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Where Next for Opioids and the Law? Despair, Harm Reduction, Lawsuits, and Regulatory Reform.

Burris S.

Public Health Rep. 2018 Jan/Feb;133(1):29-33. doi: 10.1177/0033354917743500. 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5805103/

USA. Slandering the Unborn - How bad science and a moral panic, fueled in part by the news media, demonized mothers and defamed a generation.

Legislative intrusion into the womb has a long history in the United States, and nowhere is this paternalism more forceful than when illegal drugs are part of the equation. If the country’s war on drugs functions as a system of social control, that control is doubly exercised when a fetus is involved. (New York Times, 28.12.2018)

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/12/28/opinion/crack-babies-racism.html

USA. Court rejects murder conviction for dealer in overdose death

A Mississippi appeals court has rejected a test case of whether drug dealers can be prosecuted for murder under state law when a drug user dies. (The State, USA, 08.09.2018)

https://www.thestate.com/news/politics-government/national-politics/article218054925.html

USA. Drug Use During Pregnancy Not Child Abuse -Pennsylvania Top Court

(Reuters) - A divided Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled on Friday that mothers who use illegal drugs during their pregnancies are not committing child abuse against their newly-born children. (Medscape, 31.12.2018)

https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/907076

USA. Florida ‘Pill Mill’ Doctor, Staff Sentenced After 1.2 Million Doses

A South Florida doctor was sentenced to six and a half years in prison for conspiring to prescribe more than a million doses of addictive opioid-based painkillers such as Percocet and OxyContin in exchange for cash. (Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), USA, 07.09.2018)

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/8571-florida-pill-mill-doctor-staff-sentenced-after-1-2-million-doses

USA. Drug Use During Pregnancy Not Child Abuse -Pennsylvania Top Court

(Reuters) - A divided Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled on Friday that mothers who use illegal drugs during their pregnancies are not committing child abuse against their newly-born children. (Medscape, 31.12.2018)

https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/907076

Kolumbien. Colombia plans to rewind liberal drug possession laws

Colombian president Ivan Duque on Sunday announced measures that will see police be given the powers to confiscate minimum doses of drugs that were previously legalized for personal use.

Duque declared that he is keeping “one of the promises I made to Colombians in the campaign” by rolling back measures introduced by his predecessor Juan Manuel Santos that aimed to decriminalize the consumer. (Colombia Reports, 03.09.2018)

https://colombiareports.com/colombias-president-duque-to-introduce-measures-to-again-criminalize-personal-drug-possession/

EMCDDA. Cannabis control and the right to privacy

In 2018 the highest courts in countries across three continents have asserted that state intervention in the private life of their citizens who wish to (grow and) use cannabis is not always justified. (EMCDDA, Lissabon, 03.01.2019)

http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/news/2019/cannabis-control-and-the-right-to-privacy_en

USA. California lawmakers vote to wipe out old pot convictions

When California voters approved Proposition 64 in November 2016, they OK'd more than the legalization of recreational marijuana. They authorized allowing people to petition the judicial system to have their old pot convictions expunged. (CNN, 23.08.2018)

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/08/23/politics/california-marijuana-convictions-trnd/index.html

USA. Drug Use During Pregnancy Not Child Abuse -Pennsylvania Top Court

(Reuters) - A divided Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled on Friday that mothers who use illegal drugs during their pregnancies are not committing child abuse against their newly-born children. (Medscape, 31.12.2018)

https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/907076

USA. Prosecuting Dealers for Opioid Deaths Called ‘Bad Justice Policy’

Prosecutors across the country have been expanding the use of stiff penalties targeted at drug dealers whose clients have died as a result of using their product, in efforts to combat the opioid crisis. Heavier sentences that in some cases are equated with a murder charge not only “send a message” to dealers but will prevent further drug-related deaths, supporters claim.

But a new study says such prosecutions for “drug-induced homicides” have the opposite effect. (thecrimereport.org, USA. 20.08.2018)

https://thecrimereport.org/2018/08/20/prosecuting-dealers-for-opioid-deaths-called-bad-justice-policy/#

Inconsistencies in the assumptions linking punitive sanctions and use of cannabis and new psychoactive substances in Europe.

Hughes B, Matias J, Griffiths P.

Addiction. 2018 Dec;113(12):2155-2157. doi: 10.1111/add.14372. 

https://idpc.net/publications/2018/11/inconsistencies-in-the-assumptions-linking-punitive-sanctions-and-use-of-cannabis-and-new-psychoactive-substances-in-europe

USA. Surgeon Gets Life in Prison for Role in Opioid Death

Johnny Clyde Benjamin, MD, an orthopedic surgeon in Florida, was sentenced to life in prison on July 6 in a federal district court in Fort Lauderdale for his role in the overdose death of a 34-year-old woman, according to the US Department of Justice. (Medscape, 13.07.2018)

https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/899317

Auslandsreisen unter Substitutionsbehandlung mit Methadon oder Buprenorphin. 

Gauss, Hartmann (2018)

Akzeptanzorientierte Drogenarbeit / Acceptance-Oriented Drug Work 15:1-16,

https://indro-online.de/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/gauss2018.pdf

USA. It’s time for methadone to be prescribed as part of primary care

Opioid use disorder, which claims 115 lives a day by overdose in the United States, is a complex, chronic medical condition, but one that can be successfully treated with proven medications. And yet, one of the oldest and most effective medications to treat this disorder — methadone — is out of reach for many people, largely due to outdated federal laws.

Of the three medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat opioid use disorder, federal law relegates only methadone to be dispensed in separate clinics apart from the general health care system. It’s not unusual for methadone clinics to be in out-of-the-way locations and often inaccessible by public transportation, especially in rural and suburban communities. When individuals trying to break an addiction to opioids can’t get to a methadone clinic on a daily basis, they can’t get treatment. (STAT, USA, 05.07.2018)

https://www.statnews.com/2018/07/05/methadone-prescribed-primary-care/

Europa. Europe gets stronger system to tackle new psychoactive substances: New legislation, bringing faster response to new drugs, applies from today

Europe’s ability to rapidly respond to public health and social threats caused by new psychoactive substances (NPS/‘new drugs’) will be significantly strengthened, thanks to new legislation applying from today (1).

The legislation — applicable across Europe from 23 November 2018 — strengthens the EU Early Warning System (EU EWS) and risk assessment procedures on NPS and shortens control processes. The legislation comes in response to the recent growth in the availability of NPS and follows proposals from the European Commission (EC). (EMCDDA, Lissabon, 23.11.2018)

http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/news/2018/8/new-legislation-brings-faster-response-to-new-psychoactive-substances_en

USA. The Feds Are Raiding the Offices of Doctors Who Prescribe Addiction Medication

Addiction doctors are worried about federal retribution against their treatment programs, and they're terrified for their patients, whose lives are at risk from overdose. (tonic.vice.com, USA, 06.06.2018)

https://tonic.vice.com/en_us/article/8xevwb/dea-raids-addiction-doctors

Frankreich. France introduces fixed fine for drug use

The French Assemblée Nationale has voted to introduce a fixed €200 fine for the use of narcotics - and cannabis in particular - in an effort to step up the fight against illegal drugs.

The bill was adopted on Friday November 23, by 28 votes in favour, and 14 against. It will introduce a €200 fixed punishment fine for the illicit use of drugs, with cannabis especially targeted.

Since 1970 in France, illegal drug use - of any kind - has been associated with up to a year in prison and a fine of up to €3,750; but this was rarely enforced for the use of drugs such as cannabis. (connexionfrance.com, Frankreich, 25.11.2018)

https://www.connexionfrance.com/French-news/France-Assemblee-Nationale-introduces-fixed-200-euro-fine-for-narcotics-use-especially-cannabis

Portugal. How Portugal Is Kicking its Heroin Habit (Video)

Back in the 1990s, Portugal faced a heroin crisis. Most people knew someone affected by the lethal drug. Just two decades later, the country has one of the lowest drug-related death rates in the world. This dramatic turnaround isn't credited to a hard-line approach, but instead by decriminalizing all drugs. (Bloomberg, 24.05.2018, Video, 03:42)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lba9nkK-DDY

Australien. Bulletin No. 26: Models for the decriminalisation of the personal use and possession of drugs

Alison Ritter, Caitlin Hughes, Marian Shanahan

The aim of this document is to provide a relatively simple summary of the various models for the decriminalisation of personal use/possession of illicit drugs. We take current Australian laws as our starting point, and describe four possible models with reference to Australia. Nonetheless this work is also relevant for other countries.

UNNSW – University of New South Wales, Australien, 2018

http://unsworks.unsw.edu.au/fapi/datastream/unsworks:53087/bin4ea31882-2195-4a20-a32f-678b55c4b5e0

Schweiz. Bedingte Geldstrafe für Psychiater wegen fahrlässiger Tötung

Das Bundesgericht hat die Verurteilung eines Psychiaters wegen fahrlässiger Tötung bestätigt, der einem Gefängnisinsassen Methadon und Valium verschrieben hatte. Das Zusammenwirken der Substanzen führte zum Tod des Gefangenen. (Luzerner Zeitung, Schweiz, 01.06.2018)

https://www.luzernerzeitung.ch/newsticker/schweiz/bedingte-geldstrafe-fur-psychiater-wegen-fahrlassiger-totung-ld.1025400

The elegant way to end global cannabis prohibition: Inter se modification (Video)

Around the world, a growing number of countries have realised that cannabis prohibition has done more harm than good. It has led to heavy burdens on criminal justice systems, discrimination and marginalisation of various social groups, as well as damaging impacts on public health and security. Since the 1970s, governments around the world have begun experimenting with lenient approaches toward cannabis. A number of U.S. states decriminalised cannabis possession for personal use, followed by a "quiet revolution” of decriminalisation and of legalisation of medical cannabis in Europe and the Americas. In 2013, Uruguay became the first country in the world to introduce an all-encompassing system of legal regulation for cannabis use, distribution, and production. This major achievement coincided with similar victories in the U.S. states of Colorado and Washington, and a few years later in several more states. Canada’s bill C-45 to regulate cannabis will come into effect on October 17th, pilot projects for a regulated cannabis supply will soon start in the Netherlands and Switzerland, and several more countries are now considering to move in the same direction. However, countries that embrace legal regulation find themselves in breach of international law. In this video, we explain a strategy to resolve those treaty tensions and to enable progressive and sustainable change at the global level. (Transnational Institute. Niederlande, 17.10.2018)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GDAmkioz5g

Schottland. Minor drug users 'should not be charged'

A Scottish government adviser has said people caught with small amounts of illegal substances should no longer be prosecuted. 

Dr Roy Robertson wants the country's forthcoming substance misuse strategy to "support rather than penalise". 

He warned of a drug death "epidemic" and called for radical changes to how the country tackles drug abuse. 

His call was backed by Police Scotland's substance misuse lead, Ch Insp Allan Elderbrant. 

Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell agreed that there needed to be "innovative solutions to meet the challenges that Scotland has" with substance abuse. (BBC, 20.05.2018)

https://www.bbc.com/news/amp/uk-scotland-44140440

Statement by the International Narcotics Control Board on the entry into force of Bill C-45 legalising cannabis for non-medical purposes in Canada

VIENNA - On the occasion of the entry into force of Bill C-45 which legalises cannabis for non-medical purposes in Canada, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) reiterates its regret at the adoption of this measure by the Government of Canada. (UN Information Service, 17.10.2018)

http://www.incb.org/incb/en/news/press-releases/2018/statement-by-the-international-narcotics-control-board-on-the-entry-into-force-of-bill-c-45-legalising-cannabis-for-non-medical-purposes-in-canada.html

USA. This algorithm is quickly clearing old marijuana convictions in San Francisco

Now that weed is legal in California, people with old marijuana arrests can have their records cleared. Code for America, working with the SF District Attorney’s office, built a system to quickly find which people were eligible, and fill out their paperwork for them. (fastcompany.com, USA, 15.05.2018)

https://www.fastcompany.com/40572854/this-algorithm-is-quickly-clearing-old-marijuana-convictions-in-san-francisco

UN drugs board slams Canada cannabis legalization

After recreational marijuana became legal in Canada, the Vienna-based International Narcotics Control Board slammed the decision in a statement calling the step incompatible with UN international drug treaties. (DW – Deutsche Welle, 17.10.2018)

https://www.dw.com/en/un-drugs-board-slams-canada-cannabis-legalization/a-45932578

Finnland. 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 (Terveyden ja hyvinvoinnin laitos – THL), which operates under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. On February 13, Professor Pekka Hakkarainen – the head of THL’s Alcohol, Drugs, and Addictions Unit, and Tuukka Tammi – a senior researcher at the institute, wrote an article calling for all drug use to be decriminalised across the country. The experts said that ending criminal sanctions for drug use would reduce the marginalisation of young people, and encourage people who use drugs to engage with health and social services. (Talking Drugs, UK, 27.02.2018)

https://www.talkingdrugs.org/finland-drug-use-decriminalisation-call

USA. Feds charge 5 New York doctors with prescribing 8.5 million opioid pills

Federal authorities indicted five New York City-area doctors Thursday for writing more than 8.5 million allegedly unnecessary opioid prescriptions. (NBC News, USA, 12.10.2018)

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/crime-courts/feds-charge-5-new-york-doctors-prescribing-8-5-million-n918966

USA. DOJ to support lawsuits against companies selling opioids

The Justice Department says it will support local officials in hundreds of lawsuits against manufacturers and distributors of powerful opioid painkillers.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the announcement Tuesday. He says it's the first action by a newly formed task force that aims to more aggressively target drug makers and distributors of the medications that are fueling the nation's drug abuse epidemic. (MedicalXpress, 27.02.2018)

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-02-doj-lawsuits-companies-opioids.html

USA. New FBI Report: Every 20 seconds, someone is arrested for a drug law violation in the U.S. 

According to the FBI’s latest Uniform Crime Report, released today, law enforcement agencies in the U.S. made 1.63 million arrests for drug law violations in 2017, a 3.83% increase over the previous year. More than 85% of these arrests – over 1.4 million – were simply for drug possession. (DPA – Drug Policy Alliance, USA, 24.10.2018)

http://www.drugpolicy.org/blog/new-fbi-report-every-20-seconds-someone-arrested-drug-law-violation-us