• Why is it still so hard for patients to get medicinal cannabis?

    Why is it still so hard for patients to get medicinal cannabis?

     March 10, 2017 ·   · 1 reaction

    Alex Wodak, St Vincent's Hospital, Darlinghurst and Laurence Mather, University of Sydney

    This week the federal government granted its first license for an Australian company to grow and harvest medical marijuana. The Conversation

    This follows Australia's amending of the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967 to legalise the production and use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. The amendment came in February 2016, a year after the death of campaigner Daniel Haslam.

    Daniel suffered distressing side effects of chemotherapy, some of which were ameliorated by cannabis. While these changes sound promising for sufferers like Daniel, if he were alive today, he would still not be able to lawfully obtain medicinal cannabis.

    Despite the media attention, extensive political and medical commentary on the subject, and the fact that more than two thirds of Australians have supported medicinal cannabis for many years, a patient with a clear cut and widely accepted case for being able to use lawful medicinal cannabis would still be unable to.

    So far, only a few patients have been able to obtain lawful medicinal cannabis, and only after a long and difficult struggle.

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  • "Ice Wars" Message is Overblown and Unhelpful

    "Ice Wars" Message is Overblown and Unhelpful

     February 15, 2017 ·  

    Nicole Lee, Curtin University

    Without doubt, crystal methamphetamine, or ice, is capable of causing immense harm. That's true for many drugs, including alcohol. But when facts are distorted to create fear and stigma it helps no one. Not the people who use ice. Not their families. Not the health professionals supporting them. Not the police who enforce drug law.

    Ice Wars, airing over the next few weeks on ABC, shows the dark side of crystal methamphetamine use. It shows the great, but difficult work that police, mental health and substance use treatment professionals do every day.

    It carefully explains some of the commonly misunderstood effects of the drug. It shows the breadth of the ice problem across police, treatment services and individuals. And it shows how people are suffering and the compassionate response that is possible from health workers and police.

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  • Why Australia needs drug consumption rooms

    Why Australia needs drug consumption rooms

     February 07, 2017 ·  

    As senior law enforcement officials line up to say Australia cannot arrest its way out of our illicit drug problems, some politicians have expressed opposing views about drug consumption rooms. This debate is now raging in Melbourne.

    Drug consumption rooms enable people to use drugs under the supervision of trained staff. Generally established close to large drug markets, they have been shown to reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis C, reduce deaths and injuries due to drug overdose, reduce ambulance call-outs, increase referral to health and social services including detoxification and drug addiction treatment and reduce public drug injecting and numbers of discarded needles.

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  • The Poison of Prohibition

     January 21, 2017 ·  

    Last weekend saw another series of overdoses, this time in Melbourne.

    According to the United Nation's 2014 World Drug Report, Australia has the highest proportion of recreational drug users in the world. This suggests that this country's drug policy has been ineffective in reducing use or curbing demand, let alone protecting people from the harm that illicit drugs can cause.

    For example, we are number one in the world when it comes to per capita use of ecstasy. While the government has paid lip service to "harm minimisation", it has actively opposed the use of pill testing at concerts and festivals. Not only does pill testing help people to avoid consuming ecstasy laced with dangerous chemicals, it additionally appears to have an impact in shaping the black market. According to a report made by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, "Products identified as particularly dangerous that subsequently became the subject of warning campaigns were found to leave the market."

     

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  • Prohibition does not protect our children

    Prohibition does not protect our children

     January 18, 2017 ·   · 1 reaction

    Drug prohibition is not protecting young Australians; it is killing them.

    Last weekend, an apparently tainted batch of illegal drugs caused the needless deaths of three Melbournians and left another 20 hospitalised. In 2015, six ecstasy-related deaths were reported at Australian music festivals, and the latest statistics show that, on average, four Australians die every day from drug overdose. That's 1400 people per year. 

     

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  • What makes it so hard to quit drugs?

    What makes it so hard to quit drugs?

     December 16, 2016 ·   · 3 reactions

    Nicole Lee, Curtin University

    Most people who use alcohol and other drugs do so infrequently and never become dependent (or "addicted" as it's sometimes called). On average about 10% of people who use alcohol or other drugs are dependent. 

    But for those who do become dependent, reducing their use, getting off or staying off can be difficult.

     

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  • Australia's Drug Policies Have Failed: It's time to reinvent them based on what actually works

    Australia's Drug Policies Have Failed: It's time to reinvent them based on what actually works

     December 09, 2016 ·  

    Alison Ritter, UNSW Australia The author speaking at the UNSW UNSOMNIA event.

    There is only one way to make better decisions about illicit drugs and so save lives and money: we need to change the way drugs policies are made.

    The alternative is to remain stuck in the same futile cycle. Every time a young person dies tragically and needlessly at a music festival or dance party, our commentators clamour for our politicians to respond immediately.

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  • What is NBOMe?

    What is NBOMe?

     August 31, 2016 ·  

    Stephen Bright, Curtin University and Monica Barratt, Curtin University

    NBOMe is an abbreviation for N-methoxybenzyl. While NBOMe is often referred to as a drug, it's not a singular drug but a series of drugs that contain an N-methoxybenzyl group.

    The most common NBOMes that are used recreationally are extensions of the 2C family of phenethylamine psychedelics that were discovered by Dr Alexander Shulgin. Some, such as 2C-B, became popular in the 1990s as a substitute for MDMA (commonly referred to as ecstasy). The 2C-B NBOMe derivative is 25B-NBOMe. Other common NBOMes include 25I-NBOMe and 25C-NBOMe.

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  • New Killer Drugs in Australia?

    New Killer Drugs in Australia?

     August 31, 2016 ·  

    Is Australia really being flooded by new killer drugs?

    Stephen Bright, Curtin University and Monica Barratt, UNSW Australia

    Recent media reports have suggested Australia is set to be flooded with new types of deadly "synthetic" drugs.

    Don't worry, as far as we know, there's no "turbo-charged version of ice" on its way. And we need to steer clear of drug-related moral panic, which increases stigma and makes it harder for users to seek help.

    But there is a potential for significant harm in Australia if we don't have adequate systems in place to monitor our drug markets and respond rapidly when specific dangers are detected.

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  • How big a problem is ice use among Indigenous Australians?

    How big a problem is ice use among Indigenous Australians?

     August 29, 2016 ·   · 1 reaction

    Nicole Lee, Curtin University and Sarah J MacLean, La Trobe University

    While rates of methamphetamine use in Australia have remained fairly stable at 2.1% over the past ten years, there has been a shift among people who use the lower-grade powdered form of methamphetamine (speed) to using the higher-grade crystal form (ice) in recent times.

    Ice is much stronger than speed and has the potential to cause greater problems.

    Purity and availability have increased, while the price of both speed and ice has decreased. The number of people using weekly or more has grown, which is an indication of dependence.

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