harm reduction

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Canada: New Prime Minister Plans To Legalize Marijuana

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Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party Supports Drug Policy Reform, including Marijuana Legalization and Cutting Edge Harm Reduction Policies

Trudeau Represents 180 Degree Turn From Prime Minister Harper’s Punitive Approach

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Canada on Monday voted in Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party in a general election, which will have outstanding implications for drug policy reform in the country. The Liberal Party plans to legalize cannabis.

The election puts an end to Conservative Party Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s 9-year rule, which was marked by a repressive approach to drugs, including a commitment to rolling out mandatory minimum sentences, pushback to effective supervised injection sites that reduce the harms of drug use, and strong opposition to marijuana reform. In contrast, the Liberal Party has promised to legalize and regulate marijuana and Trudeau has expressed support for harm reduction and the expansion of supervised injection sites across the country.

Global: Governments That Kill For Drugs At Extreme Fringe Of International Community

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Death penalty for drugs increasing in Iran and Indonesia as numbers decline in significantly in China, says new Global Report, launched ahead of the 13th World Day Against the Death Penalty: Drug Crimes

Vast majority of 550 executions occurring in China, Iran and Saudi Arabia against a backdrop of increased pressure from UN member states and multilateral institutions to dismantle capital drug laws

The number of people executed for drug-related offenses remains high, at an estimated 550 people per year, but only because a small number of countries who account for the majority of those deaths – China, Iran and Saudi Arabia – are aggressive executioners, according to a new report released on Thursday by Harm Reduction International (HRI).

Of the approximately 549 executions for drugs believed to have taken place in 2013, 546 were carried out in those three countries.

The report, Death Penalty for Drug Offences 2015, is the fourth edition published by HRI since 2007 and coincides with both the 13th World Day Against the Death Penalty taking place on October 10 and the 24th International Harm Reduction Conference being held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia October 18-21. The report publishes the latest round of execution and death row statistics for the 33 countries and territories that prescribe the death penalty for drugs in law.

California: Lightning In A Bottle Festival Integrates Harm Reduction Services Onsite

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Popular Festival Has Track Record of Success in Keeping Attendees Safe

The California-based Lightning in a Bottle festival is breaking new ground in the United States by taking a comprehensive harm reduction approach to drug use at its event. It is the only festival in the U.S. to offer both peer-led drug education and mental health services onsite, communicate about those services to its attendees, and evaluate their effectiveness post-event.

The festival, set to take place this Memorial Day weekend (May 21-25) at the San Antonio Recreation Area in Bradley, California, offers harm reduction services through the organizations DanceSafe and the Zendo Project.

DanceSafe is a public health organization working since 1998 mostly within the electronic dance music community to promote non-judgmental health and safety information, ranging from safer sex and “protect your hearing” resources to straightforward drug education that explains drug effects and safer use practices honestly. The Zendo Project is a group of trained therapists and volunteers who assist festivalgoers undergoing a difficult psychological experience, whether drug-related or not. They set up a separate “safe space” apart from main festival areas, and often work in tandem with onsite medical teams.

Washington: Seattle's New Approach To Drug Offenses Produces Nearly 60% Reduction In Recidivism

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LEAD Establishes Unique Collaboration Among Law Enforcement, Human Service Agencies, Business Leaders, and Community Members

Interest in LEAD Grows Among Major Cities Across the Nation, Including New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Houston, Atlanta, and Albany

According to a new, independent study by a University of Washington evaluation team, one of the nation’s most innovative and promising approaches to ending the War On Drugs and mass incarceration has been shown to produce a dramatic drop in recidivism.

In 2011, Seattle launched "Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion" (LEAD), a bold new harm reduction-oriented approach to address low-level drug and prostitution crimes and break the cycle of addiction, joblessness and homelessness. Under LEAD, police officers exercise discretion to divert individuals for certain criminal offenses (including low-level drug sales) to a case manager and a comprehensive network of services, instead of booking them to jail and initiating the standard criminal justice process.

LEAD established a unique collaboration between multiple stakeholders who all work together to find new ways to solve old problems. Stakeholders include police, district attorneys, mental health and drug treatment providers, housing providers and other service agencies, the business community, public defenders, elected officials, and community leaders.

U.S.: Moms United to End the War on Drugs Speak Out Against Prohibition

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“The Empty Chair at the Holiday Table” Campaign Highlights Those Not With Us Because of Incarceration, an Overdose Death or Prohibition Violence

Each holiday season, A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing) and moms from around the country share their stories of loss while calling for an end to the War On Drugs -- which has been so disastrous for tens of millions of families. Many of the moms leading this campaign have been personally impacted by the War On Drugs.

The holidays are a particularly painful time for families – whether they are separated because of a loved one’s incarceration, lost on the streets due to drug problems, in danger because of drug war violence, or have lost a loved one to accidental overdose.

“I have painful memories of holidays when my son was absent because he was locked behind bars for drug use, and of family celebrations when one of my sons wasn’t included because he was lost in the maze of his addiction,” said Gretchen Burns Bergman of San Diego, founder of A New PATH, Moms United lead organizer and the mother of two sons who have struggled with heroin addiction and incarceration.

“We haven’t celebrated the holidays since 2008, when my son died of an accidental overdose," said Denise Cullen of Palm Desert, California. "We can’t escape the emptiness.”

Canada: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Recommends Marijuana Legalization

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Canada's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has released a new evidence-informed report on cannabis control. The Cannabis Policy Framework released by CAMH recommends marijuana legalization with a strict regulation approach to cannabis control.

Canada has one of the highest rates of cannabis use in the world, with 40 percent of Canadians having used it at least once in their lifetime. CAMH's Cannabis Policy Framework was developed to provide evidence-based principles for reducing cannabis-related harm.

To do this, CAMH scientists and policy experts conducted in-depth analysis of the health, social, and legal implications of cannabis use and examined cannabis policy in other jurisdictions.

"Canada's current system of cannabis control is failing to prevent or reduce the harms associated with cannabis use," said Dr. Jürgen Rehm, director of the Social and Epidemiological Research Department at CAMH. "Based on a thorough review of the evidence, we believe that legalization combined with strict regulation of cannabis is the most effective means of reducing the harms associated with its use."

World Health Organization Calls for Drug Decriminalization and Broad Drug Policy Reforms

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In a report published earlier this month, the World Health Organization (WHO) made a clear call for broad drug policy reforms, including decriminalization of drug use, harm reduction practices such as syringe exchange and opioid substitution therapy, and a ban on compulsory treatment for people who use drugs. This report by the United Nations’ leading health agency focuses on best practices to prevent, diagnose and treat HIV among key populations.

In a section titled “Good practice recommendations concerning decriminalization”, the WHO report makes the following recommendations:

• Countries should work toward developing policies and laws that decriminalize injection and other use of drugs and, thereby, reduce incarceration.

• Countries should work toward developing policies and laws that decriminalize the use of clean needles and syringes (and that permit NSPs [needle and syringe programs]) and that legalize OST [opioid substitution therapy] for people who are opioid-dependent.

• Countries should ban compulsory treatment for people who use and/or inject drugs.

California: Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance to Speak at the World Affairs Council in San Francisco

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Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, will speak at the World Affairs Council’s WorldAffairs 2014 conference in San Francisco on Saturday, March 15 at 10:30 a.m.

WorldAffairs 2014 offers fresh insights and new perspectives on current global topics. The conference will be held at the St. Regis in San Francisco on Friday, March 14 and Saturday, March 15.

Nadelmann will take part in a discussion entitled “Rethinking the War on Drugs.” Nadelmann will be joined by Beau Kilmer, co-director, RAND Drug Policy Research Center and Robert MacCoun, professor of public policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy. Issues addressed in the discussion will include:

• What do President Obama’s new drug policy initiatives mean for the U.S?
• What does it mean to reclassify drug use as a public health issue?
• What lessons can be learned from Europe?
• Can the United States effectively reduce the harmful effects of drugs at home and abroad while also reducing the enormous fiscal burden of the War on Drugs?

Described by Rolling Stone Magazxine as "the point man" for drug policy reform efforts, Ethan Nadelmann is widely regarded as the outstanding proponent of drug policy reform both in the United States and abroad. Nadelmann is the founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), an organization based in the United States promoting alternatives to the War On Drugs.

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