It is nice to see the Addiction journal finally giving some prominence to harm reduction. There is an item on secondary benefits of injecting rooms as well as two brief reports questioning current policies and institutions (see below, from Australia and Canada). Compiled by Peter Miller and Susan Savva, the �News and Notes� column has been known to toe the zero tolerance line, even rubbishing those who might question prohibition (eg. Aug 2000) or support medical cannabis.
It is hard to understand why the National Addiction Centre and Society for the Study of Addiction have never conceded the parlous stage of dependency treatments and harm reduction measures in the UK. They both seem to studiously avoid controversy and continue doing �more of the same�. Even to this day, the SSA internet notice board which took about 8 years to get up and running carries no traffic.
Is there no-one in England with enthusiasm for our important and interesting field? Are people so intimidated or embarrassed at previous failures that they have gone underground or moved overseas?
Comment by Andrew Byrne ..
ADDICTION JUNE 2007 "News and Notes"
AUSTRALIAN CRIME COMMISSION CONCLUDES PROHIBITION �NOT EFFECTIVE� [What a surprise!!]
The Age newspaper in Australia features a report  on the Federal Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Crime Commission. Their recent �Inquiry into the manufacture, importation and use of amphetamines and other synthetic drugs in Australia�  has concluded that: �prohibition, while theoretically a logical and properly intentioned strategy, is not effective�. This conclusion didn�t sit easy with the current Australian government and The Age suggests the sensationalised climate that politicians have to work within makes them fearful of entering a rational debate on drugs.
1. Andrew Macintosh, 20 March 2007. Sensationalism no way to fight drug addiction. Available online: http://www.theage.com.au/news/opinion/sensationalism-no-wayto-fight-drug-addiction/2007/03/19/1174152967041.html
2. Parliamentary Joint Committee on The Australian Crime Commission (February 2007) Inquiry into the manufacture, importation and use of amphetamines and other synthetic drugs (AOSD) in Australia. Available online: http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/acc_ctte/aosd/report/report.pdf
INCB [International Narcotics Control Board] �CLOSED TO REASON�
The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and the International Harm Reduction Development Program, joined by former United Nations Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, Stephen Lewis, held a press conference in March this year to release �Closed to Reason: The International Narcotics Control Board and HIV/AIDS�. The new report details the ways in which the INCB, funded and staffed by the UN, has blocked effective HIV prevention for injecting drug users. The document focuses on errors of fact and omissions in International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) publications and statements, the ways in which the Board has ignored expert legal counsel and scientific evidence, and calls for greater accountability and transparency.
The key finding of the report was that the role of drug policy has been transformed since the era in which the International Narcotics Control Board was founded. It concludes that the Board has become an obstacle to effective programs to prevent and treat HIV and chemical dependence. The authors found that INCB annual reports are rife with omissions and misrepresentations and lack both scientific documentation and justification for legal opinions. They criticise the reports for praising governments that violate human rights, such as Thailand and China.
�Closed to Reason� recommends improved accountability for the INCB and calls for the World Health Organization, the UN Economic and Social Council and UN member states to ensure that the Board includes persons with expertise in HIV/AIDS policy and international law. For the full report in English, please visit: http://www.aidslaw.ca/drugpolicy or http://www.soros.org/harm-reduction
ADDICTED TO TANNING?
The website Medical News Today reports that despite repeated health warnings about the dangers of tanning from sunlight and artificial light sources, there are still those whose mantra �bronzed is beautiful� remains unshaken .
Wood E, Tyndall MW, Zhang R, Montaner JSG, Kerr T. Rate of detoxification service use and its impact among a cohort of supervised injecting facility users. Addiction 2007 102;6:916-9