Fentanyl in stimulants like meth and cocaine is driving a fourth wave of opioid overdoses, Vancouver's pioneering safe injection site marks 20 years in service, and more.
Senate Banking Committee Set to Vote on SAFE Banking Act by Month's End. The Senate Banking Committee is set to vote on the SAFE Banking Act (S.1323) on September 27, "a Senate source familiar with the discussions" told Marijuana Moment Friday.
That source confirmed earlier media reports that the vote was coming. The date is not yet official, so it could change, but the expectation is that it will take place the week of September 25, the source said.
What amendments—if any—will be offered or adopted remains unclear, although there has been talk about revisions to a key section on broad banking regulations, as well as changes concerning Small Business Administration access and stock uplisting for the marijuana industry.
Fentanyl-Adulterated Meth and Cocaine Is Driving a Fourth Wave of Drug Overdoses. A study published Thursday in the scientific journal Addiction finds that drug overdoses involving both fentanyl and cocaine or methamphetamine have increased 50-fold since 2010, now account for nearly one-third (32 percent) of all fatal overdoses and are responsible for some 35,000 deaths.
"We're now seeing that the use of fentanyl together with stimulants is rapidly becoming the dominant force in the U.S. overdose crisis," said Joseph Friedman, the lead author of the study and a researcher at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine. "Fentanyl has ushered in a polysubstance overdose crisis, meaning that people are mixing fentanyl with other drugs, like stimulants, but also countless other synthetic substances."
The authors described the phenomenon as a "fourth wave" of the ongoing opioid crisis that began with the rise in prescription opioids around the turn of the century, followed by the rise of heroin around 2010 as authorities tightened the screws on prescription opioid prescribing and the arrival of fentanyl around 2013.
Vancouver's Safe Injection Marks 20 Years in Operation This Week. Vancouver Coastal Health and the PHS Community Services Society, the two groups that run InSite, the city's pioneering safe injection site—the first one in North America—are celebrating 20 years of operation this week. On Friday, they met in front of the East Hastings Street location to commemorate the occasion.
"Insite was a really important step forward in terms of drug policy and harm reduction, and to be here 20 years after we opened, it just feels incredible," said Jeff West, manager of harm reduction for Vancouver Coastal Health. "Not only was Insite important to the community as a safe space, a symbol of a more progressive drug policy, it also is a really important public health intervention," said West.
PHS first set up InSite as an unsanctioned site and only later got permission from Health Canada to operate, but it has been there ever since. And it has done so with the approval of local, provincial, and federal authorities, as well as Vancouver Police and the Coastal Health Authority. It survived a challenge from the Conservative national government of Stephen Harper, which was slapped down by the Supreme Court.
"Insite saves lives. Its benefits have been proven," wrote Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin in her decision.
British Columbia to Ban Drug Use Near Parks and Playgrounds. The province has decriminalized the possession of personal use amounts of illicit drugs in a bid to get a grip on the overdose crisis, but now British Columbia Premier David Eby legislation is being drafted to ban drug use near parks and playgrounds.
The provincial Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions said Thursday that the federal government had approved the changes expanding the are where drug possession remains illegal.
Drug possession was already prohibited on school grounds and at child care facilities, but as of next Monday, it will also be prohibited within 15 meters of playgrounds, water parks, and skate parks.
Public intoxication remains a crime.
"I hope and expect that people, even when struggling with addiction, will understand the importance that we've all got to live in the community together, and if there's a place that's funded and safe and appropriate to use, that you should be going to that health-care site rather than to a site that's used by children," Premier Ebe said.
Mark Haden, an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia's School of Population and Public Health, said in an interview Thursday that the province is "tweaking" its decriminalization policy "in response to some pushback from mayors who are saying 'this isn't working particularly well for us because it's disempowering the police.'"
Haden said the province's move is not "dealing with the real problem of prohibition." "We have a supply-chain problem that decriminalization isn't resolving," he said. "It's the supply-chain problem that's actually killing people."