The coronavirus pandemic has made the opioid epidemic even worse

COVID 19 – INCB continues to ensure the functioning of an international system for trade in controlled substances to ensure their availability for medical, scientific, and legitimate industrial purposes

COVID19 pandemic declared by the World Health Organization, the President of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), Mr. Cornelis P. de Jonckheere, has confirmed that INCB is continuing to ensure the functioning of the international system for trade in controlled substances. Measures are in place to ensure that the Board and its Vienna-based secretariat can – regardless of any local restrictions in place to contain the pandemic – continue to assist competent national authorities in the functioning of the system of international trade in controlled substances.

INCB systems to facilitate licit international trade in controlled substances while preventing their diversion to illicit channels will continue to operate. The President of the Board also takes this opportunity to remind all Governments that in acute emergencies, it is possible to utilize simplified control procedures for the export, transportation, and provision of medicinal products containing controlled substances. Competent national authorities may permit the export of medicines containing narcotic drugs and/or psychotropic substances to affected areas even in the absence of the corresponding import authorizations and/or estimates. Urgent deliveries do not need to be included in the estimates of the receiving countries affected by emergencies.


I2ES Forum – Platform for exchanging ideas on contingency measures during COVID-19

All competent national authorities considering or adopting such simplified control measures for the international trade in controlled substances are strongly encouraged to inform INCB about the details of such policies, to facilitate the ongoing monitoring and assessment of the impact of COVID-19 and associated measures on global availability of controlled substances.

Governments are also encouraged to take advantage of the functionalities provided by the International Import and Export Authorization System (I2ES) as a tool to simplify control procedures. Registered officials can remotely access I2ES via its web interface, issue and exchange import and export authorizations online, and access the contact information of their trading partners. The system, free of charge, guarantees the speedy, secure and paperless exchange of import and export authorizations for controlled substances in full compliance with the provisions of the 1961 and 1971 conventions. The I2ES team has created a new topic “contingency measures during COVID-19”, available to all registered users in the I2ES forum (accessible via the Help menu). This will allow authorized officials to exchange ideas on how best to minimize the disruption to international trade in control substances brought forth by COVID-19, and share any contingency measures adopted during this challenging time. This additional platform will empower the I2ES community to exchange and further develop innovative ideas on ensuring the global availability of controlled substances.


Coronavirus upends marijuana, psychedelics, and drug reform ballot measures

Marijuana and drug policy reform advocates came into 2020 believing it would be a big—and perhaps unprecedented—year for legalization and decriminalization measures on state ballots. From California to Missouri to Oregon, they had high hopes for placing far-reaching initiatives before voters in November.

But many of those efforts have been severely impeded by the coronavirus pandemic, which has made mass signature gathering to qualify ballot measures all but impossible as public health and government officials have urged social distancing measures. Here’s a look at the growing list of ballot initiatives on cannabis and broader drug reforms that have been effectively halted by the COVID-19 outbreak.


Former NFL player under fire for claiming CBD can cure coronavirus

Former NFL player Kyle Turley believes CBD can prevent and cure coronavirus—and he’s not backing down on that clinically unsubstantiated claim despite pushback from marijuana legalization supporters and prohibitionists alike.

He accused those advocates of cowardice, alleging in an interview with Marijuana Moment that they’re afraid of the consequences of spreading what he claims is the “truth” about cannabis. He also said he would welcome Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enforcement against his CBD Company over these COVID-19 claims and would use such an action as an opportunity to expose the government for covering up the medical potential of the plant.

But the claim about a CBD coronavirus cure isn’t backed by clinical research. And at a time when there is no vaccine or approved treatment option available for the virus, advocates and experts say this kind of marketing is dangerous and could lead people to avoid conventional health care options, putting them at risk.


The coronavirus pandemic has made the opioid epidemic even worse

Deaths from drug overdoses are likely to increase during the coronavirus outbreak because of disruption to recovery routines and access to treatment, according to counselors and people whose rehabilitation depends on daily care.

Lockdowns and social distancing have forced doctors, social services, and support groups to shut down, reduce hours, or move online — leaving people who use drugs and those in recovery to face greater risks with less support.

The coronavirus emergency has also presented new problems for people being treated for opioid use disorder — the medical term for opioid addiction — at methadone clinics. To collect their daily doses, patients typically have to go in person, which has made social distancing impossible for some. Service providers in New York, which is now the epicenter of the US coronavirus outbreak, say they don’t have the resources to handle delivery for all of the patients who are likely to become ill and require quarantine.

Opioids like heroin and fentanyl — and most of the medications used to treat addiction to those drugs — create a physical dependency in many people who use them, driving the need for a new dose or else risk going into withdrawal. If clinics are not able to find a way to deliver the medication, patients will either be forced to continue coming in person and risk spreading the coronavirus further or be left to face the consequences, which can include severe flu-like symptoms, vomiting, diarrhea, and shaking, mixed with anxiety and depression.