Addiction News

Addiction News aims to provide an inclusive summary of addiction-related stories from across the globe. It is likely that some news sources will be influenced by political, financial or other agendas. It is therefore important for readers to consider the source when assessing the relevance of news stories included here.

Addiction does not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of the information in external sources or links and accepts no responsibility or liability for any consequences arising from the use of such information.

We welcome suggestions and contributions from our readers. Send your material to Rob Calder, Addiction News Editor, Addiction, National Addiction Centre PO48, 4 Windsor Walk, London SE5 8AF. Fax +44 (0)20 7848 5966; e-mail rob@addictions-ssa.org


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US drops federal charges against former Mexican defence secretary

A US federal judge has dismissed drug charges against Mexico’s former military chief. The dismissal appears to have been the result of negotiations between the two countries and means that Mexican courts will now be able to charge the former minister. Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda was arrested at a US airport in October 2020 and charged with colluding with and accepting bribes from cartels to allow them to operate across Mexico between 2015 and 2017.  

Source: https://www.insightcrime.org/news/analysis/us-charges-mexico-defense-minister-cienfuegos/

ENACT report on drugs policy in South Africa

ENACT, an organisation that aims to support Africa’s response to organised crime, has published a report on drug policy in South Africa. The report is critical of current prohibitionist and criminal justice measures claiming that they have failed to prevent drugs becoming readily available. The report also outlines the high costs of enforcing such policies though court and criminal justice systems. ENACT concedes that any changes to the current approach are unlikely to be implemented quickly and will involve long-term cultural changes. 

 Source: https://enact-africa.s3.amazonaws.com/site/uploads/2020-11-13-rethinking-prohibition-research-paper.pdf

Purdue Pharma gains justice department approval for opioid settlement

A US bankruptcy judge has approved a $8.34bn settlement between Purdue Pharma and the US Department of Justice. The charges relate to Purdue’s role in the opioid epidemic. The settlement requires Purdue to plead guilty to three charges concerning OxyContin marketing and distribution and makes it possible for the Sackler family to resolve civil charges with a $225 million payment. The deal has been opposed by 24 US states that claim it will prevent Purdue from moving to sell its business.

Source: https://www.wsj.com/articles/purdue-gets-chapter-11-approval-of-justice-department-opioid-settlement-11605655666

Mexico’s Senate approve cannabis legislation bill

Mexico’s Senate has approved a cannabis legislation bill, bringing the country one step closer to legalising recreational cannabis use. If the bill is passed, Mexico will become the third country to legalise cannabis use, following Canada in 2018 and Uruguay in 2013. The Mexican Supreme Court has been ordered to approve the bill by the end of the year.

Source: https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-mexico-cannabis-vote/mexicos-senate-approves-sweeping-cannabis-legalization-bill-idUKKBN27Z3BG

Holland to ban cigarette sales in shops by 2024

The Dutch deputy health minister has announced that a ban on sales of cigarette and tobacco products will be introduced in shops across Holland from 2024, with a ban on cigarette vending machines to be introduced from 2022. The restrictions are part of the government’s initiative to curb uptake and to prevent deaths associated with smoking.

Source: https://londondaily.com/holland-to-ban-cigarette-sales-in-supermarkets-from-2024

Thailand eases restrictions on cocaine, kratom, morphine and opium

Thailand has passed a new Public Health Ministry regulation to allow the sale and possession of category 2 substances. The Justice Minister has indicated that while cocaine, morphine and opium will remain listed as category 2 drugs, their use for medicinal, study and government purposes will now be permitted under licence. Kratom, a plant with stimulant properties, will be removed from the list of banned substances.

Source: https://www.chiangraitimes.com/crime-chiang-rai-thailand/thailand-eases-restrictions-on-kratom-cocaine-morphine-and-opium/

Half of people in the UK aged 50 and over report binge drinking during COVID-19 lock-down

According a report published by the alcohol and mental health charity ‘We Are With You’, an estimated 51% of over 50s reported drinking alcohol at a level that could cause health problems during COVID-19 lock-down. Additionally, around one in four reported drinking at high-risk levels. An estimated 5 million people aged 50 and over have drunk alcohol alone as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.

Source: https://www.wearewithyou.org.uk/media/press-release-archive/more-four-million-over-50s-are-binge-drinking-least-once-week-during-lockdown/

Nigeria’s drug use rate almost three times the global average

According to Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria’s drug use prevalence rate has risen to 14%, which is nearly three times the world average of 5.6%. These increasing levels of drug use in Nigeria have led to campaigns from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to improve awareness of drug related harms among young people.

Source: https://thenationonlineng.net/nigerias-drug-abuse-rate-hits-14-4/

French ban on hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) marketing found to contradict EU law

The court of justice of the European Union has ruled that France’s ban on marketing hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) is unlawful, arguing that it contradicts EU law on the free movement of goods. The decision comes after France prosecuted KanaVape, a company that exports CBD products derived from hemp plants.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/nov/19/cbd-is-not-a-narcotic-says-eu-court-french-ban

Scotland’s police officers to carry naloxone

In a pilot (or ‘test of change’) project, police officers in Scotland will be permitted to carry and use intra-nasal naloxone spray. The project will be rolled out across three areas in the east, north and west of Scotland in 2021, and has been implemented in response to the country’s rising drug-related deaths. Police officers who volunteer to take part in the pilot will be required to complete training on how to administer the emergency overdose reversal treatment. 

 Source: https://www.scotland.police.uk/what-s-happening/news/2020/november/police-scotland-to-pilot-carriage-of-naloxone-by-officers/

Over 70% of UK service personnel with alcohol problems do not seek help

A report funded by Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), has estimated that 71% of UK service and ex-service personnel with current or past alcohol problems do not seek help or treatment. Just half of those meeting the criteria for alcohol misuse recognised they had a problem. People who were older or who also reported mental health problems were more likely to seek treatment for their alcohol use. 

 Source: https://news.liverpool.ac.uk/2020/11/17/two-thirds-of-serving-or-ex-service-personnel-with-a-current-or-prior-alcohol-problem-are-not-seeking-help/

Philip Morris International Inc. accused of breaching Australian tobacco advertising laws

The Australian Council on Smoking and Health (ACOSH) has accused Philip Morris International Inc. (PMI) of breaching tobacco advertising restrictions in the online version of The Australian newspaper. PMI funded a series of ‘sponsored articles’ stating that current Australian legislation prevents smokers from accessing alternative nicotine delivery products to reduce the harms from smoking and to help smokers to quit. According to the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act, it is illegal to publish anything that promotes tobacco products. PMI claims the articles do not promote products, but are designed to raise awareness of government regulations.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2020/nov/19/philip-morris-sponsored-articles-in-the-australian-could-breach-tobacco-advertising-laws

Drug-driving detections in Ireland increase by 34%

According to Ireland’s Medical Bureau of Road Safety, the number of drug-driving detections in Ireland increased by 34% between 2018 and 2019. The annual report published by the Bureau indicated that nearly 50% of all blood and urine specimens processed were positive for at least one substance, and 50% of those specimens had two or more drugs detected.

Source: https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/arid-40086908.html?type=amp

One-in-five teenagers in Ireland has consumed illegal drugs

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) has estimated that 20% of Irish teenagers have used illegal substances at some point in their life. This compares with the EU average of 17%. A similar proportion of young people in Ireland reported having ever used cannabis (19%) and 72% said they had ever used alcohol.

Source: https://www.thejournal.ie/irish-teenager-smoking-drinking-report-5264369-Nov2020/

Scottish trains ban onboard alcohol consumption during COVID-19 lock-down

Scotland’s train operators have banned alcohol consumption onboard their trains and in stations in a temporary measure to encourage social distancing and the use of face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic. While alcohol consumption was previously banned between 9pm and 10am on Scottish trains, the new ban sees restrictions in place at all times.

Source: https://news.stv.tv/scotland/alcohol-banned-from-trains-and-stations-across-scotland?top

Canada provinces file $67.4 billion claim against Purdue Pharma

Canada’s provinces are among the 600,000 claimants who have filed lawsuits against the OxyContin producer Purdue Pharma in the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. The lawsuits relate to the impact of the opioid crisis on public health. The claims range from $9.1 billion by British Columbia to $26.1 billion by Ontario.

Source:  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/purdue-bankruptcy-filings-provinces-68b-us-opioid-crisis-oxycontin-1.5799580

Sweden implements alcohol curfew in pubs amidst the COVID-19 pandemic

In an attempt to restrict the spread of COVID-19, the Swedish government has imposed a ban on alcohol sales after 10pm in bars and restaurants. The restrictions are the first of their kind in Sweden and have been implemented despite the country largely relying on voluntary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The new restrictions are now in effect.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-11-11/sweden-imposes-partial-lockdown-of-bars-with-alcohol-curfew

Singapore reports largest single seizure of heroin in 2 decades

Singapore’s Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) has reported the largest single haul of heroin in almost 2 decades. More than 14kg of heroin and 8kg of cannabis were seized during a vehicle stop and search in Singapore. The operation is believed to have seized S$2 million (approx. US$1.5 million) of illicit drugs.

Source: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/cnb-14kg-heroin-largest-drug-haul-2-million-ice-cannabis-13533166

Scottish cannabis farm secures funding

A cannabis farm in Scotland’s Dumfries and Galloway area is set to open following investment from a public development agency. The cannabis cultivation and extraction facility will provide affordable and widely available products to patients who require medicinal cannabis. Construction of the farm is expected to be completed by March 2021.

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-54873501

Rise in Hong Kong teens importing cannabis

Customs officials in Hong Kong have reported a rise in illegal cannabis imports by young people. They report that several teenagers have been arrested in relation to around HK$45 million (approx. US$5.8 million) worth of illicit substances that were illegally imported in the past 4 months. Seizures from July to November 2020 were more than 200% higher than they were in the first half of 2020.

Source: https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-and-crime/article/3109567/hong-kong-teenagers-increasingly-involved-illegal