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Fentanyl seizures increase fivefold in Mexico
Official government drug statistics for 2020 suggest there was a 486% rise in the number of fentanyl seizures in Mexico. According to Mexico’s Ministry of Defence, in 2020 1,301 kilograms of fentanyl were seized and 175 laboratories involved in fentanyl production were destroyed.
Supervised injection site blocked in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Plans to open a supervised injection site in Philadelphia have been blocked by a federal ruling. A panel of three judges considered an application by non-profit organisation Safehouse and concluded that a supervised injection site would violate federal law. The judges cited a law that was passed in 1986 to address concerns about ‘crack houses’ and that made it a federal offence to open a property in which other people would use drugs.
Europol shuts down the world’s largest crypto-market selling illegal drugs
A Europol-coordinated international operation has shut down DarkMarket, one of the world’s largest crypto-markets. The marketplace had nearly 500,000 users and 2,400 vendors and allowed customers to buy and sell illegal drugs, stolen credit card data and malware. Police have arrested the suspected operator.
Washington, USA, introduces quick access to drug treatment
A new law in Washington state requires authorities to minimise delays for people seeking inpatient drug treatment. Under new regulations, people who use drugs, or their family members, can directly contact a treatment provider to arrange an admission. Previously, admissions could be delayed by several weeks whilst an outpatient assessment was completed and insurance authorisation sought.
Florence city council to ban smoking in selected outdoor places
Local authorities in the Italian city of Florence have announced plans to ban smoking in outdoor public places, such as parks and gardens, where young people are present. The restrictions are expected to be implemented in June 2021 and are part of the city’s plan to reduce air pollution. Florence will become the second Italian city (after Milan) to restrict outdoor smoking.
Scotland’s click and collect service has distributed nearly 200 naloxone kits
The ‘Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs’ charity has reported that since it started a naloxone click and collect service in May 2020, it has distributed 187 kits of naloxone to people at risk of overdose as well as their families and treatment providers. The service was launched to increase availability of the opioid overdose reversal drug during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Second licence to grow medical cannabis granted in the UK
Northern Leaf Ltd, a Jersey company, has secured Britain’s second licence to grow pharmaceutical grade cannabis. The licence, issued by the Jersey government under UK Home Office rules, was granted more than 20 years after the first licence. The company plans to supply high quality medicinal cannabis to the UK and European markets.
Supermarket alcohol sales banned in Zimbabwe due to COVID-19 pandemic
Zimbabwe’s Minister of Justice has extended a previous ban on alcohol sales in bars and alcohol stores so that it now includes supermarket sales. The ban was implemented to help slow transmission of COVID-19. The new restrictions were introduced on the 5th January and set to last for 30 days.
Turkey increases special consumption tax on alcohol by 17.1%
Turkey has increased its fixed tax on alcoholic drinks by 17.1%, in accordance with its twice-yearly planned tax increases. Alcohol product distributors have voiced concern that the increase, which is higher than the average increase of 14.6%, has caused a rise in the number of people distilling their own alcohol.
Police seize largest haul of ecstasy in Europe
Police in Spain have reported the seizure of 827,000 ecstasy pills, 76 kg of amphetamine, 39.5 kg of crystal methamphetamine, 89 kg of cannabis, and 1.65 kg of cocaine in what they claim to be the biggest drug haul in Europe. The drugs, found in false compartments of vehicles traveling from Spain to the UK, are believed to be worth tens of millions of pounds. Police have arrested a Barcelona gang in connection with the illicit drugs.
Drug overdose and crime rate declines in Turkey
The Turkish Interior Minister has reported a decline in the number of crimes, including drug crimes. In 2020, almost 230,000 people were detained for drug-related offences and just under 24,000 were arrested. Drug related deaths were reported to have decreased from 941 in 2017 to 175 in 2020.
Workers freed from illegal tobacco factories in Andalucía, Spain
A joint operation involving Spain’s National Police Corps (CNP) and the Spanish Tax Agency (AEAT) has led to the discovery of illegal tobacco factories in Andalucía. Police conducting the operations also found illegal Belarusian and Ukrainian workers who had been confined to the factories and who were forced to live in unhygienic conditions. An estimated €1.5 million (approx. £1.34 million) worth of cigarettes and tobacco leaf was also seized.
Lebanon’s Hezbollah has denied accusations of involvement in amphetamine production
Hezbollah, the leader of Lebanon’s militant group, has denied all involvement in methamphetamine production. The refutation follows a series of long running accusations that the organisation was involved in the drug trade from Syria, and specifically in a shipment of amphetamines that was seized by Italian authorities in 2019.
Special lottery draws increased in Malaysia, despite anti-gambling stance
The Malaysian government has reinstated the number of special lottery draws to 22 per calendar year despite the anti-gambling stance of the Islamist party that forms part of the ruling coalition. Revenues from taxes on gambling have increased from around RM1.26 billion (approx. £230 million) per year in 2012 to RM4.5 billion (approx. £820 million) in 2019.
Ban on selling cannabis to foreign customers proposed in Amsterdam
The mayor of Amsterdam has announced plans to ban selling cannabis products to non-Dutch nationals and residents in coffee shops. The new restrictions aim to reduce the number of tourists who visit Amsterdam solely to consume cannabis and to undermine the criminal organisations that govern drug trade.
Cannabis cultivation licence dispute reaches Illinois Supreme Court
A long running dispute over a cannabis cultivation licence has reached the Illinois Supreme Court. Curative Health Cultivation LLC, one of the world’s largest cannabis operators, gained a cultivation licence in 2015. This license was later lost following a lower court ruling, a ruling that was later reversed on appeal. Medponics Illinois LLC, which hopes to receive the licence, argues that Curative should have been disqualified because its operations are too close to a residential area.
Three tons of cocaine discovered in The Gambia’s largest seizure
Drug enforcement authorities in The Gambia have reported the discovery of nearly 3 tons of cocaine at the country’s seaport in Banjul. In what is The Gambia’s biggest drug bust of its kind, 118 bags of cocaine were found (with a street value of $87 million). Although not confirmed, Gambian authorities suspect the shipment was destined for Europe.
Ireland introduces new alcohol sales restrictions
New measures implemented by the Irish government will restrict alcohol sales, ban multibuy deals and exempt alcoholic beverages from supermarket voucher schemes. The new rules are part of the government’s efforts to reduce alcohol consumption under the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018, which is gradually being introduced.
Cigarette price increase in Morocco
The Moroccan Customs and Indirect Taxes Administration has announced an increase in the price of cigarettes, including rolled tobacco, cigars and molasses used in hookahs. The increase will affect many brands, with some products increasing by 2 dirhams (approx. £0.40) or more. In addition, ratios of carbon monoxide must be added to tobacco product labels to comply with international standards.
Vaping among young people in the US remains high
Results from the annual Monitoring the Future survey suggest that vaping prevalence among young people in the US has plateaued. The survey, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and conducted between February and March 2020, indicates that vaping prevalence remained at around 16% for 8th graders, 30% for 10th graders, and 35% for 12th graders.