New Drug Laws Feed

HHS Releases Guidance for Syringe Services Programs

By: Richard Wolitski, Ph.D., Acting Director, Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Cross-posted from the AIDS.gov Blog

The United States is experiencing a growing opioid epidemic, which has made many communities vulnerable to outbreaks of HIV and viral hepatitis among people who inject drugs (PWID). To address this issue, Members of Congress worked together late last year on a broad, bipartisan basis to revise a longstanding ban on the use of federal funds for Syringe Services Programs (SSPs). President Obama signed the bipartisan budget agreement into law, which makes it possible for grantees to use federal funds to support operational components of SSPs under certain circumstances.

To support an implementation of this change in law, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released new guidance [PDF 960 KB] for state, local, tribal, and territorial health departments that will allow them to request permission to use federal funds to support SSPs.

A large number of scientific studies have found that SSPs reduce HIV risk. In 2011, the U.S. Surgeon General determined that SSPs are an effective way of reducing HIV transmission among PWID and that there is ample evidence that SSPs promote entry to, and retention in, drug treatment and medical services, without increasing illegal drug use. Many national and community-based organizations worked for years to draw attention to the scientific evidence and to build support for SSPs. The change in the law would not have occurred without their sustained effort.

Requesting Use of Federal Funds

The HHS guidance describes how health departments can request to use federal funds to start or expand SSPs to prevent new HIV and viral hepatitis infections. Federal funds can now be used to support a comprehensive set of services, but they cannot be used to purchase sterile needles or syringes for illegal drug injection.

The guidance states that state, local, tribal, and territorial health departments must consult with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and provide evidence that their jurisdiction is (1) experiencing, or (2) at risk for significant increases in viral hepatitis infections or an HIV outbreak due to injection drug use.

After receiving a request for determination of need, CDC will have 30 days to notify the requestor whether the evidence is sufficient to demonstrate a need for SSPs. When CDC finds there is enough evidence, state, local, tribal, and territorial health departments and other eligible HHS grant recipients may then apply to their respective federal agencies to direct funds to support approved SSP activities. Each funding agency will be providing specific SSP guidance to its grantees regarding which specific programs may apply and the application process for each institution.

Lessons Learned

The recent outbreak of HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) among persons who were injecting drugs in rural Indiana, and the steep rise nationally in new HCV infections, are powerful reminders that the hard-won gains of the past can be lost if we do not remain vigilant. The opioid epidemic is affecting many communities across the country, and these areas are vulnerable to future outbreaks of HIV and the continued spread of viral hepatitis if we do not work to ensure that robust SSPs and other critical prevention and treatment services are in the place where they are needed. When the local opioid epidemic in Indiana fueled a dramatic increase in the number of new HIV cases, public health officials were able to halt the further spread of the virus by implementing a comprehensive response to identifying and prevent new infections that included SSPs as a key component.

Expanding the reach of SSPs and the services that these programs provide is part of a comprehensive approach to addressing HIV and viral hepatitis among PWID that supports the goals of the updatedNational HIV/AIDS Strategy and the Viral Hepatitis Action Plan to reduce the number of new HIV and viral hepatitis infections. HHS is committed to supporting health departments and all of our partners in the field to conduct SSPs in a way that protects the lives and health of all those at risk for, and living with, HIV and viral hepatitis. In the weeks to come, HHS agencies will be offering additional information and technical assistance to federal grantees that may wish to use federal funds to support operational components of SSPs. Together, our actions will play an important role in preventing new infections among PWID.

View the SSP guidelines here [PDF 960 KB].

View The White House Fact Sheet: Obama Administration Announces Additional Actions to Address the Prescription Opioid Abuse and Heroin Epidemic here.


Officials fear bath salts becoming the next big drug menace

By Sheila Byrd

FULTON, MISS. - When Neil Brown got high on bath salts, he took his skinning knife and slit his face and stomach repeatedly. Brown survived, but authorities say others haven't been so lucky after snorting, injecting or smoking powders with such innocuous-sounding names as Ivory Snow, Red Dove and Vanilla Sky.

Law enforcement agents and poison control centers say the bath salts, with their complex chemical names, are an emerging menace in several U.S. states where authorities talk of banning their sale. Some say their effects can be as powerful as those of methamphetamine.

From the Deep South to California, emergency calls are being reported over exposure to the stimulants the powders often contain: mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone, also known as MDPV.

Sold under such names as Ivory Wave, Bliss, White Lightning and Hurricane Charlie, the chemicals can cause hallucinations, paranoia, a rapid heart rate and suicidal thoughts, authorities say. In addition to bath salts, the chemicals can be found in plant foods that are sold legally at convenience stores and on the Internet. However, they aren't necessarily being used for the purposes on the label.

Mississippi lawmakers this week began considering a proposal to ban the sale of the powders, and a similar measure is being sought in Kentucky. In Louisiana, the bath salts were outlawed by an emergency order after the state's poison center received more than 125 calls in the last three months of 2010 involving exposure to the chemicals.

In Brown's case, he said he had tried every drug from heroin to crack and was so shaken by terrifying hallucinations that he wrote to one Mississippi paper urging people to stay away from the bath salts.

"I couldn't tell you why I did it," Brown said, pointing to his scars. "The psychological effects are still there."

While Brown survived, sheriff's authorities in one Mississippi county say they believe one woman overdosed on bath salts there. In southern Louisiana, the family of a 21-year-old man says he cut his throat and ended his life with a gunshot. Authorities are investigating whether a man charged with capital murder in the December death of a Tippah County, Miss., sheriff's deputy was under the influence of the bath salts.

The stimulants are not regulated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, but are facing federal scrutiny. Law officers say some of the substances are being shipped from Europe, but origins are still unclear.

Gary Boggs, an executive assistant at the DEA, said there is a lengthy process to restrict these types of designer chemicals, including reviewing the abuse data. But it's a process that can take years.

Mark Ryan, director of Louisiana's poison control center, said he thinks state bans on the chemicals can be effective. He said calls about the salts have dropped sharply since Louisiana banned their sale in January.

Ryan said cathinone, the parent substance of the drugs, comes from a plant grown in Africa and is regulated. He said that MDPV and mephedrone are made in a lab and that they are not regulated because they are not marketed for human consumption. The stimulants affect neurotransmitters in the brain, he said.

The drugs cause "intense cravings," he said. "They'll binge on it three or four days before they show up in an ER. Even though it's a horrible trip, they want to do it again and again."

Ryan said at least 25 states have received calls about exposure, including Nevada and California. He said Louisiana leads with the greatest number of cases at 165, or 48 percent of the U.S. total, followed by Florida with at least 38 calls to its poison center.

Rick Gellar, medical director for the California Poison Control System, said the first call about the substances came in Oct. 5, and a handful of calls have followed since. But he warned: "The only way this won't become a problem in California is if federal regulatory agencies get ahead of the curve. This is a brand-new thing."

In the Midwest, the Missouri Poison Center at Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center in St. Louis received at least 12 calls in the first two weeks of January about teenagers and young adults abusing such chemicals, said Julie Weber, the center's director. The center received eight calls about the powders all of last year.

Richard Sanders, a general practitioner working in Covington, La., said his son, Dickie, snorted some of the bath salts and endured three days of intermittent delirium. Dickie Sanders cut his throat but missed major arteries. As he continued to have visions, his physician father tried to calm him. But the elder Sanders said that as he slept, his son went into another room and shot himself.

"If you could see the contortions on his face. It just made him crazy," Sanders said. He added that the coroner's office confirmed that the chemicals were detected in his son's blood and urine.

Sanders warns that the bath salts are far more dangerous than some of their names imply.

"I think everybody is taking this extremely lightly. As much as we outlawed it in Louisiana, all these kids cross over to Mississippi and buy whatever they want," he said.

A small packet of the chemicals typically costs as little as $20.

In northern Mississippi's Itawamba County, Sheriff Chris Dickinson said his office has handled about 30 encounters with bath-salts users in the past two months alone. He said the problem grew last year in his rural area after a Mississippi law began restricting the sale of pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in making methamphetamine.

Dickinson said most of the bath-salts users there have been meth addicts and can be dangerous when using them.

"We had a deputy injured a week ago. They were fighting with a guy who thought they were two devils. That's what makes this drug so dangerous," he said.

But Dickinson said the chemicals are legal, leaving him no choice but to slap users just with a charge of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor.

Kentucky state lawmaker John Tilley said he's moving to block the drug's sale there, preparing a bill for consideration when his legislature convenes shortly. Angry that the powders can be bought legally, he said: "If my 12-year-old can go in a store and buy it, that concerns me."

- Associated Press

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Texas Considers Ignition Interlock Laws

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Several DWI laws are being proposed in this year's Texas Legislative Session.

 

One law would require first-time offenders to use an Ignition Interlock System.

 

It comes with a breathalyzer that won't allow the driver start up if he or she blows over the limit.

 

Texas Mothers Against Drunk Drivers are fighting for ignition interlock laws.

 

They're hoping the law will be used as punishment under the deffered ajudication bill, which gives first time DWI offenders probation instead of jail time.

 

MADD is also proposing sobriety checkpoints in Texas. The road blocks are already being used in 41 other states to check for drunk drivers.

Need Addiction Treatment? Visit Summer Sky Treatment Center for a compressive Texas Drug Rehab that has helped over 10,000 patients find freedom from addiction.

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DWI Texas Law Could Change behind Legislation in 2011!

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Bill proposes deferred adjudication in Texas DWI cases

 

 


 

 

Associated Press

 

AUSTIN, Texas – A new legislative proposal would allow first-time drunken drivers in Texas to be acquitted if they complete supervision and treatment, a move supporters say would reduce court backlogs and shift the judicial system's focus to punishing repeat DWI offenders.

 

Rep. Todd Smith, R-Euless, filed the proposal that would allow for deferred adjudication for first-time DWI offenders. Repetition of the offense would become grounds to increase future punishments.

 

The bill, which has supporters including Mothers Against Drunk Driving, prosecutors and defense attorneys, would be a change from the state's stance that all drunken drivers should face fines and jail. In the mid-1980s, deferred adjudication for such offenses was abolished in the state. Opponents at the time, including MADD, had argued that the form of probation was being accepted for repeat offenders.

 

"It's a needed change," said Richard Alpert, a Tarrant Countyprosecutor. "It's not like they are getting a free DWI, but a type of probation that would not technically be a conviction. If they don't reoffend, they can say they have not been convicted. But if they do reoffend, it can be used to enhance their punishment."

 

Supporters say that by routing cases out of courtrooms, the plan could ease court backlogs. Also, they say, it could improve efforts to track and punish repeat DWI offenders and remove the threat of jail that makes some first-timers refuse guilty pleas.

 

"Generally we do not support deferred adjudication bills, but we are going to support this one," Bill Lewis, public policy liaison for the Irving-based nonprofit group MADD, told the Austin American-Statesman. "Right now, we are hearing that many cases are not getting prosecuted for DWI but for a bogus charge. We hope the practice of reducing charges will be reduced if this bill does indeed pass."

 

Supporters of the bill also say it could give prosecutors a new negotiating tool.

 

Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley said that the plan would still require supervision of the defendant and could enforce fines and allow a judge to impose jail time as a condition of probation.

 

"This would be a first step to putting some sanity in that system as long as people make sure to retain it only for the true first-time offender," Bradley said.

 

While the proposal has been in front of the Legislature before, Alpert said there is plenty of support this time.

 

"I think there is some momentum for this," Alpert said. "It would give people who want to take responsibility an incentive to plead guilty, as opposed to setting these cases for trial. We have too many cases on the docket."

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Information from: Austin American-Statesman, http://www.statesman.com

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Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission are removing Alcohol with Caffeine from stores!

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The national push to get rid of caffeine out of some alcohol drinks is making big news across the Untied States. The Food and Drug Administration sent out letters to four companies, warning that, as used in their products, caffeine is an "unsafe food additive" under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

“Consumers might mistakenly assume that these beverages are safe because they are widely sold,” said David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.  “In fact, there is good reason to believe that these caffeinated alcohol drinks pose significant risks to consumer health and safety.  Consumers – particularly young, inexperienced drinkers – may not realize how much alcohol they have consumed because caffeine can mask the sense of intoxication.”
The FTC letters strongly urge the companies to review the way they are marketing their caffeinated alcohol drinks and to “take swift and appropriate steps to protect consumers.”  The FTC has instructed the companies to notify the agency within 15 days of the actions they have taken.

All four companies responded to the request and either have removed or in the process of removing products from the shelves. The Alcohol beverages are Joose, Four Loko,Core High Gravity, Core Spiked, and El Jefe carbonated malt beverages and  Moonshot. 

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DEA takes Temporary Control over K2 and other chemicals!

DEA Moves to Emergency Control Synthetic Marijuana
Agency Will Study Whether To Permanently Control Five Substances 

NOV 24 -- WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is using its emergency scheduling authority to temporarily control five chemicals(JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47,497, and cannabicyclohexanol) used to make “fake pot” products.  Except as authorized by law, this action will make possessing and selling these chemicals or the products that contain them illegal in the U.S. for at least one year while the DEA and the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) further study whether these chemicals and products should be permanently controlled. 

Source: http://www.justice.gov      K2

 

A Notice of Intent to Temporarily Control was published in the Federal Register today to alert the public to this action. After no fewer than 30 days, DEA will publish in the Federal Register a Final Rule to Temporarily Control these chemicals for at least 12 months with the possibility of a six-month extension. They will be designated as Schedule I substances, the most restrictive category, which is reserved for unsafe, highly abused substances with no medical usage.

Over the past year, smokable herbal blends marketed as being “legal” and providing a marijuana-like high, have become increasingly popular, particularly among teens and young adults.  These products consist of plant material that has been coated with research chemicals that mimic THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, and are sold at a variety of retail outlets, in head shops and over the Internet.  These chemicals, however, have not been approved by the FDA for human consumption and there is no oversight of the manufacturing process.  Brands such as “Spice,” “K2,” “Blaze,” and “Red X Dawn” are labeled as incense to mask their intended purpose. 

Since 2009, DEA has received an increasing number of reports from poison centers, hospitals and law enforcement regarding these products.  Fifteen states have already taken action to control one or more of these chemicals.  The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 amends the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to allow the DEA Administrator to emergency schedule an abused, harmful, non-medical substance in order to avoid an imminent public health crisis while the formal rule-making procedures described in the CSAare being conducted. 

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Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Legislative Conference

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Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Legislative Conference
February 16, 2011
Austin, Texas

 

The Texas Association of Addiction Professionals (TAAP) and the Association of Substance Abuse Programs (ASAP), along with the Texas Summit Committee for Prevention will be sponsoring the 2011 Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Legislative Conference.  Please join us for this substance abuse focused legislative conference in Austin on February 16th, 2011.

 

The conference offers 4.5 CEUs and more importantly an opportunity for your voice to be heard.  Registration is required and you must register by 2/7/2011. Please visit www.taap.org for more information and convenient on-line registration.  We sincerely hope that you will join us in bringing this vital message of hope to the Texas Legislature.

 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011
St. David's Episcopal Church, Austin

Featuring:

4.5 CEUs
 
Exciting Workshops including sessions on:
Substance Abuse Funding
Substance Abuse Bills - 82nd Legislative Session
Strategies for Prevention
Legislative Advocacy

Lunch with an Elected Official

The opportunity to experience legislative advocacy firsthand

Visit www.taap.org for pricing and more information.

Join us for the TAAP General Membership Meeting
Tuesday, February 15, 2011, 5:30 PM
TAAP State Offices
1005 Congress Ave., Austin, TX 78701 Basement Level, Room B-10
Including nominations for open board member positions
Open to all TAAP members
Visit www.taap.org for more information



Arizona voters approve medical marijuana measure - CNN.com

Medical Marijuana Approved in Arizona for medical purposes. Sober Sky is interested in following the research and the progress of how this change will effect the citizens of Arizona. If it is used with strict regulation, I personally see no problem with this change, if the benefits out weigh the other medical procedures. I will have to say "I have some doubts", but it is to early to tell if this is a positive thing or a negative event. I have always seen myself as a forward thinking individual. I hope that as a result of the law change that the doctors are actually required to follow the prescriptions that they prescribe for Marijuana and report into some type of research database. I hope that those that are prescribed the use of Marijuana are also held to strict guidelines not to allow others to have prescribed Marijuana. Lot's of questions, but I will have to wait for the data, as it becomes available. Please visit the CNN article for more details on this development.

 

Arizona voters approve medical marijuana measure

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