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: August 2017

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


[2] NHTSA, Use of Controlled Substances and Highway Safety; A Report to Congress (U.S. Dept. of Transportation, Washington, D.C., 1988)



[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid


[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 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.

[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:

[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:

[4] Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. See:


[6] Journal of Addiction Medicine,


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.

AMA pushes for regulation on pot use during pregnancy

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…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










[9] Weed Documentary from a high school in Oregon





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.


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.


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. *




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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.”

Source:  August 2018

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:   11th June 2018


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:    Feb.2016



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: January 2018

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:   19th Dec.2014

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?



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.


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.


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).


Cannabis use appears to increase rather than decrease the risk of developing nonmedical prescription opioid use and opioid use disorder.


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 –  The Associated Press

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:   4th May 2017

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: 21st Sept.2016

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:     March 2016


* •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.



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.


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.


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.


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: August 2016  Volume 265, Pages 138–143  DOI:

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.

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:   8th November 2014


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: 9th March 2015



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:   August 3rd 2015

Examining Linkages with Criminal Behavior and Psychopathic Features into the Mid-30s


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:  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:

– a nationwide longitudinal cohort study


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.


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.


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.


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.


Wellcome Trust, Swedish Research Council, and the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare.

Source:   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.


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:

 Source: 2nd January 2015

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:

  • Cannabis:       from 12.4% to 17%
  • Cocaine:        from 1.3% to 2.8%
  • Heroin:          from 0.7% to 1.1%
  • Ecstasy:        from 0.7% to 1.3%.

(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

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:  26th March 2014

(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                                        

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 :


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

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


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


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

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: 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:


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.

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

Source: ROGER MORGAN 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

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: 24th August 2012

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

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: 7th May 2012


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: July 18th 2011

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

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 >
CSSourmunity Anti-Drug Coalitions of America > 625 Slaters Lane, Suite 300 > Alexandria, VA 22314 > T 800.542.2322 >


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:
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–
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:
9 Pride Surveys. (2006). Questionnaire report for grades 6-
12: 2006 national summary. 184. Available: http://
10 Pride Surveys. (2006). Questionnaire report for grades 6-
12: 2006 national summary. 197. Available: http://
11 Pride Surveys. (2006). Questionnaire report for grades 6-
12: 2006 national summary. 199. Available: http://
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:
13 Office of National Drug Control Policy. (2006). Marijuana
Myths and Facts: The Truth Behind 10 Popular Misperceptions.
10. Available:
14 Ibid.
15 Pride Surveys. (2006). Questionnaire report for grades 6-
12: 2006 national summary. 194. Available: http://
16 Pride Surveys. (2006). Questionnaire report for grades 6-
12: 2006 national summary. 195. Available: Inextricable S
Source: Cadca online Nov. 2006

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

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: British Medical Journal, Specialty Journals 26 Dec 2006

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


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

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: Vol.302. Number 6791

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

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

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.”


 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

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

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.


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: March 2007

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:  21 February 2010 10:58 AM

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.  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:  3rd March 2010




●● 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

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

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


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)

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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)

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

In 1999:

  • youths who reported participating in violence during the past year were more likely to use alcohol and illicit drugs during the past month than youths who did not report past year violence.
  • 18% of youths who had participated in a serious fight at school or work reported past month use of illicit drugs compared with 7 of youths who had not participated in a serious fight during the past year.
  • veterans accounted for more than 65,000 admissions for substance  abuse treatment.
  • the criminal justice system was the most common source of drinkers referrral for all veterans.
  • 44% of heavy drinkers aged 18 to 25 had used illicit drugs in the past month compared with 26% of binge’ drinkers (persons who had five or more drinks on the same occasion at least once in the past month) in the same age group.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.(2001)
Office of Applied Studies, Rockville.

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

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.,6903,1168901,00.html

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 their employment prospects.

We also learned that those who made use of in-prison substance abuse treatment were less likely to take drugs after returning to Baltimore. In addition, former prisoners who received valuable housing, financial assistance, and emotional support from their families were more likely to get a job and stay off drugs.

The report’s implications are clear: expanding employment, substance abuse, and family reunification programs, both behind the prison walls and in the community, can make a difference. We encourage readers to view the full report, Baltimore Prisoners’ Experiences Returning Home.

Source: Nancy G. La Vigne, Ph.D., is a Senior Research Associate at the Urban Institute.

This study examines the extent to which alcohol and drug use is related to violent and nonviolent criminal activity among adolescent males. Based on data collected from 312 youthful offenders at a public juvenile facility, the findings reveal that in comparison to marijuana and heroin, alcohol use is more strongly and consistently associated with both violent and nonviolent offenses. When other factors are introduced into the analysis, the results show that while an adolescent’s criminal history and racial identity are relatively more important in predicting criminal activity overall, the effect of substance use (especially alcohol and marijuana) continues to be present.

Source: Dawkins, M. Adolescence 32(126):395-405, 1997
Availability: Marvin P Dawkins, Department of Sociology Coral Gables FL 33124

Results of tests for drug use in 21 big cities in the US are found in the ADAM Report. The conclusion says that: By any measure, the level of recent drug use among 1997 ADAM arrestees is significant. Every site reported that a majority of its male adult arrestees tested positive for at least one drug. The same is true for female adult arrestees in 19 out of 21 sites where data was collected. There are differences in trends for specific drugs and segments of persons arrested.
The 1996 national Survey of Inmates in Local Jails in the U.S. showed that
A. 82% of all jail inmates in 1996 said they had ever used an illegal drug, up from 78% in 1989.
B. The percentage ever using drugs regularly went from 58% in 1989 to 64% in 1996.
C. 55% used drugs in the month before the offense, vs. only 44% in 1989.
D. 36% were using drugs at the time of the offense, up from 27%.
E. 16% said they committed the crime for drug money, up a little from the 13% in 1989.

Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program

The huge number of Jamaican women coming into Britain with their stomachs full of cocaine is pushing the already overcrowded female prison system to breaking point. More than 10% of the women currently in prison. Jamaican drug mules who swallowed rubber wraps of cocaine and boarded flights to this country. A Guardian investigation has established that the long sentences being served by the 450 Jamaican couriers are stretching resources to the limit while failing to act as a deterrent to the desperate women prepared smuggle drugs. The crisis has deepened since July, when a glut of women prisoners were sentenced before the courts summer recess. Women are regularly being moved around as prisons try to find them cells and overcrowding blamed for the unprecedented number of suicides within female jails: 17 women have taken their own life since August last year.
Source: Oct 2003

A new British study finds that one in four individuals who visit an emergency room were drinking alcohol around the time of their injury.
The study by Dr. Noelle Murphy and colleagues at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, Scotland, looked at 600 patients aged 10 and older who visited the emergency room during an eight-week period. Saliva tests of 122 patients – including seven between the ages of 10 and 17 – showed evidence of alcohol consumption. Of those 122 patients, 120 said their injury occurred the day before their emergency-room visit; 19 admitted drinking alcohol prior to the injury, and 14 said they did not drink any alcohol until after the injury occurred. Further research into the injuries found that 94% of the patients who had harmed themselves had alcohol in their blood, while alcohol was present in half of the patients who had been assaulted.

The researchers emphasized that emergency-medicine departments “may be an ideal base for detection and intervention services geared towards minimizing alcohol-related harm.” They added that the findings indicate that intervention efforts may be needed not only for problem drinkers, who represented only a fraction of the emergency-room visitors, but also for the “much larger group of light and moderate drinkers whose drinking patterns may increase the risk of injury or illness.

Source: Author Dr. Noelle Murphy, Emergency Medicine Journal. July 2001

A recent study on the in-prison drug treatment program at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego County found that only 16% of its inmates who also completed an after-care program came back into the system within two years of their release. State wide, the recidivism rate is about 70%.

“You’ll get a lot of complaining in the first 30 to 60 days, then things will settle down, if the programme is good,” said Douglas Anglin, director of the UCLA Drug Abuse Research Centre. When you follow them up five years later, coerced clients, in every well-designed study, they do better than voluntary clients. These are very well-established findings.”

Source: Reported in Join Together May 1999

Why do men fight? For centuries, philosophers have pondered this question. Some have suggested that aggressive behaviour is part of the male make-up; others claim that fighting is a socially inspired behaviour, a belief that has led to a wide range of child-rearing tactics. Poets and writers of great literature may be disappointed to learn that the aggressive male passions that have caused duels, skirmishes, and wars are the result of reduced levels of serotonin in the brain. Why men? A group of researchers from the University of Akron state the Y chromosome that determines “maleness” (as opposed to the XX in females) governs serotonin levels. When stimulated, serotonin decreases, testosterone increases, and aggression results.

Methodology and results
Resident intruder tests were used to measure the aggression and stress of male and female rats. In a colony of male and female rats a hierarchy is established, with male rats assuming a dominant role over the female rats. Different male and female rats were then introduced into the established colony. Male intruders were attacked 2.6 times and received 1.8 scars over 15 minutes. Female intruders were not the perpetuators or recipients of any attack.
Norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin were measured by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) in various regions of the brain including hypothalamus (VMH), media amygdala (AME), lateral amygdala (ABL), and hippocampus (HPC). Norepinephrine content of VMH, AME, ABL, and HPC was not statistically different between the two sexes. However, values of dopamine in ABL of males were significantly less than corresponding female rats; levels of serotonin in the AME and ABL were also less in males compared to females.

In males, decreased serotonin in the amygdala was associated with increases in aggressive behaviour. Whether this relates only to the presence of the Y chromosome or to a combination of the Y chromosome and male hormone testosterone, remains to be determined.
Source: Authors Jonathon Toot et al , The University of Akron, Ohio presented at an American Psychological Society (APS) conference held October 17-20, 2001.

A new Canadian national study details the relationship between alcohol and other drug addiction and crime, the Canadian Press reported April 30. The three-year study, conducted by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA), was based on interviews with 10 male and female prisoners in provincial and federal institutions.

According to researchers, 54% of the prisoners who participated in the study were under the influence of alcohol or drugs when they committed their crimes. The study found that alcohol is often behind violent crimes such as murder and assault, while illegal drugs are more commonly associated with break-ins and robberies.

“This report tells us two main things,” said Federal Solicitor General Lawrence MacAutay. “It tells us that drugs and alcohol cause crime – they aren’t just related – and that the cost of this abuse on Canadians is high.”

Michel Perron, head of the CCSA, added that the study “confirms for many people in the field of addictions what we’ve known all along: that the nexus between alcohol, drugs, and crime is very strong This is a huge factor contributing to crime in Canada.”

Source: Join Together Online May 2002

Results from a teen survey show that adolescents who live in violent communities are more likely to use alcohol and other drugs. The survey by researchers at Middleheim Hospital in Antwerp, Belgium, included 3380 teens aged 14 to 17 living in urban regions in Belgium, Russia, and the United States. The researchers found a link between alcohol and other drug use, and teens being either directly threatened with violence or witnessing threats or acts of violence between others. For the survey, violent acts were defined as being mugged or beaten up, attacked with a knife or gun, chased, or wounded. According to the researchers, the more violence teens witnessed, the more likely they were to smoke cigarettes or marijuana, consume alcohol, or use hard drugs.

Dr. Robert Vermeiren, who led the study, said this trend could be a worldwide urban phenomenon. “Prevention and treatment initiatives that target substance use and dependence should focus on the role of community violence as part of their intervention” the authors recommended.

Source: Author Dr. Robert Vermeiren et al Published in Journal of Paediatrics, 111:535-540 March 2003

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