quote:'Legal highs' removed from more than 300 shops since ban - BBC News
More than 300 UK retailers are no longer selling so-called legal highs, three months after a ban was introduced, the Home Office has said.
A further 24 shops have been closed down altogether, while police have also arrested 186 alleged offenders.
The Home Office said it was "encouraged" that so many retailers had been "denied the chance to profit from this reckless trade".
However, the charity DrugWise said the ban had driven the market underground.
Legal highs became popular on the drug scene around 2008. They contain substances which mimic the effects of illegal drugs such as cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy and go by names such as Spice and Black Mamba.
What are legal highs?
'Legal highs made me punch my own face'
Laws criminalising the production, distribution, sale and supply of the drugs - known as the Psychoactive Substances Act - came into effect at the end of May.
Commander Simon Bray, from the National Police Chiefs Council, said London's Metropolitan Police had also seized nearly 14,000 nitrous oxide or laughing gas canisters since the change.
Mr Bray said although it was difficult to draw firm conclusions about the impact on use of the drugs, "intuitively I think it must have had an effect".
"It will certainly make it less easy for the casual first-time user to get involved in this sort of stuff," he said adding that he believed many people were "lulled into buying these things" thinking they were legal and therefore safe.
The Angelus Foundation, which educates people on the risks of legal highs, said it believed many online traders had also shut down.
Jeremy Sare, director of communications at the charity, told the BBC: "I think the ban has made a big difference and we are supportive of the legislation.
"What we are surprised about is the online supply hasn't surged. Traders seem to have stopped selling. It is still early days and we may look back in 12 months and see more online trading but many look to have closed.
"Many were operating within the law but now the law has gone against them so they haven't continued."
He said the two biggest groups still using the drugs were homeless people and prisoners.
'Ban has changed nothing'
Greg, originally from Essex and now living in west Wales, told BBC Radio 5 live about his experience of a legal high known as Holy Smoke.
"I had just a little bit... My head just started spinning and I had this paranoid feeling. I just wanted to go home and hide but I couldn't walk properly. I honestly thought that I was going to die.
"From what I've heard it is still pretty regularly available. I think most people still think it's legal."
"Alison" a recovering drug user, has also used legal highs. "They've got names like Train Wreck, Black Cobra and Pandora's Box," she said. "It's still really easy to get. You can get three packets for about ú25.
"No prices have changed. Nothing has changed at all. People are still walking around with it and selling it from home. I don't think it [the ban] has made one bit of difference."
However, Harry Shapiro, director of DrugWise, said although the ban may have put off "casual and curious" drug users, it had not deterred those with a serious drug problem and had driven the market underground.
"It's moved from the shops to the street," he said.
The drugs have been linked to 444 deaths since 2010, including two brothers from Scotland.
William McGough, 30, was in the grip of an addiction to the drugs when he drowned in a river in Wick, Scotland, in 2013.
Then, in May, the body of his brother Simon, 37, was found next to a packet of the psychoactive substances.
Their sister, Melanie Downie, 40, spoke publicly about their deaths to highlight the "addictive and destructive" nature of the drugs.
Sarah Newton the government's safeguarding minister, said the drugs "have already cost far too many lives".
"I'm encouraged to see that - three months in - police are using their new powers to take dealers off our streets and that so many retailers have been denied the chance to profit from this reckless trade."
"These drugs are not legal, they are not safe and we will not allow them to be sold in this country," she added.
quote:'Dubai is toevluchtsoord voor Nederlandse criminelen' | NOS
Enkele tientallen Nederlandse criminelen houden zich schuil in Dubai omdat de woestijnstaat geen uitleveringsverdrag heeft met Nederland. Dat meldt De Telegraaf.
Volgens de krant is het de Nederlandse overheid een doorn in het oog dat er geen mogelijkheden zijn om de gevluchte criminelen in Dubai te pakken. Het ministerie van Veiligheid en Justitie zou nog dit jaar met de Verenigde Arabische Emiraten om tafel willen om een uitleveringsverdrag te regelen.
Ook zouden criminelen onderduiken in Dubai als ze bang zijn om geliquideerd te worden door vijanden in de onderwereld. Vanwege de hoge straffen en strenge controles in het land komen huurmoordenaars er liever niet.
Onder de criminelen die zich schuil hebben gehouden in Dubai zijn volgens De Telegraaf hoofdrolspelers in de Amsterdamse 'Mocro-oorlog', een serie liquidaties die in 2012 begon met ruzie tussen twee overwegend uit Marokkanen bestaande drugsbendes.
Ook zou de Turkse Amsterdammer Ali AkgŘn in Dubai hebben gezeten. Hij was een van de hoofdverdachten in het Passage-proces. Dat proces gaat over een reeks liquidaties in de Amsterdamse onderwereld. AkgŘn werd zelf in 2014 in Turkije geliquideerd.
quote:Incredible Row Between Maajid And Peter Hitchens | LBC
Sunday 28th August 2016
This is the remarkable row between Maajid Nawaz and Peter Hitchens live on LBC.
The Mail On Sunday columnist was furious right from the beginning of the interview - and just got angrier and angrier as the discussion went on.
Mr Hitchens labelled Maajid "ignorant" and "moronic" after he suggested that cannabis causes less harm than alcohol and so should be regulated.
The interview started off angry - as Mr Hitchens accuses Maajid at length of not letting him speak and then refuses to even let the host ask him any questions.
The interview continued with the columnist raising his voice more and more, but when he suggested that gangsters selling drugs is no worse than businesses regulating it, Maajid wouldn't let him get away with it.
Maajid said: "Come on Peter, cynical businessmen make money, they don't kill people, that's an absurd thing you've just said.
"Now it's my turn to tell you that you've said something moronic."
Watch the remarkable clash above - and see below for Maajid's monologue that so infuriated Peter.
quote:Cocaine 'worth Ą50m' discovered at Coca-Cola plant - BBC News
Cocaine with a street value of up to 50 million euros (ú42m) has been discovered at a Coca-Cola plant in France.
The drug, hidden in bags among a delivery of orange juice concentrate, arrived in a container from South America.
An investigation is under way in Signes, a village in southern France.
The seizure of 370kg of cocaine makes it one of the largest finds on French soil.
The prosecutor of Toulon, Xavier Tarabeux, said the delivery "has a street value of 50 million euros" and referred to it as "a very bad surprise".
Employees at the Coca-Cola plant have been ruled out of any involvement as investigators attempt to trace the origin of the drug.
"The first elements of the investigation have shown that employees are in no way involved," Jean-Denis Malgras, the regional president of Coca-Cola, told local news website Var-Matin.
In April 2015, French customs officers aided in the arrest of two men caught trying to sail a yacht loaded with 250kg of cocaine to the UK.
The SY Hygeia of Halsa was boarded by French authorities off Martinique and found to be carrying the drug with a street value of some ú40m.
quote:Patent No. 6,630,507: Why the U.S. government holds a patent on cannabis plant compounds – The Denver Post
It may not have quite the same ring to it as a certain seven-digit phone number made famous by a 1980s pop hit, but 6,630,507 has become internet-famous since the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration opted not to reschedule marijuana, leaving it in the category of drugs with no legitimate medical uses.
Since then, proponents of legalization have responded with a storm of social-media posts highlighting U.S. Patent No. 6,630,507, granted in 2003 to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and covering the potential use of non-psychoactive cannabinoids to protect the brain from damage or degeneration caused by certain diseases, such as cirrhosis. They’re telling the DEA to “talk to the hand,” writing “6,630,507” on their palms, hashtagging the number and linking to past articles on the topic.
The intent of the posts is symbolic, said Sam Mendez, an intellectual property and public policy lawyer who serves as the executive director of the University of Washington’s Cannabis Law & Policy Project.
“Naturally, it shows that there is a certain amount of hypocrisy that there is ‘no accepted medical use’ for cannabis according to federal law,” Mendez said. “And yet here you have the very same government owning a patent for, ostensibly, a medical use for marijuana.”
Mendez — like patent lawyers, the research arm of the HHS and the New York biopharmaceutical firm that’s working as an exclusive licensee under the patent — cautions that the existence of Patent No. 6,630,507 doesn’t signal that legalization is on the horizon.
“The government is allowed to file and obtain patents, and that has no bearing on the Controlled Substances Act,” Mendez said.
But it does indicate what could result if cannabis were rescheduled: an explosion of marijuana-related patents, Mendez said.
The National Institutes of Health employs roughly 6,000 Ph.D.-level scientists, said NIH special adviser for technology transfer Mark Rohrbaugh, who holds doctorates in biochemistry and law. When one of those scientists invents a new technology or makes a new discovery, the NIH evaluates the result and determines whether to file for a patent.
Over the years, the NIH has conducted and funded research involving cannabis — both as a drug of abuse and for its potential therapeutic properties, NIH spokeswoman Renate Myles said.
In the case of No. 6,630,507, the researchers discovered that non-psychoactive compounds in cannabis may have antioxidant properties that could be beneficial in the treatment of certain neurological diseases, she said.
“This patent describes the therapeutic potential for cannabinoid chemical compounds that are structurally similar to THC, but without its psychoactive properties, thereby treating specific conditions without the adverse side effects associated with smoked marijuana,” Myles said in an e-mail.
The patent doesn’t prove the chemical compound is effective in the stated treatment, Rohrbaugh said. The compound would have to be purified, synthesized in a lab setting, subjected to extensive testing in animals and humans, and ultimately require U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to show that it’s safe and effective for the intended purpose.
The intent behind patenting and licensing NIH discoveries is to keep technology that could potentially benefit the public from sitting idle, he said.
This sometimes requires looping in the private sector, he said. Laws made in the 1980s help entities such as universities and the government to make their discoveries accessible to others who are in a position to further the research and potentially commercialize the developments. The entities behind the discoveries typically receive payments as part of the licensing agreement.
NIH’s Technology Transfer Office advertises patents — including those related to cannabinoids — available for licensing on its website, and officials sometimes conduct outreach as well. The licenses often are packaged with some elements of exclusivity, Rohrbaugh said.
“It’s like a piece of land,” he said. “You wouldn’t build a million-dollar house on a piece of land you wouldn’t have some title to.”
Five years ago, the NIH granted New York-based Kannalife Sciences Inc. an exclusive license for the part of the technology outlined in the patent to develop cannabinoid- and cannabidiol-based drugs for the treatment of hepatic encephalopathy — brain damage that could result from conditions such as cirrhosis. Kannalife also has a non-exclusive license to develop drugs to treat chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a rare and progressive degenerative brain condition likely caused by repeated head trauma, Myles said.
“Other companies may also apply for licenses to use this patented technology to develop drugs to treat other neurological diseases where antioxidant properties of cannabinoid drugs may be beneficial,” she said. “The patent expires on April 21, 2019, after which anyone would be free to develop drugs based on these cannabinoids that, like all drugs, would require FDA approval to demonstrate safety and effectiveness in humans.”
No other companies have licensed portions of the 6,630,507 patent, she said.
Kannalife CEO Dean Petkanas did not disclose the specific terms of the licensing agreement, but he told The Cannabist that the deal includes milestone payments, a percentage of sales as well as royalties in “the six figures” to the government. The patent is valid in several jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom and Australia, he said.
Petkanas said his company “could not have gotten a better ruling” from the DEA.
“We’ve been building our business from the pharmaceutical side from Day One,” said Petkanas, a former executive at the investment firm depicted in the film “The Wolf of Wall Street.” “We want to be on the pharmaceutical side; everything we do has to be by the book.”
Kannalife, recently featured in a football-related Sports Illustrated report regarding its research into therapies for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, is about to begin raising $15 million in private investments. The money would allow it to start clinical trials related to hepatic encephalopathy as soon as the first quarter of 2018. Petkanas said Kannalife anticipates eventually seeking orphan drug status — a special FDA designation for treating rare conditions. The company also contemplating conducting chronic traumatic encephalopathy-related trials in Europe.
“Does marijuana have medicinal benefit? Well, yeah,” Petkanas said. “But it can’t be targeted and qualified for repetitive use (without the FDA-approved research).”
That one arm of the federal government is poised to make money from cannabis-derived compounds, and another has approved synthetic cannabinoid drugs such as Marinol and Syndros, tells a story different from the one told by the DEA, which lumped together the hundreds of chemical compounds of cannabis as a Schedule I substance, said Gregory F. Wesner, a Seattle-based patent and trademark attorney for Lane Powell PC.
“The interesting thing here is basically the government being two-faced,” Wesner said.
If and when national legalization comes, it’ll trigger a swarm of new patent applications, said the UW Cannabis Law Project’s Mendez.
“That’s massive growth that does not occur every day or every year That’s the kind of growth you’re talking about once in a generation,” he said of the potential sales growth in the industry. “As part of that, you’re going to see many people and many businesses research this far more intensely and file for patents.”
An analysis conducted by Christopher Freerks, a Lane Powell patent administrator, shows that the PTO already has granted at least four dozen cannabis-related utility patents, including No. 6,630,507. The analysis does not include plant patents, which have been tougher to come by for some cultivators.
San Diego patent attorney Dale C. Hunt, an Open Cannabis Project board member who has degrees in botany, genetics and biology, said one would need to develop a completely new strain in order to land a patent.
If marijuana is rescheduled, it’s realistic to believe that the innovation could carry on in the laboratories of NIH scientists, he said. But for now, the federal government’s technology transfer and patenting actions around cannabis do not appear to be widespread.
“(Tech transfer) happens all the time,” Hunt said. “It obviously doesn’t happen all the time in cannabis.”
quote:Wat je moet weten als je hard gaat op de legale partydrug 4-FA | NOS
Waarom aan de xtc op een festival als je ook aan de 4-FA kunt? Veel minder heftig, en ernstige bijwerkingen zijn niet bekend. 4-FA en xtc zijn vergelijkbaar qua effect, maar volgens gebruikers is 4-FA minder intens en houden ze meer controle. Ook was er nog weinig bekend over schadelijke effecten.
Het Trimbos Instituut waarschuwt dat de designer drug gevaarlijker kan zijn dan we dachten. Dit voorjaar meldde het instituut dat je er misselijk van kan worden en een hoge hartslag en hoofdpijn van kan krijgen.
Inmiddels zijn er meldingen gekomen van een hersenbloeding en hartproblemen na het gebruik van 4-FA. Ook zijn er mogelijk doden door gevallen, maar dat kan het instituut niet bevestigen. Het is onduidelijk of dat in combinatie met andere middelen is gebeurd.
4-FA, ook wel bekend als 4-FMP, is in principe legaal. Het valt sinds een uitspraak van het Europees Hof van Justitie niet meer onder de Geneesmiddelenwet en staat (nog) niet op de Opiumlijst.
Hoewel het bezit en gebruik van 4-FA dus niet strafbaar is, kan handel erin wel via de Warenwet aangepakt worden. Daardoor wordt 4-FA vooral online gekocht en via dealers.
De vraag die nu leeft: moet de drug dan maar verboden worden? En waar komen de problemen vandaan? We belden daarover met drugsonderzoeker Daan van der Gouw van Trimbos en Ronald van Litsenburg van Event Medical Service.
Bij de laatste zien ze ook een stijging van het aantal meldingen van gezondheidsklachten. Bij EHBO-organisaties en andere medische diensten kwamen vorig jaar 160 meldingen binnen over 4-FA. In de eerste zeven maanden van dit jaar waren het er 132.
Het aantal incidenten moet je wel in perspectief zien, vindt Trimbos-drugsonderzoeker Van der Gouwe. De populariteit van de drug is sterk toegenomen het afgelopen jaar. Het is dus niet gek dat het aantal incidenten ook toeneemt, zegt de onderzoeker.
Het is wÚl opmerkelijk dat de incidenten ernstiger worden.
De problemen doen zich vooral voor bij hogere doseringen. "Mensen pakken te veel bij of nemen de eerste keer meer dan een normale, gemiddelde dosering", vertelt Van der Gouw. Mensen gebruiken gemiddeld 75 tot 150 milligram, blijkt uit gegevens van gebruikers.
En wat ook speelt: het duurt bij sommige mensen soms een paar uur voordat de effecten optreden. "Veel gebruikers zijn op feesten vaak ongeduldig", zegt Van der Gouw. "Ze zijn geneigd om dan bij te nemen. Het komt ook voor dat ze niets merken en na twee uur ineens enorm beginnen te zweten, braken of misselijk worden."
Het Trimbos Instituut noemde gebruikers van 4-FA een paar maanden geleden al proefkonijnen. "Nu zie je dat er hersenbloedingen en andere ellende kan optreden", zegt Van der Gouw. "Dat maakt dat de stoffen in 4-FA niet minder schadelijk zijn dan bijvoorbeeld xtc, coca´ne of speed. Dit middel is geen xtc-light, zoals het soms wordt genoemd, want het heeft wel degelijk risico's."
In oktober komt het Co÷rdinatiepunt Assessment en Monitoring nieuwe drugs bij elkaar. Zij maken dan een nieuwe risicoschatting van 4-FA en geven advies aan de minister: moet de drugs op een lijst komen met illegale drugs?
Als het op de lijst van verboden middelen komt, dan zou dat volgens Van Litsenburg een signaal afgeven. "Er zijn bepaalde mensen die zich niet verder informeren en de drugs zonder kennis slikken. Als-ie op een verboden lijst staat, is de boodschap ineens heel helder: dit is niet goed."
Dat denkt Van der Gouw ook, maar het is volgens hem niet per se positief als 4-FA wordt verboden. Want, zo waarschuwt hij, het gebruik is dan niet ineens voorbij. "Het is vooral een maatregel voor de overheid om handel aan te pakken. Maar mensen die drugs gebruiken, blijven dat toch wel doen. Xtc staat ook op de lijst en is nog nooit zo populair geweest."
Een bijeffect van een verbod zou kunnen zijn dat mensen die 4-FA links laten liggen, overstappen op middelen waar de drugsonderzoekers minder van weten.
"Met alle ellende van dien", zegt Van der Gouw. "Je hebt ook 3-FA, 2-Fa en nog honderden designer drugs die een euforische werking hebben. Soms is het nadelig als een stof verboden wordt, omdat we dan minder goed kunnen monitoren wat de risico's en effecten zijn. Bij nieuwe middelen is het maar de vraag hoe het gaat uitpakken. Een verbod klinkt leuk, maar je moet genuanceerd praten over wat je ermee bereikt."
Het Trimbos raadt aan om ook als je lichte klachten hebt, zoals hoofdpijn, direct naar de medische dienst te gaan. "We zien vaak dat mensen bij de EHBO komen met relatief lichte klachten, zoals hoofdpijn. Maar het verergert als ze daar zijn. Dat is opmerkelijk."
Volledige interview op de site.quote:The psychedelic drug that could explain our belief in life after death | Little Atoms
Scientists have discovered DMT, the Class A hallucinogenic, naturally occurs in the body, and may contain a clue to what happens when we die and why people see fairies
DMT (Dimethyltryptamine) is the most powerful hallucinogenic drug around. The class A psychedelic is so potent that under the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances its manufacture is strictly for scientific research and medical use and any international trade is very closely monitored. But it also naturally occurs in the human body. Now a Senior Psychologist at Greenwich University, Dr. David Luke, is trying to undercover a link between DMT and 'near death experiences' to explain elves, tunnels of light and centuries old folklore. On July 8th he’ll talk about his research at an event in conjunction with SciArt collaboration Art Necro at The Book Club in London.
I am a psychologist at the University of Greenwich and I teach a course on the psychology on the exceptional human experience, which looks at extraordinary phenomenon of human beings. It’s all about mythical experiences, psychedelic experiences, personal paranormal experiences, mysticism, spiritual experiences, those sorts of things.
I’m interested in DMT is because of my interest in psychedelics and the phenomenology of psychedelic use. DMT is of particular interest because it’s an extremely powerful psychedelic substance. But what’s more interesting than that, is that DMT naturally occurs in many plants, animals and in humans. It’s endogenous, meaning it’s made within the human body. So it’s more than just a natural plant psychedelic - it’s in us. That makes it extremely curious.
quote:Long-term marijuana use is not associated with a raft of physical health problems, says study | The Independent
Researchers in the US say that marijuana use has no negative effect on health, aside from a link with gum disease. Christopher Ingraham considers what this means for the legalisation of pot
Long-term marijuana use is not associated with a raft of physical health problems, according to a new study, with one surprising exception: gum disease.
Researchers led by Madeline H Meier of Arizona State University tracked the marijuana habits of 1,037 New Zealanders from birth to middle age to see what effect those habits have on some common measures of physical health, including lung function, systemic inflammation, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, body weight, blood sugar and dental health.
What they found was surprising: After controlling for other factors known to affect health, especially tobacco use and socioeconomic status, marijuana use had no negative effect on any measure of health, except for dental health. People who smoked more weed had a higher incidence of gum disease.
The cause is something of a mystery. Meier and her colleagues did find that heavy pot users were less likely to brush and floss than their not-pot-using peers. But even after controlling for dental hygiene, the relationship between marijuana use and poor dental health persisted.
“In general, our findings showed that cannabis use over 20 years was unrelated to health problems in early midlife,” the study, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, found. “Across several domains of health (periodontal health, lung function, systemic inflammation, and metabolic health), clear evidence of an adverse association with cannabis use was apparent for only one domain, namely, periodontal health.”
So, something interesting happens to weed after it’s legal. In some domains, marijuana use was associated with better health outcomes: “Findings showed that cannabis use was associated with slightly better metabolic health (smaller waist circumference, lower body mass index, better lipid profiles, and improved glucose control),” the study determined. However, these associations were fairly small and by no means strong enough to recommend regular bong hits as a weight management strategy.
The findings were more striking when measured against the effects of tobacco use over a similar period. “By comparison, tobacco use was associated with worse periodontal health, lung function, systemic inflammation, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, and glucose levels in early midlife, as well as health decline from ages 26 to 38 years,” the study found. Despite some public health concerns about legal weed being “the next Big Tobacco,” marijuana's toll on physical health appears to be far smaller.
Having been reclassified in 2009 from a Class C to a Class B drug, cannabis is now the most used illegal drug within the United Kingdom. The UK is also, however, the only country where Sativex – a prescribed drug that helps to combat muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis and contains some ingredients that are also found in cannabis - is licensed as a treatment
Although many people believe the consumption of cannabis in North Korea to be legal, the official law regarding the drug has never been made entirely clear whilst under Kim Jong Un’s regime. However, it is said that the North Korean leader himself has openly said that he does not consider cannabis to be a drug and his regime doesn’t take any issue with the consumption or sale of the drug
In the Netherlands smoking cannabis is legal, given that it is smoked within the designated ‘smoking areas’ and you don’t possess more than 5 grams for personal use. It is also legal to sell the substance, but only in specified coffee shops
Although in some states of America cannabis has now been legalised, prior to the legalisation, police in the U.S. could make a marijuana-related arrest every 42 seconds, according to US News and World Report. The country also used to spend around $3.6 billion a year enforcing marijuana law, the American Civil Liberties Union notes
Despite cannabis being officially illegal in Spain, the European hotspot has recently started to be branded, ‘the new Amsterdam’. This is because across Spain there are over 700 ‘Cannabis Clubs’ – these are considered legal venues to consume cannabis in because the consumption of the drug is in private, and not in public. These figures have risen dramatically in the last three years – in 2010 there were just 40 Cannabis Clubs in the whole of Spain. Recent figures also show that in Catalonia alone there are 165,000 registered members of cannabis clubs – this amounts to over 5 million euros (ú4 million) in revenue each month
In December 2013, the House of Representatives and Senate passed a bill legalizing and regulating the production and sale of the drug. But the president has since postponed the legalization of cannabis until to 2015 and when it is made legal, it will be the authorities who will grow the cannabis that can be sold legally. Buyers must be 18 or older, residents of Uruguay, and must register with the authorities
Despite the fact that laws prohibiting the sale and misuse of cannabis exist and is considered a habit only entertained by lower-income groups, it is very rarely enforced. The occasional use of cannabis in community gatherings is broadly tolerated as a centuries old custom. The open use of cannabis by Sufis and Hindus as a means to induce euphoria has never been challenged by the state. Further, large tracts of cannabis grow unchecked in the wild
In 2001, Portugal became the first country in the world to decriminalize the use of all drugs, and started treating drug users as sick people, instead of criminals. However, you can still be arrested or assigned mandatory rehab if you are caught several times in possession of drugs
Although the use of cannabis is currently illegal, it is said that Puerto Rico are in the process of decriminalising it
The US state became the first in the country to legalise marijuana in January 2014. In February 2015, President Obama recently said he expects to see more states "looking into" legalisation. However, it is illegally to grow more than six cannabis plants and to possess more than 28 grams of the drug
Oaksterdam in Oakland, California, is the world's only university dedicated to the study and cultivation of cannabis. If you are court in California with anything up to an ounce of cannabis, you will be fine $100, but you will not get a criminal record, nor will you have to appear in court
Cannabis is grown in the wild and has been used to treat conditions such as gout and malaria. But, officially the substance is illegal to consume, possess and sell
This, too, is something of a mystery, but it may be at least partly a question of volume: a heavy marijuana user may light up several joints over the course of a day, but a heavy tobacco user may go through several packs of cigarettes in a day. In other words, a heavy cigarette smoker is inhaling a lot more smoke than a heavy pot user. And all that smoke may take a steeper toll on health.
“The general lack of association between persistent cannabis use and poor physical health may be surprising,” Meier and her colleagues write. In part, this is because other studies have shown a link between marijuana use and poor health in middle age, especially cardiovascular health.
But Meier's research is unique in that it uses longitudinal data, tracing the health of the same individuals from birth in the early 1970s to age 38. Many other studies on the physical health effects of marijuana use rely on observations at a single point in time, which is useful but less reliable for tracking effects over a lifetime. Many of these other studies also use respondents' self-assessments of health, which can sometimes be unreliable. But in Meier's data, the study participants had their health assessed by trained professionals in a laboratory setting every few years.
It's also worth pointing out that this particular study looked at the impact of long-term marijuana use on physical health, but not on mental health. Meier has in fact used this same data set to explore questions of mental health effects, famously finding evidence of declining IQ among persistent marijuana users. But a number of follow-up studies by other researchers found no similar evidence of cognitive decline related to marijuana use.
quote:Krijg je straks mdma bij de psycholoog? | NOS
Therapeutisch trippen om nieuwe inzichten te krijgen en zo van je depressie of stressstoornis af te komen. Onderzoekers van over de hele wereld komen dit weekend bij elkaar in Amsterdam om te praten over de effecten van psychedelische drugs. Ze zijn verboden, maar kunnen misschien wel helpen bij het behandelen van psychische problemen.
Over de effecten van lsd en paddo's tijdens behandelingen spraken we eerder met de Britse onderzoeker Robin Carhart-Harris. Maar volgens organisator Joost Breeksema van de conferentie over psychedelica gaan de meeste onderzoeken op dit moment over mdma. "Lsd klinkt sexiŰr, maar behandelingen met mdma zijn in een relatief vergevorderd stadium."
Therapeuten zeggen ja tegen MDMA
Kim Kuypers van de Universiteit Maastricht doet al dertien jaar onderzoek naar de effecten van mdma. Ze besloot niet alleen te kijken naar de slechte effecten, maar ook naar de positieve.
"Mdma kan mensen meer open maken en sociale angst remmen, maar dat kan een beetje alcohol ook", vertelt ze. "Toch is het met geen ander middel te vergelijken: het is intens, het creŰert een gevoel van ÚÚn zijn met anderen en het verhoogt het gevoel van empathie."
Mdma kan dus goed werken in de behandelkamer: je voelt een sterkere band met je therapeut en bent bovendien minder bang om over je problemen te praten. "Het kan bijvoorbeeld helpen bij het behandelen van posttraumatische stressstoornissen."
PatiŰnten moeten volgens Kuypers tussen de 75 en 125 mg mdma krijgen om het beste effect te krijgen. Dat is een stuk minder dan de hoeveelheid die in de gemiddelde xtc-pil zit die je op straat tegenkomt: daar zit volgens het Trimbos Instituut 140 mg in.
PatiŰnten pillen mee naar huis laten nemen heeft geen zin, want alleen in de behandelkamer heb je er iets aan, zegt Kuypers. "Het gaat puur om het contact met je behandelaar."
"Het is niet makkelijk om onderzoek te doen met bijvoorbeeld mdma", zegt Breeksema. Dat heeft vooral te maken met de strenge wetten. "Soms zit er jaren tussen het idee en het daadwerkelijke onderzoek. Logisch ook: je moet een ontheffing hebben, het bedrijf dat de stof maakt moet een vergunning hebben en de plek waar het ligt moet goed beveiligd zijn."
Volgens Breeksema is patiŰnten behandelen met mdma toekomstmuziek, maar heel lang zal het volgens hem niet duren. "In de VS gaan ze volgend jaar naar de laatste fase van het onderzoek. Ze testen daar nu al op patiŰnten, in de nieuwe fase is dat grootschaliger: met meer patiŰnten en op meer plekken. De verwachting is dat er over vijf jaar voldoende bewijs en ervaring is dat mdma werkt in de behandeling van bijvoorbeeld posttraumatische stressstoornissen."
Je kunt het dan niet ineens bij de apotheek halen. "Het blijft een verboden middel dat alleen onder zeer strenge voorwaarden mag worden gebruikt", verwacht Breeksema. "Bovendien moeten de behandelingen anders ingericht worden en moeten therapeuten getraind worden op het werken met patiŰnten die onder invloed zijn. Maar het is dichterbij dan je denkt."
quote:Anti-Marijuana Politician Charged With Possession of Marijuana - Counter Current News
A New York State Republican assemblyman who opposed medical marijuana legislation at every turn was arrested and charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. The police found the marijuana after they pulled him over for speeding.
A statement released shortly after the March 2013 incident, law enforcement officials reported that state police discovered Steve Katz had a “small bag” of marijuana on him.
A New York State Trooper said that the 59-year-old assemblyman had been driving 80 miles per hour in 65 mph zone. He noticed the marijuana and took Katz into custody, charging him with possession before he was finally bailed out.
Katz had voted against the legalization of medical marijuana back in June.
The New York Times noted that the Republican assemblyman also sits on New York’s Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee.
Katz said that this was merely an “unfortunate incident” during a press conference.
“This should not overshadow the work I have done over the years for the public and my constituency,” Katz said to reporters. “I am confident that once the facts are presented that this will quickly be put to rest.”
Watch the local report that aired in March of 2013 (article continues below).
Now here’s where the story gets really interesting…
After the arrest, the Republican politician flipped his position on marijuana, even joining the investor network of San Francisco-based marijuana investment and research firm The ArcView Group.
ArcView CEO Troy Dayton said that Katz is “gung-ho” about marijuana.
He says that he hopes to help pool millions of dollars of investment capital and fund marijuana-related start-ups.
“For me, entering this industry at this time is a dream come true from a child of the Sixties all grown up,” Katz said, completely ignoring his history as an opponent of medical marijuana.
“I decided to vote what I believed to be the vote of my constituents. The day after that I told my wife, ‘Next year, I really don’t care. I’m voting for medical marijuana because that’s what I believe in and I’m not comfortable with what happened.’ … I knew how I was going to vote and I felt great about it. I knew how I was going to vote a year before the police incident.”
The marijuana bust was “an epiphany,” he explained. “‘You’re turning me into a criminal? You got to be kidding.’”
Katz says he knows doctors, lawyers, businessmen and pillars of their community who all use marijuana.
“We’re all criminals? This is ridiculous,” he emphasized.
The arrest he faced “didn’t change anything other than make me decide that I was going to not only be a champion for medical marijuana, and for its total legalization, I was going to become part of the wave that’s building in the industry itself. ;It’s a great feeling. It’s very liberating;.”
“Steve Katz is not an anomaly,” Dayton said. “In the last few months numerous very prominent and seemingly unlikely investors have joined our investor group. People from all walks of life are realizing that cannabis may be the next great American industry.”
quote:Politie vindt wapens en xtc-apparatuur bij invallen | NOS
De politie heeft bij invallen op zeventien plekken in de regio Den Haag synthetische drugs, chemicaliŰn, wapens en explosieven gevonden. Er zijn acht verdachten aangehouden.
Bij het doorzoeken van een huis in Scheveningen werden gisteren een kalasjnikov en een handgranaat gevonden. Ook op andere plekken vond de politie vuurwapens, drugs, geld, dure sieraden, valse identiteitsbewijzen en apparatuur om xtc te produceren.
Zo werd er bij een van de invallen een mobiel laboratorium gevonden en in zeecontainers lagen chemicaliŰn opgeslagen. De hoeveelheid mdma die werd gevonden, was groot genoeg om miljoenen xtc-pillen te maken.
Bij de invallen waren 120 politiemensen betrokken. De politie kwam de bende op het spoor dankzij de vondst van een drugslaboratorium in De Lier (Zuid-Holland) in januari. Naar aanleiding daarvan werd een groot onderzoek opgezet met de invallen en arrestaties van gisteren tot gevolg.
De politie wil niet zeggen waar in de regio Den Haag de invallen zijn gedaan, omdat het onderzoek nog loopt. Meer arrestaties worden niet uitgesloten.
quote:One of Britain’s best known nightclubs, Fabric, has been forced to close permanently after its licence was revoked following the drug-related deaths of two people.
After deliberation that lasted into the early hours of Wednesday morning, the local council decided that searches by security staff at the London venue had been “inadequate and in breach of the licence”.
“People entering the club were inadequately searched,” Islington borough council’s decision read.
It added that covert police operations suggested people were openly buying and taking illegal drugs on the premises and that staff should have been aware of it. “Staff intervention and security was grossly inadequate in light of the overwhelming evidence that it was abundantly obvious that patrons in the club were on drugs and manifesting symptoms showing that they were.
“This included sweating, glazed red eyes and staring into space, and people asking for help.”
Leading figures who played at the venue, one of the most important for fans of electronic music, joined regulars in expressing their sorrow at the decision. A Change.org petition to halt the closure of the club had reached almost 150,000 signatures.
Jacob Husley, who initiated the petition and has worked at the club’s Sunday night party for the past eight years, said of the decision: “We are in shock. I am feeling a mixture of disbelief and anger and sadness … It would be a devastating blow for London and culture, and clubs across the UK. It sets a precedent.”
He did not know whether the club’s owners would appeal but said he hoped “we are not finished with this”.
Others wondered if the site now faced the same prospect as other legendary music venues such as Manchester’s Hašienda – now luxury flats.
Het artikel gaat verder.lquote:Fabric had called the deaths of the two teenagers a tragedy and closed its doors temporarily to allow an investigation to take place. Prior to that, it had “operated without incident” for two years, it said.
“We’ve always had a fantastic relationship with police and particularly the council. Only eight months ago, a judge tested all our systems and said we’re a beacon of best practice,” the club’s co-founder Cameron Leslie told the Guardian earlier this week.
“Eleven weeks ago another licensee, from a venue that had a death, was sent to visit us to see how we managed things. How can this suddenly have changed overnight in such a damning way?”
quote:Drug-related deaths hit record levels in England and Wales last year, official figures have revealed, with experts saying the increasing purity of illegal substances may be behind the rise.
Deaths involving opiates, cocaine and amphetamines, including MDMA, have all reached peak levels, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics, whose relevant records date back to 1993.
The rise in deaths comes despite the number of people taking illegal drugs being at a historical low, according to recent crime survey data, and has led to calls for an overhaul of the drug treatment system.
The ONS said the mortality rate from drug misuse was the highest ever recorded, at 43.8 deaths per million of the population. Overall, a record 3,674 drug poisoning deaths involving both legal and illegal substances were registered in 2015. Of these , 2,479, or two-thirds, involved illegal drugs only.
quote:Release’s executive director, Niamh Eastwood, said: “Since 2010, we have seen a worrying implementation of abstinence-based treatment under the government’s ideologically driven ‘recovery’ agenda.
“This goes against all the evidence for best practice in drug treatment, and is contributing, we believe, to this shameful rise in deaths. Such a hostile environment means people simply don’t want to access treatment.”
quote:The pair met during after-work drinks in the City of London and went back with a group of Green’s colleagues to the StratX stockbrokers’ offices near Monument, where he had recently started work.
While there, partygoers danced on desks, drank champagne and took lines of cocaine into the early hours, the court heard.
quote:Jailing Green, Recorder Michael Wood QC told him: “I do not punish you for what seems to be [the] City culture of excessive drink and casual use of drugs when you go out socialising.”
quote:How America Gets Its Deadliest New Drug | Fast Company | Business + Innovation
Websites and international smuggling rings are fueling a surge in overdoses thought to be due to the elephant-strength opioid carfentanil.
Carfentanil is an analog of the synthetic opioid fentanyl, shown here in molecular form, and is thought to be 100 times more potent.
In the past few months, a string of overdoses across the U.S. has been linked to an opioid drug so potent that it’s not intended for human consumption.
Carfentanil is the world's most powerful commercial opioid, considered to be 100 times more potent than its relative fentanyl, the carefully controlled prescription painkiller linked to Prince's death, which itself is 50 times stronger than heroin.
Originally synthesized in the 1970s, carfentanil is marketed under the name Wildnil as a general anaesthetic for large animals like elephants, and was never intended for humans. But like any number of new synthetic drugs, it’s easily finding its way from clandestine labs and into the illicit drug supply through the mail. Sold openly on the web or through drug markets on the anonymous Tor network, the drug is being added to heroin and counterfeit pain medication by traffickers and often taken by users who don't know exactly what they're consuming.
"We’re seeing a lot of the activity take place over the internet through anonymous relationships between a consumer and the drug manufacturer or source of supply," says Russ Baer, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration. The agency has warned communities across the country to be on alert for the drug, and has told first responders to wear protective gloves and masks, since the drug can be dangerous to someone who simply touches it.
Both drugs, along with a growing cornucopia of illicit synthetics, are largely being manufactured in China, Baer says, and smuggled into the United States both over land and through the U.S. Postal Service. In June, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it had seized almost 200 pounds in fentanyl and other synthetic opioids—that is, those made purely in labs, rather than from the opium poppy—compared to only 8 pounds the previous year.
In recent months, hundreds of drug overdoses have been linked to carfentanil and fentanyl, a related opioid said to be 100 times the strength of morphine and commonly used to treat severe pain in cancer patients. The drug has showed up on the Gulf Coast of Florida, in western Pennsylvania, central Kentucky, and in Ohio, where, in one county this August, at least 96 heroin users overdosed in a single week.
Cursory internet searches turn up options to order the drug from Chinese sellers on numerous e-commerce websites and through dark web markets on the Tor network, where users can trade largely anonymously using bitcoin and purchase other controlled substances, from ketamine to cocaine.
Dark web vendors contacted about their supplies didn't respond to requests for comment, and one Chinese vendor advertising carfentanil on a Korea-based e-commerce site responded only with a price quote—$300 for 200 milligrams—ignoring questions about how the product would be shipped.
Vendors often use discreet packaging for the drug. Last month Canadian border officials reported seizing one kilogram of the drug labeled as printer accessories, with agents wearing hazmat suits to handle the highly potent chemical.
The risks of the drug have also led some vendors to limit who can purchase the substance and to caution users about its dangers. In one recent listing, a vendor offering the drug pledges to only make it available to users who’ve already tried fentanyl or a related drug.
"Again, we can’t stress this enough, carfentanil is meant to be purchased by *only* experienced fentanyl users with a high tolerance," wrote one dealer on a hidden site. "This stuff is NO JOKE."
Another vendor, offering to ship the drug from China, warns users on safe handling instructions, which mirror those used by the veterinary industry.
"You need to wear mask and gloves to handle this chem," the seller writes. "Accidental contact can result in OD."
Authorities say the drug is often shipped from China, an epicenter of synthetic chemical manufacturing and the source, according to the DEA, of the ingredients that Mexican drug traffickers use to make most of the methamphetamine consumed in the U.S. Drug officials have complained of "thousands" of clandestine labs in China, and said that despite the country's strict drug laws, authorities there have been slow to address the problem.
"We aim to help and support other countries in any way we can," Liu Yuejin, China's assistant minister of public security, has said about the government's commitment to international cooperation against drug traffickers.
Chinese officials have acknowledged that the country produces "a substantial" share of the newer synthetic drugs on the global black market and have been stepping up efforts to control the traffic. Last year the country's courts handled nearly 140,000 drug-related cases, up 30% from 2014, according to official data. DEA officials are also in ongoing discussions with their counterparts in China about how to stem the tide of opiate imports, Baer says.
Many of the country's illicit labs attempt to stay one step ahead of laws that ban illicit synthetic drugs simply by altering a few molecules of the chemical compound, creating new and not-yet-illegal drugs. While some countries, like the U.S., have banned whole ranges of chemicals that mimic illegal drugs, many nations have not.
Following a ban last fall of more than 115 synthetic drugs, including various analogs of fentanyl, a new, unregulated analog, furanyl fentanyl, began to appear in the U.S., according to U.S. drug officials, who subsequently moved to ban the drug stateside. At least one Chicago man died from an overdose of the drug.
"Fentanyl and fentanyl-related compounds, whether we’re speaking about fentanyl analogs such as a carfentanil, or compounds that haven’t been scheduled—for example U-47700—for the most part are originating in China," Baer says.
Since Baer spoke to Fast Company, the DEA has announced plans to move U-47700, a powerful experimental opioid discovered in the 1970s but never approved for use in humans, into the same legal category of drugs as heroin and LSD, effectively banning it.
Legal chemicals to manufacture the drugs are also being smuggled from China into Mexico and ultimately being used to strengthen heroin or make counterfeit versions of pain pills like oxycodone, Baer says. In some cases, those precursor chemicals are stolen from licensed labs in Mexico and end up in the hands of drug traffickers.
"As far as the precursor chemicals go, you’ve got a legitimate drug manufacturing company in China shipping a precursor chemical to a legitimate chemical handler in Mexico," says Baer. "Once they arrive in Mexico, these precursor chemicals are often then diverted to these Mexican trafficking organizations."
Carfentanil isn't often sold to users on its own, but rather significantly diluted and sold as heroin. One dark web listing contains a recipe for China White—a term used for potent varieties of heroin—that suggest mixing 100 milligrams of carfentanil with 100 grams of a cutting agent. Carfentanil prices on the site and elsewhere online range from $800 to about $2,500 per gram, while a report last year from the Ohio Substance Abuse Monitoring Network found heroin for sale in the Cleveland area for roughly $90 to $120 per gram, and similar prices are available through the dark web.
But if one gram of carfentanil equivalent can be used to produce the equivalent of 1,000 grams of heroin—in line with the recipe and published reports of the drug's potency—carfentanil is still orders of magnitude cheaper per dose than heroin.
Since an equivalent dose is smaller and easier to smuggle without necessarily being much more expensive to manufacture, more potent drugs can be easier and cheaper to distribute, says Steven Kurtz, the director of Nova Southeastern University’s Center for Applied Research on Substance Abuse and Health Disparities. But, he says, retail-level dealers, let alone the rising number of people affected by what’s been called an epidemic of opioid addiction, often don’t even know what’s in a particular packet sold as heroin. Most of those who overdose on carfentanil likely don't even know they've ingested it.
"It’s very lucrative," he says. "The good thing about high potency from a distribution network standpoint is it can be shipped in very small containers, but the problem from a user standpoint is you have no idea what you’re taking."
After a rash of deaths in Cincinnati over the Labor Day weekend, the city’s coroner said she believed that the area was being used as a "test tube" by drug dealers who were cutting carfentanil into fentanyl and heroin.
Since the drug was until recently so rare outside of specialized veterinary practice, scientists aren’t entirely sure what the lethal human dose of the drug is—though experts have speculated it could be less than the weight of a grain of sugar. Only 19 grams of the drug were legally produced in the U.S. last year, according the DEA, though more than 50 times that amount was found in just one shipment from China seized by Canadian authorities in late June.
In 2010, the authors of a paper in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine reported what they called the first confirmed case of poisoning with the drug. They described a veterinarian who, while sedating elk for a tuberculosis test, accidentally splashed his face with carfentanil while pulling a misdirected tranquilizer dart from a tree trunk. Within two minutes, he became drowsy and had to be treated with an opioid antidote kit that’s kept on hand when the drug is used. He recovered without serious incident, according to the report.
And while the drug is increasingly available to drug traffickers and dark web buyers, it’s still hard to come by for law enforcement officials who need samples to compare against seized substances and to determine the cause of death of overdose victims.
"When we first started talking about fentanyl in July, we were unable to actually get a sample [of carfentanil] for testing, so we reached out to the zoo," said Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco, the coroner of Ohio’s Hamilton County, which includes Cincinnati, in a Tuesday press conference. "It is a compound that is used for large animal sedation and opiate use, but we weren’t able to get any from our zoo—they didn’t have any. So we reached out to our fellow coroners in Franklin County, Summit and Cuyahoga County, and nobody had enough."
Only by working with Senator Rob Portman and the DEA was Sammarco’s office able to obtain a sample of the drug and confirm it had killed at least eight people in the county since July. Since carfentanil is still rare, and many labs don't yet have the ability to test for it, it's difficult to know how many deaths are attributed to the drug. But Centers for Disease Control researchers have said fentanyl-related deaths in Ohio rose 526%, from 84 to 526, between 2013 and 2014, as synthetic opioids first began to appear in the state in large numbers.
County officials are also worried about the efficacy of naloxone, or Narcan, the opioid antidote that helps users recover from a heroin overdose. While emergency responders typically use one or two shots to counteract a heroin overdose, carfentanil can require six or even more. A spokesman for the city of Cincinnati told the local Fox affiliate that a typical Narcan dose costs about $32, a cost that's increased in recent years from $15 a dose.
Senator Portman is part of a group of lawmakers who introduced legislation to require more digital information for packages shipped internationally in an effort to make it harder to import drugs through the mail. The Postal Service currently receives less electronic information about packages before they arrive in the U.S. than private carriers such as UPS and FedEx do, making it harder to detect suspicious shipments, he said in a statement.
"That includes information like who and where it is coming from, who it’s going to, where it is going, and what’s in it," he said. "Having this information in advance will enable CBP to better target potential illegal packages, and that will help ensure that dangerous drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil don’t end up in the hands of drug traffickers who want to harm our local communities."
The bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee, though it's unclear, assuming it passes, whether it will do much to limit the flow of synthetic drugs or simply drive smugglers to get them into the country by other means.
According to Baer, much of the carfentanil and other strong opioids causing overdoses are likely delivered through more traditional channels. In the case of Cincinnati, it's thought that the drug is mostly coming in through heroin shipments that flow north on Interstates 71 and 75.
"Traditional smuggling methods are being used in terms of the bulk smuggling activity," he says.
And while opioid addicts are likely increasingly aware of the dangers posed by chemicals of unpredictable potency, they're often left with limited alternatives.
"People in communities that are using the drugs are becoming more and more aware that they can’t necessarily trust the potency of what they’re taking," says Kurtz. "At the same time, opioid addiction is extremely powerful, so having them stop isn’t usually an option."
Fast Company & Inc ę 2016 Mansueto Ventures, LLC
quote:Opioid Maker Donates to Help Halt Marijuana Legalization in Arizona
As if fentanyl’s public relations aren’t bad enough.
Anti-marijuana advocates attacking pushes toward legalization often deliberately villainize capitalism in their efforts. They warn that the demand for legal weed will lead to the rise of "big marijuana," which they compare to "big tobacco" and other large corporations that have earned the ire of a decent-sized chunk of the citizenry. The argument doesn't seem to be working, if polls are any indication, but it looks like that's what organizations like Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) are going to use to oppose initiatives on the ballot this fall in several states.
Coincidentally, you know who else pisses off average Americans? "Big pharma." In actuality, the anger should be directed at both the pharmaceutical industry and the federal government. As we've learned from the $600 EpiPen scandal, it's the government's role in protecting medical monopolies that helps drive up prices.
Here's where things get awkward for organizations like SAM. A pharmaceutical company based out of Arizona has donated $500,000 to the effort to oppose a marijuana legalization effort in that state. Let's make it even more awkward. The drug manufacturer, Insys Therapeutics Inc, produces a cancer pain relief spray with an active ingredient that's currently high profile in the drug wars: fentanyl.
Fentanyl is the opioid driving the latest of the drug war panics, heightened by Prince's recent death. Even as criminal justice reformers are attempting to reduce or eliminate drug-related federal mandatory minimum sentences, lawmakers are trying to enhance sentences for fentanyl-related crimes.
Steven Nelson at U.S. News and World Report noted the donation and researched Insys' offerings. Subsys is the only drug they have on the market right now, but they do have an interesting past:
From 2011 through at least last year, Insys also sold a second product: a generic equivalent to Marinol, a synthetic version of the cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which the Food and Drug Administration allows for treatment of cancer and HIV-related symptoms like nausea and loss of appetite, which cannabis advocates say the raw plant material can treat without a corporate middleman. Insys said in its August filing it has no plans to resume those sales.
The end result of all of this is that it's the pro-marijuana side now claiming that big industry is trying to thwart the will of the public and influence the vote. The head of the pro-initiative group in Arizona said the Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy (the anti-legalization group) is now "tainted" by the donation. The anti-legalization group told Stevens they're keeping the money with the argument that Insys is at least based out of Arizona, unlike some of the donors who are giving money to pass the initiative.
Obviously, this means that Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy are openly embracing their opposition to legalization of marijuana as a protectionist defense of entrenched business interests, and not because of any sort of public health reasons. This probably doesn't come as a surprise to many. But citizens should know that this sort of attitude that blocks alternative treatment options is exactly why the EpiPens are so expensive.
Read more about the donation here. Current polls in Arizona have legalization support up by 10 percentage points, but there's also a significant number of undecided voters who could change the outcome.
quote:BREAKING NEWS: The U.K Parliament Endorses Duterte’s Drug War - World Trendings
LONDON, UK — The British Parliament on Friday after series of debates and discussions endorsed Duterte’s war on drugs.
The house took into consideration the effects of drugs on the ordinary citizen and the vulnerability of the poor to the activities of drug pushers.
The house therefore endorsed the crackdown of drugs pushers and drug lords in the Philippines and assured Duterte of its full support in nipping the situation in the bud.
Duterte, after taking office initiated a war to sweep away all who have to do with drugs trade in the country. The operation which has cost the deaths of over 2000 people has received both praises and criticisms.
quote:Why America Can't Quit the Drug War - Rolling Stone
After 45 years, more than $1 trillion wasted, and the creation of the world's largest prison system, America still lacks the political will to change its failed drug policy
In March, the commander in chief of the War on Drugs stood in front of a crowd of policymakers, advocates and recovering addicts to declare that America has been doing it wrong.
Speaking at the National Prescription Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta – focused on an overdose epidemic now killing some 30,000 Americans a year – President Barack Obama declared, "For too long we have viewed the problem of drug abuse ... through the lens of the criminal justice system," creating grave costs: "We end up with jails full of folks who can't function when they get out. We end up with people's lives being shattered."
Now that states have started legalizing recreational marijuana, will the president continue the government’s war on weed?
Touting a plan to increase drug-treatment spending by more than $1 billion – the capstone to the administration's effort to double the federal drug-treatment budget – Obama insisted, "This is a straightforward proposition: How do we save lives once people are addicted, so that they have a chance to recover? It doesn't do us much good to talk about recovery after folks are dead."
Obama's speech underscored tactical and rhetorical shifts in the prosecution of the War on Drugs – the first durable course corrections in this failed 45-year war. The administration has enshrined three crucial policy reforms. First, health insurers must now cover drug treatment as a requirement of Obamacare. Second, draconian drug sentences have been scaled back, helping to reduce the number of federal drug prisoners by more than 15 percent. Third, over the screams of prohibitionists in its ranks, the White House is allowing marijuana's march out of the black market, with legalization expected to reach California and beyond in November.
The administration's change in rhetoric has been even more sweeping: Responding to opioid deaths, Obama appointed a new drug czar, Michael Botticelli, who previously ran point on drug treatment in Massachusetts. Botticelli has condemned the "failed policies and failed practices" of past drug czars, and refers not to heroin "junkies" or "addicts" but to Americans with "opioid-abuse disorders."
"One of the biggest reasons why people don't seek care is shame and stigma," Botticelli told reporters last year. "What we've been trying to do is change the language."
Despite strides toward a more sane national drug policy, the deeper infrastructure of the War on Drugs remains fundamentally unaltered under Obama. Work focused on public health has not replaced paramilitary anti-trafficking efforts, known as interdiction, at home or abroad. Rather – much like an "all of the above" energy strategy that embraces solar while continuing to remove mountaintops in pursuit of coal – the new policies supplement the old.
As a result, the Drug War is costing taxpayers more than ever. Obama's 2017 drug budget seeks $31 billion, an increase of 25 percent from when he took office. This year, the federal government is spending more than $1,100 per person to combat the habit of America's 27 million illicit-drug users, and 22 million of them use marijuana.
The blinkered drug-warrior culture in the ranks of the departments of Justice, State and Defense remains similarly entrenched. The acting chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration calls medical marijuana "a joke." The State Department's top drug official insists, "Our objective remains ... eliminating the use of marijuana in the United States." With pot, such knee-jerk commitment to prohibition might be amusing. With harder drugs, it has deadly ramifications. At home, the administration's early crackdown on prescription opioids helped drive the current spike in heroin deaths. South of the border, cartel violence rages unabated, despite the recapture of Mexico's most notorious drug lord; the country's homicide rate in February spiked to 55 murders a day.
The futility of the greater Drug War was laid bare in recent Senate testimony by top admirals charged with combating global narcotraffic. They confessed they had no solution to halt the flow of heroin from Mexico; admitted global drug suppliers would invariably service U.S. demand; and pressed the government to steel itself for a 30-year nation-building effort in drug-ravaged Mexico and Central America.
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida), the senior member of the Armed Services Committee, sought to put a rosy spin on proceedings. "At least we got El Chapo," he said. "So that was a step in the right direction."
Forty-five years on, America is still grappling with the dark origins of the Drug War, launched in 1971 by President Richard Nixon – for political purposes.
Nixon's domestic-policy adviser, John Ehrlichman, in an interview published posthumously in Harper's this year, revealed the true aim of the Drug War was to criminalize the administration's "two enemies: the anti-war left and black people." As Ehrlichman explained, "We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings and vilify them night after night on the evening news."
Nixon himself wove anti-Semitism into the mix. "Every one of the bastards that are out for legalizing marijuana is Jewish," Nixon groused to his chief of staff, Bob Haldeman, in a conversation recorded in the Oval Office in May 1971. "What the Christ is the matter with the Jews, Bob?" Nixon asked. "By God, we are going to hit the marijuana thing, and I want to hit it right square in the puss."
More than $1 trillion later, Nixon's war has hollowed out urban black communities, visited death upon downtrodden whites in rural America and unleashed horrific violence from Bogotß to Ciudad Juarez. In Mexico, since 2007, as many as 80,000 civilians have been murdered in drug violence. Despite the carnage, prohibitionist policies enforced through military interdiction and domestic incarceration have done little to curb the American drug habit – which fuels $64 billion a year in cartel profits, according to an estimate by the Treasury Department.
America remains the world's top consumer of illicit drugs. The government's National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2015 found nearly one in 10 Americans over the age of 12 had used an illicit drug in the previous month. The surge in Drug War spending notwithstanding, American drug use is up modestly – the highest since 2002.
By the government's own metrics, the Drug War is failing. In December, the Government Accountability Office published a report titled "Office of National Drug Control Policy: Lack of Progress on Achieving National Strategy Goals." GAO found that "none of the goals" of the Obama drug strategy have been met, and significant progress can be seen only in a slight reduction in drug use among teens.
Obama's Drug War leadership has been uneven, an evaluation shared by drug warriors and reformers alike. Beyond big-picture objectives – softening mandatory-minimums, ensuring drug treatment and avoiding a firestorm over marijuana – the first six-plus years of the administration were marked by the president's lack of interest in the nuts and bolts of the Drug War. "I don't think it's controversial by any stretch of the imagination to say that drug policy was not a priority," says Kevin Sabet, a senior adviser in Obama's ONDCP from 2009 to 2011.
The administration's previous drug czar, gruff former Seattle police chief Gil Kerlikowske, reported to Vice President Joe Biden, who had made his bones as one of the Senate's top drug warriors. Obama did not even introduce the National Drug Strategy in 2010. "This was the 'president's drug strategy,'" laments one of its drafters, "and there just wasn't interest."
As a result, much of the Drug War continued on a glide path. Obama even carried over George W. Bush's DEA chief, Michele Leonhart, who would refuse to admit, under House grilling in 2012, that marijuana is a less dangerous drug than crack cocaine.
Obama's inattention also sparked infighting among reformers and hard-liners in the policy ranks – explaining the whipsaw treatment of medical marijuana during Obama's first term. A 2009 Justice Department memo, interpreted in the states as a green light for commercial-scale medical marijuana, was unceremoniously revoked in 2011 – after rearguard action by career drug warriors, including Sabet: "I pushed very hard behind the scenes to get a clarifying memo in 2011, saying, 'Oh, wait a minute, you guys took it the wrong way.'" The new directive sparked a resurgence of marijuana prosecutions, above all in California.
Even the historic decision to condone pot legalization in Colorado and Washington in 2013, insiders say, reflected a White House desire to sidestep a political fight, rather than to provide bold leadership. Sabet calls the legalization decision "Obama's 'don't ask, don't tell'" – a reference to the clumsy compromise under President Clinton to allow gays to serve in the military, provided they stayed in the closet.
Only recently, confronted by a deadly spike in heroin overdoses nationwide, has Obama taken a hands-on approach to drug policy. Kerlikowske took a new position as the head of customs enforcement, and was replaced at ONDCP by his deputy Botticelli.
A study in contrasts from his cop predecessor, Botticelli is the first drug czar with experience in recovery: He's an alcoholic 27 years sober. And as the former head of treatment services in Massachusetts, he pioneered the deployment of overdose-reversal drugs to police on the front lines of the opioid crisis.
"There's a reason why my drug czar is somebody who came not from the criminal justice side but came really from the treatment side," Obama told the crowd at the Atlanta heroin summit. "The only way that we reduce demand is if we're ... thinking about this as a public-health problem.
"It is so much more expensive," Obama said, "for us not to ... do the right thing on the front end."
That is a lesson the White House learned at high cost. The administration's first effort to crack down on opioids – focusing on Rx pills – contributed to the deadliness of today's epidemic.
During the George W. Bush presidency, the death toll from prescription-opioid abuse, driven by easy access to drugs like OxyContin, tripled – approaching 15,000 in 2008. As Kerlikowske took the reins at ONDCP in 2009, he was determined to reduce the supply of painkillers available for abuse. "People were dying from OxyContin. We had to do something," Sabet recalls, to stop "the carnage."
The crackdown included a DEA campaign to shutter pill mills in states like Florida, where unscrupulous doctors liberally supplied opioids to addicted patients. The feds ratcheted up prescription monitoring to stop patients from stockpiling pills from multiple providers. The administration also forced drug companies to introduce abuse-resistant reformulations of drugs like OxyContin and Opana so they couldn't be crushed and snorted.
These reforms showed early promise – slowing the rise in prescription-overdose deaths. But the administration failed to plan for the unintended consequences of restricting the prescription-drug supply: Americans desperate for a fix would turn to heroin instead. "No one considered the fact that these people aren't going to go away," says Theodore J. Cicero, a top academic opioid researcher at Washington University in St. Louis. "You make their drug harder to get, they don't just stop taking drugs. That's a very naive assumption. They switch to something else. Heroin has turned out to be a very inexpensive, readily accessible alternative."
"The United States, when it thinks something is right or important, it doesn't hesitate to stand alone. Why not drug policy?" asks Rep. Earl Blumenauer
The consequences of that switch turned out to be deadly. And the overdose epidemic is now deadlier still because dealers often cut heroin with fentanyl, a fast-acting synthetic drug up to 40 times as powerful as heroin itself. "From a public-health perspective, we've gone in a reverse direction," says Cicero. "We've generated a big problem from opiate-overdose deaths because we're shifting people into heroin." Today, about 75 percent of heroin users are former prescription-drug users.
The data tells the story: Heroin-overdose deaths surged, more than tripling from 2009, rising to 10,500 in 2014, driving an "epidemic," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "More persons died from drug overdoses in the United States in 2014," the agency reports, "than during any previous year on record." After a short plateau, prescription ODs have also spiked again, to nearly 19,000. The 30,000 combined opioid deaths now rival the carnage from car crashes (33,804) and gunshots (33,636).
Drug stats in America skew by race. But unlike arrests and incarceration, overdose deaths hit whites at nearly twice the rate of black Americans and three times the rate of Hispanics. Obama is now using this fact to push for a culture shift. "I'm going to be blunt," he said in Atlanta. "Part of what has made it previously difficult to emphasize treatment over the criminal justice system has to do with the fact that the populations affected in the past were ... stereotypically identified as poor, minority, and as a consequence, the thinking was it is often a character flaw in those individuals ... and it's not our problem they're just being locked up. And I think that one of the things that's changed in this opioid debate is a recognition that this reaches everybody."
The severity of the epidemic has worn down historic Republican resistance to public-health-driven drug policy. In the 2016 federal budget, Republicans lifted a decades-long prohibition on most of the federal funding for needle exchanges.
On a conference call with reporters in March, Botticelli praised such programs as being "a great intervention point for out-of-treatment injection-drug users." Answering a question from Rolling Stone, Botticelli even expressed openness to safe-injection sites – now being considered in cities from San Francisco to Ithaca, New York – where opioid users can shoot up under medical supervision, often with prescription-grade heroin.
"We haven't taken a formal position on safe-injection sites," Botticelli says. This is a startling about-face from past ONDCP pronouncements. Bush drug czar John Walters blasted safe injection as "state-sponsored suicide"; Kerlikowske has called these programs "a failure."
Botticelli continued: "Taking a close look at these programs becomes very important for us – not only in terms of reducing overdose and infectious disease, but also how these programs might or might not [be] an entryway into treatment. It will be very interesting to see how these programs develop over the years."
War on Drugs
Police raid an opioid pill mill in Tampa in 2010. Edward Lin/Alamy
The administration's increasingly enlightened approach to opioid addiction stands at odds with its confounding approach to a drug at the other end of the harm spectrum, marijuana.
Pot is far and away America's illicit drug of choice, with 22.2 million users. (Texas, by comparison, has 27 million residents.) Marijuana use is increasing modestly – driven by a surge of adult use during the Obama years.
The administration's hands-off approach to state legalization has broken the Berlin Wall of prohibition. Recreational pot is now legal in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Colorado and the District of Columbia. And, not surprisingly, marijuana is a boom business: Colorado pot sales topped $1 billion last year, producing $135 million in tax revenue, including $35 million for school construction. The research firms Arcview and New Frontier project that the national legal market (recreational and medicinal) will be $7.1 billion in 2016.
The American public has never been more pro-cannabis: According to an AP poll, a supermajority 61 percent favor legalization – including 47 percent of Republicans. And legalization is expected to advance on the 2016 ballot. In California, the campaign for the Adult Use of Marijuana Act is funded by Facebook billionaire Sean Parker and backed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who says the Drug War is an "abject – and expensive – failure." Legalization proponents also point to promising November ballot initiatives in Nevada and Arizona.
Vermont may move sooner to become the first state to legalize through the legislative process. "The War on Drugs has failed when it comes to marijuana prohibition," Gov. Peter Shumlin told lawmakers in January, promoting a bill to tax and regulate recreational pot. "Vermont can take a smarter approach."
Prohibition took another blow this year when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took power in Canada after campaigning in part on a legalization platform. According to a lawmaker close to the effort, Canada is likely to implement a regime for legal marijuana by 2017.
In the face of this progress, however, federal policymakers are redoubling prohibition efforts. In March, assistant secretary of state for drugs and law enforcement William Brownfield declared, "Our objective remains that of limiting and eventually eliminating the use of marijuana in the United States of America because of its harm and its dangers."
Although he touts "evidence-based" drug policy, Botticelli cites risks to young users to advocate for pot prohibition. This is a phantom menace. State legalization is not creating a generation of underage potheads: Marijuana use is flat among 12- to 17-year-olds, nationally, and there has been no spike in teen usage in legal states.
Michele Leonhart, the holdover DEA administrator, was finally pushed out in 2015 in the wake of a sex scandal in her ranks. (An inspector general discovered that DEA agents attended cartel-affiliated sex parties with prostitutes in Colombia, but had received no more than 10 days suspension.) The acting director, Chuck Rosenberg, is no reformer. A former senior FBI official tapped by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Rosenberg insists pot is "bad" and "dangerous" and told reporters in November, "Don't call it medicine – that is a joke."
Now legal in 24 states and Washington, D.C., medical marijuana is scientifically effective as a treatment for nausea and nerve pain, and for symptoms of multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Crohn's disease and PTSD. It has also shown potential against diseases as serious as diabetes and cancer. On the House floor, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) blasted Rosenberg as "an example of the inept, misinformed zealot who has mismanaged America's failed policy of marijuana prohibition." A paper by the Brookings Institution called out the administration for having "paralyzed science and threatened the integrity of research freedom" on medical marijuana.
There are hints, however, that the DEA is not fully impervious to the shifting reality on pot. In a first, the agency's acting chief acknowledged that "heroin is clearly more dangerous than marijuana." The DEA has also said it hopes to produce, by July, the results of a five-year review to determine whether pot should remain with heroin on the most restrictive drug schedule.
Federal enforcement for marijuana is also shifting: In 2010, the DEA seized nearly 726,000 kilograms of pot in domestic raids. By 2014, the latest data available, that fell to just 74,000. Domestic DEA pot arrests are also down sharply – from nearly 7,000 in 2010 to around 4,000 in 2014 – "due in part," the agency explains, "to state-approved marijuana measures."
The drop in federal busts is sharper, in fact, than the decline in marijuana arrests by local cops. According to the latest FBI figures, the feds arrested almost 620,000 Americans for pot possession in 2014 – down from a 2007 high of 775,000, but still comprising 40 percent of all drug arrests, and five percent of total arrests. Yet treating marijuana possession as a crime continues to disrupt lives and drain city budgets. As recently as 2010, states spent $3.6 billion enforcing marijuana laws.
The unequal enforcement of pot laws also lays bare the racism latent in the American justice system. Despite roughly equal use rates, blacks are 3.7 times more likely to be arrested than whites. This pattern persists even in legalization states: Marijuana arrests have fallen 90 percent in pot-legal Washington, but blacks are still busted at twice the rate of whites.
On any given day in America, nearly 470,000 people are behind bars for drug offenses. That represents a fifth of the total incarcerated population of 2.2 million and the equivalent of every man, woman and child in Kansas City, Missouri. The United States remains the world's largest jailer by a wide margin.
Prison; War on Drugs
Inmates at a state prison in Lancaster, California, that was operating at more than twice its capacity. Gary Friedman/Getty
But the mass incarceration of drug users may have finally peaked. At the federal level, historic – though far from sweeping – drug-sentencing reforms have significantly reduced the population of drug prisoners. The Fair Sentencing Act, passed by Democrats in 2010, eliminated the federal mandatory minimum for crack possession and reduced the unjustifiable sentencing disparity for possessing powder versus crack cocaine – shaving an average of 2.5 years off sentences for more than 7,500 crack offenders.
Obama's first attorney general, Eric Holder, championed a pair of similar measures to reduce drug sentences. In 2013, Holder instructed U.S. attorneys to not specify drug quantity in the prosecution of nonviolent offenders if doing so would trigger a mandatory minimum. Holder also embraced a reform called "drugs minus two," which lowered the sentencing guidelines judges use for drug crimes by two degrees of severity across the board. Made retroactive in 2014, this reform spurred the early release of nearly 6,000 drug inmates at the end of 2015.
Ethan Nadelmann: The Real Drug Czar
The most influential man in the battle for legalization is a wonky intellectual in dad jeans
From a peak of 101,000 in 2012, the number of federal drug prisoners has dropped to 85,000 in March, according to data obtained from the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Despite this progress, the federal government imprisons as many drug offenders as it did in 2003, during Bush's first term. And drug cases continue to clog the courts: 32 percent of the district-court caseload, with marijuana accounting for more than one in four drug cases.
States – red and blue alike – are also reducing their drug incarceration numbers, emboldened by low crime and the strapped budgets of the Great Recession. Forty states eased drug-sentencing laws between 2009 and 2013, according to Pew Research. Cumulatively, such reforms have driven a 20 percent reduction in drug imprisonment. From 2004 to 2014, the number of drug inmates held by states decreased by 60,000, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, to 208,000. Of these, more than 160,000 are locked up for trafficking and other drug offenses, while more than 47,000 serve time for possession.
The third, and likely largest, population of American drug offenders is in jail – city and county lockups where people serve short sentences or await trial. Nearly a quarter of the roughly 744,000 Americans now in jail – 184,000, according to the Sentencing Project – are locked up for drugs.
Of all states, California is taking the most aggressive lead on jail reform. Prop 47, passed by voters in 2014, downgraded most personal-use offenses to misdemeanors. Rather than being jailed to await trial, drug users are now typically cited and released. According to research by the Public Policy Institute of California, jail bookings for possession charges have fallen by 68 percent.
For taxpayers, the Drug War imposes huge costs: nearly $55 billion a year. Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron, in a study published by CATO in 2010, found state enforcement of drug prohibition – accounting for cops, judges, jails and prisons – costs more than $25 billion a year, with more than $5 billion spent fighting pot.
Federal Drug War spending has now topped $30 billion. ONDCP divides its spending in two buckets: one for "supply reduction" (global interdiction and law enforcement) and the other for "demand reduction" (prevention and treatment). When Obama took office, 60 percent of Drug War spending targeted supply. In 2016, the administration touts that "for the first time" the drug czar's office is seeking "more funding for demand-reduction efforts than those focused on supply reduction."
War on Drugs; Michael Botticelli
Director of National Drug Control Policy Michael Botticelli is a recovering alcoholic working to change what he calls the "failed policies" of the Drug War. Mandel Ngan/Getty
But this increase in demand-reduction spending has not come at the expense of the draconian supply side, which has held steady. Instead, the Obama administration ballooned the Drug War budget by more than a quarter.
On the supply-reduction side, there has been reorganization. International funding has been slashed from $2.5 billion in Obama's first budget to $1.6 billion in the current request. These cuts have downsized the role of the State Department and the Department of Defense in combating the international drug trade – reducing funding for drug eradication and military equipment in countries like Afghanistan, Colombia and Mexico. The DEA's international footprint, in contrast, has grown slightly and now accounts for about one-sixth of the agency's $2.8 billion budget.
The Drug War budget has grown by billions on the demand-reduction side, from $9.1 billion to $15.8 billion. Prevention funding is actually down; the administration killed a feckless $300 million education grant to the states in 2010. But the drug-treatment budget has nearly doubled – from $7.2 billion to $14.2 billion in the latest request. The biggest driver of this spending is Obamacare, which mandates drug-treatment coverage under both private insurance and government programs.
The transformation of Medicaid from its traditional focus on poor mothers and children to a broad-based health program covering low-income Americans is making drug treatment available to millions for the first time. In several states, expanding Medicaid has doubled the population of people with substance-abuse disorders now able to seek treatment. Studies going back decades demonstrate that treatment spending saves money in the long run, with every $1 spent on treatment saving as much as $7 in social costs. "Dollar for dollar, best thing they could do," says Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.
Still, Obama insists that treatment remains "grossly under-resourced" because Republican leaders in 19 states have blocked Medicaid expansion – denying health coverage to millions. As a workaround, the president's latest ONDCP budget has added nearly $1 billion in targeted treatment funding, including for states that haven't expanded Medicaid, but are being hit hard by the opioid epidemic. "We've got to make sure," Obama said, that people "can get the treatment when they need it."
The changes to the War on Drugs under Obama are historic, and many appear irreversible, but the hard-line ideology of the Drug War is not everywhere in retreat. In many states, the conflict is being waged as though Nixon were still in power. Maine's Republican governor, Paul LePage, said in January that his strategy to curb the opioid crisis is to toughen penalties for out-of-state traffickers. Recalling the worst rhetoric of the Drug War's past, LePage vilified dealers as "guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty." LePage has endorsed Donald Trump, who paints Mexicans as drug dealers and rapists. Trump promises to curb the heroin epidemic by walling off the border with Mexico. "You have a tremendous problem with heroin and drugs," he told voters in New Hampshire. "We're gonna have borders again and ... help you solve that very big problem."
The trouble with Trump's proposal is the problem at the root of the War on Drugs itself: A wall is no more a barrier to addiction than a war is an effective treatment.
In fact, Trump's wall would be of no value against heroin traffickers, who cross the most fortified parts of the Mexican border every day. Take it from Adm. Bill Gortney, head of U.S. Northern Command. In Senate testimony in March, Gortney told the Senate Armed Services Committee that "a wall will not solve the immense problems" of narcotraffic.
The most dangerous drugs, the admiral told senators, are not entering the United States through the open desert, as in years past. "Heroin and fentanyl are coming through ... the legal entry-control points across our border," he said. The drugs are smuggled in "very, very small shipments, which is very, very difficult for our partners to be able to detect." The best U.S. counternarcotics strategies and technology, Gortney testified, have been "circumvented by a very adaptable enemy."
In its full scope, the admiral's testimony underscored the futility of the war effort – a lesson that should not have taken the world's leading capitalist society 45 years and more than $1 trillion to learn: Military might is no match for market economics.
"If there's a demand" for drugs, Sen. John McCain posed to the admiral, "there's going to be a supply."
quote:Eten met bijpassend wijntje? Wietje zul je bedoelen - rtlz.nl
We kennen de wijnsommelier al sinds mensenheugenis, de biersommelier is al lang niets nieuws meer en zelfs in het proeven van water kun je je bekwamen. In de VS maakt nu ook de wietsommelier zijn intrede.
Nu in de VS steeds meer staten het recreatief gebruik van marihuana toestaan, ontstaat er ook een nieuw vak: de wietsommelier. Sommige bedrijven bieden er zelfs een heuse cursus in aan.
Het idee, schrijft Quartz, is dat iedere wietsoort zijn eigen smaak en structuur heeft en dus zijn eigen effect heeft op de zintuigen. Het Trichome Institute biedt cursussen aan om de smaken en onderscheidende kwaliteiten van wietsoorten te leren kennen.
En die kennis heeft in ieder geval ÚÚn restauranthouder al omgezet in een nieuw businessplan. Philip Wolf, een ondernemer uit Colorado, houdt een restaurant draaiende waar de gasten een bijpassend stickie bij hun eten krijgen geserveerd.
Voor een gemiddeld drie-gangendiner betaal je bij Wolf zo'n 125 dollar per persoon. Hij biedt zijn arrangementen aan voor 1250 dollar, daarmee moeten tien personen zowel lichamelijk als geestelijk te voeden zijn, schrijft Bloomberg.
Maar Cultivating Spirits, zoals het bedrijf heet, pakt het ook nog veel groter aan. Als je je trouwdag echt onvergetelijk wilt maken kun je voor 10.000 dollar een all-in pakket afnemen.
Ook in Nederland bestaat sinds 2014 iets vergelijkbaars. Bij The Green House Kitchen in Amsterdam mag je je eigen wiet meenemen, die je via een vaporizer (een apparaat waarin je kruiden of wiet kunt opwarmen met hete lucht) kunt inhaleren tijdens het eten. Het restaurant verkoopt zelf geen wiet, maar kan voor groepen bijvoorbeeld wel voorstellen welke wiet goed past bij het diner dat geserveerd wordt. The Green House Kitchen verkoopt wel kruiden die je kunt ‘vapen’ tijdens het eten.
Billy, van coffeeshop Andersom in Utrecht, begrijpt wel dat het gebruik van marihuana tijdens het eten een goed idee kan zijn. "Ik denk wel dat er meer besteld wordt", lacht hij. "Maar als je onbeperkt eten aanbiedt ben je denk ik duurder uit als ondernemer."
quote:Marine doet grote drugsvangst in Caribisch gebied | NOS
De Nederlandse Koninklijke Marine heeft in het Caribisch gebied 2000 kilo coca´ne onderschept. De drugs zaten verstopt in een verborgen ruimte van een vissersboot. Vijf opvarenden zijn aangehouden en overgedragen aan de Amerikaanse kustwacht.
Marineschip Zr. Ms. Groningen werd ingeseind nadat de bemanning van een Amerikaans patrouillevliegtuig de vissers spotte. Een speciaal team ging aan boord en vond de drugs na ongeveer tien uur zoeken.
De drugsactie aan boord van het schip werd bemoeilijkt toen een van de motoren uitviel. Daardoor maakte het water en was haast geboden. Uiteindelijk is de vissersboot gezonken.
Zr. Ms. Groningen is in het Caribisch gebied in de strijd tegen drugssmokkel. Het wordt voornamelijk ingezet voor de Koninklijke Marine en de kustwacht. Volgende maand keert het marineschip terug naar Nederland.
quote:Wherever you go in the Chapare — one of Bolivia's two coca-growing regions — you hear similar stories of life in the 1990s and early 2000s: narco-slayings, police violence and rapes, and coca-grower protests ending in violence and death.
You also hear gratitude that Bolivia has replaced a strategy of eradication with one of regulated production to meet historic national demand for coca.
quote:The 2004 legalization ushered in a close working relationship with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, whose estimates of land dedicated to coca in the three countries where the plant is grown — Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia — are widely used to calculate how much cocaine is circulating in the world.
The UN agency helps the Bolivian government track land used for coca with satellite images and backs on-the-ground visits by a small army of inspectors. According to the agency's annual survey of Bolivia's coca sector, published in July, the country's area of production dropped slightly in 2015 to 20,200 hectares. That's the lowest level since the agency began monitoring Bolivia's coca harvest in 2003 and roughly a third down from the total during the DEA's last year in Bolivia. It is also almost exactly at the national target of 20,000 hectares — enough to meet local demand for the plant while still ensuring minimal leakage into cocaine production.
It might look like success, but Bolivia's ground-breaking coca reform is not popular in Washington.
Earlier this month, President Barack Obama underlined US disapproval when he officially declared, through a State Department memo, that Bolivia has "demonstrably failed" to live up to its international counter-narcotics commitments. The only other countries on the list were Venezuela and Burma.
A State Department spokesperson told VICE News in an email that Bolivia had "undertaken some successful counter-narcotics activities," but added that the country has not destroyed enough coca plants nor seized enough cocaine in transit to merit US approval.
Morales has made it clear he doesn't care what the US thinks.
"We in Bolivia, without US military bases and without the DEA, even without the shared responsibility of drug-consuming countries, have demonstrated that it is possible to confront drug trafficking with the participation of the people," he said earlier this year.
quote:Washington's continued chastising of Bolivia stands in contrast to its routine approval of the eradication-based anti-narcotics efforts of staunch regional allies Colombia and Peru, which both grow far more coca. Strategies in those countries can seem like a whack-a-mole game in which destroying crops in one area leads to them popping up somewhere else. Critics warn eradication does nothing to reduce demand for coca for the production of cocaine, nor poverty among the growers.
The UN crime office reported that Peru had 40,300 hectares of coca in 2015, almost exactly the same amount it registered in 2001 -- the earliest year the agency compiled statistics for the nation. Colombia, meanwhile, saw its coca production soar 40 percent last year, according to the agency, to 96,000 hectares. That's still down by roughly one-third from 2001, but it continues a sharp uptick since Colombia's coca low point in 2013.
quote:One of the most popular arguments against the legalization of marijuana is that pot is a “gateway” drug with the potential to turn the great American populous into a nation of dope fiends. But today the country’s leading law enforcement official denounced this common misconception by admitting that the consumption of marijuana does not lead to the use of harder drugs.
As part of what President Obama has declared National Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week, U.S Attorney General Loretta Lynch appeared at town hall meeting this morning in Richmond, Kentucky to discuss the dangers of opioid abuse with a group of teens.
In her opening statement, Lynch was adamant that the leading culprit behind Kentucky’s heroin epidemic was the use of prescription drugs.
“When you look at someone that, for example, has a heroin problem, it very often started with a prescription drug problem. Something totally legal. Something in every medicine cabinet. Something you can have prescribed to you in good faith by a doctor,” Lynch saidbefore taking questions from the audience.
It did not take long before the discussion turned to the issue of marijuana.
Tyler Crafton, a student at Madison Central High School, took the opportunity to ask Lynch whether she thought the recreational use of marijuana among high school kids would lead to opioid abuse.
Shockingly, Lynch, the top dog at the U.S. Department of Justice, did provide the young man with a response straight out of the federal government’s propaganda handbook.
“There a lot of discussion about marijuana these days. Some states are making it legal, people are looking into medical uses for it, and I understand that it still is as common as almost anything,” Lynch replied. “When we talk about heroin addiction, we unusually, as we have mentioned, are talking about individuals that started out with a prescription drug problem, and then because they need more and more, they turn to heroin. It isn’t so much that marijuana is the step right before using prescription drugs or opioids.”
For a moment, it sounded as though the Attorney General was preparing to backtrack on her statement to some degree, adding that, “if you tend to experiment with a lot of things if life you may be more inclined to experiment with drugs.”
But then Lynch followed up with what should be considered one of the most important statements a federal official has made in 2016.
“It’s not as though we are seeing that marijuana is a specific gateway,” she said.
The attorney general’s admission that marijuana is not a gateway drug is fairly consistent with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which finds “the majority of people who use marijuana do not go on to use other, “harder” substances. Yet many of marijuana’s opposing forces are going up against ballot measure in several states this election season by trying to convince the general public that legal weed will cause the opioid epidemic to spin further out of control.
Interestingly, an investigational report published earlier this week by the Associated Press and the Center for Public Integrity found that lobbyists for the drug makers responsible for the same prescription drugs that Attorney General Lynch says is responsible for the opioid epidemic have spent $880 million legally bribing state representatives and senators to vote against legislation concerning the restricting of opioid use. It stands to reason that these lobbyists are also responsible for getting federal lawmakers to turn a blind eye to marijuana.
Attorney General Lynch will be speaking at more than250 events this week in support of Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week. It will be interesting to see if she offers additional comments about the safety of marijuana.