5th Cannabis International Seminar

Research Nature Institute organizes 5th seminar in the Demystifying Cannabis cycle, Cannabis Now International Conference on October the 4th and 5th in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The seminar has been organised since 2014 in Ljubljana, Belgrade, Skopje and Zagreb.

During the seminar, the Slovenian and international top-level experts on cannabis will introduce us to the most recent insights into the medical use of cannabis in different countries around the world (Israel, Canada, USA, the Czech Republic, Spain). After their lecture, they will respond to your questions in a debate. The attenders and speakers at the Conference are experts in field of medicine, psychiatry, pharmacy, chemistry and biology: Dr. Jonathan Grunfeld, Dr. Lumír Ondřej Hanuš, Prof. Dr. David Neubauer, Dr. Sue Sisley, Doc. dr. Tanja Bagar, Dr. Dorothy H. Bray, Dr. Guillermo Velasco Díez, Dr. Paul Hornby, Prof. Dr. Tamara Lah Turnšek, Mag. Dušan Nolimal, Dr. Ilya Reznik, Dr. Roman Štukelj.

Research Nature Institute

Research Nature Institute is institute for research, development and quality assurance of nature remedies, with the goal to research the efficacy and safety of natural remedies that are currently available or are of limited access to persons in need. By setting standards for quality control and standardization, providing accreditation programs, and taking part in clinical trials, their aim is to ensure natural remedies are clean (free of contaminants) and effective at known dosages to the user. Their basic work is to educate the public, medical professionals and legislators of our findings based on sound scientific methodologies and principles.

To read more details about this event follow this link>>>

The International Overdose Day marked around SEE

On the occasion of the International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD), DPNSEE issued a press release underlining the importance of awareness and fighting stigma on overdose and presenting data about the issue worldwide and especially in Serbia. The release was published by the national Press agency Tanjug and several other media and portals.

The press release is downloadable following this link>>>

In Montenegro, NGO Juventas also issued a press release (supported by the NGO 4 Life) and held a press conference where Marija Mijović, coordinator of Programme of direct assistance to the people in risk of social exclusion presented situation in the country. A movie “Overdose”, directed by Mladen Vujović, outreach worker at the Drop-in Centre of NGO Juventas, Montenegro in cooperation with the Hungarian Drug reporters, was screened at the Green Montenegro International Film Festval.

Our colleagues from the Romanian Harm Reduction Network created a special video for this year’s IOAD campaign. Have a look at “Voices of the drug users. Episode 1”

Association AREAL and AREALTRIBE group from Slovenia organized a workshop dedicated to the International overdose awareness day on 1 September 2019 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Participants were educated how to respond if an individual finds himself or herself in that position.

Our colleagues from the Healthy Options Skopje (HOPS) promoted widely their webpages related to overdose and drugs

Thousands of people die each year from drug overdose and the fact is, overdose is an increasing global problem. Spreading the message that the tragedy of overdose and injury is preventable, International Overdose Awareness Day raise awareness of overdose and reduces the stigma associated with the drug-related death. Also, the day of awareness is providing support to families and loved ones of overdose victims, so that no one is forgotten.

Time to remember – time to act.

Research Publication on the Effectiveness of Cannabinoids on Glioblastoma

Slovenian National Institute of Biology and University Medical Centre Ljubljana, with MGC Pharma Research and Development Division, conducted the study about the treatment of high-grade brain tumours, i.e. glioblastoma with cannabinoids. The general aim of the research was to develop formulations to define the protocols for the treatment.

Study evaluated cannabinoid receptor proteins that may add to identify the most effective cytotoxic cannabinoids, known so far, e.g. CBD and THC ratios and further their possible synergistic effects with chemotherapeutic Temozolomide (‘TMZ’) with regards to the treatment of glioblastoma patients.

Conclusions of the study

Cannabinoids, especially at increasing THC concentrations, reduce the viability of glioblastoma cells.

Targeting glioblastoma stem cells (GSCs) that are more resistant to chemotherapy. GSC has so far proved to be more vulnerable to cannabinoids than were differentiated cell (publication in preparation).

At optimal concentration for each patient, the defined cannabinoids composition represents promising tool to reduce tumour burden.

Research collaboration is part of MGC Pharma’s strategy of partnering with leading research institutions to examine opportunities to develop new pharma products based on proven cannabinoid formulations in pre-and clinical studies.

The study results can be viewed on the Company’s website and will be presented by the National Institute of Biology at the 2nd International Annual Congress on Controversies on Cannabis-Based Medicines in Barcelona, Spain on 23-24 May 2019.

Youth Studies South East Europe

The Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) published reports on the experiences and aspirations of youth in Southeast Europe. The FES carried out a representative region-wide survey on a sample of more than 10.000 young people aged 14 – 29 from ten countries in Southeast Europe in early 2018.

“FES Youth Studies Southeast Europe 2018/2019” is an international youth research project carried out simultaneously in ten countries in Southeast Europe: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo*, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia. The main objective of the surveys has been to identify, describe and analyse attitudes of young people and patterns of behaviour in contemporary society.

A broad range of issues were addressed, including young peoples’ experiences and aspirations in different realms of life, such as education, employment, political participation, family relationships, leisure and use of information and communications technology, but also their values, attitudes and beliefs.

Findings are presented in ten national and one regional study and its accompanying policy papers, which have been published in both English and the respective national languages.

The most important results are grouped under headlines:

  • A wish to belong to Europe
  • Migration and mobility do not have to be zero-sum
  • Fighting corruption as a crime, not as a concept
  • Employment discourse shifting towards the quality of work
  • A different kind of ‘political’…
  • …which has to do with ‘the social’
  • Give youth a say in Europeanisation

To download the regional study and its accompanying policy papers following this link>>>

You can read the national studies at this webpage.

62nd CND Session – Day 2

The second day of the 62th CND was full of side events and sharing with participants.

An overviews of the side events we participated in today includes:

Psychoactive substances and the Sustainable Development Goals – Towards a comprehensive approach in the era of the 2030 Agenda

Organized by the Government of Slovenia, Utrip Institute for Research and Development, the Pompidou Group of the Council of Europe and IOGT International. Jože Hren started his presentation reminding that for 20 years already the approach in Slovenia is that drug use is primarily a health problem and that possession of small quantities is a misdemeanour also since 1999. Those who are caught in possession of drugs get a fine of 40 Euro, but there is a process to change it to an oral warning or referral to treatment in more complex situations. Representative of the Pompidou Group spoke about the bi-annual prize the Group awards to innovative prevention programmes created by young people for young people. Another Slovenian representative presented their work emphasizing the need to invest in mental health programmes for adolescents. Cost of mental health disorders in Europe take 3 to 5 percent of GDP. There is a need for a reallocation of resources for more sustainable and impactful outcomes in tackling harmful substances and behaviours. Medical help is not enough – it has to be combined with comprehensive and long lasting prevention. They have a programme called “This is me”, which is in line with the Goal 3 of the SDGs. Kristina Sperkova, president of the IOGT International (international network of Templar organisations) works on prevention of alcohol and other drugs harm world-wide. Sanela from Utrip Institute advocated for a community approach to prevention. Notes from the side event are available at the CND Blog following this address>>>.

Leaving no one behind: People at the centre of a harm reduction, human rights and public health approach to drug use

Organized by the Netherlands and Norway, UNODC, UNDP, UNAIDS, WHO, IDPC, AFEW International, Harm Reduction International, INPUD, Open Society Foundations, Aidsfonds and Frontline AIDS. Ann Fordham from IDPC highlighted that the new UNADIS report indicates that 99% of people who use drugs doesn’t have a proper access to health services. WHO representative reminded that half a million people worldwide die of drug related deaths, mainly overdose and blood borne diseases HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C. People also suffer because they can’t access the medicines they need. The Netherlands has “put people first” in their approach to harm reduction. The right to health is fundamental to all people irrespective of whether they are using drugs. Drug policies should seek to reduce violence, promote the rule of law, support the most marginalized and vulnerable, lift up human rights. Prohibition and criminalization means a continuation of armed conflict supported by disproportionate spending. Naomi Burke-Shyne from HRI reminded that funding for harm reduction has flat lined from 2007 to 2016, which stands in shocking contrast to the estimated funding need by UNAIDS: existing funding represents only 13% of this estimated need. Judy Chang from INPUD stated that “Existing drug policies threaten security, democracy and the well-being of all, especially those most marginalized and vulnerable. The war on drugs and drug-free agenda undermines the SDG agenda.” Zaved Mahmood from ‎UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights estimates that People who use drugs are not just left behind, they are kept out. The right to life includes the obligation to take measures where peoples’ lives might be threatened, including in relation to the use of drugs and HIV and hepatitis.

Drug prevention approaches that make a difference

Organized by the Governments of Iceland and Serbia, and the Pompidou Group of the Council of Europe. Serbian representative to the OSC made an introduction speech. The same like the Minister of Health on Thursday 14 at the Ministerial Segment, he said that the Drug Strategy has 5 chapters instead of 7, avoiding to say that Harm Reduction is one of them. Jelena Janković from the Ministry of Health presented the latest developments, including information about overdose deaths in 2018 and creation of the Ministerial Commission (for fighting narcomania in schools). She also presented the project the Ministry did with experiences and support from Israel. Iceland presented their project with are seen as the flagship project on prevention. Almost 2% of the alcohol and tobacco taxes go to prevention programmes! They see as the main risks and protective factors family factors, peer group effect, general well-being and extra-curricular activities and sports. Their learning is that the multidisciplinary collaboration is the key to success. The change thy achieved is different attitude of parents and society – don’t buy alcohol for children. It is not OK for adolescents to be drunk in public. It is not the amount of time that parents spend with their children – it is the quality of time. There are no unsupervised parties. Pompidou Group emphasised the role of police in prevention. Interventions from the floor were on offering more than just sports and having campaigns that cover illicit but also legal substances.

Other side events held today that may be of interest are:

Other events

The Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs (VNGOC) held regular Annual General Assembly. The Committee welcomed new members, reviewed and approved the VNGOC annual report and reflected on activities for 2018/19 including those of the Civil Society Task Force (CSTF), got information about the annual accounts for 2018, the latest financial status and audited accounts for 2018, Strategic Plan 2019-21 and Budget for 2019 and Voluntary Code of Conduct for NGOs at the CND and received an update on developments within UNODC. The Committee discussed the future organisation of the VNGOC, based on the background paper presented by the Board.

Following a governance review process undertaken in 2017, VNGOC agreed to stagger the elections for the VNGOC Board to ensure greater stability and continuity. In order to do this, three of the positions elected last year were given one-year terms, the other three positions were given the standard two-year terms. This year, the following three positions were up for re-election: Chairperson, Deputy Treasurer, Deputy Secretary. Our friend fro International Drug Policy Consortium Jamie Bridge was re-elected for the Chairperson. Congratulations!

More notifications from the Slovenian Early Warning System

Our colleagues from the Alliance of Non Governmental Organisations for Drugs and Addictions from Slovenia forwarded us more information from the Early Warning System on new psychoactive substances (NPS).

Four different ecstasy pills with a very high MDMA content were detected in Maribor, namely blue Punisher (284 mg MDMA), pink Red Bull (213 mg), brown Pharoh (197 mg) and green Shell (171 mg) pills. Punisher’s blue ecstasy was also detected in Ljubljana and appeared in Slovenj Gradec.

Also, pink ecstasy pills and three other strong ecstasy pills with a very high content of MDMA have recently been detected in Ljubljana.

Literature indicates that the “acceptable” dose of MDMA is 1 – 1.5 mg/kg of body weight. That means that for a person who weighs 60 kg the dose is 60 – 90 mg. In quantities greater than 120 mg, the possibility of complications due to MDMA ingestion is increased (nausea, vomiting, cramping, restlessness and paranoia, severe motor disorders, headache, panic attack, high blood pressure, increased sweating, loss of consciousness, overheating of the body, etc.). 200 or more mg for many people means at least twice the dose in which the adverse effects are greatly increased.

At doses higher than 400 mg, the possibility of death overdose is greatly increased.

Besides MDMA pills, a fake LSD pill was also offered in Maribor. It actually contains synthetic pseudelic 25B-NBOMe, for which little information is available. Users describe that 25B-NBOMe has a hallucinogenic effect already in very small quantities and is very difficult to use safely. They also present a number of side effects, such as: tongue and mouth, nausea, increased heart rate, high blood pressure, agitation, confusion, seizures, fever. A lot of cases of poisoning and fatalities are associated with substances from the group 25-NBOMe. Therefore, extra prudence and compliance with the recommendations for harm reduction are recommended.

Due to the likelihood that these pills will occur in other places around Slovenia and in neighbouring countries, users are advised to use them caution and contact anonymous testing service wherever available.

The samples were collected at the info points of the DrogArt Association in Maribor and Ljubljana within the service of anonymous testing of psychoactive substances. The samples was analysed at the National Laboratory for Health, Environment and Food.

Drogart advices 6 ways to decrease the possibility of complications when using pills:

  • Always check which pill you have.
  • Try to find as much information as possible about the content of the pill and effects (for example, people who know this pill read current user reports and alerts on the Internet). But be careful – the same look does not necessarily mean the same content.
  • Test the tablet before testing.
  • Start with a quarter or at least a half and wait two hours to see what the effects are.
  • If you decide to redisplay, be careful. This puts more and more burdens on the body, as well as negative effects.
  • Do not mix with other drugs (including alcohol), as this increases the likelihood of complications and overdoses.
  • Drink enough liquid (but not more than 0.5 l per hour), soak enough rest and fresh air.

Treatment with medicines derived from cannabis

The CannaPaed Symposium 2019 will be held in Ljubljana on 25th of January 2019. The Symposium is intended for anyone taking care of children with pharmacoresistant epilepsy as well as children with other medical conditions such as dystonia, autism or cancer that could benefit from treatment with medicines derived from cannabis.

The invited speakers will present you the basics of endocannabinoid system, the mode of action and the importance of different strains for different disease conditions in pediatrics. The symposium is designed for those taking care of children, from those in training to those with years of experience.

More about the event is available following this link>>>>

Fake xanax pill and cocaine with a high content of levamisole

Several civil society organisations in Slovenia are involved in the Early Warning System, mainly through anonymous drug testing – in Ljubljana: DrogArt and Stigma, in Kranj: Labirint, in Koper: Društvo Svit, in Nova Gorica: Šent, in Celje: JZ Socio, in Maribor: DrogArt and Zdrava pot, in Ptuj: ArsVitae. The new DPNSEE member organisation Alliance of Non Governmental Organisations for Drugs and Addictions from Slovenia sent us an information about drugs. We shall keep publishing these information. South East Europe is very connected region. We invite other our member organisations to share such information because they can be of use for others.

Within the framework of the Early Warning System on new psychoactive substances (NPS) in Slovenia, fake xanax pills and cocaine with high levamisol content were detected in Ljubljana and Maribor.

The results of the analysis, made in the National Laboratory for Health, Environment and Food, showed that the white rectangular tablet with a xanax sign (the one discovered in Maribor is shown at the photo) contains a substance called etizolam instead of alprazolam, while the one found in Maribor contains prometazin and ciproheptadin, medicines used for curing respiratory diseases.

Etizolam belongs to the group of benzodiazepines and is used as an anti-insomnia and anxiety agent. Etisolam causes euphoria, relaxation, carelessness, and side effects are drowsiness, weakness and fatigue, poorer thinking ability and judgment, and loss of control of the body. Especially dangerous is the use of etizolam with other drugs that act depressive on the central nervous system, such as, for example, alcohol, opiates and GHB/GBL. When mixing with other drugs, the effects of the drug are exacerbated and the user can lose consciousness very quickly and stop breathing.

This is the second known case of a false xanax pill – for the first time it detected in October this year.

A sample of cocaine, collected in Ljubljana, contained 22% of levamisole, which is higher than commonly used in cocaine.

Levamisol is a veterinary drug used to treat parasitic infections. For humans, however, it can cause a decrease in the number of white blood cells and a bruising of the immune system, causing an individual to be at greater risk of developing dangerous infections.

Both fake xanax and cocaine pills were purchased in November in Ljubljana from re-sellers. According to users, both substances are to be sold to a wider circle of people.

Both samples were collected the info point of the Association DrogArt in Ljubljana and Maribor, through the anonymous drug testing programme. Due to the likelihood that such samples will occur in other places throughout Slovenia, caution of users is recommended and use the anonymous testing service.

As the Xanax tablets are purchased on Dark net, this information may be of use to drug users and stakeholders in drug policy throughout the region.

Several civil society organisations in Slovenia are involved in the Early Warning System, mainly through anonymous drug testing – in Ljubljana: DrogArt and Stigma, in Kranj: Labirint, in Koper: Društvo Svit, in Nova Gorica: Šent, in Celje: JZ Socio, in Maribor: DrogArt and Zdrava pot, in Ptuj: ArsVitae.

The original communication from the Early Warning System (in Slovenian) is available following this link>>>>

Adriatic Drug Addiction Treatment Conference and Symposium on Addictive Behaviours

The South Eastern European Adriatic Addiction Treatment Network invites you to come to Budva, Montenegro‚, from 12 to 14 October 2017, to celebrate the 8th Adriatic Drug Addiction Treatment Conference and the 16th SEEA Symposium on Addictive Behaviours and to be a part of the premier addiction treatment conference in the region.

In the last few years SEEAnet has organised joint international conferences with Global Addiction Association and numerous other events in the region.  They have been included in developing treatment programmes and trainings in Africa, Americas, Asia and Europe. Knowledge and experience from SEEAnet region have been so shared internationally. Addictions continue to remain in the front of medicine and other sciences and practices as the reaction to new challenges in this field in our changing world.

The main conference topics are treatment of drug users with comorbidities and cooperation with drug prevention, harm reduction, treatment and rehabilitation programs, specially psychiatric but not at all excluding other medical, social, educational, law enforcement … services and NGOs in the region, specially Montenegro, treatment of people who use new psychoactive substances, treatment of Hepatitis C, different praxis trough the region, treatment in prisons and use of medical cannabinoides.

The registration is open and organisers are now accepting abstracts submissions on all topics of the addictions keeping registration fees on 2009 levels when the conference had been already in beautiful Budva and where you had wanted to return again.

More about the Conference is available from the SEEAnet website HERE>>>