Making drugs legal – but controlling supply – would stop the flow of money to crime gangs and destroy their power.
Mike Barton, Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary
The Observer, Saturday 28 September 2013 21.00 BST
As a police officer for nearly 34 years, I have witnessed the worsening problems of drug addiction – whether it's to controlled substances or legal drugs, such as alcohol. The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 has prevailed throughout my time of service, but it would appear not to have had the impact that optimistic legislators planned.
Throughout those 34 years, I have recognised that it is an indisputable truth that drugs are bad. Occasionally, a retired colleague advocates a change, but mostly politicians, professionals and the media collude in the fiction that we are winning the war on drugs, or if not, that we still have to fight it in the same way.
Their message has been successful in winning support. Indeed, I recently joined a debating society event at the University of Durham, during which I argued for the decriminalisation of Class A drugs. I felt that our team was funnier, as well as better-informed and more erudite than the opposing team, who were advocating maintaining the status quo. Imagine my surprise, my chagrin even, when the students overwhelmingly voted in favour of maintaining outright prohibition.
So, are we really winning the "war on drugs"?
Well, if the war on drugs means stopping every street corner turning into an opium den and discouraging the mass consumption of laudanum – as happened during the 19th century – then it has succeeded. But if the war on drugs means trying to reduce the illicit supply of drugs, then it has comprehensively failed.
VANCOUVER — After years of petitioning by health officials in British Columbia, Health Canada has authorized some B.C. doctors to prescribe heroin for select patients who have failed to respond to conventional opioid addiction treatments. But within moments of the authorization, Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose blasted the department’s decision, saying it flies in the face of the Conservative government’s anti-drug policy, and vowed to ensure it never happens again. Health Canada on Friday authorized doctors to prescribe heroin to around 15 patients, The Globe and Mail has learned. The doctors had applied to Health Canada under its Special Access Programme (SAP), which grants doctors access to non-marketed or otherwise unapproved drugs for patients with “serious or life-threatening conditions when conventional therapies have failed, are unsuitable or unavailable,” according to a description on Health Canada’s website.
Health Canada on Friday authorized doctors to prescribe heroin to around 15 patients, The Globe and Mail has learned. The doctors had applied to Health Canada under its Special Access Programme (SAP), which grants doctors access to non-marketed or otherwise unapproved drugs for patients with “serious or life-threatening conditions when conventional therapies have failed, are unsuitable or unavailable,” according to a description on Health Canada’s website.
This past weekend, the final day of the three-day electronic dance music festival Electric Zoo held on Randall’s Island in New York City was canceled. The official press release from the city on Sunday, September 1, didn’t give many details, but stated that “the causes of death have not been determined, however, both appear to have involved the drug MDMA (ecstasy, or molly).” It’s a sad, and yet not unfamiliar headline. Especially so for someone like myself, who has been a fan of electronic music and attending events for over ten years now. One can only hope the lessons from this experience can prevent future tragedies.
Electric Zoo is a far cry from the relatively small parties that used to be called “raves.”
I rarely use sensational headlines but this one deserves the term, “deadly.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today issued an alert on a peculiar cluster of designer drug overdose deaths that will appear in tomorrow’s August 30th issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
In March and early April this year, Rhode Island public health officials noted an unusually high number of drug overdose deaths, with 21 cases in one month relative to an average of nine. Ten deaths were associated with what was originally thought to be the prescription opioid drug, fentanyl.
Fentanyl is most often used in chronic pain management in the form of transdermal patches (Duragesic), “lollipops” (Actiq) or for intravenous, outpatient anesthesia owning to its short duration of action. As a recreational street drug, fentanyl is often called, “China White.”
However, subsequent detailed analysis by the CDC and Rhode Island public health officials revealed that the drug was a chemical relative called acetyl fentanyl.
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration announced Thursday a limited pullback on federal enforcement of marijuana, saying it will not interfere with new state laws that permit recreational use of marijuana.
The Justice Department said it will not seek to veto new state laws in Colorado and Washington that legalize the recreational use of marijuana, and it will not bring federal prosecutions against dispensaries or businesses that sell small amounts of marijuana to adults.
A department official stressed, however, that marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and that U.S. prosecutors will continue to aggressively enforce the law against those who sell marijuana to minors and to criminal gangs that are involved in drug trafficking.
Aug. 19, 2013 — The use of LSD, magic mushrooms, or peyote does not increase a person's risk of developing mental health problems, according to an analysis of information from more than 130,000 randomly chosen people, including 22,000 people who had used psychedelics at least once.
Researcher Teri Krebs and clinical psychologist Pål-Ørjan Johansen, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's (NTNU) Department of Neuroscience, used data from a US national health survey to see what association there was, if any, between psychedelic drug use and mental health problems.
The authors found no link between the use of psychedelic drugs and a range of mental health problems. Instead they found some significant associations between the use of psychedelic drugs and fewer mental health problems.
The Justice Department plans to change how it prosecutes some non-violent drug offenders, so they would no longer face mandatory minimum prison sentences, in an overhaul of federal prison policy that Attorney General Eric Holder will unveil on Monday.
Holder will outline the status of a broad, ongoing project intended to improve Justice Department sentencing policies across the country in a speech to the American Bar Association in San Francisco.
"I have mandated a modification of the Justice Department's charging policies so that certain low-level, nonviolent drug offenders who have no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs, or cartels, will no longer be charged with offenses that impose draconian mandatory minimum sentences," Holder is expected to say, according to excerpts of his prepared remarks provided by the Justice Department.
(CNN) -- Over the last year, I have been working on a new documentary called "Weed." The title "Weed" may sound cavalier, but the content is not.
I traveled around the world to interview medical leaders, experts, growers and patients. I spoke candidly to them, asking tough questions. What I found was stunning.
Long before I began this project, I had steadily reviewed the scientific literature on medical marijuana from the United States and thought it was fairly unimpressive. Reading these papers five years ago, it was hard to make a case for medicinal marijuana. I even wrote about this in a TIME magazine article, back in 2009, titled "Why I would Vote No on Pot."
Well, I am here to apologize.
I apologize because I didn't look hard enough, until now. I didn't look far enough. I didn't review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis.
In Swindon a young man lies in hospital critically ill after taking a green pill stamped with a dollar sign. Last weekend a 15-year-old girl in Oxford died after taking a drug she thought was ecstasy. Just days earlier there was the inquest into a teenage gym instructor so badly injured after suffering spasms during an overdose, police initially thought he had been murdered.
Already this year about 20 people have been killed after taking what they thought was ecstasy, with seven deaths in Scotland over the past two months alone. These fatalities exceed recent annual tallies of ecstasy-related deaths – for all the scaremongering, ecstasy is a comparatively harmless drug, less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. Sadly, in many cases the pill popped turns out to be the far stronger PMA, which takes longer to kick in, so users may take another, with catastrophic results.
These unfortunate youngsters seeking the thrill of intoxication are victims of prohibition. They are dead because our nation continues to wage a war on drugs launched four decades ago by a crooked US president; a war that drives users underground and prevents regulation of products ingested by millions each weekend. If it was contaminated olive oil killing the nation's kids, there would be an outcry; instead, those victims are "druggies", blamed for their own deaths.
From his first rehab in his early teens to the intervention staged by Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy in March, the star was failed in every possible way by an abstinence-only recovery culture.
By Maia Szalavitz
Glee star Cory Monteith's tragic death on July 13 was preventable. Now that more details have emerged about what led up to his fatal alcohol and heroin OD, that conclusion is inescapable. As an adolescent, he was sent to many potentially traumatizing “troubled teen” schools—and as an adult, he received addiction treatment that did not follow government guidelines for effective care and did not provide potentially lifesaving harm reduction information.
Meanwhile, the media is doing its usual best to obscure the problem and keep stereotypes about addiction alive. Portraying Monteith as the “new face of” and pretending as though the drug hasn’t long been used by both celebrities and the middle class, the networks and online media are recycling the idea that heroin is just starting to escape the ghetto and affect people who don’t look like an addict “should.” That’s not news.
But what is important—and is not getting enough attention—is the fact that Monteith has just joined fellow heroin addict Kurt Cobain as yet another famous and beloved victim of tough love and, as Anne Fletcher wrote in The Fix on Monday, anti-maintenance stigma.