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MW 14 June 2017

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2 maltatoday, WEDNESDAY, 14 JUNE 2017 News Drugs in Maltese market among least pure in Europe YANNICK PACE THE purity of illicit drugs available on the Maltese black market is significantly lower than that of drugs in other European countries, according to the 2017 coun- try drug report for Malta, published by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. It also noted that drugs in Malta – specifically canna- bis, heroin and cocaine – are, on average, more expensive, especially given their purity. The report states that a gram of cocaine, for exam- ple, can be bought in Malta for anything between €18 and €80, with purity ranging between 10-22%. In contrast, the registered maximum pu- rities in France, the United Kingdom and Italy were 88%, 96% and 87% respectively. Similarly, the maximum purity of heroin purchased in Malta was 30% in 2015, significantly lower than in France (77%), the UK (96%) and Italy (59%). The same trend was ob- served when considering the potency and price of both herbal cannabis and the res- in from the plant. According to the report, drug seizures in 2015 were at their highest since 2006 and twice as high as 2010. Cannabis resin was the most frequently seized drug, with 70kg being confiscated in 2015. Cocaine was the sec- ond most frequently seized drug at 21kg in 2015, fol- lowed by heroin and herbal cannabis, both at 4kg. Less than 3kg of MDMA, Meth- amphetamine and ampheta- mine were seized in 2015. Prevalence of drug use and addiction Malta registered one of the highest rates in the use of high-risk opioid – a class of drug that includes heroin, morphine and fentanyl – in Europe with one in every 1,000 falling within this cat- egory. Maltese adults aged be- tween 18 and 65 were found to be three times as likely to use cannabis (4.3%) than other drugs (1.4%), with males being significantly more likely to be drug users than females. This is also ref lected in the number of people seek- ing treatment for addiction, where it was noted that on average men were four times more likely to be enrolled in a drug-addiction programme. The number of first-time entrants to cocaine treat- ment centres stood at 91 in 2015, up from just over 40 in 2006. A total of 281 were seeking help in 2015. On the other hand, the to- tal number of individuals being treated for heroin ad- diction stood at 1,296, with the number of first-time entrants in 2015 being 66, down from roughly 225 in 2006. There were 67 first-time entrants to cannabis treat- ment programmes in 2015, bringing the total up to 158 individuals. The number of first-time entrants is at the same level as it was in 2006, after which the number de- creased steadily year after year until 2011, before in- creasing to its highest point in 2012. Overdose and law enforcement There were eight drug-re- lated fatalities in 2015, the highest since 2008. This re- f lects a Europe-wide trend, which has seen the number of fatalities increase for the third year running. There was a 6% increase in fatali- ties across the continent be- tween 2014 and 2015. While the number of local fatalities witnessed a slight increase, the overall number of non-fatal overdoses, most of which are attributed to the use of prescription medica- tion, continued a downward trend. Finally, there were 472 reg- istered drug-related offences in 2015. 76% were related to use and possession of illicit drugs, with the remaining 24% consisting of "supply" related offences. Zebbug man charged with assaulting partner A man from Zebbug has been remanded in custody after al- legedly attacking his partner in a domestic incident early yesterday morning. Inspector Roderick Agius ar- raigned the 50-year-old before Magistrate Neville Camilleri yesterday on charges of griev- ous bodily harm, insulting and threatening the woman, breaching the peace, obstruct- ing a public officer in the exe- cution of his duties, the aggra- vated theft of a bunch of keys and recidivism. The offences are described as having taken place at 1:00am in Triq Hal Luqa in Qormi yesterday. The court was requested to impose a protection order, in favour of the victim, on the ac- cused. Magistrate Camilleri was shown a medical certificate issued by the casualty depart- ment at Mater Dei Hospital which indicated that the wom- an had suffered a grievous in- jury to her nasal bone. The accused, a furniture sprayer, pleaded not guilty to the charges. Defence lawyer Patrick Valentino requested bail. Inspector Agius objected to bail on the grounds that the foster parents, who had been entrusted with the care of the couple's three children on the strength of a care order, had been present during the inci- dent. "The prosecution fears that if bail is granted the ac- cused, who knows these peo- ple well, will approach them." He had already done this once, the inspector explained. Besides this, there were also a number of witnesses, includ- ing the alleged victim, who were still to testify. During interrogation, the accused had confirmed that he had beaten his wife before, "whilst drunk," but it appeared that the woman had previously chosen to forgive him, the in- spector said. Valentino pointed out that apart from the accusation of grievous bodily harm, the charges consisted of contra- ventions. "The court can see that the woman is not griev- ously injured," he argued. The court, after hearing the defence and prosecution's sub- missions on bail, seeing the exhibited documents and the accused's criminal record, and in view of the grievous bodily harm and recidivism charges, denied bail and ordered the ac- cused be remanded in custody. Magistrate Camilleri urged the prosecution, however, to present all of its evidence at the next sitting after the case is assigned, so as to allow the assigned magistrate to grant bail. @ maltatoday ...let's get social!

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