud.net/sites/default/files/INPUD_Decriminalisation%20report_online%20version.pdf

Schottland. Research and analysis: International Approaches to Drug Law Reform

This paper reviews the international evidence on approaches to drug law reform, focussing on case studies from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Portugal and The Netherlands. It seeks to support the ongoing development of innovative approaches to reducing drug harms, by identifying the impact of interventions abroad and situating them within their legal context. (Scottish Government, 05.03.2021)

https://www.gov.scot/publications/international-approaches-drug-law-reform/

USA. Green Twp. doctor who prescribed 'unjustifiable' amounts of pain pills sentenced to 3 years

A 71-year-old orthopedic surgeon who prosecutors said prescribed dangerous and “unjustifiable” amounts of pain pills to his patients was sentenced Monday to more than three years in prison. (Cincinnati Enquirer, USA, 01.03.2021)

https://eu.cincinnati.com/story/news/2021/03/01/green-township-surgeon-pain-pills-case-sentenced-3-years/6871675002/

USA. Opioid Deaths Spark Push to Ease Buprenorphine Rules 

With drug overdose deaths soaring during the pandemic to the highest levels ever recorded, a growing chorus of medical experts is calling on the federal government to deregulate the addiction treatment medication buprenorphine.

They argue that a requirement that doctors take an 8-hour course and submit to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) oversight has stymied the drug’s availability. (Pew Trust, USA, 16.02.2021)

https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2021/02/16/opioid-deaths-spark-push-to-ease-buprenorphine-rules

EMCDDA. Maximising access to drug treatment while minimising diversion of medications — new EMCDDA report looks at striking the balance

Opioid substitution treatment (OST) is a key evidence-based tool used to manage opioid dependence and improve related health and social consequences. Yet increasing reports of the diversion and misuse of the controlled drugs used in this treatment in Europe are a cause for concern. In a new report out today, the EMCDDA highlights the various dimensions of the issue and the importance of balanced policies that maximise access to treatment while minimising diversion and misuse. (Lissabon, 11.02.2021)

https://www.emcdda.europa.eu/system/files/publications/13547/TD0121046ENN.pdf

Kanada. Canada considering drug decriminalization to fight overdose crisis

TORONTO. Canada’s federal government is considering decriminalization of the possession of opioids and other illicit drugs in its efforts to tackle a spiraling overdose crisis, a government official said this week, even as data show the number of charges rising. (Reuters, 29.01.2021)

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-canada-drugs/canada-considering-drug-decriminalization-to-fight-overdose-crisis-idUSKBN29Y2FM

USA. Starting Monday, Oregon spearheading drug decriminalization

Ballot Measure 110 goes into effect Feb. 1, and all eyes are turned to Oregon as it embarks on being the first state in the nation to decriminalize the personal possession of hard drugs such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and oxycodone. (The Register Guard, USA, 31.01.2021)

https://eu.registerguard.com/story/news/2021/01/31/faq-measure-110-goes-into-effect-feb-1-need-know-drug-decriminalization/4235674001/

Schottland. Drugs activist Peter Krykant ready to go to court as he fights to save addicts

Peter Krykant was charged with an offence and cautioned in October. (Daily Record, UK, 11.12.2020)

https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/drugs-activist-peter-krykant-ready-23149903

Recreational cannabis supply approved by voters in four US states but rejected in New Zealand

(EMCDDA, Lissabon 07.12.2020)

https://www.emcdda.europa.eu/news/2020/recreational-cannabis-supply-approved-voters-four-us-states-rejected-new-zealand_en

A Brief History of Cannabis and the Drug Conventions. 

Collins, J. (2020). 

AJIL Unbound, 114, 279-284. doi:10.1017/aju.2020.55

https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/A8547C998A1D05173495BCD6012329C0/S2398772320000550a.pdf/brief_history_of_cannabis_and_the_drug_conventions.pdf

USA. Dr.Opioid

William O’Brien was a well-heeled doctor with a thriving Philadelphia medical practice. He was also at the center of a massive painkiller supply chain run by an outlaw biker gang. (Huffington Post, USA, 28.10.2020)

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/opioid-doctors-philadelphia-william-obrien_n_5f99c7f5c5b6c7fe582b5e31

Principles for the responsible legal regulation of cannabis

In recent years, discussions on the legal regulation of drugs – and in particular of cannabis – have moved in from the margins of drug policy debates. As of today, over 50 countries have adopted regulatory frameworks for medical cannabis, while a growing number of jurisdictions have regulated adult non-medical use, with many more poised to follow. As these legal frameworks are put in place, it is essential that they are designed to advance social justice, inclusion and human rights. (IDPC, UK, 09.09.2020)

https://idpc.net/publications/2020/09/principles-for-the-responsible-legal-regulation-of-cannabis

USA. National Health Care Fraud and Opioid Takedown results in charges against 345 defendants responsible for more than $6 billion in alleged fraud losses 

Largest health care fraud and opioid enforcement action in Department of Justice history. (DEA – Drug Enforcement Administration, USA, 30.09.2020)

https://www.dea.gov/press-releases/2020/09/30/national-health-care-fraud-and-opioid-takedown-results-charges-against

Commentary on Shi & Liang (2020): Has cannabis legalization increased acute cannabis‐related harms?. 

Hall, W., and Stjepanović, D. (2020) 

Addiction, 115: 1900– 1901. doi.org/10.1111/add.15064

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/add.15064

Kanada. How Decriminalizing Drug Possession Can Improve Public Health

Activists and police say drug addiction is a public health issue, not a criminal one. (The Runner, Kanada, 11.08.2020)

https://runnermag.ca/2020/08/how-decriminalizing-drug-possession-can-improve-public-health/

Kanada. Federal prosecutors told to avoid drug possession charges when possible in new directive

Charges should be sought only in 'most serious cases,' says director of public prosecutions. (CBC, Kanada, 19.08.2020)

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/simple-drug-possession-change-1.5657423

USA. West Virginia Doctor Convicted of Illegal Opioid Distribution

A federal jury has convicted a West Virginia physician of 17 counts of illegal distribution of controlled substances.

Ricky L. Houdersheldt, DO, 68, of Hurricane, West Virginia, faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine, according to his initial indictment filed in September 2019. (Medscape, USA, 14.08.2020)

USA. West Virginia Doctor Convicted of Illegal Opioid Distribution

USA. Addiction Specialist Charged in $681 Million Treatment Fraud Case

The federal government has charged a Florida addiction medicine specialist in what it says was a scheme to defraud Medicare and private insurers, charging them roughly $681 million over about a decade for lab tests, office visits, therapy sessions, and other services that were either unnecessary or never delivered. (Medscape Medical News, USA, 03.08.2020)

www.medscape.com/viewarticle/935119

Kanada. Methadose class-action lawsuit filed against B.C.

Laura Shaver had abstained from using illicit opioids for about seven years when British Columbia replaced its supply of methadone with a new version called Methadose.

The change in 2014, which affected all of the province’s roughly 15,000 methadone patients at the time, led Ms. Shaver to experience debilitating withdrawal symptoms that she thought she had left behind for good.

Ms. Shaver is now the lead plaintiff in a proposed class-action lawsuit filed against the B.C. Ministry of Health, the College of Pharmacists of B.C., and the maker of Methadose. (Globe and Mail, Kanada, 06.06.2020)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/british-columbia/article-methadose-class-action-lawsuit-filed-against-bc/

Italien. Gerichtsurteil in Rom: In Italien darf Cannabis jetzt zuhause angebaut werden

Italiens Oberstes Gericht erlaubt erstmalig den Cannabisanbau in Kleinstmengen. Linke Politiker begrüßen das Urteil, die Lega Nord kündigt Widerstand an. (Tagesspiegel, 27.12.2019)

https://www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/gerichtsurteil-in-rom-in-italien-darf-cannabis-jetzt-zuhause-angebaut-werden/25370534.html

Schweiz. 10 Jahre Betäubungsmittelgesetz - Überlegungen für die Zukunft

Eidgenössische Kommission für Suchtfragen (EKSF), 10.09.2019 

https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/de/home/das-bag/organisation/ausserparlamentarische-kommissionen/eidgenoessische-kommission-fuer-suchtfragen.html

Schweiz. Ambros Uchtenhagen: Soll man Cannabis legalisieren?

Der Bundesrat befürwortet Pilotstudien über mögliche Folgen eines freien Cannabiskonsums. Ein Blick in die USA zeigt die Risiken einer Zulassung.Die Schweiz sollte auf ihre bewährte Drogenpolitik setzen. (Weltwoche Nr. 29.19, Schweiz, 18.07.2019)

https://www.isgf.uzh.ch/dam/jcr:a43194de-dea3-4955-9455-dd89035b64c7/WEW_29_022_CANNABIS.pdf

Luxemburg. Luxembourg to be first European country to legalise cannabis 

Health minister confirms plans and calls on neighbouring countries to relax their laws. (The Guardian, UK, 07.08.2019)

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/07/luxembourg-to-be-first-european-country-to-legalise-cannabis

USA. New York State Decriminalizes Recreational Marijuana Use

New York state this week decriminalized recreational marijuana use, Reuters reports. Possession of small amounts of marijuana will be punished with fines instead of jail time. (Partnership News Service Staff, USA, 01.08.2019)

https://drugfree.org/learn/drug-and-alcohol-news/new-york-state-decriminalizes-recreational-marijuana-use

GCDP. Classification of Psychoactive Substances: when science was left behind

In Classification of Drugs: when science was left behind, the Global Commission on Drug Policy explains how the biased historical classification of psychoactive substances has contributed to the "world drug problem". It is the first-ever comprehensive report providing a political reading of the current evaluation and classification, or "scheduling" of drugs according to their harms.

Psychoactive substances should be classified with regard to their potential for dependence and other harms. This is not the case today, where some substances are legally available because they are considered beneficial (medicines) or culturally important (alcohol), while others are seen as destructive, and are strictly prohibited. The classification of drugs is at the core of the international drug control system. As such, governments must ensure that such a classification is pragmatic and based on science and evidence, makes clear the benefits and harms of drugs, and allows for responsible legal regulatory models to control drugs. (The Global Commission on Drug Policy, Schweiz, Juni 2019)

http://www.globalcommissionondrugs.org/reports/classification-psychoactive-substances

Kanda. Canada passes law to speed pardons for pot possession

TORONTO. The Canadian government passed a law late on Wednesday that would allow its citizens with a criminal record for marijuana possession to be pardoned without any cost and expedite a process that previously could take up a decade. (Reuters, 20.06.2019)

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-canada-marijuana/canada-passes-law-to-speed-pardons-for-pot-possession-idUSKCN1TL1XQ

USA/Denver. Denver first in U.S. to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms 

Psilocybin possession would remain illegal but would become police’s “lowest law-enforcement priority” (Denver Post, USA, 08.05.2019)

https://www.denverpost.com/2019/05/08/denver-psychedelic-magic-mushroom