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Chronicle AM: Secret Safe Injection Site in US City, VT "Blue Ribbon" MJ Panel, More... (8/8/17)

The body representing state legislatures again calls for marijuana reforms, Vermont's governor is about to empanel on commission to study legalization issues, a safe injection site has been operating secretly in a US city for the past three years, and more.

The Vancouver safe injection site has a hidden counterpart somewhere in the US. (vch.ca)
Marijuana Policy

National Conference of State Legislatures Urges De-Scheduling Marijuana. The National Conference of State Legislatures has approved a resolution calling for marijuana to be removed from the Controlled Substances Act. The resolution approved on Monday specifically references access to banking, saying such a move would result in "… enabling financial institutions the ability to provide banking services to cannabis related businesses." This marks the third year in a row the conference has passed a resolution on marijuana, going a bit further each time. In 2015, it resolved that federal laws should be amended to allow states to set their own pot policies, and last year, it resolved that marijuana should be down-scheduled.

Vermont Governor About to Convene "Blue Ribbon Commission" on Legalization. Gov. Phil Scott (R) says he will shortly convene a commission to study issues around marijuana legalization, but it looks like his emphasis will be on how to detect marijuana impairment in drivers rather than examining models for legalization. Earlier this year, Scott vetoed a legalization bill, citing concerns about driving and youth, and he says now that he will not sign a bill that doesn't have stringent standards on impaired driving.

Virginia Gubernatorial Candidates Split on Decriminalization. Democratic nominee Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam sent a letter Monday to the State Crime Commission, which is studying decriminalization, in support of the notion. That position contrasts with Republican nominee Ed Gillespie, who says he opposes legalization or decriminalization, but is open to exploring reforms to ensure that penalties are commensurate with the offense committed. Polling shows a majority of Virginians favor decrim. Libertarian candidate Cliff Hyra, meanwhile, says just tax and legalize it.

Medical Marijuana

Indiana Republican Will File Medical Marijuana Bill to Fight Opioid Overdoses. State Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour) says he plans to file a medical marijuana bill in a bid to combat opioid abuse. He said he was acting after hearing from constituents. "People telling me their personal stories, how they've been helped by this product, how far behind Indiana is on this issue," he told the Indianapolis Star. "That right there, we have a responsibility to at least investigate it and determine the facts, and if there is something positive out there, we have to pursue that."

Asset Forfeiture

Arizona Asset Forfeiture Reforms Go Into Effect Wednesday. A new law limiting civil asset forfeiture reform goes into effect Wednesday. House Bill 2477 does not end civil asset forfeiture, but raises the standard of proof necessary for seizures from "a preponderance of the evidence" to "clear and convincing evidence."

Harm Reduction

Underground Safe Injection Site Has Been Operating in a US City for Three Years. In a report released Tuesday, two researchers revealed that they've been studying an unpermitted safe injection site in operation since 2014. They reported that no one died while using drugs at the site and that two overdoses were reversed by staff members administering naloxone. The report comes as pressure to authorize such sites is mounting, with lawmakers in states like California and New York and cities including San Francisco, Seattle, and Ithaca, New York, backing such efforts.

(This article was prepared by StoptheDrugWar.org"s lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also pays the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Think Again!

Portugal is held up as the gold standard for "decriminalizing" drugs and not "judging" the addict.  Their programs has some success due to wrap-around services and is mandatory.  Drug dealing is still illegal and dealt with harshly.  Other EU countries tried to emulate the program.  With the 2008 recession, their budgets were slashed for the addicts in program and caused overdoses, increased crime, and increased disease transmission, increased homelessness.  Can you see us having an Injections Site AND wrap-around services?  I don't believe there will be funding for both.  Why not use any proposed funding and increase needed detox/rehab facilities and sober living environments along with all the needed physical/mental health and social services.  The way I see it, Injections Sites are prolonging the suffering and misery of the addict with the usual end result of death.  Which would be more compassionate? http://www.globaldrugpolicy.org/Issues/Vol%201%20Issue%203/A%20Critical%20Evaluation.pdf THE JOURNAL OF GLOBAL DRUG Policy AND PRACTICEA Critical Evaluation of the Effects of Safe Injection Facilities Garth Davies, Simon Fraser University Conclusion: Taking Causality SeriouslyOn the subject of the effects of SIFs, the available research is overwhelmingly positive. Evidence can be found in support of SIFs achieving each of the goals listed at the beginning of the evaluation. In terms of our level of confidence in these studies,the assessment offered here is far less sanguine. In truth,none of the impacts attributed to SIFs can be unambiguously verified. As a result of the methodological and analytical problems identified above, all claims remain open to question. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/pubs/_sites-lieux/insite/index-eng.php Vancouver's INSITE service and other Supervised injection sites: What has been learned from research?             Final report of the Expert Advisory Committee http://www.kiro7.com/news/local/councilwomans-idea-for-seattle-safe-injection-site-locations-belltown-lake-city/466411868 "At the Vancouver site, the manager said since opening in 2003, the overdose death rate in the area around the clinic has dropped 35 percent. But the clinic also estimates 15 to 20 percent of people using the site come from other parts of the country specifically for it." http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/is-vancouvers-safe-drug-use-site-a-good-model-for-seattle/"Although research appears to bear that out, many of the studies that attest to Insite’s success are small and limited to the years after the center opened. For instance, a 2011 study published in the journal The Lancet found a 35 percent reduction in overdose deaths in the blocks surrounding Insite, versus 9 percent in the rest of Vancouver. But that often-cited study looked only at the period two years before and two years after the center opened, not the ensuing decade." http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/is-vancouvers-safe-drug-use-site-a-good-model-for-seattle/        "Although Insite is paired with a drug-treatment center, called Onsite, Berner and other critics point out that completion rates are low. Of the 6,500 people who visited Insite last year, 464 were referred to Onsite’s detox center. Of those, 252 finished treatment." The Vancouver Insite was placed in a crime-ridden, drug-ridden, low-income neighborhood. It only got worse. http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/is-vancouvers-safe-drug-use-site-a-good-model-for-seattle/  "Although the Insite center is a model, the Vancouver neighborhood surrounding it is nothing to emulate, advocates acknowledged. “If I came from a city like Seattle and I went to that Insite place, it would scare the hell out of me,” Kral said. “I would think, ‘Are we going to create one of those?’ ”"  http://news.nationalpost.com/news/vancouvers-gulag-canadas-poorest-neighbourhood-refuses-to-get-better-despite-1m-a-day-in-social-spendingVancouver’s ‘gulag’: Canada’s poorest neighbourhood refuses to get better despite $1M a day in social spending What do you think would happen if this was placed in a middle-class neighborhood, or, ANY Santa Cruz neighborhood? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=audzsuRMWBE&t=586shttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwJkqTZ5H_s http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/brian-hutchinson-thousands-of-used-drug-needles-have-become-the-new-normal-for-vancouver4/27/2016Brian Hutchinson: Finding used drug needles in public spaces has become the new normal for Vancouver http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/mark-hasiuk/insite-vancouver_b_3949237.html "Ten years later, despite any lofty claims, for most addicts, InSite's just another place to get high." The 100% positive studies on Vancouver's Insite (Safe Injection Facility) was done  "Early last decade, Montaner and Kerr lobbied for an injection site. In 2003, the Chretien Liberals acquiesced, gave the greenlight to B.C.'s Ministry of Health, which, through Vancouver Coastal Health, gave nearly $1.5 million to the BC Centre (that's Montaner and Kerr, you remember them) to evaluate a three-year injection site trial in Vancouver. I asked him about the potential conflict of interest (lobbyists conducting research) and he ended the interview with a warning. "If you took that one step further you'd be accusing me of scientific misconduct, which I would take great offense to. And any allegation of that has been generally met with a letter from my lawyer." Was I being unfair? InSite is a radical experiment, new to North America and paid for by taxpayers. Kerr and company are obligated to explain their methods and defend their philosophy without issuing veiled threats of legal action." In the media, Kerr frequently mentions the "peer review" status of his studies, implying that studies published in medical journals are unassailable. Rubbish. Journals often publish controversial studies to attract readers -- publication does not necessarily equal endorsement. The InSite study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a favourite reference of InSite champions, appeared as a "letter to the editor" sandwiched between a letter about "crush injuries" in earthquakes and another on celiac disease." Really? What kind of "science" produces dozens of studies, within the realm of public health, a notoriously volatile research field, with positive outcomes 100 per cent of the time? Those results should raise the eyebrows of any first-year stats student." And who's more likely to be swayed by personal bias? InSite opponents, questioning government-sanctioned hard drug abuse? Or Montaner, Kerr and their handful of acolytes who've staked their careers on InSite's survival? From 2003 to 2011, the BC Centre received $2,610,000 from B.C. taxpayers to "study" InSite. How much money have InSite critics received?" There has never been an independent analysis of InSite, yet, if you base your knowledge on Vancouver media reports, the case is closed. InSite is a success and should be copied nationwide for the benefit of humanity. Tangential links to declining overdose rates are swallowed whole. Kerr's claims of reduced "public disorder" in the neighbourhood go unchallenged, despite other mitigating factors such as police activity and community initiative. Journalists note Onsite, the so-called "treatment program" above the injection site, ignoring Onsite's reputation among neighbourhood residents as a spit-shined flophouse of momentary sobriety." http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/pubs/_sites-lieux/insite/index-eng.php   Reducing the Transmission of Blood-Borne Viral Infections & Other Injection Related Infections      "Self-reports from users of the INSITE service and from users of SIS services in other countries indicate that needle sharing decreases with increased use of SISs. Mathematical modeling, based on assumptions about baseline rates of needle sharing, the risks of HIV transmission and other variables, generated very wide ranging estimates for the number of HIV cases that might have been prevented. The EAC were not convinced that these assumptions were entirely valid.      SISs do not typically have the capacity to accommodate all, or even most injections that might otherwise take place in public.                                 Several limitations to existing research were identified including:      Caution should be exercised in using mathematical modelling for assessing cost benefit/effectiveness of INSITE, given that:        There was limited local data available regarding baseline frequency of injection, frequency of needle sharing and other key variables used in the analysis;        While some longitudinal studies have been conducted, the results have yet to be published and may never be published given the overlapping design of the cohorts;        No studies have compared INSITE with other methods that might be used to increase referrals to detoxification and treatment services, such as outreach, enhanced needle exchange service, or drug treatment courts.    Some user characteristics relevant to understanding their needs and monitoring change have not been reported including details of baseline treatment histories, frequency of injection and frequency of needle sharing.    User characteristics and reported changes in injection practices are based on self-reports and have not been validated in other ways. More objective evidence of sustained changes in risk behaviours and a comparison or control group study would be needed to confidently state that INSITE and SISs have a significant impact on needle sharing and other risk behaviours outside of the site where the vast majority of drug injections still take place." "It has been estimated that injection drug users inject an average six injections a day of cocaine and four injections a day of heroin. The street costs of this use are estimated at around $100 a day or $35,000 a year. Few injection drug users have sufficient income to pay for the habit out through employment. Some, mainly females get this money through prostitution and others through theft, break-ins and auto theft. If the theft is of property rather than cash, it is estimated that they must steal close to $350,000 in property a year to get $35,000 cash. Still others get the money they need by selling drugs." https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/massive-price-hike-for-lifesaving-opioid-overdose-antidote1/Massive Price Hike for Lifesaving Opioid Overdose Antidote Suddenly in demand, naloxone injector goes from $690 to $4,500 Should we follow the money?  Who would be profiting bigly from the increased use of naloxone? http://www.bcmj.org/premise/supervised-injection-sites%E2%80%94-view-law-enforcementSupervised injection sites—a view from law enforcement Jamie Graham, former chief of Vancouver Police has outlined the successful model of dealing with an epidemic: Support, mandatory treatment, abstinence, and counseling as all part of the solution. My recover(ed)(ing) addict friends say they would agree. https://mosaicscience.com/story/iceland-prevent-teen-substance-abuseIceland knows how to stop teen substance abuse but the rest of the world isn’t listening In Iceland, teenage smoking, drinking and drug use have been radically cut in the past 20 years. Emma Young finds out how they did it, and why other countries won’t follow suit. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/05/05/pigeon-nest-needles-highlights-vancouvers-drug-problem/101323878/ Pigeon nest of needles highlights Vancouver's drug problem Some graphs about how overdoses in Vancouver, BC have increased:   https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4937e3e285c02900541696be294c99859dd986654fc2ea3b3b1f41f673618dc7.png One more: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d2f8aa542d4033a1f198a3b0e3e802482a4becf1e45b04e77079e989e5c6460a.jpg

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