Drink and Drugs News DDN 1804 - Page 5

read the full stories, and more, online www.drinkanddrugsnews.com TRUMP CALLS FOR DEATH PENALTY FOR DRUG DEALERS US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP has said that his Department of Justice intends to seek the death penalty against drug traffickers ‘where appropriate under current law’. The announcement was one of a range of measures set out as part of his latest initiative to attempt to tackle the country’s ever-worsening opioid crisis. The initiative would address the factors fuelling the crisis, he said, including ‘insufficient access to evidence- based treatment’ as well as both the supply of illicit drugs and over-prescription by medical professionals. The number of opioid overdoses in the US has quadrupled since 1999, as has the level of opioid prescribing (DDN, September 2017, page 5). Trump pledged to launch a ‘nationwide evidence-based campaign’ to raise public awareness of the dangers of prescription and illicit opioid use, and to implement a ‘safer prescribing plan’ to cut opioid prescriptions by a third within three years. He would also ‘crack down on international and domestic drug supply chains devastating American communities’, he said. Alongside the possible death penalty for drug dealers this would include further securing ports and land borders, shutting down illicit online opioid sales and strengthening penalties for selling fentanyl and other substances that are ‘lethal in trace amounts’. The initiative would also work to ensure that ‘first responders are supplied with naloxone’, however, and increase access to evidence-based treatment ‘as an alternative to, or in conjunction with, incarceration’ for people in the criminal justice system. ‘We will work to strengthen vulnerable families and communities, and we will help to build and grow a stronger, healthier, and drug-free society,’ he said. The US-based Drug Policy Alliance said that while measures such as improving treatment provision and rolling out naloxone would be helpful if there was a focus on putting the latter ‘in the hands of individuals and community groups’, the president had ‘done little to offer a public health response’ to the situation. TESTING TIMES DRUG SAFETY TESTING SERVICES should be available to the public in ‘nightlife districts’, according to a report from The Loop, Volteface, the APPG for drug policy reform and Durham University. Venue staff should also be trained how to respond effectively to drug use, says Night lives: reducing drug-related harms in the night time economy. ‘Clubs risk closure if there is a drug-related death but they also risk closure if they attempt to introduce harm reduction measures,’ said co- author Fiona Measham. ‘By contrast, UK festivals have been introducing evidence-based and effective measures to address the growing drug-related problems faced in the UK, including hospitalisations, deaths and www.drinkanddrugsnews.com ‘Rather than helping people at risk of overdose and their families, Trump is cynically using the overdose crisis to appeal to the worst instincts of his base, and pushing for measures that will only make the crisis worse,’ said executive director Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno. ‘If this administration wants to save lives, it needs to drop its obsession with killing and locking people up, and instead focus resources on what works: harm reduction strategies and access to evidence-based treatment and prevention.’ Meanwhile, visits to US emergency departments for suspected opioid overdoses increased by 30 per cent in the year to September 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Midwest saw the largest increases, with Wisconsin recording a 109 per cent rise. ‘Long before we receive data from death certificates, emergency department data can point to alarming increases in opioid overdoses,’ said CDC acting director Anne Schuchat. ‘This fast-moving epidemic affects both men and women, and people of every age. It does not respect state or county lines and is still increasing in every region in the United States.’ Opioid initiative briefing at www.whitehouse.gov Vital signs: opioid overdoses treated in emergency departments at www.cdc.gov Trump pledged to launch a ‘nationwide evidence-based campaign’ and to implement a ‘safer prescribing plan’ drug safety testing services should be available to the public in ‘nightlife districts’ ProFeSSor FionA meAShAm contaminated supply chains. Drawing on festival drug policy and practice, this report makes key recommendations to bolster our night time economy and to protect the customers and venues within them.’ Document at volteface.me BLEAK VIEW SIX OF THE TEN local authority areas with the highest rates of heroin and/or morphine deaths are seaside towns, according to a new ONS dataset. Blackpool, Bournemouth, Portsmouth, Hastings, Thanet and Swansea are all coastal resorts, and some ‘also have high levels of deprivation, which could link to increased drug use’, it adds. ‘Places that may have been more synonymous with family holidays are among the ten areas that saw the highest rates of drugs misuse fatalities where heroin and/or morphine were mentioned on the death certificate.’ Figures at www.ons.gov.uk OUT OF COURT THE PHILIPPINES has given notice that it is withdrawing as a state party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC recently announced that it was opening a preliminary investigation into extra-judicial killings as part of President Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ (DDN, March, page 5), which is now thought to have cost around 8,000 lives. Duterte had previously announced, ‘I can face the ICC – if they want to indict me and convict me, fine. I will gladly do it for my country.’ SCOT SHIFT? LEADING MEMBERS of the Scottish Government have discussed a potential shift in policy ahead of the country’s new drug strategy, which is due to be published in the summer. The government aimed to ‘change the provision of treatment and support for those who are most at risk’, said Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell, which meant ‘taking forward evidence-led measures even if they Minister Nicola Sturgeon called for cross-party collaboration to implement ‘bold and new’ initiatives to tackle drug-related deaths. ‘We should try and come together and be prepared to sometimes do things that may be contro - versial and may, in some areas, be unpopular,’ said Sturgeon. ‘But where there is an evidence base for them we should have the courage to do them.’ Scotland’s drug-related death rate is now twice that of a decade ago and the highest in the EU (DDN, September 2017, page 4). Meanwhile the number of benzodiazepines seized in Scotland has almost doubled in a year, from just under 1.3m in 2015-16 to nearly 2.2m in 2016-17, according to new figures. Drug seizures and offender characteristics, 2016-17 at www.gov.scot April 2018 | drinkanddrugsnews | 5