Worldwide News

 On 9–10 December the European Crime Prevention Network (EUCPN) will be holding its annual conference, where crime prevention actors from all over Europe will demonstrate and exchange experiences. The conference will be held in Stockholm under the Swedish Presidency of the EU.

 

The aim of the conference is for participants to exchange their experiences of new methods to prevent youth crime.

 

The focus will be on young people and crime in cyberspace, school and recruitment to criminal groups. The conference is intended for politicians, practitioners and researchers in the EU.

 

Excerpts from the programme:

 

EU Kids Online

 

Recruitment to criminal groups. How to turn young people away from a life of crime.

 

Preventing antisocial development in children and young people: what works?

 

Effective methods of reducing school bullying.

 

European final in crime prevention work among young people
On Wednesday 9 December at 20.10, Minister for Justice Beatrice Ask will present a prize to the winner of the European Crime Prevention Award (ECPA) at Operaterrassen. Seventeen finalists have been nominated by their home countries and are competing for the title of Europe’s best crime prevention project on the theme young people and crime in cyberspace, school and new recruitment to criminal groups. During the award ceremony, one winner will be announced, and two projects will be highly commended.

Repeated use of MDMA (“ecstasy”) may cause sleep apnea in otherwise healthy young adults according to a new study by scientists at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine.

 

A team led by professor Una D. McCann has previously linked MDMA to neurological problems such as subtle cognitive deficits, impulsive behavior, and altered brain wave patterns during sleep.

 

The scientists conclude that these findings suggest that prior recreational methylenedioxymethamphetamine use increases the risk for obstructive sleep apnea and lend support to the notion that brain serotonin neuronal dysfunction plays a role in the pathophysiology of sleep apnea.

 

Sleep apnea in young abstinent recreational MDMA (“ecstasy”) consumers

As of December 23rd 2009 anything that contains a synthetic cannabinoid analogue such as JWH-018 becomes a controlled substance in Great Britain.

 

More substances will become controlled at the same time.

 

You will find the Amendment Order here.

A new study on high-potency and the risk of psychosis has been published in The British Journal of Psychiatry (2009) 195: 488-491.

 

The researchers, who collected information on cannabis use from 280 cases presenting with a first episode of psychosis to the South London & Maudsley National Health Service (NHS) Foundation Trust, and from 174 healthy controls recruited from the local population, conclude that the finding that people with a first episode of psychosis had smoked higher-potency cannabis, for longer and with greater frequency, than a healthy control group is consistent with the hypothesis that 9-THC is the active ingredient increasing risk of psychosis. This has important public health implications, given the increased availability and use of high-potency cannabis.  

 

High-potency cannabis and the risk of psychosis

International Drug Control into the 21st Century – edited by Hamid Ghodse

 

Published by Ashgate, Aldershot, UK.

ISBN 978-0-7546-7215-9

 

Book review by Peter Stoker, Director, National Drug Prevention Alliance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

The first surprise in reviewing this book is the breadth of issues which the INCB addresses. The simplistic image of INCB is that they are no more than a grouping of authoritarians, inventing rules then watching hopefully for compliance - this collation of studies, drawn by Professor Ghodse into one edited volume, gives the lie to that. INCB are clearly deeply and actively concerned not just with the medical but also with the social and economic aspects of drug policy, are involved in ensuring adequate supply of drugs for legitimate medical use, and are alive to the complexities of drug prevention and health promotion. Moreover they don’t huddle in their own comfort zone, they face challenges to their position, not least proposals for legalisation or other liberalisation of drugs.

 

As a professional in the addictions field for 35 years, a Professor of Psychiatry and Drug Policy, and several times President of the International Narcotics Control Board, few if any can match Hamid Ghodse for experience or authority. This book draws together the strands of thinking in INCB over the past two decades. Each year since 1992 INCB has defined a theme for study. Professor Ghodse has collated and combined these studies into one eminently-readable volume. Anyone serious about understanding the full spread of this field should have this book on their desk - and regularly read it.

 

The stated purpose of the INCB is … to protect the well-being of individuals and society. Some contest this in terms of ‘free choice’ or ‘human rights’ - INCB’s response is that the prevention of drug abuse problems is protecting the human rights of society as a whole. INCB has powers to sanction under-performing countries and to force compliance, but this power has never yet been fully applied. As always, demand reduction and prevention is a poor relation, generous lip-service but relatively small resourcing - this despite many states arguing that this work should have its own Convention.

 

The 1988 Convention was the first co-ordinated attack on traffickers. Trafficked drugs are often stored in staging points were laws are weak . Traffickers need to be tackled at international level; acting only at national level is, as Hamid Ghodse observes, pruning the branches but leaving the roots intact.

 

Controls have become more effective over the decades; diversion is greatly reduced, meanwhile the practice of therapy has successfully replaced some of the over-consumption of drugs through repeat prescription. Alternative products in cultivation countries are an attractive solution, but this has yet to be implemented to any effective degree by any country. Zero percent drug use has never been achieved, one to two percent, as in USA pre-1950s, is probably a more realistic target.                

 

There is no evidence that illicit drug production improves local economy; the current suggestion in the US State of California that legalising and taxing cannabis use would lift them out of financial problems is extremely dubious; more likely is that there would be gains for a few but losses for many.

 

Demand Reduction and Supply Reduction are symbiotic - but the key importance of demand reduction is recognised throughout the international community. To be effective, Demand Reduction needs to engage with community empowerment, education, media, health promotion, culture, and treatment/rehabilitation. Success depends very much on political will as well as community co-operation. Harm reduction is an acknowledged part of the process but INCB emphatically says Harm Reduction is no substitute for demand reduction. Under Article 3 of the 1988 Convention it is possible to address what some in the media are doing as ‘inducement or incitement to use drugs’. INCB consider that governments should be pro-active, rather than just leaving the advocacy role to people who wish to dismantle or otherwise subvert the Conventions.

 

INCB emphatically state that The most promising prevention is culture change and by 2004 governments could be seen waking up to the possibilities of shifting culture. INCB refer to the reduction in the tobacco use as an example of what has been achieved. If a prevention programme and its evaluation is of longer duration than the election cycle in a given country, then politicians and government agencies will be less interested. Prevention must be sustained, or else complacency and tolerance develops.

 

In pressing for liberalisation, many criticise prevention and demand reduction for not succeeding in 100 per cent of the efforts, (and yet it is interesting how this failure to succeed in 100 per cent of efforts never appears as a criticism of a harm reduction programme). INCB observes that not enough has been done to disseminate successes. Semantics and memes, a standby of liberalisers’ weaponry; do not impress INCB. Legalisation arguments don't withstand critical evaluation and run contrary to general expectation. Proponents have yet to produce viable proposals. Liberalisation would irrevocably impact public health, social wellbeing and international stability.

 

The Internet age has given new ways of conducting crime - in the UK more than 1000 websites selling drugs have been identified. At the same time the regulations and the application of regulations leaves much to be desired; in a survey of 52 countries, 33 had done nothing, 9 had done little and 10 would only address major crime matters.


The First World Forum Against Drugs was held in Stockholm, Sweden in September last year. More than 600 representatives from 82 countries attended the first Workd Forum. The Forum resulted in a Declaration that has been signed by a large number of organisations and individuals.

 

This year the World Federation Against Drugs (WFAD) was formed in Vienna, Austria with a board representing all continents.

 

24-26 May 2010 WFAD will host the second World Forum Against Drugs under the patronage of H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden.

 

The 2010 World Forum will focus primarily on

New research on cannabis

Drugs in Sub-Saharan Africa

Adult drug abuse and its influence on children

 

Please return for up-dated information about the conference.

Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden announced today that he will leave the Department on February 5, 2010 to return to private practice.

 

Prior to joining the Department as Deputy Attorney General in March, Ogden chaired the Obama Administration’s transition team for the Department of Justice.

 

Deputy Attorney General David Ogden to Leave Department of Justice

According to the Dutch public prosecution department organised crime gangs running professional, largescale cannabis cultivations will face major crackdowns.

 

The annual turnover of the Dutch cannabis industry is estimated to be between 2,5 and 5 billion euros.

 

Some 8 000 professional cannabis plantations are found every year in private homes, commercial properties and farm houses. In September this year police in the southern province of Limburg dismantled seven large and 87 smaller plantations hidden in corn fields. The largest plantation had 15 000 plants.

 

Dutch police estimate that at the moment there are between 30 000 and 40 000 cannabis plantations in the country. Between 80 and 90 per cent is for export, according to official estimates.

 

The large scale cultivation is actually mentioned as a national threat in the 2008 National Threat Assessment (National Dreigingsbeeld georganiseerde misdaad 2008).

 

Further reading:

Georganiseerde misdaad achter hennepteelt niet langer onaantastbaar

A new study on cannabis and suicide has been published in The British Journal of Psychiatry (2009) 195: 492-497.

 

The researchers conclude that Although there was a strong association between cannabis use and suicide, this was explained by markers of psychological and behavioural problems. These results suggest that cannabis use is unlikely to have a strong effect on risk of completed suicide, either directly or as a consequence of mental health problems secondary to its use.

 

Cannabis and suicide: longitudinal study

On World AIDS Day, as we reflect on universal access and human rights, UNAIDS calls on governments to refrain from passing criminal laws that fuel discrimination, prevent effective national responses to HIV and violate human rights.

 

UNAIDS publishes an extensive range of materials on a variety of topics related to AIDS. You will be able to find out more here.

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