Daily news - 1st September 2017

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UK news

Woman dies and two men taken to hospital after taking ecstasy

Police issue warning after Vietnamese nationals fall ill having taken drugs at Crystals and Electric nightclubs in London | Guardian, UK

'Legal highs' fear at Kilwinning Academy over ill pupils

Two boys have been taken to hospital after becoming unwell at Kilwinning Academy in Ayrshire | BBC, UK

New laws on laughing gas face court challenge

An undergraduate who became one of the first people to be convicted for selling laughing gas or “hippy crack” is to launch an appeal after similar court cases collapsed over confusion surrounding the law | Telegraph, UK

Avoidable deaths twice as likely in poorest areas

"The most-deprived populations in England and Wales are up to 7.7 times more likely to die from an avoidable respiratory disease than the least deprived. Smoking is the most likely contributory factor to these differences." | BBC, UK

Drug strategy fears as opioid overdoses rise despite drop in drug-related deaths

The number of people admitted to hospital for overdosing on heroin or methadone hit a record high last year | The National, UK

Needle exchange clinics could ‘cut drug deaths’

Needle exchange clinics should be reinstated to battle the record numbers of drug users overdosing and dying, a charity boss has said | Evening Times, UK

Number of children exposed to second-hand smoke halved

The Scottish Government published its national tobacco strategy in 2013 | STV, UK

E-cigarettes go head to head with tobacco in University of Dundee study

Smokers who are considering making the switch from tobacco to electronic cigarettes are being asked to help compare their effects | The National, UK

Police forces' summer drink driving tests down 50%

Police have conducted 5,000 fewer drink driving tests during a summer campaign in June compared to last year | BBC, UK

Indivior sees £1bn fall in value as it loses heroin treatment patent case

UK drugs company, spun out of Reckitt Benckiser in 2014, will appeal against ruling that could pave way for generic rivals | Guardian, UK

Innovative approaches in drug harm reduction need to be explored

Beyond legislation and law enforcement, the messages discouraging the consumption of cocaine should explore new approaches to build a responsible society towards cocaine trafficking | Volte Face, UK

Is there such a thing as sugar addiction?

Given the choice, lab rats favour sugar over cocaine. Does that mean we are all hopelessly hooked – and what is eating too much sugar doing to our bodies? | Guardian, UK


Neuropharmacology will be publishing a Special Issue on “Psychedelics” with Prof David Heal, Dr Sharon Smith, Prof Jack Henningfield, Prof Bruno Frenguelli and Prof David Nutt as Guest Editors. The Special Issue is timed to coincide with the 80th anniversary of Albert Hofmanns’ synthesis of LSD and the 75th anniversary of its first ingestion by Hofmann himself | Neuropharmacology, UK

Russell Brand: ‘I was a needy person. I'm less mad now’

He’s moved to the country, had a baby and stayed away from politics – but is the comedian ready for a quiet life? | Guardian, UK

Something for the weekend: UK's first openly gay soldier discusses his addiction to sex and drugs

James Wharton lost a year of his life to chemsex after the breakdown of his marriage | Independent, UK

'Prolific' Manchester spice drug dealer Anthony Hunt jailed

A "prolific" drug dealer was jailed for a string of offences after one of Greater Manchester Police's largest seizures of the drug spice | BBC, UK

Debt-laden drug dealer Liam Benfield jailed

A 27-year-old man who claimed he became a drug dealer because he was in debt has been jailed | BBC, UK

Elderly couple fined over naked drunken hotel rampage

'His memory of what happened is hazy because of the sizeable amount of alcohol he had consumed' | Independent, UK


International news

12 Britons arrested in Magaluf drugs raid

Twelve Britons are among 14 people to be arrested as part of an alleged drug dealing ring in the Spanish holiday resort of Magaluf, Majorca, police say | BBC, UK

Ryanair flight delayed by 'drunk jihadist jokers'

A flight from Brussels to Madrid was delayed by more than two hours while police searched for explosives after a party of Belgian men started making jokes about being Islamists with bombs | BBC, UK

A British Columbian Solution to a British Problem?

On 14th April 2016, a Public Health Emergency was declared in British Columbia in response to the opioid overdose crisis. Fentanyl, an opioid reportedly 100 times stronger than morphine, is at the centre of the epidemic, causing fear, panic, and ultimately deaths. Cities across Canada have been affected but British Columbia has borne the brunt of crisis | Volte Face, UK

Australians grapple with new ID rule for takeaway booze

Citizens in Australia's Northern Territory now need to produce photographic ID if they want to buy takeaway alcohol, it's reported | BBC, UK

American banks won’t turn their backs on the cannabis market for long

The New York Times reported last week that American banks are putting pressure on their Uruguayan counterparts to close the accounts of anyone registering incomes from the commerce of cannabis in the country | Volte Face, UK

Electromagnetic brain stimulation could quell cocaine addiction in humans

An Italian physicist has treated over 300 patients using the non-invasive technique | IBTimes, UK

Police shoot carrier pigeon dead as it flies drugs into jail in ‘backpack’

Officers in La Pampa, Argentina, downed the bird and found 7.5 grams of cannabis as well as 44 pills of the sedative Rivotril and a USB stick in a tiny pouch attached to its feathers | Independent, UK

HSE drug expert: We need to consider testing and amnesty bins for clubs and festivals

Amnesty bins aren’t possible right now, legally – but the option will be considered | Journal, Ireland

Towards tobacco-free generations: children neurobiologically vulnerable to nicotine but still a target of tobacco marketing

Several Member States in the WHO European Region are moving towards becoming “tobacco-free”, which means having a smoking prevalence of 5% or less. To achieve this, countries must address a number of tobacco-related issues that specifically impact children, and work to protect children from the harmful effects of tobacco | WHO, Switzerland

Brief primary care intervention cut risky drug use among Latinos by 40 percent

New research finds that brief interventions in a primary care clinic can reduce patients' risky substance use by 4.5 days per month -- a 40 percent decline among the Latino patients surveyed -- compared with people who did not receive the brief intervention. This corresponds to two fewer weekends of drug use per month, or one less day of use per weekend, or a shorter monthly binge period | EurekAlert, USA

BAT Restructures to Help e-Cigarettes Go Mainstream

British American Tobacco has reorganized its regional management structure to integrate its vaping products with its core business, in a push by the world’s biggest listed tobacco company to help cigarette alternatives go mainstream | NYTimes, USA

The First Count of Fentanyl Deaths in 2016: Up 540% in Three Years

The first governmental account of nationwide drug deaths in 2016 shows overdose deaths growing even faster than previously thought | NYTimes, USA

This Fentanyl Test Could Save Lives if America Would Just Embrace It

It's International Overdose Awareness Day, which means it's time to talk about how we usually get drug policy wrong—and why harm reduction is the answer | VICE, USA

Drug users say methadone formula switch contributed to B.C.'s opioid crisis

Drug users trying to quit heroin are gathered for a meeting in Vancouver with one mission in mind: to support each other through the struggles of a reformulated treatment drug they say hasn’t worked and has instead contributed to the opioid epidemic | Toronto City News, Canada

Buying rounds is deeply ingrained in Aussie culture but widely disliked

There seems to be a inverse logic to buying drinks for your mates: the people who come under most pressure to take part in rounds are those that can least afford it | Age, Australia

Why Australians are drinking more booze for the first time in a decade

The rise sees Australia's drinking habits edge closer to the decade high of 10.8 litres in 2007, when you could still get an average schooner of beer for less than $5 | Age, Australia

'That's my breakfast': Inside the country towns hooked on prescription drugs

Behind closed doors in a big country town, a young woman cooks up a legal painkiller to produce a potentially lethal high | ABC News, Australia

Will codeine change push people to the dark web?

People who misuse drugs are likely to turn to the so-called dark web when codeine products are up-scheduled in 2018 | Pharmacy News, Australia

Is it time for Melbourne to get its first safe injecting room?

You can see users injecting in discrete spots - in carparks, on park benches, between bins out the back of restaurants. There are still open deals done on the street. It's not uncommon for locals to find discarded syringes or even users slumped in their yards | abc.net.au, Australia

National Party announces $82 million crackdown on methamphetamine use, supply

A $82m fund promised for war on meth, as deputy PM says drug dealers have "fewer human rights than others | Stuff.co.nz, New Zealand

Election 2017: Strong support for cannabis law reform

The Drug Foundation is urging political parties to commit to health-focused drug law | Herald, New Zealand


Blogs, comment and opinion

The laughing gas verdicts represent a failure of Britain’s drug policy

The opportunity is being missed to license lower-risk substances like nitrous oxide. Instead, users are being directed towards more harmful drugs | Guardian opinion, UK

The Government’s Drug Policy Is in Crisis After The Collapse Of ‘Laughing `Gas’ Prosecutions

In the last week, two prosecutions for supply of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 have collapsed. In both cases, it was accepted that nitrous oxide was a medicine, and as such was exempt from the Act | Huffington Post Blog, UK

Preventing drug related deaths

Last week (30 August 2017) a working group of NHS and voluntary sector drug treatment providers published a set of best practice principles to support efforts across the country to address the increasing number of people dying from drug use | Russell Webster, UK

It’s time for Labour to back patients when it comes to medical marijuana

This month the medical marijuana industry announced its first ever conference in the UK. Paul Millar argues Labour should now get behind patients on the issue | Left Foot Forward, UK

“Skunk”, Reefer Madness, legalisation. Stuff like that

The word “skunk” being used to describe the dodgy, supposedly high THC potency herbal cannabis being sold on the streets in the UK is very unpopular with cannabis law reform activists | UKCIA Blog, UK

Sigrid Rausing: ‘Addiction is a no man’s land between mental illness and bad behaviour’

On 8 July, 2012, the philanthropist and writer Sigrid Rausing flew with her family to their summer house by the sea in Sweden | Guardian, UK

Big Nicotine, Part II: Addiction and the “Cult of Pharmacology”

Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced its intention to lower the nicotine content of cigarettes to, ideally, “minimally or nonaddictive” levels. Public health advocates celebrated the decision; on the other hand, Big Tobacco investors began dumping shares at the prospect of supplying an ever-more-elastic demand | Points Blog, USA

The even more deadly hurricane surging across America

Last weekend I was in Houston when the hurricane hit. The winds smashed into buildings, the rain lashed down. It was an extraordinary experience as I drove along peering through the deluge | Unherd, USA