Drink and Drugs News DDN November 2018 | Page 4

News SKEWED SEARCHES CANNABIS BECOMES LEGAL IN CANADA ADULTS IN CANADA are now able to legally buy and possess up to 30g of dried cannabis or its equivalent from authorised retailers across the country. After ‘extensive consultation’ with law enforcement agencies and health organisations, the Canadian government has implemented its legal framework to legalise and regulate access to the drug. The legislation, which was first announced at the UNGASS in New York in 2016 (DDN, May 2016, page 4), aims to ‘keep profits from going into the pockets of criminal organisations and street gangs’, says the government, and makes Canada the second – and largest – country to legalise the drug after Uruguay (DDN, May 2017, page 4). ‘The old approach to cannabis did not work,’ the government states. ‘It let criminals and organised crime profit, while failing to keep cannabis out of the hands of Canadian youth. In many cases, it has been easier for our kids to buy cannabis than cigarettes.’ While the Cannabis Act means that possession of small amounts of the drug is no longer against the law, the government has created a new criminal offence making it illegal to sell cannabis to a minor and has ‘added signifi - cant penalties for those who engage young Canadians in cannabis-related offences’. It has also toughened laws relating to drink- and drug-impaired driving. People need to be 18 – or 19, depending on the territory – to legally buy, possess or use cannabis, with legal drugs displaying an excise stamp on the product label. However, anyone either bringing cannabis or cannabis products into – or taking them out of – the country still risks ‘serious criminal penalties’, the government states, including if the drug is being used for medical purposes. Central and provincial government will also continue public education programmes about the new legal framework, as well as responsible use, health and safety, and the dangers of drug-impaired driving. ‘The implementa tion of this progressive public policy BLACK PEOPLE ARE NOW NINE TIMES MORE LIKELY TO BE STOPPED and searched for drugs in England and Wales than white people, says a report from Release, Stopwatch and the London School of Economics and Political Science. While the use of stop and search overall has fallen there has been a ‘shocking increase in racial disparities in the policing and prosecution of drug offences’, says The colour of injustice: ‘race’, drugs and law enforcement in England and Wales. Drugs searches account for 60 per cent of stop and searches, although in some areas the figure is far higher – more than 80 per cent of searches by Merseyside Police in 2016-17 were for drugs. Report at www.release.org.uk ADMISSIONS UP ‘We will help keep cannabis out of the hands of youth and profits out of the pockets of criminals.’ marks an important shift in our country’s approach to cannabis,’ said justice minister and attorney general, Jody Wilson- Raybould. ‘With a strictly regulated market for adults we will help keep cannabis out of the hands of youth and profits out of the pockets of criminals.’ ‘While we still Jody Wilson-Raybould have a lot of work to do, we are confident that the more than two years of work that went into this process have resulted in legislation that will help us achieve our public health and safety objectives,’ added border security minister Bill Blair. 4 | drinkanddrugsnews | November 2018 BUCKING THE TREND BUCKINGHAM UNIVERSITY intends to ask students to sign a contract pledging not to take drugs, its vice-chancellor Sir Anthony Seldon has written in the Mail. ‘Old fashioned maybe,’ he wrote, ‘but never more needed.’ The university already invites police and sniffer dogs on to campus to deter drug use. PREVENTABLE DEATHS PRISONERS ARE DYING ‘PREVENTABLE’ DEATHS – particularly as a result of the ‘alarming levels of drug abuse in jails’, says the prisons and probation ombudsman’s annual report. Acting ombudsman Elizabeth Moody said she was ‘gravely concerned’ at the destructive impact of NPS, with some prisons and their health providers ‘struggling to learn’ from investigations into deaths. Earlier this year the prison service took over the running of HMP Birmingham from G4S after inspectors found an estimated one third of prisoners using illegal drugs and the highest levels of violence of any local prison (DDN, September, page 5). Prisons & probation ombudsman annual report 2017-18 at www.ppo.gov.uk THERE WERE MORE THAN 68,000 HOSPITAL ADMISSIONS DUE TO LIVER DISEASE in England in 2016-17, according to the latest PHE figures, with admission rates ‘significantly increasing’ every year for the last five years. Rates were 1.7 times higher in the most deprived areas than the least deprived, while the male admission rate for alcoholic liver disease was more than double that of women. Meanwhile, PHE’s ‘Drink free days’ campaign is encouraging women to take more alcohol-free days to reduce their risk of developing breast cancer. ‘Many people are not aware that alcohol can cause breast cancer as well as numerous other serious health problems,’ said PHE’s director of alcohol, drugs and tobacco Rosanna O’Connor. Liver disease profiles: October 2018 update at www.gov.uk; Drink Free Days at www.drinkaware.co.uk OVERDOSE ANALYSIS some prisons and their health providers are ‘struggling to learn’. ElizabEth Moody A new tool looking at overdose deaths and how to prevent them has been launched by EMCDDA. More than 9,000 lives were reported to be lost to drug overdoses in Europe in 2016 – ‘and this is an underestimate’, says the centre. Preventing overdose deaths in Europe at www.emcdda.europa.eu www.drinkanddrugsnews.com