Crime/Violence/Prison

Revitalizing anti-corruption efforts

Supporting anti-corruption efforts in Hong Kong was a major focus during Ms. Waly’s mission. In a speech delivered at the 8th Symposium of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) of Hong Kong on the occasion of the Commission’s 50th anniversary, Ms. Waly said that “In this era of uncertainty, as crises rage and threats simmer, we need to re-think and revitalize anti-corruption efforts,” adding that “corruption underpins many of the biggest challenges facing humanity today.”

In her remarks, Ms. Waly outlined four key priorities that UNODC considers essential to pave a new path for anti-corruption efforts, namely to 1) future-proof responses to corruption by leveraging the positive role of technology and unleashing the potential of youth; 2) unlock the full potential of international and regional anti-corruption frameworks, and to streamline cross border cooperation; 3) addressing gaps in capacities through partnerships; and 4) better understand corruption and its trends, through robust measurement, research, and analysis.

“Corruption is undermining everything we fight for, and empowering everything we fight against,” she said. “As we stand at this historic crossroads of challenges and opportunities, we need to seize every chance […] to innovate in the face of growing corruption challenges, together.”

On the sidelines of the Symposium, Ms. Waly signed a Memorandum of Understanding with ICAC Commissioner Woo Ying-ming to solidify their partnership and expand joint technical assistance to advance anti-corruption efforts in Asia.

Ms. Waly also met with the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Mr. John KC Lee, to discuss the importance of coordinated regional action in the fight against organized crime.

Ms. Waly later visited the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) where she met its Executive Director of Racing and the Secretary General of the Asian Racing Federation (ARF).

Illegal betting in sports has become a global problem, helping to drive corruption and money-laundering in sports. By running the ARF and Anti-Illegal Betting and Related Financial Crime Council, HKJC is working to address issues like illegal betting and financial crimes that affect the integrity of sports and racing.

Ms. Waly invited the HKJC and ARF to support UNODC’s GlobE4Sport initiative, which will be launched this year. The initiative will create a global network which will support anti-corruption efforts in sport through the informal sharing of information between criminal justice authorities and sports organizations.

Ms. Waly also visited Hong Kong customs facilities, where she was briefed by Commissioner Louise Ho Pui-shan on the equipment and measures used by law enforcement to inspect cargo shipments and tackle trafficking in drugs and wildlife.

Supporting compassionate rehabilitation

With fewer than 20 per cent of people with drug use disorders in treatment globally, UNODC is committed to supporting non-stigmatizing and people-centred health and social services to people who use drugs, as reflected by Ms. Waly’s visit to the Association of Rehabilitation of Drug Abusers of Macau (ARTM).

ARTM is a civil society organization offering voluntary, evidence-based prevention, treatment and harm reduction services to affected communities in Macau, China. Civil society organizations (CSOs) play a vital role in tackling drug related issues, including by combating stigma and delivering essential services to affected communities.

During the visit, Ms. Waly met with people in rehabilitation for drug use and learned about the work of ARTM in providing new life skills, such as painting, baking and ceramics classes, as well as treatment for women and classes for children.

ARTM was itself founded by a former user of drugs, Augusto Nogueira, whose experience helps the organization provide compassionate and inclusive rehabilitation. Augusto says that his main struggle when he was using drugs was not being able to identify a solution for his problem.

“My addiction was stronger than my will to stop using,” he said.

After undergoing his own challenging rehabilitation process, Augusto had ideas on how to professionalize the existing prevention and treatment activities in Macau. With the goal of providing evidence-based, personalized approaches to drug treatment and rehabilitation services, he founded ARTM in 2000.

ARTM belongs to the Asia-Pacific Civil Society Working Group on Drugs, supported by UNODC. Convened by the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs (VNGOC), the Working Group aims to strengthen civil society action on drug related matters and the implementation of joint international commitments in the Asia-Pacific region.

ARTM also works to bring the voices of civil society to the international stage, including by presenting civil society recommendations on how best to implement drug policies at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

During her visit, Ms. Waly acknowledged the call from grassroot civil society organizations like ARTM for greater investment in evidence-based prevention, including through the implementation of the CHAMPS initiative. Ms. Waly praised ARTM’s cooperation with UNODC, including by delivering a training workshop on UNODC’s family-based prevention programme, Strong Families.

Ms. Waly also met with the Secretary of Security of Macau to discuss how Macau’s experience can help inform regional responses in tackling organized crime, illegal online gambling, and drug trafficking.

Source: https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/frontpage/2024/May/unodc-executive-director-highlights-anti-corruption–fight-against-organized-crime–and-drug-prevention-on-visit-to-hong-kong-and-macau–china.html

This is the Executive Summary of the DEA’s 2024 National Drug Threat Assessment 

Fentanyl is the deadliest drug threat the United States has ever faced, killing nearly 38,000 Americans in the first six months of 2023 alone. Fentanyl and other synthetic drugs, like methamphetamine, are responsible for nearly all of the fatal drug overdoses and poisonings in our country. In pill form, fentanyl is made to resemble a genuine prescription drug tablet, with potentially fatal outcomes for users who take a pill from someone other than a doctor or pharmacist. Users of other illegal drugs risk taking already dangerous drugs like cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine laced or replaced with powder fentanyl. Synthetic drugs have transformed not only the drug landscape in the United States, with deadly consequences to public health and safety; synthetic drugs have also transformed the criminal landscape in the United States, as the drug cartels who make these drugs reap huge profits from their sale.
Mexican cartels profit by producing synthetic drugs, such as fentanyl (a synthetic opioid) and methamphetamine (a synthetic stimulant), that are not subject to the same production challenges as traditional plant-based drugs like cocaine and heroin – such as weather, crop cycles, or government eradication efforts. Synthetic drugs pose an increasing threat to U.S. communities because they can be made anywhere, at any time, given the required chemicals and equipment and basic know-how. Health officials, regulators, and law enforcement are constantly challenged to quickly identify and act against the fentanyl threat, and the threat of new synthetic drugs appearing on the market. The deadly reach of the Mexican Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels into U.S. communities is extended by the wholesale-level traffickers and street dealers bringing the cartels’ drugs to market, sometimes creating their own deadly drug mixtures, and exploiting social media and messaging applications to advertise and sell to customers.
The Sinaloa Cartel and the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación (also known as CJNG or the Jalisco Cartel) are the main criminal organizations in Mexico, and the most dangerous. They control clandestine drug production sites and transportation routes inside Mexico and smuggling corridors into the United States and maintain large network “hubs” in U.S. cities along the Southwest Border and other key locations across the United States. The Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels are called “transnational criminal organizations” because they are not just drug manufacturers and traffickers; they are organized crime groups, involved in arms trafficking, money laundering, migrant smuggling, sex trafficking, bribery, extortion, and a host of other crimes – and have a global reach extending into strategic transportation zones and profitable drug markets in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceania.

Source: https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2024-05/NDTA_2024.pdf May 2024

This is The Drug Report’s Friday Fact report – The rate of violent behavior in daily marijuana users aged 18-34 was nearly twice the violent behavior rate of non-users

The study “Associations of cannabis use, use frequency, and cannabis use disorder with violent behavior among young adults in the United States” was recently published by Nora D. Volkow and the team at NIDA. The study found that the rate of violent behavior in daily marijuana users aged 18-34 was nearly twice the violent behavior rate of non-users.

The study consisted of 113,434 participants, aged 18 to 34, and relied on data from the 2015-2019 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).

The datasets provided information on the rates of daily marijuana use, whether the participants had Cannabis Use Disorder, and violent behavior. The study found:

The violence behavior rates for both males and females who were daily marijuana users and had Cannabis Use Disorder were close to doubling that of males and females who were non-marijuana users.

Source: Email from Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) reply@learnaboutsam.org May 2024

“I never imagined that sports could do this”: UNODC celebrates the power of sports in preventing violence, crime, and drug use among youth on the International Day of Sports

 

Alice*, a 15-year-old living in a rural area in Nigeria, was struggling. Feeling lonely at home, subjected to punishment for the smallest of reasons, she had tried everything in an effort to cope. Running away from home. Cutting her wrists with a razor in a failed suicide attempt. Drinking alcohol. Taking too many sleeping pills.

Her drug use, once discovered by her father, threatened to further derail her young life, for he would delay paying her school fees, claiming her education had been a wasted investment. Cut off from her friends, Alice’s isolation deepened.

Eventually, Alice returned to school, where she was enrolled in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)’s “Line Up Live Up” (LULU) programme. LULU uses sports-based life skills training to empower youth and enhance their resilience to violence, crime, and drug use.

The programme struck a chord with Alice, who reported that the “LULU programme gave me a whole new meaning and understanding of life.” Alice recalled several lessons that stuck out for her during LULU, including one which required the students to run to the opposite side of the hall without being hit by balls flying from all directions. Each time the students were struck, they would have to start all over again.

Alice noted that at first, she was embarrassed each time a ball would hit her. It reminded her of the shame she had felt facing her friends after her father reported her drug use to the school. “I kept having to start all over again,” she said, but “I succeeded at the tail end and it taught me to never give up.”

Youth face many challenges that make them vulnerable to crime, violence, and victimization. Sports can offer vulnerable youth a sense of identity and belonging while also enhancing their physical and mental health and wellbeing. When used in an intentional, well-designed manner, sports can serve as a useful vehicle for cognitive, social, and emotional learning and key life skills. They can challenge harmful stereotypes and normative beliefs linked to violence and crime, including gender-based violence. Finally, sports can create safe spaces for young people and local communities to positively interact, promote tolerance, and contribute to building safe, just, and fair societies.

The UNODC Global Initiative on Youth Crime Prevention through Sport promotes the effective use of sport as a tool for addressing known risk and protective factors to youth violence and crime in order to reduce juvenile delinquency and offending and prevent drug use. It also supports the design and delivery of tailored sport-based interventions to prevent youth victimization and recruitment by organized criminal groups, including from gangs and violent extremist groups.

Alice’s principal attested to the transformation she witnessed among her students. “I thought that the LULU programme would be targeting drugs and academics,” she said. “Little did I know that this knowledge could be transferred to other, deeper personal and social life situations. The program digs for the biggest problems in the student’s lives and helps them solve them in their own ways.

Truly, I never imagined that sports could do this.”

 

Source: https://www.unodc.org/conig/en/stories/i-never-imagined-that-sports-could-do-this_-unodc-celebrates-the-power-of-sports-in-preventing-violence–crime–and-drug-use-among-youth-on-the-international-day-of-sports.html

US DRUG CZAR EXPLAINS CAUSES AND RSDT TOOL TO PREVENT TEEN DRUG USE AND OVERDOSE DEATH INTERVIEW WITH U.S. DRUG CZAR JOHN WALTERS

Introduction:  In response to recent news of a huge increase in drug overdose deaths and arrests for drug trafficking among Fairfax County youths, Fox News TV5 reporter Sherri Ly interviewed U.S. Drug Czar John Walters for his expert views on the cause and potential cure for these horrific family tragedies.  Following is a transcript of that half-hour interview with minor editing for clarity and emphasis added.  The full original interview is available through the 11/26/08 Fox5 News broadcast video available at link:

WALTERS:  Well, as this case shows, while we’ve had overall drug use go down, we still have too many young people losing their lives to drugs, either through overdoses, or addiction getting their lives off track.  So there’s a danger.  We’ve made progress, and we have tools in place that can help us make more progress, but we have to use them

Q 1:  You meet with some of these parents whose children have overdosed.  What do they tell you, and what do you tell them?

WALTERS:  It’s the hardest part of my job; meeting with parents who’ve lost a child.  Obviously they would give anything to go back, and have a chance to pull that child back from the dangerous path they were on.  There are no words that can ease their grief.  That’s something you just pray that God can give them comfort.  But the most striking thing they say to me though is they want other parents to know, to actAnd I think this is a common thing that these terrible lessons should teach us.

Many times, unfortunately, parents see signs: a change in friends, sometimes they find drugs; sometimes they see their child must be intoxicated in some way or the other.  Because it’s so frightening, because sometimes they’re ashamed – they hope it’s a phase, they hope it goes away – they try to take some half measures.  Sometimes they confront their child, and their child tells them – as believably as they ever can – that it’s the first time.  I think what we need help with is to tell people; one, it’s never the first time.  The probability is low that parents would actually recognize these signs – even when it gets visible enough to them – because children that get involved in drugs do everything they can to hide it.  It’s never the first time.  It’s never the second time.  Parents need to act, and they need to act quickly.  And the sorrow of these grieving parents is, if anything, most frequently focused on telling other parents, “Don’t wait: do anything to get your child back from the drugs.”

Secondly, I think it’s important to remember that one of the forces that are at play here is that it’s their friends.  It’s not some dark, off-putting stranger – it’s boyfriends, girlfriends.  I think that was probably a factor in this case.  And it’s also the power and addictive properties of the drug.  So your love is now being tested, and the things you’ve given your child to live by are being pulled away from them on the basis of young love and some of the most addictive substances on earth.  That’s why you have to act more strongly.  You can’t count on the old forces to bring them back to safety and health.

Q 2:  When we talk about heroin – which is what we saw in this Fairfax County drug ring, alleged drug ring – what are the risks, as far as heroin’s concerned?  I understand it can be more lethal, because a lot of people don’t know what they’re dealing with?

WALTERS:  Well it’s also more lethal because one, the drug obviously can produce cardiac and respiratory arrest.  It’s a toxic substance that is very dangerous.  It’s also the case that narcotics, like heroin – even painkillers like OxyContin, hydrocodone, which have also been a problem – are something that the human body gets used to.  So what you can frequently get on the street is a purity that is really blended for people who are addicted and have been long time addicted.  So a person who is a new user or a naïve user can more easily be overdosed, because the quantities are made for people whose bodies have adjusted to higher purities, and are seeking that effect that only the higher purity will give them in this circumstance.  So it’s particularly dangerous for new users.  But we also have to remember, it almost never starts with heroin.  Heroin is the culmination here.  I think some of the – and I’ve only seen press stories on this — some of these young people may have gotten involved as early as middle school.

We have tools so that we don’t have to lose another young woman like this– or young men.  We now have the ability to use Random Student Drug Testing (RSDT) because the Supreme Court has, in the last five years, made a decision that says it can’t be used to punish.  It’s used confidentially with parents.  We have thousands of schools now doing it since the president announced the federal government’s willingness to fund these programs in 2004.  And many schools are doing it on their own.  Random testing can do for our children what it’s done in the military, what it’s done in the transportation safety industry– significantly reduce drug use.

First, it is a powerful reason not to start.  “I get tested, I don’t have to start.”  We have to remember, it’s for prevention and not a “gotcha!”  But it’s a powerful reason for kids to say, even when a boyfriend or girlfriend says come and do this with me, “I can’t do it, I get tested.  I still like you, I still want to be your friend; I still want you to like me, but I just can’t do this,” which is very, very powerful and important.  And second, if drug use is detected the child can be referred to treatment if needed.

Q 3:  Is the peer pressure just that much that without having an excuse, that kids are using drugs and getting hooked?

WALTERS:  Well one of the other unpleasant parts of my job is I visit a lot of young people in treatment; teenagers, sometimes as young as 14, 15, but also 16, 17, 18.  It is not uncommon for me to hear from them, “I came from a good family.  My parents and my school made clear what the dangers were of drugs.  I was stupid.  I was with my boyfriend (or girlfriend) and somebody said hey, let’s go do this.  And I started, and before I knew it, I was more susceptible.

We have to also understand the science, which has told us that adolescents continue to have brain development up through age 20-25.  And their brains are more susceptible to changes that we can now image from these drugs.  So it’s not like they’re mini-adults.  They’re not mini-adults.  They’re the particularly fragile and susceptible age group, because they don’t have either the experience or the mental development of adults.  That’s why they get into trouble, that’s why it happens so fast to them, that’s why it’s so hard for them to see the ramifications.

So what does RSDT do?  It finds kids early–­ if prevention fails.  And it allows us to intervene, and it doesn’t make the parent alone in the process.  Sometimes parents don’t confront kids because kids blackmail them and say “I’m going to do it anyway, I’m going to run away from home.”  The testing brings the community together and says we’re not going to lose another child.  We’re going to do the testing in high school – if necessary, in middle school.  We’re going to wrap our community arms around that family, and get those children help.  We’re going to keep them in school, not wait for them to drop out.  And we’re certainly not going to allow this to progress until they die.

Q 4:  And in a sense, if you catch somebody early, since you’re saying the way teenagers seem to get into drug use is a friend introduces it to a friend, and then next thing you know, you have a whole circle of friends doing it.  Are you essentially drying that up at the beginning, before it gets out of hand?

WALTERS:  That is the very critical point.  It’s not only helping every child that gets tested be safer, it means that the number of young people in the peer group, in the school, in the community that can transfer this dangerous behavior to their friends shrinks.  This is communicated like a disease, except it’s not a germ or a bacillus.  It’s one child who’s doing this giving it behaviorally to their friends, and using their friendship as the poison carrier here.  It’s like they’re the apple and the poison is inside the apple.  And they trade on their friendship to get them to use.  They trade on the fact that people want acceptance, especially at the age of adolescence.  So what you do is you break that down, and you make those relationships less prone to have the poison of drugs or even underage drinking linked to them.  And of course we also lose a lot of kids because of impaired driving.

Q 5:  And how does the drug testing program work, then, in schools– the schools that do have it.  Is it completely confidential?  Are you going to call the police the minute you find a student who’s tested positive for heroin or marijuana or any other illicit drug?

WALTERS:  That’s what is great about having a Supreme Court decision.  It is settled – random testing programs cannot be used to punish, to call law enforcement; they have to be confidential.  So we have a uniform law across the land.  And what the schools that are doing RSDT are seeing is that it’s an enormous benefit to schools for a relatively small cost.  Depending on where you are in the country, the screening test is $10-40.  It’s less than what you’re going to pay for music downloads in one month for most teenage kids in most parents’ lives.  And it protects them from some of the worst things that can happen to them during adolescence.  Not only dying behind the wheel, but overdose death and addiction.

 Schools that have done RSDT have faced some controversy; so you have to sit down and talk to people; parents, the media, young people.  You have to engage the community resources.  You’re going to find some kids and families that do have treatment needs.  But with RSDT you bring the needed treatment to the kids.

I tell, a lot of times, community leaders – mayors and superintendents, school board members – that if you want to send less kids into the criminal justice system and the juvenile justice system, drug test — whether you’re in a suburban area or in an urban area.

What does the testing do?  It takes away what we know is an accelerant to self-destructive behavior: crime, fighting in school, bringing a weapon, joining a gang.  We have all kinds of irrefutable evidence now – multiple studies showing drugs and drinking at a young age accelerate those things, make them worse, make them more violent, as well as increasing their risks of overdose deaths and driving under the influence.  So drug testing makes all those things get better.  And it’s a small investment to make everything else we do work better.

Again, drug testing is not a substitute for drug education or good parenting or paying attention to healthy options for your kid.  It just makes all those things work better.

Q 6:  And I know you’ve heard this argument before, but isn’t that big brother?  Aren’t there parents out there who say to you, “I’m the parent: why are you going to test my child for drugs in school; that’s my job?” 

WALTERS:  I think that is the critical misunderstanding that we are slowly beginning to change by the science that tells us substance abuse is a disease.  It’s a disease that gets started by using the drug, and then it becomes a thing that rewires our brain and makes us dependent.  So instead of thinking of this as something that is a moral failing, we have to understand that this is a disease that we can use the kind of tools for public health – screening and interventions – to help reduce it.

Look, let me give you the counter example.  It’s really not big brother.  It’s more like tuberculosis.  Schools in our area require children to be tested for tuberculosis before they come to school.  Why do they do that?  Because we know one, they will get sicker if they have tuberculosis and it’s not treated.  And we can treat them, and we want to treat them.  And two, they will spread that disease to other children because of the nature of the contact they will have with them and spreading the infectious agent.  The same thing happens with substance abuse.  Young people get sicker if they continue to use.  And they spread this to their peers.  They’re not secretive among their peers about it; they encourage them to use them with them.  Again, it’s not spread by a bacillus, but it’s spread by behavior.

If we take seriously the fact that this is a disease and stop thinking of it as something big brother does because it’s a moral decision that somebody else is making, we can save more lives.  And I think the science is slowly telling us that we need to be able to treat this in our families, for adults and young people.  We have public health tools that we’ve used for other diseases that are very powerful here, like screening – and that’s really what the random testing is.  We’re trying to get more screening in the health care system.  So when you get a check up, when you bring your child to a pediatrician, we screen for substance abuse and underage drinking.  Because we know we can treat this, and we know that we can make the whole problem smaller when we do. 

Q 7:  You have said there were about 4,000 schools across the country now that are doing this random drug testing.  What can we see in the numbers since the Supreme Court ruling in 2002, as far as drug use in those schools, and drug use in the general population?

WALTERS:  Well, what a number of those schools have had is of course a look at the harm from student drug and alcohol use.  Some of them have put screening into place, random testing, because they’ve had a terrible accident; an overdose death; death behind the wheel.  What’s great is when school districts do this, or individual schools do this, without having to have a tragedy that triggers it.  But if you have a tragedy, I like to tell people, you don’t have to have another one.  The horrible thing about a tragic event is that most people realize those are not the only kids that are at risk.

There are more kids at risk, obviously, in our communities in the Washington, DC area where this young woman died.  We know there’s obviously more children who are at risk of using in middle school and high school.  The fact is those children don’t have to die.  We cannot bring this young lady back.  Everybody knows that.  But we can make sure others don’t follow her.  And the way we can do that is to find, through screening, who’s really using.  And then let’s get them to stop – let’s work with their families, and let’s make sure we don’t start another generation of death.  So what you see in these areas is an opportunity to really change the dynamic for the better.

Q 8:  Now, although nationally drug use among our youth is going down – what does it say to you – when I look at the numbers specific to Virginia, the most recent that I could find tells me that 3% of 12th graders, over their lifetime, have used a drug like heroin?  What does it say to you?  To me, that sounds like a lot.

WALTERS:  Yeah, and it’s absolutely true.  I think the problem here is that when you tell people we are taking efforts that are making progress nationwide, they jump to the conclusion that that means that we don’t have a problem anymore.  We need to continue to make this disease smaller.  It afflicts our young people.  It obviously also afflicts adults, but this is a problem that starts during adolescence — and pre-adolescence in some cases — in the United States.  We can make this smaller.  We not only have the tools of better prevention but also better awareness and more recognition of addiction as a disease.  We need to make that still broader.  We need to use random testing.  If we want to continue to make this smaller, and make it smaller in a permanent way, random testing is the most powerful tool we can use in schools.

We want screening in the health care system.  We have more of that going on through both insurance company reimbursement and public reimbursement through Medicare and Medicaid for those who come into the public pay system.  That needs to grow.  It needs to grow into Virginia, it’s already being looked at in DC; it needs to grow into Maryland and the other states that don’t have it.  We are pushing that, and it’s relatively new, but it’s consistent with what we’re seeing – the science and the power of screening across the board.

We need to continue to look at this problem in terms of also continuing to push on supply.  We’re working to reduce the poisons coming into our communities, which is not the opposite of demand; that we have to choose one or the other.  They work together.  Keeping kids away from drugs and keeping drugs away from kids work together.  And where we see that working more effectively, we’ll save more lives.  So again, we’ve seen that a balanced approached works, real efforts work, but we need to follow through.  And the fact that you still have too many kids at risk is an urgent need.  Today, you have kids that could be, again, victims that you have to unfortunately tell about on tonight’s news, that we can save.  It’s not a matter we don’t know how to do this.  It’s a matter of we need to take what we know and make it reality as rapidly as possible.

Q 9:  Where are these drugs coming from?  Where’s the heroin that these kids allegedly got coming from?

WALTERS:  We do testing about the drugs to figure out sources for drugs like heroin.  Principally, the heroin in the United States today has come from two sources.  Less of it’s coming out of Colombia.  Colombia used to be a source of supply on the East Coast, but the Colombian government, as a part of our engagement with them on drugs, has radically reduced the cultivation of poppy and the output of heroin.  There still is some, but it’s dramatically down from what it was even about five years ago.  Most of the rest of the heroin in the United States comes from Mexico.  And the Mexican government, of course, is engaged in a historic effort to attack the cartels.  You see this in the violence the cartels have had as a reaction.  So we have promising signs.  There are dangerous and difficult tasks ahead, but we can follow through on that as well.

Most of the heroin in the world comes from Afghanistan; 90% of it.  And we are working there, of course, as a part of our effort against the Taliban and the forces of terror and Al Qaeda, to shrink that.  The good news is that last year we had a 20% decline in cultivation and a 30% decline in output there.  Most of that does not come here, fortunately.  But it has been funding the terrorists.  It’s been drained out of most of the north and the east of the country.  It’s focused on the area where we have the greatest violence today, in the southwest.  We’re working now – you see Secretary Gates talking to the NATO allies about bringing the counter-insurgency effort together with the counter-narcotics effort to attack both of these cancers in Afghanistan.  We have a chance to change heroin availability in the world in a durable way by being successful in Afghanistan.  We’ve started that path in a positive way.  Again, it’s a matter of following through as rapidly as possible.

Q 10:  Greg Lannes, the father of the girl in Fairfax County who died, told me that one of his main efforts, as you imagined, was to let people know that those drugs, they’re coming from where it is produced, outside our country; that they’re getting all the way down to the street level and into our neighborhoods– something that people don’t realize.  So when you hear that they busted a ring of essentially teenagers who have been dealing, using and buying heroin, what does that say to you as the man in charge of combating drugs in our country?

WALTERS:  Well again, we have tools that can make this smaller.  But we have to use those tools.  And we have multiple participants here.  Yes we need to educate.  And we need to make sure that parents know they need to talk to their children, even when their children look healthy and have come from a great home.  Drugs – we’ve learned, I think, over the last 25 years or more, drugs affect everybody; rich or poor, middle class, lower class or upper class.  Every family’s been touched by this, in my experience, by alcohol or drugs.  They know that reality– we don’t need to teach them that.

What we need to teach them is the tools that we have that they can help accelerate use of.  Again, I think – there is no question in my mind that had this young woman been in a school, middle school or high school that had random testing – since that’s where this apparently started, based on the information I’ve seen in the press – she would not be dead today.  So again, we can’t go back and bring her to life.  But we can put into place the kind of screening that makes the good will and obvious love that she got from her parents, the obvious good intentions that I can’t help but believe were a part of what happened in the school, the opportunities that the community has to have a lot of resources that she didn’t get when she needed them.  And now she’s dead.  Again, we can stop this: we just have to make sure we implement that knowledge in the reality of more of our kids as fast as possible.

Q 11:  Should anyone be surprised by this case?  And that such a hardcore drug like heroin is being used by young people?

WALTERS:  We should never stop being surprised when a young person dies.  They shouldn’t die.  They shouldn’t die at that young age, and we should always demand of ourselves, even while we know that’s sometimes going to happen today, that every death is a death too many.  I think that it is very important not to say we’re going to accept a certain level.  Never accept this.  Never!  That’s my attitude, and I know that’s the president’s  attitude as well here.  Never accept that heroin’s going to get into the lives of our teenagers.  Never accept that our children are going to be able to use and not be protected.  It’s our job to protect themThey have a role, also, obviously in helping to protect themselves.  But we need to give them the tools that will help protect them.

When I talk to children and young adults in high school or college, they know what’s going on among their peers.  And in some ways, when you get them alone and they feel they can talk candidly, they tell us they don’t understand why we, as adults who say this is serious, don’t act.  They know that we see children who are intoxicated; they know that we must see signs of this, because as kid’s lives get more out of control, they show signs of it.  They want to know why we don’t act.

We can use the tools of screening, and we can use the occasion of a horrible event like this to bring the community together and say it’s time for us to use the shock and the sorrow for something positive in the future.  I haven’t met a parent of a child who’s been lost who doesn’t say I just want to use this now for something positive.  And that’s understandable, and I think we ought to honor that wish.

Q 12:  Well, I guess I’m not asking should we accept that this is in our schools, but is it naïve for people not to understand or realize that these hardcore drugs are in our schools, and in our communities, and in our neighborhoods. 

WALTERS:  Yeah.  Where it is naïve, I think, is to not recognize the extent and access that young people have to drugs and alcohol.  I think we sometimes think that because they come from a home where this isn’t a part of their lives now, that it’s not ever going to be part of their lives.  Look, your viewers should go on the computer.  Type marijuana into the Google search engine and see how many sites encourage them to use marijuana, how to get marijuana, how to grow marijuana, the great fun of marijuana.  Go on YouTube and type in marijuana, and see how many videos come up using marijuana, joking around about marijuana.  And then when you start showing one, of course the system is designed to show you similar things.  Type in heroin.  See what kind of sites come up, and see what kind of videos come up on these sites.  Young people spend more time on these sites than they do, frequently, watching television.  Remember, there is somebody telling your children things about drugs.  And if it’s not you, the chances are they’re telling them things that are false and dangerous.  So there is a kind of naiveté about what the young peoples’ world, as it presents itself to them, tells them about these substances.  It minimizes the danger, it suggests that it’s something that you can do to be more independent, not be a kid anymore. 

We, from my generation — because I’m a baby boomer — unfortunately have had an association of growing up in America with the rebellion that’s been associated with drug use.  That’s been very dangerous, and we’ve lost a lot of lives.  We have to remember that it’s alive and well, and has become part of the technological sources of information that young people have.  I also see young people in treatment centers who got in a chat room and somebody offered them drugs or offered them to come and buy them alcohol and flattered them, and got them involved in incredibly self-destructive behavior.  The computer brings every predator and every dangerous influence into your own child’s home – into their bedroom in some cases, if that’s where that computer exists.  You wouldn’t let your kids go out and play in the park with drug dealers.  If you have a computer and it’s not supervised, those drug dealers are in that computer.  Remember that.  And they’re only a couple of keystrokes away from your child.

Q 13:  And you talk about the YouTube and the computers and all those things.  What about just the overall societal image?  Because we have this whole image with heroin, of heroin chic.  How much does that contribute to the drug use, and how difficult does it make your job, when a drug is being made out to be cool in society by famous people?

WALTERS:  There are still some elements of that.  It was more prominent a number of years ago.  I would say you see less of that now glamorized in the entertainment industry, or among people who are celebrities in and out of entertainment.  You see more cases of real harm.  But it’s still out there.  The one place that I think is replacing that, just to get people ahead of the game here, is prescription pharmaceuticals.  Those have been marketed to kids on the internet as a safe high.  They falsely suggest that you can overcome the danger of an overdose because you can predict precisely the dosage of OxyContin, hydrocodone, Vicodin.  And there are sites that suggest what combination of drugs to use.  We’ve seen prescription drug use as the one counter example of a category of drug use going up among teens.  We’re trying to work on that as well, but that’s something that’s in your own home, because many people get these substances for legitimate medical care.  Young people are going to the medicine cabinet of family or friends, taking a few pills out and using those.  And those are as powerful as heroin, they’re synthetic opioids, and they have been a source of overdose deaths. 

So let’s not forget – while this Fairfax example reminds us of the issues of heroin chic and of the heroin that’s in our communities, the new large problem today is a similar dangerous substance in pill form in our own medicine cabinets.  Barrier to access is zero.  They don’t have to find a drug dealer; they just go find the medicine cabinet.  They don’t have to pay a dime for it because they just take it and they share that with their friends.  We need to remember, that’s another dimension here.  Keep these substances out of reach – under our control when we have them in our home.  Throw them away when we’re done with them.  Make sure we talk to kids about pills.  Because people, again, are telling them that’s the place to go to avoid overdose death, is to take a pill.

Q 14:  When you see a lot of these celebrities checking in and out of rehab, does it sort of glamorize it for kids?  And teach them hey, you can use, you can check into rehab, you can come back, you can – you know.  Is there a mixed message there?

WALTERS:  There is.  Some young people interpret it the way you describe; of it’s something you do and you can get away with it by going into rehab.  We do a lot of research on young people’s attitudes for purposes of helping shape prevention programs in the media, as well as in schools and for parents.  We do a lot with providing material to parents.  I would say that compared to where we’ve been in the last 15 or 20 years, there’s less glamorization today.

I think we should also remember the positive, because we reinforce that.  A lot of young people – obviously not all or we wouldn’t have this death – believe that taking drugs makes you a loser.  They’ve seen that a lot of those celebrities are showing their careers going down the toilet because they can’t get away from the pills and the drugs and the alcohol.  And I think they see that even among some of their peers.  That’s a good thing.  We should reinforce that as parents: teaching our kids that drug and alcohol use may be falsely presented to you as something you do that would make you popular, make you seem like you should have more status in society generally.  But actually, look at a lot of these people; they’ve had enormous opportunities, enormous gifts, and they can’t stop themselves from throwing them away.  And they may not stop themselves from throwing away their lives. 

I think you could use these events as a teachable moment.  It can go two ways.  Help your child understand what the truth is here.  And I tell young people – and I think parents have to start this more directly – this is the way this is going to come to you:  Somebody you really, really want to like you; somebody you really, really like; someone you may even love — or think you love — they’re going to say come and do this with me.  If you can’t find any other reason to not do this with them, say, “Before we do this, let’s go to a treatment center.  Let’s go talk to people who stood where we stood and said it’s not going to happen to me.”  If everybody, when they got the chance to start, thought of an addict or somebody who was dead, they wouldn’t start.  The fact is that does not enter their mind. 

Many people in treatment centers understand that part of the task of recovery is helping other people avoid this.  So they’re willing to talk about it.  In fact, that’s part of their path of staying clean and sober, which not many kids are going to be able to do on their own.  But it makes them think that what presents itself as something overwhelmingly attractive has behind it a horrible dimension, for their friends as well as for themselves.  And more and more, I think kids understand this.

We can use the science of this as a disease, and the experience of many families.  Remember, uncle Joe didn’t used to be like this.  Especially Thanksgiving, when we have families getting together and all of a sudden mom’s going to get loaded and become ugly in the corner.  We also have to remember we have an obligation to reach out to those people, and to get them help.  We can treat them.  Nobody gets sober, in my experience, by themselves.  They have to take responsibility.  But you have to overcome the pushback, and addiction and alcoholism have, as a part of the disease, denial.  When you tell somebody they have a problem, they get angry with you.  They don’t say hey thanks, I want your help.  They don’t hit bottom and become nice.  That’s a myth.  They need to be grabbed and encouraged and pushed.  Almost everybody in treatment is coerced – by a family member, by an employer, sometimes by the criminal justice system.

So remember that, when you find your child using and they want to lie to you up down and sideways saying, “It’s the first time I’ve ever done it.”  No, no, no, no, no, that’s the drugs talking.  That shows you, if anything, you have a bigger problem than you realized and you need to reach out, get some professional help.  But don’t wait!

Source:    National Institute of Citizen Anti-drug Policy (NICAP)

DeForest Rathbone, Chairman, Great Falls, Virginia, 703-759-2215, DZR@prodigy.net

Democratic Gov. Tina Kotek signed legislation Monday to recriminalize the possession of small amounts of certain drugs as the state grapples with a major overdose crisis, ending a legalization experiment backed by voters four years ago.

The new law makes keeping drugs such as heroin or methamphetamine a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in prison. It also enables police to confiscate the drugs and crack down on their use on sidewalks and in parks.

Back in 2020, voters backed Measure 110, which made minor possession of personal-use amounts of certain drugs a non-criminal violation on par with a traffic ticket.

It took effect in February 2021, making Oregon the first state to officially decriminalize minor drug possession.

Since then, the Beaver State has seen a significant uptick in homelessness, homicides and overdose deaths.

In 2020, unintentional opioid overdose deaths clocked in at 472 and hit at least 628 in 2023, according to state data.

In 2022, Portland set a new record for murders with 101 — breaking the mark of 92 set the previous year.

Back in January, Kotek declared a fentanyl state of emergency in the city, saying at the time: “Our country and our state have never seen a drug this deadly and addictive, and all are grappling with how to respond.”

The new law, which will take effect Sept. 1, will let local law enforcement decide whether to give violators the chance to pursue treatment before booking them into jail

Another bill Kotek signed Monday, Senate Bill 5204, allocates $211 million to mobilize resources for behavioral health and education programs, including expanded access to substance abuse treatment and prevention education.

“Success of this policy framework hinges on the ability of implementing partners to commit to deep coordination at all levels,” Kotek emphasized in a letter to legislative leaders.

The governor further called on the Department of Corrections to ensure a “consistent approach for supervision when an individual is released” from detention and to “exhaust non-jail opportunities for misdemeanor sanctions.”

Source: https://nypost.com/2024/04/02/us-news/oregon-recriminalizes-drugs-after-upswing-in-overdose-deaths/

Drug Free America Foundation is launching its new digital advertisement campaign targeting viewers in Illinois. The digital animated ad is the second in a series titled “Marijuana…Know the Truth” and discusses the real dangers of marijuana use.  

As you know, Illinois is a state that is considering legalizing recreational marijuana this year. We hope this ad campaign will help address the misconceptions about the real dangers of marijuana use

This digital advertising campaign will utilize banner ads to drive viewers to our website where they can view the 2-minute ad. We are excited to say that through a generous donation, this campaign will provide over 10 million digital impressions in Illinois. We are hopeful that through additional donations, we are able to expand this campaign to other states and continue to spread the word on the dangers of marijuana.

Email from Drug Free America Foundation https://www.dfaf.org/ March 2019

Democratic Gov. Tina Kotek signed legislation Monday to recriminalize the possession of small amounts of certain drugs as the state grapples with a major overdose crisis, ending a legalization experiment backed by voters four years ago.

The new law makes keeping drugs such as heroin or methamphetamine a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in prison. It also enables police to confiscate the drugs and crack down on their use on sidewalks and in parks.

Back in 2020, voters backed Measure 110, which made minor possession of personal-use amounts of certain drugs a non-criminal violation on par with a traffic ticket.

It took effect in February 2021, making Oregon the first state to officially decriminalize minor drug possession. Since then, the Beaver State has seen a significant uptick in homelessness, homicides and overdose deaths.

In 2020, unintentional opioid overdose deaths clocked in at 472 and hit at least 628 in 2023, according to state data.

In 2022, Portland set a new record for murders with 101 — breaking the mark of 92 set the previous year. Back in January, Kotek declared a fentanyl state of emergency in the city, saying at the time: “Our country and our state have never seen a drug this deadly and addictive, and all are grappling with how to respond.”

The new law, which will take effect Sept. 1, will let local law enforcement decide whether to give violators the chance to pursue treatment before booking them into jail .

Another bill Kotek signed Monday, Senate Bill 5204, allocates $211 million to mobilize resources for behavioral health and education programs, including expanded access to substance abuse treatment and prevention education.

“Success of this policy framework hinges on the ability of implementing partners to commit to deep coordination at all levels,” Kotek emphasized in a letter to legislative leaders.

The governor further called on the Department of Corrections to ensure a “consistent approach for supervision when an individual is released” from detention and to “exhaust non-jail opportunities for misdemeanor sanctions.”

 

Source: Oregon recriminalizes drugs after upswing in overdose deaths (nypost.com)

The sale and use of illegal drugs are among the most serious problems facing the UK, indeed, the entire world, right now. This issue is particularly prevalent within Britain’s night-time economy, where even the most stringently law-abiding and responsibly run premises are not guaranteed to be completely free from the presence of drugs and/or drug dealers.

As a security operative, especially a door supervisor, you are in a unique position to spot potential drug deals and put a stop to them. This is of benefit to both the venue as well as its patrons. Overall, it also helps to keep the public safe.

In this feature, we’ll show you to spot a probable drug deal, identify a likely drug dealer and offer advice on what to do once you’ve confirmed your suspicions. We will also examine the laws around drugs, including what is and isn’t allowed and who is liable if those laws are broken on the premises you’re guarding.

Drug Dealers in Popular Culture

The sale of drugs has, of course, existed for thousands of years. However, in prehistory and antiquity drug use probably had at least some religious or spiritual connotations.

Nevertheless, recreational drug use dates back at least as far as Ancient Mesopotamia (and probably a lot further than that). Ancient Sumerians freely traded opium along with other commodities, while the ancient Egyptians prized blue water lotus flowers for their hallucinogenic properties (King Tutankhamun was even buried with some). These drugs were not illicit or illegal in their respective eras and traders would have bought and sold them openly.

Notable books concerning drug use and purchase include Thomas De Quincey’s autobiographical account ‘Confessions of an English Opium Eater’ (1821) and William Burroughs’ 1953 debut ‘Junkie: Confessions of an Unredeemed Drug Addict’.

In 1966, The Beatles released their ‘Revolver’ album, which featured a song called ‘Dr. Robert’. The song, inspired by real-life figure Dr. Robert Freymann, tells the story of a supposedly legitimate medical doctor who abuses his prescription pad in order to get his ‘patients’ any kind of drug they want. The song is notable for being one of the first times a drug dealer was depicted overtly, as well as in a generally positive light.

One year later, New York alternative band ‘The Velvet Underground’ released their debut album, which featured the songs ‘Waiting for the Man’ (which described a drug deal) and ‘Heroin’, the meaning of which ought to be self-explanatory. These songs were even more explicit and frank about illegal drugs and the people that use them.

The popular culture of the early 21st century is replete with examples of drug dealers. The 1983 gangster film ‘Scarface’ starring Al Pacino tells the story of Tony Montana, a Cuban refugee and petty criminal who becomes a wealthy drug baron in America. Today, ‘Scarface’ looms large in popular culture, with its themes and iconography being referenced in everything from other movies and TV shows to poster art, video games and even song lyrics.

Drug use and the sale of drugs are staples of gangster movies, with the sale of illicit materials often being contrasted with the basic assumptions of American capitalism as a way to comment upon society in general.

Another good example of these themes can be seen in the 2007 film ‘American Gangster’ starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. This film also depicts drug dealing as a pathway to riches among the downtrodden and dispossessed.

‘American Gangster’s story, essentially, mirrors that of both ‘Scarface’ and any number of other movies of the genre, as well as, not incidentally, the typical experience of any addict. Drugs are initially seen as empowering and fun before becoming uncontrollable and eventually leading to the central character’s downfall.

The media treats street-level drug dealers, however, in a variety of different ways.

The 1993 movie ‘Trainspotting’ (an adaptation of the novel of same name by Irvine Welsh), starring Ewan McGregor, was praised for its frank and hard-hitting discussion of heroin addiction. The movie depicts a blurred line between using and dealing.

Perhaps popular culture’s best-loved drug dealers are Jay & Silent Bob. Beginning with the debut of comedy writer/director Kevin Smith, 1994’s ‘Clerks’, Jay (Jason Mewes) and his ‘hetero life-mate’ Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) appear in almost all of Smith’s movies, occasionally as central characters.

The pair, who mainly deal marijuana, are depicted as loveable, if crass, figures, who often attempt to resolve the issues of other characters via either heartfelt advice (‘Clerks’, ‘Chasing Amy’) or direct action (‘Mallrats’, ‘Dogma’). The pair appear to be stereotypical 1990’s-era drug dealers, usually peddling their wares outside the local convenience store, but their behaviour frequently upends audience expectations for comic effect.

The AMC TV series ‘Breaking Bad’, which began in 2008, depicts a grittier take on drug dealing. In the series, chemist Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer and resorts to manufacturing and selling methamphetamines as a way of securing his family’s finances after his death. This decision leads him down a bad road, which sees the character becoming progressively darker as the show continues.

Similarly, the Starz black comedy series ‘Weeds’ (beginning in 2005) details the misadventures of widowed mother-of-two Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker), who takes to dealing marijuana as a way of supporting her family.

The legal drama series ‘Suits’, which began in 2011, features a drug dealer by the name of Trevor (Tom Lipinski), who is, at the series’ outset, best friend of main character Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams). Unlike a stereotypical dealer, Trevor wears expensive suits and poses as a software developer to peddle his wares to a rich clientele. A failed drug deal involving Mike is the series’ inciting incident.

So, the portrayal of drug dealers in popular culture tends to vary, usually according to what drugs they are selling. Those selling marijuana are often depicted in a positive or comedic light (such as the episode of ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ wherein Larry David buys marijuana for his father), while those selling cocaine, heroin and other, harder drugs are usually seen as villainous, or at least more complicated, characters.

On television, drug dealers (that are not main characters) are usually seen as scruffy, but still attired in the urban fashions of the period (punk style in the 80’s and early 90’s, Hip Hop fashions from the mid-90’s – 2000’s, etc). They are traditionally young males.

Sadly, a disproportionate number of television drug dealers are cast as ethnic minorities, which does not reflect reality and only serves to fuel any number of negative stereotypes.

Such stylistic choices are part of a visual shorthand that encourages the audience to make a quick ‘snap judgement’ about a character in order not to waste any time setting up the joke or scene. So, if a young man, dressed in urban wear approaches a character, the audience will understand that he is likely a drug dealer. By contrast, if an older woman, dressed perhaps in an evening gown, approached the character, they would have to remark on the perceived incongruity of this alleged dealer in order for the scene to work.

These sorts of visual codes may be very useful for the TV and film industries, but they don’t do any favours to the security operative that is hoping to spot -and stop – a real-life drug deal taking place.

So, what are drug dealers like in real life?

Drug Dealers in Real Life

After surveying 243 self-identified drug dealers, researchers from the American Addiction Centers created the following profile of the ‘average’ drug dealer.

According to this fascinating and insightful study, a drug dealer is slightly more likely to be male than female (their numbers were 63% male and 37% female) and is likely to start dealing at around the age of 19 and stop by 23. Drug dealing is much rarer over the age of 30, but it definitely does happen.

The principal motivations for drug dealing are apparently needing money (40%), wanting extra money (29%) and the dealers desiring popularity with their peers (19%). Other motivations include the idea that drug dealers live glamorous lives (5%), peer pressure (5%) and supporting their own addictions (2%).

Most dealers got started through a friend (57%), or else through their own dealer (27%), while 10% stated that they were introduced to drug dealing through a family member.

The average drug dealer’s clientele is primarily students (34%) and working professionals (28%), although high school students (remember that this study is American, so these students could be as old as 18) also featured prominently. 2% even claimed to have dealt drugs to law enforcement offers.

The study revealed that 43% of the average drug dealer’s clients were considered by them to be addicts, but that only 11% of females and 9% of males denied their wares to those they considered at risk of death.

In hindsight, 61% said that they felt regret for their actions, while 39% were at peace with them. Only 45% admitted to feeling guilty, however, with a 55% majority stating that they did not. A small percentage stated that their actions had resulted in the deaths of some friends or clients.

The data is clear. Whilst a drug dealer is statistically slightly more likely to be young and male, they can (and do) look like anyone. Where TV’s drug dealers often wear loud clothes and openly publicise their products like foul-mouthed market vendors, real-life drug dealers are usually very adept at simply ‘blending in’ to their surroundings and not drawing undue attention to themselves.

Pop culture often assumes that drug dealers must resemble stereotypical drug users, however this is also rarely the case. A lot of dealers don’t use any drugs themselves and sell their products after working all day at a regular, 9-5 job.

Drug dealers can range from relatively innocuous-seeming people who sell ‘soft’ drugs to a small group of friends and/or family, to individuals of considerable wealth and influence, who sell, indirectly, to large numbers of people.

Some dealers sell prescription pain medication for those who are addicted to it, or experience chronic pain, some sell drugs that they consider harmless (but are, in fact, quite dangerous) and others do not consider themselves to be drug dealers at all.

Drug dealers can be any sex, gender, age, race, or class. So how can they be spotted?

How to Spot a Drug Deal

Knowing what we now know, we must consider that drug dealers are likely to be hard to spot. A drug deal, on the other hand, usually displays certain distinguishing characteristics that can be readily identified.

One trait common to most drug dealers is that they tend to set up in the same place each time they visit a venue. They do this so that customers know where to find them. A drug dealer’s preferred location is usually somewhere dark, slightly away from prying eyes, as well as a place that is likely to always be available. In most cases, dealers will not set themselves up in direct view of bar staff or door supervisors.

Be aware of any regular who sets themselves up in one specific place all or most of the time and is visited by multiple, seemingly unrelated, patrons or makes regular trips to the toilet. This person is very possibly a drug dealer.

Watch also for conspiratorial behaviour, such as two or more people huddling together as if sharing a secret. More experienced dealers will avoid this type of behaviour, but some dealers can still be identified this way.

Some dealers use accomplices known as ‘runners’ or ‘minders’ who actually carry the drugs and/or money. In this way, if the dealer is searched, security operatives or police will find nothing on them. A runner may not liaise with the dealer directly, but if a suspected dealer is visited several times by the same person, you may be inclined to search that person as well.

Dealers will often have a larger-than-average amount of cash about their person (although online payment methods are making this trait less common than it was). If a person has an abundance of cash on them (and you don’t work security in a strip club), this could be a sign that they are a dealer.

In person, dealers are often friendly and amiable, many are even charming. They are, after all, salespeople. With many customers that are probably nervous, it stands to reason that a dealer would want to be somewhat approachable.

Drug dealers are often very uncomfortable around the subject of drugs, however. When spoken to on the subject, many dealers will assume that they’ve been found out and will avoid the subject before leaving in a hurry. If you approach a suspected dealer and ask them about drugs while dressed in your uniform, their reaction can be a good indicator of either innocence or guilt.

What the Law Says

The main laws surrounding illegal drugs, at least for the purposes of this feature, are the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and the Licensing Act 2003. The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 states that heavy penalties can be imposed upon any premises found to be permitting the sale or use of illegal drugs

The act, which was created to ensure the UK’s adherence to various international treaty conditions, made it illegal to possess, sell, offer to sell, or supply without charge any controlled drug or substance.

Oddly enough, despite the act’s title, the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 does not cover the actual use of illegal drugs, nor does it immediately define which drugs it is referring to. Instead, the act defines 4 classes of controlled substances.

Class A’ drugs (heroin, cocaine, MDMA, LSD, methadone, methamphetamines, and magic mushrooms) are the most dangerous and therefore carry the harshest sentences under the act.

Class B’ drugs (amphetamines, codeine, barbiturates, ketamine, cannabis, and related cannabinoids) and ‘Class C’ drugs (anabolic steroids, diazepam, piperazines) are seen as less dangerous and carry lesser sentences. The ‘4th’ class is a temporary class, intended for more specific requirements than the broad classifications found elsewhere in the legislation.

Alcohol and tobacco are subject to separate legislation and are not affected by the terms of the act.

Under the terms of the Licensing Act 2003, if any licensed premises is found to be permitting the sale or use of illegal drugs, either interim steps toward the suspension of the license will be taken, or else the outright suspension of the license will occur.

A premises can also be closed under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 was preceded by both the Dangerous Drugs Act 1964 (which dealt primarily with the use of cannabis and was itself preceded by the Dangerous Drug Act 1951) and the Medicines Act 1968, this second law primarily discussed the prescriptions, quality control and advertising of legal medicine. Prior to this, the laws around drugs and drug use were somewhat lax and insufficient.

Also of note is the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016, which was created to stop the spread of so-called ‘legal highs’. ‘Legal highs’ were drugs created to exploit loopholes in the terms of the Misuse of Drugs Act.

These legal drugs gained popularity in the 2000’s and 2010’s and were readily available from a variety of sources. Despite their easy availability, they were also very dangerous, killing almost 100 people in 2012 alone. The Psychoactive Substances Act was created to make their manufacture, sale and use illegal.

At present, Home Office guidelines (specific to, but not limited to raves and other ‘dance events’) allow for free cold water to be given to patrons as requested, the availability of a space to cool down and rest, monitoring of temperatures and air quality, provision of information and advice regarding drugs, and door staff to be trained to handle drug-related issues that may arise. 

Is the Law Effective?

According to the government’s latest figures, drug offences are on the rise in the UK. From 2020-21, drug-related offences jumped up by a massive 19% from 2019 – 20.

However, while this data may indicate a worsening trend, we must also consider the effect of the current coronavirus pandemic on the data. During lockdown, while the sale of illegal substances no doubt occurred, it would have been at least partially diminished, gaining more momentum once lockdowns were lifted.

Historically, British authorities have taken multiple approaches to preventing the sale and use of illegal drugs.

In 1954, the Metropolitan Police set up the Dangerous Drugs Office. It comprised of just 4 officers. In fact, a 1961 report on drug addiction in the UK concluded that

“the incidence of addiction to dangerous drugs is still very small… no cause to fear that any real increase is at present occurring”.

By 1963, however, the Metropolitan Police had learned that some doctors were overordering medicinal drugs and selling the surplus for personal profit, as well as overprescribing to addicts. After the number of arrests for drug-related offences began to climb, Parliament passed the Dangerous Drugs Act 1964 and the Medicines Act 1968.  

Further legislation was passed in the 1970’s and 1980’s, as new drugs began to be featured in the national discourse. Solvent abuse began in earnest in the 1980’s, which prompted the passage of the Intoxicating Substances (Supply) Act 1985, while barbiturates, which had been a serious problem since the mid-late 1970’s, were added to the Misuse of Drugs Act in 1984.

By 1985, MDMA was beginning to appear, claiming its first life in 1986. Police were given extra powers of search and interrogation, with particular emphasis on drug-related crimes by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

1985’s Controlled Drug (Penalties) Act increased sentences for drug-related offences and the arrival of AIDS (which had existed since the 70’s, but was formally labelled an epidemic  in the 80’s) issued a public crackdown on needle sharing. Accordingly, the Drug Trafficking Offences Act 1986 came into effect in 1987. This act was partially intended to help recover the profits from drug trafficking. 

As we have seen, the issue of drugs exploded between the 1960’s and the 1990’s. By 1994, drug use was being seen as a global epidemic. The government published its ‘green paper’, titled ‘Tackling Drugs Together: A consultation document on a strategy for England 1995–1998′. This document outlined a ‘new approach to strategic thinking on drugs issues’, with an emphasis on reducing the availability of illegal drugs and keeping communities safer from drug-related offences.

The government also passed the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, which attempted to control drug use in prisons, as well as at raves.

Some of these measures have been reasonably effective, others appear not to have worked at all. However, the problem continues to persist, at times worsening.

The law is certainly effective when it comes to arresting and detaining some dealers, but the fact that drug use continues to be so persistent and prevalent shows that no measure has ever been 100% successful.

Critics of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, for example, have suggested that the classification system is inadequate because it does not consider the relative dangers of the drugs it classifies. This argument was key to the decision to reclassify cannabis as a ‘Class C’ drug in 2004. Nevertheless, the drug was moved back to ‘Class B’ in 2009.

In this case, the law would appear to be somewhat out-of-step with public opinion. The Liberal Democrat Party has supported the legalisation and taxation of Cannabis since 2015, making them the first mainstream British political party to do so.

Public support has also drifted more towards sympathy with hard-drug users in recent years, as mental health issues and the nature of addiction become better understood by the public.

Britain’s anti-drug policies and legislation may appear harsh to some, but there are many other countries that are far less tolerant. In Malaysia, China, Vietnam, Iran, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Indonesia and The Philippines, drug dealers can be (and often are) executed by the state.  

Despite these brutal punishments, drug trafficking, dealing and use still occurs in all these countries. According to the U.N., domestic drug abuse in Vietnam has risen sharply since the 1990’s, while a 2020 review found that mental health conditions, arising from chronic drug use, are a problem in Saudi Arabia.

In addition to heroin and opium use, Thailand is currently facing the rise of a popular street drug known as ‘Yaba’, which is a mixture of caffeine and methamphetamine.

The notion that harsher punishments for crimes will somehow eliminate those crimes from occurring is a faulty one. It has been tried – and has failed, many times throughout history. The death penalty for murder, for example, does not prevent murder.

Is the law effective? Yes and no. As with drugs themselves and basically everything else, it depends on the individual.

Preventing Drug Dealing/Use on the Premises

There are a number of preventative methods that a bar, pub, club or venue can take if it wants to actively discourage drug dealers. Door supervisors are the first line of defence against these activities, so it is of vital importance that they remain vigilant at all times.

Firstly, we advise that proprietors keep their venues clean and tidy, with security cameras in clear view. A drug dealer is probably looking for a place with lax security. If it looks like the management can’t be bothered to clean up at the end of the night, a drug dealer may well feel more confident about ‘setting up shop’ there.

Ensuring that all CCTV, alarms, and other security equipment is up-to-date and functioning well is also a great way to deter drug dealers. 

We also recommend putting up notices that drug dealing on the premises will not be tolerated under any circumstances.  The venue should create a drugs policy and make every employee (including door staff) aware of it. All signage should reflect this policy.

Joining a local ‘Pubwatch‘ scheme is a great way for venues to share intel on specific troublemakers and get a sense of how widespread the problem is in the local area.

It is advisable also to always refuse entry to any known or suspected drug dealers. This can be part of the venue’s drugs policy. For example, it can be venue policy that any patron caught dealing drugs on the premises may be the recipient of a ‘lifetime ban’ and reported to other venues as well.

We also suggest that all security operatives keep an eye out for signs of drug use. Signs of drug use can include payment with tightly wound banknotes (occasionally showing a small amount of powder or blood at the edges), traces of powder left on surfaces (particularly in restrooms), as well as other ‘tell-tale trash’ left behind by drug users, such as small ‘sealie’ bags, torn beermats, empty pill bottles and sweet or chewing gum wrappers.

If the toilets turn up incongruous items such as burned spoons or tinfoil, drinking straws, lighters, razor blades, make-up mirrors, small squares of cling film, syringes or discarded tubes of glue, the venue has probably been visited by a drug user. Surfaces that have been wiped entirely clean before closing time can also be a giveaway.

You may also be alert to the signs of a person using drugs at the venue. These can include the more obvious behaviours (vacant expression, a sense of the person not truly being ‘present’, bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, excessive chattering, giggling or noise for example), to ordering excessive amounts of water, sporting white marks around the nostrils, and appearing to be either hyperactive or extremely lethargic.

If your venue or premises appears to have a serious problem with drug dealing and/or use, we recommend contacting local police or drug squads. If these problems persist, the venue could lose its license, or be closed entirely. More importantly, lives could even be at stake.

A police licensing officer who has been informed of a potential situation at the venue will be far more likely to show compassion and sympathy to a venue that reaches out for help than they will if they must investigate it of their own volition. Where possible, we advise security staff and venue proprietors to liaise with police at regular intervals.

Door searches, though not always popular, may also be necessary in the more severe cases.

Of course, all drug-related instances, even small ones, must be recorded in the venue’s incident books and, where appropriate, referred to police.

Stopping a drug deal may seem like a small victory. Indeed, many security operatives simply deem it ‘part of the job’ and don’t give it much attention beyond that. However, there is no such thing as an inconsequential action. As the zen proverb has it, “the man who would move a mountain begins by carrying away small stones”.

Each drug deal thwarted contributes toward making Britain’s streets, establishments, and businesses safer, which in turn helps to ensure the safety of people everywhere – and that, more than anything else, is the reason security operatives do what they do in the first place.

Source: Drug Dealers: Dealing with Drugs and Dealers – Working The Doors

Source: 20-Reasons-to-Vote-NO-in-2020-SAM-VERSION-Cannabis.pdf (saynopetodope.org.nz) May 2020

A meta-analysis of all studies worldwide showing association between marijuana use and schizophrenia:

Moore TH, Zammit S, Lingford-Hughes A, et al. Cannabis use and risk of psychotic or affective mental health outcomes: a systematic review. Lancet. 2007;370:319–328.
http://dirwww.colorado.edu/alcohol/downloads/Cannabis_and_behavior.pdf

“There was an increased risk of any psychotic outcome in individuals who had ever used cannabis…with greater risk in people who used cannabis most frequently. There is now sufficient evidence to warn young people that using cannabis could increase their risk of
developing a psychotic illness later in life.”

The most recent study conducted in the United States (Columbia University, New York), showing a high risk (odds ratio, “OR”) for schizophrenia spectrum disorders, particularly in those who become cannabis-dependent:

Davis GP, Compton MT, Wang S, Levin FR, Blanco C. Association between cannabis use, psychosis, and schizotypal personality disorder: findings from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Schizophr Res. 2013 Dec;151(1-3):197-202.
“There was a similar dose-response relationship between the extent of cannabis use and schizotypal personality disorder (OR=2.02 for lifetime cannabis use, 95% CI 1.69-2.42; OR=2.83 for lifetime cannabis abuse, 95% CI 2.33-2.43; OR=7.32 for lifetime cannabis dependence, 95% CI 5.51-9.72). Likelihood of individual schizotypal features increased significantly with increased extent of cannabis use in a dose-dependent manner.”

Studies that corrected for general genetic background effects and many non-cannabis environmental variables by comparing siblings. The risk ratios are somewhat lower than general population studies, because genetic predisposition is more or less controlled for:

McGrath J, Welham J, Scott J, Varghese D, Degenhardt L, Hayatbakhsh MR, Alati R, Williams GM, Bor W, Najman JM. Association between cannabis use and psychosis-related outcomes using sibling pair analysis in a cohort of young adults. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010; 67(5):440-7.
“Longer duration since first cannabis use was associated with multiple psychosis-related outcomes in young adults… the longer the duration since first cannabis use, the higher the risk of psychosis-related outcomes…
Compared with those who had never used cannabis, young adults who had 6 or more years since first use of cannabis (i.e., who commenced use when around 15 years or younger) were twice as likely to develop a nonaffective psychosis…
This study provides further support for the hypothesis that early cannabis use is a risk-modifying factor for psychosis-related outcomes in young adults.”

Giordano GN, Ohlsson H, Sundquist K, Sundquist J, Kendler KS. The association between cannabis abuse and subsequent schizophrenia: a Swedish national co-relative control study.
Psychol Med. 2014 Jul 3:1-8. [Epub ahead of print]
http://journals.cambridge.org/download.php?file=%2FPSM%2FS0033291714001524a.pdf&code=79f795824a92c8eead870197ef071dd8

“Allowing 7 years from initial CA registration to later diagnosis, the risk for schizophrenia in discordant full sibling pairs remained almost twofold….The results of this study therefore lend support to the etiologic hypothesis, that CA is one direct cause of later schizophrenia.”

Those diagnosed with schizophrenia who also use recreational drugs are much more likely to be violent, including those who use cannabis:

Fazel S, Långström N, Hjern A, Grann M, Lichtenstein P. Schizophrenia, substance abuse, and violent crime. JAMA. 2009 May 20;301(19):2016-23.
“The risk was mostly confined to patients with substance abuse comorbidity (of whom 27.6% committed an offense), yielding an increased risk of violent crime among such patients (adjusted OR, 4.4; 95% CI,3.9-5.0), whereas the risk increase was small in schizophrenia patients without substance abuse comorbidity (8.5% of whom had at least 1 violent offense; adjusted OR,1.2; 95% CI, 1.1-1.4; P<0.001 for interaction).”

Fazel S, Gulati G, Linsell L, Geddes JR, Grann M. Schizophrenia and violence: systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS Med. 2009 Aug;6(8):e1000120. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000120. Epub 2009 Aug 11.
“The effect of comorbid substance abuse was marked with….. an OR of 8.9” (as compared to the general population)

Arseneault L, Moffitt TE, Caspi A, Taylor PJ, Silva PA. Mental disorders and violence in a total birth cohort: results from the Dunedin Study. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2000;57(10):979-86.
“for having more than two of these disorders at once…..the OR (odds ratio for violence) was, …..for marijuana dependence plus schizophrenia spectrum disorder, 18.4”

Harris AW, Large MM, Redoblado-Hodge A, Nielssen O, Anderson J, Brennan J. Clinical and cognitive associations with aggression in the first episode of psychosis. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2010 Jan;44(1):85-93.
‘The use of cannabis with a frequency of more than fourfold in the previous month was the only factor that was found to be associated with serious aggression’

Self-report of psychotic symptoms by otherwise healthy users (12% to 15%):

Thomas H. A community survey of adverse effects of cannabis use. Drug Alcohol Depend. 1996 Nov;42(3):201-7.
“This survey estimates the frequency of various adverse effects of the use of the drug cannabis. A sample of 1000 New Zealanders aged 18-35 years were asked to complete a self-administered questionnaire on cannabis use and associated problems. The questionnaire was derived from criteria for the identification of cannabis abuse which are analagous to criteria commonly used to diagnose alcoholism. Of those who responded 38% admitted to having used cannabis. The most common physical or mental health problems, experienced by 22% of users were acute anxiety or panic attacks following cannabis use. Fifteen percent reported psychotic symptoms following use.”

Smith MJ, Thirthalli J, Abdallah AB, Murray RM, Cottler LB. Prevalence of psychotic symptoms in substance users: a comparison across substances. Compr Psychiatry. 2009 May-Jun;50(3):245-50. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2008.07.009. Epub 2008 Sep 23.
“Among all users of substances without a diagnosis of abuse or dependence, cannabis users reported the highest prevalence of psychotic symptoms (12.4%).”

Barkus EJ, Stirling J, Hopkins RS, Lewis S.. Cannabis-induced psychosis-like experiences are associated with high schizotypy Psychopathology 2006;39(4):175-8.
“In the sample who reported ever using cannabis (72%) the means for the subscales from the CEQ were as follows: ……Psychotic-Like Experiences (12.98%).”

Rates of psychotic symptoms in those with cannabis dependence as compared to non-dependent users and nonusers:

Fergusson DM, Horwood LJ, Swain-Campbell NR. Cannabis dependence and psychotic symptoms in young people. Psychol Med. 2003 Jan;33(1):15-21.
“Young people meeting DSM-IV criteria for cannabis dependence had elevated rates of psychotic symptoms at ages 18 (rate ratio = 3.7; 95% CI 2.8-5.0; P < 0.0001) and 21 (rate ratio = 2.3; 95% CI 1.7-3.2; P < 0.0001).”

Smith MJ, Thirthalli J, Abdallah AB, Murray RM, Cottler LB. Prevalence of psychotic symptoms in substance users: a comparison across substances. Compr Psychiatry. 2009 May-Jun;50(3):245-50. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2008.07.009. Epub 2008 Sep 23.
“more than half of the respondents who were dependent on cocaine (80%), cannabis (63.5%), amphetamines (56.1%), and opiates (53.1%) reported psychotic symptoms. Among all users of substances without a diagnosis of abuse or dependence, cannabis users reported the highest prevalence of psychotic symptoms (12.4%)……. There was also a marked increase in the risk for psychotic symptoms when dependence became moderate or severe for cannabis (OR=25.1, OR=26.8; respectively).”

Studies on the psychotomimetic properties of THC administered to healthy individuals in the clinic:

D’Souza DC, Perry E, MacDougall L, Ammerman Y, Cooper T, Wu YT, Braley G, Gueorguieva R, Krystal JH. The psychotomimetic effects of intravenous delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in healthy individuals: implications for psychosis. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2004 Aug;29(8):1558-72.
“∆-9-THC (1) produced schizophrenia-like positive and negative symptoms; (2) altered perception;(3) increased anxiety; (4) produced euphoria; (5) disrupted immediate and delayed word recall, sparing recognition recall; (6) impaired performance on tests of distractibility, verbal fluency, and working memory (7) did not impair orientation; (8) increased plasma cortisol. These data indicate that D-9-THC produces a broad range of transient symptoms, behaviors, and cognitive deficits in healthy individuals that resemble some aspects of endogenous psychoses.”

Morrison PD, Nottage J, Stone JM, Bhattacharyya S, Tunstall N, Brenneisen R, Holt D, Wilson D, Sumich A, McGuire P, Murray RM, Kapur S, Ffytche DH. Disruption of frontal θ coherence by ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol is associated with positive psychotic symptoms. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011;;36(4):827-36.
“Compared with placebo, THC evoked positive and negative psychotic symptoms, as measured by the positive and negative syndrome scale (p<0.001)…… The results reveal that the pro-psychotic effects of THC might be related to impaired network dynamics with impaired communication between the right and left frontal lobes.”

Bhattacharyya S, Crippa JA, Allen P, Martin-Santos R, Borgwardt S, Fusar-Poli P, Rubia K, Kambeitz J, O’Carroll C, Seal ML, Giampietro V, Brammer M, Zuardi AW, Atakan Z, McGuire PK. Induction of psychosis by ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol reflects modulation of prefrontal and striatal function during attentional salience processing. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2012 Jan;69(1):27-36. doi: 10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.161.
“Pairwise comparisons revealed that 9-THC significantly increased the severity of psychotic symptoms compared with placebo (P<.001) and CBD (P<.001).”,

Freeman D, Dunn G, Murray RM, Evans N, Lister R, Antley A, Slater M, Godlewska B, Cornish R, Williams J, Di Simplicio M, Igoumenou A, Brenneisen R, Tunbridge EM, Harrison PJ, Harmer CJ, Cowen P, Morrison PD. How Cannabis Causes Paranoia: Using the Intravenous Administration of ∆9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to Identify Key Cognitive Mechanisms Leading to Paranoia. Schizophr Bull. 2014 Jul 15. pii: sbu098. [Epub ahead of print]
“THC significantly increased paranoia, negative affect (anxiety, worry, depression, negative thoughts about the self), and a range of anomalous experiences, and reduced working memory capacity.”

For data on dose-response (a very large study by Zammit et al., and another by van Os et al.) and the greater risk for psychosis posed by high strength marijuana (DiForti et al.):

Zammit S, Allebeck P, Andreasson S, Lundberg I, Lewis G, 2002, Self reported cannabis use as a risk factor for schizophrenia in Swedish conscripts of 1969: historical cohort study. BMJ. 2002 Nov 23;325(7374):1199. http://www.bmj.com/content/325/7374/1199.full.pdf
“We found a dose dependent relation between frequency of cannabis use and risk of schizophrenia, with an adjusted odds ratio for linear trend across the categories of frequency of cannabis use used in this study of 1.2 (1.1 to 1.4, P < 0.001). The adjusted odds ratio for subjects with a history of heaviest use of cannabis ( > 50 occasions) was 3.1 (1.7 to 5.5)………………Cannabis use is associated with an increased risk of
developing schizophrenia, consistent with a causal relation. This association is not explained by use of other psychoactive drugs or personality traits relating to social integration.”

van Os J, Bak M, Hanssen M, Bijl RV, de Graaf R, Verdoux H. Cannabis use and psychosis: a longitudinal population-based study. Am J Epidemiol. 2002 Aug 15;156(4):319-27.
“…..further evidence supporting the hypothesis of a causal relation is demonstrated by the existence of a dose-response relation.. between cumulative exposure to cannabis use and the psychosis outcome……. About 80 percent of the psychosis outcome associated with exposure to both cannabis and an established vulnerability to psychosis was attributable to the synergistic action of these two factors. This finding indicates that, of the subjects exposed to both a vulnerability to psychosis and cannabis use, approximately 80 percent had the psychosis outcome because of the combined action of the two risk factors and only about 20 percent because of the action of either factor alone.”

DiForti M, Morgan C, Dazzan P, Pariante C, Mondelli V, Marques TR, Handley R, Luzi S, Russo M, Paparelli A, Butt A, Stilo SA, Wiffen B, Powell J, Murray RM. High-potency cannabis and the risk of psychosis. Br J Psychiatry. 2009,195(6):488-91.
“78% (n = 125) of the cases group preferentially used sinsemilla (skunk) compared with only 31% (n = 41) of the control group (unadjusted OR= 8.1, 95% CI 4.6–13.5). This association was only slightly attenuated after controlling for potential confounders (adjusted OR= 6.8, 95% CI 2.6–25.4)………. Our most striking finding is that patients with a first episode of psychosis preferentially used high-potency cannabis preparations of the sinsemilla (skunk) variety…… our results suggest that the potency and frequency of cannabis use may interact in further increasing the risk of psychosis.”

DiForti M, Marconi A, Carra E, Fraietta S, Trotta A, Bonomo M, Bianconi F, Gardner-Sood P, O’Connor J, Russo M, Stilo SA, Marques TR, Mondelli V, Dazzan P, Pariante C, David AS, Gaughran F, Atakan Z, Iyegbe C, Powell J, Morgan C, Lynskey M, Murray RM. Proportion of
patients in south London with first-episode psychosis attributable to use of high potency cannabis: a case-control study. Lancet Psychiatry, online February 18, 2015, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(14)00117-5.
“In the present larger sample analysis, we replicated our previous report and showed that the highest probability to suffer a psychotic disorder is in those who are daily users of high potency cannabis. Indeed, skunk use appears to contribute to 24% of cases of first episode psychosis in south London. Our findings show the importance of raising awareness among young people of the risks associated with the use of high-potency cannabis. The need for such public education is emphasised by the worldwide trend of liberalisation of the legal constraints on cannabis and the fact that high potency varieties are becoming much more widely available.”

For data on percent of those with marijuana-induced psychosis who go on to receive a diagnosis of a schizophrenia spectrum disorder:

Arendt M, Mortensen PB, Rosenberg R, Pedersen CB, Waltoft BL. Familial predisposition for psychiatric disorder: comparison of subjects treated for cannabis-induced psychosis and schizophrenia. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008;65(11):1269-74. http://archpsyc.ama-assn.org/cgi/reprint/65/11/1269
“Approximately half of the subjects who received treatment of a cannabis induced psychosis developed a schizophrenia spectrum disorder within 9 years after treatment…… The risk of schizophrenia after a cannabis-induced psychosis is independent of familial predisposition……. cannabis-induced psychosis may not be a valid diagnosis but an early marker of schizophrenia……. Psychotic symptoms after cannabis
use should be taken extremely seriously.”

Niemi-Pynttäri JA, Sund R, Putkonen H, Vorma H, Wahlbeck K, Pirkola SP. Substance-induced psychoses converting into schizophrenia: a register-based study of 18,478 Finnish inpatient cases. J Clin Psychiatry. 2013 74(1):e94-9.
“Eight-year cumulative risk to receive a schizophrenia spectrum diagnosis was 46% for persons with a diagnosis of cannabis-induced psychosis ….. chances for amphetamine-, hallucinogen-, opioid-, sedative- and alcohol-induced (schizophrenia spectrum diagnoses) were 30%, 24%, 21%, and 5% respectively.”

For cause and effect (which comes first: psychosis or marijuana use):
Arseneault L, Cannon M, Poulton R, Murray R, Caspi A, Moffitt TE, 2002, Cannabis use in
adolescence and risk for adult psychosis: longitudinal prospective study.BMJ. 2002 Nov 23;325(7374):1212-3.
“Firstly, cannabis use is associated with an increased risk of experiencing schizophrenia symptoms, even after psychotic symptoms preceding the onset of cannabis use are controlled for, indicating that cannabis use is not secondary to a pre-existing psychosis. Secondly, early cannabis use (by age 15) confers greater risk for schizophrenia outcomes than later cannabis use (by age 18). Thirdly, risk was specific to cannabis use, as opposed to use of other drugs….”

Henquet C, Krabbendam L, Spauwen J, et al. Prospective cohort study of cannabis use, predisposition for psychosis, and psychotic symptoms in young people. BMJ. 2005;330:11–15. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC539839/pdf/bmj33000011.pdf
“Exposure to cannabis during adolescence and young adulthood increases the risk of psychotic symptoms later in life. Cannabis use at baseline increased the cumulative incidence of psychotic symptoms at follow up four years later…but has a much stronger effect in those with evidence of predisposition for psychosis……….Predisposition for psychosis at baseline did not significantly predict cannabis use four years later..”

and also:

Kuepper R, van Os J, Lieb R, Wittchen HU, Höfler M, Henquet C. Continued cannabis use and risk of incidence and persistence of psychotic symptoms: 10 year follow-up cohort study.BMJ. 2011 Mar 1;342: d738 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3047001/pdf/bmj.d738.pdf
“In individuals who had no reported lifetime psychotic symptoms and no reported lifetime cannabis use at baseline, incident cannabis use over the period from baseline to T2 increased the risk of later incident psychotic symptoms over the period from T2 to T3 (adjusted odds ratio 1.9, 95% confidence interval 1.1 to 3.1; P=0.021)…………There was no evidence for self medication effects, as psychotic experiences at T2 did not predict incident cannabis use between T2 and T3 (0.8, 0.6 to 1.2; P=0.3).”

For data on those who quit using when psychotic symptoms develop (further evidence against self-medication):

Fergusson DM, Horwood LJ, Ridder EM. Tests of causal linkages between cannabis use and psychotic symptoms. Addiction. 2005;100(3):354-66.

For degree of risk relative to other drugs:

Niemi-Pynttäri JA, Sund R, Putkonen H, Vorma H, Wahlbeck K, Pirkola SP. Substance-induced psychoses converting into schizophrenia: a register-based study of 18,478 Finnish inpatient cases. J Clin Psychiatry. 2013 74(1):e94-9.
“Eight-year cumulative risk to receive a schizophrenia spectrum diagnosis was 46% for persons with a diagnosis of cannabis-induced psychosis ….. chances for amphetamine-, hallucinogen-, opioid-, sedative- and alcohol-induced (schizophrenia spectrum diagnoses) were 30%, 24%, 21%, and 5% respectively.”

Smith MJ, Thirthalli J, Abdallah AB, Murray RM, Cottler LB. Prevalence of psychotic symptoms in substance users: a comparison across substances. Compr Psychiatry. 2009 May-Jun;50(3):245-50. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2008.07.009. Epub 2008 Sep 23.
“more than half of the respondents who were dependent on cocaine (80%), cannabis (63.5%), amphetamines (56.1%), and opiates (53.1%) reported psychotic symptoms. Among all users of substances without a diagnosis of abuse or dependence, cannabis users reported the highest prevalence of psychotic symptoms (12.4%)……. There was also a marked increase in the risk for psychotic symptoms when dependence became moderate or severe for cannabis (OR=25.1, OR=26.8; respectively).”

Another angle on the potential confound of self-medication: genetic predisposition for schizophrenia does not predict cannabis use:

Veling W, Mackenbach JP, van Os J, Hoek HW. Cannabis use and genetic predisposition for schizophrenia: a case-control study. Psychol Med. 2008 Sep;38(9):1251-6. Epub 2008 May 19.
“BACKGROUND: Cannabis use may be a risk factor for schizophrenia. RESULTS: Cannabis use predicted schizophrenia [adjusted odds ratio (OR) cases compared to general hospital controls 7.8, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.7-22.6; adjusted OR cases compared to siblings 15.9 (95% CI 1.5-167.1)], but genetic predisposition for schizophrenia did not predict cannabis use [adjusted OR intermediate predisposition
compared to lowest predisposition 1.2 (95% CI 0.4-3.8)].”

For data on potential benefits of cessation:

González-Pinto A, Alberich S, Barbeito S, Gutierrez M, Vega P, Ibáñez B, Haidar MK, Vieta E, Arango C. Cannabis and first-episode psychosis: different long-term outcomes depending on continued or discontinued use. Schizophr Bull. 2011 May;37(3):631-9. Epub 2009 Nov 13. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3080669/pdf/sbp126.pdf
“OBJECTIVE: To examine the influence of cannabis use on long-term outcome in patients with a first psychotic episode, comparing patients who have never used cannabis with (a) those who used cannabis before the first episode but stopped using it during follow-up and (b) those who used cannabis both before the first episode and during follow-up….. CONCLUSION: Cannabis has a deleterious effect, but stopping use after the first psychotic episode contributes to a clear improvement in outcome. The positive effects of stopping cannabis use can be seen more clearly in the long term.”

Kuepper R, van Os J, Lieb R, Wittchen HU, Höfler M, Henquet C. Continued cannabis use and risk of incidence and persistence of psychotic symptoms: 10 year follow-up cohort study.BMJ. 2011 Mar 1;342: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3047001/pdf/bmj.d738.pdf
“The finding that longer exposure to cannabis was associated with greater risk for persistence of psychotic experiences is in line with an earlier study showing that continued cannabis use over time increases the risk for psychosis in a dose-response fashion. This is also in agreement with the hypothesis that a process of sensitisation might underlie emergence and persistence of psychotic experiences as an indicator of liability to psychotic disorder.”

For data on marijuana use resulting in an earlier age of onset of schizophrenia (suggestive of causality), see Dragt et al. and a meta-analysis (see Large et al.,); also: a very extensive (676 schizophrena patients) and therefore more statistically powered analysis (see DeHert paper); two papers showing that the age-of-onset effect may be specific to those without a family history (see Scherr et al. and Leeson et al., papers); two studies that evaluate the age of onset specific to gender (Veen et al. and Compton et al. ) which is important because comparing across genders can be confounded by the greater tendency of males to engage in risky behavior (the conclusions are not the same in terms of gender; the gender distribution was slightly better in the Veen et al. study) and finally, two papers of relevance to specificity of age of onset effect to cannabis, a meta-analysis of published studies on age of onset that shows another drug of abuse (tobacco) is not associated with
a decreased age of onset (Myles et al.) and a study showing that ecstasy, LSD, stimulants, or sedatives did not have an effect to lower age of onset whereas cannabis use did (Barnes et al.) :

Large M, Sharma S, Compton MT, Slade T, Nielssen O. Cannabis Use and Earlier Onset of Psychosis: A Systematic Meta-analysis. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2011 68(6):555-61. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21300939
“The results of meta-analysis provide evidence for a relationship between cannabis use and earlier onset of psychotic illness, and they support the hypothesis that cannabis use plays a causal role in the development of psychosis in some patients. The results suggest the need for renewed warnings about the potentially harmful effects of cannabis.”

Dragt S, Nieman DH, Schultze-Lutter F, van der Meer F, Becker H, de Haan L, Dingemans PM, Birchwood M, Patterson P, Salokangas RK, Heinimaa M, Heinz A, Juckel G, Graf von Reventlow H, French P, Stevens H, Ruhrmann S, Klosterkötter J, Linszen DH; on behalf of the EPOS group.Cannabis use and age at onset of symptoms in subjects at clinical high risk for psychosis. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2011 Aug 29. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0447.2011.01763.x. [Epub ahead of print]
“Cannabis use and age at onset of symptoms in subjects at clinical high risk for psychosis. Objective: Numerous studies have found a robust association between cannabis use and the onset of psychosis. Nevertheless, the relationship between cannabis use and the onset of early (or, in retrospect, prodromal) symptoms of psychosis remains unclear. The study focused on investigating the relationship between cannabis
use and early and high-risk symptoms in subjects at clinical high risk for psychosis. Results: Younger age at onset of cannabis use or a cannabis use disorder was significantly related to younger age at onset of six symptoms (0.33 < r(s) < 0.83, 0.004 < P < 0.001). Onset of cannabis use preceded symptoms in most participants. Conclusion: Our results provide support that cannabis use plays an important role in the development of psychosis in vulnerable individuals.”

De Hert M, Wampers M, Jendricko T, Franic T, Vidovic D, De Vriendt N, Sweers K, Peuskens J, van Winkel R.Effects of cannabis use on age at onset in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Schizophr Res. 2011 Mar;126(1-3):270-6.

“BACKGROUND: Cannabis use may decrease age at onset in both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, given the evidence for substantial phenotypic and genetic overlap between both disorders….RESULTS:… Both cannabis use and a schizophrenia diagnosis predicted earlier age at onset. There was a significant interaction between cannabis use and diagnosis, cannabis having a greater effect in bipolar patients….DISCUSSION:…. Our results suggest that cannabis use is associated with a reduction in age at onset in both schizophrenic and bipolar patients. This reduction seems more pronounced in the bipolar group than in the schizophrenia group: the use of cannabis reduced age at onset by on average 8.9 years in the bipolar group, as compared to an average predicted reduction of 1.5 years in the schizophrenia group.”

Scherr M, Hamann M, Schwerthöffer D, Froböse T, Vukovich R, Pit schel-Walz G, Bäuml J.. Environmental risk factors and their impact on the age of onset of schizophrenia: Comparing familial to non-familial schizophrenia. Nord J Psychiatry. 2011 Aug 31. [Epub ahead of print]
“Background and aims: Several risk factors for schizophrenia have yet been identified. The aim of our study was to investigate how certain childhood and adolescent risk factors predict the age of onset of psychosis in patients with and without a familial component (i.e. a relative with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder). Results: Birth complications and cannabis abuse are predictors for an earlier onset of schizophrenia in patients with non-familial schizophrenia. No environmental risk factors for an earlier age of onset in familial schizophrenia have been identified.”

Leeson VC, Harrison I, Ron MA, Barnes TR, Joyce EM. The Effect of Cannabis Use and Cognitive Reserve on Age at Onset and Psychosis Outcomes in First-Episode Schizophrenia. Schizophr Bull. 2011 Mar 9. [Epub ahead of print] http://schizophreniabulletin.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/03/09/schbul.sbq153.full.pdf+html
“Objective: Cannabis use is associated with a younger age at onset of psychosis, an indicator of poor prognosis, but better cognitive function, a positive prognostic indicator. We aimed to clarify the role of age at onset and cognition on outcomes in cannabis users with first-episode schizophrenia as well as the effect of cannabis dose and cessation of use……Conclusions: Cannabis use brings forward the onset of psychosis in people who otherwise have good prognostic features indicating that an early age at onset can be due to a toxic action of cannabis rather than an intrinsically more severe illness. Many patients abstain over time, but in those who persist, psychosis is more difficult to treat.”

Veen ND, Selten JP, van der Tweel I, Feller WG, Hoek HW, Kahn RS. Cannabis use and age at onset of schizophrenia. Am J Psychiatry. 2004 Mar;161(3):501-6. http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/reprint/161/3/501
“The results indicate a strong association between use of cannabis and earlier age at first psychotic episode in male schizophrenia patients.”

Compton MT, Kelley ME, Ramsay CE, Pringle M, Goulding SM, Esterberg ML, Stewart T, Walker EF. Association of pre-onset cannabis, alcohol, and tobacco use with age at onset of prodrome and age at onset of psychosis in first-episode patients. Am J Psychiatry. 2009 Nov;166(11):1251-7. Epub 2009 Oct 1. http://ajp.psychiatryonlie.org/cgi/reprint/166/11/1251
“Whereas classifying participants according to maximum frequency of use prior to onset (none, ever, weekly, or daily) revealed no significant effects of cannabis or tobacco use on risk of (editor’s note: “timing of”) onset, analysis of change in frequency of use prior to
onset indicated that progression to daily cannabis and tobacco use was associated with an increased risk of onset of psychotic symptoms. Similar or even stronger effects were observed when onset of illness or prodromal symptoms was the outcome. A gender-by-daily-cannabis use interaction was observed; progression to daily use resulted in a much larger increased relative risk of onset of psychosis in females than in males.”

Myles N, Newall H, Compton MT, Curtis J, Nielssen O, Large M. The age at onset of psychosis and tobacco use: a systematic meta-analysis. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2011 Sep 8. [Epub ahead of print]
“Unlike cannabis use, tobacco use is not associated with an earlier onset of psychosis.”

Barnes TR, Mutsatsa SH, Hutton SB, Watt HC, Joyce EM. Comorbid substance use and age at onset of schizophrenia. Br J Psychiatry. 2006 Mar;188:237-42. http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/188/3/237.full.pdf+html
“Alcohol misuse and any substance use (other than cannabis use) were not significant in relation to age at onset….. those patients in the sample who reported that they had used cannabis had an earlier age at onset of psychosis than other patients who did not report cannabis use but who shared the same profile with regard to the other variables (e.g. comparing men who reported alcohol misuse and use of both cannabis and other drugs with men who had the same characteristics apart from the fact that they had not used cannabis).”

Data from other cultures

Sarkar J, Murthy P, Singh SP. Psychiatric morbidity of cannabis abuse. Indian J Psychiatry. 2003 Jul;45(3):182-8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2952166/pdf/IJPsy-45-182.pdf
“The paper evaluates the hypothesis that cannabis abuse is associated with a broad range of psychiatric disorders in India, an area with relatively high prevalence of cannabis use. Retrospective case-note review of all cases with cannabis related diagnosis over a 11 -year period, for subjects presenting to a tertiary psychiatric hospital in southern India was carried out. Information pertaining to sociodemographic, personal, social, substance-use related, psychiatric and treatment histories, was gathered. Standardized diagnoses were made according to Diagnostic Criteria for Research of the World Health Organization, on the basis of information available.Cannabis abuse is associated with
widespread psychiatric morbidity that spans the major categories of mental disorders under the ICD-10 system, although proportion of patients with psychotic disorders far outweighed those with non-psychotic disorders. Whilst paranoid psychoses were more prevalent, a significant number of patients with affective psychoses, particularly mania, was also noted.”

Rodrigo C, Welgama S, Gunawardana A, Maithripala C, Jayananda G, Rajapakse S. A retrospective analysis of cannabis use in a cohort of mentally ill patients in Sri Lanka and its implications on policy development. Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy. 2010 Jul 8;5:16. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2910013/pdf/1747-597X-5-16.pdf
”BACKGROUND: Several epidemiological studies have shown that cannabis; the most widely used illegal drug in the world, is associated with schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSD)……. CONCLUSIONS: Self reported LTC (editor’s note: life time cannabis) use was strongly associated with being diagnosed with SSD (editor’s note: schizophrenia spectrum disorders”.

Population study showing change in incidence rate in young when drug laws are eased

Ajdacic-Gross V, Lauber C, Warnke I, Haker H, Murray RM, Rössler W. Changing incidence of psychotic disorders among the young in Zurich. Schizophr Res. 2007 Sep;95(1-3):9-18. Epub 2007 Jul 16.
“There is controversy over whether the incidence rates of schizophrenia and psychotic disorders have changed in recent decades. To detect deviations from trends in incidence, we analysed admission data of patients with an ICD-8/9/10 diagnosis of psychotic disorders in the Canton Zurich / Switzerland, for the period 1977-2005. The data was derived from the central psychiatric register of the Canton Zurich. Ex-post forecasting with ARIMA (Autoregressive Integrated Moving Average) models was used to assess departures from existing trends. In addition, age-period-cohort analysis was applied to determine hidden birth cohort effects. First admission rates of patients with psychotic
disorders were constant in men and showed a downward trend in women. However, the rates in the youngest age groups showed a strong increase in the second half of the 1990’s. The trend reversal among the youngest age groups coincides with the increased
use of cannabis among young Swiss in the 1990’s.”

Estimates of how many men aged 20-40 would have to avoid regular marijuana use for one year in order to prevent one case of schizophrenia in that same year (but for number relevant to a 20 year avoidance of schizophrenia by avoiding regular marijuana use during
20 years, divide by 20):

Hickman M, Vickerman P, Macleod J, Lewis G, Zammit S, Kirkbride J, Jones P. If cannabis caused schizophrenia–how many cannabis users may need to be prevented in order to prevent one case of schizophrenia? England and Wales calculations. Addiction. 2009;104(11):1856-61.

“In men the annual mean NNP (number needed to prevent) for heavy cannabis and schizophrenia ranged from 2800 [90% confidence interval (CI) 2018–4530] in those aged 20–24 years to 4700 (90% CI 3114–8416) in those aged 35–39”.

Key studies interpreted to diminish the connection between marijuana and schizophrenia:

Proal AC, Fleming J, Galvez-Buccollini JA, Delisi LE. A controlled family study of cannabis users with and without psychosis. Schizophr Res. 2014 Jan;152(1):283-8.
“The results of the current study, both when analyzed using morbid risk and family frequency calculations, suggest that having an increased familial risk for schizophrenia is the underlying basis for schizophrenia in these samples and not the cannabis use. While cannabismay have an effect on theage of onset of schizophrenia it is unlikely to be the cause of illness.”

Rebuttal: Miller CL. Caution urged in interpreting a negative study of cannabis use and schizophrenia. Schizophr Res. 2014 Apr;154(1-3):119-20.
“The morbid risk reported for the relatives of the non-cannabis-using patients (Sample 3) was actually 1.4-fold higher than the cannabis using patients (Sample 4), but the study did not have enough power to statistically confirm or refute a less than 2-fold difference. An increase in sample size would be required to do so, and if the observed difference were to be confirmed, it would explain not only why the Sample 4 data fits poorly with a multigene/small environmental impact model but also would give weight to the premise that cannabis use significantly contributes to the development of this disease.”

Power RA, Verweij KJ, Zuhair M, Montgomery GW, Henders AK, Heath AC, Madden PA, Medland SE, Wray NR, Martin NG. Genetic predisposition to schizophrenia associated with increased use of cannabis. Mol Psychiatry. 2014 Jun 24. doi: 10.1038/mp.2014.51. [Epub ahead of print] http://emilkirkegaard.dk/en/wp-content/uploads/Genetic%20predisposition%20to%20schizophrenia%20associated%20with%20increased%20use%20of%20cannabis.pdf
“Our results show that to some extent the association between cannabis and schizophrenia is due to a shared genetic aetiology across common variants. They suggest that individuals with an increased genetic predisposition to schizophrenia are
both more likely to use cannabis and to use it in greater quantities.”

Rebuttal: Had this paper been titled “The causal genes for schizophrenia have been discovered” it would never have been published. In the absence of a consistent finding of genes of major effect size for schizophrenia, this study of inconsistently associated genes of low effect size is meaningless.

Buchy L, Perkins D, Woods SW, Liu L, Addington J. Impact of substance use on conversion to psychosis in youth at clinical high risk of psychosis. Schizophrenia Res 156 (2-3): 277–280.
“Results revealed that low use of alcohol, but neither cannabis use nor tobacco use at baseline, contributed to the prediction of psychosis in the CHR sample”.
Rebuttal: The study was small in size and the age range of their subjects at study onset was large (12 to 31) which included both subjects that had not reached the peak age of risk for schizophrenia even by the end of the study as well as subjects who were well past the peak age of onset of schizophrenia. The fact that the study screened out psychotic individuals was problematic for the latter group, in that those who were most vulnerable to the psychosis inducing effects of cannabis would already have converted to psychosis by that age.

Overview of Key Public Health Issues Regarding the Mental Health Effects of Marijuana

For the monetary cost of schizophrenia to the U.S. annually ($63 billion in 2002 dollars):

Wu EQ, Birnbaum HG, Shi L, Ball DE, Kessler RC, Moulis M, Aggarwal J. The economic burden of schizophrenia in the United States in 2002. J Clin Psychiatry. 2005 Sep;66(9):1122-9.

For the trends in adolescent drug, alcohol and cigarette use, showing an upward tick in marijuana use as medical marijuana has become more prevalent, and that the mind-altering drug legal for adults (alcohol) is still more commonly used by teens than is marijuana:

Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2012). Monitoring the Future national results on adolescent drug use: Overview of key findings, 2011. Ann Arbor, MI: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan.

For a summary of Sweden’s drug law experience:
Hallam C., 2010, Briefing paper 20, The Beckley Foundation: What Can We Learn from Sweden’s Drug Policy Experience? www.beckleyfoundation.org/pdf/BriefingPaper_20.pdf
“in the case of Sweden, the clear association between a restrictive drug policy and low levels of drug use is striking. In his foreword to the article on Sweden’s Successful Drug Policy, Antonio Maria Costa is frank enough to confess that, “It is my firm belief that the generally positive situation of Sweden is a result of the policy that has been applied to address the problem”.

For data showing the relationship between drug enforcement policies in Europe and drug use, such that Sweden has a zero tolerance policy on drugs and has one of the lowest rates of “last month use” in Europe (1%), 4-fold lower than the Netherlands and 7-fold lower than Spain and Italy, two countries that have liberalized their enforcement policies so that marijuana possession carries no substantive penalty.

European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addiction, 2012 Annual report
http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/attachements.cfm/att_190854_EN_TDAC12001ENC_.pdf

Source: Microsoft Word – 2015- Summary of literature on marijuana and psychosis.doc (momsstrong.org) January 2016

Police forces in the province collected 795 blood samples from motorists suspected of driving while under the influence.

One year after the legalization of recreational use of cannabis in Canada, the black market for the drug — as well as its use behind the wheel — continues to keep Quebec police forces busy.

In 2018, police collected 795 blood samples from motorists suspected of driving while under the influence, and sent them to Quebec’s medical legal centre for processing. That’s 254 more than in the previous year.

The presence of cannabis was detected in 46 per cent of those cases.

The Sûreté du Québec says cannabis is the most commonly detected drug in its traffic stops.

The provincial force said that since legalization, cannabis was detected in the systems of 113 persons pulled over for impaired driving, compared with 73 cases a year earlier — an increase of 54 per cent.

More than 670 officers trained in drug use evaluation have been deployed across the province.

In a statement issued Thursday detailing its operations over the past year, the SQ said it had opened 1,409 investigations into the illegal production, supply and distribution of cannabis, which led to 1,458 warrants being executed and charges filed against 1,403 individuals.

Meanwhile, raids on illegal outdoor cannabis fields were carried out in August and September, and saw 37,000 plants seized.

Over the past year, the SQ seized 71,500 cannabis plants, 161 kilograms of cannabis, 15.8 kilograms of cannabis oil and resin, 23,460 units of edible cannabis and $180,000 in cash.

Source:  https://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/quebec-pot-arrests-behind-the-wheel-up-54-since-legalization October 2019

30 July 2019

I had forgotten how much I disliked cannabis until I found myself under its influence, in the rain, trying and failing to find Toronto’s Union Train Station so I could get to the airport and go home. The plan had been to enhance my mood for a long journey, floating back to the UK in a higher state of consciousness. In practice, I just got confused, wet and was lucky to make my flight.

I had intended to purchase the kind of low-THC, high-CBD weed that disappeared from Britain’s black market when skunk took over in the 1990s. Put simply, THC is the psychoactive component that gets you high but is associated with psychosis, while CBD is the antipsychotic component that gave cannabis its natural balance before it was bred out of the plant by drug dealers. Alas, laziness prevailed and I settled for a ready-rolled joint which my vendor candidly admitted was made up of scrapings from whatever they’d been chopping up that day.

In truth, the spliff had been bought on the ‘when in Rome’ principle. Recreational cannabis has been legal in Canada since last October and I was on a fact-finding trip with a BBC film crew and a cross-party group of MPs, including Norman Lamb, David Lammy and Jonathan Djanogly. In a few months time, Illinois will become the eleventh US state to legalise recreational marijuana. With the dominos falling, it is only a matter of time before a European country, possibly Britain, follows suit. We were there to see how it works.

Only two of us sampled the product. Norman Lamb received a knighthood for his work on mental health while we were there and marked the occasion by becoming the first British politician to be filmed buying and taking cannabis. I wish I could claim that it was a wild party, but the truth is more mundane. Struggling with jet lag and keen to get a decent night’s sleep, he tried a little cannabis oil. I am told the results were satisfactory.

Being male, middle-aged and more or less law-abiding, Sir Norman and I are demographically just the kind of chaps to dabble in the legal marijuana market. More people are consuming cannabis in Canada since it was legalised, with prevalence rising from 14 per cent to 18 per cent in the last year. In the first quarter of 2019, 646,000 people, most of them men and half of them aged over 45, tried cannabis for the first time. The most common reason given by these debutants for buying cannabis on the legal market is ‘quality and safety’. It is not so much that the law was an effective deterrent – everybody knew the police barely enforced it – rather that would-be consumers were put off by the idea of buying an unregulated product from a criminal supply chain.

The problem is that there are more than four million Canadians who are used to buying on the black market and have been given little incentive to stop. An illicit cannabis market that was worth $1,289 million in the last full quarter before legalisation was still worth $1,014 million in the first quarter of this year. The legal, recreational market was worth a mere £377 million. The illicit trade is proving hard to shake off.

Everyone I spoke to in Ontario was eager to point out that these are early days. Canada is only the second country to legalise cannabis (after Uruguay) and there were bound to be teething problems. There is a temporary shortage of both cannabis and shops from which to buy it. Toronto, a city of three million souls, has just four recreational cannabis shops. Nevertheless, the primary goal of legalisation was to take out the criminal element and so it is concerning that most of the country’s weed continues to be sourced on the black market.

Things are unlikely to improve until prices fall. The average gram of cannabis on the street costs $6.37. The average gram in a shop costs $9.99. Casual smokers might be prepared to pay ten bucks for government-approved cannabis, but the costs of switching to the legal market start to add up if you’re one of the two million Canadians who consume the drug at least once a week.

Marijuana is being produced on a truly industrial scale in Canada. Factories are turning seeds into six foot plants in a matter of weeks. The legal product could easily be sold cheaper than its illicit competitors, but over-regulation, taxation and a lack of competition have got in the way. Politicians hoped to smash the black market while regulating the product in such a way that it would not attract new punters. These two goals were never easy to reconcile, and neither has been achieved. High prices, plain packaging and restrictive licensing conditions have deterred long-term users from switching to the legal market while new customers have given it a try anyway.

Everything about Toronto’s cannabis shops feels regulated to the last inch. Browsing their shelves gave me a fresh appreciation for the subtle nudges of consumer capitalism. With logos and colours stripped from the packaging, there is nothing to signal quality, economy or potency; nothing to remember. The windows are blacked out. Edible and vaped cannabis cannot be sold. Small quantities of marijuana are held in over-sized plastic tubs, apparently to provide enough room for large yellow warning labels. The only concession to branding is that some of the tubs are white and some are black.

It all amounts to a concerted effort to suck the fun out of cannabis shopping, which makes sense if your aim is to deter people from buying the stuff, but not if your aim is to switch people from street cannabis to high street cannabis.

On an Indian reservation outside Toronto things could not be more different. Here, in a settlement of 4,100 people, there are no fewer than nineteen cannabis shops. Although it is illegal for visitors to take their shopping off-site, the authorities turn a blind eye to it as part of their efforts to atone for historic wrongs done to the indigenous population. As far as the proprietors are concerned, the unique selling point is their organic, homegrown product which they have reverse-engineered into the Indian way of life, but the real difference between these shops and their state-sanctioned counterparts is variety, low prices and an unabashed pride in selling something that is pleasurable.

All the weed sold here is unlicensed and therefore technically illicit, but when we visited, eight months after federal legalisation, it was doing good business. Until the Canadian government loosens up and allows a little more consumerism into its noble experiment, neither they nor the rest of the unlicensed sector have much to fear.

Source: Christopher Snowdon Spectator Magazine July 2019

INTRODUCTION

In 2013, Uruguay became the first country in fully regulating the marijuana market that now operates under state control.

In a Washington Post feature article on Uruguay’s cannabis laws, they reported that Uruguay is socially liberal and has a wide separation of church and state. Gambling and prostitution are legal and regulated. Uruguay is also the only Latin American nation outside Cuba that has broadly legalised abortion, and it was one of the first to recognize civil unions and adoption by same-sex couples. Uruguay also is accustomed to relatively high levels of regulation and a big state role in the economy, with an array of government-owned banks, gas stations and utilities. Over the years, activists began to argue: Why not weed?

As early as 1974, Uruguay decriminalised possession of “a minimum quantity [of illicit substances], intended solely for personal use.” Exactly what constituted a “minimum quantity” was never clarified, giving judges broad discretion in its interpretation.

The initiative of marijuana regulation was by the then president José Mujica. Lawmakers in Uruguay (population: 3.3m) signed the country’s cannabis bill into law in December 2013 and pharmacies began selling two strains of legal marijuana cultivated by two government-authorised firms in July 2017.

The text of the law expresses its goals through three main objectives, which included reducing drug trafficking-related violence by taking cannabis off the black market, and promoting public health through education and prevention campaigns, thereby “minimising the risks and reducing the harm of cannabis use”.

Uruguay was the first country to leave behind the global ban on non-medical cannabis that began with the United Nations’ 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and despite repeated criticisms from the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), as in the Board’s report for 2016, which states:

The Board notes the continued implementation by the Government of Uruguay of measures aimed at creating a regulated market for the non-medical use of cannabis… [T]he Board wishes to reiterate its position that such legislation is contrary to the provisions of the international drug control conventions… according to which States parties are obliged to ‘limit exclusively to medical and scientific purposes the production, manufacture, export, import, distribution of, trade in, use and possession of drugs.’

Concerned that their policy would come under intense scrutiny from their neighbours and from the broader international community, Uruguayan authorities deliberately opted for a strict approach to regulation, such as a user registry and monthly sales limits.

In an attempt to reassure the international public opinion, President José Mujica, said that his government would not allow unlimited use of marijuana and illicit drug dealing: “And if somebody buys 20 marijuana cigarettes, he will have to smoke them. He won’t be able to sell them“.

And in order to convince the majority of the Uruguayan population, the President Mujica promised to launch at the same time “a campaign aimed at young people on how to consume marijuana. Avoid, for example, to smoke to not damage the lungs but inhale or consume it with food“.

In response to public opposition, the Open Society Foundation headed by the financier George Soros announced the launch of a massive media campaign across the nation to manipulate the public consensus. Time magazine (5 Aug 2013) reported that “a massive media campaign, with television ads funded partly by Soros’ Open Society Foundations group, were required to convince opponents of legalisation”.

STATE CONTROL – HOW IT WORKS

There are three ways to legally obtain cannabis in Uruguay. The first alternative is autocultivo, which allows individuals to grow up to six marijuana plants per household and yield an annual crop of 480 grams per year, or 40 grams per month. All individuals must register with the government agency for the regulation and control of cannabis—called the Instituto de Regulación y Control de Cannabis (Cannabis Regulation and Control Institute) to grow these plants in their home and no person may register more than one location for domestic growth. The second alternative is the Cannabis Club, which allows between 15 to 45 members of a duly-registered civil association to farm up to 99 marijuana plants in specific locations. Each club may not supply any individual with more than 480 grams of marijuana per year. The third alternative is sale through pharmacies. This alternative will allow a registered consumer to buy up to 40 grams of marijuana per month and 480 per year in person from pharmacies that are registered with the IRCCA and the Ministry of Public Health. On July 19, 2017, Uruguay launched the last remaining stage of the cannabis law, with sales finally beginning in 16 pharmacies across the country.

PUBLIC DISAPPROVAL

Public opinion surveys have consistently shown most Uruguayans to be doubtful about the government’s initiative.

According to the results of the 2014 AmericasBarometer survey in Uruguay, only 34% of Uruguayans approved the new regulations regarding the liberalization of marijuana use, while 60.7% showed their disapproval to the new policies. Perhaps not surprisingly, approval for the new regulation of cannabis is closely related to previous personal experimentation with marijuana and a history of marijuana consumption among relatives and close friends.

PUBLIC SKEPTICISM

As of 2014, most Uruguayans remained skeptical about the benefits the new regulation will bring. For instance, 42% of Uruguayans considered that the general situation of the country would worsen as a result of regulation, while only 19% believed that the situation would improve. Among the most negative opinions expressed, 70% of Uruguayans stated that public safety and public health conditions would either worsen or remain the same. The issue that seemed to generate the most positive opinions was related to the fight against drug trafficking organisations.

Source: https://www.vanderbilt.edu/lapop/insights/ITB020en.pdf

PUBLIC USAGE

In 20015.3% of the population admitted to having consumed marijuana.

By 2014, life prevalence had quadrupled with 22.1% of Uruguayans acknowledging some consumption.

Since Uruguay legalised the sale of marijuana, underage use increased from 14% to 21%. Use by those aged 19 to 24 increased from 23% to 36% Those aged 25 to 34 increased from 15% to 25%.

Source: https://wdr.unodc.org/wdr2019/prelaunch/WDR19_Booklet_5_CANNABIS_HALLUCINOGENS.pdf

TEENS

Prevalence doubled among secondary school students from 2003 to 2014. In 20038.4% of students had consumed marijuana during the previous twelve months. in 201417% had.

Almost a quarter of the high-frequency users of Montevideo had their first experience with marijuana before age turning 15 (24.1%).

Prevalence is also higher among 18-25 year-olds than other age categories.

NON-COMPLIANCE

As at February 2018, 8,125 individuals and 78 cannabis clubs with a total of 2,049 members were registered in addition to the 20,900 people registered through pharmacy sales for cannabis. The system potentially provides cannabis to around 30,000 of the 140,000 past-month cannabis users estimated in Uruguay in 2014.

A recent survey found that almost 40% said they would probably or definitely flout the law which requires registration. (19.6% state that it is not probable that they will register, and another 19.6% said that they are certain that they will not register.)

MONITORING AND EVALUATION

A 2018 Brookings Institute report details how the Ministerio de Salud Pública is required to submit an annual report on the impacts of the legalization since 2014 – but the ministry has only submitted such a report once, in 2016, and the findings were not made public.

According to a report by WOLA (funded by Open Society Foundations – aka George Soros) and posted on the Monitor Cannabis Uruguay site, in spite of President Vázquez’s support for monitoring and evaluation, his administration has provided the public with relatively little in the way of hard data on the early effects of initial implementation of the cannabis measure.

The IRCCA’s limited staff – it has a team of six inspectors who are responsible for ensuring compliance – does not realistically allow the institute to check the annual plant yields for all 8,000+ homegrowers and approximately 80 registered clubs.

 PRODUCTS

A recent study of marijuana consumers in Montevideo found that users had consumed it in several different ways during the past year, including vaporizers (15.7%), edibles, such as brownies, cakes, cookies (26.4%), and drinks, such as mate, milkshakes, daiquiris (9.4%).

PERCEPTION OF RISK

The study of marijuana consumers in Montevideo also found that users had a very low perception of risk associated with undertaking several activities while under the influence of marijuana. For instance: 21.4% of respondents drove a car under the influence of marijuana; 28.4% rode a motorcycle; 11.2% operated heavy equipment. More than half of the respondents (55.4%) declared that they consumed marijuana and went to work before four hours had passed.

More than one in every four of those women who were pregnant (26.1%) reported to having continued consuming marijuana while pregnant.

BLACK MARKET

Three years after legalisation, seven out of every ten cannabis consumers still acquire the product on the black market. Authorities admit that “street selling points have multiplied in recent years, along with criminal acts related to micro trafficking.”

Marcos Baudeán, a member of the study group Monitor Cannabis Uruguay, suggests it may be worse than that: “Consider the fact that there are 55,000 regular consumers who are responsible for 80% of the marijuana consumption in the country, but currently only 10% are consuming from the legal market, the rest are buying the drug off the illegal market.”

Others have pointed to the very low concentration of THC in the legal drug as another reason why some users may turn to the black market. Though the price may be higher — a gram of high-potency illegal marijuana can cost as much as $20— some users may be willing to pay this premium in exchange for access to a more powerful drug.

Because sales to tourists are prohibited, some Uruguayan homegrowers and clubs have attempted to get around the ban by offering ‘cannabis tours’, which are framed more as social and educational experiences, in which participants are free to sample cannabis while on a paid tour. Others simply sell directly to tourists behind closed doors, a grey market quietly operating via word of mouth.

FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS

An unexpected consequence of Uruguay’s marijuana law is that the U.S. government invoked the Patriot Act which prohibits U.S. banks from handling funds for distributors of marijuana.  In Uruguay, this is by way of the pharmacies only.  International banks – both those with U.S. headquarters such as Citibank and European banks such as Santander have advised their Uruguayan branches that they are prohibited from providing services to the distributors of marijuana.

As a result, pharmacies tasked with the sale and distribution of marijuana have been cut off from the entire financial services market because the banks in Uruguay announced that every business associated with the newly legal marijuana industry risked being in violation of the U.S. drug laws and would lose their access to U.S. banks and dollar transactions.

SUMMARY

What we have learned from the data so far indicates that frequency of consumption has significantly increased, especially in the 15-24 age group. The perception of risk with drug use is low, and risky behaviours have increased with the frequency of consumption, including use of marijuana during pregnancy. The black market is alive and well. And the overwhelming support for the regulation among high-frequency marijuana users does not immediately translate into willingness to comply with it. Of most concern is that monitoring and reporting of the effects of legalisation is minimal, and not made public.

The drug-friendly website CannabisWire in July 2018 summed it up perfectly. “What Have We Learned From the First Nation to Legalize Cannabis? Not Enough.”

Source: Uruguay – Say Nope to Dope 2019

Abstract:

Background: The relationship between cannabis and violence remains unclear, especially amid those with severe mental illnesses (SMI). The objective of this meta-analysis was to investigate the cannabis-violence association in a population of individuals with a SMI.

Method: A systematic search of literature using PubMed, PsychINFO, Web of Science and Google scholar was performed (any time-August 2018). All peer-reviewed publications assessing both cannabis use and the perpetration of violence in an SMI sample were included. Data on several key study characteristics such as the proportion of SMI in the sample as well as the number of cannabis users and violent participants were extracted. Odds ratios (OR) were likewise extracted and aggregated with random-effects models.

Results: Of the potential 2449 articles that were screened for eligibility, 12 studies were analyzed using a random-effect meta-analysis. Results showed a moderate association between cannabis use and violence (OR = 3.02, CI = 2.01–4.54, p = 0.0001). The association was significantly higher when comparing cannabis misuse (OR = 5.8, CI = 3.27–10.28, p = 0.0001) to cannabis use (OR = 2.04, CI = 1.36–3.05, p = 0.001).

Conclusion: These findings are clinically relevant for violence prevention/management and highlight the necessity of further investigations with methodologically-sound studies. Thus, longitudinal studies adjusting for important confounding factors (i.e., psychopathic traits and stimulant use) are warranted

Source: Cannabis use and violence in patients with severe mental illnesses: A meta-analytical investigation – PubMed (nih.gov) April 2019

 

(Image Credit: 7raysmarketing via Pixabay)

Contrary to advocates’ promises, legalizing pot has spurred new illegal enterprises. https://t.co/1k9twTCrmg via @cjstevempic.twitter.com/VKND92hjl5

— City Journal (@CityJournal) June 12, 2019

Unintended consequences of legislation are more commonplace than they should be, but minimizing them would require more nuanced political debate and that option has probably left us forever.

A new article in City Journal details just how legal marijuana is the gateway drug to illegal marijuana enterprises:

Though advocates claim that one of the benefits of  legalizing recreational marijuana is that the black market will disappear and thus end the destructive war on drugs, the opposite is happening. States that have legalized pot have some of the most thriving black markets, creating new headaches for law enforcement and prompting some legalization advocates to call for a crackdown—in effect, a new war on drugs.

Unlicensed pot businesses have already become a problem for Los Angeles just a year and a half after legalization. The city is devoting police resources that are already stretched thin to address the situation.

City Journal notes that it’s not just mom and pop scofflaws that are problematic:

Legal-pot states are attracting international criminal cartels. Mexican drug gangs have smuggled illegals into Colorado to set up growing operations, former U.S. prosecutor Bob Troyer  wrote last September, explaining why his office was stepping up enforcement. Rather than smuggle pot from Mexico, the cartels grow it in Colorado and smuggle it elsewhere—spurring violence. In 2017, seven homicides in Denver were directly connected to marijuana growers. “I would love to be able to shift some of my resources away from marijuana to other things,” Denver lieutenant Andrew Howard said last year. “But right now, the violence is marijuana or marijuana-related.”

More cartel violence and more illegal immigration…yay legal weed!

I’m no anti-pot Puritan, but I am on record as always having been frustrated by the discussions surrounding legalization efforts. They are rarely in-depth and mostly focus on marijuana’s medicinal uses. It is often portrayed as harmless, which is nonsensical. It’s not heroin, but it’s also not baby aspirin.

What were almost never discussed pre-Colorado were the consequences of legalizing a black market drug. It’s a bit naive to think that the major players from the black market would flee into the shadows once their commodity became legit.

Cartels may be illegal enterprises, but they are still businesses. They can adapt to changing markets. It would appear they are also adept at outreach:

Legal-marijuana businesses are getting in on the game, too. Last year, Denver authorities arrested the owners of a licensed chain of pot shops that employed 350 people for supplying the black market. In January, three owners of the business  pled guilty to drug and racketeering charges. In Oregon, federal prosecutors  arrested six individuals in 2018 and charged them with “vast” interstate-trafficking schemes that supplied black-market pot to Texas, Virginia, and Florida. Some of the suspects were also charged with kidnapping, money-laundering, and use of a firearm in a drug-trafficking crime.

So much for the harmless stoner sales pitch.

None of this is surprising for advocates of smaller government. Legalization and regulation were supposed to make the marijuana black market and its problems go away. Instead, as the City Journal conclusion observes, it’s merely created “Black Market 2.0.”

High times indeed.

Source:  https://pjmedia.com/trending/legal-marijuana-a-boon-to-illegal-cartels/  June 2019

Hemp plants are visible inside several structures on Sept. 16, 2020, in Shiprock, New Mexico.

NOEL LYN SMITH/THE FARMINGTON DAILY TIMES USA TODAY NETWORK – NEW MEXICO

Leaders on the Navajo Nation have cracked down on one of its members who they say has used immigrant labor to transform 400 acres of crop land into hemp farms in the reservation’s northeastern corner.

The crops — illegal under Navajo law — have pitted residents and reservation officials against entrepreneur Dineh Benally, who has formed a partnership with a Las Vegas company that says it develops hemp and cannabis businesses on Native American lands.

Navajo Nation leaders took Benally to court and got an initial victory last week: District of Shiprock Judge Genevieve Woody granted a temporary restraining order halting the hemp farming.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said the order grants tribal law enforcement officers’ authority to stop hemp production. Navajo Nation police have begun asking some workers on the hemp farms — people law enforcement officials claim are immigrant workers from Asia — to leave tribal land.  

The ruling appears to provide a brief break in the dispute that came to a head this summer over the legality of Benally’s operation, which he claims has also provided employment for more than 200 members of the tribal nation.

The hemp farms are located around Shiprock on the Navajo Nation, which encompasses northeastern Arizona, northwest New Mexico and a sliver of southeastern Utah. 

The farms have prompted protests and allegations that Benally is illegally growing marijuana under the guise of a hemp farm with the help of foreign nationals. 

Both crops are illegal on tribal land. “The hemp will not stay here,” Nez said. 

A few hundred Navajo tribal members also work on the farms, officials say.

The battle over the farms has resulted in protests and last week’s showdown in the District Court of the Navajo Nation Judicial District of Shiprock.

“We strongly urge everyone to respect the ruling of the court and move forward peacefully to ensure the safety of community members, police officers and everyone in the impacted area,” Nez said after the hearing.

Benally said in a statement that he was disappointed by the court’s decision, saying it will have a “chilling effect” on Navajo business and economic development.

But residents like Beatrice Redfeather, 75, said the hemp farms have made her fear opening her front door.

“I see marijuana plants. I see a bunch of foreign workers, armed security guards. I see a security patrol 32 feet from my front door,” Redfeather said during a court hearing last week. “Those security guards have made it known they will attack, and they have shown their guns to our family. We are mentally afraid to walk outside … The smell of marijuana is so strong that I have had to go to the hospital because of my severe headaches.”

In an investigation published Wednesday by Searchlight New Mexico, people who said they had worked on the farms described growing marijuana, and said some people who worked there were teenagers or younger. 

Legal marijuana: Pros and cons

An attorney for Benally says his client is growing hemp, a less potent form of cannabis. Products made from it are commonly used and sold across the United States at major supermarkets and convenience stores. 

Benally argued in court filings that the 2018 Farm Bill, signed into law by President Donald Trump, allows him to grow hemp on reservation land. 

But tribal leaders say harvesting both hemp and marijuana is illegal on the Navajo Nation — except for a government-backed pilot project.  Navajo law, however, has no penalty for growing hemp, Nez said, so the nation took Benally to court. 

Navajo Nation Attorney General Doreen McPaul filed a lawsuit against Benally in June, charging Benally and his company of illegally growing industrial hemp and unlawfully issuing land use permits.

Nez said tribal leaders believe the potency of Benally’s crops is well above the federal threshold that defines hemp as no more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol. or THC, the main active ingredient of cannabis. 

Regardless, the controversy has prompted heated skirmishes in recent months.

Benally has hired guards who patrol the farms wearing bulletproof vests and body cameras, according to court testimony that claimed arsonists torched at least one farm. Benally’s top security officer, Duane Billey, said in court that protesters have attacked him, but his force doesn’t carry guns. Locals say otherwise.

Officials also are critical of the use of what they believe are Asian migrants who have come to the reservation during a global pandemic and camped on the farms, where they work in greenhouses. 

Sonya Sengthong, a Glendale resident whose family lives near Shiprock, said relatives have told her vans and sport utility vehicles with California and Texas license plates continually drop off what she believes are workers for the farms.

The volcanic spire, seen from town in New Mexico.

MEGAN FINNERTY/THE REPUBLIC

“We are concerned some of these visitors may be mistreating our people,” Nez said in an interview with The Arizona Republic. “There are large areas that they are using to put up housing on these farms.” 

Nez said the laborers also are breaking the law as visitors have been banned from the reservation during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has ravaged the Navajo Nation. 

Nez said he does not know when scores of workers started arriving on the reservation, adding that some live in nearby Farmington. 

“Workers are coming in and they are not citizens. They are from other areas,” Navajo Nation police Chief Philip Francisco said during last week’s hearing. “There’s a general worry about a criminal element coming in, and there’s a belief that the hemp is not hemp but marijuana.”

“We have seen a lot of Asian people working on the farms, and there’s a law in place to not allow visitors on the Navajo Nation,” Nez said in an interview. “Because of the high population of these visitors, there are concerns about human waste.”

Nez and other Navajo officials confronted some of the workers during an unannounced visit to one of the farms on Sept. 3.   “They claim they don’t speak English, so we started talking back to them in Navajo,” Nez said. 

Benally and his attorney, David Jordan, have declined to answer questions about how employees came to work on the farms. But Jordan claims the Asian workers have been racially profiled and attacked by Navajos who oppose Benally’s business venture. 

“They want to blame my client for the violent protests and that they threaten the safety of the Navajo Nation,” Jordan said in court. “But they have a fear of other people who are different.”

‘Blatant disregard’

Benally has used his position on the San Juan River Farm Board, which represents a half-dozen or so communities or chapters on the Navajo Nation, to grant land use permits to grow hemp, and his ownership of the Native American Agricultural Company to produce the crops.

The farm board on which Benally sits is composed of elected members from various chapters or communities within the Navajo Nation. Its purpose is to develop and sustain farmland and water systems for economic development.

The initial lawsuit filed against Benally says farm boards are not authorized to issue agricultural land use permits for hemp. Instead, according to Navajo law, it only is authorized to review and recommend approval of permits to the Resources Committee of the Navajo Nation Council, the legislative branch of the reservation’s government.

Tracy Raymond, a former farm board member, stated in a court filing that Benally has used his farm board position to “serve his personal interests without approval or authorization.”  “It is a great disappointment to me to have to watch those growing hemp openly flouting the law just to make a quick profit,” Raymond, a corn farmer, said.  

He added the farm board never took a vote to authorize the issuance of hemp licenses.

Benally, on his personal website, said he’s used his leadership position to “collaborate with government delegates, grazing officials, and chapter officials to protect native water rights and improve the economy and livelihood of the Navajo People.”

Benally’s business partners

His company partnered with One World Ventures, a Las Vegas-based penny-stock company with shares worth about 2 cents each, to operate the farms, financial records show. 

Some financing came from SPI Energy Co., a Hong Kong-based firm that specializes in solar panels but has diversified its portfolio.   One World Ventures placed Benally on its board in March 2019.

One World Ventures CEO DaMu Lin last year issued a news release lauding One World’s relationship with Benally’s company and the San Juan River Farm Board, stating the company was well positioned for the upcoming hemp growing season.  Calls to the company and Lin were not returned.

One World Ventures has posted combined losses of $1.48 million the past two years, financial records show.  After Benally and Lin struck a deal, they obtained financing from SPI Energy Co., a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ.

SPI launched a hemp business last year and agreed to invest $1.1 million into the Shiprock farms.   But investments from SPI dried up last year after Benally’s company failed “to deliver any of the hemp plants” and refused to return an initial instalment of $324,125, SPI financial records show. 

SPI officials visited the Shiprock farms after making their first payment by the July 31, 2019, deadline and found “the plants and growing operations appeared to be deficient and not up to industry standards,” according to a company filing. Further, SPI alleges Benally didn’t deliver updates or financial reports as required.

“Finally, NAAC failed to deliver any of the hemp plants by Nov. 30, 2019 … and refused to return the company’s down payment and to make whole the damages the company has suffered,” a filing says.

SPI said Benally’s company also did not respond to two demand letters late last year.

‘Crisis situation’

Benally — whose Facebook page describes him as a “politician” despite his losing races for Navajo Nation president and Congress — claims he’s become a political target.

Benally declined to be interviewed. Benally was scheduled to be a witness during last week’s hearing but didn’t testify. His attorney had a farm owner and a security guard to testify.

Redfeather was among those who testified against Benally. Others included Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency Director Oliver Whaley and the tribal police chief.   Whaley said in court that during a Sept. 9 visit to one of Benally’s farms, he found septic tanks discharging sewer water into soil and groundwater, pesticides not being properly applied and petroleum leakage. He also said Benally didn’t have permits to operate.

Francisco, the police chief, testified after Whaley and said about a year ago a “crisis situation” began in the community, noting his office has been flooded with calls to maintain peace on the Shiprock farms. All of the calls have taken officers from other emergencies, he said. 

Francisco has previously said his agency was working with the Navajo Department of Criminal Investigation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Drug Enforcement regarding potential criminal violations on the farms.

“It’s a disruption to the community, and the smell is causing problems. And there’s encroachment on people’s land,” Francisco said in court. “There has been discord and unrest.”  Residents near the farms said in court that Benally’s crews have flooded their fields, making it impossible to harvest, and destroyed a corn crop with constant dust from Benally’s operation.   Loretta Bennett, a 69-year-old farmer, said in court that the workers on Benally’s farms also don’t wear masks, and she’s concerned about the spread of COVID-19. 

Arlando Teller, an Arizona state representative from Chinle, said in an interview that while the hemp farms are in New Mexico, he’s concerned about “how the operation has taken place as far as the transparency of a business operation.”

Hemp farms may remain

Benally, a 43-year-old father of four, has said in press releases and on his website that he brought hemp farms to Shiprock as an economic driver, and he’s been successful in partnering with tribal members on his website. 

He has paid $2,000 a month to childhood friend and farmer Farley Blueyes to use up to 150 acres of his farm for hemp production.

Blueyes said his land was fallow until Benally put people to work. Security officers were needed because residents have become confrontational. 

Hoop houses at a hemp farm are visible from U.S. Highway 64 in Hogback, New Mexico, on Sept. 16, 2020.

NOEL LYN SMITH/THE FARMINGTON DAILY TIMES

Despite Friday’s ruling, the battle is likely not over. Attorneys for Benally say they will pursue “all legal channels” to keep fighting, and many Asian workers remained on the farms after Friday’s ruling.

Sengthong, the Glendale resident, said she went to visit her relatives near Shiprock on Saturday after learning about the court order.

She told The Republic that a hemp farm on a relative’s property, about 10 miles west of Shiprock, was still operating this past weekend. She said when Navajo Nation police visited the site, workers fled the farm.  Sengthong was taking pictures of the activity and said after police left, one of the workers tried to “smack” her cellphone and other workers were confrontational.   “I’ve been intimidated for what I did,” she said. “They are still working and the camp is huge.”

Benally’s attorneys said the court decision violated their client’s civil rights and put many tribal members out of work.  Jordan, Benally’s attorney, declined to say how his client would respond to the court order. Jordan said in court filings that such an order would destroy the “entire crop

Source:  https://eu.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona/2020/09/22 September 24, 2020

Fullerton, California, police officer Jae Song conducts a field sobriety test on a driver suspected of driving while impaired by marijuana. A growing number of drugged drivers have been killed in crashes. Bill Alkofer/The Orange County Register/SCNG via AP

As legal marijuana spreads and the opioid epidemic rages on, the number of drugged drivers killed in car crashes is rising dramatically, according to a report released today.

Forty-four percent of fatally injured drivers tested for drugs had positive results in 2016, the Governors Highway Safety Association found, up more than 50 percent compared with a decade ago. More than half the drivers tested positive for marijuana, opioids or a combination of the two.

“These are big-deal drugs. They are used a lot,” said Jim Hedlund, an Ithaca, New York-based traffic safety consultant who conducted the highway safety group’s study. “People should not be driving while they’re impaired by anything and these two drugs can impair you.”

Nine states and Washington, D.C., allow marijuana to be sold for recreational and medical use, and 21 others allow it to be sold for medical use. Opioid addiction and overdoses have become a national crisis, with an estimated 115 deaths a day.

States are struggling to get a handle on drugged driving. Traffic safety experts say that while it’s easy for police to test drivers for alcohol impairment using a breathalyzer, it’s much harder to detect and screen them for drug impairment.

There is no nationally accepted method for testing drivers, and the number of drugs to test for is large. Different drugs also have different effects on drivers. And there is no definitive data linking drugged driving to crashes.

“With alcohol, we have 30 years of research looking at the relationship between how much alcohol is in a person’s blood and the odds they will cause a traffic crash,” said Jake Nelson, AAA’s traffic safety director. “For drugs, that relationship is not known.”

Another problem is that drivers often are using more than one drug at once. The new study found that about half of drivers who died and tested positive for drugs in 2016 were found to have two or more drugs in their system.

Alcohol is also part of the mix, the report found: About half the dead drivers who tested positive for alcohol also tested positive for drugs.

Drug Testing Varies

More than 37,000 people died in vehicle crashes in 2016, up 5.6 percent from the previous year, according to the National Transportation Highway Safety Administration.

Using fatality data from the federal agency, Hedlund, the governors’ highway safety group’s consultant, found that 54 percent of fatally injured drivers that year were tested for drugs and alcohol. Of those who had drugs in their system, 38 percent tested positive for marijuana, 16 percent for opioids and 4 percent for both. The remaining 42 percent tested positive for a variety of legal and illegal drugs, such as cocaine and Xanax.

That means more than 5,300 drivers who died in fatal crashes in 2016 tested positive for drugs, Hedlund said. Those numbers don’t include all drivers killed in crashes or those who drove impaired but didn’t have a crash.

Driver drug testing varies from state to state. States don’t all test for the same drugs or use the same testing methods.

“A lot of the tools we developed for alcohol don’t work for drugs,” said Russ Martin, government relations director for the highway safety group. “We don’t have as clear a method for every officer to conduct roadside tests.”

Police who stop drivers they think are impaired typically use standard sobriety tests, such as asking the person to walk heel to toe and stand on one leg. That works well for alcohol testing, as does breathing into a breathalyzer, which measures the blood alcohol level.

But these standard sobriety tests don’t work for drugs, which can only be detected by testing blood, urine or saliva. Even then, finding the presence of a drug doesn’t necessarily mean the person is impaired.

With marijuana, for example, metabolites can stay in the body for weeks, long after impairment has ended, making it difficult to determine when the person used the drug.

States have dealt with drugged driving in different ways. In every state it is illegal to drive under the influence of drugs, but some have created zero tolerance laws for some drugs, whereas others have set certain limits for marijuana or some other drugs.

That creates another challenge because policymakers are trying to make changes that aren’t necessarily based on research, said Richard Romer, AAA’s state relations manager.

“The presence of marijuana doesn’t necessarily mean impairment,” Romer said. “You could be releasing drivers who are dangerous and imprisoning people who are not impaired.”

State Statistics

In Colorado, the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, there were 51 fatalities in 2016 that involved drivers with THC blood levels above the state’s legal limit, according to the state department of transportation. THC is the main active ingredient in marijuana, and causes the euphoria associated with the drug.

An online survey in April by the department found that 69 percent of pot users said they had driven under the influence of marijuana at least once in the past year and 27 percent said they drove high almost daily. Many recreational users said they didn’t think it affected their ability to drive safely.

In Washington state, a 2016 report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that fatal crashes of drivers who recently used marijuana doubled after the state legalized it.

The governors’ highway safety group is recommending that states offer advanced training to a majority of patrol officers about how to recognize drugged drivers at the roadside.

Officers in some states already are using a battery of roadside tests that focus on physiological symptoms, such as involuntary eye twitches, pulse rate and muscle tone, to determine whether a driver is impaired by drugs. And at the police station, some officers trained as drug examiners do a more extensive series of tests to identify the type of drug.

The safety group also wants states to launch a campaign to educate the public about how drugs can impair driving and work with doctors and pharmacists to make patients aware of the risks of driving while using prescription medications such as opioids.

And it is calling on states and the federal government to compile better data on drugged driving, including testing all drivers killed in crashes for drugs and alcohol.

“Not every driver in a fatal crash is tested. And plenty of drivers out there haven’t crashed and haven’t been tested,” Martin said. “We have good reason to believe there are more drug-impaired drivers out there than the data shows.”

Source: Drugged Driving Deaths Spike With Spread of Legal Marijuana, Opioid Abuse – Stateline May 2018

Tell Your Children:
The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence

by alex berenson

free press, 272 pages, $26

The smoking of marijuana, with its careful preparation of the elements and the solemn passing around of the shared joint, was the unholy communion of the counterculture in the late 1960s, when our present elite formed its opinions. Many of them allowed their children to follow their bad examples, and resent that this exposes their young to a (tiny) risk of persecution and career damage. As a result, those who still disapprove of marijuana are much disliked. The book I wrote on the subject six years ago, The War We Never Fought, received a chilly reception and remains so obscure that I don’t think Alex ­Berenson, whose book has received much friendlier coverage, even knows it exists. As a writer who naturally covets readers and sales, I find this mildly infuriating.

But let me say through clenched teeth that it is of course very good news that a fashionable young metropolitan person such as Mr. ­Berenson is at last prepared to say openly that marijuana is a dangerous drug whose use should be severely discouraged. For, as ­Berenson candidly admits, he was until recently one of the great complacent mass of bourgeois bohemians who are pretty relaxed about it. He confesses in the most important passage in the book that he once believed what most of such people believed. He encapsulates this near-universal fantasy thus:

Marijuana is safe. Way safer than alcohol. Barack Obama smoked it. Bill Clinton smoked it too, even if he didn’t inhale. Might as well say it causes presidencies. I’ve smoked it myself, I liked it fine. Maybe I got a little paranoid, but it didn’t last. Nobody ever died from smoking too much pot.

These words are a more or less perfect summary of the lazy, ignorant, self-serving beliefs of highly educated, rather stupid middle-class metropolitans all over the Western world in such places as, let’s just say for example, the editorial offices of the New York Times. Thirty years from now (when it’s too late), they will look as crass and irresponsible as those magazine advertisements from the 1950s in which pink-faced doctors wearing white coats recommended certain brands of cigarettes. But just now, we are in that foggy zone of consciousness where the truth is known to almost nobody except those with a certain kind of direct experience, and can be ignored by everyone else.

One of the experienced ones, thank heaven, is Alex ­Berenson’s wife Jacqueline. She is a psychiatrist who specializes in evaluating mentally ill criminals. One evening, the Berensons were discussing one of her cases, a patient who had committed a terrible, violent act. Casually, Jacqueline remarked, “Of course he was high, been smoking pot his whole life.” Alex doubtfully interjected, “Of course?,” and she replied, “Yeah, they all smoke.” (She didn’t mean tobacco.) And she is right. They all do. You don’t need to be a psychiatrist to know this. You just have to be able to do simple Internet searches.

Most violent crime is scantily reported, since local newspapers lack the resources they once had. The exceptions are rampage mass killings by terrorists (generally in Europe) and non-political crazies (more common in the United States). These crimes are intensively reported, to such an extent that news media find things out they were not even looking for, such as the fact that the perpetrator is almost always a long-term marijuana user. Where he isn’t (and it is almost always a he), some other legal or illegal psychotropic, such as steroids or “antidepressants,” is ­usually in evidence. But you do have to look, and most people don’t. Then you have to see a pattern, one that a lot of important, influential people specifically do not want to see.

That husband-and-wife conversation in the Berenson apartment is the whole book in a nutshell, the epiphany of a former apostle of complacency from the college-­educated classes who suddenly discovers what has been going on around him for years. What he repeats over and over again is very simple: Marijuana can make you permanently crazy. (This is a long-term cumulative effect, not the effect of immediate intoxication.) And once it has made you crazy, it can make you violent, too.

You’ll only find out if you’re susceptible by taking it. It is not soft. It is not safe. It is one of the most dangerous drugs there is, and we are on the verge of allowing it to be advertised and put on open sale. Berenson has gotten into predictable trouble for asserting that the connection is pretty much proved. Alas, this is not quite so. But the correlation is hugely powerful. The chance that it is meaningful is great. Who would be surprised if a drug with powerful psychotropic effects turned out to be the cause of mental illness in its users? Correlation is not causation, but it is one of the main tools of ­epidemiology. Causation, ­especially in matters of the brain, is extraordinarily difficult to prove, and so we may have to base our actions, or our refusals to take action, on something short of total certainty.

Tell Your Children is filled with persuasive, appalling individual case histories of wild violence, including the abuse of small children. It also lists and explains the significance of powerful, large-scale surveys of Swedish soldiers and New Zealand students, which connect the drug to mental illness and lowered school performance. Berenson provides facts and statistics about violent crime in places where marijuana is widely available, and anecdotes so repetitive that they cease to be anecdotes. The puzzle remains as to why it is necessary to say all this repeatedly when a sensible person would listen the first time.

Perhaps it is because of the large, and very well-funded, campaigns for marijuana legalization described by Berenson. People who drink fair-trade coffee and eat vegan, who loathe other greed lobbies—such as pharmaceuticals, tobacco, fast food, or sugary drinks—smile on this campaign to make money from the misery of others.

Berenson shows how mental illness has grown in our midst without being noticed in public statistics. A comparable growth in, say, measles or tuberculosis would have shown up. But deteriorating mental health does not, thanks to privacy concerns, and to the fact that mental illness is not easily classified. It is also a sad truth that rich, advanced Western societies nowadays begrudge money for the mental hospitals needed to house and protect those who have overthrown their own minds. They are reluctant to record the existence and prevalence of the very real suffering that ought to be treated in the hospitals they have sold off, demolished, or never built.

Berenson also witheringly describes the propaganda devised by those who want to legalize the drug, from the mind-expanding zealots who view drug use as liberating to the hard-headed entrepreneurs and political professionals. Argue against them at your peril. Your audience may learn something, but your opponents will not. Wilful ignorance is the most powerful barrier to communication. It seals the human mind up like a fortress. You might as well read the works of Jean-Paul Sartre to a hungry walrus as try to debate with such people. I have attempted it. They don’t hear a word you say, but they hate you for getting in their way.

Berenson gives a fairly thorough account of the “medical marijuana” campaign, an almost comically absurd attempt to portray a poison as a medicine. This campaign is so bogus that it will vanish from the earth within days of full legalization, because in truth there is very little evidence that marijuana-based medicines are of much use. Berenson quotes one refreshingly candid marijuana defender as admitting, “Six percent of all marijuana users use it for medical purposes. Medical marijuana is a way of protecting a subset of society from arrest.”

In the U.S., legalizers are poised to win the modern civil war over the legalization of marijuana which has been dividing the country for half a century. It looks now as if marijuana will soon be legalized, on general sale, advertised and marketed and taxed. This worrying process has already begun in Canada. The United States has approached the issue sideways, conceding states’ rights in a way that would have delighted the Confederates.

The United Kingdom has taken a similar route: It pretends to maintain the law and, when asked, insists it has no plans to change it. But the police and the courts have gradually ceased to enforce it, so that it is now impossible to stroll through central London without nosing the reek of marijuana. Europe has gone the same way, with minor variations. Among the free law-governed nations, only Japan and South Korea still actively and effectively enforce their drug possession laws, and benefit greatly from it. But how long can they hold out?

The legalization campaigners are working like termites to undo the 1961 U.N. Convention that is the basis of most national laws against narcotics, using all the money and dishonesty at their command. They have plenty of both. So, besides the two disastrous, irrevocably legal poisons of alcohol and tobacco, we shall before long have a third—and probably a fourth and fifth not long afterward. If marijuana is legal, how will we keep cocaine and ecstasy illegal for long? Next will come heroin and LSD.

One reason for the default in favor of legalization and non-enforcement is the false association made by so many between marijuana and liberty. The belief that a dangerous, stupefying drug is an element of human liberty has taken hold of two, perhaps three generations. They should know better. Aldous Huxley warned in his much-cited but infrequently read dystopian novel Brave New World that modern men, appalled by the disasters of war and social conflict, would embrace a world where thinking and knowledge were obsolete and pleasure and contentment were the aims of a short life begun in a test-tube and ended by euthanasia. He predicted that they would drug themselves and one another to banish the pains of real life, and—worst of all—come to love their own servitude. In one terrible scene, the authorities spray protesting low-caste workers with the pleasure drug soma, and the workers end up hugging one another and smiling vaguely before returning to their drudgery. (Soma, unlike its real-life modern equivalents, is described as harmless, something easier to achieve in fiction than in reality.) What ruler of a squalid, wasteful, unfair, and ugly society such as ours would not prefer a stupefied, flaccid population to an angry one? Yet somehow, the freedom to stupefy oneself is held up quite seriously by educated people as the equal of the freedoms of thought, speech, and assembly. This is the way the world ends, with a joint, a bong, and a simper.

Whatever was wrong with my intense little segment of the 1960s revolutionary generation (and plenty was wrong with it), we believed that when we saw injustice we should fight it, not dope ourselves into a state of mind where it no longer mattered. But my tiny strand of puritan Bolsheviks was long ago absorbed into a giggling mass of cultural revolutionaries, who scrawled “Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll” on their banners instead of “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity,” or even “Workers of All Lands, Unite!”

While Berenson’s facts are devastating, his own response to the crisis is feeble. He opposes marijuana legalization—and what intelligent person does not? He babbles of education and warning our children. But he declares that “decriminalization is a reasonable compromise.” Actually, it is not. It cannot be sustained. If matters are left as they are, legalization—first de facto and then de jure—will follow, because there will be no impetus to resist it. Unless the law decisively disapproves of and discourages the actual use of the drug, it is neither morally consistent nor practically effective.

The global drug trade would be nowhere without the dollars handed over to it by millions of individuals who are the end-users. We search for Mr. Big and never catch him. But we ignore or even indulge Mr. Small, regarding him as a victim, when in truth he keeps the whole thing going. In the end, the logic leads relentlessly to the stern prosecution and deterrent punishment of individual users. It is because I recognize this grim necessity that I remain a pariah. It is because he doesn’t that Alex Berenson is still just about acceptable in the part of the Western world that believes marijuana is a torch of ­freedom. 

Peter Hitchens is a columnist for The Mail on Sunday.

Source:  https://www.firstthings.com/article/2019/05/reefer-sadness

DEA says Houston is both a big market for synthetic pot and a major source

More than 1 million packets of a dangerous, unpredictable new breed of drug were seized in the Houston area by the DEA in the past two years, yet criminal charges are rare for those who make, sell or use them.

The packets, sold as potpourri or incense, are among the more popular brands of so-called synthetic marijuana taking center stage in a new front in the war on drugs.

On a recent afternoon, glossy packets of strawberry-flavored “Kush” lay side by side in a lighted glass display case, just past the bongs and pipes, at a Houston-area shop. The mixture inside looks like dried, finely crushed green leaves. It is smoked like pot but packs a far different punch – and is fueling the never-ending search for ways to get high.

“This is a new frontier for drugs and drug traffickers,” said Rusty Payne, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration. “I want to shout it from the roof tops: This is nasty stuff.”

Despite pressure from law enforcement, users still don’t have to go to underground dealers to score. Instead, they just visit smoke shops and convenience stores that sell the products.

Houston has a key role in the popularity of the drugs. It is not only a large marketplace for them, but they are covertly made here and shipped to other regions, according to court documents.

Doctors said the substances – technically classified as synthetic cannabinoids – can be aggressive, unstable and damaging.

Hearts race. Blood pressure soars. Seizures can be unleashed.

Paranoia is known to grip some users, as well as agitation and suicidal tendencies that can last five or six hours and land them in emergency rooms.

“They come in, and they are wild and psychotic and sometimes have a distinct smell,” said Dr. Spencer Greene, director of medical toxicology for Baylor College of Medicine. “They are going to be kind of wild and kind of crazy, and potentially very sick.”

Part of the problem is that the potency of the drugs can vary so greatly, and that users can never be sure what they are smoking.

Emily Bauer, a 17-year-old former user who lives in Cypress, learned just how bad they can be on a Friday night in 2012.

She smoked a packet, as she had done many times before, and ended up suffering what her family has been told was a series of strokes.

“I am improving constantly, and my vision is getting better,” she said, noting that she continues with high school thanks to people who read textbooks aloud to her and help her write.

Bauer and her parents have been sharing her story publicly in hopes that others will avoid the drugs. She said it just is not accurate to compare what she smoked to marijuana.

“It is more like smoking bleach,” she said.

Banned at trade shows

They come in colorful packets with dozens of other brand names, including Scooby Snax and Hello Kitty. The packages look like packets of candy and cost from $6 to $20, depending on the size.

They carry warnings that the contents are not for human consumption and sometimes incorrectly note contents are legal.

Authorities contend the language is just an attempt to dodge state and federal laws.

In schemes reminiscent of the popular crime drama “Breaking Bad,” rogue chemists repeatedly tweak compounds to create new generations of designer drugs faster than laws can catch them.

“Trained chemists know exactly what they are doing,” said Jeff Walterscheid, a toxicologist with the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.

He noted that tweaking one molecule can make a new drug.

Dozens of such deviations of synthetic cannabinoids have been identified in the past few years, according to the DEA, and the list of what is out there is believed to be growing weekly.

To prepare the drugs for consumption, chemicals – usually white powdery mixtures – are often imported from China where they were prepared by chemists who keep an eye on U.S. laws, according to the DEA.

After U.S.-based manufacturers get those chemicals, they are often dissolved in acetone and then sprayed over leafy material, dried and spritzed with flavors such as grape, strawberry or cherry. Then they are poured into packages that are delivered in bulk to stock the shelves of retailers.

A manufacturing operation in Stafford was shut down by police in September after five day laborers staggered to an ambulance company looking for help. They had been overcome by fumes.

The factory was in an industrial park and a few hundred yards from a day care center. All that was left behind on a recent visit to the site was a scattering of crushed leaves in a carpeted office and a small black and blue packet labeled Amsterdam Dreams Potpourri.

Manufacturers of these substances aren’t considered nearly as violent as drug-cartel gangsters, but turf wars flare up.

Authorities point to a brutal dispute between two manufacturers. One stormed into the other’s business on Harwin, doused him with gasoline, and threatened to set him ablaze if he didn’t stop stealing a brand name.

The dispute faded. No one was arrested.

Jeff Hirschfeld, president of Champs, which holds national trade shows for thousands of smoke shop owners, said two years ago he decided to ban synthetic marijuana vendors from his events.

“There are so many states that don’t allow it, we just did not think it was proper,” he said.

“I am a grandfather of six, and I would not really recommend it for my grandkids,” he said. “I have not tried it, but I know people who have. Some say good, some say bad, but I’m not comfortable with it.”

Users vary from high school kids to working professionals. The drug also doesn’t show up in urine tests for marijuana, which might appeal to people on parole or job applicants.

Not meant for humans

In the past two years in Houston, synthetic cannabinoids were in the system of a person who hanged himself, another who was hit by an allegedly drunken driver while walking along a tollway, and another who was shot to death, according to the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.

Users are playing roulette with their lives, said Walterscheid, the Harris County toxicologist.

“You cannot look at a container of Kush Apple and know what is in it,” he said. “When buying a package that looks the same every day for a year, you could be getting something different every single time.”

John Huffman, a South Carolina chemist who years ago led a team that developed synthetic cannabinoids while researching under a federal grant, said some strains now being copied could easily be 50 times more potent than marijuana.

“They are all dangerous. Don’t use them,” said Huffman, who retired four years ago. “They were never designed for this.”

The substances were tested on animals but were never to be used by humans.

Criminal charges rarely are filed as cases involving these emerging drugs bring on a host of new scientific, medical and legal complexities.

Clinical tests have not yet been conducted on humans on any of these drugs, so it can be tough to prove the extent of their harm. Experts could also clash over whether the ingredients of a given drug make it illegal, among other issues.

People who knowingly make or sell synthetic cannabinoids for human consumption can face federal charges. Possession of some of those substances, regardless of weight, can in some cases be a misdemeanor in Texas.

“We have been taking an active role trying to classify more of these, make more of them fall in the penal code,” said Marcy McCorvey, division chief of the major narcotics division of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

She said that prosecutors are handcuffed by insufficient laws, but if they can make a case, they will take it to court.

“It is very frustrating. I know of police officers who are out there trying to combat the problem,” McCorvey said. “I understand parents who want it off the shelves. I wish I could prosecute sellers and suppliers in a more harsh manner, but the state law does not allow for a harsher penalty as it is written.”

Few criminal charges

Despite the DEA seizing more than 1 million packets of the drugs, as well as the pending forfeitures of more than $8 million, federal prosecutors in Houston have yet to charge anyone, according to officials.

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas, who is based in Houston, declined to comment.

In June, federal authorities in San Antonio announced Operation Synergy. At least 17 people were arrested in San Antonio, Houston and elsewhere for alleged roles in a synthetic cannabinod ring.

In another case, Houston resident Issa Baba was charged federally in Pennsylvania with using the Web to sell synthetic pot and other designer drugs. More than $5 million was seized from his bank accounts. Baba has signed a guilty plea.

Another Houston-area man has not been charged with a crime, but more than $2 million was taken from him in May on the grounds that it was proceeds from making synthetic cannabinoids. Bundles of $100 bills wrapped in rubber bands were stashed at his ex-wife’s home in La Marque.

Lawyer Chip Lewis, who represents Baba and the other man, said the cases against his clients come at a tricky time, as the Department of Justice has decided not to challenge laws that permit the medical and recreational use of marijuana.

“It is a slippery slope we are on here,” Lewis said. “Yes, we will prosecute you for this. No, we are not going to prosecute you for something else on the books.”

Javier Pena, chief of the DEA’s Houston Division, said getting this breed of drugs off the streets has become a moral mission as much as a legal one.

“We are trying to say to store owners: You know who you are. You need to stop selling this poison.”

Source: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/investigations/article/Houston-gains-key-role-in-synthetic-marijuana-5024607.php  November 2013

Britain snorts more of the drug than almost anywhere in Europe, more young people are taking it and deaths are rising. Why?

The moment Dan (not his real name) realised he had a problem with cocaine, he had been off work for a week, sick with flu. His phone buzzed. It was his cocaine dealer, calling to check he was OK. When Dan, one of his favoured customers, hadn’t been in touch to buy the cocaine he usually took several times a week, the dealer knew something was wrong.

“I don’t like thinking about that,” Dan says, shaking his head as we sit in a London pub. Now 36, Dan estimates he has spent £25,000 on cocaine. Lines in the pub on a Friday night after work. Lines on a Wednesday evening at a friend’s house while earnestly discussing 90s hip-hop. Lines at house parties, weddings, birthday parties and for no reason at all, other than that cocaine – the white powder that makes no one a better version of themselves, but that many of us continue to do anyway – is everywhere and freely available.

Britain is a cocaine-loving country, and its love for the drug is growing. The country snorts more cocaine than almost anywhere in Europe. “Cocaine use is going up,” says João Matias of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. In the UK in 2017-2018, 2.6% of people aged 16-59 took powdered cocaine (as opposed to crack cocaine, the more potent variant of the drug, which was taken by 0.1% of the population in the same period), up from 2.4% in 2013-2014, according to Home Office figures.

More young people are taking cocaine than ever before: 6% of 16- to 24-year-olds have tried it, despite the fact that, overall, fewer young people take drugs in general. It is also likely that Home Office figures, which often exclude students, prisoners and homeless people, underestimate cocaine use because those groups typically have above-average illegal drug use.

Most of this cocaine ends up in our sewage system, and researchers have been finding increasing levels in Britain’s water supply since 2012, Matias says. Levels are highest at weekends, indicating recreational use.

Cocaine used to be the sole preserve of affluent City workers and dissolute rock stars. They continue to favour the drug: data from the crime survey of England and Wales showed that powdered cocaine use increased from 2.2% in 2014/15 to 3.4% in 2017/18 in households earning £50,000 a year or more. (Use among those earning less than £10,000 a year fell during this period, although researchers believe the use of crack cocaine may be on the rise in poorer communities.) But powdered cocaine now appeals to those in more modest income brackets, too. “Coke is pretty classless now,” says Ian Hamilton, a senior lecturer in mental health at the University of York. “It’s not for financiers in the City of London any more. It’s more affordable, so that’s opened up the market to people who wouldn’t have tried it before.” And dealers are savvy marketers. Dan pulls out his phone to show me a “bargain bucket offer” he has received: five grams of cocaine for £210.

Users come from all backgrounds. In Hyndburn – the once-prosperous centre of England’s textile industry, which is now in decline – 17 young people died of cocaine overdoses in a nine-month period in 2017. In Newcastle, according to a Vice report, cocaine has become “an important factor in the city’s legitimate economy”, with bars offering privacy curtains for patrons who wish to snort lines off their phones.

According to the National Crime Agency, recent years have seen the Albanian mafia take control of the UK’s lucrative cocaine market with a brutally effective business model. By negotiating directly with the cartels in drug-producing Latin America, cutting out traditional international importers, the Albanian mafia have been able to deliver a purer, more affordable product to market: cocaine hasn’t been this cheap since 1990.

Ironically, anti-drug laws have also improved the quality of cocaine. The 2015 Serious Crime Act criminalised the import of cutting agents such as benzocaine. When it is harder to cut the product, purity increases. This, along with the fact that cocaine production has increased in Latin America, has created a perfect powder storm. Cocaine purity, which has been increasing since 2010, is at its highest level in a decade. What happens when a product becomes cheaper, more plentiful and better quality? More people try it.

As purity and availability increase, so, too, does the misery wreaked by cocaine. Hospital admissions for mental health disorders linked to cocaine have almost trebled in the past decade. Cocaine-related deaths have increased for the sixth year running, up to 432 deaths in England and Wales in 2017, compared with 112 in 2011. (It’s worth noting that these figures refer to powdered and crack cocaine, as official statistics do not differentiate between the two when establishing cause of death. Many of these deaths will involve users who have longstanding addictions to crack cocaine, as well as other co-dependencies.) Users leap from balconies, or fall from mountain paths while under the effects of the drug. Or their bodies give out on them: many deaths take place when users mix cocaine with alcohol, producing the toxic chemical cocaethylene.

“There are a number of risks when it comes to mixing any drugs together,” says the consultant addiction psychiatrist Dr Prun Bijral of the drug treatment service Change Grow Live. As “alcohol is a depressant and cocaine is a stimulant,” combining the two in large quantities can overstimulate the heart and nervous system, leading to, in extreme circumstances, heart attacks. Mixing the two also “impairs your ability to measure and make a judgment on risks”, Bijral adds, meaning that you are far more likely to get yourself into a dangerous situation while drinking and taking cocaine. And it is not just your heart you should be worried about: cocaine abuse can cause the soft inner cartilage of your nose to erode, and it has been linked to brain abnormalities in regular users.

Lucy White, a student at the University of the West of England, knew the dangers of messing with drugs: she saw 19-year-old Drake Morgan-Baines collapse and die in front of her, of MDMA (ecstasy) poisoning, while she was working in Motion nightclub in Bristol. “She was really disturbed by it,” her sister, Stacey Jordan, tells me. But just seven months later, White herself died of a lethal cocktail of cocaine and prescription drugs. “It was the drugs that killed her, but it was also the people she was with, and the peer pressure,” Jordan says. “I don’t think she realised how dangerous it was.”

Cocaine use creates subtler forms of misery, too. “I’m the most confident person for those few hours when I’m on it,” Dan says, “but afterwards I’m having horrendous, almost suicidal, thoughts.” Paranoia lasts for days after a bender. “It’s crushing. The depression outweighs the good times so much,” he says. “It’s the feeling of being a disappointment to my parents. What the fuck am I doing?”

Dan thinks Britons love cocaine because we work so hard (on average, we work the longest hours in Europe). “You can do coke tonight and go to work tomorrow and no one will know,” he says. “I may be a bit less productive, but only I know that.” Even though mixing alcohol and cocaine can prove deadly, many continue to do it. “Coke and alcohol go really well together,” Hamilton says. “You can drink for longer, and it makes you more confident.”

“After two drinks, I wouldn’t be able to relax unless I knew the coke was sorted,” Dan says. “That was my mentality.”

At a time of welfare cuts and ever-longer NHS mental health waiting lists, cocaine also seems to offer a quick fix for those struggling with stress or anxiety. “If you are a young person who is a bit anxious, lacking in confidence or not sure of your place in the grand scheme of things, coke sorts all that out for you,” Hamilton says. “If you can offer me a line now that makes me feel better, or the alternative is that I’m going to have to wait at least four weeks to see a counsellor, it’s an absolute no-brainer.” He pauses. “I’m not recommending it. But austerity has created a real bottleneck in people getting the support they need, and drugs are far more instant. They have no opening and closing hours.”

Recently, I was in the sort of pub you bring your parents to: an upmarket affair with chalkboard menus. I went to the bathroom and there, dusted across the toilet-roll holder like icing sugar on a Victoria sponge, was a fine but unmistakable layer of cocaine. For someone like Dan, who is trying to avoid taking the drug, “you have to be very careful. It’s everywhere.” Recently, he was eating dinner in a Greek restaurant when a nearby stranger offered him cocaine. Did he accept? He drops his voice. “I did, yeah.”

Cocaine’s resurgence is also linked to our changing night-time economy. The number of nightclubs in the UK halved between 2005 and 2015, and more than 25% of pubs have closed since 2001. As these places shutter, British people increasingly socialise behind closed doors. Unlike the club drug ecstasy, cocaine is best taken at home. Dan and his friends would often avoid bars to head back to someone’s flat, turn on some music and get a bag of cocaine in. “Bars are full of dickheads, so I’d say: ‘Let’s get out of here – I’m done.’ Only I wouldn’t be done: I’d stupidly stay up until 7am, having the same conversation.”

To many people, a line of cocaine with a glass of wine on Saturday night is an ordinary sort of thing – and they certainly don’t think of the devastation wreaked by drug cartels in cocaine-producing parts of the world. “It’s not seen as a hard drug,” says Hamilton. “It’s snorted, not injected, so you don’t have to cross that line.”

“The Chelsea flower show, the opera, churches, a Momentum fundraiser, Peppa Pig World …” The former Sun journalist Matt Quinton lists the places he and his colleagues found cocaine traces while working undercover for the newspaper. “Peppa Pig World was unexpected,” he says. The most shocking place Quinton found cocaine? A toilet that was only accessible to NHS staff. Because these exposés were popular with readers, and cheap to put together, Quinton or his colleagues would be sent out by editors to swab pretty much anywhere. As well as becoming extremely proficient at wiping down lavatories, Quinton learned one thing. “Coke is absolutely everywhere, especially if alcohol is being served,” he says. In the 18-month period Quinton only failed to find cocaine once: in the bathroom at a children’s festival. “That was because they had these toilets that were entirely plastic and clearly being blast-washed on a regular basis.” And, he adds, “they didn’t serve alcohol”.

Even Jordan’s friends don’t see a bit of coke as much of anything, really, despite the fact she lost her sister to the drug. It angers her. “You can’t get away from it if all your friends do it,” she says. “I’ve been at weddings and people are doing it in the toilet. I’m looking on in pure horror.” After witnessing someone snorting cocaine off their hand at a nightclub bar, she avoids going clubbing. “I start lecturing strangers because I get too angry.” She understands why people do it. “I don’t think people understand the butterfly effect that it has – unless something happens to you.”

Recent months have seen attempts to challenge the laissez-faire attitudes. Last July, London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, linked escalating violence on the city’s streets to middle-class cocaine use. Days later, the Metropolitan police commissioner, Cressida Dick, denounced hypocritical middle-class users who profess to be politically aware. In October, the home secretary, Sajid Javid, told the Daily Mail that a government review would specifically look at the damage occasioned by middle-class drug users. Where did this sudden cross-party consensus on the evils of middle-class drug originate? One man: Simon Kempton.

In May last year, Kempton – who is the Police Federation’s lead on drugs – was chairing a panel discussion at its annual conference when a journalist asked for his views on prohibition. “I let my guard down a bit and said something honest, which is never a good thing,” Kempton smiles. He singled out middle-class drug users for fuelling street violence. A media storm ensued, but after Dick, Khan and Javid echoed his stance, Kempton felt vindicated. He hopes to transform middle-class users’ attitude to the drug. “If you think back to when I was a nipper, drink-driving was accepted ethically,” he says. “It took 20 or 30 years of better education to understand that drink-driving isn’t ethical. There’s similar work to be done.”

But does middle-class cocaine use really cause knife crime? “To my mind, the focus on middle-class cocaine users is a smokescreen for the failure to deal with the underlying causes of youth crime and violence,” says Prof Alex Stevens, an expert in criminal justice at the University of Kent, and the president of the International Society of the Study of Drug Policy. Since 2011, the coalition and Conservative governments have consistently attempted to link gangs and youth violence to drugs. But while street-level violence may be seen in the dealing of crack cocaine across so called county lines, powdered cocaine has a different supply chain. “Middle-class users don’t get their coke from young kids who are riding motorbikes out of council estates,” Stevens says. “There is violence in that supply chain too, but most of it happens in Latin America.”

If the evidence is shaky, why are politicians so keen to connect these dots? “It’s a strategy to keep in people’s minds the link between drugs and black youths,” says Stafford Scott, an anti-racism campaigner based in Tottenham, north London. It also allows them to shirk responsibility for dealing with the real causes of knife crime: “poverty, isolation and marginalisation”. Has Scott ever seen any evidence of cocaine dealing in the communities he works with? “You don’t see powdered cocaine in the ’hood,” he says.

Whether or not you agree that cocaine causes knife crime on our streets, one thing is for certain: cocaine causes damage. Maybe the damage takes place in a faraway country you prefer not to think about. Maybe it’s a subtler form of damage: to your relationships, finances, wellbeing or career.

Dan has pulled himself out of the depths of his cocaine addiction gingerly. Sometimes, he slides downhill. Avoiding social situations where he knows cocaine will be present helps, “because I’m weak”, he says. “If I have a drink, I know someone will have coke on them, and it’s so hard to say no.”

But it’s not easy to keep your distance. After we finish our interview, we step out of the pub into the frigid night air. We’re about to part ways when Dan notices a man outside, speaking loudly on the phone. He’s withdrawing a large sum of cash from an ATM and directing someone to his location. We look at each other, and Dan sighs.

The charity Change Grow Live (changegrowlive.org) offers further information on, and help with, the issues raised in this article

Source: The white stuff: why Britain can’t get enough cocaine | Drugs | The Guardian January 2019

An investor in a major Canadian cannabis company has had longstanding ties, including business dealings, with influential Mafia members and drug traffickers, Radio-Canada has learned.

Another investor in the same company has links with a prominent member of the Rizzutos, the powerful Montreal crime family.

In still another case, an individual managed to sell his cannabis business to one of the big players in the industry, despite his connections to drug traffickers. In return, he received shares in the company and rented out space for a cannabis grow-op.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s legalization plan was supposed to cut out organized crime, but an investigation by Radio-Canada’s Enquête shows Health Canada has granted production licences to companies with individuals with links to the criminal underworld.

Enquête examined hundreds of documents as part of its investigation, including reviews conducted by Canadian securities oversight bodies. Enquête is not naming the companies or individuals involved.

For its part, Health Canada says it has not seen any cases of organized crime infiltration of more than 130 licensed cannabis producers since 2013.

To produce cannabis, those who hold certain positions in companies must first obtain a permit from Health Canada by taking a security screening.

Any past connections with individuals related to organized crime are part of the analyzed information.

Red flags raised

To secure a licence, Health Canada first checks if the individual has a criminal record.

Second, the RCMP consults police databases to review information that may indicate an applicant’s links to criminals.

Health Canada makes its final decision with the information provided by the RCMP.

The RCMP says it raised red flags on about 10 per cent of the applicants it was asked to check out in 2016 and 2017.

“It’s really criminal associations,” says Supt. Yves Goupil, who gives the example of a person “associated with individuals who have criminal records.”

In a statement, Health Canada said it can “categorically confirm” that it didn’t issue “security clearance to an individual when the RCMP provided evidence to the department that it was associated with organized crime.”

“Health Canada has found no evidence that organized crime has infiltrated one of more than 130 federally registered producers,” spokesperson Eric Morrissette said in an email.

Security checks only scratch the surface

Throughout the period in which Canada’s cannabis industry was developing, primarily for medical purposes, only individuals who directly ran the companies were required to obtain a security clearance.

This approach, says Conservative Senator Claude Carignan, demonstrates a naiveté about the workings of high-level organized crime.

“If there is someone who has a criminal record, it is not that person they will put to apply for the licence,” Carignan said. “It would be completely naive to think that.”

Last spring, Carignan and his Senate colleagues tried, unsuccessfully, to amend Bill C-45 on the legalization of cannabis in order to demand more transparency from companies entering the industry.

Several companies have opaque and complex structures.

“You never see who the real licence holders are,” said lawyer and tax expert Marwah Rizqy, who raised the issue before a Senate committee last spring and has since been elected Liberal MNA for the Quebec riding of Saint-Laurent.

The black hole of trusts

It’s not uncommon for cannabis companies to be funded through family trusts.

Originally designed for estate and tax planning, trusts are an ideal way to hide individuals with interests in a business, said Marie-Pierre Allard, who studies tax policy at the Université de Sherbrooke.

“The beneficiaries of the trust are not disclosed publicly. It’s anonymous,” she said, adding that it is “one of the great vulnerabilities of the Canadian legal system.”

“If we want to eliminate the Mafia cannabis market, we cannot allow them to use tax havens or trusts to enter indirectly through the back door,” Carignan said.

A report by the federal Department of Finance and several international organizations identifies trusts as one of the vehicles most at risk for money-laundering in Canada.

In a Senate appearance last April, Rizqy suggested refusing to grant production licences to companies financed through trusts.

“Maybe it would be wise to deny the licence outright because you are not able to unequivocally establish that the security clearance is really valid,” said Rizqy.

The recommendation was not accepted. The federal cannabis legislation adopted this summer, however, did include more extensive background checks into individuals who back cannabis companies.

Too many requirements for the cannabis industry?

Carignan has faced criticism for his efforts to make cannabis companies more transparent.

Line Beauchesne, a criminologist at the University of Ottawa, believes Health Canada’s investigations are adequate and consistent with the government’s desire to ensure the quality of the product and to prevent smuggling.

“Why especially for the cannabis industry?” Beauchesne asked.

If there were to be new rules of transparency, “all industries moving into Canada” should be affected, she said.

She acknowledged, however, that Health Canada “is absolutely not equipped to conduct financial investigations.”

Its traditional role is to ensure a product meets certain standards.

“Health Canada’s job is to make sure that when I eat cheese, it’s cheese. When it’s eggs, it’s eggs. And when [it comes to] cannabis, it’s cannabis.”

The limits of police investigations

The number of audits to be conducted in the cannabis industry is so great investigators have to make choices, said the RCMP’s Goupil.

The work of police is complicated considerably when the sources of financing for businesses come from abroad, including from tax havens.

“Technically, there is nothing illegal there. But it’s hard for [the RCMP] and for Health Canada to go out and check in those countries,” he said.

“Often, it’s going to be the janitor who will sign the company documents or a law firm in country X. At some point, we cannot do the research. It’s a lot of investment, a lot of time, a lot of money,” Goupil said.

“We cannot have a fully bulletproof system. If organized crime has an opportunity to make a profit, it will exploit it. “

Tax havens are not the only barrier to police work. Secrecy also exists in some companies in Canada.

“We need to use other more advanced techniques such as physical surveillance and wiretapping that will help us identify who is behind the company and who operates it,” he said.

These survey techniques, however, require considerable resources and cannot be deployed for all cannabis companies.

“We cannot afford it.”

Source: Licensed cannabis growers have ties to organized crime, Enquête investigation finds | CBC News November 2018

From a Colorado Springs Gazette Opinion

Last week marked the fifth anniversary of Colorado’s decision to sanction the world’s first anything-goes commercial pot trade.

Five years later, we remain an embarrassing cautionary tale.

Visitors to Colorado remark about a new agricultural smell, the wafting odor of pot as they drive near warehouse grow operations along Denver freeways. Residential neighborhoods throughout Colorado Springs reek of marijuana, as producers fill rental homes with plants.

Five years of retail pot coincide with five years of a homelessness growth rate that ranks among the highest rates in the country. Directors of homeless shelters, and people who live on the streets, tell us homeless substance abusers migrate here for easy access to pot.

Five years of Big Marijuana ushered in a doubling in the number of drivers involved in fatal crashes who tested positive for marijuana, based on research by the pro-legalization Denver Post.

Five years of commercial pot have been five years of more marijuana in schools than teachers and administrators ever feared.

“An investigation by Education News Colorado, Solutions and the I-News Network shows drug violations reported by Colorado’s K-12 schools have increased 45 percent in the past four years, even as the combined number of all other violations has fallen,” explains an expose on escalating pot use in schools by Rocky Mountain PBS in late 2016.

The investigation found an increase in high school drug violations of 71 percent since legalization. School suspensions for drugs increased 45 percent.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found Colorado ranks first in the country for marijuana use among teens, scoring well above the national average.

The only good news to celebrate on this anniversary is the dawn of another organization to push back against Big Marijuana’s threat to kids, teens and young adults.

The Marijuana Accountability Coalition formed Nov. 6 in Denver and will establish satellites throughout the state. It resulted from discussions among recovery professionals, parents, physicians and others concerned with the long-term effects of a commercial industry profiteering off of substance abuse.

“It’s one thing to decriminalize marijuana, it’s an entirely different thing to legalize an industry that has commercialized a drug that is devastating our kids and devastating whole communities,” said coalition founder Justin Luke Riley. “Coloradans need to know, other states need to know, that Colorado is suffering from massive normalization and commercialization of this drug which has resulted in Colorado being the number one state for youth drug use in the country. Kids are being expelled at higher rates, and more road deaths tied to pot have resulted since legalization.”

Commercial pot’s five-year anniversary is an odious occasion for those who want safer streets, healthier kids and less suffering associated with substance abuse. Experts say the worst effects of widespread pot use will culminate over decades. If so, we can only imagine the somber nature of Big Marijuana’s 25th birthday.

Source: Five Years Later, Colorado Sees Toll of Pot Legalization (illinoisfamily.org) February 2017

Last June, under huge and hysterical media pressure, Home Secretary Sajid Javid opened the lid on the Pandora’s box of ‘medicinal’ cannabis. He issued emergency licences to allow access for two young boys with severe forms of epilepsy and at the same time ordered a review into evidence of its therapeutic efficacy, falling for what soon transpired to be a well-orchestrated campaign. Coordinated by Volteface, the openly pro-legalising recreational cannabis think tank funded by Paul Birch, a multi-millionaire British tech tycoon, it was aided by the journalist and campaigner Ian Birrell, who has disclosed his membership of its advisory panel. Mrs Caldwell and her sick child had, the Daily Mail argued, been hijacked by a pro-cannabis lobby that stands to make billions. She herself has a vested interest as the director of a company marketing cannabis oil which she sells online.

With useful idiots like Lord Hague ready to make two and two add up to five by arguing that the current law is indefensible and therefore we must legalise cannabis altogether, the campaign had got off to a flying start.

Since then the media onslaught of the metro-elite’s demands for legal access to this drug has not stopped. Fuelled by Canada’s ill-considered decision to legalise recreational use, it reached peak volume last week. Kate Andrews of the Institute of Economic Affairs made her case for it based on a startlingly under-informed account of post-legal pot Colorado (she cannot have read the latest impact update) and arrest stats from the American Civil Liberties Union. Whatever their reliability, she should know that here you are unlikely to receive a custodial sentences before at least seven previous convictions or cautions, and that 50 per cent sent to prison for the first time have at least 15 ‘previous’. As to cannabis possession, it is a myth that is anything other than decriminalised already.

Then we had former Met Chief Lord Hogan-Howe adding his pennyworth. He has no reason not to know the devasting evidence from Colorado and Washington State, yet he thinks we need a two-year review of legalisation. Philip Collins of the Times seems equally gung-ho about Colorado’s descent into a dangerous drugs products free-for-all.

In the most sickeningly selfish article of all, the gloating Simon Jenkins raised his ‘glass of cannabis wine’ to the drug culture that no legalisation will ever sanitise.

Unmentioned was that Canada’s decision was based on no evidence at all that it would either reduce youth use or meaningfully curtail the black market, the stated goals for taking the country down this path

Nor was the fact that Canada’s ‘journey’ had started – where else? – with medicinal cannabis, the cannabis lobby’s admitted and cynical strategy to buy the drug a good name and lower the public’s defences.

This is the wheeze our Home Secretary has fallen for. He has already made good his promise of June 26 and given the all-clear for clinical specialists routinely to prescribe cannabis oil and similar products for epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. Taking effect on November 1, this decision is based on the hastily prepared recommendation of his Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, that vaguely designated ‘cannabis based medicinal products’ should be ‘rescheduled’ (in other words, legalised for ‘prescription’).

This comes before the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) recommendations have been followed through for a clear definition of what a cannabis-derived medicinal product is, and ‘additional frameworks’ and clinical guidance for ‘checks and balances’ for safe prescribing.

Yet these are products neither clinically tested nor of proven efficacy, which doctors will be under great pressure to prescribe and which will leak into the illegal market.

In this one misguided action, oblivious to those interests ruthlessly exploiting the medicinal cannabis pipe dream, the Home Secretary has casually trashed the UK’s world class and purposefully onerous pharmaceutical approval system.

The Home Secretary cannot have read the small print of Dame Sally’s review, or he chose not to, in his rush to get the Billy Caldwell story off the front pages. It has the hallmarks of a dodgy dossier. For the American evidence on which it relies states that there is ‘no or insufficient evidence to support or refute the conclusion that cannabis or cannabinoids are an effective treatment for epilepsy’.* Likewise the meta-analysis Dame Sally leant on provided her with no evidence for epilepsy.

The only ‘conclusive or substantial’ the American evidence finds is for the treatment of chronic pain in adults, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and for improving patient-reported multiple sclerosis spasticity symptoms. For these conditions the licensed cannabis-based drugs Sativex, Marinol and Nabilone exist.

Elsewhere the serious problems associated with the medicalisation of cannabis have been set out. The testimonial evidence it largely relies on falls short of the standards required for the approval of other drugs – which are ‘adequately powered, double blind, placebo controlled randomised clinical trials’.

Against this absence of evidence is the very real evidence of the drug’s harm which has presented itself again in rising hospital cannabis admissions. These include alarmingly high numbers of teens urgently admitted with psychosis. Had Dame Sally had taken more time, extended her search and listened to recent warnings, she would have found that this is far from the only public health risk associated with cannabis.

A long, well-written and referenced article in the BMJ by an Australian academic, Professor Albert Reece, entitled Known Cannabis Teratogenicity Needs to be Carefully Considered, published shortly after the Davies review, raises the alarming question of whether exposure to cannabis has significance for rising birth defects; and whether full-spectrum cannabis (unlike the FDA-approved drug Epidiolex) could have some of the problems of thalidomide.

Reece’s concern is that even were the clinical efficacy of cannabinoids to be demonstrated, ‘their teratogenic potential, from both mother and father’ would need to be carefully balanced with their clinical utility. A teratogen, for the uninitiated, is an agent that can disrupt the development of the embryo or foetus and halt the pregnancy or produce a congenital malformation (a birth defect).

Professor Reece reports that ‘gestational cannabis has been linked with a clear continuum of birth defects’ in a range of longitudinal studies, and increased foetal death, and reflects a worldwide increase in high cannabis-using areas.

He is not alone to be concerned. The website of NHS Wales carries a warning about cannabis which indicates that it is taking its gastroschisis (a condition in which the bowel herniates out of the abdomen during foetal development) outbreak seriously.

The question of whether cannabis is to blame for rising rates of gastroschisis has been raised elsewhere and those puzzled by it cite drug use as a risk factor, as does the NHS. 

Professor Reece’s warning needs heeding. Only once before has a known teratogen been marketed globally: thalidomide. What the Home Secretary and his Chief Medical Officer need reminding of, as Reece makes clear, is that the thalidomide disaster is ‘the proximate reason for modern pharmaceutical laws’. These are laws that Sajid Javid, Dame Sally Davies and the AMCD are prematurely prepared to overturn.

Previously supportive commentators have begun to express their reservations about the implications of ‘medicinal’ cannabis. It can’t be allowed to become a free-for-all, writes Alice Thomson in the Times.

She is right to worry, and the dangers could be worse than anything she has imagined.

This is why the Home Secretary needs to stop and take stock. He still has time to review and revoke his ill-advised and media-pressured decision. As for the vested interests behind legalising cannabis, he should know that as far as medicinal cannabis is concerned more will never be enough.

*Epidiolex, the GW Pharmaceuticals CBD-based epilepsy drug which has recently been approved for Dravet Syndrome in the US and which we can expect to be approved in Europe, does not fall into this category. One must presume that GW Pharma with twenty years of research would have included the psychoactive ingredient that Mrs Caldwell and her campaign claim is necessary, had they been able to justify it clinically.

Source: The Home Secretary has acted prematurely and dangerously on medical cannabis – The Conservative Woman October 2018

  • Thousands gathered at crowded ‘420’ rally calling for legalisation of cannabis 
  • Possession of the Class B drug carrying maximum jail sentence of five years
  • Met Police defended lack of action saying it meant rally passed ‘largely without incident’

It’s a sight that makes a mockery of Britain’s drug laws.

As families relaxed in the warm sunshine, thousands of drug users gathered in a Central London park to smoke cannabis – in full view of the police.

Officers stood by in Hyde Park and watched, smiling, as plumes of pungent smoke filled the air.

Revellers, including some teen-agers, lay sprawled on the grass, confident the police would do nothing at the crowded ‘420’ rally, an annual event which calls for the legalisation of cannabis.

One man said: ‘I’m not that bothered about being arrested. The police will just take it off us – and we’ve got more anyway.’

There were no arrests at Friday’s rally, even though possession of the Class B drug carries a maximum jail sentence of five years.

The shocking failure to enforce the law comes as The Mail on Sunday today reveals nine out of ten teenagers in drug clinics are being treated for cannabis abuse.

A Met Police spokesman last night defended their lack of action, saying its approach to enforcing drug laws ‘meant [the rally] passed off largely without incident’ and was ‘no different from any other day’.

Their leniency is mirrored by new figures showing the police and courts are increasingly going soft on drugs. The number of ‘proven drug law offenders’ plummeted to 102,948 in 2016 – a fall of a quarter in two years, according to the Focal Point on Drugs report.

Of these, ‘the majority were dealt with outside court’, with 41,831 sentenced in court, the rest given a warning or caution. The ‘most common sentence was a fine’, meted out to a third, while a fifth were jailed, including 1,009 for possession and 7,459 for trafficking.

The ‘420’ event is believed to have been named after a group of 1970s Californian youngsters who met after school at 4.20pm to smoke marijuana. The day April 20 has since become an informal festival to celebrate the drug.

Source: Fury as thousands gather to smoke cannabis in Hyde Park and not a SINGLE ONE of them is charged  | Daily Mail Online April 2018

Foreign gangs are finding that black-market marijuana is profitable even in states that have legalized cannabis.

An El Paso County sheriff’s deputy processes bags of distribution-ready marijuana seized from an illegal grow house in Colorado Springs, Colorado on May 15, 2018.Andrew Blankstein / NBC News

Source: Foreign cartels embrace home-grown marijuana in pot-legal states (nbcnews.com) May 2018

National Drug Intelligence Center
North Carolina Drug Threat Assessment
April 2003

Marijuana

Marijuana is the most readily available and widely abused drug in North Carolina. Marijuana is abused by individuals of various ages in North Carolina. Outdoor cannabis cultivation is widespread in the state. Indoor cultivation occurs to a lesser extent. Mexican criminal groups, the dominant wholesale distributors of marijuana in the state, transport multiton shipments of Mexico-produced marijuana into North Carolina in tractor-trailers, primarily from Mexico and southwestern states. African American, Caucasian, and Jamaican criminal groups and OMGs also transport marijuana produced in Mexico into North Carolina and distribute wholesale quantities. Caucasian and Mexican criminal groups also distribute wholesale quantities of marijuana produced in large outdoor grows in North Carolina. At the retail level marijuana is distributed by African American, Caucasian, and Hispanic gangs; OMGs; and local independent producers and dealers including students, homemakers, and business people.

Abuse

Marijuana is the most widely abused illicit drug in North Carolina, and the drug is abused by individuals of all ages. According to the 1999 NHSDA, 4.7 percent of North Carolina residents reported having abused marijuana in the 30 days prior to the survey. The same figure was reported nationwide. The survey data also indicate that rates of marijuana abuse are highest among teenagers and young adults. Nearly 14 percent of North Carolina residents aged 18 to 25 surveyed reported having abused marijuana in the past month, while 6.8 percent of residents aged 12 to 17 surveyed reported the same. Of North Carolina residents aged 26 and older, 3.1 percent reported past month marijuana abuse.

The number of marijuana-related treatment admissions in North Carolina ranked second to the number of cocaine-related admissions each year from FY1996 through FY1999. Marijuana-related treatment admissions increased 70 percent from 7,285 in FY1996 to 12,382 in FY1999, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. (See Table 3.)

Table 3. Marijuana-Related Treatment Admissions, North Carolina, FY1996-FY1999
Fiscal Year Admissions
1996   7,285
1997   9,382
1998 11,150
1999 12,382

Source: North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

According to 2000 ADAM data, 44.2 percent of adult male arrestees tested positive for marijuana. Marijuana abuse was highest among male arrestees under 21 years of age; 84.4 percent of arrestees under 21 tested positive for marijuana.

Availability

Marijuana produced in Mexico or in North Carolina is readily available. Mexico-produced marijuana is relatively inexpensive and has a low THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) content (average 3.3%). According to local law enforcement, in 2001 a pound of Mexico-produced marijuana sold for $600 to $1,000 in North Carolina. A pound of marijuana produced from cannabis cultivated outdoors in North Carolina sold for $600 to $900. In North Carolina cannabis plants cultivated indoors using hydroponic operations usually yield marijuana with a higher THC content that is significantly more expensive. A pound generally sold for $2,400 in 2001.

The number of marijuana-related arrests was dramatically higher in 1999 than in 1994, particularly among juveniles. According to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, juvenile arrests for marijuana possession likewise were significantly higher in 1999 than in 1994.

Table 4. Marijuana-Related Arrests, North Carolina, CY1994-CY1999
Year Arrests
1994 15,476
1995 17,462
1996 19,266
1997 22,924
1998 22,662
1999 22,728

Source: North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.
Note: Includes possession or sale/manufacturing.

Table 5. Juvenile Marijuana-Related Arrests, North Carolina, CY1994-CY1999
Year Arrests
1994 1,532
1995 2,286
1996 2,684
1997 3,173
1998 2,932
1999 3,004

Source: North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.
Note: Includes possession.

The amount of marijuana seized in the state increased dramatically from 1998 through 2001. Federal law enforcement authorities in North Carolina seized 801 kilograms of marijuana in 1998, 2,301 kilograms in 1999, 4,885 kilograms in 2000, and 3,826.8 kilograms in 2001, according to FDSS data. Additionally, the number of cannabis plants seized by state and local authorities increased 36 percent from 29,753 in 1999 to 40,464 in 2000.

The number of marijuana-related federal sentences in North Carolina ranked second to cocaine-related federal sentences from FY1996 through FY2000. According to USSC data, the number of marijuana-related federal sentences fluctuated from FY1996 through FY2000, with 113 in FY1996, 72 in FY1997, 79 in FY1998, 124 in FY1999, and 81 in FY2000

Violence

Cannabis growers take extreme measures intended to injure or kill intruders on cultivation sites. Cannabis growers frequently protect their grows by booby trapping them with explosives, trip-wired firing devices, and pits dug in the ground. The perimeters of cultivation sites frequently are littered with shards of glass and wooden boards with upright nails. Cultivation sites may also be guarded by aggressive dogs such as pit bulls. Law enforcement authorities report that weapons, usually firearms, are seized frequently from the homes of cannabis growers. Officials from the Asheville Buncombe Metropolitan Enforcement Group, in response to the NDIC National Drug Threat Survey 2001, report that cannabis growers frequently place animal traps among cannabis plants.

Production

Cannabis cultivation is widespread in North Carolina. Outdoor cannabis cultivation is more common than indoor cultivation because of the state’s long growing season, temperate climate, and rural areas that allow growers to conceal cultivation sites. Cannabis growers frequently use federal forest land, particularly in western North Carolina, to minimize the risk of personal property seizures if the plots are seized by law enforcement. Mexican and Caucasian criminal groups are the primary cultivators of outdoor cannabis. Reporting from law enforcement officials indicates that cannabis cultivation is widespread in areas including the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests in the western part of the state. Outdoor cultivation sites in North Carolina are larger than before, according to law enforcement authorities. In July 2001 state and local law enforcement authorities seized more than 23,000 cannabis plants, ranging in size from seedlings to 9-foot-tall plants, from a large field that covered nearly 2 acres in Chatham County. This cannabis cultivation site was one of the largest ever seized in North Carolina.

Growers also cultivate high potency cannabis in indoor hydroponic operations. Indoor grows vary in size and number from dozens to several hundred cannabis plants. Indoor cultivation requires the grower to regulate light, heat, humidity, and fertilizer. Caucasian and African American independent producers are the primary cultivators of cannabis using hydroponic techniques.

 

Four Illegal Immigrants Arrested

In March 2002 local law enforcement officials arrested four individuals in Randolph County and seized approximately 1 kilogram of cocaine and more than 52 pounds of marijuana following a tip from an informant. The individuals were illegal immigrants believed to be from Mexico.

The informant’s tip led to a traffic stop and a joint investigation by the vice and narcotics units of the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office, the High Point Police Department, the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office, and the Asheboro Police Department.

Based on the information, officers stopped and searched a minivan and seized approximately 1 kilogram of cocaine. After receiving consent from the suspects, officers searched a residence and seized 52.5 pounds of marijuana from a van that was parked at the residence.

All four individuals were charged with felony drug charges.

Source: Randolph County Sheriff’s Office.

 

 

Transportation

Mexican criminal groups are the dominant transporters of Mexico-produced marijuana into North Carolina. They primarily use tractor-trailers to transport multiton quantities of marijuana concealed among legitimate goods such as produce, furniture, and other items from Mexico and southwestern states. Law enforcement officials report that tractor-trailers carrying 1,000 pounds or more of marijuana are increasingly common. In March 2001 law enforcement authorities in Rowan County seized over 4 tons of marijuana from a tractor-trailer that was destined for a farmhouse in the county. The seizure was one of the largest marijuana seizures in North Carolina history.

 

North Carolina Legislators Stiffen Marijuana Laws

In 1999 North Carolina state legislators enacted a law making possession of 10 or more pounds of marijuana a felony offense. The change was in response to an increasing number of marijuana shipments totaling 1,000 pounds or more that were being transported into the state.

Source: North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission.

 

 

Mexican, African American, Caucasian, and Jamaican criminal groups also transport marijuana in private vehicles. These criminal groups transport Mexico-produced marijuana directly from Mexico and southwestern states. They also transport marijuana from Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Transporters conceal marijuana in luggage or in false compartments and sometimes smear marijuana packages with food or liquid soap to conceal the distinctive odor. In May 2001 a sheriff’s deputy in Harrison County, Mississippi, seized 35 pounds of marijuana from a private vehicle and arrested two Mexican individuals who claimed to be traveling from Edinburg, Texas, to Charlotte. The marijuana was wrapped in packing tape and concealed in the gas tank, which contained two compartments: one for gasoline and one for contraband. In April 2001 a Louisiana state trooper arrested an individual driving a vehicle from Texas to North Carolina and seized 62 pounds of marijuana hidden in luggage in the trunk. The marijuana was wrapped in clear cellophane, smeared with mustard, and wrapped again with fabric softener sheets.

 

Marijuana Smuggled Through South Carolina Port

Guilford County sheriff’s deputies seized nearly 3,000 pounds of marijuana and arrested five individuals in December 2000 in Greensboro. The marijuana had been smuggled on a ship arriving at the Port of Charleston, South Carolina, from Mexico and was concealed in a container among packages of napkins and detergent. The marijuana had been transported into North Carolina by truck.

Source: Associated Press, 5 December 2000.

 

 

Criminal groups, particularly Jamaican, also transport marijuana into North Carolina on commercial airlines, employing couriers who conceal the drug in their luggage or strap packages of it under their clothing. The DEA San Diego Division reports that San Diego is a principal distribution hub for marijuana produced in Mexico supplied to Jamaican criminal groups in the southeastern United States. Mexican DTOs based in Mexico supply marijuana to Jamaican criminal groups in San Diego who then distribute the drug to other Jamaican criminal groups in North Carolina and other southeastern states. Jamaican criminal groups in North Carolina often falsely market Mexico-produced marijuana as Jamaican marijuana because Jamaican marijuana is reputed to be more potent and is, therefore, more expensive. Marijuana produced in Mexico sells for about $400 per pound in San Diego but sells for as much as $2,400 per pound as Jamaican marijuana in North Carolina.

Mexican, African American, and Caucasian criminal groups also transport marijuana into North Carolina from southwestern states via package delivery services. According to 2000 Operation Jetway data, law enforcement authorities in North Carolina seized at least 19 packages that contained multipound quantities of marijuana. The packages were sent from Texas and California, and most were destined for Charlotte. According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, approximately one-half of the packages were sent to members of Mexican criminal groups, and approximately one-half were sent to members of African American criminal groups.

Mexican, African American, and Caucasian criminal groups also transport marijuana into the state on buses and passenger trains. In December 2000 Davidson County sheriff’s deputies stopped a bus traveling from Texas to North Carolina and seized 80 pounds of marijuana in a duffel bag. None of the passengers admitted to owning the bag. According to law enforcement authorities, the passengers were Mexican migrant workers traveling from Texas to North Carolina for employment.

Unknown quantities of marijuana produced in North Carolina are transported out of the state in private vehicles and via package delivery services into urban and rural areas in Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Distribution

In North Carolina Mexican criminal groups are the primary wholesale distributors of marijuana produced in Mexico. African American, Caucasian, and Jamaican criminal groups also distribute wholesale quantities of Mexico-produced marijuana. All of these criminal groups distribute marijuana to gang members and local independent dealers; they also distribute some marijuana at the retail level. These criminal groups sell marijuana to dealers of other races and ethnicities; however, in a small number of communities, they distribute marijuana only within their own ethnic group because they distrust outsiders. OMG members sell wholesale quantities to members of smaller motorcycle gangs and female associates who handle retail distribution.

Cannabis growers who cultivate large outdoor plots–usually Caucasian and Mexican criminal groups–sell wholesale quantities of locally produced marijuana to gang members and local independent dealers and occasionally sell retail quantities. Growers who cultivate small amounts of cannabis in their homes or tend small plots–usually Caucasian and African American independent dealers–abuse the drug themselves or sell it to friends, family members, and associates.

At the retail level marijuana is distributed by African American, Caucasian, and Hispanic gangs; OMGs; and local independent producers and dealers including students, homemakers, and businesspeople. Law enforcement authorities report that marijuana is sold at various locations such as open-air drug markets; parking lots; bars and nightclubs; college, high school, and middle school campuses; and businesses and private homes. Law enforcement authorities report that high school students, in particular, are becoming increasingly involved in retail marijuana distribution on and near school grounds. In April 2001, law enforcement officers in Chapel Hill arrested a high school student who had concealed small plastic bags of marijuana in a sock that he had hidden in his pants. Law enforcement officers report that the student intended to sell the marijuana to other students on school grounds.

Marijuana – North Carolina Drug Threat Assessment (justice.gov)

The proportion of inmates in jails with a moderate to severe stimulant use disorder—including addiction to methamphetamine—has surged in recent years, a study presented at the recent American Society of Addiction Medicine annual meeting suggests.

The study of inmates in two jails in rural North Carolina found over seven times more inmates with a substance use disorder met criteria for addiction to stimulants, including methamphetamine, in 2016 compared with 2008.

“These findings confirm anecdotal reports we were hearing from county sheriffs and correctional officers that they had noticed a considerable increase in meth-related crimes and meth lab seizures in rural areas,” said lead researcher Dr. Steven Proctor, Senior Research Professor and Associate Director of the Institutional Center for Scientific Research at Albizu University in Miami, Florida. “We don’t know whether a change in crime prevention strategy is driving law enforcement to prioritize meth-related crimes, leading to more arrests of people with stimulant use disorders, or whether increased use of meth is leading to an increase in meth-related crimes.”

Proctor said that although prevalence estimates of substance use disorders are provided annually for the non-institutionalized U.S. general population through nationally representative surveys, such methods are absent for correctional populations.

The study included data from 176 inmates in 2008 and 149 inmates in 2016. Proctor found alcohol was the most prevalent substance use disorder diagnosis in 2008, followed by cannabis and cocaine. Substance use disorders related to opioids and stimulants were relatively infrequent in 2008.

In sharp contrast, the substance use disorder category involving stimulants was the most prevalent diagnosis in 2016, followed by alcohol and opioids. The proportion of inmates with a moderate-severe opioid use disorder in 2016 was twice that of the prevalence of dependence in 2008.

The prevalence of cannabis use disorder remained relatively constant, but there was a dramatic drop in alcohol and cocaine use in 2008 and 2016.

Proctor noted these findings cannot be applied to the population at large. “It is difficult to track patterns of illicit meth use in the general population over the same period, because until 2015 the National Survey on Drug Use and Health only included questions about prescription stimulants, and didn’t ask about illicit meth use,” he said. “Further research is needed to determine whether these findings are applicable to non-correctional populations.”

Source: Featured News: Number of Inmates With Meth Addiction Jumps in Rural Jails – Partnership to End Addiction (drugfree.org) May 2018

Child Neglect and Violence by Marijuana Impaired Parents are the Leading Causes

As articles in popular magazines portray cannabis as the “it” drug, parents are being led to believe that a serving of marijuana is no more dangerous than a glass of beer or wine.”

— Dr. Ken Finn

WASHINGTON, DC, US, April 23, 2018 /EINPresswire.com/ — Parents Opposed to Pot (POP), a nonprofit dedicated to exposing the dangers of marijuana, counts 106 child abuse deaths related to marijuana since states voted to legalize it in November 2012. POP cautions that the normalization of marijuana should be a primary concern to parents and child protection agencies. April is Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month, and April 25 is Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Day.

Parents Opposed to Pot found local newspaper reports of the incidents online, and the number of deaths could actually be much higher. Some states are more likely than other states to report when marijuana drug use is involved. The deaths have occurred in 30 states, and the counts are higher in states that have legalized pot. The problem is serious enough that when the National Alliance for Drug-Endangered Children ran a conference last summer, much of it focused on marijuana. Nationally, approximately 1700 child abuse deaths occur each year, and substance abuse is a major risk factor.

The earliest deaths after 2012 that POP recorded seemed to be from neglect: toddlers who drowned, died in fires, or infants who were left in hot cars when parents smoked pot and forgot about them. However, many deaths related to marijuana were caused by domestic violence, because parents became angry or psychotic from pot use and had paranoid delusions. The potency of marijuana is several times stronger than it was in the 1990s.The public has not been educated well about how marijuana can trigger psychosis and/or schizophrenia, as stated in the 2017 National Academy of Sciences report.

Shortly after Colorado commercialized marijuana in 2014, stories of three tragic deaths of toddlers related to their parents’ use of marijuana emerged. The month Washington legalized possession of marijuana, a two-year-old drank from his mother’s bong and died. After investigating, state officials determined that the toddler had ingested lethal amounts of both THC and meth, enough to kill an adult.

“As articles in popular magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Oprah Winfrey’s ‘O’ portray cannabis as the ‘it’ drug, parents are being led to believe that a serving of marijuana is no more dangerous than a glass of beer or wine,” explains Dr. Ken Finn, a medical advisor to PopPot.org. “However, three sets of twins died in fires when parents abandoned these toddlers for reasons related to their marijuana use.”

The promotion of marijuana as a way to relax is inappropriate for parents or caregivers of small children, and the promotion of marijuana for pregnant women with morning sickness is a dangerous trend.

Marijuana use impairs executive functioning — which led to poor judgement and forgetfulness in many of these deaths. Greater acceptance means more use, and more use means more addiction.

Eleven deaths occurred in Colorado, while 10 took place in California. In both states, at least one child died where butane hash oil (BHO) labs operated, and numerous children were injured in BHO fires. The two most recent deaths in Colorado occurred last summer when a mother followed a cult leader to a marijuana farm. No one knows how long the two girls had been dead when they were discovered locked in a car covered in tarp last September. They were starved to death. An unusual death in California occurred when a babysitter went to her cousin’s car to smoke pot, leaving a 16-month-old boy inside. The toddler eventually came outside and the visiting car ran over him.

Many ER treatments followed the accidental ingestion of marijuana candies and cookies. A medical journal reported last year that an 11-month-old baby suffered from an enlarged heart muscle and couldn’t be revived a few days after ingesting marijuana in Colorado. However, it’s usually not edibles that kill children, but other acts of neglect and violent behavior.

In Florida, three children drowned when parents or babysitters smoked pot and forgot about them. At least 10 deaths occurred when parents left small children in hot cars while they smoked cannabis. The most common forms of death by neglect when parents use cannabis are fires, 15, drownings, 10 and hot cars, 10.

During the intense debate over medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, the number of pot-related child abuse deaths seemed to increase. Much drama was used to discuss children with seizures, while five other children died due to adult pot use between April and December, 2016.

POP is not the only organization to notice the uptick in child deaths related to marijuana. Yvapil County District Attorney Sheila Polk reported that, in 2013, 62 deaths of children in Arizona were associated with cannabis , and that it was the substance most often related to accidental deaths in the state.

Nationally, parents cause about three quarters of child abuse deaths and most child abuse deaths occur because of neglect. When there’s marijuana in the picture, violence or violent neglect are just as likely to cause death. Boyfriends of the mothers caused 14 such deaths, most often from violence, with the moms in these instances often using pot too. One recent death was the beating death of a three-year-old. The stepfather, who was charged, kept marijuana in the house. Research shows that cannabis can trigger negative thoughts and violent behavior. But, we haven’t included this case our list because it’s not clear what role the drug played in this death.

In four cases, children died because babysitters’ neglected the child, while in four different instances a relative was responsible for the deaths.

POP published 18 blog articles on Child Endangerment that explain some of facts surrounding the deaths. A downloadable fact sheet available on the PopPot.org webpage simplifies the statistics.

Parents Opposed to Pot is a 501c3 nonprofit based in Merrifield, Virginia.

Source: Over 100 Child Abuse Deaths Found Related to Cannabis, with Rise of Commercial Industry (einpresswire.com) April 2018

The police explanation that more black and Hispanic people are arrested on marijuana charges because complaints are high in their neighborhoods doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.

There are many ways to get arrested on marijuana charges, but one pattern has remained true through years of piecemeal policy changes in New York City: The primary targets are black and Hispanic people

They sit in courtroom pews, almost all of them young black men, waiting their turn before a New York City judge to face a charge that no longer exists in some states: possessing marijuana. They tell of smoking in a housing project hallway, or of being in a car with a friend who was smoking, or of lighting up a Black & Mild cigar the police mistake for a blunt.

There are many ways to be arrested on marijuana charges, but one pattern has remained true through years of piecemeal policy changes in New York: The primary targets are black and Hispanic people.

Across the city, black people were arrested on low-level marijuana charges at eight times the rate of white, non-Hispanic people over the past three years, The New York Times found. Hispanic people were arrested at five times the rate of white people. In Manhattan, the gap is even starker: Black people there were arrested at 15 times the rate of white people.

With crime dropping and the Police Department under pressure to justify the number of low-level arrests it makes, a senior police official recently testified to lawmakers that there was a simple reason for the racial imbalance: More residents in predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods were calling to complain about marijuana.

An analysis by The Times found that fact did not fully explain the racial disparity. Instead, among neighborhoods where people called about marijuana at the same rate, the police almost always made arrests at a higher rate in the area with more black residents, The Times found.

In Brooklyn, officers in the precinct covering Canarsie arrested people on marijuana possession charges at a rate more than four times as high as in the precinct that includes Greenpoint, despite residents calling 311, the city’s help line, and 911 to complain about marijuana at the same rate, police data show. The Canarsie precinct is 85 percent black. The Greenpoint precinct is 4 percent black.

In Queens, the marijuana arrest rate is more than 10 times as high in the precinct covering Queens Village as it is in precinct that serves Forest Hills. Both got marijuana complaints at the same rate, but the Queens Village precinct is just over half black, while the one covering Forest Hills has a tiny portion of black residents.

And in Manhattan, officers in a precinct covering a stretch of western Harlem make marijuana arrests at double the rate of their counterparts in a precinct covering the northern part of the Upper West Side. Both received complaints at the same rate, but the precinct covering western Harlem has double the percentage of black residents as the one that serves the Upper West Side.

The Times’s analysis, combined with interviews with defendants facing marijuana charges, lawyers and police officers, paints a picture of uneven enforcement. In some neighborhoods, officers expected by their commanders to be assertive on the streets seize on the smell of marijuana and stop people who are smoking. In others, people smoke in public without fear of an officer passing by or stopping them.

Black neighborhoods often contend with more violent crime, and the police often deploy extra officers there, which can lead to residents being exposed more to the police.

“More cops in neighborhoods means they’re more likely to encounter somebody smoking,” said Jeffrey Fagan, a Columbia Law School professor who also advised The Times on its marijuana-arrest analysis.

But more officers are historically assigned to black neighborhoods than would be expected based on crime rates, according to a study by Professor Fagan. And research has found “there is no good evidence” that marijuana arrests in New York City are associated with reductions in serious crime.

Officers who catch someone smoking marijuana are legally able to stop and search that person and check for open warrants. Some defense lawyers and criminologists say those searches and warrant checks are the real impetus for enforcing marijuana laws more heavily in some neighborhoods.

The analysis by The Times shows that at least some quality-of-life arrests have more to do with the Police Department’s strategies than with residents who call for help, undermining one of the arguments the police have used to defend mass enforcement of minor offenses in an era of declining serious crime.

The analysis examined how marijuana arrests were related to the marijuana-complaint rate, race, violent-crime levels, the poverty rate and homeownership data in each precinct. It also considered the borough where an arrest took place to account for different policing practices across the city. The arrests represent cases in which the most serious charge against someone was low-level marijuana possession.

Government surveys have shown that black and white people use marijuana at roughly the same rate. Marijuana smoke wafts down streets all over the city, from the brownstones in upper-middle-class areas of Manhattan to apartment buildings in working-class neighborhoods in other boroughs.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said in late 2014 that the police would largely give summonses instead of making arrests for carrying personal marijuana, and reserve arrests mainly for smoking in public. Since then, the police have arrested 17,500 people for marijuana possession on average a year, down from about 26,000 people in 2014, and issued thousands of additional summonses. Overall, arrests have dropped sharply from their recent peak of more than 50,000 during some years under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

About 87 percent of those arrested in recent years have been black or Hispanic, a proportion that has remained roughly the same for decades, according to research led by Harry G. Levine, a sociology professor at Queens College.

“What you have is people smoking weed in the same places in any neighborhood in the city,” said Scott Levy, a special counsel to the criminal defense practice at the Bronx Defenders, who has studied marijuana arrests. “It’s just those neighborhoods are patrolled very, very differently. And the people in those neighborhoods are seen very differently by the police.”

Responding to The Times’s analysis, the Police Department said pockets of violent crime — and the heavier deployments that result — push up marijuana arrests in some neighborhoods. J. Peter Donald, an assistant commissioner in the department’s public information office, also said more people smoke in public in some neighborhoods than others, driving up arrests. He said 911 and 311 complaints about marijuana had increased in recent years.

“N.Y.P.D. police officers enforce the law fairly and evenly, not only where and when they observe infractions but also in response to complaints from 911 and 311 calls, tenant associations, community councils and build-the-block meetings,” Mr. Donald said in a statement.

Appearing before the City Council in February, Chief Dermot F. Shea said, “The remaining arrests that we make now are overlaid exactly in the parts of the city where we are receiving complaints from the public.” He asked, “What would you have the police do when people are calling?”

Police data do show that neighborhoods with many black and Hispanic residents tend to generate more 311 and 911 complaints about marijuana. Criminal justice reform advocates said that is not because more people are smoking marijuana in those areas. Rather, people in poor neighborhoods call the police because they are less likely to have a responsive landlord, building superintendent or co-op board member who can field their complaints.

Rory Lancman, a councilman from Queens who pressed police officials for the marijuana data at the February hearing, said with the police still arresting thousands of people for smoking amid a widespread push for reform, the police “blame it on the communities themselves because they’re the ones calling on us.”

The city’s 77 precincts, led by commanders with their own enforcement priorities, show erratic arrest patterns. In Sunset Park, Brooklyn, for example, the police made more than twice as many marijuana arrests last year as in 2016, despite receiving roughly the same number of annual complaints. And in a precinct covering a section of northwestern Harlem, arrests dropped to 90 last year from almost 700 a year earlier, even though complaints fell only slightly from one year to the next.

Criticism of marijuana arrests provided fuel for Mr. de Blasio’s campaign for mayor in 2013, when he won promising to “reverse the racial impact of low-level marijuana arrests.” The next year the new Brooklyn district attorney, Ken Thompson, defied the Police Department and said his office would stop prosecuting many low-level marijuana arrests.

Yet the disparities remain. Black and Hispanic people are the main targets of arrests even in mostly white neighborhoods. In the precinct covering the southern part of the Upper West Side, for example, white residents outnumber their black and Hispanic neighbors by six to one, yet seven out of every 10 people charged with marijuana possession in the last three years are black or Hispanic, state data show. In the precinct covering Park Slope, Brooklyn, where a fifth of the residents are black or Hispanic, three-quarters of those arrested on marijuana charges are black or Hispanic.

The question of how to address those disparities has divided Democratic politicians in New York. Cynthia Nixon, who is campaigning for the Democratic nomination for governor against Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, has vowed to legalize marijuana and clear people’s arrest records. Mr. de Blasio and Mr. Cuomo have been reluctant to support the same measures.

In Criminal Court in Brooklyn on a recent Monday, the people waiting in the crowded pews to be arraigned on marijuana charges were almost all black men. In interviews, some declined to give their full names for fear of compounding the consequences of their arrests.

They had missed work or school, sometimes losing hundreds of dollars in wages, to show up in court — often twice, because paperwork was not ready the first time. Their cases were all dismissed so long as they stayed out of trouble for a stretch, an indication of what Scott Hechinger, a senior staff lawyer and director of policy at Brooklyn Defender Services, said was the low value the court system places on such cases.

Eli, 18, said he had been smoking in a housing project hallway because his parents preferred him to keep it out of the apartment. Greg, 39, said he had not even been smoking himself, but was sitting in his car next to his wife, who he said smokes marijuana to relieve the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

“They do it because that’s the easiest way to arrest you,” Greg said.

Rashawn Nicol, 27, said officers found his female friend holding a lit blunt on a third-floor stairwell landing in a Brooklyn housing project. They backed off arresting her once she started crying, he said, but said they needed to bring their supervisor an arrest because he had radioed over a noise complaint. “Somebody’s got to go down for this,” Mr. Nicol said an officer told him. So they let her go, but arrested him.

Several people asked why the police hound residents for small-time infractions like marijuana in more violent neighborhoods, but are slow to follow up about serious crimes. “The resources they waste for this are ridiculous,” Mr. Nicol said.

Source: Surest Way to Face Marijuana Charges in New York: Be Black or Hispanic – The New York Times (nytimes.com) May 2018

As the federal government prepares to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, an Ontario judge has ruled that cannabis-induced psychosis led a man to a seemingly hate-filled attack on a family, in what appears to be the first case of its kind in Canadian criminal courts.

The man who committed the attack, Mark Phillips, is a Toronto lawyer with an otherwise clean record, and the great-grandson of Nathan Phillips, a former mayor after whom the civic square in front of Toronto City Hall is named. The 37-year-old pleaded guilty Tuesday to assault causing harm in the Dec. 7 incident in St. Thomas, in southwestern Ontario, in which he cracked a man’s rib with a baseball bat.

Sergio Estepa was with his wife, Mari, teenage son and a family friend, speaking Spanish in the parking lot of a St. Thomas mall when a stranger, Mr. Phillips, approached and told them to stop speaking French, according to evidence in court.

He then came at them with a baseball bat, repeatedly screaming “ISIS,” saying he was arresting the family, and calling for help. The family also called for help.

Ontario Court Justice John Skowronski said that, in ordinary circumstances, such an attack would call for a penitentiary sentence ­– that is, at least two years in federal prison. But he accepted the recommendation of defence lawyer Steven Skurka that Mr. Phillips be given a conditional discharge, on the condition that he complete three years of probation. A conditional discharge means that, once his probation is successfully finished, Mr. Phillips will not have a criminal record.

Addressing the family, whose members had told the court in emotional victim-impact statements about the nightmares and anxiety they had experienced, Justice Skowronski said he wanted them to know that what happened to them was an aberration for the country. “Canada is a country of immigrants, different nations, skin colours, accents, names,” he said, adding that his name had not come from this country.

“This is something that took place because of a mental illness.”

Although Crown prosecutor Lisa Defoe had urged a suspended sentence and probation, which would have left Mr. Phillips with a criminal record, she, too, had accepted the defence argument that the attack was caused by cannabis-induced psychosis.

“At first blush this may appear to be a hate crime,” she told Justice Skowronski, “but it’s important for the Crown not to react emotionally.”

Mr. Skurka had told the court that Peter Collins, a forensic psychiatrist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, had uncovered after several sessions with Mr. Phillips that he had been smoking marijuana heavily, including three or four joints earlier on the day of the attack.

With marijuana legalization on the horizon, the case raises questions about mental-health risks and new challenges for the legal system. According to Mr. Skurka, Dr. Collins warned that higher levels than in the past of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in cannabis, is creating a higher incidence of drug-induced psychosis.

Mr. Phillips’s parents said he had been having irrational fears about Nazis, Muslims and terrorists. In one incident the same day as the attack, he shouted about North Korea and was kicked out of Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

Dr. Collins ­found that Mr. Phillips’s actions were not those of a hate crime, but of cannabis-induced psychosis.

“In my professional opinion, Mark Aaron Phillips suffered from a drug-induced psychosis in and around the time of the event that led to his arrest,” he wrote in his report.

Mr. Skurka had also read to the court from a medical journal that said that paranoid and grandiose delusions similar to those caused by schizophrenia can also be caused by cannabis use.

“This is someone without any history of discrimination, racism or violence,” Mr. Skurka said in an interview outside the courtroom, after sentencing.

Mr. Estepa said in an interview that he could not understand how a man of Mr. Phillips’s education and training as a lawyer could have been unaware of the effects of marijuana before using it.

“I can’t believe that in 2018, people don’t know that marijuana can affect your mind-state,” he said.

When asked by Justice Skowronski whether he had anything to say, Mr. Phillips replied, “I’m very, very sorry for what happened.”

Mr. Phillips withdrew from his practice of personal injury law after the incident, but hopes to resume working as a lawyer. He will need the Law Society of Ontario’s approval to do so.

Mr. Estepa met his wife after they moved to Canada separately from Colombia in the early 2000s. In his victim-impact statement, he described the pain of hearing his son treated as an outsider.

“Here in his home country, someone told him, ‘You don’t belong here.’ ”

Source: Marijuana-induced psychosis behind Toronto lawyer’s bat attack, judge rules – The Globe and Mail April 2018

The Colorado Attorney General announced another round of indictments, this time over marijuana tax evasion. Only recently the state indicted 74 individuals and facilities that were growing marijuana legally but shipping it illegally out of state. That was the largest marijuana black market bust in the state’s history.

In this case, thirteen people were charged with allegedly running a criminal enterprise that distributed 200 pounds of marijuana. Those indicted include the owners and others affiliated with a head shop called Hoppz’ Cropz in Colorado Springs. They allegedly sold small items like a lighter worth 5 cents for $15 and gave away an ounce of marijuana for free, and evaded paying fees associated with the retail marijuana licensing system in Colorado and avoided paying excise taxes.

Hoppz’ Cropz owners, managers, and employees also allegedly avoided paying wage withholding taxes by receiving “under the table” wages. Managers allegedly told employees to tell government officials who might inquire that they were volunteers who worked for free.

At the announcement of the indictments, a district attorney said marijuana is the gateway drug for murder. Colorado Springs had 22 homicides in 2016. Eight were directly connected to illegal marijuana grows, he said. Local authorities are overwhelmed trying to stop marijuana crimes. Colorado pot is pouring out of the state, and is worth more on New York streets than in Denver, he added. Homelessness has gone up 50 percent a year since the state legalized.

Read KKTV.com story here.

Source: Email from National Families In Action The Marijuana Report The Marijuana Report.Org August 2017

Government warnings about fentanyl hitting UK streets have inadvertently sparked a demand for the deadly opioid among drug users, a community leader has told IBTimes UK.

Last month, the National Crime Agency (NCA) revealed that 60 drug deaths had been linked to fentanyl and its cousins, including the elephant tranquilizer carfentanyl, since December 2016.

This followed a warning in April from Public Health England (PHE) that the synthetic opiates, which are 50 to 10,000 times stronger than heroin, were being mixed with the street drug.

But these announcements have merely whetted the appetite of some heroin users, according to Martin McCusker, chair of the Lambeth Service User Council, a support network for drug users in south London.

“The warnings have generated a lot of interest among drug users who think ‘wow – this fentanyl stuff is sh*t cool – it must be really strong’,” he said.

McCusker said he was not surprised by the response of his peers when they learned that fentanyl, which is ravaging communities across North America, was becoming more prevalent in this country.

“We get these warnings about overdoses but that’s not what we hear,” he said, adding that a drug user’s typical thought process might be: “Wow, people are overdosing in Wandsworth. Oh right, they must have good gear in Wandsworth.”

As little as 0.002g of fentanyl and 0.00002g of carfentanyl – a few grains – can be fatal. When dealers mix this with heroin the resultant product may contain “hotspots” – unintended concentrations of the more potent substances.

People experiencing an opioid overdose effectively forget to breathe as their respiratory systems shut down.

McCusker acknowledged agencies’ predicaments when it comes to safeguarding drug users without giving harmful substances undue publicity.

But he said the government warnings, combined with media coverage about the spate of fentanyl-related deaths in the UK, had acted as “adverts” for the extra-strong painkiller, which killed the pop musician Prince.

“It’s not that people want fentanyl. It’s that people want stronger opioids and if fentanyl comes along then great,” he said. “Just today I was talking to this guy and he said ‘this dealer in [redacted] estate has got fentanyl.'”

McCusker claimed fentanyl was not being discussed among people who use heroin in the Brixton area until about six months ago, when reports of it being mixed with UK street supplies hit the mainstream press.

Recent interventions from government agencies had only heightened the buzz surrounding the drug, he added.

A spokesperson for PHE said: “The alert we put out was aimed primarily at emergency, medical and other frontline professionals. But we are aware that the decision about whether, and when, to issue an alert about a dangerous drug is a delicate balance between informing the right people to prevent overdoses and not driving demand for it.”

No UK opioid epidemic – for now

At least 60 drug-related deaths have been linked to fentanyl and its analogues in the last eight months, according to figures released by the NCA at a briefing on 31 July. That number refers to cases where the substances showed up in toxicology reports and does not mean they were the outright cause of death.

The synthetic substances, largely imported from Chinese manufacturers, were not instrumental to the recent surge in UK opiate deaths, which jumped from 1,290 in 2012 to 2,038 in 2016. That rise has been attributed to an ageing heroin-using population more prone to underlying health problems, and the increased purity of street heroin.

McCusker pointed out that it was impossible for users to know they were buying fentanyl-laced heroin “unless you’ve got an amazing drug testing kit at home”. He said that some of the excitement surrounding fentanyl was “just hype”.

NCA Deputy Director Ian Cruxton told reporters at the July briefing he was “cautiously optimistic” that the UK heroin market would not be flooded with fentanyl.

He said there had been a significant reduction in fentanyl-related deaths after major busts on mixing ‘labs’ in Leeds and Wales as well as the seizure of dark web marketplaces Alpha Bay and Hansa by law enforcement agencies.

In an April briefing paper, the NCA said: “We have not seen any evidence to date of UK heroin users demanding fentanyl-laced heroin.” McCusker’s testimony suggests the tide may have turned.

Source: https://www.ibtimes.co.uk/heroin-addicts-now-want-fentanyl-after-government-campaign-advertises-how-much-stronger-it-1634152 August 2017

Police forces in the province collected 795 blood samples from motorists suspected of driving while under the influence.

One year after the legalization of recreational use of cannabis in Canada, the black market for the drug — as well as its use behind the wheel — continues to keep Quebec police forces busy.

In 2018, police collected 795 blood samples from motorists suspected of driving while under the influence, and sent them to Quebec’s medical legal centre for processing. That’s 254 more than in the previous year.

The presence of cannabis was detected in 46 per cent of those cases.

The Sûreté du Québec says cannabis is the most commonly detected drug in its traffic stops.

The provincial force said that since legalization, cannabis was detected in the systems of 113 persons pulled over for impaired driving, compared with 73 cases a year earlier — an increase of 54 per cent.

More than 670 officers trained in drug use evaluation have been deployed across the province.

In a statement issued Thursday detailing its operations over the past year, the SQ said it had opened 1,409 investigations into the illegal production, supply and distribution of cannabis, which led to 1,458 warrants being executed and charges filed against 1,403 individuals.

Meanwhile, raids on illegal outdoor cannabis fields were carried out in August and September, and saw 37,000 plants seized.

Over the past year, the SQ seized 71,500 cannabis plants, 161 kilograms of cannabis, 15.8 kilograms of cannabis oil and resin, 23,460 units of edible cannabis and $180,000 in cash.

Source:  https://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/quebec-pot-arrests-behind-the-wheel-up-54-since-legalization October 2019

 

Abstract
Marijuana is currently a growing risk to the public in the United States. Following expanding public opinion that marijuana provides little risk to health, state and federal legislatures have begun changing laws that will significantly increase accessibility of marijuana. Greater marijuana accessibility, resulting in more use, will lead to increased health risks in all demographic categories across the country. Violence is a well-publicized, prominent risk from the more potent, current marijuana available.
We present cases that are highly popularized storylines in which marijuana led to unnecessary violence, health risks, and, in many cases, both. Through the analysis of these cases, we will identify the adverse effects of marijuana use and the role it played in the tragic outcomes in these and other instances. In the analysis of these cases, we found marijuana as the single most common, correlative variable in otherwise diverse populations and circumstances surrounding the association of violence and marijuana.

Conclusion
According to research studies, marijuana use causes aggressive behavior, causes or exacerbates psychosis and produce paranoias. These effects have been illustrated through case studies of highly publicized incidents and heightened political profiles.
These cases contain examples of repeated illustrations of aggression, psychosis and paranoia by marijuana users and intoxication.
Ultimately, without the use and intoxication of marijuana, the poor judgment and misperceptions displayed by these individuals would not have been present, reducing the risk for actions that result in senseless deaths.

Import to these assertions, is that the current marijuana is far more potent in THC concentrations, the psychoactive component. Accordingly, and demonstrated in direct studies, more potent marijuana results in a greater risk for paranoid thinking and psychosis.
In turn, paranoid behavior increases the risk for paranoid behaviors and predictably associated with aggressive and violent behaviors. Marijuana use causes violent behavior through increased aggressiveness, paranoia and personality changes (more suspicious, aggressive and anger).
Recent illicit and “medical marijuana” (especially grown by care givers for medical marijuana) is of much high potency and more likely to cause violent behavior. Marijuana use and its adverse effects should be considered in cases of acts of violence as its role is properly assigned to its high association.
Recognize that high potency marijuana is a predictable and preventable cause of tragic violent consequences.

Source: https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/marijuana-violence-and-law-2155-6105-S11-014.pdf January 2017

This collection of articles has been collated to show how the use of cannabis has been involved in many murders and attacks of violence.

Attacker Smoked Cannabis: suicide and psychopathic violence in the UK and Ireland
“Those whose minds are steeped in cannabis are capable of quite extraordinary criminality.”

What do we want?

Our demands are simple:

· acknowledge that cannabis is a dangerous drug and a prime factor in countless acts of suicide and psychopathic violence, and that no amount of ‘regulation’ will eliminate this danger;
· acknowledge that the alleged medicinal benefits of certain aspects of cannabis are a red herring to soften attitudes to the pleasure drug and ensure that certain corporations are well placed if and when the pleasure drug is legalised;
· admit that since around 1973 cannabis has been decriminalised in all but name, and that this has been a grave mistake;
· begin punishing possession: a caution for a first offence, a mandatory six-month prison sentence and £1000 fine thereafter.

Woman killed by taxi driver ‘might be alive if he had been properly managed’
Shropshire Star | 19 Mar 2018 |

“From the limited evidence which was available to the independent investigation team, it appears possible that, if MB had been fully compliant with anti-psychotic medication and had refrained from misuse of cannabis, then he may not have suffered from a relapse of his psychotic illness.”
Martin Bell had been sectioned for about nine months in August 1999 and was released around six weeks before he killed Gemma Simpson.
The family of a woman who was killed and partially dismembered by a taxi driver who was suffering from a psychotic illness have said she “might still be alive today” if he had been managed properly.
Gemma Simpson’s family were responding to the publication of a report into the treatment of Martin Bell, who killed 23-year-old Miss Simpson in 2000 with a hammer and a knife before sawing her legs off and burying her at a beauty spot near Harrogate, in North Yorkshire.
Bell admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility after leading police to her body 14 years later, and was told he must serve a minimum of 12 years in prison.
Bell had been sectioned in a hospital for about nine months in August 1999 and was released around six weeks before he killed Miss Simpson.
On Monday, NHS England published an independent report into his care and treatment.
The report, which said its authors were severely hampered by a lack of medical records, concluded: “From the limited evidence which was available to the independent investigation team, it appears possible that, if MB had been fully compliant with anti-psychotic medication and had refrained from misuse of cannabis, then he may not have suffered from a relapse of his psychotic illness.
“In these circumstances, the death of Gemma Simpson might have been prevented.”
The new report confirmed that doctors had considered Bell’s cannabis use may have contributed to or exacerbated Bell’s illness and he had smoked the drug on the day he killed Miss Simpson in his Harrogate flat.
But it said that “notwithstanding the failures in service provision outlined in this report, there were no actions that clinicians could have specifically taken to enforce the continuation of medication given MB’s presentation in May 2000, nor to enforce his abstinence from cannabis.”
In a statement issued by the campaign group Hundred Families, Miss Simpson’s family said they broadly welcomed the findings of the report but added: “In 2000 Martin Bell was known to carry a knife, was delusional, and recognised as a real risk to others, yet he was able to be released without any effective package of care, monitoring, or even a proper assessment of how the risks he posed to others would be managed.
“There appear to have been lots of red flags, just weeks and days before Gemma’s death, that should have raised professional concerns.
“We believe that if he had been managed properly, Gemma might still be alive today.”
The family said they understood the pressures on mental health services but said: “We keep hearing that lessons have been learned, but we want to make sure they are truly learned in this case.”
In court in 2013, prosecutors said Bell struck Miss Simpson, who was from Leeds, an “uncountable” number of times with the knife and hammer in a “frenzied” attack before leaving her body for four days in a bath.
He then sawed off the bottom of her legs so she would fit in the boot of a hire car before burying her at Brimham Rocks, near Harrogate.
Bell, who was 30 at the time of the attack, handed himself in at Scarborough police station in 2013 and later took police to where she was buried.

Source: https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/uk-news/2018/03/19/woman-killed-by-taxi-driver-might-be-alive-if-he-had-been-properly-managed/ NHS England report: https://www.england.nhs.uk/north/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2018/03/independent-investigation-mb-march-18.pdf

On 14 May 2017, Akshar Ali, acting with his friend Yasmin Ahmed, murdered his wife and mother-of-four Sinead Wooding, stabbing her with a knife six times and bludgeoning her with a hammer before dumping her body in a woodland and setting it alight. On 17 January 2018, he and his accomplice were sentenced to 22 years in prison.
One might think the fact that the guilty pair smoked and grew cannabis together would be of interest to reporters, and worthy of at least a fleeting sentence or two, but I have found it mentioned in only two news reports, one in the Yorkshire Evening Post, the other in South African news site IOL.
Of far more interest to some British media, sadly, is the fact that Ali was an ostensible Muslim and Ms Wooding a Muslim convert who had, in the weeks before she was murdered, defied her husband by wearing western clothing and seeing a friend he did not approve of. Some media, including the BBC, the Guardian and, curiously, British media abnormally incurious about the role of cannabis in a gruesome act of uxoricide the Sun managed to avoid mentioning either the matter of Islam or the smoking of cannabis.
Is it, I wonder, an abnormal lack of curiosity that prevents reporters from mentioning the smoking of a powerful psychoactive drug that is a prime factor in countless thousands of similar cases? Or is it a deliberate omission?

An extraordinary murder in Ireland

The following story from Ireland, which occurred ten years ago, is extraordinary for two reasons. First, the 143 injuries the attacker inflicted is, as far as I’m aware, a record. As I have noted many times, a frenzy of violence involving multiple stab wounds is nearly always a sign of a mind unhinged by drugs. 143, though, points to a frightening level of madness, and, as such, the verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity is unsurprising.
But then there is this:
The jury had deliberated for under one hour and had returned during that hour to ask if the fact that Mr Connors had smoked cannabis before the killing was relevant to his culpability.
Mr Justice Birmingham told the jury that consultant psychiatrist, Dr Damien Mohan, had considered whether Mr Connors’ behaviour was attributable to drugs or mental illness and was of the “firm and clear” view that the accused’s mental disorder was the causative factor.
In other words, the fact that the defendant had smoked cannabis before the killing, which occurred around six o’clock in the morning, was not deemed relevant, and the link between his mental disorder and his consumption of cannabis appears to have gone unexplored.

Man found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity
Irish Examiner 4 Feb 2009

A jury has found a Dublin man who killed a stranger with garden shears not guilty of murder by reason of insanity at the Central Criminal Court.
Thomas Connors (aged 25) thought Michael Hughes (aged 30), from Banagher in Offaly, was the embodiment of the devil when he found him sleeping in the stairwell of an apartment block.
Mr Justice George Birmingham told the jury that it had reached “absolutely the right verdict in accordance with the expert evidence”. He thanked it for its careful attention to the case and exempted its members from jury service for seven years.
Mr Connors, of Manor Court, Mount Argos, Harold’s Cross, killed Mr Hughes in a savage attack in the stairwell of an adjacent apartment block, Manor Villa, on the morning of December 15, 2007.
Mr Justice Birmingham said this was a case of “mind boggling sadness” and, were it not for the issue of insanity, would have been a perfectly clear and appalling case of murder.
He said: “Consequent on the special verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity I direct that Mr Connors be committed to a specially designated centre, the Central Mental Hospital, until further order.”
Prosecuting counsel, Paul O’Higgins SC, said Mr Hughes’ family were aware that victim impact evidence would not be heard because the case did not involve the imposition of a sentence.
Mr Justice Birmingham said to the family: “You truly have been through the most appalling experience. Words can’t and don’t describe it and all I can do is express my sympathy.”
The jury had deliberated for under one hour and had returned during that hour to ask if the fact that Mr Connors had smoked cannabis before the killing was relevant to his culpability.
Mr Justice Birmingham told the jury that consultant psychiatrist, Dr Damien Mohan, had considered whether Mr Connors’ behaviour was attributable to drugs or mental illness and was of the “firm and clear” view that the accused’s mental disorder was the causative factor.
Yesterday, the jury heard that Mr Hughes had gone out for a night in Dublin with his cousin and friends. He was to stay at his cousin’s flat in Harold’s Cross but the cousin had gone home early and Mr Hughes was unable to get into the flat when he returned after 4am.
Mr Hughes decided to sleep in the stairwell and sometime after 6am Mr Connors came crashing through the glass doors of the apartment block with garden shears and savagely attacked him, inflicting 143 injuries.
Residents heard screaming and rang gardaí who found Mr Connors walking away from the scene with the shears. He told gardaí that he had fought with the devil and the devil was gone now.
In the days leading up to the killing Mr Connors, a married man with one child, had gone to hospital three times seeking help. He was hearing voices and suffering delusions that his wife was the daughter of the devil. On the second visit he was given tablets. His wife was so frightened by his behaviour that she took their child to a women’s shelter.
On the third occasion, the day before the killing, doctors at Saint Vincent’s Hospital decided Mr Connors should be admitted to Saint James’ but he absconded during the four-hour wait for an ambulance.
In the hours before he killed Mr Hughes, Mr Connors thought the devil was in his apartment and had taken a duvet outside and stabbed it, believing the devil had been hiding in it.
Dr Mohan told the jury that Mr Connors suffered from schizophrenia, as did his father. He had been hospitalised with psychosis in 2004 and 2005 and believed that his father-in-law was the devil.
The victim’s father, Liam Hughes, made a statement outside the Four Courts on behalf of the Hughes family. He said that the family’s thoughts, as always but especially today, were on the 30 years of “love, kindness and generosity of spirit they enjoyed with the deceased”.
Mr Hughes said his son would be remembered by his friends as “a respectful and decent person”. He said a former teacher had contacted the family to pay tribute to Michael as “an honest, kind, sincere, popular and respected person who was a credit to his family and school”.
Mr Hughes said Michael had been a hard-working young man who commuted from Offaly to Dublin each day to work and had recently entered into further education. Mr Hughes said his son had coped admirably with the demands of full-time work and part-time study.
On October 27, 2007, he had become engaged to Deborah Lynch, who was with the family in court. Mr Hughes said his family had shared in their joy at setting up a home together and planning for their future.
He said: “Only seven short weeks later Deborah’s hopes and dreams were shattered.”
He said the Hughes family earnestly hoped that she would find happiness in the future.
Mr Hughes thanked UCD, which had honoured Michael recently on what would have been his conferring day, and his employer, Dublin Bus. He also thanked the team who investigated his son’s death, the Garda family liaison officer and the many friends who had offered comforting words.
He said it had been 13 months since the killing but the pain and horror of it had “scarcely lessened”. He said the natural “role reversal” in the cycle of life could not now happen as he had lost his son.
He said the family was disturbed and saddened by the evidence given in court, but there relieved that the process was over. He asked that the family’s privacy be respected at this time.

Source: https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/man-found-not-guilty-of-murder-by-reason-of-insanity-397642.html Posted on May 6, 2019 Leave a comment on An extraordinary murder in Ireland

Jail for man who shot girlfriend 13 times with airgun – before trying to strangle and suffocate her
Leicester Mercury | 27 July 2017 |

Kristian Pole had been smoking cannabis when he ‘flipped out’ and attacked his partner at his home in Leicester
A man who failed to take a chance given by a judge, following an airgun attack on a girlfriend, has been jailed for two years.
Kristian Pole repeatedly fired pellets at close range into his then girlfriend’s face, limbs and body. Then he tried to strangle her and suffocate her with a pillow, Leicester Crown Court was told.
The frightened woman managed to run from Pole’s home in Leicester and alert the police, having suffered bruising and red marks from 13 plastic pellets and being gripped around her neck, in August last year.
Judge Robert Brown gave Pole a chance, in June, by imposing a two-year community order, with rehabilitation requirements, because he had already served several months on remand in custody.
Pole later failed to inform the probation service he had moved address – a condition of the order. He also refused to tell them where he was living with a new partner. This resulted in him being brought back to court, where Judge Brown re-sentenced him on Tuesday.
The judge told 24-year-old Pole, of no known address: “I’ve no choice but to revoke the order and impose custody. You’ve thrown away the chance of a community order by your own actions. When I sentenced you in June, for possessing a BB gun with intent to cause fear of violence and causing actual bodily harm, you’d already served eight or nine months in custody.”
He told Pole, who admitted the offences: “You’d done well on remand and changed your attitude. I was invited to take a chance on you and put you on a community order.
“You’ve failed to engage with the probation service and moved out of your mother’s address, without notifying those concerned about where you were living. This was a serious example of an assault.”
Lynsey Knott, prosecuting, said the assault with the BB gun happened when Pole’s then girlfriend visited his home, where he was smoking cannabis with a male friend.
When the cannabis ran out he erupted in violence, attacking her and shooting “at close range” her face and limbs.
James Varley, mitigating, said: “He’d smoked too much cannabis and flipped out.
“Your Honour will have told many defendants it’s not the harmless drug that many young people think it is.
“It has deleterious effects … what else could explain his conduct other than he was completely out of it when his cannabis supply was cut off.”

Source:https://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/news/leicester-news/jail-man-who-shot-girlfriend-243489

Couple killed friend, set him on fire and then had sex to celebrate, court told
ITV News | 16 Feb 2019 |

Cold-hearted killers who brutally murdered a vulnerable friend before setting him on fire and then having sex will spend at least 28 years in jail.

Evil William Vaill and Deborah Andrews were handed life sentences for killing Skelmersdale dad Eamon Brady in a “brutal and sustained” attack.
Mr Brady was hit in the head with a hammer at least 17 times and repeatedly stabbed and slashed in the neck and body in the early hours of July 21.
Vaill, 37, and Andrews, 44, then wrapped his body in bedding and set it on fire before stealing a PlayStation 4, sound bar, DVD player and bank card belonging to their victim.
Andrews later described the couple as “the new Bonnie and Clyde”.
After the callous killing, the pair went to Beacon Country Park where they burned clothing and hid the weapons. They are also believed to have had sex in a nearby park hours after the attack, the court heard.
They also went on to attempt to sell his PlayStation 4 and use the stolen bank card in a local shop.
The evil couple, who had been friends with Mr Brady for several years, bumped into him by chance after Vaill had attended a funeral. They went back to his flat in Elmridge, Skelmersdale, where they drank and smoked cannabis.
By the time of the murder, Vaill, whose previous convictions include arson and criminal damage, had been drinking for 40 straight hours.
The pair left the flat at around around 4:50am and later told police that Mr Brady was alive and well when they left. But recordings in the police van heard that Andrews was ‘buzzing’ about the murder and describing the pair as the new Bonnie and Clyde.
Vaill, of Evington, Skelmersdale, pleaded guilty to murder and arson last month and was today given a life sentence with a minimum of 28-and-a-half years in prison.
Andrews, of Elmstead, Skelmersdale, was found guilty after a trial and given a life sentence with a minimum of 28 years in prison.
Both appeared emotionless throughout the sentencing at Preston Crown Court while Andrews sat with her hands in her pockets throughout.
Prosecuting, Francis McEntree said Mr Brady was a vulnerable man who was regularly taken advantage of by those around him. He had earlier told family that he wanted to move out of Skelmersdale to escape from people who were ‘leeching off him’.
He knew both of the victims well, having been friends for several years and they had all spent the together socially in a “happy, if noisy” manner.
Mr Brady had been friends with Vaill since their teenage years and an earlier incident in which Vaill stabbed him in the foot with a penknife was considered no more than horseplay after Mr Brady had laughed at him getting hurt when he kicked a lamppost.
An emotional victim statement read on behalf of Mr Brady’s daughter Amy Brady told of the devastating effects she has suffered since the murder of her best friend.
Her father’s death came 17 days short of the second anniversary of her brother Ryan’s death and that after seeing his battered and burnt body, Ms Brady now regularly suffers nightmare and is left “angry with the world”.
“There was a hole in my heart when my brother died that has been made bigger and will never be filled,” it stated.
“My dad was not only my dad, he was my entire being.”
Defending Vaill, Stuart Denney said he had begun cannabis and alcohol use since before he was a teenager and that Skelmersdale was “the worst place in the world for him”.
Michael Lavery, defending Andrews, said she had “limited capabilities and intelligence” and was previously of good character.
Sentencing the pair, Judge Mark Brown said: “Having killed him you set fire to his body to destroy evidence of what had happened and in doing so you committed arson with reckless disregard for the lives of the other residents in the building who were asleep at the time.
“It’s another matter of this case that having just murdered this a man in extremely violent and brutal circumstances that you had sex with each other soon after.”

Source: https://www.itv.com/news/granada/2019-02-16/couple-killed-friend-set-him-on-fire-and-then-had-sex-to-celebrate-court-told/

Teenager found guilty of fatal stabbing of Luke Howard
Liverpool Echo | 22 Jan 2009 |

A LIVERPOOL teenager has been found guilty of killing a friend he stabbed 12 times in a drunk and drug-fuelled rage.

A jury at Liverpool Crown Court found Charlijo Calvert, 15, not guilty of the murder of 16-year-old Luke Howard but unanimously convicted him of manslaughter.
Calvert, of Ronald Street, Old Swan, stabbed Luke, from Dovecot, in the early hours of August 30 at the house of a friend in Ashcombe Road, Knotty Ash.
During the week-long trial, the court heard a group of teenage boys, including the victim and defendant, had gone to the house and drank alcohol, smoked cannabis and snorted cocaine.
Throughout the night, and into the early hours, witnesses said they saw Luke prodding Calvert with a screwdriver and the pair “winding each other up”. At one point, the court heard, they threatened to stab each other but the fatal attack at around 7am.

Source: https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/teenager-found-guilty-fatal-stabbing-3462600

Four ‘racist’ killings, two years apart, with one important commonality
1. Skunk addicted schizophrenic fulfils sick fantasy by killing a black woman: ‘Psychiatric reports stated that Maxwell was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, and his abnormality was so great that it affected his judgment [sic].The reports also said his condition was exacerbated by the heavy use of skunk.’ (3 Apr 2007)
2. Drive caught in gang’s ‘revenge’: ‘The 41-year-old minibus taxi driver was dragged screaming from his cab and beaten to death in July by several white teenagers in Huddersfield… Some of the teenagers had been drinking and smoking cannabis with some girls, who they then persuaded to call up and order the minibus – with fatal consequences.’ (26 Jan 2007)
3. Racist thugs face 30 years in prison for axe murder: ‘The two men who murdered black teenager Anthony Walker were last night each facing up to 30 years in jail after the trial judge ruled the killing was racially motivated, effectively doubling the time they will serve… Anthony Walker wanted to be a lawyer, maybe a judge. He loved God, worked hard at his studies, practised his basketball skills whenever he could, though not on a Sunday if it clashed with church.
Paul Taylor and Michael Barton revelled in the nicknames Chomper and Ozzy. One wanted to be a burglar, the other wanted to join the army, but was too stupid to pass the exams. They spent their time hanging around, smoking cannabis and, in the words of one, “going out robbing”.’ (1 Dec 2005)
4. Asian gang kicked man to death: ‘Three Asian men who kicked a white computer expert to death and bragged: “That will teach an Englishman to interfere in Paki business” were found guilty of murder at the Old Bailey yesterday… The court heard that the three had been drinking all evening in the West End before returning to east London to drink vodka and smoke cannabis.’ (23 Nov 2005)
You know, of course, what the important commonality is, a much more important factor than apparent ‘racism’. I will note here only, as the article does not, that the ‘skunk addicted schizophrenic’ who deliberately targeted a black woman is himself black.

In defence of Peter Hitchens (@ClarkeMicah) and the theory of mental illness

Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens, author of The War We Never Fought, has received a lot of abuse recently for pointing out in his MoS column of 7 April that the killer of Jo Cox, Thomas Mair, was mentally ill, not a ‘political actor’, and that his mental state was not discussed at his trial (at which Mair himself did not speak).
This matters a great deal, because those who cannot accept that, far from being part of a ‘far-right terrorist plot’, Mair was simply mentally unhinged, and that this mental illness was likely the result of or exacerbated by psychoactive medication, often equally refuse to believe that the prime factor in a particular act of suicide or psychopathic violence isn’t terrorism, Islam, immigration, austerity, video games, gangs, gun laws, ‘depression’, or racism, but cannabis.
Many have cited the following sentencing remarks of the judge in the Mair case, Mr Justice Wilkie, as evidence that Mr Hitchens is barking up the wrong tree:
There is no doubt that this murder was done for the purpose of advancing a political, racial and ideological cause namely that of violent white supremacism and exclusive nationalism most associated with Nazism and its modern forms.
Those who believe that Mair was a ‘terrorist’ are not open to the possibility that the judge is mistaken, nor aware that his remarks are, as Mr Hitchens points out, unusually political in tone. I wonder, then, what such people would make of these sentencing remarks of Judge Findlay Baker, QC, to a man who stabbed his friend’s father to death with a pair of garden shears: “This was an attack of extreme and persistent violence. And I have no doubt it would not have happened if you had not consumed cannabis.”
Or these, of Judge Anthony Niblett, to a man who punched his girlfriend and burnt down her house: “Those whose minds are steeped in cannabis are capable of quite extraordinary criminality. Your mind has been steeped in cannabis for much of your adult life.”
Or these, of Judge Rosalind Coe, QC, to a young man who attempted to murder his infant son: “If any case demonstrates the dangers and potentially tragic consequences of cannabis abuse, such as you had taken part in for many years, this is such a case.”
I could go on.
By contrast, some judges all but shrug and hold up their hands when trying to make sense of a heinous crime. The judge who sentenced 16-year-old Aaron Campbell, for example, said he had “no idea” why Campbell abducted, raped and murdered six-year-old Alesha MacPhail, even though it was noted during the trial that he was high on cannabis when he committed the crime, and knew the MacPhail family from having bought the drug from Alesha’s father. Some judges, like some people, can see the wood amid the trees. Some cannot.

Violence and legalised cannabis in Uruguay: a clarification

I would like to clarify the meaning of a tweet I sent yesterday of a link to an article on violence and homicide in Uruguay, ‘Uruguay gets tough on crime after posting record homicide rate’.
The article reports that in 2018, a year after cannabis went on sale, following legalisation in 2013, there were a record 414 homicides in Uruguay, a small nation of 3.5 million people once famed for its peace and tranquillity. So alarming was this figure (up from 284 in 2017) that 400,000 voters signed a petition calling for exceptional measures against violent crime.
I must stress first that, while it is likely that at least some of these acts of homicide were committed by people whose minds have been damaged by cannabis, I do not say that cannabis legalisation was the cause. I tweeted the article whilst arguing about correlation and causation with a dim-witted young drugs enthusiast who had claimed that an apparent decrease in rates of cannabis consumption amongst teenagers in Washington state was caused by cannabis being legalised there. I have written before that dope heads parrot the phrase ‘correlation does not equal causation’ only when the correlation upsets them. When they find a correlation they like they immediately claim cannabis legalisation as the cause.
Again, I do not say that homicide rate in Uruguay is exceptionally high because cannabis has been legalised. As Peter Hitchens points out in an article on Portugal, ‘The Alleged Portuguese Drug Paradise Examined’, legalisation or decriminalisation nearly always follows years of lax enforcement, making any before-and-after comparison meaningless. By contrast, in his largely excellent book Tell Your Children, Alex Berenson spends too much time, as I write in my review, trying to prove that violent crime has risen in those American states that have legalised cannabis, when he would have done better to expand his section on the alleged ‘war’ on drugs in America and the fact that, contrary to popular opinion, rates of incarceration solely for drugs possession in the USA have been quite low for many years.
I would further add that suggestions that ‘gang warfare’ is involved in Uruguay’s high homicide rate seem similarly erroneous. Drug rivals killing each other makes a good subject for a film or TV series,
but the reality is often a much blander case of a paranoid young man in possession of a weapon killing somebody (often not his ostensible target) out of fear or delusion.

Xixi Bi Llandaff murder: Jordan Matthews jailed for life

He accepted he was smoking “quite a lot” of cannabis at the time and the court heard he felt “insecure” when his girlfriend visited her family in China.

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-39026270

‘Cannabis made my boy a killer’

THE mother of a violent schizophrenic who stabbed his best friend to death last night described how her son’s long-term cannabis habit turned him into a monster.
Julie Morgan, formerly from Cardiff, claimed her 20-year-old son Richard Harris’ ‘kind and gentle’ side disappeared not long after he started smoking cannabis from the age of 14.
“Cannabis took my son from me, I have no problem saying that,” said the 45-year-old.

Carl Madigan knifed Sam Cook in heart two weeks after friend slashed man’s stomach open

Facebook accounts show Carl Madigan, 23, and Shaun Bethell, 19, hanging around together and smoking cannabis before the shocking offences which will now define their young lives.
In a dreadful two week period last October, Madigan killed tragic Sam Cook while Bethell, a teenager with a record to rival any career criminal’s, left a man’s bowel hanging out of his body.

Man found guilty of murdering girlfriend’s toddler before claiming he slipped underwater in bath in 999 call

Smith was also found to have a high reading of cannabis in his bloodstream almost six hours after the 999 call – while a makeshift Ribena bottle ‘bong’ and the remains of six cannabis joints were found in a rear annex.
Despite Willett claiming she “always put the kids first,” text messages showed a woman desperate to buy cannabis, even on the night before Teddy’s death.

Cork man, 26, who shattered skull of girlfriend’s infant daughter jailed for eight years
Brendan Kelly, defence barrister, said[…] that the accused appeared to be detached from what was going on and that the defendant had been a long-time cannabis user.

Dad shook baby daughter to death as he was agitated at running out of cannabis
Daily Mirror

A dad who shook his baby daughter to death because he was agitated at running out of cannabis was today jailed for six years.
William Stephens, aged 25, shook daughter Paris so violently she suffered catastrophic head injuries and was bleeding in the eyes.
The thug attacked 16-week-old Paris for crying after he was left to look after her while mum Danah Vince, 19, went to see a doctor.
The little girl died two days later in hospital and one shocked expert said he had never before seen such a severe case of bleeding in the eyes.
Stephens had a history of violence and social services were called in because of his volatile relationship with mum Vince.
A serious case review is being carried out into the way public bodies handled the case.
Stephens – who had serious learning difficulties – was convicted of manslaughter after a seven-week trial.
Vince was cleared of causing or allowing the baby’s death in January.
Passing sentence, the judge Mr Justice Teare told Stephens: “This is a case where a loss of temper and control has resulted in fatal violence to a defenceless baby.
“You will have to live with the fact that you killed your daughter.”
Defence lawyer Ignatious Hughes QC, told the jury: “There is plenty of evidence that he and Danah Vince are likely to have been in a state of agitation due to lack of cannabis.”
Bristol crown court heard Stephens and Vince often fought and argued and social services stepped in to get the pair to sign agreements against domestic violence.
Stephens, from Southmead, Bristol, was given a restraining order to stay away from Vince but defied the ban and continued living with her and their daughter.
He appeared in juvenile court in 2006 for three assaults on a previous girlfriend and received a community order.
Five months later he appeared in front of magistrates for battery and was given the same punishment.
A year later he was given a caution for repeatedly punching a pregnant woman and in November 2008 got another caution for common assault.
In April 2010, he was hauled before magistrates for assaulting a police officer.
The local council is conducting a serious case review which will be published next year.
A spokesman said: “This is an extremely sad case where there has been the tragic loss of a young life.
“If nothing else I hope that today’s verdict offers some small measure of closure.
“An independent Serious Case Review by the Bristol Safeguarding Children Board is being completed, carefully examining the role of public bodies involved in the case to see if there are any lessons to be learnt.
“The complexity of this case will become apparent once that review is published early next year following the conclusion of all relevant legal processes.”
A year later, Danah Vince, the mother of the baby, committed suicide.

Source: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/william-stephens-shook-baby-paris-2923262

Teen faces one year for vicious attack on man outside takeaway

A 17-year-old boy has been warned he faces a one-year sentence for leading a vicious gang attack on a young man who was repeatedly punched and kicked outside a takeaway in Dublin.
The boy, who cannot be named because he is a minor, has pleaded guilty at the Dublin Children’s Court to assault causing harm and violent disorder in connection with the incident on the night of November 14, 2015.
Judge John O’Connor adjourned sentencing to see if the boy’s solicitor can organise a psychological assessment of the teenager whose behaviour, he said, has become more violent and aggressive.
The judge also noted the boy had tragic personal circumstances.
He said it was unacceptable that the boy had started smoking cannabis at the age of 12, and anyone who says it is not addictive “is not living in the real world”.
Garda Dave Jennings had told Judge O’Connor that the victim, a foreign national who is also aged in his late teens, had been at a Chinese takeaway at Kiltalown Way, Tallaght. A group of youths shouted in to him that they were going to rob him when he came out.
When he walked out one of them grabbed the handlebars of his bicycle and the youth then punched him in the side of his face.
The rest of the youths then joined in, grabbing the man, who was repeatedly punched and kicked before his bike was stolen.
The defendant struck the first blow but was not involved in the rest of the attack.
The victim fled back into the takeaway but was followed and had to run into the kitchen area for his safety. Garda Jennings agreed with Damian McKeone, defending, that the attack was not racially motivated.
CCTV footage was shown to Judge O’Connor, who described it as a “vicious assault”.

Source: https://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/teen-faces-one-year-for-vicious-attack-on-man-outside-takeaway-399847.html

Robbers who held knife to man’s neck before stealing his phone and laptop jailed

Two males who robbed a man at knifepoint at his home in north Belfast have been jailed.
Bennet Donaghy and his accomplice, who at the time of the offence was 16, targeted their victim in the early hours of September 13, 2015.
He managed to escape and ran down the Shore Road in the middle of the night shouting for help.
Donaghy (20), a father-of-one from Cheston Close in Carrickfergus, was handed a 30-month sentence at Belfast Crown Court yesterday. His accomplice, who cannot be named, was given 15 months’ jail.
Both men were informed they would spend half their sentences in custody, with the remainder on licence.
The pair admitted a charge of assault with intent to rob, while the youth also admitted stealing the man’s laptop and mobile phone.
Prior to sentencing, Judge Gordon Kerr QC was informed that the victim was asleep on his sofa at around 4am when he heard persistent knocking at his front door.
He recognised the youth, who he knew from the area, with another young man.
The younger man asked the victim to lend him money, but when he handed them £5 the pair told him: “That’s not enough.”
Crown prosecutor Robin Steer said Donaghy then produced a knife and held it against the occupant’s neck.
The youth, who the man said looked like he was under the influence of drugs, punched the victim a number of times while Donaghy told him he was from the UDA and ordered him to hand over drugs and money.
The man’s home was ransacked, but he escaped and ran down the Shore Road barefoot and with a bruised face, only to be stopped by police.
Officers subsequently called at a house in the area, where they arrested Donaghy and the youth. Also located was a four-inch knife, along with the man’s laptop and mobile phone.
During police interviews, the youth admitted he knew the occupant, but claimed he was unable to remember what had happened because he had smoked a cannabis cigarette.
Like his accomplice, Donaghy claimed to have no recollection of the incident because he too had been smoking drugs.
Mr Steer told Belfast Crown Court there were a number of aggravating factors.
These included the use of violence and threats during the robbery, the presence of a weapon and the fact the victim was targeted in his home in the middle of the night.
Defence barrister Jon Paul Shields, representing the youth, confirmed that his client was under the influence of drugs on the night in question.
He also added that he had since “recognised the seriousness of the offences.”
Telling the court his client knew his behaviour had been unacceptable, Mr Shields said: “At the time, he simply did not give any thought to what he was doing.”
The barrister also told how the young man, who has been working with the Youth Justice Agency, had expressed shame over the incident.
The lawyer said that at the time of the offence, his client had just lost a child, which led to him self-medicating.
Barrister Chris Holmes, acting on behalf of Donaghy, said that his client “apologises profusely to the victim”.
He added that on the night of the robbery, Donaghy was “very, very much under the influence” of drugs.
Mr Holmes also spoke of the defendant’s troubled background, telling the judge his client “didn’t have his sorrows to seek when he was being brought up”, which in turn contributed to poor mental health.

Source: https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/robbers-who-held-knife-to-mans-neck-before-stealing-his-phone-and-laptop-jailed-35560290.html

Sally Hodkin murder: Killer ‘had miscarriage’ prior to fatal stabbing

A patient who murdered a grandmother believed she had suffered a miscarriage and was smoking cannabis in the lead up to the killing, an inquest has heard.
Nicola Edgington virtually decapitated Sally Hodkin with a stolen butcher’s knife in Bexleyheath, in 2011, six years after killing her own mother.
Edgington told hospital staff she needed to be sectioned and felt like killing someone.
A recent report found NHS and police failings led to Mrs Hodkin’s murder.
Edgington, a diagnosed schizophrenic, was discharged from the Bracton Centre mental health facility in 2009 despite an order she be detained indefinitely following the killing of her mother Marion in Forest Row, Sussex, in 2005.
Around two weeks before the killing on 10 October, 2011, Edgington made a number of emergency calls to police about “crackheads” stealing from her flat in early October. She had also been using skunk cannabis, the inquest heard.
On 29 September, she sent a message to her brother telling him about the miscarriage, saying she wanted to reconnect.
The message also mentioned their mother, with Edgington saying: “No-one’s taking care of me like she would.”
Her brother replied on the same day: “You stabbed her to death and left me to find the body. Good news about your miscarriage … do us a favour and slit your wrists.”
On the day of Mrs Hodkin’s murder, Edgington was taken to Oxleas House mental health unit, but was later allowed to walk out of the building.
She got a bus to Bexleyheath, bought a large knife from Asda and stole a steak knife from a butcher’s shop.
Edgington then stabbed Mrs Hodkin and another woman in the street.
Elizabeth Lloyd-Folkard, a forensic social worker who was looking after Edgington, told the inquest that around a week before the killing, she had “no cause of concern about her state of mind”.
Contact with family members, substance misuse, and any issues around pregnancy were noted in reports as high-risk factors that could affect Edgington’s mental health, the inquest heard.
Mrs Hodkin’s son Len Hodkin told the inquest: “All of those risk factors were present in the two to three weeks leading up to October 10.
“It’s not coming with the benefit of hindsight, this information was available to you and other members of the multi-disciplinary team at the time.”
The inquest continues.

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-46022330

January 2019 • Volume 48, Number 1 • Alex Berenson
Alex Berenson Author, Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence

The following is adapted from a speech delivered on January 15, 2019, at Hillsdale College’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C.

Seventy miles northwest of New York City is a hospital that looks like a prison, its drab brick buildings wrapped in layers of fencing and barbed wire. This grim facility is called the Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Institute. It’s one of three places the state of New York sends the criminally mentally ill—defendants judged not guilty by reason of insanity.
Until recently, my wife Jackie—Dr. Jacqueline Berenson—was a senior psychiatrist there. Many of Mid-Hudson’s 300 patients are killers and arsonists. At least one is a cannibal. Most have been diagnosed with psychotic disorders like schizophrenia that provoked them to violence against family members or strangers.
A couple of years ago, Jackie was telling me about a patient. In passing, she said something like, Of course he’d been smoking pot his whole life.
Of course? I said.
Yes, they all smoke.

So marijuana causes schizophrenia?
I was surprised, to say the least. I tended to be a libertarian on drugs. Years before, I’d covered the pharmaceutical industry for The New York Times. I was aware of the claims about marijuana as medicine, and I’d watched the slow spread of legalized cannabis without much interest.
Jackie would have been within her rights to say, I know what I’m talking about, unlike you. Instead she offered something neutral like, I think that’s what the big studies say. You should read them.
So I did. The big studies, the little ones, and all the rest. I read everything I could find. I talked to every psychiatrist and brain scientist who would talk to me. And I soon realized that in all my years as a journalist I had never seen a story where the gap between insider and outsider knowledge was so great, or the stakes so high.

I began to wonder why—with the stocks of cannabis companies soaring and politicians promoting legalization as a low-risk way to raise tax revenue and reduce crime—I had never heard the truth about marijuana, mental illness, and violence.
***
Over the last 30 years, psychiatrists and epidemiologists have turned speculation about marijuana’s dangers into science. Yet over the same period, a shrewd and expensive lobbying campaign has pushed public attitudes about marijuana the other way. And the effects are now becoming apparent.
Almost everything you think you know about the health effects of cannabis, almost everything advocates and the media have told you for a generation, is wrong.
They’ve told you marijuana has many different medical uses. In reality marijuana and THC, its active ingredient, have been shown to work only in a few narrow conditions. They are most commonly prescribed for pain relief. But they are rarely tested against other pain relief drugs like ibuprofen—and in July, a large four-year study of patients with chronic pain in Australia showed cannabis use was associated with greater pain over time.
They’ve told you cannabis can stem opioid use—“Two new studies show how marijuana can help fight the opioid epidemic,” according to Wonkblog, a Washington Post website, in April 2018— and that marijuana’s effects as a painkiller make it a potential substitute for opiates. In reality, like alcohol, marijuana is too weak as a painkiller to work for most people who truly need opiates, such as terminal cancer patients. Even cannabis advocates, like Rob Kampia, the co-founder of the Marijuana Policy Project, acknowledge that they have always viewed medical marijuana laws primarily as a way to protect recreational users.

As for the marijuana-reduces-opiate-use theory, it is based largely on a single paper comparing overdose deaths by state before 2010 to the spread of medical marijuana laws— and the paper’s finding is probably a result of simple geographic coincidence. The opiate epidemic began in Appalachia, while the first states to legalize medical marijuana were in the West. Since 2010, as both the epidemic and medical marijuana laws have spread nationally, the finding has vanished. And the United States, the Western country with the most cannabis use, also has by far the worst problem with opioids.
Research on individual users—a better way to trace cause and effect than looking at aggregate state-level data—consistently shows that marijuana use leads to other drug use. For example, a January 2018 paper in the American Journal of Psychiatry showed that people who used cannabis in 2001 were almost three times as likely to use opiates three years later, even after adjusting for other potential risks.
Most of all, advocates have told you that marijuana is not just safe for people with psychiatric problems like depression, but that it is a potential treatment for those patients. On its website, the cannabis delivery service Eaze offers the “Best Marijuana Strains and Products for Treating Anxiety.” “How Does Cannabis Help Depression?” is the topic of an article on Leafly, the largest cannabis website. But a mountain of peer-reviewed research in top medical journals shows that marijuana can cause or worsen severe mental illness, especially psychosis, the medical term for a break from reality. Teenagers who smoke marijuana regularly are about three times as likely to develop schizophrenia, the most devastating psychotic disorder.

After an exhaustive review, the National Academy of Medicine found in 2017 that “cannabis use is likely to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychoses; the higher the use, the greater the risk.” Also that “regular cannabis use is likely to increase the risk for developing social anxiety disorder.”
***
Over the past decade, as legalization has spread, patterns of marijuana use—and the drug itself—have changed in dangerous ways.
Legalization has not led to a huge increase in people using the drug casually. About 15 percent of Americans used cannabis at least once in 2017, up from ten percent in 2006, according to a large federal study called the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. (By contrast, about 65 percent of Americans had a drink in the last year.) But the number of Americans who use cannabis heavily is soaring. In 2006, about three million Americans reported using cannabis at least 300 times a year, the standard for daily use. By 2017, that number had nearly tripled, to eight million, approaching the twelve million Americans who drank alcohol every day. Put another way, one in 15 drinkers consumed alcohol daily; about one in five marijuana users used cannabis that often.
Cannabis users today are also consuming a drug that is far more potent than ever before, as measured by the amount of THC—delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical in cannabis responsible for its psychoactive effects—it contains. In the 1970s, the last time this many Americans used cannabis, most marijuana contained less than two percent THC. Today, marijuana routinely contains 20 to 25 percent THC, thanks to sophisticated farming and cloning techniques—as well as to a demand by users for cannabis that produces a stronger high more quickly. In states where cannabis is legal, many users prefer extracts that are nearly pure THC. Think of the difference between near-beer and a martini, or even grain alcohol, to understand the difference.

These new patterns of use have caused problems with the drug to soar. In 2014, people who had diagnosable cannabis use disorder, the medical term for marijuana abuse or addiction, made up about 1.5 percent of Americans. But they accounted for eleven percent of all the psychosis cases in emergency rooms—90,000 cases, 250 a day, triple the number in 2006. In states like Colorado, emergency room physicians have become experts on dealing with cannabis-induced psychosis.
Cannabis advocates often argue that the drug can’t be as neurotoxic as studies suggest, because otherwise Western countries would have seen population-wide increases in psychosis alongside rising use. In reality, accurately tracking psychosis cases is impossible in the United States. The government carefully tracks diseases like cancer with central registries, but no such registry exists for schizophrenia or other severe mental illnesses.

On the other hand, research from Finland and Denmark, two countries that track mental illness more comprehensively, shows a significant increase in psychosis since 2000, following an increase in cannabis use. And in September of last year, a large federal survey found a rise in serious mental illness in the United States as well, especially among young adults, the heaviest users of cannabis.
According to this latter study, 7.5 percent of adults age 18-25 met the criteria for serious mental illness in 2017, double the rate in 2008. What’s especially striking is that adolescents age 12-17 don’t show these increases in cannabis use and severe mental illness.

A caveat: this federal survey doesn’t count individual cases, and it lumps psychosis with other severe mental illness. So it isn’t as accurate as the Finnish or Danish studies. Nor do any of these studies prove that rising cannabis use has caused population-wide increases in psychosis or other mental illness. The most that can be said is that they offer intriguing evidence of a link.
Advocates for people with mental illness do not like discussing the link between schizophrenia and crime. They fear it will stigmatize people with the disease. “Most people with mental illness are not violent,” the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) explains on its website. But wishing away the link can’t make it disappear. In truth, psychosis is a shockingly high risk factor for violence. The best analysis came in a 2009 paper in PLOS Medicine by Dr.Seena Fazel, an Oxford University psychiatrist and epidemiologist. Drawing on earlier studies, the paper found that people with schizophrenia are five times as likely to commit violent crimes as healthy people, and almost 20 times as likely to commit homicide.

NAMI’s statement that most people with mental illness are not violent is of course accurate, given that “most” simply means “more than half”; but it is deeply misleading. Schizophrenia is rare. But people with the disorder commit an appreciable fraction of all murders, in the range of six to nine percent.
“The best way to deal with the stigma is to reduce the violence,” says Dr. Sheilagh Hodgins, a professor at the University of Montreal who has studied mental illness and violence for more than 30 years.

The marijuana-psychosis-violence connection is even stronger than those figures suggest. People with schizophrenia are only moderately more likely to become violent than healthy people when they are taking antipsychotic medicine and avoiding recreational drugs. But when they use drugs, their risk of violence skyrockets. “You don’t just have an increased risk of one thing—these things occur in clusters,” Dr. Fazel told me.

Along with alcohol, the drug that psychotic patients use more than any other is cannabis: a 2010 review of earlier studies in Schizophrenia Bulletin found that 27 percent of people with schizophrenia had been diagnosed with cannabis use disorder in their lives. And unfortunately—despite its reputation for making users relaxed and calm—cannabis appears to provoke many of them to violence.
A Swiss study of 265 psychotic patients published in Frontiers of Forensic Psychiatry last June found that over a three-year period, young men with psychosis who used cannabis had a 50 percent chance of becoming violent. That risk was four times higher than for those with psychosis who didn’t use, even after adjusting for factors such as alcohol use. Other researchers have produced similar findings. A 2013 paper in an Italian psychiatric journal examined almost 1,600 psychiatric patients in southern Italy and found that cannabis use was associated with a ten-fold increase in violence.

The most obvious way that cannabis fuels violence in psychotic people is through its tendency to cause paranoia—something even cannabis advocates acknowledge the drug can cause. The risk is so obvious that users joke about it and dispensaries advertise certain strains as less likely to induce paranoia. And for people with psychotic disorders, paranoia can fuel extreme violence. A 2007 paper in the Medical Journal of Australia on 88 defendants who had committed homicide during psychotic episodes found that most believed they were in danger from the victim, and almost two-thirds reported misusing cannabis—more than alcohol and amphetamines combined.

Yet the link between marijuana and violence doesn’t appear limited to people with pre-existing psychosis. Researchers have studied alcohol and violence for generations, proving that alcohol is a risk factor for domestic abuse, assault, and even murder. Far less work has been done on marijuana, in part because advocates have stigmatized anyone who raises the issue. But studies showing that marijuana use is a significant risk factor for violence have quietly piled up. Many of them weren’t even designed to catch the link, but they did. Dozens of such studies exist, covering everything from bullying by high school students to fighting among vacationers in Spain.

In most cases, studies find that the risk is at least as significant as with alcohol. A 2012 paper in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence examined a federal survey of more than 9,000 adolescents and found that marijuana use was associated with a doubling of domestic violence; a 2017 paper in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology examined drivers of violence among 6,000 British and Chinese men and found that drug use—the drug nearly always being cannabis—translated into a five-fold increase in violence.

Today that risk is translating into real-world impacts. Before states legalized recreational cannabis, advocates said that legalization would let police focus on hardened criminals rather than marijuana smokers and thus reduce violent crime. Some advocates go so far as to claim that legalization has reduced violent crime. In a 2017 speech calling for federal legalization, U.S. Senator Cory Booker said that “states [that have legalized marijuana] are seeing decreases in violent crime.” He was wrong.

The first four states to legalize marijuana for recreational use were Colorado and Washington in 2014 and Alaska and Oregon in 2015. Combined, those four states had about 450 murders and 30,300 aggravated assaults in 2013. Last year, they had almost 620 murders and 38,000 aggravated assaults—an increase of 37 percent for murders and 25 percent for aggravated assaults, far greater than the national increase, even after accounting for differences in population growth.

Knowing exactly how much of the increase is related to cannabis is impossible without researching every crime. But police reports, news stories, and arrest warrants suggest a close link in many cases. For example, last September, police in Longmont, Colorado, arrested Daniel Lopez for stabbing his brother Thomas to death as a neighbour watched. Daniel Lopez had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and was “self-medicating” with marijuana, according to an arrest affidavit.

In every state, not just those where marijuana is legal, cases like Lopez’s are far more common than either cannabis or mental illness advocates acknowledge. Cannabis is also associated with a disturbing number of child deaths from abuse and neglect—many more than alcohol, and more than cocaine, methamphetamines, and opioids combined—according to reports from Texas, one of the few states to provide detailed information on drug use by perpetrators.

These crimes rarely receive more than local attention. Psychosis-induced violence takes particularly ugly forms and is frequently directed at helpless family members. The elite national media prefers to ignore the crimes as tabloid fodder. Even police departments, which see this violence up close, have been slow to recognize the trend, in part because the epidemic of opioid overdose deaths has overwhelmed them.
So the black tide of psychosis and the red tide of violence are rising steadily, almost unnoticed, on a slow green wave.
***
For centuries, people worldwide have understood that cannabis causes mental illness and violence—just as they’ve known that opiates cause addiction and overdose. Hard data on the relationship between marijuana and madness dates back 150 years, to British asylum registers in India. Yet 20 years ago, the United States moved to encourage wider use of cannabis and opiates.
In both cases, we decided we could outsmart these drugs—that we could have their benefits without their costs. And in both cases we were wrong. Opiates are riskier, and the overdose deaths they cause a more imminent crisis, so we have focused on those. But soon enough the mental illness and violence that follow cannabis use will also be too widespread to ignore.

Whether to use cannabis, or any drug, is a personal decision. Whether cannabis should be legal is a political issue. But its precise legal status is far less important than making sure that anyone who uses it is aware of its risks. Most cigarette smokers don’t die of lung cancer. But we have made it widely known that cigarettes cause cancer, full stop. Most people who drink and drive don’t have fatal accidents. But we have highlighted the cases of those who do.
We need equally unambiguous and well-funded advertising campaigns on the risks of cannabis. Instead, we are now in the worst of all worlds. Marijuana is legal in some states, illegal in others, dangerously potent, and sold without warnings everywhere.

But before we can do anything, we—especially cannabis advocates and those in the elite media who have for too long credulously accepted their claims—need to come to terms with the truth about the science on marijuana. That adjustment may be painful. But the alternative is far worse, as the patients at Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Institute—and their victims—know.

Source: Imprimis January 2019 • Volume 48, Number 1

If you’re a gun-owning Pennsylvania resident, the Pennsylvania State Police are urging you to turn in your firearms if you are seeking medical marijuana cards.

Sorry, what?

statement from the Pennsylvania State Police’s website is receiving a lot of local attention over what appears to be an erroneous statement concerning state and federal law.

The statement reads:

“It is unlawful for you to keep possession of any firearms which you owned or had in your possession prior to obtaining a medical marijuana card, and you should consult an attorney about the best way to dispose of your firearms.”

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, state police spokesman Ryan Tarkowski suggested seeking legal counsel if a citizen possesses firearms before seeking and receiving medical marijuana.

“It’s unlawful to keep possession of firearms obtained prior to registering,” Tarkowski said.

“The Pennsylvania State Police is not in the business of offering legal advice, but it might be a good idea to contact an attorney about how best to dispose of their firearms,” Tarkowski suggested.

Criminal defense attorney Patrick Nightingale told KDKA-TV on Monday that the suggestions being pushed by the state police disturb him.

“It disturbs me greatly to see the Pennsylvania State Police put on their website references to federal law while ignoring the fact that it is legal under Pennsylvania law,” Nightingale said.

“Firearms are woven into the fabric of our country,” Nightingale added. “It’s the second most important right in the Bill of Rights.”

Here’s the catch

According to Pennsylvania state law, the use of medical marijuana is legal, and not a hindrance to owning a firearm. However, according to the state police website, Pennsylvania’s legalization of medical marijuana is not federally recognized.

According to 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3) and 27 C.F.R. § 478.32(a)(3), possession of a medical marijuana card and the use of medical marijuana determines that a citizen is an “unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance.”

Federal law prohibits an “unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance” from purchasing, acquiring, or possessing a firearm.

In short, federal law says it is illegal for a citizen to attempt the purchase of a firearm if they are a medical marijuana cardholder.

This isn’t new information: the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) has held the position since 2011 that no one in possession of a medical marijuana card may also legally own a firearm.

Generally speaking, state police cannot enforce federal law unless a statute gives them express permission to do so. Pennsylvania law is somewhat ambiguous on this point, allowing the PSP make arrests “for all violations of the law,” without specifying whether this includes federal law.

If marijuana is considered a controlled substance — much like opioids — then one might wonder why are opioid users permitted to own firearms.

Attorney Andrew Sacks, co-chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Medical Marijuana and Hemp Law Committee, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the same thing.

“It’s hypocritical,” Sacks said. “You can be an opioid addict, or buy a bottle of rum, drink it and go to a store and buy one. But a person who is registered as a medical marijuana patient in Pennsylvania, and has a very small dosage of THC, can’t own a gun to protect themselves or hunt.”

Abstract

Major self-mutilation (amputation, castration, self-inflicted eye injuries) is frequently associated with psychiatric disorders and/or substance abuse. A 35-year-old man presented with behavioral disturbances of sudden onset after oral cannabis consumption and major self-mutilation (attempted amputation of the right arm, self-enucleation of both eyes and impalement) which resulted in death. During the enquiry, four fragments of a substance resembling cannabis resin were seized at the victim’s home. Autopsy confirmed that death was related to hemorrhage following the mutilations. Toxicological findings showed cannabinoids in femoral blood (tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) 13.5 ng/mL, 11-hydroxy-tetrahydrocannabinol (11-OH-THC) 4.1 ng/mL, 11-nor-9-carboxy-THC (THC-COOH) 14.7 ng/mL, cannabidiol (CBD) 1.3 ng/mL, cannabinol (CBN) 0.7 ng/mL). Cannabinoid concentrations in hair (1.5 cm brown hair strand/1 segment) were consistent with concentrations measured in chronic users (THC 137 pg/mg, 11-OH-THC 1 pg/mg, CBD 9 pg/mg, CBN 94 pg/mg). Analysis of the fragments seized confirmed that this was cannabis resin with high levels of THC (31-35%). We discuss the implications of oral consumption of cannabis with a very high THC content.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29125965 January 2018

Research on children living in homes used as methamphetamine labs confirms police concerns over the risks. Ellen Brook reports.

The worrying trend of young children living in meth labs and being exposed to toxic chemicals has been highlighted in a research project with support from the Police National Clan Lab Response team in Auckland.

Auckland lawyer Chloe Barker, who analysed Police and ESR (Environmental Science and Research) data related to children and clandestine (clan) labs as part of a master’s degree thesis last year, has raised the red flag on the risks for young children. Her conclusions not only back up anecdotal evidence from police officers, but go on to say that existing child abuse laws are inadequate for prosecuting offenders.

Ms Barker’s research, based on Police data from 2006 to 2010, showed that dozens of children, with an average age of six years, were exposed to clan lab activity each year. On average, children were living or present in 25 per cent of New Zealand meth labs, rising to 34 per cent in 2010.

Latest figures show that of the 94 clan labs located in 2012, children were in 27 of them; 45 children were identified and 25 were present at the time police found the labs.

Other findings included:

  1. About a quarter of the labs where children were present were either “A” or “B” grade, ie, “up and bubbling” or ready to use.
  2. Weapons were found in about 36 per cent of the labs in which children were present.
  3. There was a higher proportion of gang affiliation for labs in which children were present than in total meth labs (51% compared with 43%).
  4. Fires and explosions occurred in 16 labs between 2006 and 2010, two of which had children present.
  5. The percentage of labs in which children were living or present and in which one or more referrals were made to Child, Youth and Family increased from about 5 per cent in 2006 to 93 per cent in 2010.

A more detailed audit of police files from 2008-2009 gave an even more disturbing picture of the dangers children were exposed to.

  1. In 21 per cent of labs there was evidence that children were present during the manufacturing process.
  2. In 45 of 53 labs reviewed there was evidence of chemicals within reach of children.
  3. In 36 of 53 labs, chemicals were stored in food or drink containers. In one case, a child’s school drink bottle, complete with a name and school room number, was found to contain highly acidic chemicals.

Source: https://www.policeassn.org.nz/newsroom/publications/featured-articles/meth-kids March 2013 

The Washington County drug court graduation ceremony for Maria Kestner. Photograph: Fred R Conrad

Photographer  visited a Virginia drug court last year and saw how individuals and families had been given a second chance – so when he went back this summer he had a question: did they take it?

“Opioid and methamphetamine abuse tore through this area like a wildfire.”

This is the view of Rebecca Holmes, who is responsible for mental health and drug use outpatient treatment in Abingdon, Washington County, Virginia, as she looks back at the decision to set up a drug court.

Holmes, the medical director of Highlands Community Services, had seen how the growing crisis around opioids had taken such a heavy toll on families in the town, which is home to just over 8,000 people.

 

There was a growing need for a small group of addicts that did not respond to treatment or programs offered by the existing court or probation, she said, so five years ago she applied for a grant to use a federal model for a drug court that had first emerged in 1989.

The county’s drug court has been in place for several years now and Holmes feels that it has never been more needed. Last year in Virginia there were more deaths from heroin and opioids than highway fatalities for the first time, and the governor declared a public health emergency.

Nationally, opioids are said to be killing 90 people a day.

  • The Washington County court house. Inside the county court room where the drug court meets every week.

Judge Lowe presides over the court and the program, which is a year and half long for those who are placed on it. It combines therapy with a structured program of court visits, random drug screens, curfews and full-time employment for participants.

  • Judge Lowe poses with Wayne Smith, who has completed the second phase of the four-phase drug court. Participants are rewarded for good behavior.

There is the ever-present threat of court sanctions if a participant relapses. Lowe says: “The point of drug court is not just to treat the addict, it’s to make that person a model for the rest of their family so that they can break the cycle of drug abuse.”

The Guardian visited last year and again this year in late summer to see how people who had gone through the court – and who worked there – were getting on.

Bubba

  • Bubba and Ginger in their bedroom.

Bubba Rouse started abusing painkillers when he was a young teenager. He then stole various pills he could get his hands on. At 17 Bubba started smoking meth. He also became a father for the first time.

Bubba continued to use drugs and found a new girlfriend, Ginger, whose father had been sent to prison for meth when she was eight years old. Bubba and Ginger were both using meth and heroin when Ginger got pregnant. “The reason I stopped using was because I knew I had a future coming with my baby and I didn’t want to bring a child into a world like the one I grew up in.”

  • Family pictures of the Rouse family are displayed throughout the home where Bubba Rouse grew up.
  • Playing with her Barbie dolls.

Ginger was able to get sober and her baby was born without any complications while Bubba was in prison. While in prison he was offered a place in the Washington County drug court program. Drug court can be very difficult, especially at the beginning. There are mandatory therapy meetings, frequent random drug screens, curfew calls in the middle of the night and you have to have to be employed full time. It was even more difficult for Bubba because he could not legally drive. Ginger became both chauffeur and workmate for Bubba this past year.

  • Bubba with his daughter. 

They have managed to work together in a factory, on a construction crew and now at a fast-food restaurant. Bubba and Ginger moved in with Bubba’s parents where Bubba was able to able to get closer to his oldest daughter. For most of the year his younger daughter, with Ginger, was taken care of by Ginger’s mother.

The family is now reunited and Bubba and Ginger have taken over the payments on a double wide trailer that they hope to move next to Bubba’s parents home. After drug court graduation in six months, Bubba hopes to start working construction with Ginger’s stepfather.

Bubba said: “Drug court has been good for me but there are not many programs in this area and I wish there were more things to help people quit early rather than when things get really bad.”

Chris Brown

  • Maria Kestner is hugged by Chis Brown at her drug court graduation ceremony.

Chris Brown is a retired police officer with nearly 30 years on the job. “As a police officer you get jaded after a while. You go to the same addresses and visit the same families all the time. It hit me when I started arresting the grandchildren of people I arrested when I was a rookie cop. You realize early on that you can’t incarcerate your way out of this drug problem.”

After retiring from the police force, Chris was looking for a job where he could help people. “When the job of drug court coordinator became available, I jumped at the chance.

  • Bubba hands a drug test cup filled with his urine to Chris Brown.

“This is a wonderful way to help people. I found my humanity with this job.” Chris takes his job very seriously. He’s on call 24/7. He handles compliance with spot drug screens, curfew calls as well as issues of transportation, housing and dealing with family issues of those in the program.

You realize early on that you can’t incarcerate your way out of this drug problem

He is not judgmental and he is a good listener. “I remember talking with a drug addict years ago and asking him how he wanted to be treated. He told me he just wanted to be treated like a human being. That’s what I try to do with everyone in the program: treat them like human beings rather than drug addicts.”

Joyce Yarber

  • Joyce Yarber manages a cattle ranch and hay farm with her husband.

Joyce Yarber, age 59, has always walked with a limp. She has suffered with hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis for most of her life. For over 20 years, her doctor had prescribed a painkilling cocktail that included Lortab, Percocet and oxycodone. When her doctor was arrested for over prescribing opiates she became desperate and eventually wrote half a dozen prescriptions for herself. She was arrested and offered drug court. Because she had written scripts in both Virginia and Tennessee, it took two years of legal wrangling before she could start the drug court program in Washington County, Virginia.

Before starting drug court, she was required to get a hip replacement operation, the hope being that the operation would eliminate the pain that caused her to become a drug addict. Determined to stay sober, Joyce refused to take any opiates after the operation. Her only post-operation painkiller was an over-the-counter one. That determination impressed the drug court team. “When I first started drug court, I was a drug snob. I thought that because I got my drugs from a doctor rather than buying them on the street, I was somehow better. It didn’t take long for me to realize I was wrong. I was no better than anyone else in the program. I was just as much an addict as they all were.”

  • The start of a therapy session at Highlands Community Services for drug court participants.

Joyce has been a model client in drug court and because of her age and her outgoing personality, she has become a mother figure for the group. The only time she missed a therapy meeting was when she was trapped in a tree without her cellphone by a young bull on the cattle farm that she and her husband operate. That bull was culled from the herd the next day.

I thought that because I got my drugs from a doctor rather than buying them on the street, I was somehow better. It didn’t take long for me to realize I was wrong

A few months into the drug court program, Joyce went to her doctor and was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. Because the pain caused by the cancer was so great, she knew that she would have to go back on to opiate pain medication just to get through her chemotherapy. She offered to resign from the program but the team insisted that she stay. Her medication level is monitored by the drug court and she still attends all of the meetings. “I got a call from the probation office in Tennessee and they gave me a date that I need to call them by after I complete drug court. I sure hope I’m around and that I can remember to call. This chemo brain is a real pain.”

Zac Holt

Zac Holt was always a gifted athlete. His goal after graduating from college was to attend seminary and become a Presbyterian minister. Those plans were delayed after Zac fell 45ft while free climbing. He broke a leg and fractured a vertebra. While in hospital, he was given narcotic pain medication. Zac had experimented with marijuana and cocaine in high school and college but drugs were never a major part of his life.

  • Zac trains daily and has competed in two triathlons since beginning drug court

That changed after he was exposed to percocet and oxycodone. After he was released from the hospital, he began doctor shopping and getting multiple prescriptions. He went off to seminary and continued using drugs. “I became a raging drug addict. I would do anything for my drugs. I lied, cheated and stole, mostly from my family. I dropped out of school. I went through therapy several times but always came back to my drugs.” Zac’s drug use went on for nine years.

  • Zac Holt was addicted to opioids for nearly nine years.

When he was arrested for possession and put on probation he continued to use drugs. He confessed this to his probation officer who then sent him to jail. While in jail his jaw was broken in a lunch room fight. He had reached bottom when he was offered drug court earlier this year. “Drug court was the best thing in the world for me. I wanted to change my life and drug court gave me a way to change.” Zac embraced the discipline and structure of drug court. He went back to live with his parents and started reconnecting with his family. He also started training for a triathlon. It seemed like an impossible goal for someone who had never competed in one. The regimen of drug court and constant training fills every waking moment. Zac has 10 more months of drug court before graduating. He is active in his church and is contemplating a return to seminary. He has also completed two triathlons.

  • Zac is thinking about returning to seminary and becoming a Presbyterian minister after he completes drug court.

Drug use in south-western Virginia shows no sign of decline. Use of Suboxone is on the rise and meth is still entrenched in the hills of Appalachia. Brown, the drug coordinator for the Washington County drug court said: “You can’t let yourself get discouraged by the numbers. You just work and fight drug addiction one family at a time.”

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/23/drug-court-opioids-virginia-second-chance October 2017

Filed under: Addiction,Crime/Violence/Prison,Heroin/Methadone,Prescription Drugs,Social Affairs,Treatment and Addiction :

Oxford academics say sales of synthetic opioid drug are proliferating on illicit websites, with Britain a significant player

Drug paraphernalia seized by North Yorkshire police in a recent case. Photograph: North Yorkshire police/PA

The UK is the largest host of fentanyl sales on the darknet in Europe, with 1,000 trades being made in the last few months, research shows.

Experts at the Oxford Internet Institute said the UK was a “significant player” in the trade of the synthetic opioid, a controlled class A drug that can be up to 100 times stronger than heroin. They warned that the drug was increasingly appearing on illicit websites.

It follows repeated warnings from the National Crime Agency for people to be “vigilant about fentanyl to protect themselves and their loved ones”, following at least 60 deaths linked to the substance.

A team at the institute has been scraping the world’s largest darknet marketplaces since April 2017. It found that the US accounts for almost 40% of global darknet trade, followed by Canada (15%) and Australia (12%). The largest seller in Europe is the UK (9%), followed by Germany, accounting for 5% of sales.

Joss Wright, a research fellow at the institute, said: “Why is the UK a significant player? … It’s because we have a relatively strong tech sector and users of the web, but also geographically the UK is quite well placed for trade coming from the US.”

He said that since data gathering began in April, there had been 4,850 trades in the US and about 1,000 in the UK.

Darknet markets or cryptomarkets have been operating since the launch of Silk Road in February 2011. On the darknet, those selling substances are able to remain relatively anonymous as their IP addresses are masked. People buy drugs using the online currency bitcoin.

Mark Graham, a professor of internet geography at the institute, said: “Many of the sellers in places like the US, Canada, and western Europe are likely intermediaries rather than producers themselves. While darknet marketplaces can, in theory, be accessed from anywhere in the world, our data suggests that there is often a local geography of trading. In other words, buyers tend to buy from domestic rather than international sellers.”

Two men were jailed last month for importing fentanyl and other class A drugs before selling them on the darknet. Ross Brennan, 29, from York, was sentenced to more than 13 years after making hundreds of thousands of pounds with 27-year-old Aarron Gledhill from Huddersfield, who was sentenced to just under four years for his part in the crime.

In what has been described as the first case of its kind in the UK because of their sophisticated use of technology, police searched Brennan’s property and found drugs with a street value of tens of thousands of pounds. They also seized a Chemistry for Dummies book, address labels, bags of cutting powder, a mixing machine, a microscope, a set of scales and packages from around the world.

The offences took place between 2013 and 2016. Between June and September 2015 alone, Brennan made 225 transactions using a dark website called AlphaBay, which has since been shut down.

Wright said fentanyl was appearing “more and more” on the dark web. “There has been a rise in the number of sales of that product … the darknet is a good place to buy things with extra guarantees of security and there is increasing trade there,” he said.

In response, some darknet marketplaces – including the drug market Hansa, which was shut down in July – had started banning fentanyl sales amid concerns it would attract too much attention from law enforcement, he said.

Judith Aldridge, a criminologist at the University of Manchester, said she would be surprised if sales of fentanyl did not increase. “Interestingly, over the past 12 months we’ve seen a demonisation of fentanyl, with many in the darknet community opposed to their sales on crypto-markets.”

Dr Andres Baravalle, from the University of East London, said research showed that 398 of 36,000 darknet adverts had mentioned fentanyl so far in 2017.

The Global Drug Survey 2017 said: “Despite disruptions from law enforcement efforts and scams, the size and scale of darknet markets for drugs continues to grow. At the time of the report there were over 20 functioning markets, according to dnstats.net.”

Graham, from the institute, said this had not deterred dealers. “Our research so far shows that shutting down these marketplaces has not reduced the total amount of trade. It’s a whack-a-mole game, so it is not reducing demand and supply … when you shut down one website another pops up. There is no indication it’s radically reducing demand or supply on these markets.”

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/oct/16/uk-accounts-for-largest-share-of-darknet-fentanyl-sales-in-europe October 2017

Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison,Economic,Internet,Synthetics :

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Violence is a major concern and is prevalent across several mental disorders. The use of substances has been associated with an exacerbation of psychiatric symptoms as well as with violence. Compared to other substances such as alcohol and cocaine, existing literature on the cannabis-violence relationship has been more limited, with most studies being conducted in the general population, and has shown controversial results. Evidence has suggested a stronger relationship when examining the effects of the persistency of cannabis use on future violent behaviors. Though, while cannabis use is highly prevalent amid psychiatric patients, far less literature on the subject has been conducted in this population. Hence, the present prospective study aims to investigate the persistency of cannabis use in psychiatric patients.

METHOD:

The sample comprised of 1,136 recently discharged psychiatric patients provided by the MacArthur Risk Assessment Study. A multi-wave (five-assessment) follow-up design was employed to allow temporal sequencing between substance use and violent behaviors. Generalized estimating equations (GEE) were used to examine the effect of persistency of cannabis use on violence, while controlling for potential confounding factors. Potential bidirectional association was also investigated using the same statistical approach.

RESULTS:

Our results suggest a unidirectional association between cannabis use and violence. GEE model revealed that the continuity of cannabis use across more than one time wave was associated with increased risks of future violent behavior. Patients who reported having used cannabis at each follow-up periods were 2.44 times more likely to display violent behaviors (OR = 2.44, 95% CI: 1.06-5.63, p < 0.05).

Odds ratios for violent behaviors associated with substance use across each time points. x-Axis represent the number of follow-up periods with substance-use, y-axis represent the Odds Ratios; Reference is no use of substance across time points; Odds Ratios are controlled for the effects of time, other substances used at each time point, age, age at first hospitalization, sex, ethnicity, Schizophrenia-Spectrum disorders (presence/absence), affective disorders (presence/absence), psychopathic traits (PCL), impulsivity (BIS-11) (*p < 0.05; **p < 0.01; ***p < 0.001; N.S., Not statistically significant).

CONCLUSION:

These findings are particularly relevant as they suggest that the longer individuals report having used cannabis after a psychiatric discharge, the more likely they are of being violent in the following time waves. These results add to our understanding of the negative consequences of chronic cannabis use amid psychiatric patients.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28983261 September 2017

Filed under: Brain and Behaviour,Cannabis/Marijuana,Crime/Violence/Prison :

This week, the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area released its fifth annual report titled The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact, Volume 5. We devote today’s issue of The Marijuana Report newsletter to highlighting a few of many significant findings the report contains.

National Families in Action has remade some of the graphs and charts in the report to emphasize key findings. This one shows how many of Colorado’s students were expelled, referred to law enforcement, or suspended in the 2015-2016 school year. This is the first year the Colorado Department of Education differentiated marijuana violations from all drug violations, and this year’s report will serve as a baseline to determine whether marijuana violations increase, decrease, or stay fundamentally the same.

Read The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact, Volume 5 here. This information appears on page 41 (PDF page 49).
The new report explains that although Colorado created its own Healthy Kids Survey, the combination of a poor response rate and the fact that several major counties with large populations had low or no participation rendered the 2015 survey’s results invalid. For a discussion of this see page 33 (PDF page 41). Volume 5 relies on the National Survey on Drug Use and Health to compare Colorado marijuana use with the national average for ages 12-17, 18-25, and 26 & older over a ten year period (2005-2006 to 2014-2015).

See data for these graphs on the following pages:

Read The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact, Volume 5 here.
The report notes that data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2006-2011 Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), and 2012-2016 Colorado Department of Transportation show that drivers testing positive for marijuana who were killed in traffic crashes rose from 6 percent of all traffic deaths in 2006 to 20 percent eleven years later. Marijuana-related traffic deaths jumped from 9 percent to 14 percent once the state commercialized marijuana for medical use and from 11 percent to 20 percent after legalizing the drug for recreational use.

Read more about marijuana-related driving in Colorado here starting on page 13 (PDF page 21).
In 2016, more than one-third of Colorado drivers who tested positive for marijuana had marijuana only in their systems. Another 36 percent had marijuana and alcohol. Slightly over one-fifth tested positive for marijuana and other drugs but no alcohol, while 7 percent had marijuana, alcohol, and other drugs on board.

See page 18 (PDF page 26) in The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact, Volume 5 here.
The Marijuana Report is a weekly e-newsletter published by National Families in Action in partnership with SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana).

Visit National Families in Action’s website, The Marijuana Report.Org, to learn more about the marijuana story unfolding across the nation.

Our mission is to protect children from addictive drugs
by shining light on the science that underlies their effects.

Addictive drugs harm children, families, and communities.
Legalizing them creates commercial industries that make drugs more available,
increase use, and expand harms.

Science shows that addiction begins in childhood.
It is a pediatric disease that is preventable.

We work to prevent the emergence of commercial
addictive drug industries that will target children.

We support FDA approved medicines.

We support the assessment, treatment, and/or social and educational services
for users and low-level dealers as alternatives to incarceration.

About SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana)

SAM is a nonpartisan alliance of lawmakers, scientists and other concerned citizens who want to move beyond simplistic discussions of “incarceration versus legalization” when discussing marijuana use and instead focus on practical changes in marijuana policy that neither demonizes users nor legalizes the drug. SAM supports a treatment, health-first marijuana policy.  SAM has four main goals:

Source: Email from National Families in Action http://nationalfamilies.org October 2017 

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug use-various effects on foetus, babies, children and youth,Drugs and Accidents,Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,USA :

By Dean A. Dabney

The United States has been waging a war on drugs for nearly 50 years . Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent on this long campaign to thwart the production, distribution, sale and use of illegal drugs.

This sustained investment has resulted in millions of drug offenders being processed through the American criminal justice system. It has also influenced crime control strategies used by American police.

Under President Barack Obama, there was a period of reform and moderating of tactics.

But President Donald Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is announcing plans to return to “law and order” approaches, such as aggressive intervention by law enforcement and use of mandatory minimum sentences by prosecutors.

I recently co-authored a book with University of Louisville criminal justice professor Richard Tewksbury on the role of confidential informants . In my view, a return to a “law and order” approach would undo recent gains in reducing crime rates as well as prison populations and would further strain tense police-community relations .

Drugs are different

Unlike violent or property crimes – which usually yield cooperative victims and witnesses – police and prosecutors are at a disdvantage when fighting drugs. Drug users don’t see themselves as crime victims or their dealers as criminals. Police thus have limited options for identifying offenders.

Alternatives include the use of undercover operations or conducting aggressive crackdown operations to disrupt the market in real time.

But sneaking up on or infiltrating secretive and multilayered drug organizations is not easy to do, and usually produces only low-level offenders . Poor police-community relations don’t help. Heightened enforcement and punishments have made matters worse by increasing the secrecy and sophistication of the illegal drug market and forcing police to develop criminal intelligence on offenders.

So how do police gather criminal intelligence on drug crimes?

The most honorable way is to rely on law-abiding sources who see the criminal activity and feel compelled to report it to the police in order to stop the problem.

The second option is for police to turn to a paid informant who is familiar with the drug operations to set up a buy or inform on the criminal activities of others in exchange for money.

A third option is to apprehend known drug offenders and coerce them into divulging information on higher-ups in exchange for a lighter sentence. We call these folks “indentured informants” because they “owe” the police information. If they don’t follow through on their end of the deal, they face the weight of criminal prosecution, often through heavy mandatory minimum sentences.

As police-community relations have eroded over time, police have slowly but surely increased their reliance on criminal informants – especially to develop cases on higher-level criminals.

The consequences of coercive tactics

Mandatory minimum sentences serve as a strong motivator to snitch. It has become the “go-to move” for authorities.

Not surprisingly, drug dealers fight back against this coercive method of getting evidence with a “stop snitchin'” campaign. Retaliatory violence often erupts , and it becomes harder for police to get evidence from both criminal and civic-mindedinformants who fear reprisals from drug dealers. Anger grows against police who are perceived as not following through on promises to protect witnesses or clean up neighborhoods.

There exists yet another wrinkle in the equation. Reliance on harsh drug sentences and confidential informants has become part and parcel to how other types of criminal cases are solved.

Witnesses or persons privy to information in homicide or robbery cases are routinely prodded into cooperating only after they find themselves facing a stiff penalty due to their involvement in an unrelated drug case.

Here again, this produces short-term gains but long-term complications for criminal justice authorities as states move to decriminalize or legalize drugs. What happens when prosecutors working violent or property crime cases can no longer rely on the threat of mandatory minimum sentences to compel individuals to provide information?

By exploiting intelligence sources and putting them at risk, the war on drugs has pitted the police against residents in drug-ridden communities. This runs contrary to the ideals of community policing, in which trust and legitimacy are essential to members of the community and law enforcement collaborating to prevent and combat crime.

The past decade has witnessed significant reforms within the criminal justice system, particularly as it relates to drug enforcement. Authorities have sought to integrate apublic health approachinto the long-standing criminal justice model and adopt a more patient and long-term view on the drug problem.

In the end, the reliance on informants and mandatory minimum sentences creates numerous unanticipated negative consequences which will continue to grow if we revert back to them.

Dean A. Dabney is an associate professor of justice and criminology at Georgia State University. He wrote this piece for The Conversation where it first appeared.

Source: https://articles.pennlive.com/opinion/2017/08/reviving_the_war_on_drugs_isnt.amp August 2017

Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison,Heroin/Methadone :

According to a Colorado Springs Gazette editorial about legalization in Colorado there has been a doubling of drivers involved in fatal crashes testing positive for marijuana. [1]

Marijuana significantly impairs driving including time and distance estimation and reaction times and motor coordination. [2] The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration lists marijuana as the most prevalent drug in fatally injured drivers with 28 % testing positive for marijuana. [3]

It is true that the crash risk for a driver on alcohol is higher than on marijuana. But to suggest it is safe to drive after using marijuana is irresponsible. An even greater danger is the combination of alcohol and marijuana that has severe psychomotor effects that impair driving. [4]

What about our kids? Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among those aged 16-25. [5] Weekend nighttime driving under the influence of marijuana among young drivers has increased by 48%. [6] About 13 % of high school seniors said they drove after using marijuana while only 10 % drove after having five or more drinks.[7] Another study showed about 28,000 seniors each year admitted to being in at least one motor vehicle accident after using marijuana. [8]

The marijuana industry is backing legalization. Do we want more dangerous drivers on our roads and dead kids so the industry can make money from selling marijuana?

References regarding DUI

[1] http://gazette.com/editorial-the-sad-anniversary-of-big-commercial-pot-in-colorado/article/1614900

[2] NHTSA, Use of Controlled Substances and Highway Safety; A Report to Congress (U.S. Dept. of Transportation, Washington, D.C., 1988)

[3] http://cesar.umd.edu/cesar/cesarfax/vol19/19-49.pdf

[4] https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6448a1.htm?s_cid=mm6448a1_w

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid

[7] https://archives.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/drug-impaired-driving-by-youth-remains-serious-problem

[8] “Unsafe Driving by High School Seniors: National Trends from 1976 to 2001 in Tickets and Accidents After Use of Alcohol, Marijuana and Other Illegal Drugs.” Journal of Studies on Alcohol. May 2003

LEGALIZING POT WILL CAUSE MORE OPIATE USE

Legalizing marijuana will cause more marijuana use. Marijuana use is associated with an increased risk for substance use disorders. [1] The interaction between the opioid and the cannabinoid system in the human body might provide a neurobiological basis for a relationship between marijuana use and opiate abuse.[2] Marijuana use appears to increase rather than decrease the risk of developing nonmedical prescription opioid use and opioid use disorder. [3] In 2017, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) landmark report written by top scientists concluded after a review of over 10,000 peer-reviewed academic articles, that marijuana use is connected to progression to and dependence on other drugs, including studies showing connections to heroin use. [4]

New research suggests that marijuana users may be more likely than nonusers to misuse prescription opioids and develop prescription opioid use disorder. The investigators analyzed data from more than 43,000 American adults. The respondents who reported past-year marijuana use had 2.2 times higher odds than nonusers of meeting diagnostic criteria for prescription opioid use disorder. They also had 2.6 times greater odds of initiating prescription opioid misuse. [5]

Marijuana used as a medicine is being sold as reducing the need for other medicines. However, a new study shows that medical marijuana users were significantly more likely to use prescription drugs in the past 12 months. Individuals who used medical marijuana were also significantly more likely to report nonmedical use in the past 12 months of any prescription drug with elevated risks for pain relievers, stimulants and tranquilizers. [6]

References regarding opiates

[1] JAMA Psychiatry. 2016 Apr;73(4):388-95. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.3229.

Cannabis Use and Risk of Psychiatric Disorders: Prospective Evidence From a US National Longitudinal Study. Blanco C1, Hasin DS2, Wall MM2, Flórez-Salamanca L3, Hoertel N4, Wang S2, Kerridge BT2, Olfson M2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26886046

[2] Cadoni C, Pisanu A, Solinas M, Acquas E, Di Chiara G. Behavioural sensitization after repeated exposure to Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cross-sensitization with morphine. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2001;158(3):259-266. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/11640927_Behavioral_sensitization_after_repeated_exposure_to_D9-tetrahydrocannabinol_and_cross-sensitization_with_morphine

[3] Cannabis Use and Risk of Prescription Opioid Use Disorder in the United States, Mark Olfson, M.D., M.P.H., Melanie M. Wall, Ph.D., Shang-Min Liu, M.S., Carlos Blanco, M.D., Ph.D. Published online: September 26, 2017at: https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2017.17040413

[4] Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. See: http://nationalacademies.org/hmd/~/media/Files/Report%20Files/2017/Cannabis-Health-Effects/Cannabis-chapter-highlights.pdf

[5] https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2017/09/marijuana-use-associated-increased-risk-prescription-opioid-misuse-use-disorders

[6] Journal of Addiction Medicine, http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/693004/?sc=dwtn

MARIJUANA USE BEFORE, DURING OR AFTER PREGNANCY CAN CAUSE SERIOUS MEDICAL CONDITIONS, LEARNING PROBLEMS, AND BIRTH DEFECTS

Legalizing marijuana will cause more marijuana use among women of child bearing age. Prenatal marijuana use has been linked with:

1. Developmental and neurological disorders and learning deficits in children.

3. Premature birth, miscarriage, stillbirth.

4. An increased likelihood of a person using marijuana as a young adult.

5. The American Medical Association states that marijuana use may be linked with low birth weight, premature birth, behavioral and other problems in young children.

6. Birth defects and childhood cancer.

7. Reproductive toxicity affecting spermatogenesis which is the process of the formation of male gamete including meiosis and formation of sperm cells.

Moderate concentrations of THC, the main psychoactive substance in marijuana, when ingested by mothers while pregnant or nursing, could have long-lasting effects on the child, including increasing stress responsivity and abnormal patterns of social interactions. THC consumed in breast milk could affect brain development.

References regarding pregnancy

Volkow ND, Compton WM, Wargo EM. The risks of marijuana use during pregnancy. JAMA. 2017;317(2):129-130.

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/letter-director

https://www.acog.org/Clinical-Guidance-and-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Obstetric-Practice/Marijuana-Use-During-Pregnancy-and-Lactation

AMA pushes for regulation on pot use during pregnancy

http://omr.bayer.ca/omr/online/sativex-pm-en.pdf

https://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/pdf/marijuana-pregnancy-508.pdf

Risk of Selected Birth Defects with Prenatal Illicit Drug Use, Hawaii, 1986-2002, Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A, 70: 7-18, 2007

Maternal use of recreational drugs and neuroblastoma in offspring: a report from the Children’s Ocology Group., Cancer Causes Control, 2006 Jun:17(5):663-9, Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

DO YOU CARE?

Do you care…about our Environment? Marijuana growing creates environmental contamination. [1]

Do you care…about Pedestrian and Motor Vehicle Deaths caused by marijuana impaired drivers?

Increased marijuana impaired driving due to the increased potency of THC creates more risk.[2]

Do you care…about Freedom of Choice? Cannabis Use Disorder destroys freedom of choice. [3]

Do you care…about Violence, Domestic Abuse and Child abuse? Oftentimes marijuana is reported in incidents of violence. Continued marijuana use is associated with a 7-fold greater odds for subsequent commission of violent crimes. [4]

Do you care…about Safety in the Workplace? Numerous professions and trades require alertness that marijuana use can impair. Employers experience challenges to requirements for drug free workplaces, finding difficulty in hiring with many failing marijuana THC drug tests. [5]

Do you care…about Substance Use Disorders and the growing Addiction Epidemic? Recent data suggest that 30% of those who use marijuana may have some degree of marijuana use disorder. That sounds small? 22,000,000 US marijuana users x 30% = over 6,000,000 with a marijuana use disorder. There is a link between adolescent pot smoking and psychosis. [6]

Do you care…about Suicide Prevention? Marijuana use greatly increases risk of suicide especially among young people. [7]

Do you care…about your Pets? Vets report increases in marijuana poisoned pets since normalizing and commercializing of marijuana. [8]

Do you care…about our Students and Schools? Normalization of marijuana use brought increased use to schools. Edibles and vaping have made use harder to detect. Colorado has had an increase in high school drug violations of 71% since legalization and school suspensions for drugs increased 45%. [9]

Do you care…about Racial Inequality? Marijuana growers and sellers typically locate in poorer neighborhoods and degrade the quality of the areas. Arrests of people of color have increased since drug legalization while arrests of Caucasians have decreased. [10].

Do you care…about Our Kids and Grandkids, the Next Generations? Help protect them by advocating for their futures. [11] Please oppose increasing the use of marijuana

References

[1] https://silentpoison.com/

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6448a1.htm?s_cid=mm6448a1_w

[3] https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/marijuana-addictive

[4] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-new-brain/201603/marijuana-use-increases-violent-behavior

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/297718566_Continuity_of_cannabis_use_and_violent_offending_over_the_life_course

https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/marijuana-violence-and-law-2155-6105-S11-014.pdf https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/teen/substance-abuse/Pages/legalizing-marijuana.aspx http://www.poppot.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/020518-Child-dangers-fact-sheet-FINAL_updated.pdf?x47959

[5] http://www.questdiagnostics.com/home/physicians/health-trends/drug-testing.html

[6] https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/2464591

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/what-scope-marijuana-use-in-united-states https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/link-between-adolescent-pot-smoking-and-psychosis-strengthens/

[7] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/wps.20170

http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lanpsy/PIIS2215-0366(14)70307-4.pdf

[8] http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/marijuana/

[9] http://gazette.com/editorial-the-sad-anniversary-of-big-commercial-pot-in-colorado/article/1614900

https://youtu.be/BApEKGUpcXs Weed Documentary from a high school in Oregon

[10] https://learnaboutsam.org/comprehensive-study-finds-marijuana-legalization-drives-youth-use-crime-rates-black-market-harms-communities-color/

[11] https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/teen/substance-abuse/Pages/legalizing-marijuana.aspx

Legalization

http://nationalacademies.org/hmd/~/media/Files/Report%20Files/2017/Cannabis-Health-Effects/Cannabis-chapter-highlights.pdf

MARIJUANA EXPOSURES AMONG CHILDREN INCREASE BY UP TO OVER 600%

The rate of marijuana exposures among children under the age of six increased by 610% in the “medical” marijuana states according to a study published in Clinical Pediatrics. The data comes from the National Poison Data System. 75% percent of the children ingested edible marijuana products such as marijuana-infused candy. Clinical effects include drowsiness or lethargy, ataxia [failure of muscle coordination], agitation or irritability, confusion and coma, respiratory depression, and single or multiple seizures.

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0009922815589912

MORE FACTS

Today’s marijuana is very high in potency and can reach 99% THC. It is very destructive and causes addiction, mental illness, violence, crime, DUIs and many health and social problems.

https://herb.co/marijuana/news/thc-a-crystalline

FACTS FROM COLORADO

The people who are pushing marijuana legalization paint Colorado as a pot paradise. This is not true according to Peter Droege who is the Marijuana and Drug Addiction Policy Fellow for the Centennial Institute a policy think tank in Lakewood Colorado. In a April 20, 2018 opinion article he states that:

According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), Colorado is a national leader among 12-17-year-olds in (1) Last year marijuana use; (2) Last month marijuana use; and (3) The percentage of youth who tried marijuana for the first time.

A 2017 analysis by the Denver Post showed Colorado had experienced a 145% increase in the number of fatal crashes involving marijuana-impaired drivers between 2013 and 2016. While the analysis stresses that the increase cannot definitively be attributed to the legalization of marijuana, it reports that the number of marijuana-impaired drivers involved in fatal crashes has more than doubled since 2013, the year before the state legalized recreational marijuana use.

A July 20, 2016 article in Westword magazine reports that increased homelessness, drugs, and crime are causing local residents and convention visitors to shun Denver’s 16th Street Mall, once one of the most vibrant tourist destinations in the region.

A group of concerned scientists from Harvard University and other institutions wrote a letter to Governor Hickenlooper on March 10, 2017, seeking to correct the record after his Feb. 26, 2017, interview on Meet the Press in which he told Chuck Todd that Colorado had not seen a spike in youth drug use after the legalization of recreational marijuana, and that there was “anecdotal” evidence of a decline in drug dealers – claims he repeated in Rolling Stone.

In the letter, the scientists reference numerous studies, including the NSDUH survey, that report a dramatic increase in youth marijuana use, emergency room visits, mental health issues and crime tied to the legalization of marijuana in Colorado. They quote an official from the state’s attorney general’s office saying legalization “has inadvertently helped fuel the business of Mexican drug cartels … cartels are now trading drugs like heroin for marijuana, and the trade has since opened the door to drug and human trafficking.”

Today’s high-potency “crack weed” is marketed to youth through vapes, candies, energy drinks, lip balms and other products easy to conceal in homes and schools. Most dispensaries in Colorado are located in low-income neighborhoods, targeting young people who do not need another obstacle in fulfilling their great potential in life. *

* https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/04/20/colorado-governor-marijuana-hickenlooper-column/53

3731002/

MARIJUANA RELATED SUICIDES OF YOUNG PEOPLE IN COLORADO

Marijuana is the Number 1 substance now found in suicides of young people in Colorado who are 10-19 years old. Go to the below Colorado website and click on the box that lists “methods, circumstances and toxicology” and then click on the two boxes for 10-19 years olds. The marijuana data will appear.

https://cohealthviz.dphe.state.co.us/t/HSEBPublic/views/CoVDRS_12_1_17/Story1?:embed=y&:showAppBanner=false&:showShareOptions=true&:display_count=no&:showVizHome=no#4)

55% OF COLORADO MARIJUANA USERS THINK IT’S SAFE TO DRIVE WHILE HIGH

55% of marijuana users surveyed by the Colorado Department of Transportation last November said they believed it was safe to drive under the influence of marijuana. Within that group, the same percentage said they had driven high in the past 30 days, on average 12 times. A recent analysis of federal traffic fatality data by the Denver Post found that the number of Colorado drivers involved in fatal crashes who tested positive for marijuana has doubled since 2013.

CDOT survey: More than half of Colorado marijuana users think it’s safe to drive while high

TODDLERS WITH LUNG INFLAMMATION

In Colorado one in six infants and toddlers hospitalized for lung inflammation are testing positive for marijuana exposure. This has been a 100% increase since legalization (10% to 21%). Non-white kids are more likely to be exposed than white kids.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160430100247.htm

TEEN ER VISITS

Marijuana related emergency room visits by Colorado teens is substantially on the rise. They see more kids with psychotic symptoms and other mental health problems and chronic vomiting due to marijuana use.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-marijuana-kids/marijuana-related-er-visits-by-colorado-teens-on-the-rise-idUSKBN1HO38A

LOW BIRTH WEIGHTS

The Colorado School of Public Health reports that there is a 50% increase in low birth weights among women who use marijuana during pregnancy. Low birth weight sets the stage for future

health problems including infection and time spent in neonatal intensive care.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180423125052.htm

EMERGENCY CARE

Colorado Cannabis Legalization and Its Effect on Emergency Care

“Not surprisingly, increased marijuana use after legalization has been accompanied by an increase in the number of ED visits and hospitalizations related to acute marijuana intoxication. Retrospective data from the Colorado Hospital Association, a consortium of more than 100 hospitals in the state, has shown that the prevalence of hospitalizations for marijuana exposure in patients aged 9 years and older doubled after the legalization of medical marijuana and that ED visits nearly doubled after the legalization of recreational marijuana, although these findings may be limited because of stigma surrounding disclosure of marijuana use in the prelegalization era. However, this same trend is reflected in the number of civilian calls to the Colorado poison control center. In the years after both medical and recreational marijuana legalization, the call volume for marijuana exposure doubled compared with that during the year before legalization.

Kim HS, Monte AA. Colorado cannabis legalization and its effect on emergency care. Ann Emerg Med. 2016;68:71-75.

https://search.aol.com/aol/search?q=http%3a%2f%2fcolorado%2520cannabis%2520legalization%2520and%2520its%2520effect%2520on%2520emergency%2520care%2e&s_it=loki-dnserror

CONTAMINATION OF MARIJUANA PRODUCTS

There is contamination in marijuana products in Colorado. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment claims that “Cannabis is a novel industry, and currently, no recognized standard methods exist for the testing of cannabis or cannabis products.”

https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/marijuana-sciences-reference-library

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug use-various effects,Drugs and Accidents,Environment,Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Health :

Source: http://poppot.org/child-endangerment  August 2018

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug use-various effects on foetus, babies, children and youth,Drugs and Accidents :

There will never be fundamental change in west Belfast’s drug problem without addressing the poverty and conflict legacies affecting it, a new report has found.

Launched on Monday, the West Belfast Community Drugs Panel’s report examined all aspects of drugs misuse in the area and provided a series of recommendations.

The panel was set up in October last year in reaction to a spate of drug-related deaths in the west of the city and is made up of representatives from several government departments, including the Belfast Trust and the Public Health Agency.

Families in the area affected by drugs, including bereaved parents, were also invited to give their views through community representatives on the panel, which was chaired by Noel Rooney, former head of the Probation Board for NI.

Funding for the report was provided by the Belfast Policing and Community Safety Partnership, which is made up of councillors and representatives from statutory agencies.

The report found significant issues relating to drugs misuse in west Belfast, many related to chronic under-funding by successive governments and the lack of a coherent, multi-agency strategy to deal with the problem.

It also identified significant contributing factors relating to the area’s social housing provision.

Several of the root causes detailed in the report, however, are generational and systemic.

“The West Belfast drugs issue is directly related to the area being affected by systemic poverty and the legacy of the NI Conflict and, unfortunately, this looks set to worsen over time,” the report reads.

“There will never be a fundamental change for west Belfast without addressing the poverty and conflict legacies.”

Elsewhere, the panel found addiction to prescription medications to be disproportionately high in the area.

“Evidence shows the level of prescribing medication in west Belfast is higher than in most other parts of Belfast, the north of Ireland and Great Britain,” the document states.

The report recommends several measures that public agencies could take to try and tackle the problem, including:

– An anti-poverty plan aligned with appropriate, long-term funding (10-15 year minimum)

– A multi-layered education strategy with a focus on early intervention

– A co-designed pilot social housing model, specifically for the area

– A zero-tolerance drugs policy from the PSNI, with a stronger focus on small level dealing

In addition, the report includes a ‘What We Heard’ section summarising key information providing to the panel by members of the public, community representatives and others.

“Criminal gangs, some claiming to have paramilitary connections, are controlling the supply of cocaine and heroin in some streets to children as young as 12-years-old,” the report reads.

“They decide what to provide and how much it will cost local people.”

Prescription medications being reported as being currently misused in west Belfast include: Tramadol, an opiate-based painkiller, and Fentanyl, a tranquiliser 100 times stronger than heroin.

It is now in the hands of government agencies to decide which, if any, of the report’s recommendations they might adopt.

Source:  https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/children-as-young-as-12-taking-drugs   11th June 2018

 

Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison,Prescription Drugs,Prevention and Intervention,Youth :

LONDONDERRY, New Hampshire — Nearly a decade later, Susan Allen-Samuel still vividly remembers the moment that she first realized her son Joe was a heroin addict.

“It took my breath away,” Allen-Samuel told NBC News.

Allen-Samuel says that she began to notice all the metal spoons — typically used by users to melt down the heroin — in her kitchen were disappearing. She says she suspected heroin but admits that she couldn’t fully accept that Joe had been caught up in what she calls the “heroin epidemic” sweeping New Hampshire.   “I was that person: ‘It’s not gonna happen, I’m a good mom,'” said Allen Samuel. “Wow, I got a wake-up call.”

Joe sits outside his home in Londonderry. Joe suffered from heroin addiction for the better part of a decade. He is now two years sober. NBC News

At the time, Joe was just a teenager. He had recently switched from abusing opiates in pill form— primarily pain killers like OxyContin – to using heroin. The reason, he says, was purely financial. One OxyContin pill can cost as much as $80 on the black market. Joe says he was spending roughly $400 a day on his addiction.  “They [the pills] were so expensive,” said Joe, 26. “You can’t afford a habit.”

At just $10-15 a bag, heroin was cheaper and more readily available. A short-drive to nearby Lawrence, Massachusetts — just across the state border — and he and his friends could purchase the drug on just about every street corner. Three overdoses and two arrests later, Joe’s life was forever altered by the deadly drug known as the “Big H.”

A State at the Center of a Heroin Crisis

The lush, rolling hills and idyllic red barns here can transform you to another time. Every town’s main street sprinkled with mom-and-pop shops and glistening white church steeples provide a backdrop to the scene of a Norman Rockwell painting, the personification of New England nostalgia.

In 2016, however, New Hampshire finds itself on the front lines of a heroin crisis that, critics warn, is unravelling the state’s social fabric. The numbers, alone, are daunting.

Last year, there were roughly 400 drug-overdose related deaths in New Hampshire — the most in the state’s history. With a population of roughly 1.4 million, the Granite State has one of the highest per-capita rates of addiction in the country.

As the problem has worsened over the last decade, however, access to substance abuse treatment has not improved. According to a 2014 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the state is second to last — ahead of only Texas — in access to treatment programs.  New Hampshire does not fund any methadone treatment programs and relies on a network of privately-run for-profit clinics to treat the thousands of addicts across the state. “There’s a stigma out there for users,” said Diane St. Onge, director of the Manchester Comprehensive Health Center — one of only eight clinics in the state that provides methadone treatment for heroin addiction. “We need more treatment options. People’s lives are at stake.”

In 2013, St. Onge’s clinic had 250 patients. Today, it has 540 patients and a two-week long waiting list. On a recent weekday, the clinic’s waiting room was teeming with weary patients, most appearing middle-aged, and young children whose parents were there to receive their daily dose of methadone, the drug that reduces the withdrawal symptoms in people addicted to heroin or other narcotic drugs.

Outside, amid the political paraphernalia and live-shots being set up by crews ahead of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, patients sat on benches waiting to go inside. The juxtaposition was striking.

A Town under Siege

Situated along the I-93 interstate between the state’s two largest cities of Manchester and Nashua, the small town of Londonderry is at the center of a drug-trafficking route where heroin cuts across socio-economic and political lines.

Ed Daniels has worked with the Londonderry Fire Department for 11 years. For most of that time, he says, he saw one or two overdose cases a year. He says he now sees at least one every shift. He says the victims he treats come from all demographics. “There’s no rhyme or reason to it,” said Daniels.

Daniels says the numbers began to spike last summer and have continued to rise, unabated. He blames the increase on fentanyl — an extremely potent pain killer drug that is now commonly cut with heroin to produce a more intense high — and feels, at times, that there is little long-term that he can do for his patients.  “They can leave the hospital,” said Daniels. “[But] once they have the addiction, where can they go for help?”

For Londonderry Fire Department Chief Darren O’Brien, who has lived his entire life in Londonderry, “it’s hard to see what’s going on in a community you grew up in.” O’Brien noted that there were 82 reported overdoses last year — nearly three times the 31 reported cases in 2014. “I’m hoping we can get a handle on it,” he said.

Joe’s heroin addiction lasted nearly a decade, a time that Allen-Samuel says she was fearful to come home to confront her son. “It’s a hell of a ride, it’s devastating,” she said.   Allen-Samuel tried everything to help Joe. On one occasion, after he had been placed in jail for a minor offense, she had officers keep him there for months knowing that he’d likely not have access to any drugs inside. Meanwhile, she says, Joe’s childhood friends were dying one-by-one from overdose.

Joe says he had periods of sobriety but ultimately relapsed. It was not until his second stint in jail, he says, where he vowed to fight back. “That was probably my lowest point,” he said. He sought treatment and, ultimately, got clean.

He says losing his closest friends was motivation for him to be there for his girlfriend and young children. He has been sober for more than two years.  “I’m just thankful,” said Joe. “[Before] I wasn’t able to be a dad. I’m glad I’m able to be here and experience it now.”

For Allen-Samuel, the unfolding crisis in New Hampshire should be an impetus for reform. Heroin addiction, she says, is a disease that should be dealt with the same way society treats cancer or any other deadly illness.  “Our families are dying,” said Allen-Samuel. “What’s going on in our community is a war.” 

Source:  

http://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/our-families-are-dying-new-hampshire-s-heroin-crisis-n510661?cid=sm_fb    Feb.2016

 

Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison,Heroin/Methadone :

AS THE LEGAL AND MEDICAL USE OF MARIJUANA BECOMES MORE COMMONPLACE, OFFICIALS ARE STRUGGLING TO DETERMINE AND ENFORCE SAFE LEVELS OF IMPAIRMENT.

Determining how intoxicated someone is can be quite a difficult task. For alcohol consumption, a substance that the body excretes in a quick, linear fashion, we can measure the amount of metabolic by-products present in the blood using a breathalyzer, or directly measure ethanol levels with a blood test.

Although the issue is somewhat complicated by differing tolerances, research conducted throughout the 20th century showed that nearly everyone loses their ability to drive safely above certain blood alcohol levels.

In the US, medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and adult recreational use is legalized in eight. Widespread popularity of this psychoactive drug seems to necessitate a similar method for measuring whether or not someone is too high to drive.

Actually creating a “weed breathalyzer” or other marijuana field sobriety test, however, is fraught with scientific complications. According to a commentary published in Trends in Molecular Medicine, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, THC, not only lingers in the body inconsistently, it also has unpredictable cognitive effects between users.

Early medical studies implied that THC could be detected in the blood for approximately six hours after smoking. Yet subsequent work by the article’s co-author, Marilyn Huestis, found that behavioral changes and motor impairments may last 6-8 hours after smoking despite near zero blood levels after just 2.5 hours.

Even if THC blood levels could accurately judge impairment, taking blood samples after a suspicious accident is likely to be fruitless for law enforcement.

“[Blood levels decline by] 74 percent in the first 30 minutes, and 90 percent by 1.4 hours,” said Huestis to Wired. “And the reason that’s important is because in the US, the average time to get blood drawn [after arrest] is between 1.4 and 4 hours.”

So why do people continue to feel stoned long after the drug is gone from the blood? Unlike ethanol, a hydrophilic molecule, THC doesn’t like hanging out in the water-based blood plasma and rapidly distributes into the cells of lipophilic fatty tissues, organs, and the brain.

“In fact, individual experiences reflect two different levels of drug ‘high,’” the article states. “..Namely a low ‘high’ effect in the absorption phase during cannabis inhalation, and a much higher effect later during the distribution phase owing to the lag time for full distribution of the active THC to the site of action – in this case, the brain.”

Furthermore, the body does not metabolize all the THC absorbed by body tissues at the time of smoking, vaping, or eating; the excess is slowly broken down over days to weeks. Heavy cannabis users will develop a THC tolerance due to this chronic, low-level exposure.

Consequently, occasional users and heavy users may feel wildly different effects from consuming the same dose of THC, preventing determination of a universal, safe dosage cut-off for drivers. A national poll from 2017 suggests that half of Americans are unconcerned by the prospect of stoned drivers on the roads, but law enforcement officials in many US states have drug-impaired driving laws that they intend to enforce. So, what tools should they use?

Huestis, who is also a senior investigator at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, does not support a legal driving limit for marijuana. She believes that, currently, well-trained police officers are best-suited for recognizing signs of impairment. Meanwhile, researchers such as herself are working to identify biomarkers that are more representative of the drug’s cognitive effects than blood THC. Ideally, these can then be measured using rapid non-invasive tests.

Another interesting prospect: Researchers at University of California San Diego are recruiting participants for a trial to develop an iPad-based cannabis-specialized field sobriety test. Volunteers will randomly receive marijuana joints at various THC concentrations, then complete driving simulations and undergo experimental impairment assessments.

Source: http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/why-is-it-so-hard-to-test-for-marijuana-intoxication/ January 2018

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug use-various effects,Social Affairs :

Drug law enforcement is not just unnecessarily punitive but discriminately so. We’d all be better without it.  No that’s not what I think.  It’s the received wisdom of drug legalisation campaigners that George Soros has been putting his billions behind.  Law enforcement is more harmful by far than the effects of the noxious drugs its purpose is to control, they claim.

In any debate on drugs policy I take part in, figures are routinely flung at me of the number of people unjustly incarcerated in the United States or unjustly convicted in the UK.  Suddenly I find democracy US/UK style is racist and as evil as ISIL.

Typically, I am told that half of all federal prisoners in the US are in for drug offences and that this “…punishment falls disproportionately on people of colour”. “Blacks make up 50 percent of the state and local prisoners incarcerated for drug crimes” is typically claimed and rarely challenged.

As for our punitive drugs laws on this side of the pond, I am also routinely informed that  “…roughly 87,000 people are being wrongly convicted every year” some 70 per cent of which are for that delightful social drug cannabis, strangely about the same number as the total number of prison places in the UK.

Fact and fiction could not be more different.  A recently published written answer shows that in any of the last 5 years, the number of people sentenced to more than a year in prison in the UK for  a Class A drugs offence can be counted on two hands ; a sentence of over 6 months for class B drugs (which include cannabis)  can be counted on one hand.

Though  cautions, discharges and rehabilitation orders far exceed all other sentencing (which includes fines and community orders) outraged liberals like Sam Bowman of the Adam Smith Institute irresponsibly persist in  their hyperbole that, “prohibition means putting thousands of people in jail, giving criminal records to hundreds of thousands of others”.

The law is unjust they insist, despite the absence of any evidence for this, that  ‘possession’ arrests damage lives, fill prisons and waste police resources.

The latest to get behind the gross social injustice banner is Bill de Blasio, the Democrat Mayor of New York City  (the first Democrat since 1993).  Under this banner and persuaded that the enforcement of federal marijuana laws doesn’t so much protect minority communities as harm them, he’s instructed the New York Police Department not to enforce them.

The reality is otherwise, however, as John Walters and David W Murray explain  here. As here in the UK the actual risk of arrest while using marijuana in the States is stunningly low – about one arrest for marijuana possession for every 34,000 joints smoked.

Drug arrests are far from being a significant portion of law-enforcement activity.  Possession arrests for marijuana do not fill US prisons – fewer than 0.3 per cent of the total of those incarcerated in state prisons (which is where most US inmates are incarcerated) in fact.  And many of these have “pled down” from more serious offences.

Nor, as we are supposed to uncritically believe,  are African-Americans the directly targeted victims of the drug laws; race is not the driver of “disparate impact”.

Walters and Murray will not make themselves popular for explaining why there are more black drug arrests. The simple facts are that: African Americans are more engaged in drug trafficking; their drug use “often occurs in areas with intensive policing, such as urban street corners” which means, yes,  that the risk of arrest for African-Americans is indeed higher than for whites, whose use of drugs is typically less conspicuous.

Nor is it just drug-related crime where there are racial disproportions in arrests and incarcerations. As they point out, the same is true for almost all crimes.  This difficult fact leaves the outraged liberal in the ‘logical’ but untenable position of having to believe that  virtually all efforts to combat crime must be “wars on communities of colour”.

The trouble is with this specious racial discrimination position is that the only solution would be to decriminalise all crime.  Where that leaves minority communities is far from protected.

Mayor de Blasio only has to look at recent crime rises California to understand this.

There, the recent passing of Proposition 47 has reduced or eliminated prison time for certain drug and stolen property crimes,  the most visible impact of which is its effect on drug possession cases; making California the first state to make drug possession crimes misdemeanours instead of felonies.

The impact has been immediate. It appears to be responsible for an increase in crime figures.

In certain areas, aggravated assault is up 9.9 per cent since the law came into effect and burglary by a whopping 30.7 per cent in the same period.

Myths about the harm of punitive enforcement are myths.  The price of no enforcement is severe – much more crime which threatens all our well being, whatever our colour.

By Kathy Gyngell 

Source: conservativewoman.co.uk   19th Dec.2014

Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison,Social Affairs,USA :

For a long time, those in medicine and the law have been concerned about a link between cannabis and violence.

This has been largely dismissed by the pro-drugs lobby as an association, not proof of a cause. The difference is important to scientific enquiry, as revealed by a telling example given recently by Professor Robert Pickard, a former government advisor.

He says the rise in deaths of hedgehogs on the roads since the end of World War II mirrors the rise in television sales, but it would be daft to suggest that TVs are killing hedgehogs: it’s an association, not a cause.

The evidence linking cannabis and violent crime is compelling: regular use of the drug doubles the risk of a psychotic episode or schizophrenia. And time and again, courts hear how people have become psychotic after smoking cannabis and, in the grips of paranoia and delusions, have murdered someone. The gallery of victims should shame those in the liberal elite who insist there’s no definitive evidence of cause and effect.

But a new study has now provided just this. Researchers followed 1,100 patients for a year after discharge from a psychiatric hospital and those who used cannabis were two-and-a-half times more likely to be violent.

So now there’s clear proof of a causative link, have we witnessed a volte-face from the pro-cannabis lobby? Of course we haven’t, because it was never really about the science.

They want to smoke cannabis, and as soon as science brings doing this into question, they simply brush it aside. Particularly frustrating are the smug, ageing hippies who claim that because they’re still here, it must be fine. They look back on a youth spent smoking spliffs with pathetic, misplaced nostalgia, and fail to realise that, not only did plenty of people not make it through the Sixties and Seventies unscathed, but the super-strong cannabis of today is almost an entirely different product.

How many more lives must be ruined before the pro-drugs lobby admit they got it wrong?

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-4957554/An-uncomfortable-truth-not-life-worth-living.html#ixzz4uppapuW9

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug use-various effects :

Objective:

The authors sought to determine whether cannabis use is associated with a change in the risk of incident nonmedical prescription opioid use and opioid use disorder at 3-year follow-up.

Method:

The authors used logistic regression models to assess prospective associations between cannabis use at wave 1 (2001–2002) and nonmedical prescription opioid use and prescription opioid use disorder at wave 2 (2004–2005) of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Corresponding analyses were performed among adults with moderate or more severe pain and with nonmedical opioid use at wave 1. Cannabis and prescription opioid use were measured with a structured interview (the Alcohol Use Disorder and Associated Disabilities Interview Schedule–DSM-IV version). Other covariates included age, sex, race/ethnicity, anxiety or mood disorders, family history of drug, alcohol, and behavioral problems, and, in opioid use disorder analyses, nonmedical opioid use.

Results:

In logistic regression models, cannabis use at wave 1 was associated with increased incident nonmedical prescription opioid use (odds ratio=5.78, 95% CI=4.23–7.90) and opioid use disorder (odds ratio=7.76, 95% CI=4.95–12.16) at wave 2. These associations remained significant after adjustment for background characteristics (nonmedical opioid use: adjusted odds ratio=2.62, 95% CI=1.86–3.69; opioid use disorder: adjusted odds ratio=2.18, 95% CI=1.14–4.14). Among adults with pain at wave 1, cannabis use was also associated with increased incident nonmedical opioid use (adjusted odds ratio=2.99, 95% CI=1.63–5.47) at wave 2; it was also associated with increased incident prescription opioid use disorder, although the association fell short of significance (adjusted odds ratio=2.14, 95% CI=0.95–4.83). Among adults with nonmedical opioid use at wave 1, cannabis use was also associated with an increase in nonmedical opioid use (adjusted odds ratio=3.13, 95% CI=1.19–8.23).

Conclusions:

Cannabis use appears to increase rather than decrease the risk of developing nonmedical prescription opioid use and opioid use disorder.

Source: http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/abs/10.1176/appi.ajp.2017.17040413

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Crime/Violence/Prison,Heroin/Methadone,Marijuana and Medicine,USA :

As Cpl. Kevin Phillips pulled up to investigate a suspected opioid overdose, paramedics were already at the Maryland home giving a man a life-saving dose of the overdose reversal drug Narcan.

Drugs were easy to find:  a package of heroin on the railing leading to a basement; another batch on a shelf above a nightstand.

The deputy already had put on gloves and grabbed evidence baggies, his usual routine for canvassing a house.  He swept the first package from the railing into a bag and sealed it; then a torn Crayola crayon box went from the nightstand into a bag of its own.  Inside that basement nightstand:  even more bags, but nothing that looked like drugs.

Then—moments after the man being treated by paramedics come to—the overdose hit.

“My face felt like it was burning.  I felt extremely lightheaded.  I felt like I was getting dizzy,” he said.  “I stood there for two seconds and thought, ‘Oh my God, I didn’t just get exposed to something.’ I just kept thinking about the carfentanil.”

Carfentanil came to mind because just hours earlier, Phillips’ boss, Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler, sent an e-mail to deputies saying the synthetic opioid so powerful that it’s used to tranquilize elephants had, for the first time ever, showed up in a toxicology report from a fatal overdose in the county.  The sheriff had urged everyone to use extra caution when responding to drug scenes.

Carfentanil and fentanyl are driving forces in the most deadly drug epidemic the United States has ever seen.  Because of their potency, it’s not just addicts who are increasingly at risk—it’s those tasked with saving lives and investigating the illegal trade.  Police departments across the U.S. are arming officers with the opioid antidote Narcan.  Now, some first responders have had to use it on colleagues, or themselves.

The paramedic who administered Phillips’ Narcan on May 19 started feeling sick herself soon after;  she didn’t need Narcan but was treated for exposure to the drugs.

Earlier this month, an Ohio officer overdosed in a police station after bushing off with a bare hand a trace of white powder left from a drug scene.  Like Phillips, he was revived after several doses of Narcan.  Last fall, SWAT officers in Hartford, Connecticut, were sickened after a flash-bang grenade sent particles of heroin and fentanyl airborne.

Phillips’ overdose was eye-opening for his department, Gahler said.  Before then, deputies didn’t have a protocol for overdose scenes; many showed up without any protective gear.

Gahler has since spent $5,000 for 100 kits that include a protective suit, booties, gloves, and face masks.  Carfentanil can be absorbed through the skin and easily inhaled. and a single particle is so powerful that simply touching it can cause an overdose, Gahler said.  Additional gear will be distributed to investigators tasked with cataloguing overdose scenes—heavy-duty gloves and more robust suits.

Gahler said 37 people have died so far this year from overdoses in his county, which is between Baltimore and Philadelphia.  The county has received toxicology reports on 19 of those cases, and each showed signs of synthetic opioids.

“This is all a game-changer for us in law enforcement,” Gahler said.  “We are going to have to re-evaluate daily what we’re doing.  We are feeling our way through this every single day . . . we’re dealing with something that’s out of our realm.  I don’t want to lose a deputy ever, but especially not to something the size of a grain of salt.”

Source:  – Erie Times-News, Erie, Pa. – May 28, 2017 – www.goerie.com  The Associated Press

Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug use-various effects,Drugs and Accidents,Health,Heroin/Methadone,Synthetics,USA :

The first to die was the family’s pet duck, killed in an attempt to rid the house of evil.

By then, Raina Thaiday had already been on a cleaning frenzy for a week, scrubbing the ceilings of her Cairns home and tossing possessions out into the yard in a bid to “cleanse” the house.  But it was when she heard a dove’s call, which she interpreted as a sign from God, that she decided she must “kill her children in order to save them”.

The Mental Health Court of Queensland last month ruled, in a decision not made public until Thursday, that Raina Mersane Ina Thaiday was of unsound mind when she stabbed to death seven of her children and a niece in her home on December 19, 2014.

In 2009, Raina Thaiday was interviewed thanking paramedics for safely delivering her child in the back of an ambulance. Photo: Nine News

“To her way of thinking at the time, what she was doing was the best thing she could do for her children. She was trying to save them,” Justice Jean Dalton said, exempting the mother from trial and confining her to mental health treatment.

Along the way the court heard details of the 40-year-old’s descent into “schizophrenia at its very depths”, likely exacerbated by years of heavy cannabis use, and culminating in her being in a psychotic state when she killed eight children under the age of 15.

A week before the killing, her then-20-year-old son, Lewis Warria found Mrs Thaiday stressed and serious, spending large amounts of time lecturing him about God, the court heard.  She went on a mission to “cleanse” her house, which Justice Dalton noted went far beyond a “normal spring clean”.

“All the furniture from the house was taken outside and put in the yard,” she said.”Inside the house was cleaned, in a most unusual way, including scrubbing the ceilings and the walls and a lot of Mrs Thaiday’s possessions were thrown away.  “And a lot of them were quite valuable.”

Things deteriorated still further the night of December 18. Her eldest daughter, niece and godchild had gone out shopping and did not return at 10pm as she had requested. Mrs Thaiday walked up and down the street, “preaching” to neighbours about their use of drugs and alcohol.  Agitated, she slept outside on a mattress dragged out in the cleaning.

Justice Dalton said with the benefit of hindsight, the things neighbours heard as Mrs Thaiday walked up and down the street, talking to herself or on the phone, were “clearly psychotic”.  “She was saying things like ‘I am the chosen one’,” the judge said.

“‘I have the power to kill people and to curse people. You hurt my kids, I hurt them first. You stab my kids, I stab them first. If you kill them, I’ll kill them’.”

At 11.40am on December 19, Mr Warria arrived home to find his mother slumped on the front verandah, covered in approximately 35 self-inflicted stab wounds that included a punctured lung. His siblings and cousin were dead inside.

Nearly two-and-a-half years later Mr Warria was in the courtroom inside Brisbane’s Queen Elizabeth II Courts of Law as a judge heard the opinions of six psychiatrists who had painstakingly analysed his mother’s mental state.

The court heard when police and paramedics arrived Mrs Thaiday immediately admitted she had killed the children inside. “Papa God” had been speaking to her, she told

psychiatrists, describing herself as the “anointed one” at risk from demons, who had to rid her Cairns home of an evil presence.

Psychiatrist Dr Angela Voita treated Mrs Thaiday from the day she came into The Park, one of Australia’s largest mental health facilities, on Christmas Eve 2014, five days after the mass killing.  She assessed her more than 50 times and, along with three other psychiatrists who gave evidence to the hearing, unanimously agreed she was mentally ill at the time of the offences.

After examining reams of evidence and interviews, Dr Voita said her patient was not capable of telling right from wrong or being able to control her actions at the time of the killings.  Assisting psychiatrist Dr Frank Varghese described the “unique” crime as “a horrendous case, the likes of which I have never seen before, and hopefully will never see (again).”   This is not ordinary schizophrenia,” he advised the judge.

“This is schizophrenia at its very depths and at its worst in terms of the terror for the patient as well as for the consequences for the individuals killed as a result of psychotic delusions.”

Mrs Thaiday had no psychiatric history or previous contact with mental health services outside of counselling at a local indigenous health service.  Independent psychiatrist Dr Pamela van de Hoef said there was some evidence that in 2007 she was also very disturbed.

“She had cut all her own hair off and threatened to kill one of the children with an axe.”

In 2011, she had ideas to drown herself and similar thoughts two weeks out from the 2014 killing, the psychiatrist said. The court heard cannabis was commonly linked to the onset of schizophrenia in those already vulnerable to the illness.

Ms Thaiday kicked a 10-20 cone a day habit in the months before the slaughter, leading psychiatrists to question whether her “psychosis” was a form of withdrawal, before mostly rejecting the notion.

Instead, Dr Jane Phillips and Dr Donald Grant agreed it was more likely the illness began to affect her while she was still using cannabis, causing to her to develop “religious delusions” that “forced her to live a clean life”.

“Altogether it amounts to a very convincing body of evidence that Mrs Thaiday was psychotic at the time of the killing,” Justice Dalton said.

She ruled Mrs Thaiday had the defence of unsoundness of mind available to her and issued a forensic order for ongoing mental health treatment.

Source: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/schizophrenia-at-its-very-depths-drove-mother-to-kill-eight-children-20170503-gvyf42.html   4th May 2017

Filed under: Australia,Brain and Behaviour,Cannabis/Marijuana,Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug use-various effects :

States that have legalized marijuana are contending with a new criminal tactic — smugglers who grow and process it for export to states where it’s illegal and worth a lot more.

Colorado is the epicenter of the phenomenon, although it’s popping up in Oregon and Washington too. Now as Maine, Massachusetts and Canada consider legalizing recreational marijuana, the question arises — will the Northeast see a wave of new-age bootleggers?

During the Prohibition era, it was whiskey being run from Canada or Mexico to the U.S. Now it’s marijuana that’s being smuggled — from Colorado, where it has been fully legal since 2014, to neighboring states and beyond.

“It’s probably our No. 1 concern.” says Andrew Freedman, who directs marijuana policy for Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Freedman says organized criminals are exploiting legal loopholes by collecting home-grow licenses that allow for as many as 99 marijuana plants each. And more generally, he says, criminals are using the state’s fully legalized pot economy as cover.

“Different ways you can use Amendment 20 and 64, the medical and the recreational, to kind of cloak yourself in legitimate growing. Unfortunately there are a lot of people who want to do that in order to sell out of state because there’s a huge economic incentive to want to sell out of state right now,” he says.

As in, a pound of pot, worth, say, $1,500 at the counter of a legal Colorado marijuana shop is worth $3,000 or more when it crosses the state border, instantly transmuted into a prized black-market commodity. And criminal gangs are moving in, creating a headache for Colorado law enforcement, danger to public safety and a field day for the media.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says last year, state highway patrols intercepted more than 3,500 pounds of marijuana that was destined for states beyond Colorado’s border. That’s just a tenth, they estimate, of the actual cross-border market, making it, conservatively, a $100 million-plus proposition. Those numbers do not include busts of some pretty big syndicates, many of them recently involving Cuban nationals shipping product to Florida.

And for Colorado’s neighboring states, it’s a doubly-frustrating problem, because it’s not of their own making.

“In Nebraska, Colorado’s become ground zero for marijuana production and trafficking,” says Jon Bruning, Nebraska’s attorney general, who with his counterpart in Oklahoma is trying to sue Colorado and force it to overturn its marijuana laws. “This contraband has been heavily trafficked in our state. While Colorado reaps millions from the production and sale of pot, Nebraska taxpayers have to bear the cost. Virtually every aspect of Nebraska’s criminal justice system has experienced increased expense to deal with the interdiction and prosecution of Colorado marijuana trafficking.” One Nebraska study found that border counties saw gradual increases in pot-related arrests, jailings and costs since medicinal marijuana was legalized in Colorado, and a surge in 2014, when the recreational pot law went into effect. But the U.S. Supreme

Court recently declined to review the complaint by Colorado’s neighbors, which are looking for other venues to pursue their case.

Meanwhile, here on the East Coast, voters in Massachusetts and Maine are considering full legalization on the November ballot, and Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is calling for legalization there. If those measures are all approved, police in New Hampshire are wondering what it would be like to be nearly surrounded by legal pot territory.

Andrew Shagoury is Tuftonboro’s chief of police, and the New Hampshire Chiefs of Police Association’s point-man on pot. If Maine or Massachusetts does go for legalization, he expects that at the least, problems such as small-scale smuggling and intoxicated driving will spill over the border.

“If more does spill over, the direct effect I suspect will be more accidents with people under the influence — obviously that would be a public safety concern. And I think politically you’d see more pressure for it to pass here too,” he says.

And Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy expects organized crime to open up new fields of operation.

“What’s going to stop a drug cartel from purchasing property, renting property here and running an operation at the property? And that’s something that could be situated next to a school, next to a hospital, in a suburban neighborhood. That’s a real problem,” she says.

But some note that Colorado neighbors such as Nebraska and Omaha have relatively strict marijuana laws, creating a strong incentive for smugglers there. In New England there is a more relaxed culture around marijuana — every state in the region, except for New Hampshire, has decriminalized possession of small amounts of pot and allowed use of medicinal marijuana, perhaps reducing potential black-market demand.

Essentially, says Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell, Vermonters are already growing enough pot to meet most of their smoking needs. But Sorrell is worried about the introduction of edible marijuana products into the regional marketplace.

“And I really think the regulators have to do a lot more effective work on quality control so that buyers know what is the THC content, what is a legitimate serving or portion because I think there has been and will continue to be a problem with over ingestion of marijuana,” he says.

There are specific parts of the measures in Maine and Massachusetts that could make it harder for criminals to aggregate licenses for big grow operations. And advocates of ending pot prohibition point to what they believe would be the most effective way to end the black market economy — to legalize marijuana in every state.

Source: http://mainepublic.org/post/will-legalizing-marijuana-create-modern-bootlegger 21st Sept.2016

Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison,Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Legal Sector,USA :

50-year study finds causal link between cannabis and subsequent violent behavior  New research published on-line in advance of print in the journal Psychological Medicine, concludes that continued use of cannabis causes violent behavior as a direct result of changes in brain function that are caused by smoking weed over many years.

Researchers have long debated a possible link between use of marijuana and violent crime.  In contrast to alcohol, meth, and many other illegal drugs, the mellowing effects of cannabis seem unsuited to promoting violent behavior.  However, ample previous research has linked marijuana use to increased violent behavior.  The sticky problem in such studies are the many confounding factors involved in interpreting this correlation.

It is very difficult to determine whether any statistical correlation between marijuana use and violent behavior are causally linked, or instead the two are associated through some other factor, such as socioeconomic status, personality traits, or many other variables that are related to the propensity to use marijuana.  Moreover, the causal relation between smoking pot and violent behavior could be in exactly the opposite direction.  That is, individuals who are involved in violence or who commit criminal offenses may also be people who are more open to using marijuana.

After all, marijuana is an illegal substance in most places, so people with antisocial personality traits and those with tendencies toward lawlessness may be the type of individuals inclined to be more open to obtaining and using the illegal substance.  Not so, conclude neuroscientist Tabea Schoeler at Kings College London, and her colleagues, “Together, the results of the present study provide support for a causal relationship between exposure to cannabis and subsequent violent outcomes across a major part of the lifespan.”  Let’s examine the evidence provided by this new study. What makes this new study more compelling than previous studies is that the researchers followed the same individuals for over 50 years from a young age to adulthood.  This is precisely what one needs to solve the chicken or egg riddle with respect to cannabis and violence:  just look and see which one happens first.

These subjects were in the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development, comprised of 411 boys who were born around 1953 and living in working-class urban neighborhoods of London.  97% of them were Caucasian and all of them were raised in two parent households.  The researchers took into consideration other factors, including antisocial traits as assessed by the Antisocial Personality Scale, alcohol use, other drug use, cigarette smoking, mental illnesses, and family history.

Heres’s what they found:  Most of the participants never used cannabis and they were never reported to have violent behavior.  38% of the participants did try cannabis at least once in their life.  Most of them experimented with cannabis in their teens, but then stopped using it. However, 20% of the boys who started using pot by age 18 continued to use it through middle age (32-48 years).  One fifth of those who were pot smokers (22%) reported violent behavior that began after beginning to use cannabis, whereas only 0.3% reported violence before using weed.  Continued use of cannabis over the life-time of the study was the strongest predictor of violent convictions, even when the other factors that contribute to violent behavior were considered in the statistical analysis.

In conclusion, the results show that continued cannabis use is associated with a 7-fold greater odds for subsequent commission of violent crimes.  This level of risk is similar to the increased risk of lung cancer from smoking cigarettes over a similar duration (40 years).  The authors suggest that impairments in neurological circuits controlling behavior may underlie impulsive, violent behavior, as a result of cannabis altering the normal neural functioning in the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex.

Source:  https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-new-brain/201603/marijuana-use-increases-violent-behavior     March 2016

Filed under: Brain and Behaviour,Cannabis/Marijuana,Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug use-various effects :

Highlights

* •People arrested multiple times for drug-related offences have shorter life expectancy.

* •Accidental overdosing with drugs was a common manner of death in repeat offenders.

* •In 44% of poisoning deaths four or more drugs were identified in autopsy blood samples.

* •Illicit recreational drugs, such as heroin, cannabis and amphetamine were common findings.

* •The major prescription drugs identified in blood were opioid analgesics and sedative-hypnotics.

Abstract

Background

Multiple arrests for use of illicit drugs and/or impaired driving strongly suggests the existence of a personality disorder and/or a substance abuse problem.

Methods

This retrospective study (1993–2010) used a national forensic toxicology database (TOXBASE), and we identified 3943 individuals with two or more arrests for use of illicit drugs and/or impaired driving. These individuals had subsequently died from a fatal drug poisoning or some other cause of death, such as trauma.

Results

Of the 3943 repeat offenders 1807 (46%) died from a fatal drug overdose and 2136 (54%) died from other causes (p < 0.001). The repeat offenders were predominantly male (90% vs 10%) and mean age of drug poisoning deaths was 5 y younger (mean 35 y) than other causes of death (mean 40 y). Significantly more repeat offenders (46%) died from drug overdose compared with all other forensic autopsies (14%) (p < 0.001). Four or more drugs were identified in femoral blood in 44% of deaths from poisoning (drug overdose) compared with 18% of deaths by other causes (p < 0.001). The manner of death was considered accidental in 54% of deaths among repeat offenders compared with 28% for other suspicious deaths (p < 0.001). The psychoactive substances most commonly identified in autopsy blood from repeat offenders were ethanol, morphine (from heroin), diazepam, amphetamines, cannabis, and various opioids.

Conclusions

This study shows that people arrested multiple times for use of illicit drugs and/or impaired driving are more likely to die by accidentally overdosing with drugs. Lives might be saved if repeat offenders were sentenced to treatment and rehabilitation for their drug abuse problem instead of conventional penalties for drug-related crimes.

Source:  www.fsijournal.org. August 2016  Volume 265, Pages 138–143  DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2016.01.036

Filed under: Brain and Behaviour,Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug use-various effects,Drugs and Accidents,Health :

A backlash is growing in a state where marijuana has quickly become a $1 billion legal business. For months, Paula McPheeters and a handful of like-minded volunteers have spent their weekends in grocery-store parking lots, even in 95° F heat. Sitting around a folding table draped with an American flag, they asked passing shoppers to sign a petition. Inevitably a few sign-wielding young protesters would show up to argue that McPheeters’s group was dead wrong. With the two sides often just yards away from each other, shouting matches erupted. “We’re peaceful people,” one woman yelled. “You’re drugged out,” countered an angry man. Threats and phone calls to police became the norm.  The wedge dividing the people of this small blue-collar city of Pueblo, Colo.?   Legal marijuana.

Colorado gave the green light to recreational marijuana back in 2012, when it passed a law to make nonmedical pot sales legal starting Jan. 1, 2014. But now opposition is rising in communities across the state. Colorado has become a great social experiment, the results of which are still not clear. “The jury is still out as to whether this was a good idea,” says Colorado attorney general Cynthia Coffman.

What’s undeniable is this: Legal marijuana is in high demand in Colorado. Only three other states—Alaska, Washington, and Oregon—plus the District of Columbia currently permit recreational adult use of cannabis. (It’s legal for medical use in another 19 states.) Of that group, Colorado led the way in 2015 with $996.5 million in licensed pot sales—a 41.7% jump over 2014 and nearly three times the figure in Washington State. Recreational sales made up nearly two-thirds of the total.

Now, as citizen groups attempt to put the brakes on the growing industry, a heated debate has emerged about the drug’s societal impact. Doctors report a spike in pot-related emergency room visits—mostly due to people accidentally consuming too much of potent edible pot products. Police face new cartel-related drug operations. Parents worry about marijuana being sold near their homes and schools. And less affluent communities like Pueblo struggle with the unintended consequences of becoming home to this emerging and controversial industry.

Amendment 64 decriminalized marijuana statewide, but Colorado’s cities and counties still decide if the drug can be grown and sold locally. At least 70% of the municipalities in the state have banned commercial operations, either by popular vote or board decisions.

Many other communities have begun pushing back. Last fall, controversy arose in the small western Colorado town of Parachute when an antipot group attempted to recall members of the town council who had welcomed pot shops. (Voters defeated the recall 3 to 1.) Debate has since emerged in Aspen, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, Littleton, and Rifle over the number, location, smell, and mere existence of retail and cultivation facilities. Citizens in the San Luis Valley, in the southern part of the state, say their schools and social services have been overwhelmed by a flood of newcomers coming to grow cannabis on cheap land, despite limited water. And just this spring officials in Colorado Springs and Englewood opted to ban pot social clubs, which are akin to lounges in which people can legally smoke weed in public.

“I’m getting calls now from people who voted for legalization thinking it wouldn’t affect them,” says Kevin Sabet, co-founder of national antimarijuana legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana. “They’re surprised to see these are sophisticated businesses opening up next to their schools selling things like marijuana gummy bears. And they’re angry.”

Officials in Denver, which is home to one-third of the state’s cannabis market, moved this spring to rein in pot capitalism. The city passed an ordinance capping the number of dispensaries and grow facilities at the present level. But discontent continues to fester in poorer communities, where many of these operations inevitably land. “We were told that legalization would take drugs out of our community,” says Candi CdeBaca, a community activist who grew up in the mostly Latino and poor Denver neighborhood of Elyria-Swansea. “The drugs stayed—and the drug dealers changed.”

CdeBaca points to, for example, an increase in school suspensions related to marijuana. And unlike the meatpacking plants and refineries that once dotted the area, CdeBaca says, this new industry hasn’t brought her neighbors jobs. Instead, the money is flowing to outsiders.

“It’s the Wild West, and the well-funded marijuana industry has dominated the regulatory process, and people are finally speaking up,” says Frank McNulty, a lawyer for Healthy Colorado, which plans to put a measure on the November state ballot—an easier task in Colorado than in many other states—that would limit the active drug ingredient THC in cannabis candy and concentrates and require health warnings on packaging. The marijuana industry has objected to the proposal, and the issue is now before the Colorado Supreme Court.

Cannabis backers bristle at the pushback, calling it a back-door effort by prohibitionists who simply disagree with the legalization of the drug. Mason Tvert, director of the Marijuana Policy Project, which leads legalization efforts nationwide, cites studies showing minimal impact on society and no harm to Colorado’s growing economy. Says Tvert: “Anyone who says it’s caused an increase in this or that [problem] is full of shit.”

What plays out in Colorado may influence what happens across the nation. Pot remains illegal under federal law. But legalization of recreational marijuana for adult use will be on the November ballot in California, Massachusetts, and Nevada, and likely in Arizona and Maine too. Voters in Arkansas, Florida, and Missouri will be voting on whether to approve it for medical use. The growth of the cannabis industry has begun to attract the interest of big companies. Microsoft announced in mid-June that it has developed a software product to help states track marijuana growth and sales.

In a recent appearance on CNBC, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper offered this advice to other states considering legalization: “I would suggest wait a year or two and see how it goes.”

Nowhere has the impact of legalization in Colorado been felt more powerfully than in the small community of Pueblo, located 114 miles south of Denver. At least 20 dispensaries and 100 growing facilities with 4 million square feet of cultivation now dot the highways near this town of 160,000, which has aggressively embraced the budding industry, making it the top cultivation spot in the state. “We’re sort of like the Napa Valley of cannabis,” says Pueblo County commissioner Sal Pace.

Pueblo has struggled for decades, ever since the 1983 recession, when most of the jobs at the local CF&I steel mill disappeared. Today the community is dealing with failingschools, rising gang activity, and increased crime. With a total of 26 homicides in 2014 and 2015, Pueblo earned the highest per capita murder rate in the state.

When the county’s three commissioners approved licenses for marijuana operations in 2014, Pueblo’s problems got worse, argues McPheeters, a Pueblo mom and community-college budget manager who is the driving force behind a group called Citizens for a Healthy Pueblo. “The promises of marijuana have not come true,” she argues. After weeks of contentious petition drives, McPheeters’s group believes it has gathered enough signatures to put a measure on the November ballot to revoke all the recreational marijuana licenses in the county. Marijuana industry groups, however, have sued, arguing that the number of signatures falls short under a new state law. A judge is set to decide in July.

Groups serving the poor in Pueblo report a flood of homeless people arriving from other states. Local homeless shelter Posada, for instance, has witnessed a 47% jump in demand since 2014, including 1,200 people who reported to shelter workers that they came to smoke pot or get jobs in the industry, says Posada’s director, Anne Stattelman. She says her funding is tapped out. “It’s changed the culture of our community,” she says.

The city’s three hospitals officially threw their support behind the antipot ballot measure after reporting a 50% spike in marijuana-related ER visits among youth under age 18 and more newborns with marijuana in their system. A number of local businesses are also backing the ban after struggling to find sober employees.

Commissioner Pace, in particular, has emerged as a target of criticism for citizens hoping to rid Pueblo of legal marijuana.  As a state legislator he drafted early pot regulations and then as commissioner led local efforts to launch the industry in Pueblo County after 56% of voters in the city approved Amendment 64. “It will take time to change some people’s opinions that pot is bad,” he says.

The pro-marijuana contingent in Pueblo say critics are misplacing blame for the area’s problems. They argue that the pot business has generated jobs and taxes as well as a college scholarship and a local playground. Revoking the licenses of cannabis shops, they say, will only fuel the black market. Says Chris Jones, an employee at a local dispensary clad in a Bob Marley T-shirt: “We already voted on this one time. Let it stand.”

Both antipot groups and marijuana advocates tend to cherry-pick data to support their claims. However, Larry Wolk, chief medical officer for the state department of health, says it’s too early to draw conclusions about the true social and health impacts on Colorado.

Marijuana-related hospitalizations have tripled in Colorado since legalization, and emergency room visits have climbed 30%, according to a state report released this spring. And pot-related calls to poison control have jumped from 20 to 100 a year, says Wolk. Drug-related school suspensions have also climbed. Yet teen usage hasn’t shot up dramatically, and crime has remained fairly stable. Marijuana-related DUIs increased 3%, and traffic fatalities involving THC increased 44%—but the absolute numbers were small in comparison to those that involved alcohol, according to the report.

The data is tricky, Wolk says, because Colorado didn’t track these numbers the same way prior to legalization. Are there more suspensions, he asks, because teachers are more aware? Are doctors now asking about marijuana at hospitals when they didn’t previously? “It may be a year or two before we’ll really have good answers,” says Wolk.

Marijuana legalization has delivered some surprises statewide to regulators, police, and citizens alike. For instance, many people thought legalization would quash the black market for the drug. “That’s been a fallacy,” says Coffman, Colorado’s attorney general. Legalization of cannabis stores and grow operations has drawn more drug-related crime, she says, including cartels that grow the plant in Colorado and then illegally move it and sell it out of state. “They use the law,” she says, “to break the law.”

Since 2013, law officials say, they have busted 88 drug cartel operations across the state, and just last year law-enforcement made a bust that recovered $12 million in illegal marijuana. Adds Coffman: “That’s crime we hadn’t previously had in Colorado.”

The state legislature is trying to play catch-up. Last year it passed 81 bills enacting changes to drug laws, prompting state law-enforcement groups to request a two-year moratorium on new laws so that they could have time to adjust. Lawsuits are also flying—including one from Colorado’s neighbors. Nebraska and Oklahoma have sued Colorado, claiming that it is violating federal drug statutes and contributing to the illegal drug trade in their states.

Another surprise to many Coloradans is that a promised huge tax windfall to benefit schools hasn’t materialized. Of the $135 million generated in 2015, for example, $20 million goes to regulatory and public-safety efforts related to cannabis, $40 million funds small rural school construction projects, and the rest goes to youth drug prevention and abuse programs. That’s a drop in the bucket for a $6.2 billion education budget.

A third revelation to parents in particular is the potency of today’s pot, says Diane Carlson, a mother of five who started Smart Colorado to protect teens from the drug. The weed, edibles, and concentrates sold in stores have THC levels that average 62% and sometimes as high as 95%, according to a 2015 state report. That compares with levels of 2% to 8% in the 1990s. “We passed this thinking it was benign, that it was the stuff from college,” says Carlson. “The industry is just moving too fast, and we’re playing catch-up while the industry is innovating.”

Sitting in a Denver café, Carlson compares marketing by the marijuana industry to that of Big Tobacco in the 1950s, portraying the product as a harmless cure-all for everything from ADHD to anxiety. Yet research shows that marijuana is harmful to the developing brain. She supports Healthy Colorado’s ballot initiative to limit the active drug ingredient in THC in marijuana edibles, candy, and concentrates to 17%.

The backlash worries Mike Stettler, the founder of Marisol, one of Pueblo County’s largest dispensaries, which has been endorsed by comedian and weed smokers’ icon Tommy Chong. The onetime construction worker fears that Pueblo’s pushback against pot will shut down his entire recreational dispensary and its 10-acre grow operation,

which generated $4.5 million in revenue last year. “I’m hoping and praying this thing doesn’t go through, but you don’t know,” he says.

He says he has invested millions in his business and has more plans for growth. In May he flew to Las Vegas to discuss a partnership with famed guitarist Carlos Santana to create a Santana brand of weed called Smooth, named after the artist’s hit song.

Inside, Marisol is a veritable wonderland for cannabis enthusiasts. Customers can consult a “budtender” for advice on the right weed for energy, sleep, or relaxation. They can also choose from a seemingly boundless variety of marijuana merchandise—from vegan “dabbing” concentrates for water pipes to pot-infused bottled beverages to peanut-butter-and-jelly-flavored THC candies. There are even liquid products designed to alleviate marijuana overdoses.

Giving a tour of the store, employee Santana O’Dell, clad in green tights with tiny marijuana leaves on them, sighs as a beatific smile appears on her face. “This is freedom,” she says.

For a growing number of her neighbors, however, legalized marijuana is starting to feel like a really bad high.

Source:  a version of this article appears in the July 1, 2016 issue of Fortune.

Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug use-various effects,Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Health,Political Sector,Social Affairs :

How goes Colorado’s experience with legal marijuana? Spend some time on social media or on numerous blogs and you’ll read headlines like “Revenue Up, Crime Down!” or “Youth Use Declining After Legalization.” In this short blog series, I will tackle different topics that have been the subject of myth and misinformation. 

First up: crime.

Lately legalization advocates have been cheering numbers that show a decline in crime. There are literally hundreds of articles that have been written with this narrative. But an honest look at the statistics shows an increase — not decrease — in Denver crime rates.

Crime is tracked through two reporting mechanisms: the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS), which examines about 35 types of crime, and the FBI Uniform Crime Reports (UCR). The FBI UCR only captures about 50 percent of all crimes in Denver, so the NIBRS is generally regarded as more credible. The Denver Police Department (DPD) uses NIBRS categories to examine an array of crime statistics, since it is the more detailed and comprehensive source of numbers.

The Denver Police statistics show that summing across all crime types — about 35 in all — the crime rate is up almost 7 percent compared with the same period last year. Interestingly, crimes such as public drunkenness are up 237 percent, and drug violations are up 20 percent.

So why are advocates claiming a crime drop? Easy: They blended part of the FBI data with part of the DPD/NIBRS data to cook up numbers they wished to see. When one picks the Part I data from UCR and uses DPD/NIBRS property-crime numbers only while studiously avoiding the DPD/NIBRS data on all other crimes, one can indeed manufacture the appearance of a decline. As one can see here, even when using the FBI UCR numbers — in their entirety — crime has risen.

A report commissioned by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals puts it nicely:

When a closer look at the data is undertaken, a different picture — something other than “crime is down” — appears to emerge. …

Legalization proponents should not infer causality regarding the downward trend observable when isolating just the UCR’s Part I crime index.

When I asked the president of the Colorado Drug Investigators Association, Ernie Martinez, about these statistics, he urged me to look at the crimes that have been happening in connection to marijuana — even after legalization:

Across the Front Range, we are experiencing more and more butane explosions due to hash extraction methods, calls for service on strong smells, and calls to ER’s on adverse effects after either ingestion or smoked use. Black-market continues to exist unabated, availability of black market marijuana is ever present and cheaper than legalized MJ. Medical marijuana registrants continue to rise due to many factors such as more quantity allowed and more plants allowed, all due to Physician recommendations.

So if crime is up, can we blame legal pot? We do not know whether legalization has anything to do with it. But we do know that reputable news organizations should stop relying on the Big Marijuana lobby for statistics. They wouldn’t blindly trust coal-industry statistics on the environmental effects of strip mining, and they should bring similar skepticism to propaganda claims disseminated by this new industry.

Source:  www.twitter.com/kevinsabet   8th November 2014

 

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Crime/Violence/Prison,USA :

Shootings in New York City have gone up nearly 20 percent in the past year, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton announced on March 3, saying that marijuana legalization and the loosening of restrictions across the United States are partly to blame.

Bratton referred to marijuana as “the seemingly innocent drug that’s been legalized around the country,” and says that yes, it’s connected to a rise in shootings. He’s not off the mark. In Colorado, Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk Taylor in Colorado noticed an uptick in crimes, and he’s now tracking the link between crimes and marijuana.

In New York City, marijuana is not legalized, but it has been decriminalized to some degree and the NYPD has stopped arresting people with small amounts of marijuana on their person.

It is ironic that in a city which is a transfer point for huge amounts of drugs . . . heroin, cocaine, hallucinogens, that one drug [that] is actually the causal factor in so much of our shootings and murder is marijuana,” Bratton said. “We just see marijuana everywhere when we make these arrests, and get the guns off the street.”

Watch WABC’s report, along with Bratton’s remarks, in the video.

Murders revolving around marijuana occur in Washington and Colorado. A week ago in Steamboat Springs, a man with an indoor marijuana grow was robbed and murdered. Two have been charged. The black markets are also alive and well in both Washington and Colorado, as a New York Times article explains.

Please share this post with every concerned parent you know! Spread the Word about Pop Pot! Parents Opposed to Pot is a non-partisan grassroots campaign started by parents concerned about the commercial pot industry and its devastating impact on youth and communities. We write anonymously to explore these important issues and protect the privacy of our bloggers. We are totally funded by private donations, rather than industry or government. If you have an article to submit, or want to support us, please go to Contact or Donate page

Source: http://www.poppot.org/2015/03/09 9th March 2015

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Crime/Violence/Prison,Effects of Drugs,USA :

 

no-one-serves-jail-time-for-smoking-pot

A currently hip cause is to rail against sentencing pot smokers to jail time. It sounds good considering alcohol is legal, smoking pot is not considered harmful to others, and our jails are already overcrowded, straining taxpayers’ wallets. The only problem is there isn’t a shred of truth to it.

Sadly, many on the right have fallen into this trap. Attend a Republicans for Liberty meeting and some young, charismatic leader will give an impassioned speech ranting and raving about how terrible it is that we lock up people for simply smoking pot. To a cheering audience, they declare it’s all about liberty and stopping big government from its unsuccessful war on drugs.

I was a prosecutor for several years, and the facts are quite different. Smoking pot has actually been “de facto” legalized across the U.S. The police look the other way, even if a neighbor rats on someone. There aren’t enough police officers to enforce marijuana possession laws. In fact, when states began legalizing pot for medicinal and recreational use, most pot smokers didn’t bother leaving their illegal dealers, because there is so little risk.

As a county prosecutor, I came across thousands of criminal cases (I frequently covered multiple hearings in different cases on a daily basis for other prosecutors assigned to those cases). I never saw a single defendant who was really sentenced to jail for marijuana possession. Former Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley once said, “No first-time offender arrested in California solely for drug possession goes to prison — ever.”

Here is why there is confusion: the only time someone is sentenced to jail for smoking pot is if there is a more serious crime they are clearly guilty of, and the prosecutor or judge wants to give them a lighter sentence. Theft or burglary were the most common crimes I came across. Instead of being required to sentence a defendant to a year imprisonment for stealing, a defendant could plead guilty to marijuana possession instead and get a much lesser sentence. So on paper, it looks like they are serving time for drug possession, but in reality, they were let off the hook for a serious crime.

Police arrest individuals for other crimes and discover marijuana in the process — which can then, ironically, be used to the defendant’s advantage to get a lighter sentence! Additionally, no judge wants to go on record sentencing someone to jail for merely marijuana possession unless the defendant has a serious crime accompanying it.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. The vast majority of the defendants I came across had long rap sheets; pages and pages of criminal history. Much of it was not permitted to be disclosed to the judge, it was considered inadmissible; things like arrests with no conviction, dismissals, juvenile crimes, convictions older than the statute of limitations, etc. Many defendants had been arrested 10 to 20 times and it was clear they had a pattern of theft or other crimes — and generally caught with drugs every time — but the outcome was always the same, they were allowed to plead guilty to some lesser crime and often escape any jail time. It was eye-opening to see how many crimes a defendant had clearly committed based on their rap sheet, yet they would only end up getting sentenced for one of them.

Additionally, it has been found that the average criminal is only caught once for about every 12 crimes committed. FBI crime data from 2013 reveals that only 13.1 percent of burglary offenses are ever solved. Add that to the crimes criminals do get caught committing, but escape consequences due to a good defense attorney, technical error by the prosecution, or other factor, and it becomes pretty clear that these folks are actually getting pretty lucky pleading guilty to marijuana possession.

Harder drugs and pot dealers don’t fare quite as well. But as long as they stay away from other criminal activity, they too are frequently left alone by the law. When caught, prosecutors also let them plea down to a lesser crime.

The problem is no one has the guts to stand up to this myth, afraid of being called a big government, authoritarian conservative. It’s much easier to look hip and make vague statements like “The war on drugs is not working.” There is no longer a war on drugs. There is the occasional ad campaign to warn teenagers against using drugs — and usually just hard drugs — but even those are directed at youth, not your average adult pot smoker. No one cares and no one enforces the law, it is treated like illegal immigration with law enforcement and the legal system looking the other way.

Obama is calling to end mandatory minimum sentencing, claiming there are too many nonviolent offenders behind bars. Several prominent Republicans are jumping on the bandwagon with him. Last month, Obama commuted the sentences of 46 “nonviolent drug offenders.” Does anyone actually believe even one of them was really serving time for drug possession, much less marijuana possession? Only the prosecutor and defense attorney will ever see their entire rap sheet, and are prohibited by law from disclosing it, so Obama gets away with this ruse.

Conservatives and libertarians shouldn’t buy into this typical rhetoric from the left, which is to stand for something because it sounds good on the surface, when in reality the truth is much different. Regardless of one’s position on drug legalization, stop saying that people are serving time behind bars for marijuana possession. You just look silly.

Source:  http://townhall.com/columnists/rachelalexander/2015/08/03/no-one-serves-jail-time-for-smoking-pot-   August 3rd 2015

Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison,Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Legal Sector :

Examining Linkages with Criminal Behavior and Psychopathic Features into the Mid-30s

Abstract

Objectives: Examine whether young men who chronically use marijuana are at risk for engaging in drug-related and non-drug-related criminal offending and exhibiting psychopathic personality features in their mid-30s.

Methods: Patterns of marijuana use were delineated in a sample of predominately Black and White young men from adolescence to the mid-20s using latent class growth curve analysis. Self-report and official records of criminal offending and psychopathic personality features were assessed in the mid-30s. Analyses controlled for multiple factors indicative of a pre-existing antisocial lifestyle and co-occurring use of other substances and tested for moderation by race.

Results: Four latent marijuana trajectory groups were identified: chronic high, adolescence-limited, late increasing, and low/nonusers. Relative to low/nonusers, chronic high and late increasing marijuana users exhibited more adult psychopathic features and were more likely to engage in drug-related offending during their mid-30s. Adolescence-limited users were similar to low/nonusers in terms of psychopathic features but were more likely to be arrested for drug-related crimes. No trajectory group differences were found for violence or theft, and the group differences were not moderated by race.

Conclusions: Young men who engage in chronic marijuana use from adolescence into their 20s are at increased risk for exhibiting psychopathic features, dealing drugs, and enduring drug-related legal problems in their mid-30s relative to men who remain abstinent or use infrequently.

1. Source:  http://jrc.sagepub.com/content/52/6/797  Published online before print June 29, 2015, doi:10.1177/0022427815589816Journal of Research in Crime and DelinquencyNovember 2015 vol. 52 no. 6 797-828  Email: dap38@pitt.edu

Filed under: Brain and Behaviour,Cannabis/Marijuana,Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug use-various effects :

– a nationwide longitudinal cohort study

Background

High mortality rates have been reported in people released from prison compared with the general population. However, few studies have investigated potential risk factors associated with these high rates, especially psychiatric determinants. We aimed to investigate the association between psychiatric disorders and mortality in people released from prison in Sweden.

Methods

We studied all people who were imprisoned since Jan 1, 2000, and released before Dec 31, 2009, in Sweden for risks of all-cause and external-cause (accidents, suicide, homicide) mortality after prison release. We obtained data for substance use disorders and other psychiatric disorders, and criminological and sociodemographic factors from population-based registers. We calculated hazard ratios (HRs) by Cox regression, and then used them to calculate population attributable fractions for post-release mortality. To control for potential familial confounding, we compared individuals in the study with siblings who were also released from prison, but without psychiatric disorders. We tested whether any independent risk factors improved the prediction of mortality beyond age, sex, and criminal history.

Findings

We identified 47 326 individuals who were imprisoned. During a median follow-up time of 5·1 years (IQR 2·6–7·5), we recorded 2874 (6%) deaths after release from prison. The overall all-cause mortality rate was 1205 deaths per 100 000 person-years. Substance use disorders significantly increased the rate of all-cause mortality (alcohol use: adjusted HR 1·62, 95% CI 1·48–1·77; drug use: 1·67, 1·53–1·83), and the association was independent of socio-demographic, criminological, and familial factors. We identified no strong evidence that other psychiatric disorders increased mortality after we controlled for potential confounders. In people released from prison, 925 (34%) of all-cause deaths in men and 85 (50%) in women were potentially attributable to substance use disorders. Substance use disorders were also an independent determinant of external-cause mortality, with population attributable fraction estimates at 42% in men and 70% in women. Substance use disorders significantly improved the prediction of external-cause mortality, in addition to sociodemographic and criminological factors.

Interpretation

Interventions to address substance use disorders could substantially decrease the burden of excess mortality in people released from prison, but might need to be provided beyond the immediate period after release.

Funding

Wellcome Trust, Swedish Research Council, and the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare.

Source:  http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/article/   21st April 2015

Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison :

Has anyone been to Colorado recently? The majestic Rocky Mountains are rapidly becoming obscured by a cloud of smoke emanating from bongs, pipes, one-hitters and joints. Talk about a ‘Rocky Mountain high’ ! Colorado has become a magnet for people whose sole interest in life is smoking a joint and getting stoned.

Spending two years as an Intelligence Officer on the Southwest Border I’ve seen up close and personal the destruction and brutality taking place right across our border in Mexico. The wanton barbarism of those involved in the Mexican drug trade equals if not surpasses anything we have seen from al Qaeda or ISIS. Not just beheadings are taking place but the outright butchering of other human beings, much of it inflicted while the victim is still alive.

The cartels have also shown a complete disregard for our national borders, kidnapping American citizens here in the U.S., and bringing them back into Mexico where they are subsequently tortured and killed. Yes, most of those Americans have involved themselves in the drug trade and face the potential consequences of that choice, but the complete lack of respect for our national borders by the Mexican cartels should trouble every American.

Unfortunately the insatiable appetite Americans have for drugs fuels the violence south of our border. Some say the answer is the answer to legalize drugs in the U.S. Sorry, but if anyone thinks that will stop the violence they’re dead wrong. The cartels in Mexico are interested in the accumulation of power. They will continue to kill each other and the occasional American because power and control are what they crave. I doubt too that they’ll be willing to ‘legally export’ their deadly poisons into the U.S. and pay the necessary import fees and taxes. Conforming to the law isn’t something they’ve been much concerned about nor inclined to do in the past.

What should be of even more concerned to Americans is whether or not we want a country that’s stoned out of its’ mind half the time ? Or for that matter a single state, such as Colorado appears to be now ? There are those proponents of legalized drugs usage who want the Colorado ‘failed’ experiment to spread nationwide. Those that argue that marijuana use isn’t any worse than alcohol fail to acknowledge the medical research and evidence that proves otherwise. I won’t list all the health concerns proven to be caused by continued marijuana use, but suffice to say there is a mountain of medical evidence that marijuana is much more harmful to the human body than tobacco or alcohol. (Insert here the obligatory loud chorus of marijuana users who will argue against the factual scientific and medical evidence, since it doesn’t match their arguments.)

But in addition to the destruction of our society through substance abuse, there is clear evidence that the Mexican cartels have provided assistance to some Islamic terrorist groups who are bent on causing death and destruction inside the United States. Not to say that Mexican cartels are necessarily supportive of extremist Islamic causes, they’re just businessmen. Businessman who could care less about any threat to the gringos up north. Should groups like ISIS, Hezbollah, or Al Qaeda want to pay them for their assistance in getting terrorists across the border into the U.S., if the price is right the cartels will be happy to oblige.

So does the violence and drug trafficking occurring along our Southwest border impact us in the U.S. ? Does our insatiable appetite for marijuana and other drugs threaten our national security ? The answer to both questions is absolutely ‘yes’ !

Regardless of what goes on in Colorado the ‘War on Drugs’ will continue. But it will continue with the Mexican Cartels having the upper hand, since they have more allies on our side of the border than American law enforcement does. And people will continue to be butchered alive in order to satisfy the American appetite for drugs.

Source: http://townhall.com/columnists/dwwilber/2014/10/27/

Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison,Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Social Affairs,USA :

How goes Colorado’s experience with legal marijuana? Spend some time on social media or on numerous blogs and you’ll read headlines like “Revenue Up, Crime Down!” or “Youth Use Declining After Legalization.” In this short blog series, I will tackle different topics that have been the subject of myth and misinformation.

First up: crime.

Lately legalization advocates have been cheering numbers that show a decline in crime. There are literally hundreds of articles that have been written with this narrative. But an honest look at the statistics shows an increase — not decrease — in Denver crime rates.

Crime is tracked through two reporting mechanisms: the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS), which examines about 35 types of crime, and the FBI Uniform Crime Reports (UCR). The FBI UCR only captures about 50 percent of all crimes in Denver, so the NIBRS is generally regarded as more credible. The Denver Police Department (DPD) uses NIBRS categories to examine an array of crime statistics, since it is the more detailed and comprehensive source of numbers.

The Denver Police statistics show that summing across all crime types — about 35 in all — the crime rate is up almost 7 percent compared with the same period last year. Interestingly, crimes such as public drunkenness are up 237 percent, and drug violations are up 20 percent.

So why are advocates claiming a crime drop? Easy: They blended part of the FBI data with part of the DPD/NIBRS data to cook up numbers they wished to see. When one picks the Part I data from UCR and uses DPD/NIBRS property-crime numbers only while studiously avoiding the DPD/NIBRS data on all other crimes, one can indeed manufacture the appearance of a decline. As one can see here, even when using the FBI UCR numbers — in their entirety — crime has risen.

A report commissioned by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals puts it nicely:

When a closer look at the data is undertaken, a different picture — something other than “crime is down” — appears to emerge. …

 Legalization proponents should not infer causality regarding the downward trend observable when isolating just the UCR’s Part I crime index.

When I asked the president of the Colorado Drug Investigators Association, Ernie Martinez, about these statistics, he urged me to look at the crimes that have been happening in connection to marijuana — even after legalization:

 Across the Front Range, we are experiencing more and more butane explosions due to hash extraction methods, calls for service on strong smells, and calls to ER’s on adverse effects after either ingestion or smoked use. Black-market continues to exist unabated, availability of black market marijuana is ever present and cheaper than legalized MJ. Medical marijuana registrants continue to rise due to many factors such as more quantity allowed and more plants allowed, all due to Physician recommendations.

So if crime is up, can we blame legal pot? We do not know whether legalization has anything to do with it. But we do know that reputable news organizations should stop relying on the Big Marijuana lobby for statistics. They wouldn’t blindly trust coal-industry statistics on the environmental effects of strip mining, and they should bring similar skepticism to propaganda claims disseminated by this new industry.

 Follow Kevin A. Sabet, Ph.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/kevinsabet

 Source: http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/5663046 2nd January 2015

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Crime/Violence/Prison,Social Affairs :

Drug decriminalization in Portugal is a failure, despite various reports published recently all over the world saying the opposite.

There is a complete and absurd campaign of manipulation of Portuguese drug policy facts and figures, which some authors appear to have fallen for.

The number of new cases of HIV / AIDS and Hepatitis C in Portugal recorded among drug users is eight times the average found in other member states of the European Union.

“Portugal keeps on being the country with the most cases of injected drug related AIDS (85 new cases per one million of citizens in 2005, while the majority of other EU countries do not exceed 5 cases per

million) and the only one registering a recent increase. 36 more cases per one million of citizens were estimated in 2005 comparatively to 2004, when only 30 were referred ” (EMCDDA – November 2007).

– Since the implementation of decriminalization in Portugal, the number of homicides related to drug use has increased 40%. “Portugal was the only European country to show a significant increase in homicides between 2001 and 2006.” (WDR – World Drug Report, 2009)

“With 219 deaths by drug ‘overdose’ a year, Portugal has one of the worst records, reporting more than one death every two days. Along with Greece, Austria and Finland, Portugal is one of the countries that recorded an increase in drug overdose by over 30% in 2005”. (EMCDDA – November 2007)

The number of deceased individuals that tested positive results for drugs (314) at the Portuguese Institute of Forensic Medicine in 2007 registered a 45% raise climbing fiercely after 2006 (216). This represents the highest numbers since 2001 – roughly one death per day – therefore reinforcing the growth of the drug trend since 2005.

(Portuguese IDT – November 2008)

– “Behind Luxembourg, Portugal is the European country with the highest rate of consistent drug users and IV heroin dependents”. (Portuguese Drug Situation Annual Report, 2006)

– Between 2001 and 2007, drug use increased 4.2%, while the percentage of people who have used drugs (at least once) in life, multiplied from 7.8% to 12%. The following statistics are reported:

(Report of Portuguese IDT 2008)

– “There remains a notorious growing consumption of cocaine in Portugal, although not as severe as that which is verifiable in Spain. The increase in consumption of cocaine is extremely problematic.” (Wolfgang Gotz, EMCDDA Director – Lisbon, May 2009)

– “While amphetamines and cocaine consumption rates have doubled in Portugal, cocaine drug seizures have increased sevenfold between 2001 and 2006, the sixth highest in the world”. (WDR – World Drug Report, June 2009)

– “It is difficult to assess trends in intensive cannabis use in Europe, but among the countries that participated in both field trials between 2004 and 2007 (France, Spain, Ireland, Greece, Italy, Netherlands and Portugal), there was an average increase of approximately 20%”. (EMCDDA – November 2008)

The reality of Portuguese drug addiction seems to have been tampered with. The statistical results seem to have been manipulated by institutions controlled by the government.

The problem is serious and deserves consistent answers. The banner of “harm reduction” cannot be an ideology and an end in itself. It is extremely disturbing to promote the correct use of drugs “safely” (sic) integrating consumption into the habits (about 70% of Portuguese addicts scrutinized in the country are not in drug-free programs but in programs that, while called treatments, are actually “replacements” because these “treatments” substitute one drug for another) that is being made possible by public institutions (such as the Portuguese IDT), who submits with the support (sic) from the State, countless numbers of addicts to a life of dependency.

“Resounding success”? Glance at the results!

If facts are important, the Portuguese model is a mistake.

The example of CzechRepublic, Mexico and Argentina that adopted the sadly famous Portuguese drug decriminalization model should not be followed by anyone.

Manuel Pinto Coelho

(Chairman of APLD – Association for a Drug Free Portugal and member of International Task Force on Strategic Drug Policy)

Source: DrugWatchInternational.  31st October, 2011

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug use-various effects,Europe,Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Health,Social Affairs :

HSE launches report on extent of harm caused by alcohol

One in four Irish people have experienced problems because of someone else’s drinking, according to a new report on the extent of harm caused in society by alcohol.

Alcohol’s Harm to Others in Ireland was published by the HSE today. It examined alcohol harm to people other than the drinker in three Irish settings – the general population, the workplace and children and families.

The report confirmed there is very significant harm associated with alcohol, extending far beyond that experienced by the person drinking, in each of these settings. Women are more likely to experience family problems while men are more likely to report assaults due to other people’s drinking habits.

At work, one in ten people reported having to work extra hours or had experienced accidents or close calls due to a co-worker’s problematic drinking. Men and workers in the youngest age group were the most likely to experience the negative consequences due to co-workers who were heavy drinkers.

The overall rate of reported harms in the Irish workforce was double that in comparison to the Australian findings for each of the measures used.

One in ten parents or guardians reported that children experienced at least one negative consequence as a result of someone else’s drinking in the past year. These included verbal abuse, being left in unsafe situations, witnessing serious violence in the home and physical abuse.

Parents who themselves were regular risky drinkers were more likely to report that children experienced at least one of these harms due to others drinking, after controlling for demographics.

Dr. Stephanie O’Keeffe, National Director for Health and Wellbeing with the HSE said the report had been commissioned in response to a growing recognition of alcohol related harm.

“Significant public health and safety concerns are raised by the harm caused to other individuals and to wider society – where we see that a quarter of the population has experienced harm due to another’s drinking,” she said.

Source:  www.irishtimes.com  26th March 2014

Filed under: Alcohol,Crime/Violence/Prison :

(Note the date on this study – 1997.)

 Substance Abuse in Home Is a Risk Factor

People who do not use illegal drugs but live in households where such drugs are used are 11 times as likely to be killed as those living in drug free homes according to a study reported today in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Killings were also 70 percent more likely among non-drinkers in households where alcoholism exists, according to the study, which examined. the effect of substance abuse on homicides and suicides in the three counties that include Seattle, Memphis and Cleveland.

“Our concept Of the individual at risk for violent death should be broadened to include not only the substance abuser, but also those who may be at risk because of the presence of others within the household who are substance abusers,” the researchers said.

The study, by researchers at the University of Washington, the University of Tennessee, Case Western Reserve University and Emory University, found that people who mix alcohol with drugs were 16.6 times more at risk for suicide and 12 times more at risk for homicide then those who abuse neither. Not only were alcoholism and drug abuse associated with more frequent suicide, the researchers reported, but homicides also increased among people who did not consume drugs or alcohol but lived with others who did.

Dr. Frederick P. Rivara the lead researcher said the study underscored the need to confront the abuse of alcohol and drugs on many levels, including basic medical care.

“Physicians don’t usually screen for substance abuse, and substance abuse has many implications, including violence.” Dr Rivara said in a telephone interview from Seattle.  He said the study documented that alcohol and drug abusers posed a risk not just to themselves but also to others in their household.  Alcohol is generally recognized as a factor in killings and suicides.  The researchers alluded to previous studies showing that 40 percent to 70 percent of homicide victims were found during autopsies to have had alcohol in their blood.

But the potentially fatal impact of chronic substance abuse on other household members was often overlooked the researchers said.  They studied reports by medical examiners on 438 suicides and 388 homicides occurring at home in Shelby County, Tenn., King County, Washington, and Cuyahoga County, Ohio, during a three- to five-year period beginning in August 1987.  The victims’ proximity to alcohol or drugs was compared with that of a control group of residents of the same or similar neighborhoods.

Alcohol abuse increased the risk of suicide three-fold, whether or not the subject lived alone, the study said, but “non-drinking individuals who lived with others who drank were not at increased risk of suicide.”

The study said,  “Alcohol impairs judgment, possibly causing individuals to place themselves in situations at high risk of violence.”  But the use of illegal drugs by those younger than 50, it found, was associated with a higher incidence of suicide both among drug users and those who lived with them. Drug use was too infrequent to be measured in those over 50.

The link between violence and drug use, the researchers suggested, may result from “drug-seeking activities, such as interaction with drug dealers and theft to obtain resources for drug purchase.”  The study reported that drug abuse in a home increased a woman’s risk of being killed by a spouse, lover, or close relative by 28 times.  “That the true risk factor may be the drug culture environment is supported by our finding that even non-drug users who lived in households where illicit-drug use occurred were at greatly increased risk of homicide,” it said.

Commenting on the study, Susan Ohanesian of Project Return, an organization in New York that helps people overcome problems resulting from substance abuse. said there was a broader pattern of violence in homes where drugs and alcohol were used to excess. “You see high levels of depression and very low levels of self esteem as the abused person comes to believe they deserve the abuse,” Ms. Ohanesian said.

Ms. Ohanesian, the senior director of substance abuse services at the organization, said the risk of violence was there whether a domestic partner abstained from drugs and alcohol or not,  In addition to Dr. Rivara the authors of the study included Dr. Beth Mueller and Carmen T. Mendoza in Seattle; Dr. Grant Somes in Memphis, Dr Norman B.  Rushforth  in Cleveland, and Dr. Arthur L. Keller. They cautioned that the study ” is limited to homicides and suicides in homes and said that the dynamic of violent deaths outside might be quite different.   They also acknowledged that alcoholism and drug abuse, rather than causing killings and suicides,  “may play a role solely as markers for other risk factors” like anti-social behavior, or a history of mental illness or depression,

Source: New York Times, NATIONAL, August 20, 1997                                        

Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug use-various effects,USA :

A UK study published in the December issue of the Journal of Public Health found that premature death occurred in this group not just from the obvious consequences of antisocial behaviour.

The data, the first to examine how a wide range of early antisocial behaviours, as well as parental factors, affect various health outcomes 40 years later found that among boys who engaged at age 10 in antisocial behaviour such as regularly skipping school or being rated troublesome or dishonest by teachers and parents, and who then went on to be convicted of a crime by the age of 18, 16.3% (1 in 6) had died or become disabled by the age of 48. That compared with 2.6% (1 in 40) of the boys from the same lower socioeconomic South London neighbourhood who were not delinquent or offenders – an almost seven-fold difference.

“We were surprised to see such a strong link between these early influences and premature death and this indicates that things that happen in families at age 8-10 are part of a progression towards dying prematurely,” said the study’s leader, Professor Jonathan Shepherd, Director of the Violence and Society Research Group at Cardiff University in Wales. “It was also surprising that the increase was not limited to substance abuse or other mental health problems known to be linked with an antisocial lifestyle, but included premature death and disability from a wide variety of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease and cancer.”

“At this point, we don’t know exactly why delinquency increases the risk of premature death and disability in middle age, but it seems that impulsivity – or lack of self-control – in childhood and adolescence was a common underlying theme. It may be that the stresses and strains of an antisocial lifestyle and having to deal with all the crises that could have been avoided with more self-control takes their toll. It fits with the biological evidence of the effects of chronic stress on illness.” Professor Shepherd said.

The research is the latest update of a long-running study called the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development that started following 411 boys at the age of eight or nine to investigate the influences on, evolution and long-term consequences of juvenile delinquency.

The researchers interviewed the children, parents and teachers and verified criminal records to collect information on antisocial behaviour patterns, family dynamics and health status at various stages of life. The study started in 1961 and follow-up investigations were performed at ages 16-18, 27-32 and 43-48. By the time of the latest follow-up, 389 of the men were still in the study.

A total of 17 men had died by the age of 48 and 17 of the remaining 365 men followed had become disabled. Of 21 potentially important influences, six were significantly associated with premature death and disability, the researchers found.

Antisocial behaviour at age 10 was linked to a more than threefold chance of dying or becoming disabled by 48 (odds ratio: 3.5), early death or disability was also at least three times more likely in boys who had been convicted of a crime between the ages of 10 and 18 (odds ratio 3.0), in those convicted between the age of 10 and 40 (odds ratio:

3.5) and in those who at age 10 had a convicted parent, were separated from a parent or had poor parental supervision (odds ratio: 3.2). Impulsivity  – or lack of self-control – at age 18 was associated with double the risk of death and disability by age 48 (odds ratio: 2.1). At age 32, self-reported criminal activity not picked up by the police, such as burglary, shoplifting, car theft, violence or vandalism, more than quadrupled the risk of death and disability by age 48 (odds ratio: 4.3).

“These findings indicate that by intervening in the development of delinquency we may be able to achieve more than a reduction in the likelihood of later offending, which is currently the goal of such interventions,” Professor Shepherd said. “We should focus on improving parenting and tackling impulsivity in the early years, which may well improve long-term health, reduce costs to the health service and save lives.”

Source: www.onmedica  Dec.2009

Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison :

Abstract

The following Kaplan/Damphouse hypothesis was tested and cross validated: The use of marijuana either predicts to or has a greater effect on increasing the degree of violent behavior for a group that is low on delinquent behavior, than it does for a group that scores high on these behaviors.

For the conventional, non-delinquent subgroup, a higher degree of significant relationship between degree of marijuana use and degree of violent behavior was found, compared to the degree of this type of relationship than was found for either cocaine/crack use, amphetamine use, or tranquilizer/sedative use. For example, for the commission of the offense of Attempted Homicide/Reckless Endangerment: for the conventional, non-delinquent group there was a highly significant relationship to the degree of marijuana use; but there was a non-significant relationship between this type of offense and the degree of use of each of the other types of drugs. Thus, this special disinhibition effect was found only for marijuana, and not for other drugs, regardless of whether they were stimulant types of drugs, or were sedative drugs.

Source: Journal of Addictive Diseases   Vol 22  Issue 3   2003

Filed under: Brain and Behaviour,Cannabis/Marijuana,Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug use-various effects :

The media have recently printed many stories of violent acts which have been carried out by young people who were know users of cannabis (marijuana).  This has led to much discussion as to whether the use of cannabis (marijuana) has caused the violent acts.  The following comment shows that although correlation is not causal it is nevertheless sobering to see how often this occurs and clearly more research is needed.

 Studies showing an ‘Association between  Pot smoking and Violence

There are many correlation studies that find an “association” between two independent variables (e.g., pot smoking and violence). We cannot dismiss the importance of these associations but, at the same time, it would be unscientific to interpret causation from such an association. The latter requires far more than a linear association or correlation. Remember, correlation is NOT causation. There are statistical formulas for measuring correlation (e.g., Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient) and the closer to 1 that the measurement shows, the stronger is the relationship or association between the two variables. Measuring the correlation coefficient is a useful examination of data that intuitively may suggest a direct relationship. Scientists often use such studies to justify more elaborate and costly investigations.

In the 1950s, for example, British and American epidemiologists were concerned about the correlations they observed between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. As the data continued to show this association over time, it inspired additional research that, ultimately, some two decades later, resulted in finding that cigarette smoking “causes” lung cancer by causing changes and mutations at the cellular level.

 

Another example – and one from today – is the “association” or correlation reported between brain tumors and cellular telephone use. Hardly a month goes by without a report that claims one thing or another, usually the polar opposite of each other. Perhaps this mystery will be solved someday but for now, we must live with the uncertainty of the association. It’s much the same with pot and violence. For now we must acknowledge that there is an association, as the authors state in the article cited below. For us to make the leap to causation on the basis of these data, however, would be unscientific and incorrect. We may very well have that ability someday but for now we have to stick with what the data are telling us.

 

Let me give you one final example that I hope may explain the difference between correlation and causation. Tomorrow, I’m giving a presentation to a drug industry group in Washington, DC. In preparation, I obtained unpublished information from DEA on the medical distribution of oxycodone in the U.S. over an eight-year period. I then compared these data with hospital emergency department admissions for the same period in which the misuse or abuse of oxycodone was involved. You can see the results of this comparison below. The correlation coefficient when measured was 0.9796 – very close to 1, meaning a very strong linear association between the two variables (oxycodone and emergency department admissions). The probability of this relationship being a result of mere chance only was found to be one in ten-thousandths (p = 0.00001). This, I’m sure you would agree, is a very close relationship between these two variables. Would it be correct to assume causation? NO! The reason that this would be incorrect is quite simple.

The majority of oxycodone distributed for medical use in the U.S. is used properly and as directed to address a therapeutic need. We would be pushing the interpretation of these data into very troubled areas if we were to assume on the basis of the association we found that the use of oxycodone “causes” people to be admitted to hospital emergency departments for misuse or abuse of the drug. Nonetheless, as the graph shows quite clearly, there is a very close relationship between the two phenomena that warrants further research and attention.

Source:   John Coleman   Drugwatch International July 2013

Violent Behaviour as Related to Use of Marijuana and Other Drugs

Abstract

The relationship of the degree of use of each of ten types of illicit drugs with each of eight types of violent criminal offenses, is reported for an African-American, inner-city, low SES, young adult study sample (N = 612). Prospective data from the time of birth was available for the statistical analyses, to provide 51 control variables on factors other than substance use which might predict to later violent behavior.

Findings: Greater frequency of use of marijuana was found unexpectedly to be associated with greater likelihood to commit weapons offenses; and this association was not found for any of the other drugs, except for alcohol. Marijuana use was also found associated with commission of Attempted Homicide/Reckless Endangerment offenses. Cocaine/crack and marijuana were the only two types of drugs the frequency of use of which was found, for this sample, to be significantly related to the frequency of being involved in the selling of drugs. These findings may not apply to a middle-class African-American sample.

Source:  Journal of Addictive Diseases  Vol.20 Issue 1   2001

The Differential Disinhibition Effect of Marijuana Use on Violent Behaviour

Abstract

The following Kaplan/Damphouse hypothesis was tested and cross validated: The use of marijuana either predicts to or has a greater effect on increasing the degree of violent behavior for a group that is low on delinquent behavior, than it does for a group that scores high on these behaviors.

For the conventional, non-delinquent subgroup, a higher degree of significant relationship between degree of marijuana use and degree of violent behavior was found, compared to the degree of this type of relationship than was found for either cocaine/crack use, amphetamine use, or tranquilizer/sedative use. For example, for the commission of the offense of Attempted Homicide/Reckless Endangerment: for the conventional, non-delinquent group there was a highly significant relationship to the degree of marijuana use; but there was a non-significant relationship between this type of offense and the degree of use of each of the other types of drugs. Thus, this special disinhibition effect was found only for marijuana, and not for other drugs, regardless of whether they were stimulant types of drugs, or were sedative drugs.

Source: Journal of Addictive Diseases   Vol 22  Issue 3   2003

Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug use-various effects :

Evaluating the pre and post treatment psychometric outcomes in an adult male category C prison.

Crane M.A.J., Blud L.  British Journal of Forensic Practice: 2012, 14(1), p.49–59..

From the early 2000s cognitive-behavioural group therapy programmes have been relied on to improve the anti-offending record of UK prisons and probation services, but evidence has been scarce and generally negative. This prison study at least suggests that one such programme does promote the intended psychological changes.

Summary Many British prisons offer the Prisoners Addressing Substance Related Offending (P-ASRO) programme, a cognitive-behavioural intervention intended to reduce crime by helping prisoners for whom this is a risk factor overcome their dependence on substance use. During 20 two-hour group sessions to be delivered over six weeks, the programme aims to enhance motivation to change, strengthen self-control, develop strategies to avoid relapse to problem substance use, and encourage lifestyle change to reduce the risk of a return to substance use and offending. It is intended for prisoners with a low to medium severity of dependence on substance use.

The featured study set out to test the impact of the programme on some of the psychological processes it targets as a means of reducing substance use and crime. It used data collected anonymously from 81 male inmates in a prison in England who had completed the P-ASRO programme, the only one run by the prison to address substance use problems. They completed psychological assessment questionnaires before starting the programme and after completing it. Before the programme a standard questionnaire assessed their severity of dependence; 74 of the 81 prisoners scored as highly dependent and seven as low to medium, meaning that most would have been considered too highly dependent to be suitable for the programme.

Main findings

The study reported changes from before to after the P-ASRO programme in assessments of: Locus of control

The extent to which individuals believe that they can control events that affect them.

Impulsiveness: The tendency to act without planning and on the spur of the moment and to be unable to sustain focus on the task in hand.

Social problem solving: An individual’s problem-solving strengths and weaknesses; whether they approach problems positively and rationally.

Stage of change: An assessment of whether in relation to a particular issue (in this case, substance use) someone is not yet contemplating change, considering it, taking action, or maintaining the changes they have made.

On all four measures the prisoners had substantially improved. There were statistically significant improvements in the degree to which they felt in control of their lives and in their approaches to problem solving, and a reduction in the tendency to behave impulsively. Before the programme just 25% of the prisoners were taking steps to change their substance use habits, but afterwards 86% were doing so, generally having progressed from merely contemplating change. In no case was the degree of improvement related to how severely dependent the prisoner had been before the programme started.

The authors’ conclusions

The findings of this study indicate that the P-ASRO programme may have a positive impact on key areas such as problem solving and self-control likely to affect pro-social behaviour change, and that it does so regardless of how severely dependent the prisoner was before the programme. After the programme, completers also were also more motivated to take action to change their substance patterns.

Improvement on the locus of control measure suggests the prisoners developed a greater sense of self-efficacy and belief in their ability to change, found in studies to be predictive of behaviour changes which minimise the risk of relapse. Impulsivity improvements suggests the offenders became more reflective in their thoughts and related actions, so possibly less likely to revert to drug use and more likely to consider the long-term consequences of their substance use. More positive problem-solving attitudes and better skills should enable offenders generate more pro-social solutions to problems and generally improve their problem-solving abilities. The stage of change assessments suggest that the P-ASRO programme may have motivated participants to take action towards achieving a lifestyle free of problem substance use.

However, the study could not assess whether these changes in the psychological processes presumed to generate substance use and crime actually did lead to longer term reduction in drug-related offending, nor whether users of different substances or polydrug users responded more or less well to the programme. Neither was there a control group of similar prisoners who did not go through the programme against which to benchmark the observed changes, and there was no way to adjust the results for factors which might have affected them such as the prisoner’s age or risk of reconviction. Also, a few prisoners who did not complete the programme were excluded from the sample. Had they been included, average degrees of improvement might have been lower.

The results of this study are reassuring because they suggest that the P-ASRO programme does not have counterproductive impacts. When like-minded people are brought together there is a risk that the group will reinforce the features they share, in this case, a tendency to criminogenic substance use. Regarding positive impacts, as the authors point out, it is impossible to say whether the changes they observed would have happened anyway, even without the programme, and whether they will translate in to less crime and substance use on release. On this score studies of similar programmes, and in Britain of the equivalent programme for offenders on probation, have not been promising ( below). However, the situation in prison is very different from that outside; in its favour, it seems many more prisoners than probationers complete the programmes, giving them a chance to have an impact, but motivation gained in prison is often of little consequence once the offender is released.

P-ASRO is based on the ASRO programme for offenders serving community sentences outside prison, results from which have not been promising. In its 2008–2011 national drug strategy for offenders, the National Offender Management Service referred to research showing that re-offending rates fall by almost 7% for offenders placed on ASRO-type anti-offending programmes. This may refer to an unpublished Home Office evaluation not specific to the ASRO or P-ASRO programmes and which lacked a comparison group. Instead it compared predicted reconviction rates for offenders referred to programmes like ASRO with their actual convictions. The results appeared generally positive. Compared to a predicted rate of 61%, just 55% of all offenders were reconvicted within two years, while the reconviction rate for those completing a programme was 38% compared with a predicted rate of 51%. Though in the ‘right’ direction, the design of the research means its results cannot be relied on as indicating that the programmes reduced offending.

Set against this possibly positive finding are several studies which produced negative findings. Among these is British study which found that even the minority of offenders who completed an ASRO programme were no less likely to be reconvicted within the following year than similar comparison offenders. When from year 2000, ASRO-type cognitive programmes for offenders were being rolled out in Britain, an evaluation of their impact on offenders on probation found no reduction in reconviction rates compared to offenders not placed on these programmes. There was, however, the familiar low level of reconviction among the minority who had completed the programmes, an effect which might have been due to factors which would have improved their prospects regardless of the programme, such as their motivation to change, ability to do so, and their stability. Among these programmes was the prototype ASRO, trialled on 62 offenders of whom 21% had completed it. Results from the ASRO paralleled those of the cognitive programmes in general. More generally, a review of studies which had randomly allocated offenders in or out of prison to anti-offending programmes found two which had evaluated ASRO-type cognitive skills approaches. These created no statistically significant gains on measures indicative of drug use or crime. Even when in a controlled study a cognitive programme has been found effective, this has not necessarily been maintained in a larger scale roll-out. In British prisons in the 1990s, early cognitive skills programmes aimed generally at tackling criminogenic attitudes and thought patterns at first evaluated positively but later the results were not replicated. Interventions for offenders are, it has been argued, highly context-specific; what works in one culture at one time may be ineffective in other settings and at other times.

P-ASRO and ASRO are among the programmes accredited by the Correctional Services Accreditation Panel for England and Wales. The panel’s report for 2010–2011 notes that both will be replaced by a new programme, Building Skills for Recovery. By the last quarter of 2011–12, 21 prisons in England and Wales were running the new programme while 29 still offered P-ASRO. However, in 2010–2011 the dominant programme was neither of these but one intended for prisoners serving short sentences, on remand, or with just six months left to serve, also it seems to be replaced by Building Skills for Recovery.

In theory the panel required evaluation evidence before selecting programmes to accredit, but in practice this was rarely available within the time scale required to meet government implementation targets. Instead it usually accredited programmes on the basis that they embodied the general principles of ‘what works’, which (largely on the basis of North American evidence) meant cognitive-behavioural methods, of which ASRO is an example. Evidence on programmes as implemented in the UK derived largely from studies not capable of determining impacts on offending.

Thanks for their comments on this entry in draft to Mark Crane of HM Prison Service, Wolverhampton, England, one of the authors of the featured study. Commentators bear no responsibility for the text including the interpretations and any remaining errors.

Last revised 06 June 2013. First uploaded 03 June 2013

<em>Source:  www.findings.org.uk reporting on British Journal of Forensic Practice

Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison :


If drug problems are greater in African American communities, providing more of the poison that serves as the root cause of the problem is not the answer. Marijuana causes the following:

Crime

According to ONDCP[1] 64 – 87% of people arrested test positive for drugs, depending on location. Marijuana is the most prevalent drug of abuse. Making marijuana more readily available will increase crime, as it has been the case in Sacramento, Stockton, Oakland and other cities which are witnessing record number of murders. According to African American Bishop Ron Allen, 90% of the black homicides are committed by blacks. Many of the crimes are directly related to drug deals or burglaries involving marijuana.

Permanent Brain Damage

A recent study in Australia[2]of 59 people who had been using marijuana for 15 years proved that marijuana interrupts the development of white matter in the brain, the complex wiring system. “Unlike grey matter, the brain’s thinking areas which peak at age 8, white matter continues developing over a lifetime.” (Dr. Marc Seal) There were disruptions and reductions in white matter of as much as 80%. The hippocampus, the area of the brain involved in memory, shrank in heavy users causing memory impairment and concentration. The average age of first use was 16, but as young as 10 or 11. The younger they started, the worse the damage.

Insanity
Marijuana’s impact on white matter has also been related to development of psychosis, including schizophrenia, paranoia and suicidal depression.. Age 14 – 16 is a critical period because the brain is going through a major development period, and cannabis can cause permanent damage.[3] A Dutch study showed teenagers who indulge in cannabis as few as 5 times in their life significantly increase their risk of psychotic symptoms.[4]

Still Births And Deformities[5]

Because today’s pot is 20 times stronger than decades ago, brain damage and physical deformities can occur to a fetus even two weeks after conception, before the mother even knows she is pregnant. The mother can quit but it’s too late for the unborn child. Studies from the 1973 done by Dr. Akira Miroshima showed that even low potency marijuana caused “more DNA damage than even heroin.” [6] While normal cells have 46 chromosomes, he discovered that one-third of “weekend smokers” who averaged two joints a week had only 20 to 30 chromosomes, about the same as a frog, which can cause mutations in sperm and ova and result in fetal damage. What’s worse, another study showed it is mutagenic, meaning it can skip one generation and affect the next.[7] Numerous studies confirm fetal damage by marijuana is a causal factor in physical deformities and behavioral problems of young people.

Addiction, Destruction and Death

According to the ONDCP, 17% of those under 18 and 9% of those over 18 years old who use marijuana will become addicted to it. Addicts either can’t work as well, or at all, so many turn to crime to feed their habit. More people are in treatment for marijuana that all other drugs combined. It doesn’t kill by overdose, but it is a major factor in suicides and a gateway to hard drugs that kill 3,400 Americans a month.

Adverse Impacts On Education

Impact on memory, motivation and ability to learn is a major factor in the 1.2 million high school drop outs nationally. America has declined to 26th in the world academically and going downhill. Preventing marijuana use by kids is of paramount importance.

Traffic Injuries and Death

33% of traffic deaths are related to drugged driving.[8] Marijuana, being fat soluble, stays in the brain for a month, compounding with each additional joint, adversely effecting memory, cognition, motor skills and reaction time. Nobody is in prison for simple possession, but rather for committing crimes while under the influence. Making marijuana more readily available will only exacerbate the problem. Black markets for those 21 and under will still exist, and drug dealers will relish the opportunity to advance marijuana users to the hard drugs. The focus should be on prevention, and keeping ALL kids in the system, safe and drug free.

——————————————————————————–

[1] Office of National Drug Control, The White House

[2] Seal, Dr. Marc 08/09/21012 Melbourne Murdoch Children’s Research Institute; Marijuana Causes Brain Damage.

[3] Dr. McGrath. University of Queensland.

[4] Patton, G.C. et al (2006) Cannabis use and mental health in young people. British Medical Journal.

[5] Science Daily (Aug 15, 2012) Study By Dr. Delphine Psychoyos, Texas A & M University

[6] Miroshima, Dr. Akira)

[7] Daliterio, Dr. Susan, U of Texas Medical School, San Antonio.

[8] DuPont, Dr. Robert – Institute of Behavior and Health www.stopdruggeddriving.com

Source: ROGER MORGAN rogermorgan.339@gmail.com 24th August 2012

Founder and Director of the Take-Back America Campaign, prior Chairman and Executive Director of the Coalition for A Drug-Free California. He is author of two books published on digital sites Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook, called MARIJUANA: Brain Damage. Birth Defects. Addiction and SOROS. The Drug Lord. Pricking the Bubble of American Supremacy. CEO of Steelheart International LLC, engaged in international business development, and an entrepreneur and businessman in California for 30 years He was Founding Chairman of the Coronado SAFE Foundation (1997), a non-profit dealing with drug prevention; prior Board Member of the San Diego Prevention Coalition; member of the National Coalition for Student Drug Testing, and Special Advisor to the Golden Rule Society in Coronado. His passion for drug prevention stems from two step-children who became drug addicted at age 12 and 14 roughly 30 years ago, and two nephews who died from drug related causes. He is a Rotarian; a charter member of the Coronado Community Church; two adult children, three grandchildren; and currently lives in Lincoln, Ca.

Roger Morgan

Steelheart International LLC

(916) 434 5629

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug use-various effects,Drugs and Accidents,Education,Health,USA,Youth :


ANALYSIS: The traditional drugs trade is declining but other crimes are on the up in the recession

Cannabis growhouses

THESE WERE once the preserve of Asian-run crime cartels based on both sides of the Border, but Irish criminals are increasingly turning to cannabis growhouses as a way of making quick profits and to satisfy the exponentially growing demand for herbal cannabis.

Garda sources say that while individuals growing small numbers of cannabis plants, mainly for their own consumption, have always been an issue, organised gangs have moved into commercial production in the past five or six years.

“They believe they won’t get caught and if they get just a few crops grown they can produce plants worth a few million euro,” said one Garda source.

The attractiveness of this fastest growing corner of the drugs trade is borne out by the Garda’s figures for seizures of plants. When the first commercial operations were discovered in the Republic in 2006 the value of cannabis plants seized by gardaí jumped to €242,400 from €47,6700 in the previous year.

The figures then gradually increased to total seizures valued at €1.54 million in 2010 before jumping to €10.61 million last year.

Last year’s figure is attributable to new heat-seeking technology being used on the Garda helicopter to identify houses in which temperatures are much higher than those around them – the tell-tale sign that a growing environment has been established for cannabis.

The Garda National Drugs Unit has established Operation Nitrogen to combat the growhouse problem. It has been one of the busiest and most successful organised-crime operations of recent years. Houses are usually rented by gangs before being kitted out with high-wattage lamps to imitate the heat and brightness of the sun. Irrigation systems are also fitted to the rows of plants and chemical enhancers are fed into the water to increase the potency of the cannabis from harvested crops.

Fuel fraud

The fuel price rises in recent years have seen a resurgence in the illegal fuel industry as more motorists than ever appear willing to buy laundered fuel at black-market prices. The problem had been dominated by the Provisional IRA but as the Troubles faded so too did the presence of fuel “laundries”, which are mainly found near the Border.

Sources believe many plants go undetected for years before they are discovered.

In 2009 there were no laundry finds in the Republic, although nine were found last year and four have been found so far this year. These illegal plants are known as “laundries” because they effectively “wash” fuel.

Diesel intended for use in the agricultural sector is marked with a green dye in the Republic and a red dye in the North. Once dyed it is subject to lower taxes than those for

motor fuel. This is designed as a fuel subsidy for farmers and other owners of heavy commercial vehicles.

Those operating the illegal laundering plants source agricultural diesel, usually by the tanker-load. They then “wash” or “launder” the fuel to remove the dye. This is achieved by pumping it through a tank with bleaching chemicals or more solid substances such as cat litter inside.

It is then sold at about €1.40 per litre, having been bought for 70c. The fuel is sometimes bought by motorists from illegal mini pumps beside laundries or it is sold on garage forecourts to unsuspecting drivers.

Cigarette smuggling

The number of cigarettes seized in 2010 reached a record 178 million, with a recommended retail price of about €75.2 million. While that fell back to €49.9 million last year, the scale of the problem has become greater in the past five years than it was before. With the price of a packet of 20 cigarettes now fast approaching €10 in the shops, there is a ready market for criminals who smuggle counterfeit or contraband cigarettes

This black market is made up of two types of cigarette. Some are contraband, or copied, versions of well-known brands and are passed off as those brands. Others are known as “cheap whites”. They are not a copy of any specific brand. Instead, they are produced in factories overseas specifically for export to countries where they are going to be sold on the black market, outside the tax net. They are given their own branding and packaging in the factories which produce them.

Both the counterfeit and contraband cigarettes are produced in cigarette factories – some legal, some illegal – in Russia, eastern Europe, China and other parts of the Far East. They are shipped in sea freight in very substantial consignments to organised-crime gangs in Ireland and other EU countries.

Because Ireland has the second highest retail price for cigarettes in the EU – four times higher than many other member States – it is seen as a very lucrative market for the illegal cigarette trade. The cigarettes can be bought for as little as 10c or 12c at a factory gate and would fetch about €4 a packet on the streets.

Source: www.IrishTimes.com 24th August 2012

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Crime/Violence/Prison :

Position Statement – December 2011

The flawed proposition of drug legalisation

Various well funded pressure groups have mounted campaigns to overturn the United Nations Conventions on drugs. These groups claim that society should accept the fact of drugs as a problem that will remain and, therefore, should be managed in a way that would enable millions of people to take advantage of an alleged ‘legal right’ to use drugs of their choice.

It is important to note that international law makes a distinction between “hard law” and “soft law.” Hard law is legally binding upon the States. Soft law is not binding. UN Conventions, such as the Conventions on Drugs, are considered hard law and must be upheld by the countries that have ratified the UN Drug Conventions.

International narcotics legislation is mainly made up of the three UN Conventions from 1961 (Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs), 1971 (Convention on Psychotropic Substances), and 1988 (Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances):

• The 1961 Convention sets out that “the possession, use, trade in, distribution,import, export, manufacture and the production of drugs is exclusively limited to medical and scientific purposes”. Penal cooperation is to be established so as to ensure that drugs are only used licitly (for prescribed medical purposes).

• The 1971 Convention resembles closely the 1961 Convention, whilst
establishing an international control system for Psychotropic Substances.

• The 1988 Convention reflects the response of the international community to increasing illicit cultivation, production, manufacture, and trafficking activities. International narcotics legislation draws a line between licit (medical) and illicit (non-medical) use, and sets out measures for prevention of illicit use, including penal measures. The preamble to the 1961 Convention states that the parties to the Convention are “Recognizing that addiction to narcotic drugs constitutes a serious evil for the individual and is fraught with social and economic danger to mankind”. The Conventions are reviewed every ten years and have consistently been upheld.

The UN system of drug control includes the Office of Drugs and Crime, the International Narcotics Control Board, and the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. The works of these bodies are positive and essential in international drug demand and supply reduction. They are also attacked by those seeking to legalise drugs.

It is frequently and falsely asserted that the so-called “War on Drugs” is inappropriate and has become a very costly and demonstrable failure. It is declared by some that vast resources have been poured into the prevention of drug use and the suppression of illicit manufacturing, trafficking, and supply. It is further claimed that what is essentially a chronic medical problem has been turned into a criminal justice issue with inappropriate remedies that make “innocent” people criminals. In short, the flawed argument is that “prohibition” monies have been wasted and the immeasurable financial resources applied to this activity would be better spent for the general benefit of the community.

The groups supporting legalisation are: people who use drugs, those who believe that the present system of control does more harm than good, and those who are keen to make significant profits from marketing newly authorised addictive substances. In addition to pernicious distribution of drugs, dealers circulate specious and misleading information. They foster the erroneous belief that drugs are harmless, thus adding to even more confused thinking.

Superficially crafted, yet pseudo-persuasive arguments are put forward that can be accepted by many concerned, well intentioned people who have neither the time nor the knowledge to research the matter thoroughly, but accept them in good faith. Frequently high profile people claim that legalisation is the best way of addressing a major social problem without cogent supporting evidence. This too influences others, especially the ill informed who accept statements as being accurate and well informed. Through this ill-informed propaganda, people are asked to believe that such action would defeat the traffickers, take the profit out of the drug trade and solve the drug problem completely.

The total case for legalisation seems to be based on the assertion that the government assault on alleged civil liberties has been disastrously and expensively ineffective and counter-productive. In short, it is alleged, in contradiction to evidence, that prohibition has produced more costs than benefits and, therefore, the use of drugs on a personal basis should be permitted. Advocates claim that legalisation would eliminate the massive expenditure incurred by prohibition and would take the profit out of crime for suppliers and dealers. They further claim that it would decriminalise what they consider “understandable” human behaviour and thus prevent the overburdening of the criminal justice system that is manifestly failing to cope. It is further argued irrationally that police time would not be wasted on minor drug offences, the courts would be freed from the backlog of trivial cases and the prisons would not be used as warehouses for those who choose to use drugs, and the saved resources could be used more effectively.

Types of drug legalisation

The term “legalisation” can have any one of the following meanings:

1. Total Legalisation – All illicit drugs such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana would be legal and treated as commercial products. No government regulation would be required to oversee production, marketing, or distribution.

2. Regulated Legalisation – The production and distribution of drugs would be regulated by the government with limits on amounts that can be purchased and the age of purchasers. There would be no criminal or civil sanctions for possessing, manufacturing, or distributing drugs unless these actions violated the regulatory system. Drug sales could be taxed.

3. Decriminalisation – Decriminalisation eliminates criminal sanctions for drug use and provides civil sanctions for possession of drugs. To achieve the agenda of drug legalisation, advocates argue for:

• legalising drugs by lowering or ending penalties for drug possession and use – particularly marijuana;

• legalising marijuana and other illicit drugs as a so-called medicine;
• harm reduction programmes such as needle exchange programmes, drug injection sites, heroin distribution to addicts, and facilitation of so-called safe use of drugs that normalize drug use, create the illusion that drugs can be used safely if one just knows how, and eliminates a goal of abstinence from drugs;

• legalised growing of industrial hemp;
• an inclusion of drug users as equal partners in establishing and enforcing drug policy; and

• protection for drug users at the expense and to the detriment of non-users under the pretence of “human rights.”

The problem is with the drugs and not the drug policies

Legalisation of current illicit drugs, including marijuana, is not a viable solution to the global drug problem and would actually exacerbate the problem. The UN Drug Conventions were adopted because of the recognition by the international community that drugs are an enormous social problem and that the trade adversely affects the global economy and the viability of some countries that have become transit routes.

The huge sums of illegal money generated by the drug trade encourage money laundering and have become inextricably linked with other international organised criminal activities such as terrorism, human trafficking, prostitution and the arms trade. Drug Lords have subverted the democratic governments of some countries to the great detriment of law abiding citizens.

Drug abuse has had a major adverse effect on global health and the spread of communicable diseases such as AIDS/HIV. Control is vitally important for the protection of communities against these problems. There is international agreement in the UN Conventions that drugs should be produced legally under strict supervision to ensure adequate supplies only for medical and research purposes. The cumulative effects of prohibition and interdiction combined with education and treatment during 100 years of international drug control have had a significant impact in stemming the drug problem. Control is working and one can only imagine how much worse the problem would have become without it. For instance:

• In 2007, drug control had reduced the global opium supply to one-third the level in 1907 and even though current reports indicate recent increased cultivation in Afghanistan and production in Southeast Asia, overall production has not increased.

• During the last decade, world output of cocaine and amphetamines has stabilized; cannabis output has declined since 2004; and opium production has declined since 2008. We, therefore, strongly urge nations to uphold and enhance current efforts to prevent the use, cultivation, production, traffic, and sale of illegal drugs. We further urge our leaders to reject the legalisation of currently illicit drugs as an acceptable solution to the world’s drug problem because of the following reasons:

• Only 6.1% of people globally between the ages of 15 and 64 use drugs (World Drug Report 2011 UNODC) and there is little public support for the legalisation of highly dangerous substances. Prohibition has ensured that the total number of users is low because legal sanctions do influence people’s behaviour.

• There is a specific obligation to protect children from the harms of drugs, as is
evidenced through the ratification by the majority of United Nations Member States of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Article 33 states that Member States “shall take all appropriate measures, including legislative, administrative, social and educational measures, to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as defined in the relevant international treaties, and to prevent the use of children in the illicit production and trafficking of such substances”.

• Legalisation sends the dangerous tacit message of approval, that drug use is
acceptable and cannot be very harmful.

• Permissibility, availability and accessibility of dangerous drugs will result in
increased consumption by many who otherwise would not consider using them.

• Enforcement of laws creates risks that discourage drug use. Laws clearly define what is legal and illegal and emphasise the boundaries.

• Legalisation would increase the risks to individuals, families, communities and world regions without any compensating benefits.

• Legalisation would remove the social sanctions normally supported by a legal system and expose people to additional risk, especially the young and vulnerable.

• The legalisation of drugs would lead inevitably to a greater number of dependencies and addictions likely to match the levels of licit addictive substances. In turn, this would lead to increasing related morbidity and mortality, the spread of communicable diseases such as AIDS/HIV and the other blood borne viruses exacerbated by the sharing of needles and drugs paraphernalia, and an increased burden on the health and social services.

• There would be no diminution in criminal justice costs as, contrary to the view held by those who support legalisation, crime would not be eliminated or reduced. Dependency often brings with it dysfunctional families together with increased domestic child abuse.

• There will be increases in drugged driving and industrial accidents.

• Drug Control is a safeguard protecting millions from the effects of drug abuse and addiction particularly, but not exclusively, in developing countries.

• Statements about taxation offsetting any additional costs are demonstrably flawed and this has been shown in the case of alcohol and tobacco taxes. Short of governments distributing free drugs, those who commit crime now to obtain them would continue to do so if they became legal.

• Legalisation would not take the profit out of the drug trade as criminals will always find ways of countering legislation. They would continue their dangerous activities including cutting drugs with harmful substances to maximise sales and profits. Aggressive marketing techniques, designed to promote increased sales and use, would be applied rigorously to devastating effect.

• Other ‘legal’ drugs – alcohol and tobacco, are regularly traded on the black market and are an international smuggling problem; an estimated 600 billion cigarettes are smuggled annually (World Drug report 2009). Taxation monies raised from these products go nowhere near addressing consequential costs.

• Many prisons have become incubators for infection and the spread of drug related diseases at great risk to individual prisoners, prison staff and the general public. Failure to eliminate drug use in these institutions exacerbates the problem.

• The prisons are not full of people who have been convicted for mere possession of drugs for personal use. This sanction is usually reserved for dealers and those who commit crime in the furtherance of their possession.

• The claim that alcohol and tobacco may cause more harm than some drugs is not a pharmacokinetics of psychotropic substances suggest that more, not less, control of their access is warranted.

• Research regularly and increasingly demonstrates the harms associated with drug use and misuse. There is uncertainty, yet growing evidence, about the long-term detrimental effects of drug use on the physical, psychological and emotional health of substance users.

• It is inaccurate to suggest that the personal use of drugs has no consequential and damaging effects. Apart from the harm to the individual users, drugs affect others by addiction, violence, criminal behaviour and road accidents. Some drugs remain in the body for long periods and adversely affect performance and behaviour beyond the time of so-called ‘private’ use. Legalisation would not diminish the adverse effects associated with drug misuse such as criminal, irrational and violent behaviour and the mental and physical harm that occurs in many users.

• All drugs can be dangerous including prescription and over the counter medicines if they are taken without attention to medical guidance. Recent research has confirmed just how harmful drug use can be and there is now overwhelming evidence (certainly in the case of cannabis) to make consideration of legalisation irresponsible.

• The toxicity of drugs is not a matter for debate or a vote. People are entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts. Those who advocate freedom of choice cannot create freedom from adverse consequences.

• Drug production causes huge ecological damage and crop erosion in drug producing areas.

• Nearly every nation has signed the UN Conventions on drug control. Any government of signatory countries contemplating legalisation would be in breach of agreements under the UN Conventions which recognise that unity is the best approach to combating the global drug problem. The administrative burden associated with legalisation would become enormous and probably unaffordable to most governments. Legalisation would require a massive government commitment to production, supply, security and a bureaucracy that would necessarily increase the need for the employment at great and unaffordable cost for all of the staff necessary to facilitate that development.

• Any government policy must be motivated by the consideration that it must first do no harm. There is an obligation to protect citizens and the compassionate and sensible method must be to do everything possible to reduce drug dependency and misuse, not to encourage or facilitate it. Any failures in a common approach to a problem would result in a complete breakdown in effectiveness. Differing and fragmented responses to a common predicament are unacceptable for the wellbeing of the international community. It is incumbent on national governments to cooperate in securing the greatest good for the greatest number.

ISSUED this 21st day of December, 2011 by the following groups:
Drug Prevention Network of the Americas (DPNA)
Institute on Global Drug Policy
International Scientific and Medical Forum on Drug Abuse
International Task Force on Strategic Drug Policy
People Against Drug Dependence & Ignorance (PADDI), Nigeria
Europe Against Drugs (EURAD)
World Federation Against Drugs (WFAD)
Peoples Recovery, Empowerment and Development Assistance (PREDA)
Drug Free Scotland

Filed under: Alcohol,Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug Specifics,Drugs and Accidents,Education Sector,Effects of Drugs,Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Legal Sector,Others (International News),Prevention and Intervention,Social Affairs,Treatment and Addiction,Youth :

Even smart people make mistakes, sometimes surprisingly large ones.  A current example is drug legalization, which way too many smart people consider a good idea.  They offer three bad arguments.

First, they contend, “the drug war has failed”, despite years of effort we have been unable to reduce the drug problem.  Actually, as imperfect as surveys may be, they present overwhelming evidence that the drug problem is growing smaller and has fallen in response to known, effective measures.  Americans use illegal drugs at substantially lower rates than when systematic measurement began in 1979, down almost 40 percent.  Marijuana use is down by almost half since its peak in the late 1970s, and cocaine use is down by 80 percent since its peak in the mid-1980s.  Serious challenges with crack, meth, and prescription drug abuse have not changed the broad overall trend: Drug use has declined for the last 40 years, as has drug crime.

The decades of decline coincide with tougher laws, popular disapproval of drug use, and powerful demand reduction measures such as drug treatment in the criminal justice system and drug testing.  The drop also tracks successful attacks on supply, as in the reduction of cocaine production in Colombia and the successful attack on meth production in the United States.  Compared with most areas of public policy, drug control measures are quite effective when properly designed and sustained.

Drug enforcement keeps the price of illegal drugs at hundreds of times the simple cost of producing them.  To destroy the criminal market, legalization would have to include a massive price cut, dramatically stimulating use and addiction.  Legalization advocates typically ignore the science.  Risk varies a bit, but all of us and a variety of other living things, monkeys, rats, and mice, can become addicted if exposed to addictive substances in sufficient concentrations, frequently enough, and over a sufficient amount of time.  It is beyond question that more people using drugs, more frequently, will result in more addiction.

About a third of illegal drug users are thought to be addicted (or close enough to it to need treatment), and the actual number is probably higher.  There are now at least 21 million drug users, and at least 7 million need treatment.  How much could that rise?  Well, there are now almost 60 million cigarette smokers and over 130 million who use alcohol each month.  It is irrational to believe that legalization would not increase addiction by millions.  

We can learn from experience.  Legalization has been tried in various forms, and every nation that has tried it has reversed course sooner or later.  America’s first cocaine epidemic occurred in the late 19th century, when there were no laws restricting the sale or use of the drug.  That epidemic led to some of the first drug laws, and the epidemic subsided.  Over a decade ago the Netherlands was the model for legalization.  However, the Dutch have reversed course, as have Sweden and Britain (twice).  The newest example for legalization advocates is Portugal, but as time passes the evidence there grows of rising crime, blood-borne disease, and drug usage.

The lessons of history are the lessons of the street. Sections of our cities have tolerated or accepted the sale and use of drugs.  We can see for ourselves that life is not the same or better in these places, it is much worse.  If they can, people move away and stay away.  Every instance of legalization confirms that once you increase the number of drug users and the addicted, it is difficult to undo your mistake.

The most recent form of legalization, pretending smoked marijuana is medicine, is following precisely the pattern of past failure.  The majority of the states and localities that have tried it are moving to correct their mistake, from California to Michigan.  Unfortunately, Washington, D.C., is about to start down this paths.  It will end badly.

The second false argument for legalization is that drug laws have filled our prisons with low-level, non-violent offenders.  The prison population has increased substantially over the past 30 years, but the population on probation is much larger and has grown almost as fast.  The portion of the prison population associated with drug offences has been declining, not growing. The number of diversion programs for substance abusers who commit crimes has grown to such an extent that the criminal justice system is now the single largest reason Americans enter drug treatment.

Despite constant misrepresentation of who is in prison and why, the criminal justice system has steadily and effectively focused on violent and repeat offenders. The unfortunate fact is that there are too many people in prison because there are too many criminals. With the rare exceptions that can be expected from human institutions, the criminal justice system is not convicting the innocent.

Most recently, crime and violence in Central America and Mexico have become the third bad reason to legalize drugs.  Even some foreign leaders have joined in claiming that violent groups in Latin America would be substantially weakened or eliminated if drugs were legal.

Many factors have driven this misguided argument.  First, while President Álvaro Uribe in Colombia and President Felipe Calderón in Mexico demonstrated brave and consequential leadership against crime and terror, such leadership is rare.  For both the less competent and the corrupt, the classic response in politics is to blame someone else for your failure.

The real challenge is to establish the rule of law in places that have weak, corrupt, or utterly inadequate institutions of justice.  Yes, the cartels and violent gangs gain money from the drug trade, but they engage in the full range of criminal activities, murder for hire, human trafficking, bank robbery, protection rackets, car theft, and kidnapping, among others.  They seek to control areas and rule with organized criminal force.  This is not a new phenomenon, and legalizing drugs will not stop it.  In fact, U.S. drug laws are a powerful means of working with foreign partners to attack violent groups and bring their leaders to justice.

Legalization advocates usually claim that alcohol prohibition caused organized crime in the United States and its repeal ended the threat.  This is widely believed and utterly false.  Criminal organizations existed before and after prohibition.  Violent criminal organizations exist until they are destroyed by institutions of justice, by each other, or by authoritarian measures fueled by popular fear.  No honest criminal justice official or family in this hemisphere will be safer tomorrow if drugs are legalized, and the serious among them know it.

Are the calls for legalization merely superficial, silly background noise in the context of more fundamental problems?  Does this talk make any difference? Well, suppose someone you know said, “Crack and heroin and meth are great, and I am going to give them to my brothers and sisters, my children and my grandchildren.”  If you find that statement absurd, irresponsible, or obscene, then at some level you appreciate that drugs cannot be accepted in civilized society.  Those who talk of legalization do not speak about giving drugs to their families, of course; they seem to expect drugs to victimize someone else’s family.

Irresponsible talk of legalization weakens public resolve against use and addiction.  It attacks the moral clarity that supports responsible behavior and the strength of key institutions.  Talk of legalization today has a real cost to our families and families in other places.  The best remedy would be some thoughtful reflection on the drug problem and what we say about it.

Source: http://www.weeklystandard.com/author/john-p.-walters 7th May 2012

Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison,Medicine and Marijuana,Social Affairs (Papers) :

ABSTRACT

The most extensive study of drug courts—a five-year examination of 23 courts and six comparison jurisdictions in eight states—found that these court programs can significantly decrease drug use and criminal behavior, with positive outcomes ramping upward as participants sensed their judge treated them more fairly, showed greater respect and interest in them, and gave them more chances to talk during courtroom proceedings.
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 18, 2011—Proponents of the adage that one person can change the world need look no farther than the country’s nearly 1,400 adult drug courts, which couple substance-abuse treatment with close judicial supervision in lieu of incarceration.
The most extensive study of drug courts—a five-year examination of 23 courts and six comparison jurisdictions in eight states—found that these court programs can significantly decrease drug use and criminal behavior, with positive outcomes ramping upward as participants sensed their judge treated them more fairly, showed greater respect and interest in them, and gave them more chances to talk during courtroom proceedings.
“Judges are central to the goals of reducing crime and substance use. Judges who spend time with participants, support them, and treat them with respect are the ones who get results,” said the Urban Institute’s Shelli Rossman, who led the research team from the Institute’s Justice Policy Center, the Center for Court Innovation, and RTI International.
Drug court participants who had more status hearings with the judge and received more praise from the judge later reported committing fewer crimes and using drugs less often than those who had less contact and praise. Court programs whose judges exhibited the most respectfulness, fairness, enthusiasm, and knowledge of each individual’s case prevented more crimes than other courts and prevented more days of drug use. And, when drug court participants reported more positive attitudes toward their judge, they cut drug use and crime even more.
While drug court costs are higher than business-as-usual case processing, they save money, the study determined, by significantly reducing the number of crimes, re-arrests, and days incarcerated. Drug courts save an average of $5,680 per participant, returning a net benefit of $2 for every $1 spent.

The Study

Drug courts emerged in the late 1980s and early 1990s as drug arrests and prosecutions exploded, overwhelming traditional courts’ capacity to process cases expeditiously.
The Multi-Site Adult Drug Court Evaluation, funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice, was conducted in two phases. The first, in 2004, surveyed 380 drug courts, more than half of which required both an eligible charge and a clinical assessment for offenders to enrol. Few courts allowed participants with prior convictions for violent misdemeanour or felony offences. More than a third of courts served only those who were diagnosed as addicted to or dependent on drugs; others also served regular users or those with any level of use.
In the study’s second phase, researchers selected 23 drug courts in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Washington, and six comparison sites in Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, and Washington. Between March 2005 and fall 2009, the team visited each location multiple times to document program characteristics and operations; interviewed a sample of 1,156 drug court participants and 625 comparison group members as many as three times (baseline interview and interviews 6 and 18 months later); administered a drug test at the 18-month mark; and obtained criminal histories, recidivism data, and budget information from state agencies and the FBI.

More Key Findings

Drug court participants who perceived the consequences of failing the program as more undesirable engaged in less substance use and crime. And those who received more judicial supervision and drug testing, or who attended more than 35 days of substance abuse treatment, reported fewer crimes and fewer days of drug use.
Drug court participants, compared to similar offenders processed through standard dockets, reported fewer days of drug use (2.1 vs. 4.8 days per month) and fewer crimes committed (52.5 vs. 110.1) when questioned about the past year at the 18-month interview.
Relative to similar offenders in the comparison group, those initially reporting more frequent drug use showed a larger reduction in drug use at the 18-month interview. Offenders with violent histories had a greater reduction in crime than others.
Although drug courts prevent a great deal of small-cost crime, overall savings are driven by a reduction in the most serious offending by relatively few individuals. Drug courts are especially likely to save money, therefore, if they enrol serious offenders.
The Takeaways: Implications for Policy and Practice
The researchers recommend that
judges hold frequent judicial status hearings, especially for high-risk participants;
administrators assign judges who are committed to the drug court model;
judges get training on best practices regarding judicial demeanour and effective communication with participants;
courts broaden participant eligibility, particularly to include those with mental health problems and histories of violent offences;
programs include sufficient drug treatment; and
courts administer drug tests more than once a week during the program’s initial phase

Source: http://www.urban.org/url.cfm?ID=901438 July 18th 2011

Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison,Prevention and Intervention :

The State Government figures show that out of 4619 drivers pulled over, one in 73 tested positive to either cannabis or methamphetamines. This compared to an average of one in 250 drivers testing positive for alcohol. The results surprised police.

The results come just two days after research by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre showed 57 per cent of clubbers admitted driving under the influence of alcohol and 52 per cent under the influence of cannabis. The VicRoads-commissioned study reported that just under half of those surveyed admitted driving soon after taking other drugs.

43% said they had taken ecstasy and 42 % speed.

Source: Minister for Police & Emergency Services. Victoria. Australia. April 15 2005

Filed under: Australia,Cannabis/Marijuana,Crime/Violence/Prison,Methamphetamine/GHB/Hallucinogens/Oxycodone :

The Inextricable Link

Research substantiates the link between violence and alcohol/drug use among adolescents. This link exists not only
for the perpetrators of violence, but also for those who are victims of violence. Eliminating the State Grants portion of the Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities (SDFSC) program will undoubtedly lead to increases in violence,alcohol and drug use among school-aged youth.

Student Alcohol Use and Violence

• Alcohol use is an independent risk factor for delinquent and violent behaviors among young people.
• Adolescents who abuse alcohol are three times more likely to commit violent offenses than those who do not drink to excess.
• Youth aged 12-17 who reported violent behaviors in the past year also reported higher rates of past year alcohol use compared with youths who did not report violent behavior.

65.9% of those youth reporting heavy alcohol use, 56.8% of those reporting binge drinking, and 43.7% of those reporting past 30-day use of alcohol had also engaged in one or more of the following delinquent behaviors: participating in a serious fight at school or at work; participating in a group-against-group fight; attacking someone with the intent to seriously hurt them; stealing or attempting to steal something worth $50 or more; selling illegal drugs; and/or carrying a hand gun within the last year.

• Alcohol use among adolescents co–occurs with a range of other risky behaviors including violence, tobacco use, sexual activity, drinking and driving and suicide.

Student Alcohol Use and Victimization

• Those who drink, including adolescents, may experience an increased risk of violence because of reduced physical coordination, poor decision-making in threatening situations and isolation while out late at night.
• Alcohol increases vulnerability to victimization above levels of vulnerability brought about other factors.

Student Drug Use and Violence

• Youths who had engaged in fighting or other delinquent behaviors were more likely than other youths to have
used illicit drugs.
• Of those students who reported carrying a gun to school during the 2005-2006 school year, 63.9% report also
using marijuana, 39.9% report using cocaine, and 36.8% report using crystal meth in the past year.
• Of those students who reported hurting others with a weapon at school, 68.4% had used marijuana, 48.3%
had used cocaine, and 44.1% had used crystal meth in the past year.
• Of those students who reported being hurt by a weapon at school, 60.3% reported using marijuana, 41.1% reported
using cocaine and 38.3% reported using crystal meth in the past year.
• Past month illicit drug use was reported by 17.3% of youths who had gotten into serious fights at school or
work in the past year compared with 7.6% of those who had not.
• The incidences of youth physically attacking others, stealing, and destroying property increased in proportion
to the number of days marijuana was smoked in the past year.
• Marijuana users were twice as likely as non-users to report they disobeyed school rules.
• Of those students who reported threatening someone with a gun, knife or club or threatening to hit, slap or kick
someone during the 2005-2006 school year, 27% also reported using marijuana, 7.8% reported using cocaine and 6.2% reported using crystal meth in the past year.
• During the 2005-2006 school year, of those students who reported any trouble with the police, 39.6% also reported
using marijuana, 12.2% reported using cocaine, and 9% reported using crystal meth in the past year.

Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America > 625 Slaters Lane, Suite 300 > Alexandria, VA 22314 > T 800.542.2322 > cadca.org
CSSourmunity Anti-Drug Coalitions of America > 625 Slaters Lane, Suite 300 > Alexandria, VA 22314 > T 800.542.2322 > cadca.org

Footnotes

1 Komro, K.A., Williams, C.L., Foster, J.L., et al. (1999).
The relationship between adolescent alcohol use and delinquent
and violent behaviors. Journal of Child Adolescent
Substance Abuse, 9(2):13-28.
2 Fergusson, D.M., Lynskey, M.T., Horwood, L.J. (1996).
Alcohol misuse and juvenile offending in adolescence. Addiction,
91(4): 495-510.
3 Office of Applied Studies, Substance Abuse and Mental
Health Services Administration. (2005). The NSDUH report:
Alcohol use and delinquent behaviors among youths. Available:
http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/2k5/alcDelinquent/
alcDelinquent.pdf
4 Ibid.
5 Windle, M. Alcohol Use Among Adolescents. Thousand
Oaks, CA: Sage, 1999.
6 Shepherd, J.P.(1998). Emergency room research on links
between alcohol and violent injury. Addiction, 93(8): 1261–
1262.
7 Shepherd, J.P.; Sutherland, I.; Newcombe, R.G. (2006)
Relations between alcohol, violence and victimization in
adolescence. Journal of Adolescence, 29(4): 539-553.
8 Office of Applied Studies, Substance Abuse and Mental
Health Services Administration. National Survey on Drug
Use and Health: National Findings. (2005). Youth Prevention-
Related Measures: Fighting and Delinquent Behavior.
64. Available: http://oas.samhsa.gov/
nsduh/2k5nsduh/2k5results.pdf.
9 Pride Surveys. (2006). Questionnaire report for grades 6-
12: 2006 national summary. 184. Available: http://
www.pridesurveys.com/customercenter/us05ns.pdf.
10 Pride Surveys. (2006). Questionnaire report for grades 6-
12: 2006 national summary. 197. Available: http://
www.pridesurveys.com/customercenter/us05ns.pdf.
11 Pride Surveys. (2006). Questionnaire report for grades 6-
12: 2006 national summary. 199. Available: http://
www.pridesurveys.com/customercenter/us05ns.pdf.
12 Office of Applied Studies, Substance Abuse and Mental
Health Services Administration. National Survey on Drug
Use and Health: National Findings. (2005). Youth Prevention-
Related Measures: Fighting and Delinquent Behavior.
64. Available: http://oas.samhsa.gov/
nsduh/2k5nsduh/2k5results.pdf.
13 Office of National Drug Control Policy. (2006). Marijuana
Myths and Facts: The Truth Behind 10 Popular Misperceptions.
10. Available: http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/
publications/marijuana_myths_facts/
marijuana_myths_facts.pdf
14 Ibid.
15 Pride Surveys. (2006). Questionnaire report for grades 6-
12: 2006 national summary. 194. Available: http://
www.pridesurveys.com/customercenter/us05ns.pdf.
16 Pride Surveys. (2006). Questionnaire report for grades 6-
12: 2006 national summary. 195. Available: http://www.pridesurveys.com/customercenter/us05ns.pdf.ourceThe Inextricable S
Source: Cadca online Nov. 2006

Filed under: Alcohol,Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug use-various effects,Drug use-various effects on foetus, babies, children and youth :

Steroid users appear more likely to commit crimes involving weapons and fraud, scientists in Sweden report.
Steroids are linked to manic episodes, depression, suicide, psychotic episodes and increased aggression and hostility, occasionally triggering violent behavior, including murder.
Researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden studied the relationship between crime and steroid use in 1,440 Swedish residents tested for the drugs between 1995 and 2001 from clinics, including substance abuse facilities, as well as police and customs stations.
Of those involved in the study, 241 tested positive, with an average age of about 20.
The research team found those who tested positive for steroid use were roughly twice as likely to have been convicted of a weapons offense and one-and-a-half times as likely to have been convicted of fraud.
When the researchers excluded people from substance abuse facilities from their analysis the connection with armed crime remained, but the link between steroid use and fraud disappeared.
While steroids are linked with outbursts of uncontrolled violence known as “‘roid rage,” they did not appear to be connected with sexual offenses, violent crimes such as murder, assault and robbery, or crimes against property such as theft.
This investigation instead reveals that steroid use may be linked with premeditated crimes—those involving preparation and advance planning.
One explanation the researchers suggest for the findings is that criminals involved in serious crimes such as armed robbery or the collection of crime-related debts might benefit from the muscularity, heavy build and increase in aggression that comes with steroid use.
The scientists report their findings in the November issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Source: Fox News Live Science Monday , November 06, 2006

Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug use-various effects,Europe,Health :

Emma Dickinson

One in three drivers suspected of driving while ‘over the limit’ but subsequently found to be below maximum permissible levels of alcohol, nevertheless tested positive for a range of drugs, reveals research in Injury Prevention.

The findings prompt the authors to call for routine drugs testing in all drivers who are suspected of being over the limit for alcohol.

The researchers base their findings on 2000 blood and urine specimens taken from drivers who had been stopped by police on suspicion of driving while ‘under the influence’ over a period of two years in Ireland.

Half of the specimens were below the maximum legal alcohol limit of 80 mg/100 ml for blood and 107 mg/100 ml for urine. The other half were all above.

But when analysed further, one in three samples below the legal limit, tested positive for a range of drugs. These drivers were also more likely to be taking a cocktail of drugs.

This rate was almost twice as high as that of drivers over the legal limit, one in seven of whom tested positive for drugs.

The drugs found included amphetamines, metamphetamines, benzodiazepines, cannabis, cocaine, opiates and the heroin substitute methadone. The most commonly found drug was cannabis.

Rates of testing positive for drugs were marginally higher among men than they were among women.

Based on the samples in the study, the authors calculate that almost 16% (one in six) of all drivers stopped and tested under suspicion of driving under the influence of an ‘intoxicant’ would test positive for drugs.

As blood alcohol levels rose, the likelihood of testing positive for drugs fell. But more than one in 10 drivers at least 2.5 times over the legal limit for blood alcohol (greater than 200 mg/100ml) also tested positive for drugs.

And among those with minimal blood alcohol levels, over two thirds tested positive for at least one type of drug, the findings showed.

Being under the legal limit for alcohol, being stopped in a city, stopped between 6 am and 4 pm or between 4 pm and 9 pm, and being under 35 years were all independently associated with drug taking.

Too little attention has been paid to the adverse effects of drugs on driving, but drugged driving can be as dangerous as drunken driving, say the authors.

###

Source:http://www.medicalnewstoday.com British Medical Journal, Specialty Journals 26 Dec 2006

Filed under: Alcohol,Crime/Violence/Prison :

Whether families benefit from alcohol treatment as well as the patients has rarely been studied. A new US analysis has demonstrated that they do, positioning alcohol treatment as also contributing to child and family welfare policy agendas.

The patients were 301 men living with female partners (all but a few were married) and seeking treatment at two US outpatient alcoholism clinics. Therapy was 12-step oriented with no particular emphasis on marital or family systems. How patients and their families fared was compared against men and women drawn from a national sample
closely matched to each patient and partner, but with no known serious drinking problems.

At treatment entry two-thirds of patients and their partners reported serious relationship problems, virtually all reported verbal aggression, and over half violence. Among the 125 couples with 4–16-year-olds at home, the mother’s reports indicated that 26% exhibited clinically significant behavioural or psychological problems. The proportions of
couples reporting violence or high levels of verbal aggression, and the frequency and severity of violence, fell significantly and substantially from the year before treatment to the year after it had ended
Severe violence (hitting or threatening with a weapon), experienced before treatment by a fifth of the women and a quarter of the men, became a relative rarity, affecting 5–6% of respondents

A similar analysis of the sub-sample with children found that the proportion of children exhibiting clinically significant problems was halved from before treatment to the year after it had ended and the frequency/extent ofthose problems also fell. On both measures and regardless of whether the father had relapsed, the patients’ children were now no worse off than children in the comparison families.
Post-treatment aggression and child welfare outcomes improved more when the patient had sustained their remission, but also improved among patients who relapsed.

In context Earlier studies found similar improvements, but the featured study is the first to do so with an adequate sample size, before and after treatment measures, and a non-alcoholic comparison sample. One earlier study found improvements in child functioning and marital harmony following cognitive-behavioural therapy focused on the male substance user, but these were greater and more lasting if the programme had included couples therapy sessions.

In general it seems that intervening with one family member (whether the problem substance user or not) affects the rest of the family, but impacts are greater when interventions address both the user and their family. Without an untreated comparison group of alcoholics, the featured study could not prove that treatment contributed to the improvements, but this seems highly likely.

Practice implications Though the focus has been more on users of illegal drugs, the welfare of the children of substance users has been highlighted in Britain by recent official reports which recognize that effective treatment of the parent can have major benefits.

Couples and family-based treatments, or patient-focused treatments which at least involve the family, have the greatest impacts on children and on marital harmony. Such services need to be sustained, but where they are unavailable or unacceptable to the families, providers and commissioners can nevertheless expect normal patient focused alcohol treatments to contribute to the reduction of domestic violence and to help intercept the creation of a new generation of
troubled youngsters.

Source: Drug & Alcohol Findings 2006

 

Filed under: Alcohol,Crime/Violence/Prison,Treatment and Addiction :

More than a half of the people in Scotland with known HIV infection are drug injectors. Two studies have suggested that injecting with a consequent risk of HIV transmission is prevalent among drug misusers in prison. There is also concern over the lack of treatment for drug misuse in prison. Drug misusers attending needle exchange centres seem able to maintain a low level of risk behaviour, although their attendance may be interrupted by imprisonment.’ Little is known about their drug taking, injecting, and sharing of needles in prison. Subjects, methods, and results
A questionnaire was administered to 81 drug injectors at two Glasgow needle exchanges in January 1990. Semistructured indepth interviews were conducted
with another 19 injectors at the same exchanges in June 1990.

Of the 81 injecting drug misusers (61 men and 20 women), 56 (69%) had served at least one term in custody (median 5 terms, range 1-40), of whom 39 (31 men and 8 women, mean age 23 7 years) had served their most recent sentence during 1989. Of the 56 former prisoners, 55 were aware that other inmates had misused drugs and 36 said that they themselves had misused drugs in prison. Only four (11%) of those misusing drugs in prison had taken cannabis alone. Other drugs taken were buprenorphine, temazepam, heroin, cocaine, and valium. Forty nine had seen other inmates injecting drugs, and 14 men said that they themselves had injected drugs in prison. Forty five had seen others sharing needles in prison, and six said that they themselves had shared needles in
prison. This means that 43% (six of the 14) of those admitting to injecting also shared needles. Fifty one subjects said that they had not been offered treatment for drug problems while in custody, although 46 stated that the prison authorities knew that they were drug misusers. Four of the eight women had been
offered some form of treatment for withdrawal symptoms, but 47 of the 48 men said that they had not been offered any treatment.

All 81 subjects were asked whether they might inject and share needles in prison in the future. Sixty seven thought that they would misuse drugs and 55 that thev
would inject them; 20 thought that they would share injecting equipment. These figures are higher than those reported for actual misuse, injecting, and sharing
needles.

Comment
This study shows that most drug injectors attending Glasgow needle exchanges have been in prison. Six subjects (11%) admitted to sharing needles in prison.
The true extent of sharing may be greater as the other eight who reported injecting drugs in prison were unlikely to have had exclusive access to their own
equipment. Respondents in the semistructured interviews emphasised this fact-“When you hide your needle, someone else might find it and it gets used in
their circle, so you can’t say how many get to use it.” Estimates of the number of people sharing one needle varied between five and 100. It therefore seems highly
probable that when a drug misuser shares needles inside prison, this may occur more frequently and among a wider group of people than it would outside
prison. Little treatment seems to be offered for drug problems in Scottish prisons. Fifty one (910%) respondents said they had received no treatment at all. This contrasts with a recent study that found that only 40% of a group of 50 drug misusers in London had not received treatment while in custody. This apparent
lack of treatment offered in Scottish prisons, together with the prevalence of reported injecting drug misuse and sharing of needles are matters of serious concern.
This study was funded by the Nuffield Foundation,

Source: www.bmj.com Vol.302. Number 6791

Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison,HIV/Injecting-Drug-Users :

California data on drivers involved in passenger vehicle fatal crashes using Marijuana were analyzed to determine the impact on traffic safety and to provide information on the possible impact of an initiative, the Tax and Regulate Cannabis Initiative or “TC2010” which is on the California ballot in November 2010 to reform and partially legalize Marijuana.

A total of 1240 persons were killed in the last five years in fatal motor vehicle crashes involving Marijuana. 230 were killed in 2008. Use has increase steadily in the last ten years and is now at 5.5% in fatal passenger vehicle crashes. The use in single vehicle fatal crashes where most drivers are tested shows an involvement rate of 8.3%.

The largest increases occurred in the 5 years following the establishment of the Medical Marijuana Program in January 2004. For the five years following legalization there were 1240 fatalities in fatal crashes, compared to the 631 fatalities for the five years prior, for an increase of almost 100%.

In 2008 there were 8 counties where more than 16% of the drivers in fatal crashes tested positive for Marijuana. Five of the 8 counties had rates over 20% Based on this experience, a use rate of 16% to 20% is very likely. A rate increase to only 16%, would result in 670
fatalities, and at 20% we would have about 840 fatalities annually. The 20% level would be more than triple the present level of 230 fatalities in 2008. At these levels, Marijuana would rival alcohol at 17.9%, as the top cause of traffic fatalities.

If “TC2010” passes, tax income on Marijuana is estimated at $1.4 billion annually compared to an estimated $4 billion or more economic loss from Marijuana related fatal crashes.
Over 80% of the Marijuana drivers are male, with a median age of 25. In addition, about half (48%) of the drivers using Marijuana also were legally intoxicated. About 75% of the drivers that used Marijuana did not use any other drug. About 1.2 fatalities were reported for each Marijuana involved driver.

Authors: Alfred Crancer and Alan Crancer

Source: -Received June 2010 from Drug Free America Foundation

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug use-various effects,Drugs and Accidents,Marijuana and Medicine :

Steroids are linked to manic episodes, depression, suicide, psychotic episodes and increased aggression and hostility, occasionally triggering violent behavior, including murder.

Researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden studied the relationship between crime and steroid use in 1,440 Swedish residents tested for the drugs between 1995 and 2001 from clinics, including substance abuse facilities, as well as police and customs stations.

Of those involved in the study, 241 tested positive, with an average age of about 20.
The research team found those who tested positive for steroid use were roughly twice as likely to have been convicted of a weapons offense and one-and-a-half times as likely to have been convicted of fraud.

When the researchers excluded people from substance abuse facilities from their analysis the connection with armed crime remained, but the link between steroid use and fraud disappeared.
While steroids are linked with outbursts of uncontrolled violence known as “‘roid rage,” they did not appear to be connected with sexual offenses, violent crimes such as murder, assault and robbery, or crimes against property such as theft.

This investigation instead reveals that steroid use may be linked with premeditated crimes—those involving preparation and advance planning.
One explanation the researchers suggest for the findings is that criminals involved in serious crimes such as armed robbery or the collection of crime-related debts might benefit from the muscularity, heavy build and increase in aggression that comes with steroid use.

The scientists report their findings in the November issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Source: Fox News Live Science Monday , November 06, 2006

Filed under: Brain and Behaviour,Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug use-various effects,Drugs and Accidents :

How serious is the child and teenage alcohol problem in your area?

More than 20 children and teenagers are being treated in hospital every day for alcohol-related illnesses, including mental disorders, poisoning and liver disease, according to newly released official data.

The figures, labelled “staggering” by one of Britain’s most senior doctors, show that in the year 2005-6, during which Labour introduced 24-hour drinking, the number of under-18s seeking treatment for alcohol-related health problems leapt by 13% to 8,894, an average of 24 a day.

The research, released in parliament by Caroline Flint, the health minister, shows that the number treated has gone up by 33% since Labour came to power in 1997.

Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: “This is a staggering rise and it is only the tip of the iceberg.
“Drinks sold by supermarkets and off-licences are cheaper than ever, and those shops have been at the front of the queue for 24-hour licences, so it has never been more available.

“The younger they drink, the more likely they are to have alcohol-related problems later in life. It is now commonplace to see men and women in their twenties with end-stage alcoholic liver damage.”
The disease figures released by Flint do not include those people treated for injuries sustained in incidents such as drunken fights or drink-driving.

Separately, the government has released figures for patients treated for alcohol-related conditions in accident and emergency wards, showing that alcohol-related medical emergencies and hospital treatments have doubled since 1997.

In some parts of the country the rise is even steeper. The worst areas include the region formerly covered by Cheshire and Merseyside Strategic Health Authority, where 742 young people were treated last year, a rise of more than 25% in just a year. In Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, the number went up by a quarter.
By contrast, some southern health authorities experienced an improvement. In Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, for example, there were only 119 cases, a fall of 30%.

In addition to the figures for children and teenagers, the Department of Health data also show that the number of people aged 18 and over treated for alcohol-related illness has gone up from 124,925 to 253,603 since 1997, a rise of more than 100%.
The data, released in a written answer, appear to contradict the government’s claims that the liberalisation of pub opening and supermarket off-sales time would lead to more responsible drinking.

They bear out research published earlier this year by the British Association for Emergency Medicine, which found an increase in alcohol-related injuries treated in hospital among all age groups since the change to the drinking laws.

Ahead of its launch of 24-hour opening in November 2005, the government assured voters that there would be tougher controls on underage drinking.
It announced on-the-spot fines for children buying alcohol and tougher penalties for staff serving them.
Tessa Jowell, the culture secretary, said at the time: “The result will be more freedom for responsible adults and tougher treatment for the yobbish minority.”

Labour’s approach to teenage drinking has not always lived up to the responsible image that it likes to project.
In the run-up to the 2001 general election, the party sent text messages to first-time voters telling them, “Don’t give a XXXX for last orders? Vote Labour”. This was an allusion to advertisements for Castlemaine XXXX, the Australian beer.

Dr Gray Smith-Laing, a consultant at the Medway Maritime hospital in Gillingham, Kent, who treats patients with liver disease, said last week: “What we’re seeing is the numbers going up, the age coming down.

“The idea that (24-hour opening) just smooths out the drinking and people drink the same amount over a longer period of time is complete rubbish.”
The Department of Health says that levels of binge drinking have peaked and new facilities such as walk-in centres could explain the growth in treatment for drink-related injuries.

The department said yesterday: “The increased attendances at A&E departments, as seen in recently published figures, began some years ago. Evidence suggests that increased rate of growth of attendances predates the change in licensing laws by several years. In fact, this year growth has actually slowed.”

SOURCE: POSTED BY ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS UK AT 7:50 AM MON 25.12.06

Filed under: Alcohol,Brain and Behaviour,Crime/Violence/Prison,Health,Youth :

 Around 44 0000 people have been recorded as entering specialised drug treatment centres in Europe in 2008 in 29 countries; data mainly cover outpatient and inpatient treatment centers
 Most clients enter treatment on their own initiative or under the pressure of family and friends (43 %); 27 % go to drug treatment through health or social services, including other drug treatment centres; around 20 % are referred to treatment by the criminal justice system, and the remaining through other referral sources
 The most frequent reason for entering treatment in 2008 (or most recent year available), is the use of heroin (48 % of all drug users and around 200 000 people), followed by cannabis (21 % and around 85 000 people) and cocaine use, (17 % and around 70 000 people), use of stimulants other than cocaine (5 % and around 22 000 clients) and other drugs use, which include hypnotics and sedatives, hallucinogens, volatile and other substances
 Among those who have entered treatment for the first time in their life the proportion of heroin users is lower and that of cocaine, cannabis users and clients consuming stimulants other than cocaine (mainly amphetamine and methamphetamine) is higher
 Differences between countries are relevant with 18 countries reporting more than 50 % of primary opioid users among drug clients, 8 countries with more than 20 % of primary cannabis clients and 3 countries with more than 20 % of cocaine clients.
 Stimulants other than cocaine, which will be the subject of one of 2010 selected issue are concentrated in some countries, namely the Scandinavian countries (amphetamine), Czech Republic and Slovakia (methamphetamine)
 Clients are mainly males (4 males for every female), with a mean age 31 years (those who have entered treatment for the first time are on average 1 year younger)
 Most clients start their drug use before the age of 20, around one third of the clients inject their primary drug, and the frequency of use varies by the main drug (the highest proportion of daily users is found among opioid clients and the lowest among users of stimulants other than cocaine)
 Social conditions of drug users entering treatment are generally poorer than in the general population (education, living and labour conditions)
 Differences are reported by primary drug and by country regarding gender, age distribution and patterns of drug use

 Recent comparable data on young people’s use of alcohol and drug come largely from surveys of 15- to 16-year-old school students. The European School Survey Project (ESPAD) conducted surveys in 1995, 1999, 2003 and more recently, 2007. The 2007 survey (Hibell et al., 2009) provides comparable data from 25 EU Member States as well as Norway and Croatia. Five countries conducted their own school surveys in 2008 (Belgium-Flemish Community, Spain, Italy, Sweden, United Kingdom-England)
 The latest ESPAD survey data from 2007 reveal that the highest lifetime prevalence of cannabis use among 15- and 16-year-old school students is in the Czech Republic (45 %) (Figure EYE-1 part (ii)). High lifetime prevalence estimates, ranging from 26 % to 32 %, are also reported in Estonia, France, the Netherlands, the Slovak Republic and the United Kingdom.
 Increases in cannabis use occurred in a number of European countries between 1995 and 2003 but have, in general, come to a halt or decreased more recently. Seven countries mainly located in Northern and Southern Europe (Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Romania, Finland, Sweden, Norway) reported overall stable and low lifetime prevalence of cannabis use during the whole period. Other western European countries, as well as Croatia and Slovenia, have shown a significant increase of lifetime cannabis use up to 2003 and since then nine of these reported a decrease of more than three percentage points, two were stable and none reported an increase. In most of central and eastern Europe the increasing trend observed between 1995 and 2003 seems not to have been reversed yet. In this region, two out of eight countries report increases of more than three percentage points since 2003, six or more a stable situation and none a significant decrease. In the five countries that conducted national school surveys in 2008, all reported stable or lower lifetime prevalence of cannabis use than reported in 2007 (Table EYE-11).
 Increases in lifetime cannabis use between 1995 and 2003 in Europe were in some countries accompanied by increases in the prevalence of cigarette smoking among school students. Since 2003, both trends have reversed, suggesting a possible link between tobacco and cannabis smoking.
 Estimates of the prevalence of other drug use among school students are much lower than those for cannabis use. For example, lifetime prevalence of cocaine use among 15- to 16-year-old school students is between 1 % and 2 % in half of the 28 reporting countries. Most of the remaining countries report prevalence levels of between 3 % and 4 %, while Spain, France, and the United Kingdom report 5 %. Among the five countries that conducted school surveys in 2008, two reported a decrease of 1%, one reported an increase of 1%, and two reported no change since the last survey (Table EYE-11). However, caution is required interpreting trends with such low prevalence.
 In the countries conducting their own national school surveys, drug prevalence questions may be considered comparable to the ESPAD questions but other aspects of the method mean the data are not strictly comparable.
Source: EMDDA July 10 2010

Filed under: Addiction,Alcohol,Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug use-various effects on foetus, babies, children and youth :

A DECISION by the Dutch government to decriminalise the smuggling of hard drugs could leave Britain vulnerable to a flood of cheap cocaine.
Customs officers are allowing traffickers caught at Schiphol airport, Amsterdam, with less than 3kg of cocaine to go free. The only penalty they face is the confiscation of their drugs.

In the first phase of a policy that could soon be extended to other hard drugs, the liberal measures are being applied to 35 so-called “cocaine flights” a week from the Caribbean.
Last year police caught 2,176 smugglers from the region and seized six tons of the drug. But from now on, traffickers no longer have to worry about hefty prison terms or even arrest.
The policy may prove even more controversial than Holland’s infamous “coffee shops”, where soft drugs such as cannabis have been sold openly for decades.
The Dutch authorities claim the measure will allow them to divert money spent prosecuting offenders into drug seizures. However, critics in neighbouring countries, including Britain, fear it will lead to a boom in the number of people ready to act as “mules” for drug cartels.
The National Drug Prevention Alliance in Britain has warned that the policy amounts to a capitulation by the police with consequences that could spin out of control.
“This won’t just hit the UK badly. It will affect the whole of Europe,” said David Raynes, a former chief narcotics investigator for Customs and Excise. “Holland is the drugs warehouse of Europe and by not controlling its problem it’s creating an infection that will spread to all the countries around.”
In Germany the street value of cocaine has already fallen from €150 (£102) a gram to just €50 (£34), raising the prospect of a sharp rise in the number of addicts. The Dutch government has ignored a plea from Otto Schily, the German interior minister, to toughen rather than weaken its deterrent.
However, Ivo Hommes, a spokesman for the Dutch justice ministry, said the initiative could save millions spent on prosecuting and jailing offenders, allowing more funds to go into the detection and confiscation of drugs. “Locking up thousands of smugglers doesn’t solve the problem. There will always be more of them,” he said. “We’ve been honest enough to admit that we only manage to stop 15% of the drugs coming in, so we are trying something new.”
A leaked ministry memorandum, however, has suggested that the policy was adopted because the prosecution service was overburdened. It emphasised that drug-related arrests should not be permitted to “block the justice system”. Britain’s National Criminal Intelligence Service is said to be eyeing the policy “warily”.
Source: February 01, 2004 The Sunday Times

Filed under: Cocaine,Crime/Violence/Prison :

Half of all crime suspects arrested by police admit to recently smoking cannabis, astonishing UK Government research reveals. For younger offenders, the figures are even more stark. Some 57% say they have smoked the drug – which Labour controversially downgraded – in the past month. It proves for the first time a firm link between cannabis and serious offending. It is used by more suspects than any other drug – including heroin and crack cocaine. “We have long said that drugs fuel all sorts of crime. This is because they both undermine a person’s sense of responsibility but also because takers and addicts need money to feed their habit,” said Shadow Home Secretary David Davis.

Source: Daily Mail, January 5, 2007.

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Crime/Violence/Prison :

Summary

Mobilized residents work with police, shopkeepers, bar owners to prevent alcohol-related problems in lower-income communities

When residents are actively involved in their neighborhoods, they can clean up the crime and violence. That’s according to a new study that found a significant decrease in assaults, car crashes and other alcohol-related crime with community participation. Calls to police and emergency medical services also dropped with this intervention program that addresses alcohol sales and service.

Researchers at the PIRE Prevention Research Center implemented and tested the program called the Sacramento Neighborhood Alcohol Prevention Project or SNAPP in an effort to reduce access to alcohol and the problems related in two low-income, predominantly ethnic minority neighborhoods. The intervention focused on individuals between the ages 15 and 29, an age group with high rates of alcohol-involved problems. Sacramento-based La Familia Counseling Center Inc. assisted in the project.

This article, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, highlights the results that show that changing the way alcohol is sold and served can reduce alcohol-related problems – even in high-crime neighborhoods. Researchers selected two economically and ethnically diverse neighborhoods in Sacramento that had high rates of crime and alcohol-related problems.

“These are neighborhoods that are most vulnerable to alcohol-related problems. Even these rather tough neighborhoods can take control of their own environments and reduce the negative effects of alcohol,” said study author, Andrew Treno, PhD.

The project includes five components: mobilization to support the project, community awareness, alcohol server training, underage drinking law enforcement and intoxicated patrons law enforcement. Along with members of community based organizations, the project researchers handed out informational pamphlets and held community meetings to raise awareness about alcohol-related problems. They organized neighborhood committees to mobilize residents. They also provided training at bars and stores selling alcohol to prevent selling alcohol to intoxicated patrons and to minors. Project members worked with local police to increase enforcement efforts of selling alcohol to minors and intoxicated persons. The researchers used these interrelated strategies to change the neighborhood environment with regard to the way alcohol is sold and served.

“Although we developed the overall study design, the communities provided valuable guidance into ways to reach the intervention goals and constituent groups,” Treno said. “For example, strategies for scheduling police stings were worked out based on the needs of the project’s and available police resources. At committee meetings, community members agreed to address alcohol-related issues along with law enforcement and other local authorities. They all worked together for the betterment of their neighborhoods.”

Previous research has shown that if localities change their alcohol environment by more strictly controlling where and how and to whom alcohol is served and sold, alcohol-related problems such as drunken driving can be reduced. The study was intended to show that this type of change in the alcohol environment could work even in difficult settings. Reductions in calls for emergency medical services and police reports of assaults were found in the neighborhoods that participated in the program. Similar reductions were found for illegal sales to minors.

Following the implementation of these strategies, there was a significant reduction in the number of assaults reported by police and a reduction in calls for emergency medical services resulting from assaults and motor vehicle crashes. There was also a significant reduction in sales of alcohol to people who appeared to be minors. No significant changes were found in service of alcohol to patrons who appeared to be intoxicated. Researchers compared these outcomes to the situation prior to the program and to comparison neighborhoods in Sacramento that did not receive the program.

Source: www.pire.org March 2007

Filed under: Alcohol,Crime/Violence/Prison :

Calls for action as crime hits six times worldwide average. Scotland is the worst country in the world for drug-related crime, according to an international study.
The United Nations found there were 656 drug offences per 100,000 people in Scotland. Second-placed Iran recorded 619 per 100,000.
The figures, which compared drug-related crime, possession and abuse across more than 70 states, put Scotland’s drug crime rate at more than double that of England and Wales, and six times the worldwide average.   Experts and opposition parties described the statistics, from a survey by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, as “horrifying”.
Former director of Scotland Against Drugs, Alistair Ramsay, said: “This report should act as a wake-up call to the government. There has been a huge rise in problematic drug users in recent years and we know many of them fund their habit through crime.
“The fact is the way drugs are tackled needs a radical shake-up. We need a proper, co-ordinated strategy.”    Bill Aitken, justice spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, said: “These are horrifying figures and it is clear action is long overdue.
“Practically all crimes such as shoplifting, housebreaking and car theft are related to a need to feed a drug habit. It may be that much tougher action is necessary in the years ahead.”
However, Gordon Meldrum, director general of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, insisted that the war on drugs was being won.   He said: “The latest Scottish Crime and Justice Survey shows encouraging signs that more people in Scotland are living their lives  free from the influence of drugs. We have better intelligence than ever before and more hard drugs are being intercepted closer to source before they are cut into multiple street-level deals.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said that the administration was investing record amounts in justice as well as delivering the highest number of police to fight serious crime.
Source: www.news.stv.tv.  21 February 2010 10:58 AM

Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison,Political Sector,Social Affairs :

A synthetic drug that is up to five times as powerful as cannabis is being sold legally in Britain, as incense.
It has already been made illegal in Germany and is also banned in the Netherlands.
The drug is based on the chemical JWH018 which mimics the effects of tetra hydra cannabinol or THC, the main active ingredient of cannabis. Drugs watchdogs are currently investigating the sale of the substance in the UK. JWH018, was first synthesised in a US lab in 1995. It was originally developed for scientific experiments on chemical receptors in the brain. However, it is now being manufactured in China, and is being sold at UK events like rock festivals as part of the growing “legal high” industry.

The UK drugs regulator, the Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), is understood to have identified JWH018 in products available in the UK. It is currently in order to determine whether or not it should be classified as a medicinal product – which would mean it should only be available from a doctor.

The UK Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, which advises the government on whether a drug should be made illegal, is also aware of the substance, and is investigating it.  In addition to being illegal in Germany, it has been banned in the Netherlands and its legality is under review in Austria. But scientists do not know what side effects the drug could have, as no tests have been done on its toxicity either in the lab or on animals.

Toxicologist Dr John Ramsey, who runs the Tic Tac Communications drugs database at St George’s Medical School in London, said: “It’s not a problem at the moment, in that we’re not aware of casualties appearing in A&E, but there’s an underlying potential for a problem.”
He added that there were between 20 and 30 other similar substances that could be added to the incense mixtures.

Source:www.drugsproject.co.uk  19th Feb.2009

Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison :

My first appointment was with Dr Diana Fishbein, a Senior Fellow in behavioral neuroscience at the Research Triangle Institute (RTI) which is an international not-for-profit research organisation .

Diana is the Director of the Transdisciplinary Behavioural Science Program at RTI. In this role she focuses on bringing interdisciplinary teams of researchers together to try to answer some of the big questions that need to be asked in the behavioural sciences. Her overarching goal is to focus on the nexus between research and practice and to facilitate the “Translation of Research into Evidence Based Practice”. In fact RTI International organisational by line is Turning Knowledge into Practice.    

Diana’s personal research career has been in the area of criminology and drug abuse taking a prevention science approach.  She is particularly interested in why some young people respond well to a prevention approach while others don’t, and ultimately in determining “who responds to what treatment at what time point and why”?

To explore these questions she uses interdisciplinary methods and a developmental approach and sees the plasticity of neurobiological systems as one of the keys to finding the answer. Dr. Fishbein  pointed out that neuroplasticity enables neurobiological systems to be shaped by inputs from the environment and so can be altered for better or worse depending on the nature of these inputs. This is highly relevant to a prevention or early intervention approach and can guide the development of interventions. Research in this area is now beginning to focus on the mechanisms through which developmental risk factors impact on the developing systems and also on the type of interventions which have the most impact, how they are affecting neuroplastic change and when they are having the most effect.  

For instance there is evidence that the neurobiological functions underlying drug misuse and aggression are quite complex and include executive functioning, coping skills and affect regulation. The part of the brain associated with these functions (prefrontal-limbic brain networks) is not consolidated until early adulthood. Therefore is we can understand the type, effect and developmental timing of environmental impact on this brain function we may be able to plan intervention programs that alter negative impact and increase positive impact.  We may also need to tailor interventions to particular risk factors in the young person’s environment. Diana is confident this translational approach promises to eventually offer some direction for the design of effective interventions to prevent drug misuse and associated aggression.

This cutting-edge evidence-based research with the capacity to not only make a difference but to provide us with the scientific evidence to show how change has come about.  The message that again seems to be coming through to me is that one size is not likely to fit all. The other message is one that Professor Alan Hayes a member of the external advisory group for this project has written about in his chapter entitled Why early in life is not enough! (Hayes, 2007. In France, A & Homel, R (Eds) Pathways and crime prevention: Theory policies and practice  Willian (pps 202-225)

Dr Fishbein and I also talked about the need for parent and community involvement in interventions.  She also indicated to me that she and her organisation are very interested in innovative collaborative international research. Perhaps this is something to think about for the future.

Source: http://shapingbrains.wordpress.com  3rd March 2010

 

 


Filed under: Brain and Behaviour,Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug use-various effects on foetus, babies, children and youth,Health,Prevention and Intervention :

 

●● At the national level, 20,934 Class A drug-misusing individuals in England and Wales were identified between 1 January 2008 and 31 March 2008 to form the national cohort.

 

●● During the 12 months following identification, individuals in the cohort were

convicted of a total of 54,462 proven offences. This equates to a baseline rate of

offending of 2.60 offences per individual.

 

●● Sixty-one per cent of the national cohort were convicted of at least one offence in the 12 months following identification. Twenty-five per cent were convicted of either one or two offences, while 16 per cent were convicted of more than five offences.

 

●● Comparing proven offending rates by different ways in which drug-misusing

offenders were initially identified reveals that those individuals identified as drug

misusers on release from prison and who also tested positive for Class A drugs on

arrest, had a rate of proven offending that was markedly higher than any other group of offenders in the cohort (5.59 proven offences per individual).

 

Source: Home Office ‘Drug Misusing Offenders Cohort 2008’  published March 2010

Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison :

A radical pilot scheme that uses ex-offenders to rehabilitate prisoners has almost trebled the rate of those going into work or training on release.The first evaluation of the Scottish Government-supported scheme revealed that more than 2000 prisoners signed up to the pilot project, which uses reformed inmates to provide advice and support and ensure prisoners are put in touch with health and education services on release.


The scheme was open to those serving sentences of four years or less and managed to get almost one in five into training or employment – a significant figure, considering that most of those involved had committed violent offences and that traditionally fewer than 7% of those leaving prison go into work or education.  Of the 2861 who signed up to the project in prison, almost half continued meeting their life coach in the community. Only 25 of them had been in work before they were locked up, and more than half had 10 or more previous convictions.


The Routes Out Of Prison project, run by the Wise Group, uses reformed ex-offenders to meet people at the prison gates on release and to act as a bridge between them and housing, health and drugs rehabilitation services. The life coaches meet the prisoner at the gates and offer them support and advice Lawrie Russell, chief executive of the Wise Group Early results with just a small number of the prisoners involved indicated that they were not offending six months after release.
The results are expected to come under close scrutiny by ministers who are desperate to cut Scotland’s re-offending rates. Cara Jardine, one of the authors of the report, done by Edinburgh University, said: “Overall we felt that the evaluation was encouraging and that the model is an effective way of reaching a client group that is often difficult to engage with due to their often chaotic lifestyles and previous experiences of the criminal justice system.


“Re-offending rates are something we will try to get some measure of in this next phase of the evaluation.”The pilot began in 2006 in four prisons in the west of Scotland, including HMP Barlinnie. The prison service said it has had positive results and is now being rolled out across seven jails.
The report states: “Only 21% of clients stated that their offending was their only ‘barrier’ to desistance from crime, while the remaining 79% had at least one other issue in their lives. For 38%, their secondary barrier was drug misuse; for 34% it was alcohol misuse; in 31% of cases it was a health issue; and for 27% it was homelessness.


“Two-thirds of clients had been in prison at least once before, while around a fifth had been imprisoned on 10 or more occasions. The vast majority also had numerous convictions with 59% having 10 or more previous convictions.” Official figures show that Scotland locks up more people per capita than almost any other European country, and almost two-thirds of them reoffend within two years. Research has shown that the two biggest factors in reducing re-offending are having a job and being in a stable relationship.


In the first two years, the pilot received £1 million from the Scottish Government, £200,000 from the European Structural Fund, and £60,000 from Glasgow City Council. It is currently funded through the Big Lottery Fund and local authorities.


Lawrie Russell, chief executive of the Wise Group, said: “The project provides a bridging service to link people to the services they need on release. The life coaches offer to meet the prisoner at the gates and then offer them support and advice in the community whilst making sure they have access to the services they need. We hope to roll it out across Scotland.”


Jamie carries the scars of his past on his face. They’re as indelible as his prison record, but he is hoping to make a different mark with the remainder of his life. He is 37 and cannot remember how many times he has been to prison. In the past few weeks, he has stabilised his drug use and next week plans to begin an intensive detox. He would like to try to help others who have come through a similar situation.


Jamie, one of more than 2000 Scottish prisoners who have been through Routes Out Of Prison, was in his final weeks at Barlinnie when he heard about the project and met Jason Meechan, the life coach who now sits next to him.


“I’d heard that they could help with housing and thought why not? A lot of people knock it back – even the chance of an interview – but I thought I’d try it. I’m getting old and I want to see my family. A lot of people don’t want help. Without the support I’ve had though, I don’t know what I would have done.” Jamie says one of his greatest regrets lies in not attending secondary school. He started taking cannabis when he was 13 and slipped too easily into a cycle of gangs, residential schools, and secure units.


He spent his 16th birthday in Polmont Young Offenders’ Institute. He cannot remember receiving the scar that still splits his cheek in two.“I needed Jason to motivate me,” he says. “I really clicked with him and I listen to all his advice. It helped that he knows where I’m coming from.”
Mr Meechan, like most of the life coaches, is an ex-prisoner. He was in and out of jail for almost 10 years before he realised he needed to change. Most of the charges related to assault and robbery. He was addicted to alcohol and drugs.“They say you become your own best customer,” he says. “When my son was born, I was shocked into changing. I got help with my addiction and started up a construction business but realised I had a real passion for helping people. Now I’m paid to do something I love.
“It is about empowering the client to take decisions and getting them the help they need by putting them in touch with the right agencies. Going back into the prisons felt strange at first but it’s not an issue anymore. It helps that I can say to clients I have been there too.”
Source: Herald Scotland 9th Nov.2009

Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison,Social Affairs :

Cannabis use in British teenagers has increased tenfold in the last 20 years
Children who smoke cannabis are twice as likely to get into trouble – both in the classroom and outside the school gates. Boys turn to vandalism, theft and fights, while girls misbehave at school, a four-year study of thousands of pupils aged between 11 and 15 found.
Young males are also up to twice as likely to have committed “delinquent” acts such as vandalism or carrying a knife. And teenage cannabis users have double the chance of developing emotional and psychiatric problems in later life. The finding was released as Gordon Brown comes under pressure to reverse Labour’s downgrading of cannabis.
Calling on the Government to do more to combat drug use in teenagers, researcher Laura Grant said: “Cannabis has been regarded as potentially being a gateway drug to harder drug use, leading to mental health issues, leading to memory loss or impairment and having an impact on learning and social behaviour.
“I have spoken to kids that smoke cannabis every single night, they get up and go to grammar school and get good grades. “This really is a hidden issue that needs to be tackled.”
She added: “These young people are still attending school and are at odds with the general perception of what the typical young person is like who engages in these acts.
“It is no great leap to imagine that this school-attending high risk group may be a further risk of later life problems as a result of their early drug use: mentally, socially and emotionally.” Miss Grant, a sociologist at Queen’s University Belfast, studied data tracking the health and habits of almost 4,000 Northern Irish schoolchildren.
By the age of 15, more than 40 per cent had tried cannabis – a five-fold increase on four years earlier, the British Psychological Society’s annual conference in Dublin heard. She added it was unclear why cannabis had different effects on boys and girls.
A fifth of those studied were judged to be at risk of developing mental health problems in later life, with cannabis users running up to double the risk of other children.
Cannabis use in British teenagers has increased tenfold in the last 20 years. By the age of 16, almost four in ten will have tired cannabis and almost one in ten is a regular user. In 2005, 10,000 youngsters aged between 11 and 17 were treated for cannabis use.
Previous studies have shown a clear link between cannabis use in the teenage years and mental illness in later life. It is thought that used during the developmental years, the drug may do permanent damage to the developing brain.
Source: Daily Mail 5th April 2008

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug use-various effects on foetus, babies, children and youth :
New report finds carrying of knives a key factor
DRINK PROBLEM: research suggests killings and suicides are linked to alcohol and drugs
Alcohol and drug abuse is pushing Scots to kill or take their own lives almost twice as often as people in other parts of Britain, a report revealed today.
Researchers found there were 500 killings in Scotland over five years and 5,000 suicides over six years.  Both these figures are almost double those in England and Wales.The culprits were normally young men attacking other young men, they said, and the carrying of knives was a key factor.Scientists also found the North-South divide was highest among teenagers .  The findings were revealed in a Scottish Government-commissioned report, Lessons for Mental Health Care in Scotland, carried out at the University of Manchester.
Scientists looked at all suicides and homicides in the population north of the border, as well as those committed by people who had sought help from mental health services. Homicide rates in Scotland were 2.12 per 100,000 people compared to 1.23 per 100,000 in England and Wales.  And suicide rates in Scotland were 18.7 per 100,000 of the population, compared to 10.2 per 100,000 in England and Wales.  Rates for suicide and killing among the mentally ill were also found to be higher in Scotland.
A total of 12% of killers and 28% of those who took their own lives had mental health problems.
Research director Professor Louis Appleby said the number of killings and suicides linked to alcohol and drug misuse was “striking”.  He said: “Alcohol and drug misuse runs through these findings and it appears to be a major contributor to risk in mental health care and broader society. The findings suggest alcohol and drugs lie behind Scotland’s high rates of suicide and homicide.”
Referring to the high homicide figure, Prof Appleby said: “National homicide rates are high because of particularly high rates in certain areas of the country, namely Glasgow and Clyde and Argyll.”  In Scotland, as across Britain, homicide is a crime committed primarily by young men against young men, the report said.   Alcohol and drugs had often been taken and the weapon was usually a knife or another sharp object.
Prof Appleby said politicians should focus on drugs and alcohol and the carrying of knives, rather than mental health, when seeking to tackle the problem.   He said: “Drugs and knives are a dangerous mix, so policy response to these deaths should focus on alcohol and drug abuse in young people and on the carrying of knives by young men.  The rise in homicide rates in recent years is the result of an increase in killings by young people, mainly men under 25 years, but most are not mentally ill.  A public health approach to homicide would target alcohol and drug use before mental health illness.”
Of 1,373 suicides among the mentally ill studied, there was a history of alcohol misuse in 57% of cases and drug abuse in 38%.  Of 58 killings looked at among the mentally ill, more than 70% were committed by people with alcohol problems and around 77% had drug problems.
The report also made a string of recommendations.  These included improving mental health services for young people, removal of ligature points from hospital wards and tightening up security on wards.

Source:The Press & Journal : 16/06/2008

 

Filed under: Alcohol,Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug use-various effects :

People with mental illness alone are no more likely than anyone else to commit acts of violence, a new study by UNC researchers concludes. But mental illness combined with substance abuse or dependence elevates the risk for future violence.
“Our study shows that a link between mental illness and violence does exist, but it’s not as strong as most people think,” said Eric B. Elbogen, Ph.D., lead author of the study and assistant professor in the forensic psychiatry program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.
“We found that several other factors – such as a history of past violence or substance abuse or a recent divorce or loss of one’s job – are much more predictive of future violence than mental illness alone,” Elbogen said. “Only when a person has both mental illness and substance abuse at the same time does that person’s risk of future violence outweigh anyone else’s.”
UNC co-author Sally C. Johnson, M.D. added, “These findings challenge the perception some people have, and which you often see reflected in media coverage, that mental illness alone makes someone more dangerous. Our study shows that this perception is just not correct.”  Elbogen and Johnson’s study is published in the February 2009 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry. To arrive at their findings, they conducted statistical analyses of data collected previously as part of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) conducted by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
A total of 34,653 people completed interviews during the two separate waves of NESARC. Wave 1 took place from 2001-2002 while wave 2 was from 2004-2005. Wave 1 data on severe mental illness – including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression – were analyzed to predict wave 2 data on violent behavior.
The results show “that if a person has severe mental illness without substance abuse and history of violence, he or she has the same chances of being violent during the next 3 years as any other person in the general population,” Elbogen and Johnson wrote. 
When mental illness is combined with substance abuse, the risk for future violence reaches the level of statistical significance. However, even mental illness combined with substance abuse ranks only ninth on the study’s list of the top 10 predictors of future violence. The higher ranking predictors, listed in order of their predictive value, are age (younger people are more likely to commit acts of violence), history of violence, sex (males are more prone to violence), history of juvenile detention, divorce or separation in the past year, history of physical abuse, parental criminal history and unemployment for the past year. Victimization in the past year was the tenth predictor.
“The data shows it is simplistic as well as inaccurate to say the cause of violence among mentally ill individuals is the mental illness itself … the current study finds that mental illness is clearly relevant to violence risk but that its causal roles are complex, indirect, and embedded in a web of other (and arguably more) important individual and situational cofactors to consider,” the study concludes.
Source:   ScienceDaily (Feb. 3, 2009)

Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug use-various effects :

Evidence has emerged which points to a link between cocaine use and violent behaviour in Britain’s city centres.
Figures from Greater Manchester Police suggest that 41% of people arrested for violence had taken cocaine or crack cocaine, by itself or with other drugs.
The force took samples from 1,000 people arrested for offences such as assault, wounding and affray in the seven months to March last year.   The charity DrugScope revealed the results in its magazine, DrugLink.
The survey was part of an article which considered whether mixing alcohol and cocaine was a recipe for disaster.Similar findings had been reported in the Liverpool area after a separate study, run last summer by John Moores University.
Aggressive behaviour
Chief Inspector Dave Boon, who leads Greater Manchester Police’s drug intervention programme, said while only a small number of offenders had been tested so far, the statistics were important.
 

“We cannot afford to ignore the link between violence, drugs and alcohol that is apparent in city centres all over the UK every weekend,” he said.
“What this survey is doing is trying to prove that link and developing ways to manage the problem.”
DrugScope chief executive Martin Barnes said: “The investigation carried out by our magazine does suggest some link between powder cocaine use and violent and aggressive behaviour.
“However, because the drug is so often taken in combination with alcohol we need to be cautious about claims that cocaine alone can lead to violent offending.”
Cocaine is more widely used in Britain than ever, while the average price has halved in a decade. A wrap can cost as little as £25.
Further research will be conducted this year, with police keen to establish whether there is a link between alcohol, cocaine and domestic violence.  

Source:  BBC News Channel 13th March 2009

Filed under: Cocaine,Crime/Violence/Prison :

LONDON (Reuters) – People with serious drug and alcohol abuse problems are linked to about a quarter of all violent crimes but many could be avoided with better treatment, scientists said on Friday.

They found that 16 percent of crimes such as murder, robbery, assault and rape in Sweden between 1988-2000 were committed by people who had been discharged from hospital for alcohol misuse and 10 percent were associated with drug abusers.“It is likely you will find the same sort of figures in Western Europe and North America,” Seena Fazel, of the University of Oxford, said in an interview. Fazel and Martin Grann, of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, studied the country’s national crime register and compared it with hospital discharges of people diagnosed with alcohol and drug misuse and psychoses.

 

Few countries, apart from Scandinavian nations, have such detailed population-based registers which are needed to conduct such a study.In addition to alcohol, abuse of amphetamines and opiates such as heroin, and use of multiple drugs were linked to the most violent crimes. “There needs to be more integration between the criminal justice system and mental health services because of this close association between crime and people who leave hospital with drug and alcohol problems,” said Fazel, who reported his findings in the British Medical Journal.

 

“Using resources to treat people with these problems could be cost effective in terms of crime reduction,” he added.

In Britain alone, drug related crimes cost the criminal justice system about 1 billion pounds ($1.8 billion) annually. Fazel suggested that opportunities for treatment should be considered if a person with a history of alcohol or drug abuse has been convicted of committing a violent crime.

“Probation officers and mental health professionals should continue to work more closely,” he added.

Source: © Reuters website. Author Fazel reported in British Medical Journal 2004.
Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison :

Officials are crediting religious studies with cutting inmate violence at a prison routinely torn by race-based gang attacks. To date, 440 medium-security inmates at Sierra Conservation Center have participated in the program based on the best-selling book, “The Purpose Driven Life,” by the Rev. Rick Warren.

The participants represent about a third of the unit’s 1,200 inmates, about 125 of them serving life sentences. The book has 40 chapters; participants read one each day, reflecting on and discussing the relevance to their lives. Warren’s church in Orange County has donated the books, Bibles, study materials and videos.

“We couldn’t go more than two weeks without a lockdown or without one gang attacking another,” said Hector Lozano, who coordinates the prison’s substance abuse treatment programs. “This got people talking together, as opposed to having one group charge another group.”

The first 200 inmates completed the program in April 2003. During the previous year, there were five riots, 103 violent incidents, four staff assaults, 1,226 inmate disciplinary reports and five lockdowns.

In the year since, there was one riot, 67 violent incidents, four staff assaults, 1,067 inmate disciplinary reports and one lockdown. The religious program “has definitely played a role,” said prison spokesman Lt. Kenny Calhoun. He also credited the prison’s staff.

The inmates formed a non-denominational church, Sierra Christian Center, and give sermons in English and Spanish. They set up a table in the exercise yard on what they’ve designated “holy ground,” where Christians and non-Christians gather to worship.

“It took off like wildfire,” Calhoun said. Four months ago, the prison spun off a Bible-based 12-step program, also sponsored by Warren’s church, to help inmates deal with alcohol and substance abuse; emotional, physical and sexual abuse; and other problems. One hundred inmates are participating. Prison officials are proposing to expand the program.

Sierra Conservation Center’s main role is preparing minimum-security inmates for 20 firefighting camps. But the prison, in Jamestown, also houses the medium-security unit, which had been plagued by race-based gang violence.  “The Bible tells us we’re supposed to minister in prisons,” Lozano said. “From a strictly prison-management perspective, it’s a win-win situation. The inmate feels better, we feel better, and nobody gets hurt.”

Source: Guardian Unlimited. May 2004
Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison :

Dr. Richard Garey of Tulane University  theorized that the very strong pot people smoke today is causing common reactions nowdays that were rarely seen back in the 60s and 70s when pot was only about one tenth as powerful as it is now. He spoke of how THC stimulates the pleasure centers located in the midbrain. But also located in the midbrain are the violence and unpleasant emotion centers. The stronger pot evidentally causes neural firing (or misfiring) that lights up not only the pleasure centers but nearby violence centers. The MJ user damages feeder cells by thickening the myelin sheaths of those neurons (because THC is fat soluble and myelin sheaths are fatty) and causing fatty blockages in the synaptic gaps. That causes reduced ability to receive any natural highs, makes one emotionally flat and explains in part the amotivational syndrome. One could theorize that huge amounts of THC would be needed to stimulate any pleasure in the advanced user and adjoining areas would get lit up so to speak. Violence could actually trigger a strong response in the pleasure center by stimulating intense neural activity in the midbrain…activity no longer provided by natural highs thanks to damage by marijuana.

Source: Dr. Richard Garey . Tulane University, Oct 2000
Filed under: Brain and Behaviour,Cannabis/Marijuana,Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug use-various effects :

The governor said Thursday that Vermont will stop paying for OxyContin for certain welfare recipients because of the prescription painkillers growing link to crime and addiction. Gov. Howard Dean also encouraged physicians to find substitutes for the drug and suggested pharmacies might want to stop stocking it. “I would ask physicians to consider very carefully their use of this drug,’ said Dean, himself a physician. OxyContin is a federally approved pain reliever that is a synthetic morphine with a derivative of opium. But when tablets are crushed and mixed with water, snorted or injected, they can give the user a high similar to that of heroin. Since 1998, Oxy and oxycodone, the narcotics active ingredient, have been linked to more than 100 deaths nationwide.

Source: The Columbian VT. July 2001.

If ever an incident illuminated why the argument that legalization of illicit drugs will eliminate crime is completely ludicrous, this is it. Here is a legal narcotic drug that regulation has failed to keep from the street, and because it is legally manufactured and distributed, was easy to divert Now,one state, Vermont, is refusing to participate in the distribution of this drug – even for prescribed medical purposes, for those on welfare. Oh that states were that astute when it comes to refusing to allow the ILLEGAL drug, marijuana, to be distributed under the medical use claim. The Sonoma County California. DA recently returned to an individual claiming medical necessity FIVE pounds (the equivalent of approximately 2,800 joints of unknown potency) for purported medical use.

Filed under: Addiction,Crime/Violence/Prison :

A new study concludes that people who misuse alcohol and other drugs are responsible for about 25 percent of all violent crimes. Seena Fazel of the University of Oxford in England and Martin Grann of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, compared Sweden’s national crime register for the years 1988-2000 with hospital discharges of individuals diagnosed with alcohol and other drug misuse and psychoses. The researchers found that 16 percent of violent crimes, including murder, robbery, assault, and rape, were committed by individuals who had been discharged from the hospital after treatment for alcohol misuse, while 10 percent were linked to those who misused drugs such as amphetamines and opiates.

“It is likely you will find the same sort of figures in Western Europe and North America,” said Fazel. “There needs to be more integration between the criminal-justice system and mental-health services because of this close association between crime and people who leave hospital with drug and alcohol problems.” The researchers concluded that, “Using resources to treat people with these problems could be cost-effective in terms of crime reduction.” In particular, Fazel said that treatment should be considered if a person has been convicted of a violent crime. “Probation officers and mental health professionals should continue to work more closely,” he said.

Source: issue of the British Medical Journal.May 22, 2004.

Filed under: Alcohol,Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug use-various effects :

More than half of the violent offenders studied by researchers in Sweden had consumed alcohol within 24 hours of committing the crimes that landed them in prison, Medical News Today reported Dec. 22.

The Karolinska Institute study found that 58 percent of the 133 offenders studied drank shortly before their violent incidents. Researchers calculated that the relative risk of violence increases 13.2-fold within 24 hours of alcohol consumption.

Also associated with increased risk of violence was use of other drugs, such as benzodiazepines and antidepressants. But, “Alcohol seems to have the largest triggering effect on violence compared to other substances we investigated. This suggests that treatment for individuals at risk for violence should be focused on decreasing their alcohol consumption,” said Ulrika Haggard-Grann of the Karolinska Institute.

Source: January 2006 issue of the journal Addiction.
Filed under: Alcohol,Crime/Violence/Prison :

A new study reveals that only 17 percent of graduates of Georgia’s drug treatment courts are convicted of further crimes, compared to the national recidivism rate of 48 percent among those who go through traditional courts, reported on

The study results were among many positive remarks given during a Drug and DUI Court Conference held on June 22 in Marietta, sponsored by the Judicial Council of Georgia and attended by nearly 200 judges and court officials.

Repeat drug offenders who land in drug courts in Georgia undergo rigorous substance abuse treatment, vocational counseling, and random drug testing to avoid jail time. “It’s the hardest work most of our participants have ever done,” said Cobb County Superior Court Judge George Kreeger, head of the Georgia drug court committee.

These drug courts also save money by requiring participants to contribute to court costs, said Kreeger. “We collect about $2,400 a year [from each offender], that’s almost all the cost of the treatment component,” he said.

The growing acceptance of alternatives to incarceration can be attributed to the rising use of methamphetamine in the state, officials said. Since 1994, 33 counties in Georgia have established drug courts.

“The problem is that what we have traditionally done doesn’t work,” said West Huddleston, director of the National Drug Court Institute, during the conference. “The drug court seeks to solve the problem of recidivism by breaking the cycle of abuse, crime, prison and return to addiction by restoring the participants to health.”

Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution June 23. 2005
Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison,Prevention and Intervention :

This study was conducted to determine the extent to which crime is causally linked to alcohol and other drugs in Canada.

The main findings of this report confirm the close association between the use of alcohol and other drugs, and criminal behavior, and indicate that a substantial portion of this association is causal.

Source: http://www.ccsa.ca/docs/crime2002.pdf
Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison :

Research SummaryBritish girls are among the most violent in the world, and binge drinking may be to blame, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Jan. 24.

 

A World Health Organization study found that about one in three U.K. girls said they had been in a fight during the previous year, compared to a worldwide average of 23 percent. The highest rate of female violence was found in Hungary, where 32 percent of girls said they had been in a fight; the lowest rate of violence was reported in Finland, at 13 percent.

“In the last 10 years alcohol consumption among British girls has been going up to the point where there is now virtually no gender difference in drinking between boys and girls,” said study co-author Candace Currie, director of Edinburgh University’s child and adolescent health research unit. “That’s not true in the rest of Europe. What we have to ask is whether fighting is part of this behaviour of drunkenness or whether there are other factors involved.”

The study also looked at violence among boys: young males in the Czech Republic reported the highest levels of violence, with 69 percent reporting a past-year fight, while Finnish boys were the least likely to fight (37 percent).

Source: Center for Effective Drug Abuse Research & Statistics. March 21. 2006
Filed under: Alcohol,Crime/Violence/Prison,Youth :

In West Yorkshire, 93% of young offenders were found to be regular drug users and spent £130 to £600 a week on drugs. Weekend expenditures ranged from £60 to £300.
All 93% were regular users of cannabis. Other drugs used regularly included Ecstasy (80%), cocaine (59%), amphetamines (53%), heroin (48%) and LSD (38%). Of the total sample, 43% believed they had a drug problem (e.g. they had no control over their drug use).
Most of the young offenders admitted that crime was their main source of income. A closer examination of offenders’ criminal activity and drug use showed that 65% of the total sample had committed crime under the influence of legal drugs (e.g. alcohol, inhalants). The proportion of the total sample committing crimes under the influence of illegal drugs was 44%.

Source: “Drugs and Crime: Report of Findings.” prepared by Caroline Bond and Janet Morgan for the West Yorkshire Police and the Regional Health Authority, 1993.

Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison,Youth :

In a study conducted in Liverpool and Manchester in 1992, 33% of 14-15 yr. olds in North West England had tried drugs – 59% had been offered drugs.

(Source: Alcohol Education and Research Council 1993)

In rural East Sussex, a study of 2,000 children showed that 25% of the boys and 17% of the girls had tried drugs by the age of 15 years.

(Source: East Sussex Health Authority, the Home Office 1993)

In England and Wales over 50% of the 45,000 people in prison are addicted to drugs.

(Source: Addictive Diseases Trust, 1994)

In the UK, 450 children start smoking every day.

(Source: Smoking and the Young , Royal College of Physicians 1992)

Between 9,000 and 13,000 practising doctors may be addicted to drugs and/or alcohol

(Source: Health & Fitness. March 1997)

The total cost to the National Health Service (GP consultations, outpatients visits, inpatient visits, prescriptions) for smokers is £6l0 million plus, per annum. Prescriptions alone account for £1 million per week.

(Source: The Smoking Epidemic: A Prescription for Change. Health Education Council /993)
Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug use-various effects on foetus, babies, children and youth,Nicotine :


Cannabis dependence assessed at age 18 and 21 increased from 6.6% for 18 to 9.6% at 21. unemployment or violent behavior more frequent with cannabis use at 21 years.

Source: Poutton RG, Brooke M, Slarnon WR. Silva PA, Reported in
New Zealand Medical Journal 1997;110:68-70
Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug use-various effects on foetus, babies, children and youth,New Zealand :


In 1999:

Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.(2001)
Office of Applied Studies, Rockville.
Filed under: Alcohol,Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug use-various effects :

Vancouver, British Columbia, a city unaccustomed to widespread crime, is facing a rise in gang-related violence stemming from drug dealing and local turf wars between young people of Indian descent, “They are Indo-Canadians killing Indo-Canadians,” said Kash Heed, commanding officer of the Third Police District in Vancouver. “Seventy-six murders mainly within one ethnic group. The cycle of violence, we’ve not cracked it yet.”

Immigrant community leaders blame inaction on the part of Vancouver police for the rise in gang violence. “Out here, it’s a slap on the hand,” said Amar Randhawa, co-founder of the Unified Network of Indo-Canadians for Togetherness and Education Through Discussion (UNITED). “Law enforcement can’t crack the lower hierarchy, let alone get to the top.”

But police officials said the cycle of murder and revenge has hampered their efforts. “One day suspect, and the next day victim,” said Heed. “One day you are the shooter. The next day you’re lying in your coffin.”

According to police, gangs deal in the potent variety of marijuana called B.C. bud, which is grown in the province. “It is often exchanged for cocaine, cash, or firearms. It is a deal between two criminal gangs, one on the south side of the border and one on the north side, guns for marijuana,” said constable Alex Borden of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. “If there is violence in our streets and firearms are involved, we are concerned the firearms come from across the border.”

According to Joe Giuliano, assistant chief at the local U.S. Border Patrol office in Blaine, Wash., 23 Canadian smugglers have been arrested on the U.S. side of the border so far this year. “Virtually all marijuana smuggling in the past fiscal year is either directly or indirectly tied back to the Indo-Canadian community,” he said.

According to officials, gang members are generally from upscale families. “Unlike in other countries, people involved in the gang activity here are not the poor or disadvantaged,” said Wallace Oppal, a justice of the Court of Appeal of British Columbia. “For the most part, kids involved here are people who come from middle-class and upper-class homes. They get involved for the glamour.”

Heed added that parents should get more involved in discouraging their children from joining gangs. “We’ve gone to notify people their son was killed and they have been in such denial they slammed the door in the police officer’s face,” Heed said. “They don’t want to believe their child is involved. They will ask the question to their dying day after their son is murdered why they didn’t do something.”

Source: the Washington Post reported July 22. 2004
Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Crime/Violence/Prison,Europe,Legal Sector,Others (International News),Parents,Youth :

The Observer notes growing concern over the impact of cigarette smoking in films. Anti-smoking campaigners, backed by Britain’s largest cancer charity, claim the age classification of films should be as sensitive to smoking as to offensive language and obscenities.

‘We are not arguing for a total ban on smoking in films,’ said Deborah Arnott, director of ASH. ‘But there is strong evidence of a causal link between stars’ smoking behaviour and teenage smoking.’

Some of Hollywood’s biggest names, including Zeta-Jones, Nicole Kidman and Pierce Brosnan, have been criticised after recent research showed that smoking on screen is at its most prevalent for 50 years.

Nearly 80 per cent of Hollywood films given a 12 rating feature some form of tobacco use while half of all children’s and PG-rated films depict smoking, according to a survey of 775 Hollywood films.

British Board of Film Classification guidelines now say films with a PG rating must not contain references to illegal drugs or drug use. It also forbids films with a 15 classification from depicting ‘imitable techniques’ such as emphasising fighting or easily accessible lethal weapons, like knives.

However, the guidelines contain no references to cigarettes, which kill 120,000 people each year in the UK.

‘There is surely a strong case for upgrading the age classification of a film to at least 15 if it features smoking by aspirational role models for young people, as this is clearly imitable and dangerous behaviour,’ said Arnott.

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,6903,1168901,00.html
Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison,Nicotine,Youth :

The article “Study: Jobs Don’t Prevent New Drug Offenses After Prison” is somewhat misleading and does not mention our most important findings. The former prisoners in our study were followed for only a few months after coming home to Baltimore, insufficient time to conclude that employment doesn’t prevent recidivism. Our more important, policy-relevant findings have to do with how released prisoners obtain jobs and stay off drugs.

The study documented that men and women who participated in work release programs while in prison were more likely to be employed after their release — despite poor job records, limited education, and few vocational skills — suggesting that much can be done to improve thei