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The surrender of more than 2,000 minors involved in drugs in Cebu shows the need to step up efforts to educate the youth on the ill effects of illegal drugs. The Cebu Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Office has produced a module on this for integration in Grades 7 to 9 classes starting this school year.

Jane Gurrea, Education Supervisor I of the Department of Education’s Division of Cebu Province, says anti-drug activities in schools have been strengthened by a memorandum issued by the department mandating the establishment of Barkada Kontra Droga chapters in schools.

Barkada Kontra Droga is a preventive education and information program to counter the dangers of drug abuse. HALF of the 2,203 minors rounded up under Project Tokhang were out-of-school youth, according to data collected by the Police Regional Office 7 from July 1, 2016 to Feb. 2, 2017.

Tokhang is the Philippine National Police’s program to knock on the doors of homes to persuade those suspected of involvement in illegal drugs to surrender. Some 2,166 of the minors in Cebu were drug users, 28 were sellers, while nine were mules. Could the rampant involvement of out-of-school youth in drugs have been prevented if Section 46 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 had been implemented?

Section 46 requires the establishment of a Special Drug Education Center (SDEC) for out-of-school youth and street children in every province to implement drug abuse prevention programs and activities. The SDEC should be led by the Provincial Social Welfare Officer. “Cebu Province still has to establish one,” however, said Grace Yana, social welfare officer  in charge of social technology unit of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) . But areas in Cebu with active Pag-Asa Youth Association of the Philippines (PYAP) chapters, like Talisay, Naga, Danao and Mandaue cities, already have SDECs, she said. PYAP is the organization of out-of-school youth organized by the local government units.

“When the local government units hear the word center, they think they will need a building, and it needs a budget. So we tell them, even if it’s just a corner,” Yana said of the challenges of setting up the SDEC. Cebu Province may not have an SDEC, but the Cebu Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Office (Cpadao) unveiled last November Project YMAD (Youth Making a Difference) that aims to provide out-of-school youth with socio-economic, physical, psychological, cultural and spiritual support through the PYAP.

Barkada Kontra Droga For in-school youth, the Cpadao is facilitating the implementation of the Barkada Kontra Droga drug prevention program, said Cpadao executive director Carmen Remedios Durano-Meca. Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) Regulation 5, Series of 2007 calls for the institutionalization of the Barkada Kontra Droga (BKD), a preventive education and information program to counter the dangers and disastrous effects of drug abuse. It empowers the individual to be the catalyst in his peer groups in advocating healthy and drug-free lifestyles, the regulation says. “Cpadao is the one facilitating that this be implemented in every school,” Meca said. “We tap the Supreme Student Government officers. We have a Student Assistance Program (SAP) designed to help children who get into trouble with drugs in the school setting.”

SAP includes an intervention program to reduce substance abuse and behavioral problems by having the parent-teacher association take up school and home concerns. Under SAP, which will be established through the guidance office, the school will establish drug policies and regulations.

In addition, Cpadao made a module, which it has given to the Department of Education (DepEd) to distribute to schools. “It’s been agreed to be integrated in the Grades 7, 8 and 9 classes starting school year 2017. It will be one hour a week from MAPEH (Music, Arts, Physical Education and Health) for the whole school year. Later, we plan to teach it to the younger children, like Grade 4,” she said. “We’ve had a review of the module,” Jane Gurrea, Education Supervisor I of DepEd’s Division of Cebu Province, said last month. “If we receive that module, this will be integrated initially for public schools as additional reference materials.”

The DepEd Division of Cebu Province covers the 44 towns in Cebu. This month, the division will have a training of teachers for the integration of drug abuse prevention education, which will include a discussion of the Cpadao module. But even now, under the present K to 12 curriculum, basic concepts on illegal drugs can already be tackled as early as in Grade 4, as teachers could integrate these concepts in subjects like Health, when the subject of medicine use and abuse is discussed, she said. Gurrea, who is also the National Drug Education Program coordinator in the Division, said drug prevention education can be taught in subjects dealing with values education, social studies or MAPEH. “For music, students can write a poem or song on drug use prevention. They can have role playing. In art, they can do drawing (on drugs).”

Additionally, under Section 42 of the Dangerous Drugs Act, all student councils and campus organizations in elementary and secondary schools should include in their activities “a program for the prevention of and deterrence in the use of dangerous drugs, and referral for treatment and rehabilitation of students for drug dependence.” It is unclear how actively these student groups have campaigned against illegal drugs, but Gurrea said that every third week of November, students join the celebration of Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Week under the Supreme Student Government.

“The officers have to campaign room to room to talk about issues related to prevention of drug use. In the public schools in rural areas, you can see signs on fences or pergolas saying, ‘Get high on grades, not on drugs.’ They invite speakers for drug symposiums, like the police,” she said. The Supreme Student Government is for high school, while the Supreme Pupil Government is for elementary school. “In every town, we have a federated Supreme Student Government (SSG) and Supreme Pupil Government (SPG), and also a Division Federation of SSG and SPG. One of the programs is drug education,” Gurrea said. The Department of Education mandates all schools to have a student council organization strengthened. Gurrea said the anti-drug activities in schools were already there, but the term Barkada Kontra Droga was not used then. It was only when the DepEd coordinated with Cpadao that the term BKD was used. With the assistance of Cpadao that spent for resource speakers and meals of the students last year, BKD was institutionalized. BKD was strengthened further by DepEd Memorandum 200, Series of 2016 issued on Nov. 23, 2016 mandating the establishment of BKD chapters in schools, Gurrea said. “With this institutionalization, on the part of the budget for activities, students now have access through the Municipal Anti-Drug Abuse Councils (Madac).

So instead of spending their SSG funds for their activities, they can present their planned activities to the Madac, from which they can seek financial or other assistance (like for speakers),” she said. With the memo, the SSG has been recognized as an entity, enabling it to connect with the community, such as with agencies and non-government organizations for anti-drug activities, she said. “We have continuous advocacy and awareness programs. Some schools have a walk for a cause or caravan,” Gurrea said. The public schools in the division also have their student handbook. “One thing stipulated there is that no student is allowed to be involved in illegal drugs. There are schools that let students sign that piece of paper containing the rules and regulations, for their commitment to follow the rules in that handbook,” she said.

So if awareness of the dangers of illegal drugs is not the problem, what accounts for the high number of minors involved in drugs? “We are looking at peer pressure or circumstances in the family,” Gurrea said.

Source:  http://www.sunstar.com.ph/cebu/local-news/2017/03/04/who-watching-children-529169

In Iceland, teenage smoking, drinking and drug use have been radically cut in the past 20 years. Emma Young finds out how they did it, and why other countries won’t follow suit

State funding for organised sport and other clubs has increased in Iceland to give kids new ways to feel like part of a group all pics: Dave Imms

It’s a little before three on a sunny Friday afternoon and Laugardalur Park, near central Reykjavik, looks practically deserted. There’s an occasional adult with a pushchair, but the park’s surrounded by apartment blocks and houses, and school’s out – so where are all the kids?

Walking with me are Gudberg Jónsson, a local psychologist, and Harvey Milkman, an American psychology professor who teaches for part of the year at Reykjavik University. Twenty years ago, says Gudberg, Icelandic teens were among the heaviest-drinking youths in Europe. “You couldn’t walk the streets in downtown Reykjavik on a Friday night because it felt unsafe,” adds Milkman. “There were hordes of teenagers getting in-your-face drunk.”

We approach a large building. “And here we have the indoor skating,” says Gudberg.

A couple of minutes ago, we passed two halls dedicated to badminton and ping pong. Here in the park, there’s also an athletics track, a geothermally heated swimming pool and – at last – some visible kids, excitedly playing football on an artificial pitch.

Young people aren’t hanging out in the park right now, Gudberg explains, because they’re in after-school classes in these facilities, or in clubs for music, dance or art. Or they might be on outings with their parents.

Today, Iceland tops the European table for the cleanest-living teens. The percentage of 15- and 16-year-olds who had been drunk in the previous month plummeted from 42 per cent in 1998 to 5 per cent in 2016. The percentage who have ever used cannabis is down from 17 per cent to 7 per cent. Those smoking cigarettes every day fell from 23 per cent to just 3 per cent.

The way the country has achieved this turnaround has been both radical and evidence-based, but it has relied a lot on what might be termed enforced common sense. “This is the most remarkably intense and profound study of stress in the lives of teenagers that I have ever seen,” says Milkman. “I’m just so impressed by how well it is working.”

The country has created new opportunities for kids of all ages to get involved with the community

If it was adopted in other countries, Milkman argues, the Icelandic model could benefit the general psychological and physical wellbeing of millions of kids, not to mention the coffers of healthcare agencies and broader society. It’s a big if.

“I was in the eye of the storm of the drug revolution,” Milkman explains over tea in his apartment in Reykjavik. In the early 1970s, when he was doing an internship at the Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital in New York City, “LSD was already in, and a lot of people

were smoking marijuana. And there was a lot of interest in why people took certain drugs.”

Milkman’s doctoral dissertation concluded that people would choose either heroin or amphetamines depending on how they liked to deal with stress. Heroin users wanted to numb themselves; amphetamine users wanted to actively confront it. After this work was published, he was among a group of researchers drafted by the US National Institute on Drug Abuse to answer questions such as: why do people start using drugs? Why do they continue? When do they reach a threshold to abuse? When do they stop? And when do they relapse?

“Any college kid could say: why do they start? Well, there’s availability, they’re risk-takers, alienation, maybe some depression,” he says. “But why do they continue? So I got to the question about the threshold for abuse and the lights went on – that’s when I had my version of the “aha” experience: they could be on the threshold for abuse before they even took the drug, because it was their style of coping that they were abusing.”

At Metropolitan State College of Denver, Milkman was instrumental in developing the idea that people were getting addicted to changes in brain chemistry. Kids who were “active confronters” were after a rush – they’d get it by stealing hubcaps and radios and later cars, or through stimulant drugs. Alcohol also alters brain chemistry, of course. It’s a sedative but it sedates the brain’s control first, which can remove inhibitions and, in limited doses, reduce anxiety.

“People can get addicted to drink, cars, money, sex, calories, cocaine – whatever,” says Milkman. “The idea of behavioural addiction became our trademark.”

This idea spawned another: “Why not orchestrate a social movement around natural highs: around people getting high on their own brain chemistry – because it seems obvious to me that people want to change their consciousness – without the deleterious effects of drugs?”

By 1992, his team in Denver had won a $1.2m government grant to form Project Self-Discovery, which offered teenagers natural-high alternatives to drugs and crime. They got referrals from teachers, school nurses and counsellors, taking in kids from the age of 14 who didn’t see themselves as needing treatment but who had problems with drugs or petty crime.

“We didn’t say to them, you’re coming in for treatment. We said, we’ll teach you anything you want to learn: music, dance, hip hop, art, martial arts.” The idea was that these different classes could provide a variety of alterations in the kids’ brain chemistry, and give them what they needed to cope better with life: some might crave an experience that could help reduce anxiety, others may be after a rush.

At the same time, the recruits got life-skills training, which focused on improving their thoughts about themselves and their lives, and the way they interacted with other people. “The main principle was that drug education doesn’t work because nobody pays attention to it. What is needed are the life skills to act on that information,” Milkman says. Kids were told it was a three-month programme. Some stayed five years.

It’s less common to see children out on the streets in Iceland, as many are in after-school programs and participating in recreational activities

In 1991, Milkman was invited to Iceland to talk about this work, his findings and ideas. He became a consultant to the first residential drug treatment centre for adolescents in

Iceland, in a town called Tindar. “It was designed around the idea of giving kids better things to do,” he explains. It was here that he met Gudberg, who was then a psychology undergraduate and a volunteer at Tindar. They have been close friends ever since.

Milkman started coming regularly to Iceland and giving talks. These talks, and Tindar, attracted the attention of a young researcher at the University of Iceland, called Inga Dóra Sigfúsdóttir. She wondered: what if you could use healthy alternatives to drugs and alcohol as part of a programme not to treat kids with problems, but to stop kids drinking or taking drugs in the first place?

Have you ever tried alcohol? If so, when did you last have a drink? Have you ever been drunk? Have you tried cigarettes? If so, how often do you smoke? How much time to you spend with your parents? Do you have a close relationship with your parents? What kind of activities do you take part in?

In 1992, 14-, 15- and 16-year-olds in every school in Iceland filled in a questionnaire with these kinds of questions. This process was then repeated in 1995 and 1997.

The results of these surveys were alarming. Nationally, almost 25 per cent were smoking every day, over 40 per cent had got drunk in the past month. But when the team drilled right down into the data, they could identify precisely which schools had the worst problems – and which had the least. Their analysis revealed clear differences between the lives of kids who took up drinking, smoking and other drugs, and those who didn’t. A few factors emerged as strongly protective: participation in organised activities – especially sport – three or four times a week, total time spent with parents during the week, feeling cared about at school, and not being outdoors in the late evenings.

“At that time, there had been all kinds of substance prevention efforts and programmes,” says Inga Dóra, who was a research assistant on the surveys. “Mostly they were built on education.” Kids were being warned about the dangers of drink and drugs, but, as Milkman had observed in the US, these programmes were not working. “We wanted to come up with a different approach.”

The mayor of Reykjavik, too, was interested in trying something new, and many parents felt the same, adds Jón Sigfússon, Inga Dóra’s colleague and brother. Jón had young daughters at the time and joined her new Icelandic Centre for Social Research and Analysis when it was set up in 1999. “The situation was bad,” he says. “It was obvious something had to be done.”

Using the survey data and insights from research including Milkman’s, a new national plan was gradually introduced. It was called Youth in Iceland.

Laws were changed. It became illegal to buy tobacco under the age of 18 and alcohol under the age of 20, and tobacco and alcohol advertising was banned. Links between parents and school were strengthened through parental organisations which by law had to be established in every school, along with school councils with parent representatives. Parents were encouraged to attend talks on the importance of spending a quantity of time with their children rather than occasional “quality time”, on talking to their kids about their lives, on knowing who their kids were friends with, and on keeping their children home in the evenings.

A law was also passed prohibiting children aged between 13 and 16 from being outside after 10pm in winter and midnight in summer. It’s still in effect today.

Home and School, the national umbrella body for parental organisations, introduced agreements for parents to sign. The content varies depending on the age group, and individual organisations can decide what they want to include. For kids aged 13 and up, parents can pledge to follow all the recommendations, and also, for example, not to allow their kids to have unsupervised parties, not to buy alcohol for minors, and to keep an eye on the wellbeing of other children.

These agreements educate parents but also help to strengthen their authority in the home, argues Hrefna Sigurjónsdóttir, director of Home and School. “Then it becomes harder to use the oldest excuse in the book: ‘But everybody else can!’”

State funding was increased for organised sport, music, art, dance and other clubs, to give kids alternative ways to feel part of a group, and to feel good, rather than through using alcohol and drugs, and kids from low-income families received help to take part. In Reykjavik, for instance, where more than a third of the country’s population lives, a Leisure Card gives families 35,000 krona (£250) per year per child to pay for recreational activities.

Children between the ages of 13 and 16 are prohibited from being outside after 10pm

Crucially, the surveys have continued. Each year, almost every child in Iceland completes one. This means up-to-date, reliable data is always available.

Between 1997 and 2012, the percentage of kids aged 15 and 16 who reported often or almost always spending time with their parents on weekdays doubled – from 23 per cent to 46 per cent – and the percentage who participated in organised sports at least four times a week increased from 24 per cent to 42 per cent. Meanwhile, cigarette smoking, drinking and cannabis use in this age group plummeted.

“Although this cannot be shown in the form of a causal relationship – which is a good example of why primary prevention methods are sometimes hard to sell to scientists – the trend is very clear,” notes Álfgeir Kristjánsson, who worked on the data and is now at the West Virginia University School of Public Health in the US. “Protective factors have gone up, risk factors down, and substance use has gone down – and more consistently in Iceland than in any other European country.”

Jón Sigfússon apologies for being just a couple of minutes late. “I was on a crisis call!” He prefers not to say precisely to where, but it was to one of the cities elsewhere in the world that has now adopted, in part, the Youth in Iceland ideas.

Youth in Europe, which Jón heads, began in 2006 after the already-remarkable Icelandic data was presented at a European Cities Against Drugs meeting and, he recalls, “People asked: what are you doing?”

Participation in Youth in Europe is at a municipal level rather than being led by national governments. In the first year, there were eight municipalities. To date, 35 have taken part, across 17 countries, varying from some areas where just a few schools take part to Tarragona in Spain, where 4,200 15-year-olds are involved. The method is always the same: Jón and his team talk to local officials and devise a questionnaire with the same core questions as those used in Iceland plus any locally tailored extras. For example, online gambling has recently emerged as a big problem in a few areas, and local officials want to know if it’s linked to other risky behaviour.

Just two months after the questionnaires are returned to Iceland, the team sends back an initial report with the results, plus information on how they compare with other participating regions. “We always say that, like vegetables, information has to be fresh,” says Jón. “If you bring these findings a year later, people would say, Oh, this was a long time ago and maybe things have changed…” As well as fresh, it has to be local so that schools, parents and officials can see exactly what problems exist in which areas.

The team has analysed 99,000 questionnaires from places as far afield as the Faroe Islands, Malta and Romania – as well as South Korea and, very recently, Nairobi and Guinea-Bissau. Broadly, the results show that when it comes to teen substance use, the same protective and risk factors identified in Iceland apply everywhere. There are some differences: in one location (in a country “on the Baltic Sea”), participation in organised sport actually emerged as a risk factor. Further investigation revealed that this was because young ex-military men who were keen on muscle-building drugs, drinking and smoking were running the clubs. Here, then, was a well-defined, immediate, local problem that could be addressed.

While Jón and his team offer advice and information on what has been found to work in Iceland, it’s up to individual communities to decide what to do in the light of their results. Occasionally, they do nothing. One predominantly Muslim country, which he prefers not to identify, rejected the data because it revealed an unpalatable level of alcohol consumption. In other cities – such as the origin of Jón’s “crisis call” – there is an openness to the data and there is money, but he has observed that it can be much more difficult to secure and maintain funding for health prevention strategies than for treatments.

No other country has made changes on the scale seen in Iceland. When asked if anyone has copied the laws to keep children indoors in the evening, Jón smiles. “Even Sweden laughs and calls it the child curfew!”

Across Europe, rates of teen alcohol and drug use have generally improved over the past 20 years, though nowhere as dramatically as in Iceland, and the reasons for improvements are not necessarily linked to strategies that foster teen wellbeing. In the UK, for example, the fact that teens are now spending more time at home interacting online rather than in person could be one of the major reasons for the drop in alcohol consumption.

But Kaunas, in Lithuania, is one example of what can happen through active intervention. Since 2006, the city has administered the questionnaires five times, and schools, parents, healthcare organisations, churches, the police and social services have come together to try to improve kids’ wellbeing and curb substance use. For instance, parents get eight or nine free parenting sessions each year, and a new programme provides extra funding for public institutions and NGOs working in mental health promotion and stress management. In 2015, the city started offering free sports activities on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and there are plans to introduce a free ride service for low-income families, to help kids who don’t live close to the facilities to attend.

Between 2006 and 2014, the number of 15- and 16-year-olds in Kaunas who reported getting drunk in the past 30 days fell by about a quarter, and daily smoking fell by more than 30 per cent.

At the moment, participation in Youth in Europe is a haphazard affair, and the team in Iceland is small. Jón would like to see a centralised body with its own dedicated funding to focus on the expansion of Youth in Europe. “Even though we have been doing this for

ten years, it is not our full, main job. We would like somebody to copy this and maintain it all over Europe,” he says. “And why only Europe?”

After our walk through Laugardalur Park, Gudberg Jónsson invites us back to his home. Outside, in the garden, his two elder sons, Jón Konrád, who’s 21, and Birgir Ísar, who’s 15, talk to me about drinking and smoking. Jón does drink alcohol, but Birgir says he doesn’t know anyone at his school who smokes or drinks. We also talk about football training: Birgir trains five or six times a week; Jón, who is in his first year of a business degree at the University of Iceland, trains five times a week. They both started regular after-school training when they were six years old.

“We have all these instruments at home,” their father told me earlier. “We tried to get them into music. We used to have a horse. My wife is really into horse riding. But it didn’t happen. In the end, soccer was their selection.”

Did it ever feel like too much? Was there pressure to train when they’d rather have been doing something else? “No, we just had fun playing football,” says Birgir. Jón adds, “We tried it and got used to it, and so we kept on doing it.”

It’s not all they do. While Gudberg and his wife Thórunn don’t consciously plan for a certain number of hours each week with their three sons, they do try to take them regularly to the movies, the theatre, restaurants, hiking, fishing and, when Iceland’s sheep are brought down from the highlands each September, even on family sheep-herding outings.

Jón and Birgir may be exceptionally keen on football, and talented (Jón has been offered a soccer scholarship to the Metropolitan State University of Denver, and a few weeks after we meet, Birgir is selected to play for the under-17 national team). But could the significant rise in the percentage of kids who take part in organised sport four or more times a week be bringing benefits beyond raising healthier children?

Could it, for instance, have anything to do with Iceland’s crushing defeat of England in the Euro 2016 football championship? When asked, Inga Dóra Sigfúsdóttir, who was voted Woman of the Year in Iceland in 2016, smiles: “There is also the success in music, like Of Monsters and Men [an indie folk-pop group from Reykjavik]. These are young people who have been pushed into organised work. Some people have thanked me,” she says, with a wink.

Elsewhere, cities that have joined Youth in Europe are reporting other benefits. In Bucharest, for example, the rate of teen suicides is dropping alongside use of drink and drugs. In Kaunas, the number of children committing crimes dropped by a third between 2014 and 2015.

As Inga Dóra says: “We learned through the studies that we need to create circumstances in which kids can lead healthy lives, and they do not need to use substances, because life is fun, and they have plenty to do – and they are supported by parents who will spend time with them.”

When it comes down to it, the messages – if not necessarily the methods – are straightforward. And when he looks at the results, Harvey Milkman thinks of his own country, the US. Could the Youth in Iceland model work there, too?

Three hundred and twenty-five million people versus 330,000. Thirty-three thousand gangs versus virtually none. Around 1.3 million homeless young people versus a handful.

Iceland’s government has made a long-term commitment to supporting the national project

Clearly, the US has challenges that Iceland does not. But the data from other parts of Europe, including cities such as Bucharest with major social problems and relative poverty, shows that the Icelandic model can work in very different cultures, Milkman argues. And the need in the US is high: underage drinking accounts for about 11 per cent of all alcohol consumed nationwide, and excessive drinking causes more than 4,300 deaths among under-21 year olds every year.

A national programme along the lines of Youth in Iceland is unlikely to be introduced in the US, however. One major obstacle is that while in Iceland there is long-term commitment to the national project, community health programmes in the US are usually funded by short-term grants.

Milkman has learned the hard way that even widely applauded, gold-standard youth programmes aren’t always expanded, or even sustained. “With Project Self-Discovery, it seemed like we had the best programme in the world,” he says. “I was invited to the White House twice. It won national awards. I was thinking: this will be replicated in every town and village. But it wasn’t.”

He thinks that is because you can’t prescribe a generic model to every community because they don’t all have the same resources. Any move towards giving kids in the US the opportunities to participate in the kinds of activities now common in Iceland, and so helping them to stay away from alcohol and other drugs, will depend on building on what already exists. “You have to rely on the resources of the community,” he says.

His colleague Álfgeir Kristjánsson is introducing the Icelandic ideas to the state of West Virginia. Surveys are being given to kids at several middle and high schools in the state, and a community coordinator will help get the results out to parents and anyone else who could use them to help local kids. But it might be difficult to achieve the kinds of results seen in Iceland, he concedes.

Short-termism also impedes effective prevention strategies in the UK, says Michael O’Toole, CEO of Mentor, a charity that works to reduce alcohol and drug misuse in children and young people. Here, too, there is no national coordinated alcohol and drug prevention programme. It’s generally left to local authorities or to schools, which can often mean kids are simply given information about the dangers of drugs and alcohol – a strategy that, he agrees, evidence shows does not work.

O’Toole fully endorses the Icelandic focus on parents, school and the community all coming together to help support kids, and on parents or carers being engaged in young people’s lives. Improving support for kids could help in so many ways, he stresses. Even when it comes just to alcohol and smoking, there is plenty of data to show that the older a child is when they have their first drink or cigarette, the healthier they will be over the course of their life.

But not all the strategies would be acceptable in the UK – the child curfews being one, parental walks around neighbourhoods to identify children breaking the rules perhaps another. And a trial run by Mentor in Brighton that involved inviting parents into schools for workshops found that it was difficult to get them engaged.

Public wariness and an unwillingness to engage will be challenges wherever the Icelandic methods are proposed, thinks Milkman, and go to the heart of the balance of responsibility between states and citizens. “How much control do you want the government to have over what happens with your kids? Is this too much of the government meddling in how people live their lives?”

In Iceland, the relationship between people and the state has allowed an effective national programme to cut the rates of teenagers smoking and drinking to excess – and, in the process, brought families closer and helped kids to become healthier in all kinds of ways. Will no other country decide that these benefits are worth the costs?

Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/iceland-knows-how-to-stop-teen-substance-abuse-but-the-rest-of-the-world-isn-t-listening-a7526316.html  

Jamaica’s recent decriminalization of possession of up to two ounces of ganja is contributing to a dangerous practice that officials warn needs urgent attention.

Disturbing findings in the 2016 National Drug Prevalence Survey show that one in six males and 17 females drive under the influence, with most admitting to using ganja since it has been decriminalized.

Executive director of the National Council on Drug Abuse Michael Tucker has raised a red flag about the data, which he said highlights the fact that people behind the wheel as well as non-drivers are in serious danger.

He told the Jamaica Gleaner: “This is very troubling, as potentially these persons are not only a harm to themselves, but to other users of the road. Many times they might be carrying passengers, including children.”

More than 4,500 people across Jamaica participated in the survey conducted in April and July last year which sought to find out the pattern of substance abuse among citizens between 12 and 65, and attitudes towards ganja decriminalization, among other things. Tucker was particularly concerned that some of the frequent road users, including the drivers of public transport, were among the offenders.

“We don’t want to raise any alarm on a particular group of persons, but if you look at the population, I would assume that a reasonable number of them, (respondents) would have come from that group (bus drivers),” he said.

At the same time, vice-chairman of the National Road Safety Council Dr Lucien Jones lamented that the problems associated with drug use were often misunderstood and underestimated.  Pointing to police data, he noted that distracted driving has been identified as one of the main causes of accidents.

“It goes back to the basic problem we have on the road, which is indiscipline. It’s a mindset, which we are definitely trying to change. So it’s one other issue, apart from just driving recklessly on the road. It’s a major concern for us that people don’t understand the problems, which are associated with drug use,” Jones told The Gleaner.

Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has suggested that educating citizens about the effects of substance abuse is a key way to tackle the problem.

He noted that while Jamaica is positioning itself to be a major player in the marijuana industry, government would ensure that the drug is not misused or abuse.

Source:  http://www.caribbean360.com/news/jamaica_news/influence-jamaicans-driving-high#ixzz4WEiVvycI   Caribbean360 – January 18, 2017

Chandigarh: In a first of its kind strike in Punjab, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on Tuesday raided a wholesaler of ayurvedic drugs in Amritsar and recovered over 1,600 tablets of a drug called ‘Kamini’ containing afeem (laudanum), the purest form of opium. In the run-up to the elections, the Election Commission is keeping a close watch on drug abuse in the state.  Apart from Kamini Vidrawan Ras, which is sold at chemist shops as a herbal formulation, 44 small packs of Barshasha, a Unani preparation that contains pure opium, were also recovered from S A Medicine Center at Galia Road in Amritsar. Though the quantity of the drug recovered is not high, NCB zonal director Kaustubh Sharma confirmed that this was first such bust aimed at curtailing the misuse of ayurvedic drugs in Punjab.

“We had written to the ayurvedic department of the state government stating that some chemists were selling these drugs without maintaining proper records. Acting on a specific input we raided the wholesaler and found that he did not even have authorization to stock the medicine,” Sharma said.

Till late evening on Tuesday, officials were checking the records to find out how much drug the wholesaler was selling on a daily basis. An ayurvedic practitioner can prescribe the medicine and the chemist has to get a ‘Form C’ filled before selling the drug and maintain a record of the same. Though, the sale of these medicines is regulated by the ayurveda department of the state government but the chemists have to take authorization from the state drug controller (SDC) office as well.  After TOI reported unmonitored production of opioid-based painkiller tramadol, which is not covered under the NDPS Act, this is second major incident of medicine meant of other purposes being abuse by addicts.

In June 2015, TOI had first reported misuse of these ayurvedic formulations by drug addicts in Punjab, citing a study by PGI, Chandigarh. There had, however, been no major action taken by the authorities since.

Source:  http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/ayurvedic-chemist-selling-afeem-meds-raided-in-pb/articleshow/56331364.cms

Note:  Uruguayan legislator Sebastian Sabini, suggests future legalization of all drugs – starting with marijuana, then cocaine, then …??

Diego Prandini is bent over in a small, brightly lit room, watering marijuana plants of all shapes and sizes. He crawls into a corner to reach some smaller specimens, labelled with names like “Ushua” and “RGB1,” all of which will be part of the next two-kilogram harvest.

“I’ve been at this for seven hours today,” he says, standing and smiling. “So my back is starting to get a little tired.”

Until recently, this job would have been illegal, and he might have worked for dangerous narcotraficantes, perhaps in hidden in nearby Paraguay. But Prandini, 37 and sporting a T-shirt and mohawk, tends his plants in a pleasant middle-class neighborhood of Uruguay’s capital, and as a break, he heads downstairs to enjoy a joint with his co-workers and watch YouTube videos.

The copious smoke they blow out is visible from the street, and next door, their shop sells pipes, marijuana seeds and smoking paraphernalia. Some Brazilian tourists wander in, asking if they can buy some finished marijuana. They can’t.

It’s not legal to buy weed on the street in Uruguay — yet — but Prandini and his colleagues are taking advantage of Latin America’s first full pot legalization project, which has been carefully and gradually rolled out as Uruguay hopes to serve as a model for its neighbors and minimize unintended consequences of the effort.

The country now has many legal cannabis clubs, which pool resources to grow copious amounts of marijuana and distribute it to registered, paying members — no doctor’s note required — who can then smoke where they please. Legislation passed in 2013 also allows Uruguayan residents to sign up to grow plants at home for personal use; soon, pharmacies will begin selling small amounts of cannabis to enlisted users across the country.

Some here have criticized the slow, uneven pace of the program, but legislator Sebastian Sabini, one of the main proponents of the law, said that it is far more important to do the program right so that it serves as a model for legalizing other substances and ending the deadly and unproductive war on drugs.

“Latin America is one of the regions which has suffered the most from the politics of prohibition,” said Sabini, sitting in his congressional office in Montevideo decorated with a Che Guevara poster and a flier he picked up while visiting a marijuana shop in Colorado. “We have a low-intensity undeclared war in Mexico, with 25,000 disappeared and 60,000 killed in recent years; we have wide-scale impunity and areas where narco traffickers control daily life. We see drug groups donating to political campaigns, forming alliances with the state and infiltrating our institutions, all of which generates more violence than we already would have as a poor and unequal part of the world.”

The Uruguay program comes as states in the U.S. consider legalizing marijuana. On Tuesday, California, Nevada and Massachusetts voted to legalize pot for recreational use and a similar vote in Maine was too close to call.

In contrast with the United States, Uruguay aims to avoid the creation of lucrative marijuana businesses. Profits are tightly controlled, there are no brands and advertising is banned. It’s an approach Sabini would like to see extended to other intoxicating substances. He hopes that by proving careful regulation can prevent increased usage, decriminalization can be extended to cocaine. He also would like to ban all advertising on alcohol.

Uruguay, a quiet nation of just 3.5 million residents, is considered one of the most safe and stable countries in Latin America, and its residents enjoy a quality of life often approaching parts of Europe. It’s also often led other countries in the region in adopting liberal causes. The country legalized divorce and votes for women early in the 20th century, and more recently, popular former president José “Pepe” Mujica — a former left-wing guerrilla who ruled the country while driving around in an old Volkswagen Bug — oversaw the legalization of abortion and same-sex marriage, as well as the cannabis law.

Neighboring Brazil and Argentina have no plans to legalize marijuana, so Uruguay took steps to avoid becoming a marijuana tourist destination.

The cannabis registration program is only open to Uruguayans and long-term residents, which doesn’t stop Brazilians and Argentines from often stumbling into grow shops trying — and failing — to buy a gram of weed. Club members and home growers are technically prohibited from selling their finished product, but authorities admit many probably do so.

Since Uruguay passed its 2013 law, both Colombia and Chile have taken steps to legalize medical marijuana — allowing clubs to grow for personal use — but stopped far short of allowing cultivation and sale for recreational use.

Jorge Suarez, president of Uruguay’s Pharmacy Assn., says he sees no problem with eventually selling the product directly to tourists. “If Uruguayans can buy a little bit of the drug, why can’t they?”

Suarez has agreed to sell the drug when it becomes available, but he admits many of his colleagues have balked at being asked to sell a narcotic at low prices and have yet to sign up for the program.

“Many simple pharmacies say they don’t have much in the terms of security to protect a valuable product like that. But if we are selling it so cheap, and it’s everywhere, why would people rob us for that? I think they’d be more likely to ask for money or take our hair-care products, like they usually do,” he said.

The marijuana supplied to the shops is being mass produced by two companies licensed by the government, and the final launch of the pharmacy program is being held up by a postal service labor dispute.

Even as members of Uruguay’s smoking clubs say they strongly support the broad spirit of the law, some mumble about its specifics, saying they’re worried the pharmacy weed will be low-quality, or complaining that they should be able to use their growing experience to expand their small businesses and sell.

Laura Blanco, president of Uruguay’s Cannabis Studies Assn., admits she has her own small quibbles with the law. But she says it would be an error to go the more North American route and treat marijuana just like any other consumer good.

“We strongly defend a collective system not motivated by profit. Basically, because we believe that this needed to be separated from the market,” says Blanco, surrounded by American books from back to the ’60s and ’70s on marijuana and other drugs. “It’s a substance that changes your mind.”

Source:    http://www.latimes.com/world/mexico-americas/la-fg-uruguay-marijuana-20161109-story.html

Introduction

Within Jamaica there is a cultural belief that cannabis use is associated with enhanced creativity, improved concentration [1] and even improved reflexes [2]. These mythical beliefs have resulted in high rates of cannabis use, particularly among the youth, despite cannabis use being illegal in Jamaica.

A 1987 survey of patterns of substance misuse among post primary Jamaican students identified a 19.8% lifetime prevalence for cannabis use, while a 2000 Jamaican National School’s Survey found the lifetime prevalence to have increased to 26.9% [3]. Research findings have suggested that cannabis use may impair neuro-cognitive functioning [4-6].

However, some researchers have suggested that the residual effects of heavy cannabis use on cognitive functions are reversible, lasting only a few days after cessation [7].

Results from one longitudinal study found that cannabis use does not have a long-term negative impact on intelligence [9], while others have found that heavy cannabis users had memory and  learning impairments even after six weeks of supervised abstention [8].

There is a paucity of research on cannabis and neuro-cognitive performance in the Caribbean Region, including Jamaica.   Given the widespread use of cannabis and its easy availability for Jamaican adolescents, it is important to identify if there are any neuro-cognitive effects  associated  with cannabis use, among the youth population. This study therefore investigates whether cannabis use among Jamaican adolescent males will result in lowered performances on neurocognitive tasks.

Metabolites of cannabis in their urine, were excluded from the study. Cannabis users were required to abstain from using for a period of 24 – 48 hours prior to participating in the testing.

Of the 35 participants initially recruited for the cannabis use group, 3 were expelled from school and 2 chose to withdraw from the study. Of the 35 participants in the non-user control group, 3 were excluded from the study because their urine contained metabolites of cannabis. A total of 30 cannabis users and 32 non-users were inter viewed for the study. version 14 (SPSS v.14) and t-tests were conducted to assess if there were any significant differences between the performances of cannabis users and non-users.

Discussion

The mean age of cannabis initiation in this study was found to be early adolescence as seen in other Caribbean studies [3,11].  As adolescence is the developmental period  for

experimentation and risky behaviours,  along with the cultural acceptability of cannabis use during adolescence is a cause for serious concern as the adolescent brain is still undergoing neural development and may be susceptible to impairments in neuro-cognitive functioning.

Cannabis users exhibited lower scores on all assessed neuropsychological functions as compared to non-users. However, the greatest mean differences were observed  through significantly lowered Verbal Comprehension as well as Digit Span scores.  This finding implicates cannabis use during adolescence with impairing the neurocognitive functions of working memory, attention, concentration, mental manipulation, language  development and verbal intelligence. Cannabis users also had significantly lower visual,  verbal and working memory scores than those of non-cannabis users with the largest differences being seen on the delayed subtests. The observance of significantly lower  scores on the delayed subtests implies that the long term memory of cannabis user  may be more susceptibility to neurocognitive decline.

Cannabis users had lower scores on all tests of learning, attention and memory than non-users. This is consistent with findings from previous research neuropsychological performance [13-18]. A meta-analytic study by Grant, et al. [19] also identified impairment in the ability of chronic users of cannabis to recall new information, though findings by Schwartz [20] and Lyons [21] indicate an absence of long-term residual effects of cannabis use on cognitive abilities. Traditionally, Jamaicans view cannabis use as providing many benefits.  These findings are an important step in providing empirical evidence for possible cognitive impairment from cannabis use, among the adolescent population. Further research is needed to determine dose-related, in addition to long-term residual effects of cannabis use on neuropsychological performance in the Caribbean. Understanding the relationship between the complex factors that influence neurocognitive performance of cannabis users should further help to inform the development of public policy and legislation in Jamaica and the Caribbean.

Limitations

The sample size of 30 for the user group even though deemed sufficient, was still small and the present study consisted of male participants only. It would be of interest to know if there is a gender difference in cannabis users’ in performance on neurocognitive tests of memory.

Conclusion

The findings suggest that there is a significant difference in performance between Jamaican male adolescent cannabis users and non-users on neuro-cognitive tests. Users of cannabis displayed cognitive deficits on all tests of memory, intelligence, language and attention that were conducted. The present findings lend new support to the notion that cannabis use may impair neurocognitive functioning.

There are implications for poor school performance by adolescent users of cannabis in Jamaica. These results support the need for public health policies aimed at targeting early prevention strategies, demand reduction, identification and treatment of adolescent cannabis users in Jamaica.

Source:     Ment Health Addict Res, 2016 doi: 10.15761/MHAR.1000118  

Karyl Powell-Booth1,et al

Meeting held to discuss ways to improve and enhance U.S.-China joint drug investigations

This week the heads of the national drug-control agencies for the United States and the People’s Republic of China, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg and Director General (DG) Hu Minglang from the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) of the Ministry of Public Security, met at DEA Headquarters in Arlington, Virginia to discuss ways to stop the flow from China to the United States of deadly synthetic drugs.  This meeting follows an announcement by America’s President Obama and China’s President Xi Jingping during the G20 Summit held earlier this month in Hangzhou, China that the U.S. and China will continue to work together to address the illicit supply of fentanyl and its compounds.

Chemical makers in China are the United States’ primary source of synthetic drugs such as fentanyl and its compounds.  They are smuggled into the country either directly from China by Americans who order them over the Internet or from Mexico by cartels that purchase the drugs in bulk and then smuggle them, alone or mixed with heroin, across America’s Southwest Border.  When China controlled 116 chemicals, including certain fentanyl-related compounds, in October of 2015, seizures of those drugs here in the United States dropped significantly.

Recently, the DEA and the NCB have seen an increased level of cooperation andintelligence sharing.  Last month, at the invitation of the NCB, a senior-level DEA delegation travelled to China to learn about their drug control efforts and examine steps to further bilateral cooperation.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opiate painkiller, and related compounds are often mixed with heroin to increase its potency, but dealers and buyers may not know exactly what they are selling or ingesting. These drugs are deadly at very low doses and come in several forms, including powder, blotter paper, tablets, and spray.  Overdoses in the U.S. due to these drugs have increased exponentially in recent years, and DEA has issued national warnings about the danger.    More information about fentanyl and other dangerous synthetic opiates can be found at www.dea.gov.

Source:  U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration: deapublic.govdelivery.com Press Release 29th Sept.2016  

 

Marijuana Use Around the World

marijuana map

© UN Marijuana Use Around the World

If you had to guess which country had the most marijuana users, which would it be? It’s not the Netherlands—they’re not even in the top five. This map, courtesy of Conrad Hackett and UNODC, shows where marijuana use is most widespread.

Per capita, Iceland leads the pack:

1. Iceland

2. United States

3. New Zealand

4. Nigeria

5. Canada

You can read the UN’s full report on cannabis here (PDF).

Source: UNODC April 2015 http://www.unodc.org/wdr2014/en/interactive-map.html 

 

USE of illicit drugs in the country is increasing at an alarming rate, with cannabis and heroin being the most commonly used, hence the need for the government to embark on immediate strategies to tackle the problem.

A study conducted in 12 regions has shown an increase in illicit drug use, especially along major transport corridors. The trend poses a serious danger to future generations who are being lured into the vice.

The study was conducted by 14 experts from the Drug Control Commission (DCC), the University of California, San Francisco and the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Tanzania, who presented the findings yesterday in Dar es Salaam.

Among recommendations presented by the researchers include provision of a range of services including advocacy and sensitisation activities, provision of primary drug use and HIV risk prevention strategies for all groups.

The services also envisage strengthening coordination and governance of community and government resources for drug-use interventions, carrying out additional studies to measure HIV prevalence and associated behaviour among PWUD and provision of more education on types of drugs as well as their effects and consequences.

The study; ‘ mapping of people who use drugs (PWUD) and people who inject drugs (PWID) in the selected regions of Tanzania’, sought to understand the scope and magnitude of non-injection and injection use of illicit drugs among the two groups.

The study was conducted between July 2013 and August 2014 in 12 regions which are Mtwara, Dodoma, Morogoro, Coast, Kilimanjaro, Tanga, Arusha, Mwanza, Mbeya, Shinyanga, Geita and Kigoma. The majority of the PWUD engage in smoking a ‘cocktail,’ which is a combination of cannabis dust, tobacco and heroin, while those identified as PWID appeared to inject heroin.

One of the researchers, Ms Moza Makumbuli, noted that within all 12 regions, several primary and secondary key informants could not distinguish heroin from cocaine by name but instead use a local term ‘unga’. “In all regions needle sharing was high among the small number who engaged in injection drug use.

Risky sexual behaviour also appeared high among people who use drugs,” she explained. In Tanga the findings shows that drug use has spread to small towns and villages outside the regional capital along the Tanga-Segera highway, with drug pushers supplying from Tanga City.

Of the regions studied Tanga appeared to have the most drug pushers, with PWUD moving from one hotspot to another depending on where drugs or quality drugs were available.

Mtwara had the lowest estimated number of PWUD with drug use concentrated in Mtwara Municipality, but was also reportedly present in Masasi town as well, according to the study.

Generally the study estimates that the number of PWUD across the regions were 5,190 in Tanga, 3,300 in Mwanza, 2,700 in Arusha, 1,539 in Coast, 1,500 in Morogoro, 1,096 in Dodoma, 820 in Mbeya, 563 in Kilimanjaro, 319 in Shinyanga, 108 in Geita, 100 in Kigoma and 65 in Mtwara.

The PWID was 540 in Tanga, 300 in Mwanza, 297 in Morogoro, 230 in Arusha, 164 in Coast, 133 in Dodoma, 107 in Kilimanjaro, 64 in Mbeya, 25 in Shinyanga, 7 in Mtwara, 3 in Geita and 0 in Kigoma.

In his opening remarks, the DCC Commissioner, Mr Kenneth Kaseke, said there is very little data about injection drug use in the rest of the country, apart from Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam, which prompted the qualitative study.

Although the study is not representative, meaning it does not reflect the real situation in the whole country, Mr Kaseke said this gives a clear picture of the extent of the problem and calls for the need for in-depth research to represent the whole country.

“Despite limited resources, Tanzania is determined to combat the growing problem of drug abuse and HIV transmission by providing a comprehensive package services for IDUs and their injecting or sexual partners,” he explained.

The Zanzibar Executive Director, Anti-Drug Commission, Ms Kheriyangu Khamis, said the study shows that the situation on the ground is alarming and that illicit drug abuse is spreading rapidly in the region.

“We must use the research findings in our development plans, so we can come up with the right strategies that are needed on the ground,” she explained.

Source:  http://www.dailynews.co.tz/   1st August 2015

Project Description/Goals

Marijuana legalization in Colorado has posed significant challenges for law enforcement resulting, stemming from the unanticipated consequences it has had on crime and public safety. Colorado law enforcement formed diverse partnerships to address the difficulties caused by conflicting state legislation and local ordinances, policies, and procedures. The situation was even more complex because marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law. The Police Foundation partnered with the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police to produce a guidebook illustrating the challenges in policing legalized marijuana and the law enforcement practices that have been most successful in Colorado.

Study Design & Methods

Very little data was collected on how Colorado law enforcement was dealing with legalized marijuana before the beginning of 2015. Additionally, law enforcement agencies in the state have not conducted rigorous, evidence-based research to draw conclusions regarding the impact of legalized marijuana. This guide is based on interviews with 23 subject matter experts representing state and local government, state attorney’s office, city and local attorneys, and national police associations. Two focus groups were held with law enforcement executives, detectives, and officers selected based on their experience and knowledge of marijuana legalization and location in the state to get a diverse representation. Interviews were recorded whenever possible with the permission of the interviewee and then transcribed.

 Results

The legalization of marijuana produced many unintended consequences, which led to a number of challenges and issues. Some of which have been addressed through ordinances,

policies, and procedures, while other issues are more complicated and have not found total resolution. The findings that make up the guidebook show:

* Data to determine the impact of legalized marijuana on crime and safety is limited and is a significant problem.

* Banking systems are unavailable to the marijuana industry because of federal laws, creating a dangerous level of cash that can lead to robberies.

* Difficulties in establishing what is a legal marijuana operation have created problems in conducting investigations, determining probable cause and search and seizure procedures.

* Marijuana illegal trading through the black and gray markets has not decreased, law enforcement agencies have found. Diversion across state boundaries has created issues for bordering states who do not have legalized marijuana laws.

* Public health and safety impacts concerns have occurred through the increased THC potency from marijuana hash oil extractions, which are used in making laced edibles and beverages. People have overdosed on the higher levels of THC leading to potential psychotic breaks and suicide attempts.

* Youth use and addiction rates have increased due to ease of accessibility.

* Detecting driving under the influence of marijuana is a significant challenge for law enforcement.

Funding and Collaboration

The Police Foundation funded this research and guide and partnered with the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police in its production.

Implications for Policy & Practice

The findings from this exploratory research suggest that, in states where marijuana may become legalized, law enforcement should establish data collection systems, licensing and registration protocol. Guidelines should be established in advance for search and seizures in illegal home growing operations. Impacts to minors using illegal marijuana have significant health and potential crime problems for the community. The lessons, challenges, and successful measures applied by law enforcement and their partnerships need rigorous research in those states that have legalized marijuana. The dichotomy of state and federal laws compromise officers’ actions.

Source:  http://www.policefoundation.org/projects/colorados-legalization-of-marijuana-and-the-impact-on-public-policy

 

Consumption of illegal drugs begins at the age of 10

The National Council Against Addictions (Conadic) has estimated that over 2.38 million Mexican youths are in need of some kind of rehabilitation treatment for abuse of substances, mainly marijuana and alcohol.

This is but one of the staggering figures presented in the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use Among Students, conducted in public and private schools in the 32 states, which also indicated that children are beginning to consume illegal drugs at 10 years old, two years younger than had been thought.

The survey also established that addiction among youths in secondary and preparatory schools – nearly 80,000 young men and 50,000 young women – requires immediate intervention.

A broader number of the same spectrum of students, about 311,000 men and 260,000 women, were found to need brief support interventions, which could consist of counselling sessions or a short rehabilitation internment period.

The course of action to take in the case of younger, elementary school students is still being assessed.

Conadic chief Manuel Mondragón wants to know the how and where of treatment: “713,963 secondary and preparatory school students need to be treated for use of drugs, and 1.674 million for abuse of alcohol. The question is, where are we going to treat them, and who will provide the treatment? What are our infrastructural capabilities?”

Mondragón said nearly 1.8 million children and teenagers – from elementary to preparatory – have tried illegal drugs, 152,000 of which are fifth and sixth-grade students, and whose first experience was with marijuana, followed by inhalants and cocaine.  Of that 1.8 million, over 108,000 have used marijuana between one and five times.

The abuse of alcohol is no less worrisome: 1.5 million secondary and preparatory school students have abused it, consuming over five drinks at a time and becoming drunk. Over 110,000 elementary school students have done the same.

The states with the most substance abuse among children are Chihuahua, Jalisco, State of México, the Federal District and San Luis Potosí.

Nine out of every 10 children in Michoacán, Campeche and Quintana Roo are experimenting with and abusing harder substances like cocaine.

Mondragón stated that immediate measures to deal with the issue could consist of shutting down all establishments that sell alcohol to minors, as well as signing agreements in every state to strengthen the use of breathalyzers and control the sale of legal and illegal drugs.  Mondragón also said the federal government is open to raising the limit of recreational drugs an individual can carry, currently set at five grams. This would permit the reinsertion into society of non-violent, first-offender youths who are currently in jail for possession of illegal substances.

Meanwhile, in Congress, the first round of discussions around the use of marijuana and its derivatives is taking place with the participation of representatives from the United Nations and parents’ associations.  The discussion is focusing on the legalization of medicinal cannabinoid-based products.

Source: http://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/study-finds-2-million-students-need-rehab/#sthash.yh7m6JYS.dpuf   26th Jan. 2016

President Obama this week told an audience in Jamaica that U.S. efforts against illegal drugs were “counterproductive” because they relied too much on incarceration—particularly for “young people who did not engage in violence.”

In what the president termed “an experiment … to legalize marijuana” in Colorado and Washington state, he said he believed they must “show that they are not suddenly a magnet for additional crime, that they have a strong enough public health infrastructure to push against the potential of increased addiction.”

In regard to Jamaica and the entire Caribbean and Central American region, he said, “a lot of folks think … if we just legalize marijuana, then it’ll reduce the money flowing into the transnational drug trade, there are more revenues and jobs created.”

To some of us, Jamaica hardly seems an auspicious location for encouraging “experimentation” with drugs, in particular because of the challenges already faced by their deficient institutions of public health and criminal justice. The U.S. Department of State 2015 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report(INCSR) states:

Jamaica remains the largest Caribbean supplier of marijuana to the United States and local Caribbean islands. Although cocaine and synthetic drugs are not produced locally, Jamaica is a transit point for drugs trafficked from South America to North America and other international markets. In 2014, drug production and trafficking were enabled and accompanied by organized crime, domestic and international gang activity, and police and government corruption. Illicit drugs are also a means of exchange for illegally-trafficked firearms entering the country, exacerbating Jamaica’s security situation.

Drugs flow from and through Jamaica by maritime conveyance, air freight, human couriers, and to a limited degree by private aircraft. Marijuana and cocaine are trafficked from and through Jamaica into the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and other Caribbean nations. Jamaica is emerging as a transit point for cocaine leaving Central America and destined for the United States, and some drug trafficking organizations exchange Jamaican marijuana for cocaine. . . .

The conviction rate for murder was approximately five percent, and the courts continued to be plagued with a culture of trial postponements and delay. This lack of efficacy within the criminal courts contributed to impunity for many of the worst criminal offenders and gangs, an abnormally high rate of violent crimes, lack of cooperation by witnesses and potential jurors, frustration among police officers and the public, a significant social cost and drain on the economy, and a disincentive for tourism and international investment.

This does not seem like a place where “legal” marijuana would contribute to “reduced money flow” to the transnational drug trade, or “create jobs.”  The president apparently thinks Jamaica should consider allowing more drugs, based on a faulty understanding of what is actually happening in Jamaica and in the U.S.

His charge of high incarceration rates for non-violent offenders is not factual. For instance, data show that only a fraction of one percent of state prison inmates are low-level marijuana possession offenders, while arrests for marijuana and cocaine/heroin possession and use were no more than 7 percent of all arrests,nationwide, in 2013.

Though critics of drug laws claim that hundreds or even thousands of prisoners are low-level non-violent offenders unjustly sentenced, the reality was shown recently by the President’s inability to find more than a handful of incarcerated drug offenders who would be eligible for commutation of their sentence because they fit the mythological portrait of excessive or unjust drug sentences.

Further, since 2007, the US is currently experiencing a surge in daily marijuana use, an epidemic of heroin overdose deaths (with minorities hardest hit), while the southwest border is flooded with heroin and methamphetamine flow, as shown by skyrocketing border seizures.

Importantly, Colorado, following marijuana “legalization,” has become a black-market magnet, and is currently supplying marijuana, including ultra-high-potency “shatter” to the rest of the U.S., leading to law suits by adjacent states. Legalization has not reduced criminal activity nor the threat of financial corruption.

As for Central America, Obama’s policies have shown stunning neglect. Actual aid for counter-drug activities, and for resources for interdicting smugglers have all diminished, while the countries of Central America have become battlegrounds for Mexican cartels, with meth precursors piling up at the docks, the cocaine transiting Venezuela to Honduras is surging, and violence is at an all-time high, with families fleeing north in unprecedented numbers. The Caribbean/Central American region has become deeply threatened, as noted by the State Department report above—torn apart by drug crime.

In this context the president encourages governments in the region to make drugs more acceptable and more accessible in their communities, and with even greater legal impunity?

Moreover, these developments have been accompanied by a steady drumbeat of medical science reports increasingly showing the serious dangers of marijuana use, especially for youth.   Yet President Obama speaks in a manner increasingly disconnected from the domestic and international reality of the drug problem.

Source:  David W. Murray and John P. Walters  WEEKLY STANDARD  April 11, 2015

Cannabis substitute smoked in a pipe appears to be a soft drug, but it is addictive and can be lethal

Spice is just the latest horror drug to hit Russia. Photograph: Boris Roessler/EPA/Corbis

Valentina sifts a flaky mixture from a purple sachet into the end of a small pipe, holds a lighter to it, and inhales. Her voice becomes tense and high-pitched for a moment, then she relaxes. A faint, almost Christmassy odour of lightly stewed fruits wafts through the room.

This is a hit of spice, the collective name given to various synthetic smoking mixtures making headlines in Russia. On the market for five years, spice has the potential to be deadly.

According to Russian authorities, in recent weeks the spice epidemic has taken 25 lives and led to 700 people seeking medical attention. Hardly a day goes by without a fresh horror story of adolescents dying from the drug. Earlier this month a refugee from Luhansk in east Ukraine died after smoking with her friends in a town in southern Russia. Four others were taken to hospital.

Valentina has smoked for nearly two years. Now in her mid-30s, she was a heroin addict for a year after leaving university, but kicked the habit and was clean for more than a decade. She and her husband would occasionally smoke marijuana, and one day two years ago a friend brought a packet of spice over to their house and suggested they try it.

“We thought it was just like hash – not that addictive,” she recalls. She was wrong. Now, she and her husband buy their supply from a dealer each morning after dropping their children at school.

Much of the product is believed to be imported from China, though many say that labs in Russia are also churning out the mixtures. Along with older users such as Valentina, thousands of teenage Russians are using the substance.

Yevgeny Roizman, an anti-drug campaigner known for his rehabilitation centres for heroin addicts, warned this year of the consequences of the spice epidemic. “These drugs, unlike heroin, are much more widely used, they can be distributed more quickly and easily, they are harder to detect, and kids are starting to use them much younger,” he said. “The consequences are quick addiction, fast-paced decline, and as far as I can see, irreversible consequences which cannot be cured. Heroin in Russia is yesterday’s problem.”

Spice is a cannabis substitute made from various herbs with the addition of lab-synthesised chemicals. Authorities say the problem is that each time a smoking mixture is analysed and banned by authorities, the formula is altered and the newly legal mix can be sold again. Parliament is considering passing a bill to ban all synthetic smoking mixtures.

“The current system of fighting spice simply doesn’t work,” said Sultan Khamzayev, a member of Russia’s public chamber and an anti-drug campaigner, in a recent interview with a Russian website. “Chemists need just three hours to change the formula, but all the necessary bureaucratic work to identify and then ban a particular drug takes five months. That means for the whole period, people can simply sell any old poison.”

An MP from the far-right Liberal Democratic party, Roman Khudyakov, wrote recently that the death penalty should be introduced for spice dealers. “In a way, spice is much more dangerous than heroin,” says Valentina. “Most people have a hang-up about injecting, whereas spice you just smoke it in a pipe. By the time you realise how serious it is, it’s too late.”

The formula of the drug varies from batch to batch, and the way different versions interact with different people is always slightly different, but the main bonus for users is that any kind of fear and inhibition disappears. But withdrawal kicks in within a couple of hours and is often punishing.

“You lose all your coordination,” says one Muscovite spice addict. “You can’t think properly, and you can’t walk. It’s like being catastrophically drunk, but there is also a panic and terror. You begin to sweat, have crashing palpitations and feel sick. Often, you’ll simply begin projectile vomiting, with no warning. If I stop smoking now, within two hours I will be vomiting. It’s no better than heroin withdrawal, perhaps it’s even worse.”

Most dangerous is the withdrawal period for early-stage addicts, when the physical symptoms are mild but intense depression sets in. Valentina remembers days of total panic, and not realising until later that she was experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

“One day I stood up and I understood with absolute clarity that the only way for me to escape from the awful life I was in was to murder both of my children, and then kill myself,” she says. “I was crystal clear that this was the only course of action open to me. Luckily, my husband stopped me, and calmed me down. But what about people who don’t have that support?”

A typical week sees several news stories in Russian local press detailing horrendous deaths and suicides attributed to spice: children jumping from windows, heart attacks, even self-immolation. Valentina is convinced that the deaths that are reported are just the tip of the iceberg. Spice does not show up on ordinary toxicology tests and she thinks it could be a hidden trigger in violent crimes where there are no signs of mental illness or other drug use.

Spice is just the latest horror drug to hit Russia. Several years ago krokodil, a synthetic heroin substitute made from boiling codeine tablets with other ingredients, became popular. Devastatingly addictive, the drug would literally rot the flesh of users, leading to appalling wounds and a quick death. When the sale of codeine was banned two years ago, spice began to pick up in popularity.

“They ban one nightmare drug and another one pops up,” says Anya Sarang, a Russian activist who works on rights for drugs users. “It’s a natural consequence of the firefighting approach we have to drug use. Of course we need to ban spice, but if marijuana was legal, nobody would turn to these awful spice mixes to smoke. But of course, that’s a fairly unrealistic policy in the Russian climate.”

Source:   www.theguardian.com  20th October 2014

The Russian government is likely to disband the Federal Drug Control Service, according to an official document obtained by The Moscow Times.

The document, signed on Feb. 10 by Larisa Brychyova, head of the legal directorate of the presidential administration, cites an order by President Vladimir Putin to dissolve the agency from March 1.

The agency’s functions will be redistributed among the Interior and Health ministries, according to the document.

Business daily Vedomosti reported Monday that the agency is being liquidated due to budget considerations.

Putin’s proposal will be considered by the Cabinet before becoming official, a process that is generally no more than a technicality for Kremlin initiatives.

The Federal Drug Control Service was established in 2003 on the foundations of the Federal Tax Police Service and employs about 35,000 people, having been ordered by Putin in 2012 to cut its staff by 5,000 people by 2016, state news agency Interfax reported. The service was allocated more than 29.5 billion rubles ($473 million) from the federal budget last year, according to its website.

According to the Kommersant daily, drugs policy director Viktor Ivanov — the agency’s outspoken head — will likely return to the presidential administration where he served as a presidential aide before joining the agency in 2008.

In an interview with Kommersant last week, Ivanov denied rumors that the agency would be liquidated, saying that in the last five years it had busted almost 350 criminal gangs, “almost 10 times more than all other law enforcement agencies put together.” He also said in the interview that since the agency was created, the drug-related mortality rate in Russia has halved.

Last October, Ivanov said that drugs are to blame for 80 percent of all deaths of Russians aged 18 to 34 in Russia during the past five years. The rate has improved, but the number is still too high, Ivanov said in an interview with the TV Center television channel.

There are 8.5 million drug addicts in Russia — almost 6 percent of the population — a government report said in 2013. Many of them are heroin users, supplied by the steady flow of the opiate into Russian from Afghanistan through neighboring Central Asian countries. The Russian Federation has the highest prevalence of opiate use in eastern and southeastern Europe, according to the UN 2014 World Drug Report.

Ivanov and his agency were often criticized for their opposition to drug substitution therapies. As many as 100 drug users in Crimea have died since the peninsula was annexed from Ukraine by Russia as a direct result of the treatment becoming illegal under Russian law, a UN official said in January.

In recent years, Ivanov’s agency has found it hard to battle the spread of synthetic marijuana and other smoking blends that are known generally as “spice.” Sold widely online, they have caused a spate of recent high-profile deaths.

Longtime anti-drugs crusader Yevgeny Roizman, founder of the City Without Drugs movement in Yekaterinburg, spoke against the decision to disband the agency Monday.

“This agency is much more effective than the police. Moreover, competition between various agencies makes them achieve results,” he wrote in his LiveJournal blog.

“After investing loads of money and creating a powerful professional structure that has proved its effectiveness, to then just disband it all is a chaotic and absurd decision. Drug dealers are dancing with joy. Some people in the Interior Ministry are dancing too,” he wrote.

Source: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/ 16th Feb.2015

North Korea is likely to be a major target in China’s new war on drugs.

As The Diplomat has been following closely, China recently launched a crackdown on illegal narcotics in the country. So far, public reports have indicated that the main targets in this stepped up war on drugs are high-profile celebrities and foreigners from Western nations and Asian countries like South Korea and Japan.

However, the biggest loser in China’s new war on drugs is likely to be North Korea. It has long been documented that large amounts of North Korean-produced narcotics are smuggled across the border into China either for sale there or for shipment elsewhere. This used to largely consist of opium and heroin but in the last decade or so those drugs have seemingly been surpassed in volume by insanely pure methamphetamine (along with other synthetic drugs like MDMA, the main ingredient in ecstasy and molly).

This is particularly troubling from North Korea’s perspective, as Chinese authorities have repeatedly singled out synthetic drugs as one of their main targets in the new war on drugs. This focus derives from the fact that synthetic drug use has spiked in China in recent years, even as use of more traditional drugs has fallen. According to official Chinese statistics, synthetic drug users accounted for 72.6 percent of the total registered drug users in 2012, up from 55.6 percent in 2010. By contrast, Chinese state media reported that “the percentage of drug users addicted to opioids fell from 70.5 percent in 2010 to 60.6 percent in 2012.”

North Korea is believed to be a major source of synthetic drugs in China, such as crystal meth (often called “ice” in both countries). A 2010 Brookings Institution report on North Korean drug smuggling noted: “Across China, more than 70 percent of drug addicts abuse heroin, but in Jilin Province [on the North Korean border] more than 90 percent of addicts abuse new synthetic drugs and ice in particular.” While there are a lot of synthetic drug users in Yunnan Province, which borders Southeast Asia’s notorious Golden Triangle, this appears to be because the province is used as a hub to smuggle synthetic drugs out of China into Southeast Asia. A recent in-depth Chinese state media report on China and Vietnam’s joint anti-narcotics efforts cited numerous cases of heroin being smuggled from Southeast Asia into China. However, on synthetic drugs the story was reversed: “While China has placed huge resources toward stemming the flow of drugs, new synthetic drugs from China are finding their way into to Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam, complicating anti-drug trafficking work.” All of this suggests that North Korea may be a huge target in China’s war on drugs.

While ice appears to predominate North Korea’s drug smuggling these days, it is certainly not the only drug. It has long been speculated that the rise of ice in North Korea was fueled in part by poppy plants being destroyed by the heavy rains that swept through northern North Korea during the middle of the 1990s, which contributed to the country’s famine. However, recently opium has seemingly been making something of a comeback. Two of the South Koreans recently executed by China for drug smuggling were arrested for trying to smuggle opium into China from North Korea. Similarly, the Chosun Ilbo, a South Korean daily, reported just last week that North Korean-grown opium is once again “flooding the Northeast Chinese market.” The same report also said that Chinese security forces had begun setting up barbed wired fences along the border near North Korean towns known for their drug production in an effort to stem the flow of drugs into China. The timing of this and other reports is interesting.

It’s impossible to know for sure just how much of these drugs are smuggled into China from North Korea, and it’s quite likely that the Golden Triangle countries still account for a plurality of drugs smuggled into China. Still, the amounts coming from North Korea are large. According to South Korean officials, Chinese authorities seized $60 million of North Korean drugs in 2010, and Seoul officials said that this was only a “fraction” of what is actually smuggled.

It’s also impossible to know the degree to which the North Korean government is directly involved in peddling the drugs. In the past, the North Korean government has more or less been directly linked to the trafficking of opium and heroin. However, the U.S. State Department has said in recent years that available evidence suggests that the North Korean government has scaled back its involvement in the drug smuggling industry. Its 2013 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, for instance, stated, “There have been no confirmed reports of large-scale drug trafficking involving DPRK state entities since 2004.”

It’s possible that the North Korean regime has scaled back its involvement with drug trafficking in response to Chinese pressure, or because drug addiction is believed to be rapidly rising within the DPRK itself. At the same time, the fact that state entities themselves are not being used to traffic narcotics does not mean that senior members of the regime are not directly involved in the trade. North Korea’s informal “princelings” group, called the Ponghwajo — which current regime leader Kim Jong-un is believed to be a huge part of — has long been tiedto drug trafficking. Furthermore, the volume and purity of the meth being smuggled out of North Korea suggests some state-level support, many experts say. Still, there’s little doubt that private drug traffickers do exist in North Korea’s border regions. In any case, the steadily deterioration of Sino-North Korean relations in recent months gives Chinese authorities less incentive to use restraint in trying to root out the drug pipeline along its border with North Korea. Even if Chinese state media reports don’t directly implicate North Korea, Pyongyang is almost certainly a major target of China’s new war on drugs.

Source: www.thediplomat.com   21st August 2014

Every morning, Sergei Kislov takes the bus to the rundown outskirts of this port city for the methadone doses that keep him off heroin without suffering withdrawal. Now that Russia has taken over Crimea, the trips are about to end.

“For a month and a half I won’t be able to sit or sleep or eat,” Kislov said. “It’s a serious physical breakdown.”

Across the Black Sea peninsula, some 800 heroin addicts and other needle-drug users take part in methadone programs — seen as an important part of efforts to curb HIV infections by taking the patients away from hypodermic needles that can spread the AIDS-causing virus.

But Russia, which annexed Crimea in mid-March following a referendum held in the wake of Ukraine’s political upheavals, bans methadone, claiming most supplies end up on the criminal market. The ban could undermine years of efforts to reduce the spread of AIDS in Crimea; some 12,000 of the region’s 2 million people are HIV-positive, a 2012 UNICEF survey found.

After years of rapid growth in the infection rate, the Ukrainian Health Ministry reported the first decline in 2012.

Many have attributed that decline to methadone therapy. According to the International HIV/AIDS Alliance of Ukraine, which helps fund many local projects with money from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, drug injectors accounted for 62 percent of new HIV infections in Ukraine in 2002. By 2013, that number was down to 33 percent.

HIV is an illness that often sweeps up those people who aren’t socially secure,” said Denis Troshin, who runs the local NGO, Harbor-Plus, which helps coordinate methadone therapy for 130 of Sevastopol’s recovering addicts. “Many of them were put in the (medical) records at some point, but then they disappear for many years and by the time they show up at the hospital again they’re nearly dead. Our goal is to find them, convince them to come to the doctor and not miss their treatment.”

In Russia, which recommends that addicts quit cold turkey, HIV is spreading rapidly. According to the Russian Federal AIDS Center, the number of people registered as infected increased by nearly 11 percent in 2013.

While methadone doesn’t have the same euphoric effect as heroin, it weans addicts off the drug by blocking the pain, aches and chills of withdrawal. In preparation, Kislov has already started reducing his daily intake of methadone by about 10 milligrams each week.

Although he voted enthusiastically for Crimea to join Russia, he didn’t expect the methadone program to end so quickly.

“It is happening at such a pace that it’s going to be a massacre here,” he said. “They’re abandoning 130 people and forcing them to fend for themselves, even if that means we’ll end up stealing again and going to jail.”

Patients say that since the program started here five years ago, local doctors had been nothing but supportive of the therapy. They reassured recovering addicts ahead of the referendum that the program would be extended at least until the end of the year.

That attitude changed on March 20, when the director of Russia’s Federal Drug Service, Viktor Ivanov, announced that the program would be banned in Crimea.

“As it turns out, the lives of the people participating in this program are less important than politicking,” said Troshin. “It’s as if (the doctors) are saying: ‘We’re doing everything according to how Russian law is even before it’s implemented … We’re so zealous that we’re closing (the program) right now and we don’t care about the 130 families who will be affected.'”

Troshin says the group has sent letters to both local and national politicians. But even if the group gets permission from local authorities to extend the program, the Ukrainian health minister told local news agencies Monday that Ukraine would not be sending any more methadone to Crimea, and recommended that any addicts there move to mainland Ukraine if they wanted to continue their treatment.

For Alexander Kolesnikov, a 40-year-old who has now been in the group for four years, moving to Ukraine isn’t a possibility. He’s proud of being from Sevastopol and has an aging, diabetic mother to care for.

But while the two went proudly to the polls on March 16 to vote for joining Russia, they are now dreading how a return to life without methadone might affect them.

“One half of my mother’s heart is for Russia — for example, she will get a higher pension and she’ll have a better standard of living,” he said. “But the other half of her heart supports me, and she doesn’t want to see me in that state ever again.”

Source:  www.news/yahoo.com  4th April 2014

The National Anti-Drug Secretariat’s (SENAD) Demand Reduction Department, together with municipalities and neighborhoods in Asunción, is carrying out a variety of activities as part of its Community Prevention Program.

Beginning in April, the Day Center will be open to children and minors in Asunción with a history of drug abuse. They will receive guidance about their addiction and will be encouraged to participate in healthy activities and tasks that keep them away from vices, said Luis Chaparro, the community program’s coordinator in the city of Ñemby, 20 kilometers from Asunción.

In the beginning, the program will focus on neighborhoods in the capital city and its surrounding areas before it’s offered in cities in the country’s interior, Chaparro added. Following the start of classes in March, teachers who specialize in different educational levels received training on how to treat young people battling addiction, Chaparro said.

“Teachers will be able to direct the students with drug addiction problems to the Day Center without removing them from the educational environment,” he added.  Authorities can also choose not to prosecute minors facing drug charges if they are receiving treatment at the Day Center.

“(Now) … young persons involved with drugs are sent directly to the courts, where they receive a criminal record for drug possession or consumption, which will be with them for the rest of their lives,” Chaparro said. “The aim is to change that.”

SENAD Communications Director Francisco Ayala added the goal is “to help young people, not stigmatize them. Societal discrimination can often lead to even worse situations,” he said. Students advised to become involved at the Day Center will be able to go to the facility immediately after their classes, Chaparro added.  “If a young person attends school in the morning, he or she can come to the Day Center in the afternoon, or vice versa,” he said.

Inaugural summer camp exceeds expectations

The first activity carried out under the framework of the Community Prevention Program was the Santa Aventura summer camp, which brought together 500 students between the ages of 5 and 19 during the final weeks of January.   The summer camp was held at the San Antonio de Padua Parish in the city of Ñemby. It offered workshops in dance, music, creativity, photography, painting, sports and self-defense, in addition to classes in the electrical and plumbing trades.

“These programs are useful in raising awareness that there are other ways to eliminate idleness and the misuse of time that often lead them to fall into bad habits such as the use of alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs,” Chaparro said.

Chaparro added that Santa Aventura also received a lot of interest from parents seeking more information about drug addiction prevention.   “Many of them don’t know where to turn or what to do when their child is in a situation like this,” he said.

Parents “have a desire to prevent [drug and alcohol abuse], and to do something for their children,” added Graciela Barreto, the general coordinator of SENAD’s community prevention programs.   Since September, A School for Parents has been under

development, hosting classes on prevention that are open to the public and held on the last Saturday of every month at SENAD’s headquarters.

“The workshops draw parents from cities throughout the Central Department, as well as the interior of the country,” Ayala said. “At these meetings, we hear about the different situations that parents of addicts are facing. They also provide us with guidance as to where we should focus our attention when implementing activities aimed at counteracting the problem.”

Marijuana, crack and cocaine continue to be the country’s most heavily consumed drugs. As of late 2013, SENAD had seized more than 500 tons of marijuana – 324 more tons than during all of 2012 – five tons of crack and three tons of cocaine.

More information about the SENAD’s drug prevention programs can be found at http://www.senad.gov.py. http://www.senad.gov.py.

Source:  http://infosurhoy.com   18th March 2014

Every morning, Sergei Kislov takes the bus to the rundown outskirts of this port city for the methadone doses that keep him off heroin without suffering withdrawal. Now that Russia has taken over Crimea, the trips are about to end.

“For a month and a half I won’t be able to sit or sleep or eat,” Kislov said. “It’s a serious physical breakdown.”

Across the Black Sea peninsula, some 800 heroin addicts and other needle-drug users take part in methadone programs — seen as an important part of efforts to curb HIV infections by taking the patients away from hypodermic needles that can spread the AIDS-causing virus.

But Russia, which annexed Crimea in mid-March following a referendum held in the wake of Ukraine’s political upheavals, bans methadone, claiming most supplies end up on the criminal market. The ban could undermine years of efforts to reduce the spread of AIDS in Crimea; some 12,000 of the region’s 2 million people are HIV-positive, a 2012 UNICEF survey found.

After years of rapid growth in the infection rate, the Ukrainian Health Ministry reported the first decline in 2012.

Many have attributed that decline to methadone therapy. According to the International HIV/AIDS Alliance of Ukraine, which helps fund many local projects with money from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, drug injectors accounted for 62 percent of new HIV infections in Ukraine in 2002. By 2013, that number was down to 33 percent.

HIV is an illness that often sweeps up those people who aren’t socially secure,” said Denis Troshin, who runs the local NGO, Harbor-Plus, which helps coordinate methadone therapy for 130 of Sevastopol’s recovering addicts. “Many of them were put in the (medical) records at some point, but then they disappear for many years and by the time they show up at the hospital again they’re nearly dead. Our goal is to find them, convince them to come to the doctor and not miss their treatment.”

In Russia, which recommends that addicts quit cold turkey, HIV is spreading rapidly. According to the Russian Federal AIDS Center, the number of people registered as infected increased by nearly 11 percent in 2013.

While methadone doesn’t have the same euphoric effect as heroin, it weans addicts off the drug by blocking the pain, aches and chills of withdrawal. In preparation, Kislov has already started reducing his daily intake of methadone by about 10 milligrams each week.

Although he voted enthusiastically for Crimea to join Russia, he didn’t expect the methadone program to end so quickly.

“It is happening at such a pace that it’s going to be a massacre here,” he said. “They’re abandoning 130 people and forcing them to fend for themselves, even if that means we’ll end up stealing again and going to jail.”

Patients say that since the program started here five years ago, local doctors had been nothing but supportive of the therapy. They reassured recovering addicts ahead of the referendum that the program would be extended at least until the end of the year.

That attitude changed on March 20, when the director of Russia’s Federal Drug Service, Viktor Ivanov, announced that the program would be banned in Crimea.

“As it turns out, the lives of the people participating in this program are less important than politicking,” said Troshin. “It’s as if (the doctors) are saying: ‘We’re doing everything according to how Russian law is even before it’s implemented … We’re so zealous that we’re closing (the program) right now and we don’t care about the 130 families who will be affected.'”

Troshin says the group has sent letters to both local and national politicians. But even if the group gets permission from local authorities to extend the program, the Ukrainian health minister told local news agencies Monday that Ukraine would not be sending any more methadone to Crimea, and recommended that any addicts there move to mainland Ukraine if they wanted to continue their treatment.

For Alexander Kolesnikov, a 40-year-old who has now been in the group for four years, moving to Ukraine isn’t a possibility. He’s proud of being from Sevastopol and has an aging, diabetic mother to care for.

But while the two went proudly to the polls on March 16 to vote for joining Russia, they are now dreading how a return to life without methadone might affect them.

“One half of my mother’s heart is for Russia — for example, she will get a higher pension and she’ll have a better standard of living,” he said. “But the other half of her heart supports me, and she doesn’t want to see me in that state ever again.”

Source:  www.news/yahoo.com  4th April 2014

The Knesset is moving to regulate the drug, though it might be a hazard without scrupulous supervision, the Pharmacists’ Association warns.

In the wake of new regulations concerning the use of medical cannabis, the Israel Pharmacists’ Association this week published a professional survey on the subject. The report discusses the side effects of cannabis, and the interactions between it and other medications.

The association is publishing this information in the midst of a process whereby the use of cannabis is being regulated, which is expected to be completed in the coming months. The new rules stipulate an increase in the number of doctors authorized to prescribe the drug to patients ranging in age from 20 to 30, and also relate to the composition of medical marijuana and the way it is locally grown, packed and distributed; eventually pharmacies will be responsible for the latter stage.

The purpose of the report, according to the association, is to provide various professional bodies with concise and up-to-date information that will help them to examine the benefits versus the possible damage involved in the use of medical cannabis.

“The effects of cannabis differ from one person to the next,” says the document, “and depend on the dosage, the method of delivery, the past experience of the user with the medication, the patients’ surroundings (his expectations of treatment, his attitude toward the effects of the substance, his mood and the social environment), and the amount of use.”

The effects of cannabis, the report continues, can be euphoria or dysphoria, calm, anxiety or even psychosis. Additional phenomena include heightened wakefulness followed by drowsiness, a sharpening of the senses followed by slower comprehension, and increased motor activity followed by problems of coordination. “Many of these side effects of cannabis stems from a high dosage or chronic use,” writes the pharmacists’ association.

In bold letters they state that patients suffering from schizophrenia and bipolar disorders should refrain from using medical cannabis. As for older patients who suffer from cardiovascular diseases, use of the drug can lead to increased risks of blood pressure fluctuations, heart attacks, ongoing cardiac distress and even sudden cardiac death, as well as such problems as strokes, damage to peripheral blood vessels, limping and even gangrene in the fingers.

The report also states that older people who suffer from impaired neuro-cognitive functioning and use cannabis could suffer further decline in memory and concentration, and a tendency to fall. The pharmacists also cite potential negative effects among persons with pulmonary disease, mainly when the cannabis is smoked, and write: “Long-term use of cannabis through aspiration increases the risk of inflammation of the jaw and the tonsils, asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia and lung cancer.”

The report also warns that the process of growing cannabis at present is not monitored as carefully as development of other medical preparations. The cannabis is liable to contain pollutants such as bacteria, fungi and molds, heavy metals and so on; in addition, the concentration of its active ingredients is not fixed.  Source: http://www.haaretz.com/mobile/.premium-1.568591?v=36D3EAC732D590E09348654B6B03414B   14th January 2014

China is the most active nation in showing leadership in international cooperation on drug control, said Giovanna Campello, program management officer of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation Section.

Campello made the remarks at the three-day “Prevention Strategy and Policy Makers” Regional Seminar held by the UNODC which concluded on Nov 28 in Guiyang, Guizhou province.

Twenty officials from anti-drug agencies of nine ASEAN members attended the event.

As the problem of drugs spreads around the world and more people commit drug crimes at a younger age, a focus on drug prevention from childhood is critical in tackling the problem, Campello said.

“It’s the first time for UNODC to hold the seminar in China and it is of great importance for us to promote drug control work,” said Li Xianhui, deputy secretary-general of the China National Narcotics Control Commission.

Drug use in China was largely due to the worsening global drug situation, leading to a complicated scenario, Li said. Diversified drug sources, types and consumption at a young age are becoming more evident.

According to a report released by the China National Narcotics Control Commission, 4,334 school students in China were registered drug users. Of these 2,127 were methamphetamine abusers (accounting for 49.1 percent), 665 were ketamine users (15.3 percent) and 1,164 were opiate addicts (26.9 percent).

In tackling drug crimes, it’s hard to say whether a focus on prevention from an early age or turning to law enforcement is more important. Campello said people should put more focus on law enforcement.

“More and more countries are realizing the present situation,” Campello said. “China and other countries in the region can really show leadership, implement evidence-based programs and evaluate them with scientific evidence, so I think we are on the right path though there are still a lot to do”.

Source: ecns.cn   3.12.13

December 16, 2013

By Robert DuPont

White House “Drug Czar” (1973-1977)

Uruguay has become the world’s first country to legalize the growth, consumption, and trading of marijuana, highlighting the impatience that many have for the protracted Drug War. Former White House Drug Czar Robert DuPont argues that legalization of prohibited drugs will not lead to their disappearance on the black market.

According to the pro-drug lobby – and with a boost from the media – Uruguay is leading the world by legalizing marijuana. The pro-drug lobby claims that prohibition is a failure and that all drugs should be legalized. Marijuana, the most widely used illegal drug in the world, is just the leader of this campaign. The strategy takes its precedent from the legalization of the sale of alcohol, but the policy is disarmingly simplistic and presents a terrible threat to public health and safety.

Alcohol and tobacco are the leading preventable causes of illness and death in the United States and the rest of the developed world. This is not because they are more dangerous than drugs that are currently illegal, but because they are legal and commercially produced and distributed.

Legalizing marijuana would not stop the production, sale, or use of illegal marijuana.

Look at the numbers: In the United States, 52 percent of those aged 12 and older drank alcohol in the past month, and 27 percent used tobacco, but only nine percent used any illegal drug and only seven percent used marijuana. This indicates that prohibition is successfully deterring illegal drug use. While prohibition is not without real costs, and today’s drug policy can be improved, our balanced and restrictive drug policy is limiting the damage done by illegal drug use in the United States and around the world.

The promises of drug legalization are bogus. Legalizing marijuana would not stop the production, sale, or use of illegal marijuana. If marijuana were taxed and regulated, there would be plenty of marijuana grown and sold on the black market. Furthermore, normalizing marijuana use would increase demand in both the legal and illegal markets.

The tax bonanza promoted by legalization advocates is hard to take seriously. Legal marijuana sales would struggle to compete with black-market sales, which would continue to provide more potent products at lower, tax-free prices. To the extent that there would be tax revenues from legal marijuana, they would pale in comparison to the social costs. In the United States, the tax revenues from alcohol and tobacco are far less than their social costs. Is this an attractive precedent? I don’t think so.

The public has been led to believe that this politically potent movement is just about marijuana. It is not. Every argument made today in support of marijuana legalization is also being made – or will be made – for other illegal drugs.

The real drug-abuse challenge facing the world today is seldom recognized, let alone debated. It is rooted not in politics, but in biology. Drugs of abuse, including marijuana, target the brain’s reward system more intensely than natural pleasures such as food and sex. Drugs are addicting not because users experience withdrawal when they stop using them, but because they produce a brain reward that the once-addicted brain never forgets. That is why relapses to drug use are so common long after all withdrawal symptoms have passed.

Legalizing drugs, including marijuana, is absolutely not the new and better idea to reduce the toll of illegal drug use.

To combat the rising demand for illegal drugs around the world, we must fashion more effective strategies to limit the use of drugs of abuse outside legitimate and controlled medical situations – strategies that are affordable and compatible with contemporary laws and culture. This is an enormous task, but one that can be completed with international cooperation and leadership. Drug use can be reduced by, among other things, implementing strong prevention strategies, increasing access to treatment, improving quality of treatment, and leveraging the criminal justice system to reduce drug use while also reducing recidivism and incarceration. Legalizing drugs, including marijuana, is absolutely not the new and better idea to reduce the toll of illegal drug use.

As for Uruguay, President José Mujica and his legislature have produced a media sensation. It is difficult to imagine that legalizing marijuana as envisioned in Uruguay’s proposed law could result in the reduction of Uruguay’s role as a country used for drug transit for Paraguayan marijuana and Bolivian cocaine. Monitoring the outcomes of this policy change is enormously important. Sadly, there is little doubt that the new law will encourage the use and sale of marijuana and other drugs of abuse both in Uruguay and in the international marketplace.

Having spent four decades working to reduce drug use and lower the devastating public-health costs of drug abuse, I struggle to understand why so many otherwise sensible and responsible people accept the drug legalization hogwash.

By Join Together Staff | September 5, 2013 | Leave a comment | Filed in Drugs

Laboratories in China are becoming a significant source of synthetic drug production, according to Time.com. Drugs produced in China can easily be shipped to North America or Europe, using international courier services.

Chinese chemists are staying one step ahead of law enforcement, creating new variations of substances in anticipation of current versions being declared illegal. Wynbo Shi, Senior Regulatory Affairs Manager for a chemical inspection and regulation service, says dozens of labs in China produce synthetic drugs without meaningful government regulation. In June, The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released a report that concluded the increasing popularity of designer drugs is an alarming public health problem. The number of new synthetic drugs rose by more than 50 percent in less than three years, the report states.

The drugs are a particular cause for concern because in many places they are legal, and are sold openly on the Internet. They have not been tested for safety, and can be much more dangerous than traditional drugs, according to the UNODC. The harmless names of the drugs, such as “spice” and “bath salts,” encourage young people to think they are low-risk fun. “The adverse effects and addictive potential of most of these uncontrolled substances are at best poorly understood,” the agency wrote in its 2013 World Drug Report.

Source:  www.drugfree.org/join-together  Sept. 2013

The first study of the global dependence upon illicit drugs has revealed dependence on opiods, such as heroin, causes the greatest health burden of all the illict drugs.

The results come from new analysis of the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010.

A team of Australian and US researchers, led by Professor Louisa Degenhardt from UNSW’s National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, performed a comprehensive search of available data on the prevalence and effects of amphetamines, cannabis, cocaine, and opioids. Other drugs, including MDMA (ecstasy) and hallucinogens such as LSD, were not included in the analysis due to a lack of high quality data on their prevalence and health effects.

The results, published today in The Lancet, show that the burden in the worst affected countries, including Australia, was 20 times greater than in the least affected countries. Other largely high-income nations such as the US and UK had similar poor outcomes.

The researchers also found that disability and illness caused by the four drugs studied has increased by over half in the 20 years between 1990 and 2010. Although some of this increase is due to increasing population size, over a fifth (22%) of the increase is thought to be due to increasing prevalence of drug use disorders, particularly for opioid dependence. Of the around 78,000 deaths in 2010 attributed to drug disorders, more than half (55%) were thought to be due to opioid dependence.

Regional breakdown of the results shows that the highest prevalence of cocaine dependence was in North America and Latin America, and among the highest levels of opioid dependence were in Australasia and Western Europe. The UK, US, South Africa, and Australia all had notably high overall burdens of death and illness due to illicit drugs.

“Our results clearly show that illicit drug use is an important contributor to the global disease burden, and we now have the first global picture of this cause of health loss,” says Professor Degenhardt.

“Young men aged 20-29 are disproportionately affected at a crucial time in their lives.

“Although we have fewer means of responding to some causes of burden, such as cocaine and amphetamine dependence, well-evaluated and effective interventions can substantially reduce two major causes of burden – opioid dependence and injecting drug use. The challenge will be to deliver these efficiently and on a scale needed to have an effect on a population level,” she says.

Effective strategies to reduce the burden of opioid dependence and injecting drug use include opioid substitution treatment.

Source:  www.healthcanal.com  30.08.2023

by Fabio Bernabei

The consequences of what’s happening in Uruguay are certainly not destined to remain within the boundaries of that South American nation and could have important consequences for the peoples all over the world.

The Uruguay left-wing government have decided to pass a national law, for now in the Lower House by a narrow margin (50 votes against 46), pending the vote in the Senate, which unilaterally wipe out the obligation to respect the rules and controls set under UN Conventions on Drugs, legitimizing the cultivation and sale of cannabis.   José Alberto Mujica Cordano, current head of State and Government, is the kingpin for this decisive turning-point against the population will who’s for 63% contrary to the legitimacy of cannabis.

The President Mujica Cordano, at the beginning of the parliamentary process to ratify that unjustified violation of international law, refused to meet the delegation of the International Narcotics Control Board-INCB, an independent body that monitors implementation of the UN Conventions on Drugs by the signatory States such as Uruguay.   The INCB, stated in an press release, in line with its mandate, “has always aimed at maintaining a dialogue with the Government of Uruguay on this issue, including proposing a mission to the country at the highest-level. The Board regrets that the Government of Uruguay refused to receive an INCB mission before the draft law was submitted to Parliament for deliberation”

. A one more (il)legal precedent disrespectful the International Community.

In an attempt to reassure the international public opinion, President José Mujica, told the Brazilian press his government will not allow unlimited use of marijuana and illicit drug dealing: “And if somebody buys 20 marijuana cigarettes, he will have to smoke them. He won’t be able to sell them”.    Amazing statement, unless you put a police officer to shadow each individual, legal, buyer, as long as he has smoked it all and he did it in moderation!

In order to convince the majority of the Uruguayan population, contrary to the legalization, the President Mujica has promised to launch at the same time “a campaign aimed at young people on how to consume marijuana. Avoid, for example, to smoke to not damage the lungs but inhale or consume it with food”.

Nothing new: the Pro-Legalizer Lobby is interested from the very beginning in the psychoactive effects of cannabis on the conscience of the people, to scale up drug use and to cause a social revolution in “interiore homine” .But for that it’s necessary do not have big health emergencies so to provoke a social alarm inside the public opinion that could spark a strong reaction of parents in defense of their kids as happened in some countries in the past times.

For the ideological anti-prohibitionist front the so called “Harm Reduction”of the drug use is a constant concern so to scheme a “pragmatic” strategy, seemingly far from the “ideal” one of the Hippy movement, which was codified in 1990 “Frankfurt Resolution”.

An anti-prohibitionists stereotype, used by President Mujica Cordano, is also the cliché according to the promotion by the State of production and use of the drugs would defeat the illegal drug trafficking, whereas each legalization in any part of the world has always created a “gray” market close to the “black” one which was never replaced by the “legal” market.    The popular protests seem to push the Uruguayan government to hold a referendum on the new anti-prohibitionist legislation. For that reason the Open Society

Foundation headed by the financier George Soros has announced the launch of a massive media campaign across the nation to manipulate the public consensus

.Yesterday a social revolution by “armed propaganda” …  today by drugs?

How it is possible that a government violates international law and respect for human rights enshrined in the UN Conventions on Drugs in a such harsh way, you can tell by reading the biography on the official page of the President of Uruguay, José Mujica Cordano, cofounder of the ‘60 Movimiento de Liberación Nacional-MLN-Tupamaros, along with Raúl Sendic and others.

The Marxist inspired group practiced guerrilla warfare, along with every kind of crime: theft, robbery and kidnapping of people, by what they call “armed propaganda” in their manual of subversion “Nous les Tupamaros” (We, the Tupamaros).

Convicted of numerous crimes José Mujica will be arrested and his organization dismantled. Convicted of numerous crimes will serve fourteen years in jail until the general amnesty of 1985 enacted to reopen a national reconciliation and a new democratic season. José Mujica, who never abandoned his own ideals, once free gave life, with other leaders of the MLN and some sectors of the Left, to a new party: the Movimiento de Participación Popular (MPP).

The Tupamaros, founded by the current President of Uruguay, represented a turning point in Latin America bringing the Terror firmly inside the cities with spectacular actions that gave them worldwide visibility: “The Tupamaros attracted a great deal of attention in the world media , but in final analysis the only result of their operations was the destruction of freedom in a country that is almost alone in Latin America, had an unbroken democratic tradition, however imperfect.”

More, the Tupamaros extolled the primacy of the intellectual propaganda, summed up in their slogan: “Las palabras nos separan, the acción nos une” (Words divide us, the action unites us).

The ideology of Tupamaros was never presented in any single official document. In fact the Tupamaros  actions, nor political statement or ideological platform, “were the way most important for the creation of a revolutionary consciousness”.

For their goals the Tupamaros argued it should be used every means, even the use of the violence, in their words, “a legitimate means, the more powerful tool and more effective way to gain power.”  Violence never indiscriminate or excessive,  to not frighten the public opinion in which they sought sympathy and support.

The Tupamaros, former or epigones, nowadays to set off a “revolutionary collective consciousness” seems to prefer the use of marijuana but with the foresight to put, at least nominally, some limitations. This to avoid to be defeated, as happened in Italy, Sweden and the United States, by the popular reaction to the suffering, moral degradation and violence subsequent to the legalization laws pro “personal” drug use during the ’60 and ’70.

The unprecedented attack to the International Law, and the disregards of the uruguayan people will, have obtained the same worldwide clamor of the violent actions of the Tupamaros led by, the now President, Mujica,

Imposing the production and sale of drugs as a Common Good to be protected by law is unquestionably, for all its possible consequences, the more “revolutionary” act never accomplished by Tupamaros in respect of International law, Human Rights and Core Democratic Values.  But drug legalization is a key factor who anyone want a deep revolution inside a civil society. Legalize marijuana it’s an important step, the Radical

Party leader, Marco Pannella, told at the founding meeting of the International League Antiprohibitionist (LIA) in 1987, “as has been the introduction of the Divorce and Abortion laws”.

That’s because, the then European Commissioner, and now italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Emma Bonino admitted: “in fact, on the question of drugs (old, new or brand new) you play one fundamental game. A challenge between two opposing political and cultural models. A comparison between two different kind of societies to be built. ”

Pope Francis: “Do not let yourselves be robbed of hope!” Fight the drug legalization !

Pope Francis, following in predecessors footsteps, gave a warning about the danger of marijuana legalization in a speech during the Brazil Apostolic Journey: “The scourge of drug-trafficking, that favours violence and sows the seeds of suffering and death, requires of society as a whole an act of courage. A reduction in the spread and influence of drug addiction will not be achieved by a liberalization of drug use, as is currently being proposed in various parts of Latin America”. In the same speech, the Holy Father invited all of us to consider that there is “a sure future, set against a different horizon with regard to the illusory enticements of the idols of this world, yet granting new momentum and strength to our daily lives” (Lumen Fidei, 57). To all of you, I repeat: Do not let yourselves be robbed of hope! Do not let yourselves be robbed of hope! And not only that, but I say to us all: let us not rob others of hope, let us become bearers of hope!”

Let us not “be ropped of hope” of a future that has “a different perspective” from the “illusory enticements of the idols” of the Tupamaros and High Finance and the Antiproibitionist utopias.

In his Pastoral Handbook, the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care wrote on that topic: “We need to be able to identify and recognise the importance of drug lobbies, as well as the pressure they place on civil authorities and within the whole society, in order to fight them with the various weapons at our disposal: political, economic, and judicial; and, at national, regional and international levels.

In particular, it would be wise for all civil authorities, to set in place laws and norms to effectively fight at all levels the networks of drugs, refusing to decriminalise any use of them. Decriminalisation opens the door to total liberation, leading only to the perpetuation of drug addiction”.

Let us “become bearers of hope”, and push stronger the fight against any kind of sale, free or for profit, authorized or illegal, of any drugs!

Fabio Bernabei  (fabio.bernabeigmail.com)

Footnotes 1http://globovision.com/articulo/para-producir-cannabis-uruguay-planea-entregar-licencias-a-privados#.UfrRNQ4VB8U.twitter 2  www.elobservador.com.uy/septimodia/post/889/la-revolucion/ 3  www.unis.unvienna.org/unis/en/pressrels/2013/unisnar1176.html 4 www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/southamerica/uruguay/9347452/Uruguay-marijuana-sales-to-be-controlled-by-state.html 5www.lastampa.it/2013/02/21/esteri/l-ultima-sfida-del-presidente-mujica-vi-insegno-come-usare-la-marijuana-9DqZIHKyZ7zAX1sA3cAL3K/pagina.html

Drug traffickers in the central city of Da Nang have switched their focus on methamphetamine and heroin from opium and marijuana over the last two years, a senior police officer told a press conference on drug prevention on Friday.

Lieutenant colonel Nguyen Xuan Cuong, Deputy Head of Counter Narcotics Office under the city’s Public Security Department, said the number of traffickers caught with methamphetamine in 2012 was seven times more than the amount in 2011.

Cuong added the city’s narcotics police force last year arrested a total of 128 drug offenders with 921.4 grams of methamphetamine, 54 grams of heroin and 133.6 grams of marijuana extracts.

A report at the conference shows there are an estimated 1,500 addicts and drug users at rehabilitation centers across the city.

Source: www.tuoitrenews.vn   16th June 2013

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law introducing tests for students that will determine if they use drugs or psychotropic substances.

The federal law On Changes to Specific Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation on Issues Relating to the Prevention of Illegal (Non-Medical) Consumption of Drugs and Psychotropic Substances was passed by the State Duma on May 15 and approved by the Federation Council on May 29, the Kremlin reported on its website.

The document amends the legislation by introducing a system for early detection of the use by students of secondary and vocational schools of narcotic substances and psychotropic substances without a doctor’s prescription.

The law also outlines the powers of the federal and local authorities in the prevention of illegal drug consumption, including the powers to establish procedures and administer socio-psychological tests and preventive evaluations of students for early detection of drug abuse.

According to earlier reports, the law provides that teenagers younger than 15 will be tested with the consent of their parents and teenagers who are older than 15 can give their own consent to such tests.

The purpose of drug tests on students is to located risk groups and provide timely medical and psychological assistance.

Russian Deputy Education and Science Minister Alexander Klimov, who represented the bill at the State Duma meeting, said the socio-psychological evaluations will be conducted in the form of conversations and tests.

“Doctors will conduct these tests using modern technologies,” he said, pointing out that the results of the tests will be confidential by law. “It will be strictly controlled,” he said.

Source: www.rbth.ru   8th June 2013

China needs to put more effort into teaching young people not to use drugs, rather than just strengthening programs to help drug abusers, experts say.

Prevention and treatment is not keeping up with drug use trends in Asia, said Chris Chapleo, scientific & clinical affairs director, at the first conference of national youth substance abuse in China, an event organized by the China Association of Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment.

Statistics show that students in renowned middle and high schools are less accessible to drug dealers, thanks to the education campaign promoted by the government.

Wang Zengzhen, professor at Tongji Medical University, said more attention to and emotional intervention in pilot training programs have proved to be more efficient that doing nothing in the schooling system.

Recent years have seen an increasing number of young drug addicts in China using both traditional substances and newly invented ones. “It is not only the problems of young addicts, but their families,” said Zhao Min, vice president of Shanghai Mental Health Center.

Meanwhile, young people in Guangdong province, Fujian province and other regions of the country prefer cough syrup containing codeine and ephedrine, both of which are addictive substances.

“The youngsters store the cough syrup and condense the medicine to extract the drug they need,” said He Rihui, director of the youth addict treatment center at Wu Jing Zong Dui Hospital of Guangdong Province.

Eighty-seven percent of cough syrup addicts said they began substance abuse between the ages of 12 and 18. And because of the adverse effects on their health, 69 percent of cough syrup abusers are unable to work and stay at home.

“More professional staff are needed so that measurements can be more useful than they were in previous period of treatment and prevention,” said Shi Jianchun, deputy director of the Association of Drug Abuse Education in Beijing.

Source:  chinadaily.com.cn   2013-05-23

When 13-year-old Tamara Chevez came home from school last October, she said she was going to her bedroom for a rest. A few hours later her family found her dead. Tests indicated that she had died from a mix of cocaine and sedatives, drugs she allegedly got while at school. Although it was not the first such death in Ecuador’s largest city, Guayaquil, what happened to Tamara sparked a media frenzy. For several weeks reporters carried out investigations in schools, uncovering cases of drug dealing among students.

Unlike neighbouring Colombia and Peru, the world’s largest exporters of cocaine, Ecuador is largely free of coca crops. However, the country is considered an important transit point for drug trafficking to North America and Europe. And that means drugs are available locally for relatively affordable sums. A few grams of marijuana cost as little as $0.50 (30p), while a dose of perica, a derivation of cocaine mixed with other substances, is sold for $1.

“Cartels pay intermediaries through money and drugs. These intermediaries distribute drugs to micro-traffickers who use vulnerable groups to sell the drugs, such as boys and girls that have been excluded from the educational system,” said Interior Minister Jose Serrano.

Security in and around Guayaquil’s high schools has been increased. Drugs are not just sold around schools but within them. According to one head teacher, students find any number of ways to smuggle them in – hidden in pens, in the folds of their uniform or in the pages of their notebooks.

“Drugs are present in schools, just like theft and violence, because they are present in society. All the things that are present in society are present in schools,” says Ricardo Loor, drugs prevention expert at the Guayaquil branch of Ecuador’s drugs agency, Consep.

Tamara Chevez’s death prompted calls for schools to take immediate measures against drug dealing. Many schools stepped up the checks on students entering and exiting the premises, often involving parents as monitors. Some Guayaquil schools asked the police to carry out bag inspections and do checks with sniffer dogs. Many head teachers also invited officers to come into classrooms to talk about the danger of drugs.

Responding to the high demand, Guayaquil’s anti-narcotics department trained community police officers to talk to schoolchildren, a project that is due to be expanded in 2013.

Monica Franco, vice-minister of educational management, said that these policies were not a response to the media outcry, but rather were part of the government’s ongoing prevention efforts. A project bringing police officers into schools to talk about drugs is set to be expanded in the coming year “There hasn’t been any drastic change,” says Ms Franco. “This issue has been exacerbated by the media who are opposed to the government.”

Whatever the reasons behind the media’s attention, drug trafficking, and its impact on public security, is a major concern for the Ecuadorean government. According to the 2012 US state department report on narcotics worldwide, Mexico’s Zetas, Sinaloa and Gulf Cartels, as well as Colombia’s Farc rebels, move cocaine through Ecuador.

There is also evidence that more cocaine is now being refined in Ecuador.

Some security analysts talk of a rise in crime connected to trafficking, although the country is far from being at the levels of drug-related violence associated with Mexico or Central America. In the past two years, the army has been deployed to the streets to support police work, while the police force has been revamped in a bid, according to officials, to enhance prevention and investigation techniques.

In one high school in Guayaquil, the authorities say they believe drug consumption has dropped in the last few weeks. The issue of drugs, and policing, inspired someone to paint this graffiti outside a school in Guayaquil

“At the beginning I thought that we could not eradicate this evil, but if we all contribute, we can lower the levels,” says head teacher Luis Benavides, whose school in Guayaquil has seen student-run prevention campaigns and workshops for parents. But others believe broader strategies are required. “The problem of drugs does not get resolved simply by a talk, workshop or contingency plan,” says Luis Chancay, a teacher and president of the local branch of the National Teachers Union. “We need to find ways to give young people future perspectives,” he says, tackling drug use as a social and health rather than a policing issue.

Tamara’s death shocked Ecuadoreans into talking about the drugs problem in schools; the challenge is to keep the anti-drugs efforts going once the media attention fades.

“They spent months campaigning, but then they leave it, until you have another case, and then they start up again,” said 18-year-old student Patricio. “In my view, it should be continuous so students my age realise that people worry about them and that they are not alone.”

Source:bbc.co.uk 3rd January 2012

About 100 members of the Somali community have demonstrated outside Downing Street to call on the government to ban a herbal high.

Khat, which is illegal in the US and many countries in Europe, has been chewed for centuries in east Africa and the Middle East. The campaigners said it caused medical problems and family breakdowns.

The Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs is currently reviewing the harms associated with khat.

Effects of chewing the leaves of the khat plant include euphoria and extreme talkativeness, but side effects can include dizziness, heart problems and anxiety.

Fears have been raised that the stimulant is contributing to mental health problems within the communities that use it. Richard Hamilton, Africa editor for the BBC World Service, attended the demonstration.He said research suggested that more than a third of the over 100,000 Somalis in the UK have admitted to consuming khat on a regular basis.

The demonstrators said that the drug caused mental illness, depression, cancer and death from liver failure. They added that the social impact of khat has kept men away from work and led to the disintegration of families and local communities. Abukar Awale, who organised the demonstration, is himself a former khat addict.

“The number of families who are breaking down due to khat is beyond your imagination,” he said. There is clear evidence of medical and social harm.

“I’d like to bring to your attention a report which came out in 2011, called ‘khat related deaths’ there are fourteen cases – all young men, all of them died of liver failure.

“They are not related. The one factor they all have in common is excessive khat use, which leads us to believe there is huge evidence of medical harm.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “The Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) is currently reviewing the harms associated with khat. The government is required to consult the ACMD and will not prejudge this advice. The home secretary will consider the advice fully when it has been received, which is likely to be later this year.”

Source: www.bbc.co.uk/news 1st Nov 2012

Thailand will employ a proactive strategy in tackling drugs, the secretary of the National Narcotic Prevention and Supression Commission, Pol General Pongsapat Pongcharoen, said.

The offensive will take place throughout the Kingdom, starting with 12 communities in Klong Toei slum, and will involve monitoring those who have been treated after they were found to have drug addiction, he said.

Pongsapat, who is also a deputy chief of the National Police, said in the weekly television programme “PM Yingluck meets the people” that over the past year many big-time drug dealers had been arrested. But he was still concerned about drug addiction and trafficking in communities in Bangkok and its surrounding provinces.

This, he said, had led to the designation of various communities in order to better tackle the problem and many youths have given tips to the authorities while some of those affected in communities were yet to receive proper care that should include post-addiction livelihood training.

Pongsapat cited Klong Toei slum as the most drug-prone, especially in areas called Lock 1-3 and Lock 4-5 over a 70-rai area and occupied by some 7,000 to 8,000 people.

Some 3,000 youths were thought to be at risk, said Pongsapat, and the authorities had surrounded the communities to “x-ray every inch over a 90-day period”, which began on October 1. That includes police patrols, installing CCTV cameras and officers at all the 18 entrance and exits. This, he said, had led to many arrests so far.

Another measure is to campaign in the community that those addicted are like sick people and since October 14, 106 people, including parents and youths, had voluntarily sought drug treatment. These people were being sent to various treatment centres and it would take from 45 to 120 days for the rehabilitation process to conclude.

The Education Ministry has also been asked to help look after children who have no access to education in the areas. Deputy Premier Chalerm Yoobamrung has been appointed as director of Palang Paendin (Power of the Land) Centre that seeks to win the “war on drugs”.

Throughout the country, 878 districts will deploy a strategy similar to what is being used in a Klong Toei slum, including crackdowns on drug transport and trafficking. Three areas in Bangkok will be particularly targeted along with nine provinces.

More than 400,000 people have been rehabilitated so far and the government is trying to introduce a one-stop service centre.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yingluck went to a Klong Toei slum yesterday to inaugurate the Baan Unjai Project (Reassuring Home Project), coinciding with the crackdown on drugs in the area.

Yesterday morning, two drug users were arrested in the area for possessing “ice”.

Dusit Poll, meanwhile, revealed that a majority of respondents supported Priephan Damapong as deputy premier to tackle the drugs issue.
Source: www.asiaone.com 21st Oct.2012


RIO DE JANEIRO—Business was brisk in the Mandela shantytown on a recent night. In the glow of a weak light bulb, customers pawed through packets of powdered cocaine and marijuana priced at $5, $10, $25. Teenage boys with semiautomatic weapons took in money and made change while flirting with girls in belly-baring tops lounging nearby.

Next to them, a gaggle of kids jumped on a trampoline, oblivious to the guns and drug-running that are part of everyday life in this and hundreds of other slums, known as favelas, across this metropolitan area of 12 million people. Conspicuously absent from the scene was crack, the most addictive and destructive drug in the triad that fuels Rio’s lucrative narcotics trade.

Once crack was introduced here about six years ago, Mandela and the surrounding complex of shantytowns became Rio’s main outdoor drug market, a “cracolandia,” or crackland, where users bought the rocks, smoked and lingered until the next hit. Hordes of addicts lived in cardboard shacks and filthy blankets, scrambling for cash and a fix.

Now, there was no crack on the rough wooden table displaying the goods for sale, and the addicts were gone. The change hadn’t come from any police or public health campaign. Instead, the dealers themselves have stopped selling the drug in Mandela and nearby Jacarezinho in a move that traffickers and others say will spread citywide within the next two years.

The drug bosses, often born and raised in the very slums they now lord over, say crack destabilizes their communities, making it harder to control areas long abandoned by the government. Law enforcement and city authorities, however, take credit for the change, arguing that drug gangs are only trying to create a distraction and persuade police to call off an offensive to take back the slums. Dealers shake their heads, insisting it was their decision to stop selling crack, the crystalized form of cocaine.

“Crack has been nothing but a disgrace for Rio. It’s time to stop,” said the drug boss in charge. He is Mandela’s second-in-command—a stocky man wearing a Lacoste shirt, heavy gold jewelry and a backpack bulging with $100,000 in drugs and cash. At 37, he’s an elder in Rio’s most established faction, the Comando Vermelho, or Red Command. He’s wanted by police, and didn’t want his name published.

He discussed the decision as he watched the night’s profits pile up in neat, rubber-banded stacks from across the narrow street. He kept one hand on his pistol and the other on a crackling radio that squawked out sales elsewhere in the slum and warned of police. The talk of crack left him agitated; he raised his voice, drawing looks from the fidgety young men across the road. Although crack makes him a lot of money, he has his own reasons to resent the drug; everyone who comes near it does, he said.

His brother—the one who studied, left the shantytown and joined the air force—fell prey to it. Crack users smoke it and often display more addictive behavior. The brother abandoned his family and his job, and now haunts the edges of the slum with other addicts. “I see this misery,” he said. “I’m a human being too, and I’m a leader here. I want to say I helped stop this.”

For the ban to really take hold, it would need the support of the city’s two other reigning factions: the Amigos dos Amigos, or Friends of Friends, and the Terceiro Comando, Third Command. That would mean giving up millions in profits. According to an estimate by the country’s Security Committee of the House and the Federal Police, Brazilians consume between 800 kilos and 1.2 tons of crack a day, a total valued at about $10 million.

It’s unclear how much Rio’s traffickers earn from the drug, but police apprehensions show a surge in its availability in the state. In 2008, police seized 14 kilos; two years later the annual seizure came to 200 kilos, according to the Public Security Institute. Nonetheless, the other gangs are signing up, said attorney Flavia Froes. Her clients include the most notorious figures of Rio’s underbelly, and she has been shuttling between them, visiting favelas and far-flung high-security prisons to talk up the idea.

“They’re joining en masse. They realized that this experience with crack was not good, even though it was lucrative. The social costs were tremendous. This wasn’t a drug for the rich; it was hitting their own communities.”

As Froes walks these slums, gingerly navigating potholed roads in six-inch stiletto heels and rhinestone-studded jeans, men with a gun in each hand defer to her, calling her “doutora,” or doctor, because of her studies, or “senhora,” or ma’am, out of respect. “While stocks last, they’ll sell. But it’s not being bought anymore,” she said. “Today we can say with certainty that we’re looking at the end of crack in Rio de Janeiro.”

Even those who question the traffickers’ sudden surge of social conscience say the idea of the city’s drug lords coming together to ban crack isn’t far-fetched. After all, a similar deal between factions kept the drug out of Rio for years.

Crack first took hold in Sao Paulo, the country’s business capital, during the 1990s. In the early 2000s, it spread across Brazil in an epidemic reminiscent of the one the U.S. had experienced decades earlier. A recent survey found it was eventually sold or consumed in 98 percent of Brazilian municipalities. Most of the cities were too understaffed, underfunded and uninformed to resist its onslaught. And yet, an agreement between factions kept crack a rarity in Rio until a handful of years ago, said Mario Sergio Duarte, Rio state’s former police chief.

“Rio was always cocaine and marijuana,” he said. “If drug traffickers are coming up with this strategy of going back to cocaine and marijuana, it’s not because they suddenly developed an awareness, or because they want to be charitable and help the addicts. It’s just that crack brings them too much trouble to be worth it.”

Duarte believes dealers turned to crack when their other business started losing ground within the city.

Police started taking back slums long given over to the drug trade as Rio vied to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. The plan disrupted trade, and the factions began hemorrhaging money, said Duarte. Crack seemed like the solution, and the drug flooded the market.

“Crack was profit; it’s cheap, but it sells. Addiction comes quick. They were trying to make up their losses,” he said. Soon, the gangs were being haunted by the consequences.

Unlike the customers who came for marijuana or cocaine, dropped cash and left, crack users hung around the sales points, scraping for money for the next hit. They broke the

social code that usually maintains a tense calm in the slums; they stole, begged, threatened or sold their bodies to get their next rock. Their presence made the hard life there nearly unbearable.

The Mandela drug boss said crack even sapped the drug kingpins’ authority. “How can I tell someone he can’t steal, when I know I sold him the drugs that made him this way?” he said. Many saw their own family members and childhood friends fall under the drug’s spell.

“The same crack I sell to your son is being sold to mine. I talked to one of the pioneers in selling crack in Rio. His son’s using now. Everyone is saying we have to stop.”

In Mandela, residents had to step over crack users on their way between home and work and warn their children to be careful around the “zombies.” “There were robberies in the favela, violence, people killed in the middle of the street, people having sex or taking a crap anywhere,” said Cleber, an electronics repair shop owner who has lived in Mandela for 16 years. He declined to give his last name because he lives in a neighborhood ruled by gang members, and like many, prefers not to comment publicly.

“Now we’re going out again, we can set up a barbecue pit outside, have a drink with friends, without them gathering around,” he said. “We’re a little more at ease.”

Researcher Ignacio Cano, at the Violence Analysis Center of Rio de Janeiro State University, said crack is still being sold outside only select communities and that it’s hard to tell if the stop is a temporary, local measure or a real shift in operations citywide. He said unprecedented pressure bore down on drug gangs once they began selling crack. In particular, the addicts’ encampments were sources of social and health problems, drawing the attention of the authorities.

Since March 2011, dawn raids involving police, health and welfare officials began taking users off the streets to offer treatment, food, a checkup and a hot shower. Since then, 4,706 people have cycled through the system. Of those, 663 were children or teenagers.

“I have operations every day, all over Rio,” said Daphne Braga, who coordinates the effort for the city welfare office. At the same time, crack became such a dramatic problem nationally that the government allocated special funds to combat it, including a $253 million campaign launched by President Dilma Rousseff in May 2010 to stem the drug trade. Last November, another $2 billion were set aside to create treatment centers for addicts and get them off the streets. In May, 150 federal police officers occupied a Rio favela to implement a pilot program fighting the crack trade and helping users.

“There are many reasons why they might stop,” said Cano.

Crack’s social cost is clear where the drug is still sold, right outside Mandela and Jacarezinho. In the shantytown of Manguinhos, along a violent area known as the Gaza Strip, an army of crack addicts lives in encampments next to a rail line.

Another couple hundred gather inside the slum, buying from a stand inside a little restaurant. Customers eat next to young men with guns and must step around a table laden with packaged drugs and tightly bound wads of cash to use the restroom. Crack users smoke outside, by the lights of a community soccer field where an animated game draws onlookers late into the night.

Source: Associated PressAssociated Press: 08/18/12

Recreational users and hard-core addicts in the U.S. give little thought to the violence by Mexican cartels that is consuming our southern neighbor.

Illegal drugs by the tons are smuggled into California each year by sea, by land and by air. Cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine and heroin are either produced in or pass through Mexico, where 50,000 people have been killed in the last six years in an escalating war among cartels. Some of the victims have been beheaded, mutilated or left hanging from bridges, not necessarily because of their involvement in the trade, but as a diabolical demonstration that the drug lords will stop at nothing to dominate the market.

Those drugs end up in every neighborhood in Southern California and every city in the United States, feeding a never-ending hunger. But few people north of the border seem to make the connection. The Mexican carnage is conveniently distant. It’s Mexico’s problem, not ours.
When a 24-year-old Echo Park illustrator and recreational drug user goes to a warehouse party or a dance club, she told me, cocaine, Ecstasy and other drugs are always available and often used openly. Given the horrific stories from Mexico, I wondered if the price of those drugs is ever a consideration.

“I do definitely realize that I have a connection to it, and it’s sad,” said the illustrator. “It’s one of those things I’ll try not to think about. It’ll cross my mind and I’ll push it out.”

In 2011, the Los Angeles Police Department seized 11,378 kilos of cocaine, 3,426 kilos of marijuana, nine kilos of heroin and 304 kilos of methamphetamine, along with $16.3 million in suspected drug money, according to the department.

When you walk through the terminals at LAX, not everyone is carrying toiletries, socks and underwear in their suitcases. Several million dollars in cash was seized last year, officials said, much of it stuffed into luggage carried by couriers who were transporting drug payments.

In April, yet another panga boat was spotted off the coast of Malibu, and the Coast Guard took custody of three men and 80 bales of marijuana, which were valued at $1.6 million. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said that bumped the stats, since last October, to 51 arrests, with 14 panga boats and 11,000 pounds of marijuana seized.

But those busts and others never seem to nick the operations of the staggeringly rich and powerful cartels, nor do they do much to stem the availability of drugs or the insatiable demand by everyone from occasional recreational users to hard-core, seriously diseased addicts.

The drugs pouring into California don’t all stay here, of course. Greater Los Angeles serves as a distribution point for drugs that get shipped through the nation. But we get our hands on a piece of the goods too.

“On the Southside, you’ll see them slinging it in the streets. In Hollywood, it’s in clubs or behind closed doors and you and I will never see it,” a ranking officer in the LAPD’s Gangs and Narcotics Division told me. “On the Westside it’s the same thing, and we can’t do any enforcement unless someone picks up the phone.”

In some places, like skid row, there are no mysteries as to where the drugs are. On countless occasions, I’ve seen people selling, buying and using, and once watched a woman die of a heroin overdose on her way to the hospital. In other neighborhoods, the action is only slightly less concealed.

“It’s ridiculously easy” to find drugs in the San Fernando Valley, a 48-year-old recovering cocaine addict named Josh told me. Find a motel or liquor store near a row of apartment buildings in a so-so neighborhood, he said, go into the nearest alley, and someone will appear, asking if you want anything.

Josh got clean 15 years ago, works in construction and now tries to help other addicts keep from losing jobs and driving away loved ones, as he once did. When I called the Cocaine Anonymous help line in the Valley, it was Josh who answered, and he offered suggestions on the many meetings I might attend to learn more.

“Every single walk of life you can imagine is covered in the meetings,” said Josh. “As a matter of fact, at one meeting I go to there’s a lawyer, a podiatrist, there’s another lady who’s a nurse…. All races, male, female, it doesn’t matter.” He sees lots of musicians, he said, as well as people in the entertainment business who work both behind and in front of the camera.

The cartels “wouldn’t be in business without us,” Josh said of drug addicts. But as for there being blood on the hands of those whose business is fought over by gangs that torture, kill and terrorize, he said he wouldn’t go that far. “Indirectly, yeah,” there’s a connection. “But directly, you’re talking about Mexican Mafia-type people. They’re going to do what they’re going to do, regardless.”

Maybe so, but I don’t think it’s that easy to wash our hands of any responsibility.
I recognize that any serious addict has a disease, and a chemical craving that can’t be cured by an appeal to conscience. But I’m appealing to the greater, collective conscience.

It’s time to examine why we’ve built such a culture of addiction — whether the devil is alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs or illegal drugs. It’s time again to question every aspect of U.S. drug policy, and to consider a heavier reliance on prevention and treatment, with fewer resources thrown at the impossible task of cutting off the flow of drugs by land, sea and air.

Fifty thousand neighbors have been killed, many of them savagely. That’s almost equal to the number of U.S. soldiers killed in the Vietnam War. In Mexico, many of the dead were innocent victims of our cravings, and they are not done digging graves.

Source: steve.lopezlatimes.com

“It’s extraordinarily simplistic for the Global Commission to advocate that decriminalising drugs will lead to reduced addiction rates and less crime.  The idea that drug abuse is a victimless crime is also hugely over-simplifying things.

In Scotland there is a huge problem with drug addiction and this has become dramatically worse over recent decades. Such is the scale of the problem now that we have a detection rate of just 1 per cent of all the heroin that’s consumed in Scotland.

That’s a figure we should be hugely discomforted by and it gives us an idea of the scale of the problem we’re facing. The Global Commission’s recommendations seem to have given up on the idea of getting addicts off drugs and seem to be accepting it’s a problem that’s here to stay.

As things stand, we are already leaving too many addicts for too long on methadone, for example. We need to have a policy of supporting people to move from increased stability to abstinence. Legalising drugs would open the floodgates to more drugs problems and would be a catastrophe for the country.

There are areas in Scotland where drug use is already rife, such as some estates in the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. If drugs were no longer illegal this would spread rapidly and get out of all control very quickly, we would end up with a drug problem that’s of a similar scale to the one we currently have with alcohol.

The policy advocated by the Global Commission would also lead to higher levels of crime and would corrupt the economy, and there would be huge economic power left with these businesses selling drugs. The power of the drugs gangs would remain in place, but they would now be legitimate in the eyes of the law and would be more likely to diversify into other areas of crime.

We would also see some companies that are currently legitimate corrupted by their involvement in the drugs trade. This has already happened in Columbia, where the gangs have become more powerful and have influence over more parts of society.

Drug dealers and organised crime would all of a sudden have so much more influence and this would be hugely damaging to Scottish society as a whole. We have to look at how to solve the problems with drugs in a much more measured way and that means having joined up strategies in place to treat addicts, as well as an effective criminal justice system.

One of the biggest problems of all though is that we have become too accustomed to having a drug problem in Scotland over the past 20 years and have allowed the problem to get worse and worse. The last thing we want is any sort of knee-jerk reaction or a rushed decision that has come up with all the wrong sorts of ideas. Prevention of drug addiction through education and early intervention have got to be at the heart of any anti-drugs strategy.

But we need to be very clear that a 1 per cent detection rate for all the heroin use in Scotland is just not acceptable and needs to be dramatically improved.  The approach put forward by the Global Commission is certainly not the route to go down, as it would just escalate our problems with crime and addiction.

If we imagine just how bad things have become in Scotland with drug addiction and crime, we should stop to think how much worse they could be if these proposals to decriminalise drugs are introduced.  The crisis could get much worse unless we have a sensible approach that gets to the heart of the problem”.

lNeil McKeganey is a professor of drug misuse research at the University of Glasgow

Source: Scotsman.com 2nd June 2011

A United Nations panel today agreed on a set of measures to prevent the use of illicit drugs and strengthen national and regional responses, including using treatment instead of incarceration to stem a worrying global trend in the abuse of narcotics.

Wrapping up its week-long 55th session in Vienna, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), adopted 12 resolutions, including on the treatment, rehabilitation and social reintegration of drug-dependent prisoners; treatment as an alternative to incarceration; and preventing death from overdose.

The commission, which is made up of 53 member States, underlined the need for gender-specific interventions and called for the promotion of drug prevention, treatment and care for female drug addicts. It also called for more evidence-based strategies to prevent the use of illicit drugs, especially among young people.

Yury Fedotov, the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), hailed the fundamental role of existing international drugs conventions in safeguarding public health.

“It is only by acknowledging the drug conventions as the foundation for our shared responsibility that we can make successive generations safe from illicit drugs,” he said.

The commission acknowledged the role played by developing countries in sharing best practices, including through continental and inter-regional cooperation to promote alternative development programmes in poor rural communities dependent on the cultivation of illicit drug crops.

One of the new issues that emerged during the current session is the increasing diversion of chemicals to manufacture illicit amphetamine-type stimulants, a group of synthetic drugs that includes ecstasy and methamphetamine.

The commission called for international cooperation to curb the manufacture of new psychoactive substances. It also recommended the development of an international electronic authorization system for the trade in controlled substances.

This year’s session drew some 1,200 participants from 120 countries, observers, international organizations and non-governmental organizations.

Source:www.un.org 16th March

Position Statement – December 2011

The flawed proposition of drug legalisation

Various well funded pressure groups have mounted campaigns to overturn the United Nations Conventions on drugs. These groups claim that society should accept the fact of drugs as a problem that will remain and, therefore, should be managed in a way that would enable millions of people to take advantage of an alleged ‘legal right’ to use drugs of their choice.

It is important to note that international law makes a distinction between “hard law” and “soft law.” Hard law is legally binding upon the States. Soft law is not binding. UN Conventions, such as the Conventions on Drugs, are considered hard law and must be upheld by the countries that have ratified the UN Drug Conventions.

International narcotics legislation is mainly made up of the three UN Conventions from 1961 (Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs), 1971 (Convention on Psychotropic Substances), and 1988 (Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances):

• The 1961 Convention sets out that “the possession, use, trade in, distribution,import, export, manufacture and the production of drugs is exclusively limited to medical and scientific purposes”. Penal cooperation is to be established so as to ensure that drugs are only used licitly (for prescribed medical purposes).

• The 1971 Convention resembles closely the 1961 Convention, whilst
establishing an international control system for Psychotropic Substances.

• The 1988 Convention reflects the response of the international community to increasing illicit cultivation, production, manufacture, and trafficking activities. International narcotics legislation draws a line between licit (medical) and illicit (non-medical) use, and sets out measures for prevention of illicit use, including penal measures. The preamble to the 1961 Convention states that the parties to the Convention are “Recognizing that addiction to narcotic drugs constitutes a serious evil for the individual and is fraught with social and economic danger to mankind”. The Conventions are reviewed every ten years and have consistently been upheld.

The UN system of drug control includes the Office of Drugs and Crime, the International Narcotics Control Board, and the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. The works of these bodies are positive and essential in international drug demand and supply reduction. They are also attacked by those seeking to legalise drugs.

It is frequently and falsely asserted that the so-called “War on Drugs” is inappropriate and has become a very costly and demonstrable failure. It is declared by some that vast resources have been poured into the prevention of drug use and the suppression of illicit manufacturing, trafficking, and supply. It is further claimed that what is essentially a chronic medical problem has been turned into a criminal justice issue with inappropriate remedies that make “innocent” people criminals. In short, the flawed argument is that “prohibition” monies have been wasted and the immeasurable financial resources applied to this activity would be better spent for the general benefit of the community.

The groups supporting legalisation are: people who use drugs, those who believe that the present system of control does more harm than good, and those who are keen to make significant profits from marketing newly authorised addictive substances. In addition to pernicious distribution of drugs, dealers circulate specious and misleading information. They foster the erroneous belief that drugs are harmless, thus adding to even more confused thinking.

Superficially crafted, yet pseudo-persuasive arguments are put forward that can be accepted by many concerned, well intentioned people who have neither the time nor the knowledge to research the matter thoroughly, but accept them in good faith. Frequently high profile people claim that legalisation is the best way of addressing a major social problem without cogent supporting evidence. This too influences others, especially the ill informed who accept statements as being accurate and well informed. Through this ill-informed propaganda, people are asked to believe that such action would defeat the traffickers, take the profit out of the drug trade and solve the drug problem completely.

The total case for legalisation seems to be based on the assertion that the government assault on alleged civil liberties has been disastrously and expensively ineffective and counter-productive. In short, it is alleged, in contradiction to evidence, that prohibition has produced more costs than benefits and, therefore, the use of drugs on a personal basis should be permitted. Advocates claim that legalisation would eliminate the massive expenditure incurred by prohibition and would take the profit out of crime for suppliers and dealers. They further claim that it would decriminalise what they consider “understandable” human behaviour and thus prevent the overburdening of the criminal justice system that is manifestly failing to cope. It is further argued irrationally that police time would not be wasted on minor drug offences, the courts would be freed from the backlog of trivial cases and the prisons would not be used as warehouses for those who choose to use drugs, and the saved resources could be used more effectively.

Types of drug legalisation

The term “legalisation” can have any one of the following meanings:

1. Total Legalisation – All illicit drugs such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana would be legal and treated as commercial products. No government regulation would be required to oversee production, marketing, or distribution.

2. Regulated Legalisation – The production and distribution of drugs would be regulated by the government with limits on amounts that can be purchased and the age of purchasers. There would be no criminal or civil sanctions for possessing, manufacturing, or distributing drugs unless these actions violated the regulatory system. Drug sales could be taxed.

3. Decriminalisation – Decriminalisation eliminates criminal sanctions for drug use and provides civil sanctions for possession of drugs. To achieve the agenda of drug legalisation, advocates argue for:

• legalising drugs by lowering or ending penalties for drug possession and use – particularly marijuana;

• legalising marijuana and other illicit drugs as a so-called medicine;
• harm reduction programmes such as needle exchange programmes, drug injection sites, heroin distribution to addicts, and facilitation of so-called safe use of drugs that normalize drug use, create the illusion that drugs can be used safely if one just knows how, and eliminates a goal of abstinence from drugs;

• legalised growing of industrial hemp;
• an inclusion of drug users as equal partners in establishing and enforcing drug policy; and

• protection for drug users at the expense and to the detriment of non-users under the pretence of “human rights.”

The problem is with the drugs and not the drug policies

Legalisation of current illicit drugs, including marijuana, is not a viable solution to the global drug problem and would actually exacerbate the problem. The UN Drug Conventions were adopted because of the recognition by the international community that drugs are an enormous social problem and that the trade adversely affects the global economy and the viability of some countries that have become transit routes.

The huge sums of illegal money generated by the drug trade encourage money laundering and have become inextricably linked with other international organised criminal activities such as terrorism, human trafficking, prostitution and the arms trade. Drug Lords have subverted the democratic governments of some countries to the great detriment of law abiding citizens.

Drug abuse has had a major adverse effect on global health and the spread of communicable diseases such as AIDS/HIV. Control is vitally important for the protection of communities against these problems. There is international agreement in the UN Conventions that drugs should be produced legally under strict supervision to ensure adequate supplies only for medical and research purposes. The cumulative effects of prohibition and interdiction combined with education and treatment during 100 years of international drug control have had a significant impact in stemming the drug problem. Control is working and one can only imagine how much worse the problem would have become without it. For instance:

• In 2007, drug control had reduced the global opium supply to one-third the level in 1907 and even though current reports indicate recent increased cultivation in Afghanistan and production in Southeast Asia, overall production has not increased.

• During the last decade, world output of cocaine and amphetamines has stabilized; cannabis output has declined since 2004; and opium production has declined since 2008. We, therefore, strongly urge nations to uphold and enhance current efforts to prevent the use, cultivation, production, traffic, and sale of illegal drugs. We further urge our leaders to reject the legalisation of currently illicit drugs as an acceptable solution to the world’s drug problem because of the following reasons:

• Only 6.1% of people globally between the ages of 15 and 64 use drugs (World Drug Report 2011 UNODC) and there is little public support for the legalisation of highly dangerous substances. Prohibition has ensured that the total number of users is low because legal sanctions do influence people’s behaviour.

• There is a specific obligation to protect children from the harms of drugs, as is
evidenced through the ratification by the majority of United Nations Member States of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Article 33 states that Member States “shall take all appropriate measures, including legislative, administrative, social and educational measures, to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as defined in the relevant international treaties, and to prevent the use of children in the illicit production and trafficking of such substances”.

• Legalisation sends the dangerous tacit message of approval, that drug use is
acceptable and cannot be very harmful.

• Permissibility, availability and accessibility of dangerous drugs will result in
increased consumption by many who otherwise would not consider using them.

• Enforcement of laws creates risks that discourage drug use. Laws clearly define what is legal and illegal and emphasise the boundaries.

• Legalisation would increase the risks to individuals, families, communities and world regions without any compensating benefits.

• Legalisation would remove the social sanctions normally supported by a legal system and expose people to additional risk, especially the young and vulnerable.

• The legalisation of drugs would lead inevitably to a greater number of dependencies and addictions likely to match the levels of licit addictive substances. In turn, this would lead to increasing related morbidity and mortality, the spread of communicable diseases such as AIDS/HIV and the other blood borne viruses exacerbated by the sharing of needles and drugs paraphernalia, and an increased burden on the health and social services.

• There would be no diminution in criminal justice costs as, contrary to the view held by those who support legalisation, crime would not be eliminated or reduced. Dependency often brings with it dysfunctional families together with increased domestic child abuse.

• There will be increases in drugged driving and industrial accidents.

• Drug Control is a safeguard protecting millions from the effects of drug abuse and addiction particularly, but not exclusively, in developing countries.

• Statements about taxation offsetting any additional costs are demonstrably flawed and this has been shown in the case of alcohol and tobacco taxes. Short of governments distributing free drugs, those who commit crime now to obtain them would continue to do so if they became legal.

• Legalisation would not take the profit out of the drug trade as criminals will always find ways of countering legislation. They would continue their dangerous activities including cutting drugs with harmful substances to maximise sales and profits. Aggressive marketing techniques, designed to promote increased sales and use, would be applied rigorously to devastating effect.

• Other ‘legal’ drugs – alcohol and tobacco, are regularly traded on the black market and are an international smuggling problem; an estimated 600 billion cigarettes are smuggled annually (World Drug report 2009). Taxation monies raised from these products go nowhere near addressing consequential costs.

• Many prisons have become incubators for infection and the spread of drug related diseases at great risk to individual prisoners, prison staff and the general public. Failure to eliminate drug use in these institutions exacerbates the problem.

• The prisons are not full of people who have been convicted for mere possession of drugs for personal use. This sanction is usually reserved for dealers and those who commit crime in the furtherance of their possession.

• The claim that alcohol and tobacco may cause more harm than some drugs is not a pharmacokinetics of psychotropic substances suggest that more, not less, control of their access is warranted.

• Research regularly and increasingly demonstrates the harms associated with drug use and misuse. There is uncertainty, yet growing evidence, about the long-term detrimental effects of drug use on the physical, psychological and emotional health of substance users.

• It is inaccurate to suggest that the personal use of drugs has no consequential and damaging effects. Apart from the harm to the individual users, drugs affect others by addiction, violence, criminal behaviour and road accidents. Some drugs remain in the body for long periods and adversely affect performance and behaviour beyond the time of so-called ‘private’ use. Legalisation would not diminish the adverse effects associated with drug misuse such as criminal, irrational and violent behaviour and the mental and physical harm that occurs in many users.

• All drugs can be dangerous including prescription and over the counter medicines if they are taken without attention to medical guidance. Recent research has confirmed just how harmful drug use can be and there is now overwhelming evidence (certainly in the case of cannabis) to make consideration of legalisation irresponsible.

• The toxicity of drugs is not a matter for debate or a vote. People are entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts. Those who advocate freedom of choice cannot create freedom from adverse consequences.

• Drug production causes huge ecological damage and crop erosion in drug producing areas.

• Nearly every nation has signed the UN Conventions on drug control. Any government of signatory countries contemplating legalisation would be in breach of agreements under the UN Conventions which recognise that unity is the best approach to combating the global drug problem. The administrative burden associated with legalisation would become enormous and probably unaffordable to most governments. Legalisation would require a massive government commitment to production, supply, security and a bureaucracy that would necessarily increase the need for the employment at great and unaffordable cost for all of the staff necessary to facilitate that development.

• Any government policy must be motivated by the consideration that it must first do no harm. There is an obligation to protect citizens and the compassionate and sensible method must be to do everything possible to reduce drug dependency and misuse, not to encourage or facilitate it. Any failures in a common approach to a problem would result in a complete breakdown in effectiveness. Differing and fragmented responses to a common predicament are unacceptable for the wellbeing of the international community. It is incumbent on national governments to cooperate in securing the greatest good for the greatest number.

ISSUED this 21st day of December, 2011 by the following groups:
Drug Prevention Network of the Americas (DPNA)
Institute on Global Drug Policy
International Scientific and Medical Forum on Drug Abuse
International Task Force on Strategic Drug Policy
People Against Drug Dependence & Ignorance (PADDI), Nigeria
Europe Against Drugs (EURAD)
World Federation Against Drugs (WFAD)
Peoples Recovery, Empowerment and Development Assistance (PREDA)
Drug Free Scotland

Mexico’s violent drug cartels have reached the streets of Britain, France and the Netherlands, according to US immigration officials, with undercover British agents undergoing training in El Paso to combat the problem.

Three members of Britain’s Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) met US agents on the Texas-Mexico border this week in a bid to put a stop to cartels taking hold on Britain and Europe. The British agents spoke about surveillance tactics, special operations teams and cybercrime units, according to a US immigration officials.

On Thursday, they watched how ICE investigators tore apart a car where a cargo of marijuana was found at the Paso del Norte Bridge in this West Texas city. The agents are expected to head to Miami next week to learn about port operations in the US.

“The most important lesson that we have shared with SOCA, is that if they are not prepared to deal with the Mexican cartels, they will spread like a cancer and will entrench themselves in the economy and community in an attempt to ‘legitimise’ their illicit profits.” Oscar Hagelsieb, an agent at the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations office, said. “They must also be aware of the violence that will undoubtedly follow.”

US authorities believe Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel has drug distribution networks in England and has established footholds in France and the Netherlands, among other places in Europe, he said.

Mexican crime groups have previously made attempts to establish a presence in Europe, Mr Hagelsieb added, “but not to the scope we are seeing now. The Sinaloa is the first cartel that can have an impact worldwide.”

SOCA was created in 2006 and is responsible for investigating drug trafficking, criminal organisations, cybercrime, counterfeiting, the use of firearms and serious robberies. In a statement read by one of the British undercover agents, the agency said it wanted its agents to come to El Paso as “it’s always better to be exposed to the problems and the environment first hand.”

“We want to learn from the special agents about the local, regional and international impact of the widely reported scale of drug trafficking that takes place across this border,” the statement said.

The British agents were also interested in how El Paso has managed to remain one of the safest cities in the US even though it’s across the Rio Grande from Ciudad Juarez, a city afflicted by one of the highest murder rates in the hemisphere.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations collaborates with local agencies, targeting specific criminal groups and gathering intelligence on them, Mr Hagelsieb said. “We are able to intercept them at points of entry before they cross back and forth.”

Source: The Telegraph March 2012

President joins calls for debate after figures reveal extent of violence since launch of military offensive against cartels in 2006.

Murders in Mexico’s drug wars are becoming increasingly gruesome.

Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderón, has joined calls for a debate on the legalisation of drugs as new figures show thousands of Mexicans every year being slaughtered in cartel wars.
“It is a fundamental debate,” the president said, belying his traditional reluctance to accept any questioning of the military-focused offensive against the country’s drug cartels that he launched in late 2006. “You have to analyse carefully the pros and cons and key arguments on both sides.” The president said he personally opposes the idea of legalisation.
Calderón’s new openness comes amid tremendous pressure to justify a strategy that has been accompanied by the spiralling of horrific violence around the country as the cartels fight each other and the government crack down. Official figures released this week put the number of drug war related murders at 28,000.

Until recently the government regularly played down the general impact of the violence by claiming that 90% of the victims were associated with the cartels, with the remainder largely from the security forces. In recent months it has started to acknowledge a growing number of “civilian victims” ranging from toddlers caught in the cross fire to students massacred at parties.
Momentum behind the idea that legalisation could be part of the solution has been growing since three prominent former Latin American presidents signed a document last year arguing the case.
César Gaviria of Colombia, Fernando Cardoso of Brazil and Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico urged existing governments to consider legalising marijuana as a way of slashing cartel profits.
This year Mexico’s national congress began a debate on the possibility that resurfaced again this week during a series of round table discussions between the Calderón, security experts, business leaders and civic groups.
The “Dialogue for Security: Evaluation and Strengthening” is part of a new government effort to counter the growing perception in Mexico that the president’s drug war strategy is a disaster.
“I’m not talking just about legalizing marijuana,” analyst and write Hector Aguilar Camin said during the Tuesday session, “rather all drugs in general.”
After accepting the need to directly address the proposal, Calderón made it clear he did not support it. “It requires a country to take a decision to put several generations of young people at risk,” he said, citing a likely increase in consumption triggered by lower prices, greater availability and social acceptability.
He added that the predicted “important economic effects by reducing income for criminal groups” would be limited by the integration of Mexican drug trafficking into international markets where drugs remain largely underground.  Calderón did not mention current moves to soften drug laws in the US, including a planned vote in California in November on an initiative that would allow marijuana to be sold and taxed. Nor did he address the home grown argument that legalisation would remove the roots of the violence raging in the country.
“Legalisation would render the war pointless as drugs would become just another product like tobacco or alcohol,” Jorge Castañeda, a legalisation advocate and former foreign minister, told W Radio. He added that even if it did prompt an increase in drug use. “It is worth considering whether this is preferable to having 28,000 deaths.”
The new death toll, which was not broken down, is significantly higher than the informal counts kept by newspapers. Milenio newspaper put the number of drug-related deaths in July at 1,234.
Some leading critics of Calderón’s strategy, however, do not believe legalisation is the key to reining in the cartels and the violence, preferring to emphasize the need to increase efforts to go after money laundering and political corruption.
Edgardo Buscaglia, and expert in organised crime around the world, argues that the recent diversification of the Mexican cartels into other criminal activities ranging from systematic extortion to people trafficking would give them ample reason to keep fighting each other, even if drugs were legal. “Legalising drugs would be good public policy,” he said, “but it would not be a tool with which to combat organized crime.”

Source: guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 4 August 2010 20.13 BST

 

 

 

Harm Reduction: More than just side effects!

 The recent stance from the managing editor of the South African Medical Journal in favor of the extremely controversial practice of decriminalizing drugs of abuse (Harm Reduction) is both surprising and disconcerting. It shows a mixture of “arm chair medicine”, selective quoting of studies and conventions, and some really flawed reasoning.

 One wonders when last he has sat in front of a drug addict who’s lost their family, through being consumed by an overriding passion for drugs, or lost their job due to multiple accidents in the workplace related to the abuse of cannabis, heroin or other drugs. Or when last has he treated a marijuana smoker who has developed schizophrenia as a result of his marijuana smoking, a complication which has become increasingly well established in medical publications over the last 4 years?

 Medical Science is exploding with new research on virtually a weekly basis, that proves the harmful effects of marijuana use including:

  •  Causing psychosis in healthy people.[1]
  • Harming the brains of teenagers.[2]
  • Increasing the risk of testicular cancer.[3]
  • Poor foetal growth.[4]
  • Suppression of the immune system. [5]

 I suppose he has also not had to treat wash-out drug addicts from Switzerland like some of us have had to, where they have tried to regulate substance abuse through the medical provision of clean needles, syringes and drugs.

 The archaic argument that we cannot root out drug abuse by keeping it a crime is also a strange way of thinking to Doctors for Life. Since time began we have not managed to root out one single crime, but we are far from considering decriminalizing murder, rape, theft and fraud, to name but a few. Really, to use the example of Jackie Selebi’s corruption as a argument to legalize drugs is an illogical and distorted way of reasoning.

 Even though the article has quite a few references and appears very scientific, one is kind of left wondering what has happened to common sense. Dr van Niekerk keeps on quoting the fact that more harm is caused by legal drugs such as tobacco and alcohol (90% of all drug related deaths in theUK!) than illegal drugs, and somehow seems to miss the obvious point that having legalized them did not reduce the harm done by them. On the contrary, it appears to have increased the harm they cause. The implications of legalizing the use of drugs of abuse for the benefit of the economy of the country are vast. To mention just a few:

 Politoxemia, the simultaneous addiction to different drugs.

  • The financial implication of increased accidents in the workplace.
  • An increase in hours off work.
  • Medical expenses for treating the complications of substance abuse.

 It also includes the expense of establishing an infrastructure of medical personal to oversee the handing out of these drugs (and that in a country where our health system is already overloaded). DFL finds the reasoning justifying decriminalization immature.

 Dr. van Niekerk also quotes the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, but does not mention the UNODC’s 52nd session of the Annual Commission on Narcotic Drugs March 2009, to whichSouth Africa is a co-signatory. When some parties tried to slip in a Harm Reduction policy (such as Dr. van Niekerk is supporting),Sweden,Russia,Japan,USA,Colombia,Sri Lanka andCuba refused to sign the document unless the reference to harm reduction was removed.

 Experiences of a few countries that have moved in the direction of decriminalisation should also be taken note of:

 The Alaska Supreme Court ruled in 1975 that the state could not interfere with an adult’s possession of marijuana for personal consumption in the home. Although the ruling was limited to persons 19 and over, a 1988 University of Alaskastudy, the state’s 12 to 17-year-olds used marijuana at more than twice the national average for their age group.Alaska’s residents voted in 1990 to re-criminalize the possession of marijuana, demonstrating their belief that increased use was too high a price to pay

 In Holland the Dutch government started closing down a third of their coffee shops because they found that many of the coffee shops had become a legal outlet for the illegal drug trade and after 15 years of legalised marijuana use, they were unable to separate the illegal and crime related activities from the legal trade. With the South African Police Force struggling to effectively police crime in the country, how do we think we ever are going to better the Dutch!

 The U.K.first reclassified marijuana as a less harmful Class C drug, but in January 2009 moved it back to a more dangerous Class B drug.

 Doctors For Life International is all in favour of doing more regarding the rehabilitation of drug addicts. But we do feel that having a prison sentence as an alternative to being sent for rehabilitation is a powerful incentive for many substance abusers to try and get help. To this end we would argue for more government funding to established rehabilitation units, and for NGO’s, who to a large extent have taken over the responsibility of the government in this regard.

 Doctors for Life International, represents more than 1800 medical doctors and specialists, three-quarters of whom practice in South Africa. Since 1991 DFL has been actively promoting sound science in the medical profession and health care that is safe and efficient for all South Africans. For more information visit: http://www.doctorsforlife.co.za

 References:

 [1] Causing psychosis in healthy people:                 

Dr Theresa Moore, Theresa HM Moore MSc, Dr Stanley Zammit PhD, Anne Lingford-Hughes PhD, Thomas RE Barnes DSc, Peter B Jones PhD, Margaret Burke MSc, Glyn Lewis PhD

Cannabis use and risk of psychotic or affective mental health outcomes: a systematic review.UniversityofBristol, InstituteofPsychiatryinCardiffUniversity, Wales.

The Lancet, Volume 370, Issue 9584, Pages 319 – 328, 28 July 2007

 [2] Harming the brains of teenagers:                     

Manzar Ashtari, Ph.D: Children’sHospitalofPhiladelphia

Staci A. Gruber:HarvardMedical School

http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2010/11/marijuana-study/

 [3] Increased risk of testicular cancer:                            

FredHutchinsonCancerResearchCenter: Stephen Schwartz

Association of Marijuana Use and the Incidence of Testicular Germ Cell Tumours

http://www.fhcrc.org/about/ne/news/2009/02/09/marijuana.html

Kristen Woodward, 206-667-5095 or kwoodwarfhcrc.org

 [4] Poor foetal growth:                                            

Hanan El Marroun, Henning Tiemeier, Eric A.P. Steegers, Vincent W.V. Jaddoe, Albert Hofman, Frank C. Verhulst, Wim van den Brink, Anja C. Huizink.
Intrauterine Cannabis Exposure Affects Fetal Growth Trajectories: The Generation R Study
Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
December 2009 (Vol. 48, Issue 12, Pages 1173-1181)

 [5] Suppression of the immune system:                     

Venkatesh L. Hegde, Mitzi Nagarkatti and Prakash S. Nagarkatti.

Cannabinoid receptor activation leads to massive mobilization of myeloid-derived suppressor cells with potent immunosuppressive properties.

European Journal of Immunology, 2010; 40 (12): 3358-3371 DOI: 10.1002/eji.201040667

 Source:  Doctors for Life International, Dr.Thomas Gray 032 4815550  Jan 2011

A Nation Descends into Violence

By Mathieu von Rohr

The Mexican government has been using the army to fight the nation’s drug cartels for about four years. It isn’t working. Some critics say the army is part of the problem, even if the occasional mission removes a kingpin. But President Felipe Calderón has no one else to trust.
Ivana García didn’t flee when two headless bodies were found in front of the city hall, nor did she leave when a body without arms or legs was hanging above a downtown square. But when fighting erupted on the street in front of her house, when mercenaries working for the drug cartels began firing their Kalashnikovs from armored vehicles, and when house-to-house skirmishes went on for hours, as if Ciudad Mier were a town in Afghanistan, not bordering the United States, she had no choice but to flee. In fact, almost the entire population, about 6,000 people, left Ciudad Mier. When they realized there was no one to protect them — no government, no army — they packed their belongings and left their homes.
Ciudad Mier used to be an inconspicuous Mexican municipality on the Rio Grande River, consisting of a colonial center and a few rectangular blocks of houses. Now it is known throughout the country as a ghost town — one of those symbolic places that exist all over Mexico. Each of these towns can tell the story of a nation descending into violence.
Horrific, but Commonplace
One of them is Ciudad Juárez, where more than 3,000 murders were committed this year alone, making it the most violent city in the world. Criminals battle each other in broad daylight in the resort town of Acapulco. In the village of Praxedis, a 20-year-old woman became police chief because no one else dared to accept the job. On a ranch in northern Mexico, a 77-year-old man shot and killed four of the gunmen who had been sent to kill him, only to be murdered by the rest. He was celebrated as a hero. Horrific news reports have become commonplace in Mexico. Some 29,000 people have died in drug wars within the past four years, and this year the number of killings doubled to about 12,000. An astonishing 98 percent of the crimes committed in Mexico remain unpunished.
It has been four years since President Felipe Calderón came to office promising to defeat the cartels, multibillion-dollar organizations that supply the United States, the world’s largest drug market, with cocaine, crystal meth, heroin and marijuana. Calderón mobilized 45,000 soldiers and federal police officers for his campaign. There was no one else he could trust, including local police forces and governors. The army is his only reliable tool.
There have certainly been many spectacular arrests. Famous drug kingpins were arrested or killed, including the leader of the “La Familia” cartel, who died earlier this month. But have these successes weakened the drug cartels? There are few indications that this is the case.
At first, many citizens saw the violent excesses as the beginning of a necessary evil. Recent opinion polls, however, show that a majority now opposes the government’s strategy. The newspapers are filled with reports of kidnappings, blackmail and beheadings. There are blogs that specialize in publishing photos of severed limbs taken with mobile phones.
It is easy to picture the savagery with which this war is being waged. But it is more difficult to understand why the violence doesn’t stop, what its causes are and what can be done about it. Could the legalization of drugs be the answer, as some experts suggest? Or maybe more border controls? Would a new national police force and a reform of the government solve the problem? Or is it best to simply leave the cartels alone, which for years was the government’s policy?
These are the questions that Mexico is asking itself in 2010, the 200th anniversary of the beginning of its war of independence. The filmmaker Luis Estrada has given his native country a bitter film for its anniversary: “El Infierno” (Hell). It is the portrait of a world consisting of nothing but narcos, whores and corruption. “We have a national problem, and it’s called impunity,” says Estrada, a soft-spoken man with glasses and a gray beard. “People who break the law aren’t punished. That’s why many believe that honesty doesn’t pay. We Mexicans are in hell, that’s for sure. I just don’t know which pit of hell it is at the moment.”

A Ghost-Town Census

It is a hot day in late November, and Ivana García has screwed up the courage to return to Ciudad Mier for the first time since she left. She walks through the abandoned streets of the town that was once hers, a 34-year-old woman in jeans, wearing gold-plated earrings and carrying a plastic purse. The army has hired her to count the number of people still living in the town, but there are few left to count. They offered her 700 pesos, or €42 ($55) a week. She was afraid to take the job, but she needed the money to pay the exorbitant rent for her apartment in Ciudad Alemán, the next town, where she now lives.
García and two other young women walk from house to house, knocking on doors that no one opens. The few people they encounter couldn’t afford to leave or are very old. The questionnaires the women have brought along in clear plastic binders include questions about income and the remaining residents’ opinions about safety. They represent the government’s clumsy attempt to demonstrate that it still exists. Two dozen soldiers follow the women, on foot and in pickup trucks armed with machine guns, securing the streets. Most of the houses they pass are riddled with bullet holes. Starving dogs slink across the dirt roads.
Some 400 people still live in a refugee camp in the next town. They have been there for more than four weeks, and most do not want to return to Ciudad Mier. They say that when the army withdraws, in a few weeks or months, the whole thing will start again.

‘Some States Remind Me of Afghanistan’

Ciudad Mier is in the northwestern panhandle of the state of Tamaulipas, a narrow strip of land bordering Texas. It is one of the areas some experts compare to failed states. One expert, Edgardo Buscaglia, who specializes in drug-related organized crime, is currently working in Kandahar, Afghanistan. In a telephone interview, he said he had stopped using the expression “Colombianization” to describe what’s happening in Mexico. “There are now areas in some states that remind me of what I see here in Afghanistan,” he said. Narcos, or drug dealers, control about 12 percent of Mexican territory, according to some estimates.
There are no longer any police officers or mayors in large sections of Tamaulipas and the northern part of Nuevo León, two states in northeastern Mexico. They were either killed or have fled, and now the narcos operate checkpoints on the streets.
The two drug cartels that are at war in Tamaulipas were allies until a year ago: The Gulf cartel and its paramilitary arm, the Zetas. Here, the term drug war isn’t just a metaphor for a series of gang murders, as it is in Ciudad Juárez. Instead, it describes a level of almost military violence between cartels, which send armies of adolescent “sicarios,” or killers, into battle, often better equipped than soldiers in the Mexican army.
A Code of Silence
The mayor of Ciudad Mier, a perfumed man who wears his shirt open at the chest, is standing in the town hall. He says he cannot give an interview, or else — and he runs his finger across the neck of this reporter to demonstrate what could happen to him if he did. The citizens of his town want to talk, but they also want to remain anonymous. There has always been drug smuggling here, they say, and the Zetas have always been in power. In a town where there was hardly any work for young men, the drug lords were able to entice recruits with the promise of fast money, cocaine and the prettiest girls.
Their villas, built in the ornamental narco style, with gilded railings and decorative columns, are still standing. The owners fled when the Zetas broke with the Gulf Cartel, and today they live in the United States or in Mexico City. There was a victory parade of sorts when the Gulf Cartel captured the town on Feb. 22. A motorcade of 60 SUVs and pickup trucks carrying heavily armed fighters drove into the streets of Ciudad Mier.
They killed five police officers that had worked for the Zetas, beheaded a police chief and a female drug dealer, and laid out the remains on the village square. After that, say local residents, the new gangs were friendly. Unlike the Zetas, they said hello to people on the street. But the fighting wasn’t over yet. In mid-October, Ivana García found a dead Zeta fighter on the street. She had never seen the man. He must have been a mercenary from somewhere else, she thought, a young man wearing brown trousers and with a muscular torso. He was lying in a pool of blood.
On Nov. 2, the Zetas returned, driving 40 heavily armored SUVs with gun barrels poking out of their sides. The ensuing battle wore on for days and nights, killing many, and leading to the departure of residents and the arrival of the army.
The soldiers stalking along behind García as she walks through Ciudad Mier hold their rifles at the ready, as if someone could shoot at them at any moment. They storm suspicious-looking houses. The hooded commander says that he doesn’t know whether all of the bandits were driven out. The government of Tamaulipas claims the town is now safe and has called upon the local population to return to their homes. By the end of her first day of work, García has counted six inhabited houses.

‘Narco Saints,’ Money and Girls

Almost no other business in the world is as lucrative as the drug trade. The United Nations estimates that $72 billion (€55 billion) worth of drugs are sold each year. Cocaine is the most profitable of all drugs. Cocaine paste costs $800 a kilo (2.2 pounds) in Colombia, and in Chicago a buyer pays $100 a gram. The price goes up by 12,400 percent along the way. Mexican cartels smuggle an estimated 192 tons to the United States each year.
There are seven drug cartels in Mexico. While alliances often change, almost all the groups have their origins in Sinaloa, a state on Mexico’s west coast known as the birthplace of the narcos. The area is home to Joaquín Guzmán, also called El Chapo, the leader of the Sinaloa cartel. He’s the world’s most glamorous drug lord, as evidenced by the fact that Forbes includes him on its list of the wealthiest people in the world. (No one, however, has access to his bank statements. Culiacán, the capital of Sinaloa, is the Rotterdam of the cocaine trade, the place where prices are set. It lies between the Pacific Ocean and the green hills of the Sierra, where farmers grow marijuana and opium poppies. It is a friendly-looking city of 600,000 with whitewashed homes, though Culiacán has the second-highest murder rate in the country.
For the past two years, El Chapo has been battling his former allies, the Beltrán Leyva brothers. It is a war of kings, and when author Elmer Mendoza tells the story, it sounds like a Greek tragedy. Mendoza, 61, is a bearded, soft-spoken man born in Culiacán, where his crime novels are set. He portrays this world so realistically that some accuse him of being a narco author.
“I’ve been hearing their legends since I was a child,” he says. “These people had bigger houses and the most beautiful girls, and sometimes songs were even written in their honor.” There is a folk hero in Sinaloa, Jesús Malverde, who is known as the “narco saint,” a Robin Hood who took from the rich and gave to the poor. Many believe that El Chapo is his revenant, a hero of the people. Mendoza says that what is happening to his country is terrible. “But as an author, I admire people who do extraordinary things. Isn’t there something epic about bringing a shipment of cocaine from Medellín to Los Angeles?”

Culiacán, Ground Zero

The gang war that originated in Culiacán and eventually engulfed half the country began on Jan. 21, 2008, when the army arrested the drug lord Alfredo Beltrán Leyva, known as El Mochomo, in a simple house in the Tierra Blanca neighborhood. Did El Chapo tip off the army? Convinced that he did, the Beltrán Leyva brothers brought Zeta mercenaries into the city and began killing everyone who worked for him, including police officers, judges, politicians and journalists.
These people had believed that El Chapo would protect them, but then the Zetas shot and killed one of his sons in a shopping center parking lot. “People began to doubt their hero. They were afraid,” says Mendoza. “Isn’t that beautiful, from a purely literary point of view?” The author stands in the cemetery of Culiacán, the narcos’ final resting place. The graveyard is a city of marble and domed mausoleums known as Jardines del Humaya. It’s the size of several football fields, and it continues to grow.
They’re all buried here, side-by-side — the drug lords and their rivals, their children and the 18-year-old killers who, at the end of their brief lives, were at least able to afford some measure of splendor. The larger than life-sized portraits of young men with hard features hang in giant, 10-meter-tall mausoleums, next to pictures of their girlfriends and their weapons.
Nowhere in Culiacán is the power of the drug cartels as palpable as it is here. This is their temple city, and anyone who desecrates their graves can expect to receive death threats from the scouts and guards before long.
The Absent Government
Why isn’t El Chapo, the most powerful of all drug lords, in prison? He’s been living in a secret location for years. Is the government incompetent, or is it protecting a cartel? Many credible people believe the government has an agreement with the drug lord. Some believe that it is trying to solve the violence problem by handing over the drug trade to one cartel. In a recently published book, investigative journalists Anabel Hernández claims that former President Vicente Fox allowed El Chapo to escape from a maximum security prison in 2001 in return for a payment of $20 million. According to Hernandez, the Calderón government knows his whereabouts, but instead of arresting him it is eliminating his enemies.
There are many rumors and conspiracy theories in Mexico. What is perhaps most remarkable about them is what people believe their government to be capable of. They have little faith in federal institutions, which are weak. Mexico has been a real democracy only for the last 10 years, after being controlled for 70 years by a single party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). The PRI protected organized crime, but also held it in check.
President Calderón declared war on the cartels, but he lacked the necessary tools. The police are corrupt at almost every level, and in some communities they’re identical with the ruling cartel, which helps to explain why so many municipal officers are murdered. The justice system is also viewed as corrupt. There are no independent prosecutors, and charges are never brought in many cases, because they are handled poorly or because defendants buy their way out.
The army is the only institution that Calderón can trust, although the story of Ciudad Mier reveals how ineffective it is. Soldiers can occupy a territory, but they cannot investigate or penetrate the structures of a cartel. According to security consultant Alberto Islas, a cartel is like a logistics company with a military arm. Instead of scrutinizing the structures, the government becomes embroiled in skirmishes with 18-year-old foot soldiers.

A ‘Decapitation Strategy’

The government has hardly any functioning investigative agencies. Mexico receives key information from US government agencies like the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The Americans provide the army with information on the whereabouts of drug lords, allowing the Mexican soldiers to capture or kill them. This “decapitation strategy” produces reports of successes, but no real success. The cartels quickly replace their leaders.
The massive deployment of the military also poses a threat to society. Throughout Mexico, soldiers have been accused of hundreds of cases of human rights violations and torture, even murder. Critics say the large number of military operations is responsible for the violence in the first place, because it has destroyed equilibriums and triggered turf wars across the country.
The army cannot solve Mexico’s real problems — poverty, lack of education and weak government. Most experts agree on how Mexico ought to liberate itself. The only question is whether anyone has the political power to do it.
The country is a long way from being a stable democratic society, says Luís Astorga, a social scientist in Mexico City. The biggest challenge, according to Astorga, is to create a constitutional state strong enough to resist the power and money of the cartels. This requires nonpartisan political will; but Astorga says representatives of the three major parties all have their hands in the drug business. Astorga says he does not believe the government is cooperating with a cartel. But as long as there are no independent judges, he believes, there will always be rumors and speculation.
Many yearn for simple solutions; they believe in a return to the days when the cartels were allowed to do as they pleased. Even some high-level politicians say privately that the problem is drug consumption in the United States, and that it’s time to legalize marijuana. But the cartels are involved in up to 22 other types of crimes as well, including film piracy, human trafficking and extortion.
Vanda Felbab-Brown of the Brookings Institution in Washington says that bringing in the army was unavoidable, but that what is important now is to finally develop a functioning police force. Mexico does have plans for a national police reform, but they are making slow progress Edgardo Buscaglia, the expert on drug-related crime, and his team studied 17 countries that have successfully fought organized crime. He says that all of them took the same four important steps.
• First, says Buscaglia, comes a reform of the judicial system.
• Second, laws are needed to fight corruption in politics, because 70 percent of all election campaigns in the country are partially financed with drug money.
• Third, Mexico must investigate the flow of funds from the drug trade into the economy. According to Buscaglia, 78 percent of the Mexican economy has ties to the drug cartels.
• Finally, social programs are needed for young people, as the Colombian city of Medellín has demonstrated. Such programs are meant to turn young people’s attention away from a life working for the cartels — a life that can end quickly.

Taking Back Mexico, With PowerPoint

There are many ideas, but who is there to implement them?
Javier Treviño, the lieutenant governor of Nuevo León, has a plan that consists of a large number of PowerPoint slides. He wants to eliminate violence in Monterrey, the city where he lives, and in the surrounding state. Treviño, a short man with a moustache and glasses, speaks English with an American accent. He studied at Harvard, then worked as a diplomat and later in private industry, before he entered politics. He’s one of the few people in Mexico who have not lost faith in the ability of politics to shape the country.
Perhaps it is also a question of honor for Monterrey, Mexico’s wealthiest city. Located in the northeastern part of the country, 140 kilometers (88 miles) south of the US border and surrounded by mountains on three sides, Monterrey resembles an American city, with its glass and marble office towers. Many of the country’s most important companies are headquartered there.
It came as a shock to the city’s affluent citizens when, at the beginning of the year, members of the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel suddenly started shooting each other on their streets. The battle being waged in Ciudad Mier had moved to the middle of Monterrey, an economic center that was always immune to chaos elsewhere in Mexico. Many of the wealthy left town, or even the country — including the publisher of the country’s most important newspaper, La Reforma, who fled to Dallas.
Treviño is proud of the 29 slides in his presentation, which he shows to every visitor. His plan includes all the elements the think tanks have deemed necessary: social programs and reforms of the judiciary and the criminal code. The state of Nuevo León has also established a statewide police force that it hopes will finally be clean and effective. The officers will be required to take regular lie-detector tests. They will be paid well enough to end their dependence on bribes; they will receive scholarships for their children.
Nuevo León is to become a model for all of Mexico, says Treviño. It sounds like an effective plan. And who knows? It might even work. Once it is implemented, there might be at least one state in Mexico with a functioning police force. Treviño wants to make a start by strengthening institutions and society, and what better place to launch such an effort than Monterrey, the most advanced city in the country?
He continues clicking through his slides. The next one shows the country’s highway network. Two of the five main highways in the north are colored dark red, which means that they are safe for travel. The goal for 2011, says Treviño, is to make the three other highways safe as well.

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

Source: www.spiegel online 23rd Dec. 2010

Health and social services are facing a new challenge, as many illicit drug users get older and face chronic health problems and a reduced quality of life. That is one of the key findings of research published in the September issue of the Journal of Advanced Nursing.
UK researchers interviewed eleven people aged 49 to 61 in contact with voluntary sector drug treatment services.
“This exploratory study, together with our wider research, suggest that older people who continue to use problematic or illegal drugs are emerging as an important, but relatively under-researched, international population” says lead author Brenda Roe, Professor of Health Research at Edge Hill University, UK.
“They are a vulnerable group, as their continued drug use, addiction and life experiences result in impaired health, chronic conditions, particular health needs and poorer quality of life. Despite this, services for older drug addicts are not widely available or accessed in the UK.”
Figures from the USA suggest that the number of people over 50 seeking help for drug or alcohol problems will have risen from 1.7 million in 2000 to 4.4 million by 2020. And the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction estimates that the number of people aged 65 and over requiring treatment in Europe will double over the same period.
The nine men and two women who took part in the study had an average age of 57. All were currently single and their homes ranged from a caravan, hostel or care home to social housing. Key findings from the study – by the Evidence-based Practice Research Centre at Edge Hill University and the Centre for Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University – included:
• Most started taking drugs as adolescents or young adults, often citing recreational use, experimenting or being part of the hippy era. Child abuse and the death of a parent were also mentioned.
Some started taking drugs late in life due to stressful life events like divorce or death. Meeting a drug using partner was another trigger. One man started taking drugs later in life to shock his drug taking partner into stopping and ended up developing a drug habit himself.
• First drug use varied from magic mushrooms, LSD, amphetamines and cannabis to heroin and methadone. Alcohol and smoking often featured alongside drug use.
• Some increased their drug use over time, while others had periods when they tried to reduce or even abstain from drugs. All but two of the participants were taking methadone, either as maintenance or as part of a reduction strategy in order to give up drugs.
• A number of the participants said they were trying to use drugs responsibly and it was felt that their age and the influence of drug treatment services were factors in this. They also appeared more aware of the need to maintain their personal safety, based on previous experiences.
• Most recognised that their drug use was having detrimental and cumulative effects on their health, as they had developed a range of chronic and life-threatening conditions that required hospitalisation and ongoing treatment.
• Physical health conditions included: circulatory problems such as deep vein thrombosis, injection site ulcers, stroke, respiratory problems, pneumonia, diabetes, hepatitis and liver cirrhosis. Malnutrition, weight loss and obesity also featured, as did accidental injuries due to falls and drug overdoses.
• Common mental health problems included memory loss, paranoia and changed mood states, with anxiety or anger also featuring.
• All wished they hadn’t started taking drugs and would advise young people not to. A few were keen to give up, but others felt it was too hard. One man described his drug use as “disgusting and squalid” while another said that the older he got the worse his drug use got and that it was a “crazy” situation.
• All were single or divorced and drug use was a common factor in relationship breakdowns. Most lived alone, with three relying on carers who were also drug users. Pets were often important for some, providing companionship as well as a sense of responsibility and structure to their day.
• Drug use was often associated with chaotic lifestyles and relationships and some reported periods of imprisonment.
• Participants were positive about the support they received from voluntary drug services, but had mixed experiences of primary and hospital care. Some felt stigmatised by healthcare professionals, while others received compassion and acknowledgement of their drug use.
“Our population is ageing and the people who started using drugs in the sixties are now reaching retirement age” says Professor Roe.
“It is clear that further research is needed to enable health and social care professionals to develop appropriate services for this increasingly vulnerable group. We also feel that older drug users could play a key role in educating younger people about the dangers of drug use.”

Source: ww.news-medical.net/news 9th Sept 2010

The Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) today called for a clear-cut policy for the government to help rehabilitated drug addicts who have turned over a new leaf to secure jobs. Its vice-chairman, Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, said both the government and private sector should look into the employment of rehabilitated drug addicts and help them to be re-integrated into society so that they could settle down and not have to live a life of crime.

“The government should consider initiating a policy to help former drug addicts to seek employment just as it has a policy on the employment of disabled persons,” he said in a statement on Sunday. Lee said providing employment to former drug addicts to keep them away from crime was essential as unemployed former addicts had been identified as one of the primary causes of snatch thefts and other petty crimes in the country.

“Drug addicts who have successfully undergone drug rehabilitation and retraining need to be assisted to eke out an existence. “If they fail to seek employment, they will continue to be involved in petty crimes such as snatch thefts,” he said.

Lee said tackling the problem of snatch thefts required an integrated approach, including strengthening street patrols by the police in crime-prone areas.
Besides, he said, more severe punishment for snatch thieves should be provided as a deterrent to others.

Other proposals included installing more road barriers to separate the roads from the pedestrian paths to make it difficult for snatch thieves to grab the belongings of pedestrians, as well as enhancing crime prevention vigilance and awareness among pedestrians, he added.

Source: www.Bernama.com Malaysian news agency 28th March 2010

A proposal to create medical marijuana dispensaries in Hawaii has gone up in smoke.
The idea is dead because the House Judiciary Committee refused to consider the measure before a legislative deadline Thursday.
Committee Chairman Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu says he was worried that marijuana dispensaries would fuel illegal sales of the drug. He’s also concerned about the state running up against federal drug laws.
Medical marijuana patients argue that Hawaii needs to reform its decade-old law allowing them to smoke and even grow the drug, but prohibiting them from buying it.
The bill passed the Senate and two House committees before stalling. Medical marijuana dispensaries will likely be considered again during next year’s legislative session.

Source: www.omaha.com, 1st April 2010

Vietnam has targeted to lower the number of drug addicts to below 0.1 percent of its population by 2010, Vietnam News Agency reported Wednesday.

Under the national anti-drug program by 2010 approved by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on Tuesday, the country has eyed to have 60 percent of its communes without drug addicts, and reduce the rate of people relapsing into addiction.

To this end, Vietnam, with population of over 84 million, will intensify surveillance on trading kinds of drugs from abroad into the country, eliminate growing trees providing materials for drug production, and tighten control over additive substances.

It will also complete law systems on drug prevention, improve public awareness and intensify international cooperation on the issue.

As of late 2006, Vietnam had a total of 160,226 drug addicts, over 70 percent of whom are in the age bracket of 18-35, according to statistics from the country’s Ministry of Public Security.

Source: Xinhua Peoples Daily Online 26.09.07

Admitting an absence of credible data affording an insight into the drug abuse situation in the country, Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Mukul Wasnik said he has suggested setting up of more drug de-addiction centres across India.

Wasnik said he has suggested to the union health ministry to consider setting up of centers, like “national drugs dependent treatment centre, which is functioning at All India Institute of Medical Sciences”, in different parts of India as it would be a big step in dealing with drug abuse.

He was speaking after releasing the International Narcotic Control Board ’ s (INCB) 2009 annual report here.

“I would have to admit that data available on drug abuse has not been of such a nature that can give us a total insight into the entire situation,” Wasnik said.

He added that his ministry has been coordinating with other ministries on the issue and a big network of about 350 voluntary organisations is involved in dealing with the situation.   The INCB report highlights that rates of drug abuse tend to be higher among teenagers and young adults.   Another new trend noted by the report is increase in young women using drugs – the gap with the level of drug use by young men has narrowed substantially.

It said: “Primary prevention strategies need to focus on the whole population, as such strategies can reduce demands for drugs as well as identify gaps or population that is not sufficiently served.”   “Primary prevention needs to begin with prospective parents, by raising their awareness of the harms caused by drug, alcohol or tobacco abuse during pregnancy,” it added.

“Drug education is an important prevention component in early adolescence. Nightclubs, discotheques, bars and music festivals are key locations for getting messages about drug abuse across the older adolescents and young adults, as well as colleges and universities,” the report said.

It said that besides other steps, there needs to be collaboration with NGOs and others to tackle drug abuse.

Source:Times of India 25th Feb 2010

This study was designed to document knowledge about Kuwaiti drug users and to investigate whether or not there is an association between their poor self-concept and high level of anxiety. One hundred and seven incarcerated drug users, 107 individuals serving prison terms for offenses other than drug use, and 107 “normal” individuals were included in this pilot study. The Arabic version of Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem Scale and Spielberger’s State-Trait Anxiety Inventory were used to measure the subjects’ self-esteem and state-trait anxiety, respectively. The results documented revealed that there is a relationship between levels of self-esteem and anxiety in Kuwaiti drug user behavior.

Source: Substance Use & Misuse 1996, Vol. 31, No. 7, Pages 937-943

A new study published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes finds that HIV prevalence in the city Toggliatti in Russia declined from 56 percent in 2001 to 38.5 percent in 2004, “despite the lack of needle and syringe exchange.” The study found that “a history of drug treatment was associated with a reduced likelihood of testing positive for HIV,” and credits less frequent injection of drugs for the overall reduction in HIV among new injectors, “rather than interventions through services, such as needle exchanges.”
Compare the HIV decline in Toggliatti, Russia—which has no needle exchange program—to the HIV explosion in Vancouver, Canada, which boasts the largest and one of the oldest needle distribution program in North America.
When Vancouver’s needle exchange program (NEP) was established in the late 1980s, the city’s estimated HIV prevalence was 1 to 2 percent. By 1997, one-quarter of the of the drug users in Downtown Eastside were infected with HIV, with a transmission rate of nearly 19 percent, giving Vancouver the distinction of having the highest infection rate of any city in the developed world. By 2003, an estimated 40 percent of the drug using population in Vancouver was infected with HIV. Research has directly linked needle exchange to this trend. A study published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes in 1997 found that “frequent NEP attendance” was one of the “independent predictors of HIV-serostatus” among IDUs. The study found that HIV-positive IDU were more likely to have ever attended NEP and to attend NEP on a more regular basis compared with HIV-negative IDUs. With only one exception, the NEP was the main source of syringes for all of those who became infected during the course of the study.
Source: http:// www.aidsmap.com/en/news/AA1E32BC-20EF-4B93-B811-83CF26FEF1F9.asp April 23, 2008

A significant decline in risky injecting practices and a decline in HIV prevalence in new drug injectors was seen in a Russian city severely affected by HIV between 2001 and 2004, despite the lack of needle and syringe exchange, researchers from the London School of Hygiene report in the April 15th edition of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.

The researchers believe that word of mouth, and growing awareness of the rising number of HIV diagnoses, contributed to the shoft, but also note that changes in the drug market during the study period may have driven the change in injecting and equipment sharing practices.

Several major cities worldwide have witnessed explosive outbreaks of HIV due to injecting drug use. In these contexts, some research suggests that new injectors might adopt riskier behaviours, or alternately, within the context of an HIV outbreak, new injectors might adopt safer behaviours than longer term injectors. Thus, measuring behavioural change in targeted populations may help to monitor risks in a changing epidemic.

Therefore investigators from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine examined two anonymous, cross-sectional community-recruited surveys of injecting drug users in Toggliatti city, which is in the Samara region of Russia. They also conducted a review of new HIV diagnoses in the region since 2000.

Participants in both surveys had used injection drugs in the previous four weeks and consented to HIV testing via oral fluid samples. The participants analysed were injecting drug users who had injected for three years or less (recent injectors): 138 people in 2001 and 96 in 2004.

Participants were identified by respondent-driven sampling, in which those initially recruited act as ‘seeds’ for an expanding chain of referrals. Mathematical modelling was then used to estimate population effects. Injection drug use was estimated to occur in 5.4% of the registered population of the city, but in 2.7% of the assumed genuine population, close to 1 million people.

In 2004, a lower proportion of injecting drug users reported injecting daily, using used needles, syringes or filters, or front-loading – when a solution of drug is passed from a donor syringe into another person by removing the needle. Although fewer injecting drug users in 2004 reported contact with drug treatment services, needle exchange or outreach workers, more had been tested for HIV.

Overall HIV prevalence was high among injecting drug users, but it declined between 2001 and 2004, from 56% to 38.5% A significantly lower prevalence of HIV was found among new injectors in 2004 (11.5%, 95% CI: 5.0 – 17.9) than in 2001 (55.2%, 95% CI: 46.7 – 63.8). A history of drug treatment was associated with a reduced likelihood of testing positive for HIV, while increased odds of HIV were associated with exchanging sex for drugs and sex work, duration of injection (odds ratio 1.4 per year), and front-loading. Most injecting equipment was obtained from pharmacies in both surveys.

Examination of surveillance data revealed that in 2000, 97% of new HIV cases were linked with IDU whereas that figure had fallen to 56.4% by 2005.

The reduction in HIV among new injectors in 2004 seems likely to be related to general risk awareness and changes in injection practice rather than interventions through services, such as needle exchanges. However, the authors suggest that “IDUs, and IDUs involved in sex work specifically, should be targets for sexual risk reduction interventions”.

Given the nature of IDU-related health services in this region, the authors write that “we emphasize the need for increasing access to voluntary and confidential HIV testing in combination with increasing the accessibility of sterile injecting equipment through pharmacies”.

Source: Platt L et al. Changes in HIV prevalence and risk among new injecting drug users in a Russian city of high HIV prevalence. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr 47: 623 – 631, 2008.


Possession and use of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, LSD and amphetamines are no longer criminal offenses in Mexico, the A law that went into effect this week decriminalized minor drug possession, although individuals caught three times with drugs would be required to attend an addiction-treatment program.
Mexican officials have said that the law would free police up to focus on combatting dealers and higher-level drug traffickers.
Source: Associated Press reported Aug. 21.2009


CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico – Gunmen burst into a drug treatment center in the northern Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez and shot to death 10 people, the second such mass killing this month.
Police say nine men and one woman were killed in the attack just before midnight Tuesday at the Anexo de Vida center in Mexico’s most violent city. Two people were seriously wounded. Enrique Torres, a spokesman for Chihuahua state police, said Wednesday the identities of the gunmen and the motive for the attack have not yet been established. But officials have said in the past that drug gangs may be using treatment centers to recruit dealers, or may be targeting them to eliminate rivals. Most of the victims are believed to have been recovering addicts staying at the facility.
“Why? Why them?” said Pilar Macias, weeping after she identified the body of her brother, Juan Carlos Macias, 39. “He was recovering, he wanted to get back on the right track and they didn’t let him, they didn’t give him a chance. This is going to kill my mother,” Macias said. “She’s very sick and this is going to kill her.” Macias said the mother had encouraged her son to enter the facility for treatment of his cocaine addiction three months ago.
Maria Hernandez also had come to the state prosecutor’s office to identify the body of her 25-year son. “He was good, he didn’t hang out with gangs, he didn’t have ‘narco’ friends,” she said. “He just began with marijuana, and then … they killed him.”
Pools of dry blood and bloodied footprints were visible Wednesday in the courtyard of the drug and alcohol rehab center where the shooting occurred. The center is located in a poor neighborhood with dirt streets, some of which were impassable due to recent rains.
On Sept. 2, gunmen lined patients against a wall at another rehabilitation center in Ciudad Juarez and then riddled them with bullets, killing 18.
Five men were killed at another rehabilitation center in June, and in August 2008, gunmen barged into a pastor’s sermon at a rehabilitation center and opened fire, killing eight people. Authorities have not said if any of the attacks are related.
Ciudad Juarez has seen the worst of the nation’s drug violence, with more than 1,300 deaths this year. The bloodshed has continued despite a buildup in troops since March. Early Wednesday, gunmen burst into a bar in Ciudad Juarez and shot to death five men, police said. They said they knew of no motive for the attack. Surging gang violence has claimed 13,500 lives since President Felipe Calderon took office in 2006 and deployed extra soldiers across the country to fight cartels.
Also Wednesday, police in the southern state of Guerrero reported they had found the decomposed bodies of four men by the side of a highway. Because of their poor condition, the cause of death and identity of the bodies has not yet been established.
Source: Yahoo news Sept. 2009


MEXICO CITY — Mexico enacted a controversial law on Thursday that decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other drugs while encouraging free government treatment for drug dependency.
The law defines “personal use” amounts for drugs, also including LSD and methamphetamines. People detained with those quantities no longer face criminal prosecution when the law goes into effect on Friday. Anyone caught with drug amounts under the personal-use limit will be encouraged to seek treatment, and for those caught a third time treatment is mandatory — although the law does not specify penalties for noncompliance.
In 2006, the U.S. government publicly criticized a similar bill. Then-President Vicente Fox sent that law — which did not have a mandatory treatment provision — back to Congress for reconsideration. The maximum amount considered to be for “personal use” under the new law is 5 grams of marijuana — the equivalent of two or three joints — or a half-gram of cocaine. The limit for methamphetamine is 40 milligrams, and 0.015 milligrams of LSD.
The law was approved by Congress before it recessed in late April, and President Felipe Calderon — who is leading a major offensives against drug cartels — waited most of the summer before enacting it. Calderon’s original proposal would have required first-time detainees to complete treatment or face jail time. But the lower house of Congress, where Calderon’s party was short of a majority, weakened the bill.
Mexico has emphasized the need to differentiate between addicts or casual consumers and the violent drug traffickers whose turf battles have contributed to the deaths of over 11,000 people during Calderon’s term. And in the face of growing domestic drug use, Mexico has increased its focus on prevention and drug treatment. Sen. Pablo Gomez of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party praised the legislation: “This law achieves the decriminalization of drugs, and in exchange, offers government recovery treatment for addicts.”
Previously, all drug possession was punishable by stiff jail sentences, with some leeway for those considered addicts and caught with smaller amounts. In practice, relatively few people were prosecuted and sentenced to jail for small-time possession. While the United States openly expressed concern about the 2006 law, this time around it has been more circumspect.
Asked about the new law in July, U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske said he would adopt a “wait-and-see attitude. If the sanction becomes completely nonexistent I think that would be a concern, but I actually didn’t read quite that level of de facto (decriminalization) in the law,” said Kerlikowske, who heads the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy. Whether the law’s proposed sanctions “are actually enough or not, I’m not sure,” he said.
Source: The Associated Press Aug.2009

Research show that the smoke from tobacco contains many poisonous substances such as acetone which is used for cleaning paint, ammonia for cleaning the floor, arsenic ant poison, butane fuel lighter, cadmium used for car batteries and carbon monoxide car exhaust fumes which are harmful to health.

Dr. Samuel Ohene stated that all smokers have increased risks of multiple cancers especially lung ,kidney, lip, tongue and pancreas cancers; heart disease, strokes, emphysema with women having additional risks. He said smoking in pregnancy is dangerous to the mother and baby. Whilst the mother is likely to experience miscarriages, bleeding during pregnancy and premature birth, the baby when born will look small and have birth defects.

Dr. Ohene also disclosed that deaths caused by tobacco are more than deaths caused by AIDS, legal drugs, illegal drugs, road accidents, murder and suicide. He stated that cigarettes kill half of all lifetime users, half of who die between 35-69 years old.

“There is conclusive evidence that even if you do not smoke, but are exposed to the smoke from others it affects your health,” he said. He referred to this as passive smoking and called on all to shun the company of smokers.

Dr. Ohene appealed to all restaurants, bar, chop bars, food joint operators and homes to ban smoking on their premises or better still set aside special places for smokers. According to him, research has shown that places where people gather to eat and drink have seen an increase in their income as a result of the sign “NO SMOKING” put up at their operation centers.

 

Source: allAfrica.com Feb.2006


The Jornal da Tarde, a newspaper published in Sao Paulo, in its edition of September 1, 2008 (see below) exposes some of the never ending new formulas for the drug trraffickers to attract and keep their drug using clients. Now in Brasil, they have found a new way to go about the fact that the Brazilian Matihuana is of “low quality” (less that 1% THC content). They simply have started adding
crack to the marihuana cigarettes which are old so that their clients can have stronger psicoactive effects when they smoke those cigarettes.

The alert was first given by the Director of the Toxichology Center of the prestigious Hospital das clinicas in São Paulo, Anthony Wong.
Luiz Carlos Freitas Magno, a Delegate of the Denarc which is São Paulo State Department of Narcotic Investigations, has known about this practice of adding crack to marihuana.
About a year and a half ago, the drug traffickers of Rio de Janeiro started selling marihuana mixed with crack, but they sell it as a new drug called crackonha (in English it would sound as crackonia).
Dr. Womng says that the danger of young people using this new mixture drug is that it is very addictive. Another problem pointed out is that when somebody arrives at an Emergency Room because of drug problems, it is more difficult to know rapidly which was the drug causing the problem
Source: Journal da Tarde Sept. 1st 2008

Counselling centres for the prevention of drug abuse would be opened in various parts of the capital, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said here Thursday.”The Delhi government would set up counselling centres to bring forceful awareness about prevention. It is better to prevent occurrence of any bad incident than cure it after it takes shape and grows gradually,” Dikshit said while inaugurating a day-long seminar on drug abuse prevention.
She said the administrative reforms department has already cleared the proposal for appointment of counsellors and it would take sometime to make such centres functional.
Dikshit called upon NGOs to come forward and put an end to menace of drug abuse, which is affecting the youth.
“There would be no dearth of funds for extending help to NGOs to enable them to substantially contribute in prevention of drug abuse,” said state Health and Social Welfare Minister Yoganand Shastri here.
Source: Thaindiannews.com 4th Sept.2008

The mother of popular hip-life musician Okomfuo Kwaadee, known as Jerry Anaba in private life, has confirmed the open secret that the artiste smokes.
Auntie Cecilia, who made the disclosure last Saturday on Peace FM, an Accra radio station, openly said her son smokes Indian hemp, locally called “wee”, adding, that was what led to the musician’s psychological problem some time ago.
Kwaadee has for some years now been off the music scene due to a mental problem.
However reports last year indicated that he was healed by a Man of God and is now leading a normal life.
“Musicians smoke, so by all means Kwaadee also smokes wee,” she said, adding, “I believe that was what worried him.”
Kwaadee, she indicated, was introduced to smoking through bad company, but did not say whether the influence was from colleagues in the music industry or elsewhere.
By the grace of God, she said, Kwaadee has stopped smoking because “he has come to the understanding that it would not help him.”
The singer, she revealed, was now fit and lives a normal life.
She, however, could not get the son to speak on air as he was not around at the time his mom was contacted.

Source: Francis Addo Daily Guide. Ghana 23 Oct 2008

President Evo Morales has announced he is suspending “indefinitely” the operations of the US Drug Enforcement Administration in Bolivia.
Mr Morales accused the agency of having encouraged anti-government protests in the country in September. He did not say whether its staff would be asked to leave the country, as coca- growers have been pressing him to do.
Bolivia’s first indigenous president once served as the leader of the country’s union of coca-growers. Relations between Bolivia and the US have been strained since Evo Morales won presidential elections in January 2006.
Coca is the raw material used in the production of cocaine and is widely grown in Bolivia. The country is a major producer of cocaine, but millions of Bolivians poorest people also chew coca leaves as part of their daily routine. Many believe the leaf offers health benefits.
‘Defending Bolivia’
“From today all the activities of the US DEA are suspended indefinitely,” the Bolivian leader said in the coca-growing region of Chimore, in the central province of Chapare.

Coca is widely used by Bolivian Indians
“Personnel from the DEA supported activities of the unsuccessful coup d’etat in Bolivia,” he added, referring to the unrest in September which left 19 people dead.
“We have the obligation to defend the dignity and sovereignty of the Bolivian people.”
US officials have denied any wrongdoing. In recent months, a string of tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats and agencies increased tensions between both countries, the BBC’s Andres Schipani reports from Bolivia. Bolivia’s government expelled the US international development agency and the US ambassador to La Paz.
Washington retaliated by expelling its Bolivian counterpart, while last month President George W Bush himself put the Andean country on an anti-narcotics blacklist that cuts trade preferences. Making his announcement, Mr Morales also declared that his government had eradicated more than 5,000 hectares (12,300 acres) of illegally planted coca.
Source: BBC News Sat.1st Nov.2008

Today, Sunday, the prestigious daily newspaper paper O Globo (Rio de Janeiro) publishes a text with the title: The absolute Majority prefers Marihuana. The text presents the results of a study by the name: Drug Consumption in Rio’s Nightlife” (which had already been published by the O Globo magazine on Nov 2, 2008, and which was done by Retrato Consultoria and Marketing. The numbers presented are staggering. Anyone who knows a little bit of Statistics sees that this data and this analysis are very biased and do not represent in any way the general situation of a city. For example: they interviewed 857 people who were partying in nightclubs and/or attending shows, gas stations, restaurants and other places where there are concentrations of people from 15 to 40 years.

Some of the results: 71.7% of those who answered were males, 47% do not work, just study; 90.7% are single, 82.7% do not have children, and so on and on. Those figures do not represent Rio’s population but the title of the text implies otherwise. Well, 71% declared that they can obtain easily the drugs of their choice although 91.3% of those using drugs prefer Marihuana over any other drug.

What is frightening is that 85% of those who were interviewed declared that they had driven after using alcohol and taking illicit drugs. Of those, 6% declared having had some sort of accident.

Source: Drugwatch International Forum 25th Jan.2009

MEXICO CITY (AP) – President Felipe Calderon’s war on drug trafficking has
led to his own doorstep, with the arrest of a dozen high-ranking officials
with alleged ties to Mexico’s most powerful drug gang, the Sinaloa Cartel.

The U.S. praises Calderon for rooting out corruption at the top. But
critics say the arrests reveal nothing more than a timeworn government
tactic of protecting one cartel and cracking down on others.

Operation Clean House comes just as the U.S. is giving Mexico its first
installment of $400 million in equipment and technology to fight drugs.
Most will go to a beefed-up federal police agency run by the same people
whose top aides have been arrested as alleged Sinaloa spies. “If there is anything worse than a corrupt and ill-equipped cop, it is a corrupt and well-equipped cop,” said criminal justice expert Jorge Chabat, who studies the drug trade.

U.S. drug enforcement agents say they have no qualms about sending support
to Mexico. “We’ve been working with the Mexican government for decades at the DEA,” said Garrison Courtney, spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration. “Obviously, we ensure that the individuals we work with are vetted.”

Agents who conduct raids have long suspected Mexican government ties to
Sinaloa, and rival drug gangs have advertised the alleged connection in
banners hung from freeways. While raids against the rival Gulf cartel have
netted suspects, those against Sinaloa almost always came up empty – or
worse, said Agent Oscar Granados Salero of the Federal Investigative
Agency, Mexico’s equivalent of the FBI. “Whenever we were trying to serve arrest warrants, they were already waiting for us, and a lot of colleagues lost their lives that way,” Salero said.

The U.S. government estimates that the cartels smuggle $15 billion to $20
billion in drug money across the border each year. Over the last five months, officials from the Mexican Attorney General’s office, the federal police and even Mexico’s representatives to Interpol have been detained on suspicion of acting as spies for Sinaloa or its one-time ally, the Beltran Leyva gang. An officer who served in Calderon’s presidential guard was detained in December on suspicion of spying for Beltran Leyva.

Gerardo Garay, formerly the acting federal police chief, is accused of
protecting the Beltran Leyva brothers and stealing money from a mansion
during an October drug raid. Former drug czar Noe Ramirez, who was
supposed to serve as point man in Calderon’s anti-drug fight, is accused
of taking $450,000 from Sinaloa.

Most of such tips are coming from a Mexican federal agent who infiltrated
the U.S. embassy for the Beltran Leyva drug cartel. No such infiltrators
have been found for the Gulf cartel, which controls most drug shipments in
eastern Mexico and Central America. Sinaloa controls Pacific and western
routes. The DEA’s Courtney agrees that there has been a greater crackdown on the Gulf Cartel in both the U.S. and Mexico, with more than 600 members of the
gang arrested in September. But he declined to answer questions about
Mexico favoring Sinaloa.

Calderon has long acknowledged corruption as an obstacle to his offensive,
which involved sending more than 20,000 soldiers to battle drug
trafficking throughout the country. The U.S. aid plan includes technology
aimed at improving the way Mexico vets and supervises police. The president vows to create a “new generation of police,” consolidating agencies under Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna, who heads all federal law enforcement.

That’s what worries Granados Salero and other agents. So many of Garcia
Luna’s associates are under suspicion of Sinaloa ties that many wonder how
he could not have known. Calderon has publicly backed Garcia Luna, calling him “a man of great capacity.”

“Obviously, if there was any doubt about his honesty, or any evidence that
would call into question his honesty, he would certainly no longer be the
secretary of public safety,” the president said recently.

But some see the alleged Sinaloa ties with Garcia Luna’s lieutenants as an
old tactic used widely under the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or
PRI, which ruled Mexico for 71 years with a tight fist. Officials in the
past preferred to deal with one strong cartel rather than many warring
gangs – what Calderon faces now. More than 5,300 people died in
drug-related slayings in 2008.

“I fear that Secretary Garcia Luna … is working on the idea that once
one cartel consolidates itself as the winner, that is, Sinaloa, the
violence is going to drop,” said organized crime expert Edgardo Buscaglia,
who tracks federal police arrests and has studied law enforcement
agencies’ written reports.

Garcia Luna has denied being involved in corruption. He has acknowledged
that authorities in the past chose the path of managing cartels. But in an
interview with the newspaper El Sol, he said that approach only
strengthens the gangs in the long run. Others say the high number of Sinaloa infiltrators is a reflection of the two cartels’ very different styles.

The Gulf cartel is led by military-trained hit men so violent that they
reportedly planned to attack even U.S. law enforcement agencies.
“They don’t necessarily try to build networks of corruption. They prefer
networks of intimidation,” said Monte Alejandro Rubido, who leads Mexico’s
multi-agency National Security System.

Sinaloa, on the other hand, appears to use bribery and infiltration at
least as much as its gunmen. Cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman
bribed his way out of a Mexican prison in 2001, provoking suspicions the
government was on his side.

Many Mexicans worry about giving so much money and power to a still
corrupt force. Of more than 56,000 local and state police officers
evaluated between January and October last year, fewer than half met the
recommended qualifications, Calderon reported to Congress in early
December. No similar numbers are available for federal police.

Agents like Granados Salero wonder who is in charge of police integrity.
“We agents find out about a lot of things,” he said, “but who can we turn
to?”

Source: Drug Watch International Sun.25th Jan.2009

MANILA, Philippines – Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) chairman Vicente Sotto III on Friday expressed disappointment over the Commission on Human Rights’ opinion that the planned random drug testing could violate an individual’s rights.

During a meeting with education officials on Friday morning, Sotto insisted that the random drug testing – set to be conducted in over 8,000 schools – would not trample any human rights as claimed by various sectors.

“They (CHR) got it completely wrong. The objective of the drug test is not punitive, but preventive. This is a health issue. The students’ confidentiality is assured and anyone testing positive can be rescued in time through counseling,” Sotto said in a statement. “In fact, Sotto said “any attempt to block the implementation of the latest effort against illegal drugs should be the one considered as a violation of human rights. Preventing drug testing is a violation of human rights because you are preventing the government to cure drug dependence,” Sotto said in a separate radio interview.

It’s like stopping efforts to stamp out drug dependence and help drug addicts,” he added. Sotto gathered officials form the Department of Education, the Commission on Higher Education, and the Technical Education and Skills Development to draw up guidelines in the planned random testing for high school and college students nationwide. Sotto said they did not invite the CHR to Friday’s meeting, but added that the rights body is more than welcome to send a delegate to supervise or contribute ideas in the creation of the guidelines. He also reiterated during the meeting that the random drug testing could no longer be taken out of the government’s intensified anti-drug campaign because it is considered as its most important part.

The measure’s significance lies in the fact that it not only involves the “prevention” of drug dependence, but also the government’s “intervention” in ensuring that the students would be subjected under counseling to cure them of their addiction. In his statement, Sotto assured transparency in the conduct of the testing, adding that various sectors including the Supreme Court had approved of the measure.

“The student’s family will also be alerted about the situation. Those who fear that drug-testing will violate the privacy of students and put them behind bars are mistaken,” he said. “The matter of drug testing was the product of consultation and had been the subject of DDB Resolution No. 6 promulgated since August 1, 2003. Likewise, the Supreme Court, in the case of Social Justice Society vs. DDB promulgated on November 3, 2008, decided that random drug-testing in schools is constitutional,” Sotto added.

He also said that passing a drug test has in fact been a requirement for admission in a number of schools in Metro Manila for quite some time now.
The government is slated to carry out the initial stages of the drug testing in March. Then at the start of the school season in June, the government would resume the program for its second instalment.

The DepEd earlier said it would expand its random drug testing to include more students and more schools, ultimately targeting to include about 6 million students from 8,000 schools. For its part, the Department of Health on Thursday suggested that the drug testing which it had been conducting since 2005 should now include the detection of cocaine, Ecstasy, and barbiturates – and not just shabu and marijuana.

Source: GMANews.TV Jan.16 2009

Due to the UAE’s strategic location, policies and free zones, the nation is a thriving commercial hub. This country should take pride in the way it has become both a marketplace of goods and services as well as a marketplace of ideas.

But not all the influences that arrive on the UAE’s shores are positive. Yesterday’s revelation of the seizure of 100kg of the stimulant Captogan, an amphetamine commonly used as a recreational drug, came only weeks after customs officials confiscated 16kg of heroin at Dubai International Airport. The Ministry of Interior’s department of anti-narcotics has said that drug related crimes have risen significantly due to the increase in population and in the transit of people and goods through the country.
These recent discoveries and other high profile arrests such as the jailing of a British DJ last year for possession of cannabis illustrate how seriously the Government takes the threat. This no nonsense approach is commendable. No amount of investment in narcotic control is big enough. Drug use may be an individual crime but it has tremendous social costs. Crack-cocaine ravaged American cities in the 1980s and a dependence on the flowering plant khat, chewed by 80 per cent of Yemen’s adult population for its stimulative effects, has been widely attributed as a cause of that nation’s unemployment and poverty levels.
The UAE’s large population of young people, particularly those living outside the cities, have a limited amount of entertainment outlets and drugs all too often become an insidious escape route from boredom. The authorities must continue their vigilant approach, but through education and the creation of more extra-curricular options for youth, the false appeal of drug use can be diminished.

Dubai Customs’s ability to locate the Captogan stash in 152 industrial sized spools of thread through a study of their density is a testament to the effectiveness of their technology and their thoroughness. But drug smugglers will still attempt to flout the law. Strategies for education and rehabilitation are needed to help further reduce the risks that drugs pose to society.
Source: TheNational digital edition Feb. 2009

The so called war on drugs is 100 years old this year, yet the taking of illicit drugs is showing few signs of coming under control.

The International Opium Commission, first convened in Shanghai in 1909 and since then the number of internationally-controlled substances has grown to more than 200. The United Nations’ International Narcotics Control Board, in its annual report released yesterday, paints a picture of an ever-expanding and increasingly violent drugs market, with new trafficking routes being opened regularly, many of them in our region.

WATTERS: It will be an ongoing battle. I think it’s like a lot of other things we face in life, poverty, discrimination and racism. It’s a continuing battle. But certainly things would be a great deal worse if it hadn’t been for what was launched in China in the year 2009 [1909]. For example, in 2009 [1909], there was, in China alone there was three thousand tonnes of morphine equivalent of opium being consumed. Now in the whole world today, there’s not that much, including what’s being used legally. So we know there’s been a very significant downturn in the use of that drug, even though it’s very much in the hands of very clever criminal syndicates, but we’ve certainly controlled it to a very large extent.

LAM: Your report also notes that the internet is playing an increasing role in the trafficking of legal and unauthorised prescription drugs. How is the Internet being used for drug trafficking?

WATTERS: Well Sen, like a lot of other areas in our modern life, we’re having to cope with changes in technology and certainly the rapid movement of information and the free movement of information on the Internet allows for criminal syndicates around the world to plan their movements of drugs and place their orders using various sorts of cryptology, avoiding the open statement. Then on top of that, we have what we call the Internet pharmacy proliferation around the world and these pharmacies are very often, not all, but a significant number of fronts for Illegal organisations to allow controlled substances to be moved freely from country to country through the postal systems.

LAM: And indeed, with modern communications being so efficient now, the drugs do pass quite easily from country to country. For instance, your report pointed out that Chinese chemicals are being used by Canadian ecstasy manufacturers to make drugs which then end up being sold in Australia and Japan. So it’s quite a daunting challenge, isn’t it?

WATTERS: Yes, it’s an international movement and certainly part of what we’ve been doing at the International Narcotics Control Board is seeking to control those precursors and we do very, very well in many ways, but when you think that a country like China with its vast numbers, they tell us they have got 50,000 factories there that are producing chemicals that could be diverted illicitly into the methamphedamine markets, so it’s a huge task and the India similarly has a big task just to control these things.

LAM: So is there a sort of common attitude by world authorities towards drugs and drug use. For instance, the chair of Britain’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, Professor David Nutt, recently said that using ecstasy was no more dangerous than horse riding. So are we wasting resources by targeting drugs like ecstasy?

WATTERS: Well, with all due respect, I think he’s being very foolish to even talk like that. One of the difficulties we face in many countries is to use the term recreational or party in relationship to dangerous drugs. We do know that more than 95 per cent of the member states of the United Nations are signatories to the convention and that covers 99 per cent of the world’s population. So in principle, they all agree that we should control drugs, make available where necessary, but certainly not allow for the recreational use of these dangerous substances and to suggest that…there is so much medical evidence that these methamphetamine type drugs can have seriously long term psychotic affects. I suppose it could be said if you fell of a horse and landed on your head, that might be equivalent.
presenter: Sen Lam
Speaker: Major Brian Watters from the Salvation Army is a Member of the International Narcotics Control Board and Chairman of the Australian National Council on Drugs
Source:www.radioaustralia.net Feb20th 2009

We, participants of the World Mayors’ Conference against drugs – reaffirm our support for the UN Conventions and declare that all people have the right to expect their governments to work according to the conventions and their intentions.Worldwide, cannabis is the most frequent used illicit drug, which calls for action from each city and country. Extensive research confirms that the use of cannabis is detrimental to health, causes crime, and is addictive. Cannabis, and certain other drugs, for example khat, should be viewed in the same way as other types of illicit/psychotropic drugs for example cocaine,
heroine and amphetamine, when it comes to control policy, rehabilitation and preventive measures.

We, participants …..
 Reaffirm our unwavering determination and commitment to overcoming the world drug problem through international and domestic strategies to reduce both the illicit supply of and demand for drugs;

 Recognize that action against the drug problem is a common and shared responsibility requiring an integrated and balanced approach in full conformity with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and international law;

 Affirm our determination to provide the necessary resources for treatment and rehabilitation and to enable social reintegration to restore dignity and hope to children, youth, women and men who have become drug abusers, and to fight against all aspects of the world drug problem;

 Urge all people to work with their governments to strengthen, support, and encourage the UN system of drug control, in order to reduce the global demand and supply of illicit drugs;

 Emphasize the immediate need for all countries and cities to place drug issues as one of the high priorities on their development agendas;

Together we can meet the challenge and make a difference!

Bandar Seri Begawan – The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in its tireless vigilance has once again apprehended several individuals suspected of consuming and distributing illegal drugs openly in public.
According to a press release from NCB, investigations into these activities have warranted the arrests of 10 men between the ages of 18 and 38, including two men who had been reported to have blatantly sold these drugs to passers by at a jetty and the back streets of Kg Saba Darat in the capital.
Some 70 NCB officers were involved in the drug bust last Thursday where they succeeded in seizing several packets of illegal drugs.
The operation is part of a series that NCB will be conducting in known drug hotspots in their commitment to clean up the streets of illegal drugs.
According to Section 39(a), Paragraph 27 of the Misuse of Drugs Act, any person found guilty for possession of controlled drugs will face a minimum sentence of 20 years imprisonment and 15 strokes of the cane, and a maximum sentence of 30 years with 15 strokes of the cane.
But possession of controlled drugs exceeding 500 grammes carries the death penalty in Brunei.
Meanwhile, suspects found guilty of consuming controlled drugs will be charged under Section 6(b), Paragraph 27 of the Misuse of Drugs Act and will face a minimum of three years and a maximum of 10 years or imposed with a $20,000 fine or both.
Source: Borneo Bulletin www.BruDirect.com March 2009

Why do the young turn into drug addicts and what could be the reasons for their increasing number in our country? Riti Naik looks for answers.

The ‘d’ generation
Ranmeet never came second in class throughout his school life, he was that brilliant. Besides, being an excellent drummer and a swift swimmer, he was also an obedient child. However, when he got through IIT Kharagpur, he lost interest in studies as he had never wanted to take up engineering. With a huge syllabus before him and an adamant mother behind, today, the boy stays with his father in his room. Ranmeet is a drug addict, and his father tries day and night to help him out, fully aware that sending him to a rehab would put an end to his studies. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
This incident talks about a victim who has been treated mercilessly by circumstances. Yet, everyday, thousands of students, all over the country are actually willing to become drug abuse victims. Among these, numerous have already become addicted and blighted their lives.
No one ever aims to become an addict. Who knew that a brilliant boy like Ranmeet would turn his life into such a hell? Well, a question can be asked here: did he turn his life into that of an addict? The answer is ‘yes’ because no one could have taken the drug for him to become an addict. Yet, is he solely responsible for his state? Can we put the entire blame on him? This is the general mistake made by society, which comprises people like you and I – to put the blame on the user. No doubt the user is most guilty, but the contribution of circumstances is something undeniable here.
First, why did a studious boy like Ranmeet take a drug? Or, if we expand the question: why do students of the twenty-first century take drugs?
In most cases youngsters ‘try out’ drugs. When peer pressure threatens to label someone as an outcaste, people generally give in. After the effects are experienced, whenever, a youngster feels s/he cannot cope with her/his circumstances, they fall back on drugs. In this way, they become dependent on drugs during their stressful times. Once a person is under the influence of drugs, s/he will subsequently need more amounts of it every time to produce the same effect. If this is not nipped in the bud, there is very little chance of the person not to turn into an addict.
This is a very crucial point of one’s life, where s/he needs support from loved ones, which is denied most of the times. And specially, after becoming an addict, society turns its face away once they push her/him to a rehab. We must understand that they are what they are today because, somewhere in their lives, they have made a wrong choice, somewhere they haven’t been guided well. And because of this mistake, their lives have changed, they have become unknown beings to themselves, the spark within them flickered out.
So, if we consider ourselves to be responsible people who are wise enough not to make that wrong choice, don’t you agree that it’s our responsibility to accept them too? To try to give them what they deserve? To at least help them get back to their previous life?
No matter how much we try, we cannot run away from drugs. The menace has crept into the very roots of society. Drug abuse is rampant everywhere, all around us -some in large magnitudes, others in less significant numbers. In Australia, selling of loose petrol (which is directly not put inside the engine), is banned. Addicts inhale the smell of petrol for they can’t pay for ‘harder’ drugs. Many times, while waiting at road signals, we see little boys and girls coming with scraps of cloth to wipe the car windows and ask for alms. Some of them, in a quick gesture of picking up something on the ground, wipe the exhaust pipe, preferably of bikes. Once the signal is back , they wait for the next one, sniff the cloth to kill hunger. The child becomes a victim of drug abuse.
One does not become a drug addict only from heroin, cocaine, crack, marijuana(or any other form of it) or club drugs (like Ecstasy, LSD). Many times some addicts even sniff Fevicol, dendrite, nail polish removers, enamel paints and correction pen fluids. These are referred to as ‘inhalants’ and cause severe permanent damages to the brain in the long run. These volatile substances, if taken in good quantity can actually give the user a ‘high’ and lead to addiction. And along with this, we also have alcohol, cigarettes, and pharmaceutical products (sleeping pills, cough syrups and painkillers). Even if they don’t make addicts, they pave the road for one.
The human body can function well without drugs. Mentally, we are quipped with reasoning power with which we can fight every thought that disturbs us. We therefore can solve every problem ourselves, and in case some of us are unable to, there are various other options. Seeking refuge in drugs is not the solution.
Drugs are illegal, hard to obtain and have terrifying after effects – we all know that. So why fall victim to something as heinous as drugs, when you can manage everything yourself? Many take drugs to get that feeling of confidence and being on top of the world. This feeling can be experienced the moment you know what you are doing and your conscience favours you.
The reasons why the youth take drugs, like stress management, for getting that euphoric feeling, making their bodies feel they way they want to —can be all achieved with a little bit of hard work which will in turn do wonders for the mind and body as well.
A human being is a natural creation and a part of it cannot be artificial. Drugs produce effects that are artificial; be it the painkiller or the LSD effect, when you become part of another world. Once, one starts using drugs, one is less dependent on her/his own body functions and more dependent on this foreign stimulant. At first the body refuses to take in excess of such stuff and the person rejects it by throwing up. But once the bodily functions are somewhat affected and the normal working of the human body has decreased, the body gives in and the addict becomes a victim of overdose.
Many movies depict the complete destruction of a character due to drug abuse. Fashion portrays a super model Shonali (played by Kangana Ranaut), who initially a drug addict, spoils her entire career and subsequently, her whole life with her increasing dependence on drugs. In Dev D, Dev (Abhay Deol), doesn’t care to see how much he has started deteriorating in the eyes of those who love him. Other movies like Devdas, Don-2, we see that though the protagonists knew that another drink would kill them, yet they could not restrain themselves. They chose drugs over normal life, destruction over self-restraint.
Many times, events in our lives compel us to give up all hope and shut ourselves up in darkness. Most people use drugs in such a situation to escape that dreadful feeling of loss. And this is the excuse many of our friends give when we come to know about their addictive habits. Most of the times we let them indulge in it, thinking it would be better for them to forget the incident. However, supporting the usage of drugs is as dangerous as misuse of drugs. As a responsible generation, we have to make a decision now; we have to say ‘No’ to drugs.
Nothing can equal the confidence with which an innocent child dreams. These dreams long to be fulfilled by the child buried deep inside us as we grow up. Some claim to need drugs just to feel confident, yet a major bulk of the world population is functioning very well without drugs.
A drug is not a prerequisite for existence. With an able mind and body, we can surely create our own style, we can have our own vision. With a little awareness we can be naturally high on confidence and nurture our own dreams.
And now that we know that we can do well without drugs, we must completely do away with it. We can only be great individuals once we are completely independent, when we do not have to depend on anything to bring out the best in us.
A drug is not a scary subject. It’s just about a strong decision we’ve have make and say “No thanks, I’m fine without drugs”, whenever someone offers it to us.

Coordinator, La Martiniere for Girls
Source: Daily Dose May 2009

Unlike their larger mainland cousins, the wallabies of Tasmania appear to be more trippy than Skippy. No lesser an authority than the island’s attorney general has discovered that hungry marsupials and thousands of acres of legal opium poppy fields do not mix.
“We have a problem with wallabies entering poppy fields, getting as high as a kite and going around in circles,” Lara Giddings told a budget hearing on Wednesday. Nor does the problem end there. Even drugged-up marsupials, it seems, cannot break free of the physical law that demands that what goes up must come down. “Then they crash,” said Giddings. “We see crop circles in the poppy industry from wallabies that are high.”
Tasmania is the world’s biggest producer of legally grown opium for the pharmaceutical market. About 500 farmers grow the crop on 49,420 acres (20,000 hectares) of land, producing around half the raw opium for morphine and other opiates. Giddings was answering questions about the security of the island’s poppy stocks, which are estimated to be among the safest in the world. However, the attorney general noted that 2280 poppy heads had been stolen over the last financial year.
Rick Rockliff, field operations manager for Tasmanian Alkaloids – one of the two Tasmanian companies licensed to take medicinal products from poppy straw – said that deer and sheep that munched the poppies had been known to “act weird” afterwards.
“There have been many stories about sheep that have eaten some of the poppies after harvesting and they all walk around in circles,” Rockliff told the Mercury newspaper. He said growers did their best to stop the local lifestock invading the fields as there were worries over the contamination of meat from animals that ate the drug crops.
“There is also the risk to our poppy stocks, so growers take this very seriously but there has been a steady increase in the number of wild animals and that is where we are having difficulty keeping them off our land,” he said.
British animals appear to be more conservative in their choice of intoxicants. Last October, a drunk pony called Fat Boy had to be rescued from a Cornish swimming pool after gorging himself on fermented apples and falling into the water.
Source: www.guardian.co.uk 25 June 2009

The rapidly changing HIV subepidemic at the border of the United States and Mexico, likely caused by population mobility and the drug and sex trades, may be rapidly affecting the overall HIV epidemic in Mexico. In a recent editorial, NIDA-funded researchers discussed studies of HIV infection at the United States–Mexico border in an effort to better understand factors shaping individual and network-level risks for acquiring HIV. Two different studies in the Mexican border cities of Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez showed a high prevalence of HIV infection among sex workers who were also injection drug users: 6 percent and 12 percent, respectively. Considerable population mobility exists at the Tijuana–San Diego (United States) border in both directions, with one study showing that one-fifth of injection drug users in Tijuana had traveled to the United States in the previous year. This mobility also occurs in other high-risk populations—for example, “nearly half of men having sex with men (MSM) in Tijuana and three-quarters of MSM in San Diego report having male sex partners from across the border,” explain the authors. The populations of border cities such as Tijuana largely come from other states in Mexico, and HIV-positive people can carry the infection back to their home states. Mexico now faces several challenges at the national level, including integrating treatment for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections that are risk factors for HIV infection, and increasing the availability of antiretroviral therapy. The authors conclude that due to the high level of migration in all directions, bordering countries must be involved for HIV prevention, diagnosis, and treatment in Mexico to be effective.

Source: Strathdee SA, Magis-Rodriguez C. Mexico’s evolving HIV epidemic. JAMA. 2008;300(5):571–573.

Men diagnosed with cancer are less likely to survive the disease if they were smokers or heavy drinkers, Reuters reported Nov. 7.
Smoking and drinking are well-known risk factors for cancer, but researchers have begun looking into how these addictions affect survivability, as well. Researcher Young Ho Yun and colleagues at the National Cancer Center in Goyang, South Korea tracked 14,578 cancer patients for about nine years and compared mortality data to patients’ history of smoking and alcohol use.
The researchers found that former smokers were more likely to die from any kind of cancer than non-smoking cancer patients, possibly because smoking causes tumors to grow more aggressively. Smokers also may be less likely to get cancer screening tests, the authors noted, so their disease is often further advanced when treatment begins.
Among patients with head, neck, or liver cancer, heavy drinkers were more likely to die than non-drinkers, with risk increasing with consumption levels.
“Our findings suggest that groups at high risk of cancer need to be educated continually to improve their health behaviors — not only to prevent cancer, but also to improve prognosis,” the study authors noted.
The research appears in the Nov. 1, 2006 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Russia has a provision in their Advertising Law that makes it illegal to advertise drugs, as well as an article in the Administrative Code on the “promotion of narcotic and psychotropic substances and their precursors.” The Federal Drug Control Service has pressed charges against vendors of T-shirts and jewellry with images of marijuana. A vendor was recently arrested for selling cell phone covers that feature an image of a cannabis leaf. Nikolai Sumburov, a Russian federal narcotics agent, stated that the sale of drug paraphernalia is as important as snaring dealers. He continued, “16 and 17-year-old teenagers buy the cell phone so they can consider themselves to be part of the so-called subculture…then they start thinking about trying the drug.”

Source: The Moscow Times, September 1, 2004.
For the entire article click on www.educatingvoices.org/EVINews.asp

According to an opinion poll commissioned by the biggest Swedish daily, Dagens Nyheter (ON), and carried out by TEMO, an overwhelming majority, 96 per cent, of the Swedish population supports a restrictive drug policy. As such an overwhelming majority is extremely rare, TEMO, double- checked the results. Out of 1.002 people aged 16 years and older almost all answered that they were against any idea that Sweden would allow use of cannabis, so-called ‘party drugs’ and other drugs. More than nine out of ten 16- 29-year-olds said they were against such ideas.
The survey clearly indicates that the Swedish Government’s government bill, due to be presented later this year, on a continued and developed restrictive drug policy has massive popular support. Furthermore, comments on the final report from the Swedish Governments Narcotic Commission show a strong support from local, regional and national authorities for a continued and intensified fight against drugs.

Source: Opinion poll in , Dagens Nyheter. Oct 2001. 

The Ministry of Health is warning users of illegal drugs about the added danger they may be exposing themselves to after Dutch authorities found strychnine in a sample of MDMA (Ecstasy} in Holland. The New Zealand Customs Service advise that most of the Ecstasy smuggled into New Zealand comes from Western Europe, particularly Holland. Strychnine, which is now only used as a rat poison, is deadly in quite small doses. Two tablets, each containing the amount reported from the Dutch sample, could be fatal. Substances including and ketamine, anaesthetic medicine also used as an animal tranquilliser, have been found. “This issue highlights the danger with illegal drugs. The consumer has no idea what he/she is buying and they should realise that they could be putting themselves at serious risk of injury or death”, said Dr Bob Boyd, Chief Advisor.

Source: www.moh.govt.nz/media.html Feb 2000

Italy’s centre-right government has approved a proposal making it an offence to possess and use even the smallest quantities of mild narcotics. The move could give Italy some of Europe’s most severe anti-drugs laws.       People caught with modest amounts of cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and other drugs will be subject to penalties such as deprivation of their passports and driving licences. Those with larger amounts will face prison sentences of up to 20 years.

The proposal, adopted by the prime minister and his cabinet on Thursday, must still be passed by parliament. But approval seems likely because all four parties in the coalition government, headed by Silvio Berlusconi, supported it. The coalition controls both legislative chambers.The proposal goes further than anti-drugs legislation in other European Union countries by abolishing the distinction between so-called “soft” and “hard” drugs. It also virtually turns existing Italian law on its head by starting from the principle that it is drug use, rather than drug abuse, that must be stamped out. In a referendum in April 1993, Italians voted to decriminalise the possession of drugs such as cannabis for personal use. The vote reflected the social reality of a country in which consumption of mild drugs had become increasingly common and whose sunny climate permits extensive cultivation of marijuana, notably in large plantations in the   mezzogiorno, or south.
According to a 2001 study cited this year by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, the EU’s official body for analysing trends in drugs use, 9.4 per cent of Italians between the ages of 15 and 34 had used cannabis in the previous year. An article in Cannabis Culture, a Canadian magazine, estimated in 1998 that at least 2m of Italy’s 57m people had used cannabis. “Italy has a one-year mandatory draft, and it is common knowledge that an overwhelming majority of the soldiers smoke joints,” it said. If the government gets its way, it will no longer be possible – as happened last February – for a court to rule that a 17-year-old student who took 40 joints on a school excursion did nothing wrong because they were for his own use. The legislation draws a dividing line between the amounts of drugs that will incur administrative sanctions – such as passport suspension – and those that will trigger prison sentences. Administrative sanctions will apply to people caught with up to 500 milligrams of cocaine, 300mg of ecstasy, 250mg of cannabis, 200mg of heroin and 50mg of LSD. Any quantities above these limits will incur penal sanctions. For cannabis the law will consider not the joints’ weight but the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the brain-affecting substance contained in them.

Source: Financial Times (UK), Author: Tony Barber, Published: November 15, 2003

Afghans opium poppy cultivation has soared, and this year’s harvest could be twice as large as last year’s near-record crop unless eradication efforts are immediately stepped up. According to Robert Charles, Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, the heroin business is “almost definitely” filling the coffers of the Taliban and another Afghan group linked to Osama bin Laden and “possibly” enriching al-Qaeda fighters as well.
SOURCE:Baltimore Sun, April 2, 2004.

According to a survey, based on interviews With 108 marijuana users aged between 13 and 31 and released by the Caritas Youth and Community Service in Aberdeen (Hong Kong) almost one in five young marijuana users said the Body Shop’s hemp promotion influenced someone they know to experiment with the drug. 44% said the products lowered their psychological resistance to experimenting, while 48% said they led people to believe that the drug had no adverse health effects. 18.7% said they knew who someone who started using marijuana as a direct result of the – promotion of commercial hemp products.
The Body Shop was not named in the report but according to the South China Morning Post on Sunday, Caritas social worker Fung Hing-kau identified the company after the report was released. Caritas Youth and Community Service supervisor Lam Wai-fan criticized the company for using the drug to promote its products.
Source: HNN Press Release Feb 1999

The greatest cause of disease and death in every developed country and most developing countries is tobacco addiction. The World Health Organization estimates that tobacco addiction kills 5 million people worldwide each year, including more than 400,000 Americans. In effort to combat this worldwide plague, the World Health Organization (made up of 192 member countries) voted unanimously last week to adopt the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The Convention urges countries to eliminate tobacco advertising, establish bigger/stronger warning labels, raise cigarette prices, and adopt smoke free workplace laws.

France announced that it is raising cigarette prices by 25% and will continue to do so until prices reach 7 euros ($8.40) per pack. Currently, cigarettes cost about 4 euros ($4.80) per pack. The last price hike resulted in a 10% decline in youth smoking. In addition new cigarette warning labels have gone into effect in Europe covering 1/3 of both the front and back of a pack of cigarettes. Canada and Brazil have strong picture based warning labels. Ireland and Norway have announced that restaurants and bars will be smoke free next year. Finland currently has smoke free casinos.

In the U.S., four entire states— CA, DE, NY, and CT– have gone totally smoke free (including restaurants, bars, and casinos). Hundreds of cities have also gone totally smoke free, including four of the most popular tourist destinations— New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and San Francisco. Canada and Australia continue to lead the world in smoke free workplace legislation.

In Japan the densely populated Chiyoda Ward went smoke free outdoors last year in response to growing complaints from residents about sidewalks and roads littered with cigarette butts and clothes being burned by cigarettes. Mayor Masami Ishikawa himself a smoker backed the ordinance, saying he believes it is no longer possible to rely on smokers to voluntarily stop throwing cigarette trash on the street.

Although there is much to be done, it is obvious that the world is taking action to prevent another generation of tobacco addiction and disease. Five million deaths a year are simply too much to ignore.
Source: smoke Free Educational services, www.corpwatch.org, June 2003

This result provides genetic evidence that marijuana use can result in schizophrenia or a significantly increased risk of schizophrenia. Lead researcher Hiroshi Ujike, a clinical psychiatrist at Okayama University, told United Press International.
Schizophrenia is one of the greatest mental health challenges in the world, affecting roughly one of every 100 people and filling about a quarter of all hospital beds in the United States. For years, clinical scientists have known that abusing marijuana, also known as cannabis, can trigger hallucinations and delusions similar to symptoms often found in schizophrenia. Prior studies also show that cannabis used before age 18 raises the risk of schizophrenia six-fold.The hallucinogenic properties of marijuana, the researchers explained, are linked to a biochemical found abundantly in the brain. The chemical, called cannabinoid receptor protein, studs the surfaces of brain cells and latches onto the active chemical within marijuana known as THC.“These sites are where marijuana acts on the brain,” Ujike said.

Ujike and his team examined the gene for the marijuana receptor in 121 Japanese patients with schizophrenia and an average age of 44. when they compared this gene in schizophrenia with the same gene in 148 normal men and woman of the same average age, they found distinct abnormalities in DNA sequences called nucleotides among the schizophrenics. Some of their nucleotides in the marijuana receptor gene appeared significantly more often than normal while others appeared less frequency.

“This finding is the first to report a potential abnormality of the cannabinoid system in schizophrenia,” said clinical neuroscientist Carol Tam Minga at the University of Maryland in college Park. “The importance of a finding here cannot be overstated, in that it would form a tissue target for drug development and allow targeted treatments to emerge for the illness.”

It appears malfunctions in the brain’s marijuana—linked circuitry may make one vulnerable to schizophrenia, Ujike said. This holds especially true for a condition called hebephrenic schizophrenia, which is marked by deterioration of personality, senseless laughter, disorganized thought and lack of motivation. These symptoms are similar to psychotic behaviour sometimes triggered by severe cannabis abuse, which could mean the marijuana receptors in schizophrenics are far more active than they should be.

Ujike stressed there is no evidence yet these genetic abnormalities can affect how the marijuana receptor actually acts in the brain. “We would also like to replicate our findings with different ethnic populations and more people,” he added.
The researchers described their findings in the scientific journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Source:Hiroshi Ujike,Okayama university Japan- Reported in UPI Science News, New York 2002

This result provides genetic evidence that marijuana use can result in schizophrenia or a significantly increased risk of schizophrenia. Lead researcher Hiroshi Ujike, a clinical psychiatrist at Okayama University, told United Press International.
Schizophrenia is one of the greatest mental health challenges in the world, affecting roughly one of every 100 people and filling about a quarter of all hospital beds in the United States. For years, clinical scientists have known that abusing marijuana, also known as cannabis, can trigger hallucinations and delusions similar to symptoms often found in schizophrenia. Prior studies also show that cannabis used before age 18 raises the risk of schizophrenia six-fold.The hallucinogenic properties of marijuana, the researchers explained, are linked to a biochemical found abundantly in the brain. The chemical, called cannabinoid receptor protein, studs the surfaces of brain cells and latches onto the active chemical within marijuana known as THC.“These sites are where marijuana acts on the brain,” Ujike said.

Ujike and his team examined the gene for the marijuana receptor in 121 Japanese patients with schizophrenia and an average age of 44. when they compared this gene in schizophrenia with the same gene in 148 normal men and woman of the same average age, they found distinct abnormalities in DNA sequences called nucleotides among the schizophrenics. Some of their nucleotides in the marijuana receptor gene appeared significantly more often than normal while others appeared less frequency.

“This finding is the first to report a potential abnormality of the cannabinoid system in schizophrenia,” said clinical neuroscientist Carol Tam Minga at the University of Maryland in college Park. “The importance of a finding here cannot be overstated, in that it would form a tissue target for drug development and allow targeted treatments to emerge for the illness.”

It appears malfunctions in the brain’s marijuana—linked circuitry may make one vulnerable to schizophrenia, Ujike said. This holds especially true for a condition called hebephrenic schizophrenia, which is marked by deterioration of personality, senseless laughter, disorganized thought and lack of motivation. These symptoms are similar to psychotic behaviour sometimes triggered by severe cannabis abuse, which could mean the marijuana receptors in schizophrenics are far more active than they should be.

Ujike stressed there is no evidence yet these genetic abnormalities can affect how the marijuana receptor actually acts in the brain. “We would also like to replicate our findings with different ethnic populations and more people,” he added.
The researchers described their findings in the scientific journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Source:Hiroshi Ujike,Okayama university Japan- Reported in UPI Science News, New York 2002

Japan Tobacco, the worlds third largest tobacco group, will launch six new cigarette brands in Japan next month as it prepares for increasing
competition from rival Philip Morris.It will be. the first time JT has launched so many products at once, reflecting its new strategy of aggressively launching products and premium brands to increase its share in its mainstay market. JT commands 73 per cent of the Japanese market but its share is steadily declining.

Source: www.search.ft.com

Vancouver, British Columbia, a city unaccustomed to widespread crime, is facing a rise in gang-related violence stemming from drug dealing and local turf wars between young people of Indian descent, “They are Indo-Canadians killing Indo-Canadians,” said Kash Heed, commanding officer of the Third Police District in Vancouver. “Seventy-six murders mainly within one ethnic group. The cycle of violence, we’ve not cracked it yet.”

Immigrant community leaders blame inaction on the part of Vancouver police for the rise in gang violence. “Out here, it’s a slap on the hand,” said Amar Randhawa, co-founder of the Unified Network of Indo-Canadians for Togetherness and Education Through Discussion (UNITED). “Law enforcement can’t crack the lower hierarchy, let alone get to the top.”

But police officials said the cycle of murder and revenge has hampered their efforts. “One day suspect, and the next day victim,” said Heed. “One day you are the shooter. The next day you’re lying in your coffin.”

According to police, gangs deal in the potent variety of marijuana called B.C. bud, which is grown in the province. “It is often exchanged for cocaine, cash, or firearms. It is a deal between two criminal gangs, one on the south side of the border and one on the north side, guns for marijuana,” said constable Alex Borden of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. “If there is violence in our streets and firearms are involved, we are concerned the firearms come from across the border.”

According to Joe Giuliano, assistant chief at the local U.S. Border Patrol office in Blaine, Wash., 23 Canadian smugglers have been arrested on the U.S. side of the border so far this year. “Virtually all marijuana smuggling in the past fiscal year is either directly or indirectly tied back to the Indo-Canadian community,” he said.

According to officials, gang members are generally from upscale families. “Unlike in other countries, people involved in the gang activity here are not the poor or disadvantaged,” said Wallace Oppal, a justice of the Court of Appeal of British Columbia. “For the most part, kids involved here are people who come from middle-class and upper-class homes. They get involved for the glamour.”

Heed added that parents should get more involved in discouraging their children from joining gangs. “We’ve gone to notify people their son was killed and they have been in such denial they slammed the door in the police officer’s face,” Heed said. “They don’t want to believe their child is involved. They will ask the question to their dying day after their son is murdered why they didn’t do something.”

Source: the Washington Post reported July 22. 2004

A report by Columbia University’s Earth Institute blamed cigarettes, cheap food, and city living for contributing to millions of premature deaths from heart disease in the developing world.

“The tobacco scourge, now at epidemic levels in less-developed countries, exacts its toll in many ways, but cardiovascular deaths are its principal mode of mortality,” the report said.

The report further found that unlike the United States, few developing countries are helping people to quit smoking.

The study examined the death rates in Brazil, South Africa, China, Tatarstan, and India.

Source: Reuters reported April 2004.

It looks like marijuana but users say its effect is more like LSD. According  to the Drug Enforcement Agency it’s use is growing in popularity among young adults. It’s called Salvia Divinorum and when smoked or chewed, it can pack a psychedelic wallop.

An herb grown in Mexico, Salvia is easily accessible on the internet or at several head shops around the metro area. Jeannette Grafeman, a clerk at a store that sells Salvia says you can buy it in many different forms. “You can smoke it or chew it. Some people buy it in liquid form and drop it on their regular tobacco,” says Grafeman.

Salvia is on the DEA’s watch list. They call it a drug of concern. And they were more than just concerned in St. Peters.

“We were having some problems at the malls with some assaults and some other juvenile issues and some of those issues had to do with kids that were using salvia,” says St. Peters police captain Jeff Finkelstein.

Captain Finklestein says he can’t say for sure that the assaults were as a result of the Salvia, but “The word to us was that kids were hallucinating. Anytime that you have anybody hallucinating especially kids under 18, it was something that really concerned us,” says Finkelstein.

So the Police took the problem to city officials who wanted to make the sale of Salvia illegal in St. Peters.

“But our city attorney informed us that this product is on the DEA’s watch list but has not been banned as an illegal substance. So the only thing the city could do was restrict the age with which the product can be sold” says St. Peters Alderman Jerry Hollingsworth.

In January of last year St. Peters became the first city in the nation to place a restriction on Salvia. It cannot be sold to anyone under the age of 18.

“The vote was unanimous as it always is when it comes to dealing with protecting children,” says Hollingsworth.

Since Salvia is legal elsewhere, it’s hard to know if the ordinance in St. Peters is having an affect but St. Peters police tell us they’re getting fewer complaints about Salvia users. Jerry Hollingsworth doesn’t want to stop there. He wants action on the state level and then on the Federal level.

The incidence of smoking in top grossing movies has increased during the 1990s, and dramatically exceeds real smoking rates, according to a new University of California San Francisco study. After declining over three decades, smoking in movies has returned to levels comparable to those observed in the 1960s, before the issuance of the first Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health in 1964. The report appears in the new issue of Tobacco Control, a scientific journal published by the British Medical Association. The presentation of smoking in films remains pro-tobacco with only 14 percent of tobacco screen-time presenting adverse social or health effects of tobacco use. The researchers found that in movies from the 1960s, tobacco was used about once for every five minutes of film time. In films from the 1970s and 1980s, tobacco was used about once every 10 to 15 minutes, but in movies from the 1990s, tobacco was used an average of every three to five minutes. “The use of tobacco in films is increasing and is reinforcing misleading images that present smoking as a widespread and socially desirable activity,” according to the authors. These portrayals may encourage teenagers – the major movie audience to smoke. “Films continue to present the smoker as one who is typically white, male, middle class, successful and attractive a movie hero who takes smoking for granted,” the researchers report. “As in tobacco advertising, tobacco use in the movies is associated with youthful vigour, good health, good looks, and personal and professional acceptance.

The Swedish epidemic of intravenous amphetamine injection, which started in 1945, was surveyed annually in Stockholm from 1965 to 1987. During that period, approximately 250.000 arrestees were examined for needle marks from intravenous drug injections that they presented in their cubital regions. The progression or regression of the epidemic was gauged by calculating the percentage of addicts (marked with needle scars) among the population arrested for any kind of criminal or civil offense. This epidemiological study using an objective marker demonstrated that a permissive drug policy leads to a rapid spread of drug use. A restrictive policy not only checks the spread of addiction but brings about a considerable reduction in the rate of current consumption. The restrictive policy is based on a general consensus of social refusal of illicit drug use, and strict law enforcement. All countries which have adopted this model such as China, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan have succeeded in controlling epidemics of amphetamine or heroin addiction. By contrast, Western industrialized nations which have accepted permissive policies have seen their epidemics of drug addiction grow steadily since World II War and erode their democratic institutions. The author concludes that such a trend may only be reversed by adopting a restrictive model validated by epidemiological and historical facts.

Professor Nils Bejerot
The Swedish Carnegie Institute, Stockholm
Presented at an International Colloquium held in Paris at the French Senate in March 1998

Japan has one of the lowest drug abuse and crime rates of any industrialised nation. It also has some of the stiffest laws. After the Second World War it faced an epidemic of amphetamine use and in the early 1960s problems with heroin. A combination of strong law enforcement, stigmatisation of drug users and rehabilitation was successful in overcoming these problems.
After the Second World War Japan’s military stocks of amphetamines went astray, abuse started among artists, musicians, ‘bohemians’ and prostitutes but quickly spread. Not enough was done initially to combat this and it soon escalated.
In 1954, 2 million of the population of 100 million was using tablets. but the epidemic was ended by the enforcement of strict laws. Possession incurred a sentence of 3-6 months: 1 to 3 years was the sentence for pushing and 5 years for illicit manufacture. Convicts were closely monitored on release and immediate restrictions imposed on anyone who relapsed. 55600 arrests were made in 1954 but by 1958 this had dropped to 271 and the epidemic was over.
Measures had been taken against 15% of intravenous users and it seems others were discouraged by fear of arrest. This policy was carried out with broad political consensus and massive public support.

References
1. A Brief Account of Drug Abuse and Countermeasures in Japan Pharmaceutical Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Health and Welfare. Japan. 1972
Masaaki Kato. “An epidemiological analysis of the fluctuation of drug dependence in Japan”, The international Journal of Addictions. 4 (4). Dec. 1969
2. Bejerot N. ‘Drogue et Societe. Masson, Paris 1990. ‘Cannabis: Physiopathology. Epidemiology, Detection.’ Nahas G & Latour C (eds). CRC Press. 1993.

Trends in drug use in various countries are reported in a number of sources; some current examples are given in this item:

In Australia marijuana is the most popular illicit drug, followed by amphetamines. While cocaine is not readily available in Australia, heroin is, especially among the arrestee population. Nineteen percent of youth in detention centers and 40 percent of adult prisoners have used heroin at least once in their lifetime.

Marijuana is the drug of choice in Canada’s cities – 48 percent of youth aged 15-19 in British Columbia use marijuana, and 61 percent of treatment clients in Toronto reported marijuana as a major problem. In addition, powder cocaine and crack use were reported as serious problems in several cities.

Cocaine is the most common drug of abuse among treatment clients in Mexico, followed by marijuana and inhalants.

In South Africa, marijuana and methaqualone are the most frequently abused substances, often used in combination. There are also reports that crack cocaine, powder cocaine, and heroin uses are increasing.

As a result of a brief heroin shortage in 1996, many addicts in Thailand began injecting the drug, and there are reports of lower purity heroin being diluted with barbiturates and benzodiazepines. In addition, methamphetamine use continues to be popular, especially among students, and the number of methamphetamine laborites in Thailand has increased.
 

Source: Adapted by Center for Substance Abuse Research, University of Maryland, College Park (CESAR) from data from NIDA,
Community Epidemiology Work Group, “Epidemiologic Trends in Drug Abuse Advance Report,” December, 1997

 

Italy: Now has the highest heroin addiction rate in Europe and attributes 70% of all AIDS cases to IV drug users. Italy decriminalised possession of heroin in 1975. Within the European Parliament the Italian Radical Party has been one of the leading promoters of drug law relaxation; the Radicals former leader Marco Tarradash has moved on into the media empire of Berlusconi.

Amsterdam: Where marijuana was decriminalised and sold or distributed under city auspices, citizens in April 1995 successfully pressured authorities to close many coffeehouses (where drugs were openly sold), and reduce the amount of cannabis allowed on premise. Subsequently permitted individual possession was reduced from 30 grams to 5 grams.

Alaska: In 1972, with financial and legal support from NORML (the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), a young lawyer, Raven appealed to the Alaskan Supreme Court following arrest for possession of marijuana; he declared his arrest violated his private rights.  In 1975 the Supreme Court ruled by five to one in favour of Raven.  Raven and his supporters had declared that decriminalisation would not result in greater use, the use of other drugs would not be affected since there is no such thing as a ‘Gateway Drug’ and there would be no increase in problem use.  The police force supported the appeal – having been persuaded that there would be no increase in crime.

By 1990 there had been a major increase in the use of marijuana – to twice the national average, similarly a huge increase in problem drug use, heavy increase in health and social costs, use of all other drugs had increased, crime overall went up.  The law was later rescinded with the support of the police who had changed their minds in the face of this unequivocal evidence.

Armed forces: Compulsory drug tests introduced in December 1993 for Army personnel in the UK and Germany showed 0.5% tested positive for illegal drugs.  (3,619 men tested between January and May 1995.)

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