Brief news 11

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Georgian ravers protest against inhumane drug policies. Thousands of people joined Georgian ravers on the streets of Tbilisi on 12 May 2018 to protest against repressive drug policies. The protests were sparked by recent police raids of techno clubs during which many people were arrested, most of them tested without informed consent and interrogated. Several drug-related death cases in the past were used as an excuse by the police, however ravers believe such approach to be humiliating and instead seek the right and freedom to have fun. (Source: HOPS)
Innovative approach in USA high school drug education. The Drug Policy Alliance is introducing an innovative approach in high school drug education in New York City. It is quite contrary to D.A.R.E., the current drug curriculum in which students pledge to remain drug free in front of a police officer, and which has proven inefficient. The new innovative approach designed by the Drug Policy Alliance involves high school students learning from one other under the guidance of a health teacher. Students already exhibit increased drug knowledge which can be applied to help themselves and their peers. (Source: Drug Policy Alliance)
Searching for a new type of naloxone. Pharmacists are increasingly working on experiments towards creating a replacement for naloxone in cases of synthetic opioid drug overdose. Naloxone has proven to be excellent in preventing opioid drug overdose. However, while there are still global efforts to augment the use of naloxone, a new problem arose – increased use of synthetic opioids which causes a lower success rate in overdose prevention. According to experience, it takes more than six doses of naloxone for a person overdosed on synthetic opioids to regain consciousness, hence the urgent need for a new medication in such cases. (Source: STAT)
Chemsex practices prompt new trends in HIV protection. The increased practice of sexual relations under the influence of psychoactive substances imposed adjustment of the sexual and reproductive health services and harm reduction according to the present circumstances. AIDES from France, Mainline from Holland and Schwulenberatung from Germany are already making efforts towards organizing a proper response to such challenges. However, representative from these organizations state that the issue is a complex one, requiring a complex approach towards harm reduction, without any restrictions to the right to free choice. (Source: NAM Publications)
Scientific evidence on the efficiency of medical cannabis in reducing opioid demand. According to a study conducted by four professors at the University of Georgia, USA, use of cannabis for medical purposes reduces opioid demand (methadone, buprenorphine etc.). The research revealed that the number of opioid prescriptions dropped by 5.88% between 2011 and 2016 in federal states where cannabis is legal. As fewer as 2,21 million doses of opioids are prescribed annually in these states than in states with more conservative drug policies. According to professor David Bradford, one of the study’s authors, it is a clear argument of the medical applications cannabis has. (Source: CNN)
European Chemsex Forum. The second European ChemSex Forum was held from 22 to 24 March 2018, in Berlin, Germany, organized towards providing a platform for international, cross-sector and multidisciplinary debate on the reasons and effects of chemsex, i.e. drug use towards arousal and increase of sexual pleasure. Unlike the first forum held in 2016, when the focus was on the drugs used and harm reduction possibilities, this year the discussion concentrated on the circumstances leading to problematic chemsex, like for instance loneliness and boredom.
Providing care to minor drug users. The Macedonian government, at a session on youth policies, reached a decision, among other, to establish a working group for developing a program for comprehensive care and treatment of minors who use psychoactive substances. The session took place on 20 March, 2018, with the participation of youth organizations’ representatives and the director of the Macedonian Agency of Youth and Sport. The decision for establishing such a working group was reached after Ivica Cekovski, a representative from HOPS, addressed the government, stressing the need for introduction of comprehensive care and treatment programs for minor drug users.
Greece legalizes cannabis for medical purposes. On 1 March, 2018, the Greek Parliament adopted a law allowing production of end products of medicinal cannabis. The Standing Committee on Social Affairs had the key role in the adoption by including all concerned actors of society in their meetings and the Parliament hearing. Civil society organizations welcomed the decision and expressed hope that the Greek government would respond properly to the citizens’ needs. (Source: DPNSEE)
Experts discuss people’s needs and doctors’ opinion of medicinal cannabis. An expert’s discussion on medicinal cannabis took place in Kino Kultura Skopje on 7 March, 2018. The key speakers were: prof. d-r Aspazija Sofijanova, paediatrics specialist, scientific advisor d-r Niko Bekjarovski, toxicology specialist, assistant d-r Filip Guchev, rheumatology specialist, d-r Darko Kostovski, psychiatry specialist and d-r Igor Stojkovski, oncology specialist. The discussion concentrated on the opinions and experience doctors have regarding medicinal cannabis globally and in the world. The experts also took questions and comments from the audience. The discussion was organized by the Cannabis and Green Policies Association BILKA Skopje, in collaboration with Kino Kultura.
An agreement between the Government and HIV protection organizations. On 28 February, 2018, 15 civil society organizations signed an agreement with the Macedonian Government, whereupon the government undertook the responsibility to finance the HIV protection programs in the country. The agreement is considered historic not only for the country but also the neighbourhood because Macedonia is the first country in the region to have its HIV protection programmes completely financed by the state budget. The total HIV protection budget is 95 million MKD, out of which 47 million MKD are allocated to the organizations – pioneers in HIV protection.

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