Australia moves to decriminalize small amounts of illicit drugs

Important Takeaways:

  • ACT government agrees to decriminalize small amounts of illicit drugs, such as ice, heroin and cocaine
  • Users of small amounts of illegal drugs would be fined rather than charged under the proposed law
  • Police would continue to target dealers and try to end the supply of harmful drugs
  • The ACT also legalized the personal use of cannabis in 2019
  • The legislation will cover most common illicit substances, including LSD (acid), MDMA (ecstacy) and psyilocybin  (magic mushrooms).
  • The ACT was also the first — and remains the only — state or territory to legalize the personal use of cannabis, another of Mr. Pettersson’s bills.
  • Drug use a ‘health issue’, not a criminal matter

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U.S. drug overdose deaths jump over 28%, top 100,000 in the past year

(Reuters) – Over 100,000 people in the United States died from drug overdoses during the 12-month period ending April 2021, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed on Wednesday.

That marks a 28.5% jump from the previous year, with deaths from opioids such as fentanyl, which can be 100 times more potent than morphine, and psychostimulants such as methamphetamine helping drive the increase, provisional data from the health agency showed.

“As we continue to make strides to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot overlook this epidemic of loss, which has touched families and communities across the country,” U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement.

Data in July showed that last year’s drug overdoses jumped 30% as pandemic lockdowns made getting treatment difficult and dealers laced more drugs with a powerful synthetic opioid.

The new data showed that deaths from cocaine and prescription pain drugs also increased compared to data from the previous year.

(Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

Dayton gunman had cocaine, Xanax, alcohol in his system during attack

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a memorial for those killed in a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, U.S. August 7, 2019. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston/File Photo

By Dan Whitcomb

(Reuters) – The gunman who killed nine people outside a bar in Dayton, Ohio, had cocaine, Xanax and alcohol in his system at the time of the shooting rampage, the county coroner said on Thursday.

Dayton police announced the findings at a press conference and on Twitter and said that two victims of the massacre were struck by gunfire from law enforcement officers responding to the scene.

“While it weighs heavily on us that our response caused harm to these victims, we are comforted that none of our rounds caused the death of any of these innocent people,” Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl said on Twitter.

Dr. Kent Harshbarger, Montgomery County coroner, said at the news conference that an autopsy conducted on the body of 24-year-old Connor Betts found the drugs and medication in his system.

It was not clear how much of each drug was present at the time of the attack.

The Aug. 4 massacre, which ended when police shot and killed the gunman, was one of three mass shootings over three weeks that stunned Americans and stoked a long-running debate over gun rights.

Earlier this week a friend of Betts, 24-year-old Ethan Kollie, was charged in federal court with lying his drug use on a form he filled out to buy a gun and with possession of a firearm by an unlawful user of a controlled substance.

In announcing the charges, prosecutors said Kollie admitted that he had purchased body armor, an accessory for an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and a 100-round double drum magazine that Betts used during the shooting.

Kollie kept the items at his apartment in the Dayton suburb of Kettering to conceal them from Betts’ parents, according to court papers. Kollie is not accused with helping plan or carry out the attack.

Betts opened fire outside a bar in the Oregon District of Dayton at 1 a.m. on Aug. 4. The shooting ended rapidly when police moved in and shot Betts dead. Those killed included Betts’ 22-year-old sister, Megan.

The FBI said last week that Betts had a history of violent obsessions and had mused about committing mass murder before his rampage in Dayton’s historic downtown.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

U.S. and Mexico to set up joint team to fight drug cartels

FILE PHOTO: An agent of the office of the Attorney General of Mexico carries a package of seized marijuana at the site of a passageway Mexican authorities on Thursday attributed to the cartel of fugitive kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman in Tijuana, October 24, 2015. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes/File Photo

By Karen Pierog

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Mexico will set up a joint team in Chicago targeting Mexican drug cartels and their leaders and finances, to try to stem a flow of drugs that has led to a spike in U.S. overdose deaths, officials said on Wednesday.

DEA Chief of Operations Anthony Williams said at a joint news conference with Mexican government officials in Chicago that targeting cartel finances was key because “the sole purpose of these entities is one thing and one thing only – money.”

Mexico remains the principal highway for cocaine to the United States and has become the top source of heroin, which is fueling a surge in opioid addiction in the United States. It is also a major supplier of methamphetamines.

“It’s not just a Chicago problem, it’s a national problem. Actually, it’s an international problem,” Brian McKnight, special agent in charge of the DEA’s Chicago Field Division, said at the news conference.

Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a left-leaning nationalist, has vowed to shake up Mexico’s war on drug cartels after he takes power in December. He wants to rewrite the rules, aides have said, suggesting negotiated peace and amnesties rather than a hardline strategy that critics say has only perpetuated violence.

However, a change of direction without the United States could increase friction between the neighbors, who have been often at loggerheads since Donald Trump became U.S. president.

Trump has irked Mexico with demands that it pay for a border wall and his comments that it does nothing to slow illegal immigration. He has also pushed to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to favor the United States.

But despite difference with the Trump administration on migration and trade issues, officials and security experts in the United States have applauded long-running bilateral efforts to crack down on drug gangs.

For the past 12 years, Mexico has fought the violent cartels by deploying thousands of police, soldiers, and intelligence officers.

(Reporting by Karen Pierog, Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Additional reporting by Dave Graham in Mexico City, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

Slain ISIS Commander’s Home Found Filled With Cocaine

Kurdish soldiers searched the home of slain ISIS commander Emir Abu Zahra and found massive amounts of drugs.

The cocaine found in Zahra’s home confirms suspicions of groups fighting the terrorists that many of the fighters have been pumped up with drugs despite the fact their religion strictly forbids of the use of illegal drugs.

“With the finding of what seems to be Abu Zahra’s cocaine in Kobane, this could be the first confirmed and concrete evidence of drug use among IS fighters — and of a double standard of men who preach fundamentalism, yet they are getting high as they commit massacres,” Vice News reported.

A former teenage fighter for the group had reported they were being forced into taking drugs before battles.

“That drug makes you lose your mind,” the 15-year-old told CBS News. “If they give you a suicide belt and tell you to blow yourself up, you’ll do it.”

Sources say the amount of cocaine found in Zahra’s home had a street value of a half million dollars.

Doctor: Sugar Eight Times More Addictive Than Cocaine

If you have ever told a friend that you are craving sugar and you can’t seem to be able to stop eating it, then you may actually be addicted to sugar.

Dr. Mark Hyman told CBS “This Morning” that in animal studies they found that rats go for sugar in a manner that was eight times more addictive than cocaine.  Hyman said that Americans are addicted to sugar and that most don’t know it because they see sugary food and drinks as part of their daily diet.

Hyman says that sugary foods are “deadly” to the body.  He said that sugar is a direct  cause of diabetes and obesity.

Hyman told the New York Daily News that the average American eats 152 pounds of sugar a year.

In a diet study conducted by Hyman that encouraged healthier eating habits and helped people cut their sugar dependence, the average person found their blood pressure falling by about 10 points.