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Home > From Drugnet Europe. No 92, October–December 2015.

Bannon, Fiona (2016) From Drugnet Europe. No 92, October–December 2015. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 56, Winter 2016 , pp. 27-28.

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Lisbon Addictions 2015 – conference

‘Addiction science in Europe is of growing policy relevance, becoming more mature in respect to capacity and quality and more influential in respect to its findings. Despite this, no multidisciplinary forum has existed until now to allow scientists working in the addictions area to share knowledge, to network and to present their latest findings...Now is a unique moment to establish a leading international forum on addictions’. These were the words of João Goulão, Director of the Portuguese General Directorate for Intervention on Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies (SICAD), at the opening of the first European conference on addictive behaviours and dependencies — Lisbon Addictions 2015 — held in the Portuguese capital from 23–25 September.


Hosted by SICAD, the event was held in collaboration with: the scientific journal Addiction; the International Society of Addiction Journal Editors; and the EMCDDA. State Secretary to the Portuguese Ministry of Health, Fernando Leal Da Costa, officially opened the conference. The European Commission was represented by Floriana Sipala (DG HOME) and Philippe Roux (DG SANTE). In his opening speech, EMCDDA Director Wolfgang Götz declared: ‘Lisbon Addictions is a milestone for the European and international scientific community in the substance use and addiction field. In Europe, this is the first time that such a large multidisciplinary and cross-cutting event in this field has been organised and the EMCDDA is proud to be one of the main partners associated with making this possible’.


Showcasing the latest developments in addiction science, the conference explored the topics of illicit drugs, alcohol, tobacco, gambling and other addictive behaviours. Researchers, practitioners and policy experts participated from 58 countries. … Addressing the closing session, EMCDDA Scientific Director Paul Griffiths said: ‘This conference has exposed us to the cutting-edge of new science occurring across the addictions field and has enabled us to forge new relationships from which, undoubtedly, many future collaborations will be born’. In his closing address, Deputy Director of SICAD Manuel Cardoso called for a ‘broad, global and integrated perspective on problems and responses in the field of addictive behaviours and dependencies’. He ended announcing the second European conference on addictive behaviours and dependencies, to be held in Lisbon in 2017.


For more, see and



EMCDDA signs MoU with Georgian Ministry of Justice

The EMCDDA and Georgia are set to cooperate more closely on monitoring the drug phenomenon, following a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on 4 November in Tbilisi between the agency and the Georgian Ministry of Justice. The signatories were EMCDDA Director Wolfgang Götz and the Georgian Minister of Justice Tea Tsulukiani. The two bodies recognise that information on the drug phenomenon is an essential and indispensable instrument for drafting and implementing drug policies and for assessing the impact of actions to reduce problems originating from drug use and trafficking. The MoU provides for the: exchange of technical expertise and knowledge between the two institutions; co-sponsoring of technical meetings; and the pooling of human and financial resources to launch joint programmes. The agreement will be implemented through a joint work programme to be updated every three years. This is the fifth MoU to be signed between the EMCDDA and a country of the European Neighbourhood Policy area: agreements already exist with Armenia, Israel, Moldova and Ukraine.


For more, see Fact sheet No 9/2015 at


Malta’s new drug law focuses on helping users

A new ‘Drug Dependence (Treatment not Imprisonment) Act’ entered into force in Malta on 15 April, significantly changing the country’s legal framework for responding to drug use and drug-related crime. In introducing the Act, the Maltese government provides for the treatment of persons in possession of small quantities of prohibited drugs for personal use and, for some drug-related crimes, for the rehabilitation of persons suffering from drug dependence.


Prior to the legislation, the Magistrate’s Court could issue a penalty of 3–12 months’ imprisonment and/or a fine for possession of drugs for personal use. Now, the Commissioner for Justice should issue an administrative penalty of EUR 50–100 for the possession of under 3.5 g of cannabis or of EUR 75–125 for under 2 g of other drugs (provided that there is no evidence of supply).


A repeat offender possessing a drug other than cannabis will appear before the new Drug Offenders Rehabilitation Board, which may take various measures to help the offender recover from dependence. The Board is chaired by a retired judge or magistrate and has three members appointed by the Ministers of Home Affairs, Social Policy and Health respectively. The Magistrate’s Court, supported by the Board, may decide to assume the functions of a Drugs Court in defined cases (e.g. dependent offender, some drug-related crimes). Here it may refer the offender to the Board, which would, in turn, manage the offender for up to 18 months in recovering from dependence. After this, the case may be closed, or prosecution continued, accordingly.


The Act also establishes: the removal of mandatory imprisonment for the cultivation of one cannabis plant for personal use; a Sentencing Policy Advisory Board (which aims to achieve consistency in court punishments for drug-related offences); a legal basis for the prescription of licensed medical preparations of cannabis; and an exemption from prosecution for drug possession for anyone assisting a person suffering from drug overdose


For more, see Act.aspx


Europe responds to health concerns posed by new psychoactive substances

Europe has responded to rising concerns over the use of two new drugs by subjecting them to control measures and criminal penalties throughout the Union. The implementing decision of the Council of the EU (1) was adopted on 8 October, in the final stage of the three-step legal procedure designed to respond to potentially threatening new psychoactive substances (NPS) available on the market (2). The two new substances — 4,4’-DMAR (a derivative of aminorex with psychostimulant properties) and MT-45 (a synthetic opioid investigated in the 1970s for its analgesic properties) — have been raising health concerns in Europe after harmful effects related to them were reported by the Member States through the EU Early Warning System (EWS)(3). On 18 November, an extended EMCDDA Scientific Committee will meet in Lisbon to undertake the risk assessment of a new psychoactive cathinone currently detected in over 100 serious adverse events in Europe. The substance in question, the stimulant drug α-PVP, is the third cathinone to be risk assessed by the agency (4). The EMCDDA has also issued early-warning alerts on acetylfentanyl, a new potent synthetic opioid with analgesic properties, after it was linked to serious harms in the EU. Concern over this fentanyl has led the EWS to launch a data-collection exercise on this substance. This will lead to the preparation of an EMCDDA–Europol Joint report, due in December 2015 (5).


(1) Council implementing decision (2015/1873) published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 20.10.2015. For more, see news release No 9/2015 at

(2) Council Decision 2005/387/JHA. For more, see

(3) Risk assessment reports on the two substances are available at

(4) Joint report available at risk assessment report at

(5) Upcoming Joint report at


Minimum quality standards in drug demand reduction

The EU Council of Ministers (General Affairs Council) adopted on 14 September ‘Minimum quality standards in drug demand reduction in the EU’. This innovative initiative lists 16 standards which represent a minimum quality benchmark for interventions in: drug use prevention; risk and harm reduction; treatment; social integration and rehabilitation. The standards are the result of work carried out under three consecutive EU presidencies (Greece, Italy, Latvia) between January 2014 and June 2015. They were drawn up in the context of Action 9 of the EU action plan on drugs (2013–16), which calls on the Council, Commission, Member States and the EMCDDA ‘to agree and commence implementation of EU minimum quality standards’ in demand reduction. Although non-binding for national governments, these standards represent solid political will in the EU to address drug demand reduction through an evidence-based perspective. The EMCDDA is invited in the document ‘to continue gathering evidence on effective interventions and services in drug demand reduction and provide Member States with technical support and expertise in the implementation of these standards’. It is disseminating the standards via its Best Practice portal. The newly adopted standards represent a major development in drug policy formulation at EU level, bridging expert knowledge and political decision-making across 28 countries.


For more, see

Item Type
Issue Title
January 2016
Page Range
pp. 27-28
Health Research Board
Issue 56, Winter 2016

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