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French government to establish drug consumption rooms
France’s health minister has announced that the government will develop a network of drug consumption rooms across the country in a bid to reduce the harms associated with drug use. As part of the project, two new facilities will be created each year at a national level. Just two drug consumption rooms have been set up since France legalised such facilities in 2016.
Cocaine smuggling ring arrested in Spain
Police officers in Spain have broken up what is believed to be Europe’s largest cocaine smuggling organisation following an investigation led by Europol and officers from Columbia, Croatia, Germany, Serbia, Slovenia, and the US. Officers have arrested 61 suspects and seized 4 tonnes of cocaine, 2.5 tonnes of cannabis, and large amounts of currency.
US state of Pennsylvania re-introduces recreational cannabis legislation
For the second time, Pennsylvania lawmakers have introduced legislation that would legalise recreational cannabis consumption, possession and sales among people aged over 21. If approved, the legislation will establish a system of permits for dispensaries, growers and processors and will create a 10% wholesale tax on transactions. Similar legislation was introduced in 2020 but was rejected by the Philadelphia legislature.
India intercepts a record £2bn worth of illicit drugs
India’s Directorate of Revenue Intelligence has seized more than 3 tonnes of illicit drugs at Mundra Port in Kutch district. The substances, believed to be worth almost £2 billion, were concealed inside two shipping containers that had originated in Afghanistan.
Czech Republic establishes 1% THC limit on cannabis-based products
The Czech Republic’s president has signed a bill establishing a 1.0% limit on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in industrial hemp. From January 2022, the Czech Republic will permit more than three times the limit established by the European Union (EU) for “non-drug cannabis” and “drug cannabis”. New EU laws establishing a maximum THC content of 0.3% are due to take effect in 2023.
US seizes 1.8 million fentanyl-laced pills
The US Deputy Attorney General and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) have seized 1.8 million fentanyl-laced pills and arrested 810 drug-traffickers following a 2-month investigation into the increased availability of such pills. The recent discovery adds to the almost 10 million pills seized in the past year. The DEA has launched the ‘One Pill Can Kill’ campaign to raise awareness of the issue.
Belgium charges cigarette companies for breaching competition law
The Belgian Competition Authority (BCA) has charged subsidiaries of Philip Morris, Imperial Brands, Japan Tobacco, and British American Tobacco with a breach of competition laws. The BCA said that the cigarette companies had exchanged information about future wholesale cigarette prices.
Philippines President Duterte to retire
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has announced he will step down from politics despite previously announcing that he would run for the vice-presidency in 2022. Announcing his retirement, he commented that “the overwhelming sentiment of the Filipinos is that I am not qualified”. During his presidency, Duterte was responsible for encouraging thousands of extrajudicial killings in his war on drugs.
Changes to Northern Ireland’s alcohol licensing law
Northern Ireland has changed its alcohol licensing laws to extend alcohol serving times in pubs and clubs by 1 hour (until 02:00am). Restrictions on opening hours over Easter holidays will be removed. Businesses wishing to extend their licensing hours must submit applications to the Department for Communities before making any changes.
Gambling education programme launched in Northern Ireland
Gambling with Lives, a Northern Ireland charity that helps families bereaved by gambling-related suicides, has launched a youth gambling education programme. The programme, created by gambling experts, academics and people with lived experiences aims to educate young people about the harms of problematic gambling and to address the lack of available help.
Australia bans nicotine vape imports
The Australian government has introduced a ban on importing nicotine containing vaping products. Sales of non-prescribed nicotine containing vaping products have been illegal in Australia for some time; however, until recently, such products could be imported without breaking the law. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) commented that the new ban will prevent uptake, particularly among young people.
US bans Philip Morris IQOS imports
The US International Trade Commission has published a ban on IQOS heated-tobacco product imports. The ban was instigated following a legal decision by the International Trade Commission stating that Philip Morris International Inc. and Altria had infringed on two patents owned by British American Tobacco subsidiary Reynolds American Inc. Sales of already imported IQOS products must be halted.
Gambling costs England’s economy £1.3bn per year
Public Health England (PHE) has estimated that gambling costs England’s economy around £1.3 billion per year. The figure accounts for the negative impact that gambling can have on businesses, mental and physical health and the criminal justice system. People with mental health issues have been identified as being at greater risk of problematic gambling.
Kyrgyzstan bans tobacco advertising and smoking in public
The Kyrgyzstan president has signed a bill outlawing tobacco advertising and smoking in public places. The new law will apply the same regulations to vaping and tobacco products and will also ban the use of hookahs in cafes and restaurants. The new measures are intended to protect the health of citizens by reducing exposure to tobacco smoke and aerosols.
US state of Connecticut launches online gambling self-exclusion list
Connecticut has launched an online portal allowing individuals to add themselves to the state’s Gaming Self-Exclusion List. Users can choose to remain on the self-exclusion list for 1 year, 5 years, or for their lifetime. Gambling licensees will also be able to ban individuals from land-based gambling premises, including those in states outside of Connecticut.
Zurich to launch recreational cannabis trial
Switzerland has announced a pilot scheme allowing cities to set up their own recreational cannabis markets. The three-and-a-half-year trial will be monitored centrally from the Swiss city of Zurich. Participants will be allowed to buy cannabis products with different combinations of THC and CBD from pharmacies and social clubs. Participating cities will investigate and report on the impact of pilot markets on communities and individuals.
Cannabis seizures triple in Japan
Japan’s finance ministry has reported that custom officials seized 83 kgs of cannabis in the first 6 months of 2021. This figure is three times the amount seized during the same period last year. Cannabis-related convictions in Japan have reportedly reached record levels in the past 4 years.
Drug industry costs Netherlands €4.1billion each year
The Netherland’s justice minister has estimated that the illicit drug industry costs the country an estimated €4.1 billion each year, whilst putting €16 billion of ‘black money’ into circulation. The largest proportion of the costs is from policing, which costs between €1.1 billion and €1.6 billion per year.
Morocco drafts tobacco standards decree
The Moroccan Government Council has drafted a decree law that, if implemented, will align tobacco regulations in Morocco with international standards. The decree will introduce limits on the maximum amount of tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide permitted in cigarettes. A 2019 report estimated that 71% of cigarettes sold in Morocco contained tar levels higher than international legal standards.
Azerbaijan seizes record quantity of heroin at Iran border
Azerbaijani custom officers have seized a record amount of heroin that was being transported by road from Iran to Latvia. Approximately 527 kgs of liquid heroin were concealed inside 105 metal cans. Officials discovered the drugs during a checkpoint on the Azerbaijan-Iran border.