Drugs

The fight for our health

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Social inequality is reflected most harshly in our chances to lead a healthy life, argues Esme Choonara. But the fight for better healthcare rests in the fundamental way our society is organised

The Covid-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on the devastating health inequalities faced by working class people and in particular those from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds. It has also revealed how decades of underfunding, understaffing and privatisation have undermined our NHS. So although our health, or lack of it, may sometimes feel very personal, it is clearly shaped by social and economic factors including housing, income, working conditions, discrimination and pollution levels.

Hyping up a vaccine

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The pharmaceutical industry is not only systematically hindering effective treatments for Covid-19, its drive for profits is distorting the whole process of drug treatment

Despite the intense hype throughout May, a Covid-19 vaccine is no silver bullet. Nor is it close at hand. At the very best, vaccines can play a part in integrated public health strategies to trace, contain and halt the spread of infectious diseases. However, in Britain, the US and most of the rest of the world the search for a vaccine has taken centre-stage to the exclusion of all other considerations.

Tackling drug dependency

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Dundee is the drug deaths capital of Europe. Jim Barlow assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the recent Dundee Drugs Commission report, which suggests a number of approaches to a complex issue.

The Dundee Drugs Commission report published last autumn signified a major break with the policies around drug dependency pursued by successive UK governments ever since US president Richard Nixon launched the War on Drugs in the US in 1971.

It followed increasing concern about the issue in Scotland in general and Dundee in particular. In 2018 some 1,187 people died in Scotland from drug causes, with 53 of them recorded in Dundee. That’s one family a week in Dundee losing a family member to drug-induced death.

Drugs: It’s time to stop and think

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In discussions about stop and search, racism and young people, there is an elephant in the room. Brian Richardson says it’s time to end the "war on drugs".

David Lammy is clearly a man who has been liberated by his removal from the rigours of high political office. This year he has raged with righteous anger about the horrific Grenfell Tower fire, demanding corporate manslaughter charges against those responsible for the deaths of dozens of people including his friend, the 24 year old artist Khadija Saye. In addition he has spoken with passion on Stand Up to Racism platforms and published a government commissioned review into racial discrimination in the criminal justice system.

Sporting addiction

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A string of drugs scandals have highlighted the contradictions of sport under capitalism.

For those of us interested in sport the last 18 months have witnessed a steady stream of stories about drug-taking, blood manipulation and "cheating" (or doping) in sport.

The list is startlingly long. Champion athletes Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell, tennis player Marin Cilic and Australian cyclist Stuart O'Grady were just some of the high profile athletes identified as "dopers".

Doobie do or doobie don't?

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During last month's midterm elections in the US Californian voters narrowly rejected a proposal to legalise cannabis. But what does this mean for the policy of prohibition?

As voters across the US went to the polls last month for the midterm elections, Californians voted on whether cannabis should be made legal to buy, sell and grow in the state.

While the Proposition 19 vote failed, it was significant. Overall, 46 percent of voters called for legalisation, with 54 percent against. This was despite both the Democratic and Republican contenders for Congress opposing legalisation, and warnings that ending prohibition would be legally problematic as it would have clashed uncomfortably with federal law.

Behind the hype of the alcohol price hike

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When the going gets tough, governments turn to drink.

At least, that's how it seemed last month when, in the space of a week, the Scottish government put forward firm proposals for tackling the nation's alcohol problem through Europe's first minimum pricing legislation. Chief medical officer Liam Donaldson, meanwhile, said Westminster should set an even higher minimum.

Drugs: prescription for change

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Julian Critchley, former director of the Cabinet Office Anti-Drug Co-ordination Unit, argued last month that Britain's drugs policy "doesn't work, cannot work, because we have no way of controlling the supply of drugs".

Critchley now claims not only that all drugs should be legalised, but that the majority of professionals in government, police, the NHS and charities share this view. "Yet publicly, all those intelligent, knowledgeable people were forced to repeat the nonsensical mantra that the government would be 'tough on drugs', even though they all knew that the government's policy was actually causing harm."

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