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Drugs: The biggest stories from the last 12 months

A timeline of the events that mattered

  • Louis Anderson-Rich
  • 23 December 2017

Dance culture will always have a relationship with drugs. Quite simply, the two have gone together like Sasha & Digweed since the (un)holy trinity of DJ, soundsystem and dark club were first put together. For this reason, we've never shied away from sourcing the most important drug-related stories for you, whether they be safety-related or just quite funny and this year we've seen some rippers.

From pigeon carrying pills in little backpacks to the guy that wrote his name and number on a bag of MDMA and got arrested, there've been moments to laugh at but also ones of genuine progression this year. Ketamine, magic mushrooms, MDMA and CBD have all had medicinal properties researched and mostly turned out positive.

At the same time we still haven't seen any real progression in harm minimisation, with pill testing still considered an untouchable subject by the powers that be who continue to pursue an agenda that involves zero-tolerance to substances that will always be taken.

Check out our timeline below of the biggest drug stories in 2017.

January 4
The UK classifies CBD as medication

After a particularly shit 2016 in which attitudes towards the medicinal purpose of drugs felt rather backwards, four days into the new year brought a breakthrough for CBD, or cannibidiol, users. The drug was publicly classified as medication in the UK thanks to its effective treatment of seizures and combating neurodegenerative and psychosis disorders, tumors and cancer-related ailments. Considering it's still classified in the same bracket as heroin in the USA, it's a bold from move by the The Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

Read the full article here

February 10
Dutch police seize materials able to produce one billion ecstasy pills

Talk about a bust. 100 canisters of hydrogen, 15 tons of caustic soda and 3,000 litres of other chemicals were sitting in a parked truck that Dutch police described as "a storage space for a massive ecstasy lab" near the Holland-Belgium border. It was the first of many big time ecstasy busts of the police this year which included $7.5 million worth of ecstasy being seized in Malaysia, 400,000 pills found in a truck driving through Austria and over two million pills seized by Turkish police.

Read the full article here

February 17
Drug smugglers set up catapult to get marijuana into the United States

Charles Darwin once said: "In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed." Nowhere can you see the evidence of that theory more so than in the world of drugs. Smugglers and dealers have come up with many a way to get around the obstacles in front of them, but the use of a catapult is by far one of the more ingenious we've seen.

Read the full article here

March 3
The sesh community has a field day over Kettfest

Only in the era of the internet could this ever be a, well, internet story. But like the hordes of Genghis Khan, people flocked to poke fun at a Facebook event poorly titled Kettfest. Just to be clear, the name had nothing to do with the drug but instead referred to the town in which the festival was held, Kettering. Either way, the story is proof of how drug culture became self-aware in 2017. Some of those comments...

Read the full article here

March 15
Scientists complete trials attempting to cure tinnitus with MDMA

The first of many things MDMA was trialled for this year, tinnitus is perhaps the most interesting considering it's normally getting you fucked up in the club rather than helping you recover from your ears getting fucked in the club. Scientists from New Zealand completed a two-year study in March apparently proving the condition could be cured with small doses of MDMA. Unfortunately more progress hasn't been made in the study as more funds are needed.

Read the full article here

April 26
MDMA in the UK is the “strongest available in two decades”

You know how every YouTube video of a rave from the 90s features old people commenting about kids these days not understanding the strengths of the drug back then? Well show them this article. A spokesperson for Lifeline said at the time: "For the first time we are having people coming to us with problems relating to MDMA; we have never seen that before" and described students as "walking around like glass, unable to function.” Scary stuff.

Read the full article here

May 2
New research suggests MDMA is a promising potential treatment for PTSD

Hot off the heels of the tinnitus study came news MDMA could also help treat PTSD. Another breakthrough for the party drug.

Read the full article here

May 24
Police catch a pigeon carrying 200 ecstasy pills

When we saw this picture in the Mixmag office, we couldn't believe our eyes. It had been a quiet day on the news front until reports out of Iraq spread word of a pigeon carrying drugs over a border. We thought it couldn't get more innovative then the aforementioned catapult but we were proven wrong by a tiny, little pigeon backpack. Just unreal.

Read the full article here

May 26
Ireland takes MDMA more than any other country in the world

They couldn't get past the last 16 at the Euros in 2016 and they didn't qualify for the World Cup this year, but Ireland didn't come away from 2017 empty-handed. In May 26, following the conclusion of the Global Drugs Survey, it was official: Ireland takes MDMA more than any other country (kind of).

A whopping 39.7 percent of respondents to the survey said they had taken the drug in pill or powder form in 2016, and despite the high numbers of consumption, only 1.3 per cent have had to get medical treatment so props to them for staying relatively safe. What else did you expect though from a country that accidentally made the drug legal for 12 hours in 2015.

Read the full article here

June 8
Health experts call for universal drug testing at UK festivals

Like, finally?

Read the full article here

June 29
Highly potent synthetic cannabinoids are reportedly sold as MDMA

One of the most alarming stories of the year, with dealers apparently selling crystalised synthetic cannabinoids as MDMA. 11 people were rushed to hospital in the Oldham area after taking the drug. It can lead the user to becoming seriously ill with the symptoms including extreme aggression, foaming of the mouth, manic behaviour, rigid muscles, fast pulse and shallow breathing. Seriously, not cool.

Read the full article here

June 29
Police patrol a Welsh village so no one finds a hidden 40-year-old LSD stash

If this story could be summed up via emoji it would be 12 of the cry laughing ones. The Dyfed-Powys police had a real problem on their hands when the beans were spilled about the whereabouts of an LSD stash in an old drug dealers memoirs. It's a rollicking read, but no one did find the stash in the end.

Read the full article here

July 3
Doctors are set to trial MDMA as a treatment for alcoholism

Seriously, what can't MDMA do? As well as potentially curing tinnitus and helping PTSD, MDMA was trialled as a treatment for alcoholism this year. Results are yet to be released but we look forward to the conclusion.

Read the full article here

July 13
US study finds only 60 percent of 'Molly' pills contain MDMA

On this side of the pond, we all have a little bit of a laugh about the Americans predilection for 'Mawwwllly'. Not that we don't do it ourselves, but more the in-your-face-culture they've built up around it. Along with EDM, it's the buzzword for a lame scene. So the idea of Americans not actually doing ecstasy when they think that's what they're taking, is kind of funny. But, jokes on us because just two months later research showed only 40.5 percent of pills in the UK contained MDMA.

Read the full article here

July 17
A batch of Donald Trump-pressed ecstasy pills does the rounds

The only time it's EVER ok to feel happy after seeing the American President's face.

Read the full article here

July 25
The world's first-ever ketamine trials for depression prove "incredibly effective"

For most people, hearing that ketamine could treat depression sounded a little far-fetched, but after a paper written for The Lancet in favour of the drug was published, it became a legitimate concept. And after some "incredibly effective" trials just three months later, momentum is now growing for the drug to be used medically.

Read our article about the rise and fall and rise of ketamine here

August 31
Magic mushrooms makes progress in becoming legal in California

An ongoing story from the second half of the year, 2017 has been a big one for magic mushrooms. The psychadelic drug took its first steps in becoming legal in California in late August when a Mayoral candidate, who used the drug to recover from a heroin addiction, put forth new legislation to decriminalise the active ingredient psilocybin. Then in October a new study showed the drugs' potential to treat depression. Finally, in November, it was announced that the original legislation in California will go to a vote with 365,880 signatures needed to pass. We'll be keeping an eye on this story next year.

Read the full article here

September 4
Man writes name and number on baggie, gets arrested

And the award for stupidest person of the year goes to...

Read the full article here

September 25
Police develop new fingertip test to see if people have been using cocaine

A news story that had everyone panic-buying packs of wet wipes, the police announced in September that they had a new test that could tell if people had been using cocaine via the sweat on their fingertips. It was touted by scientists as "non-invasive, hygienic and can’t be faked – by the nature of the test, the identity of the subject, and their drug use, is all captured within the sample itself.” We're yet to see it in action, but remain skeptical.

October 13
Australia’s landmark festival pill testing operation gets canned

A depressing reminder that while we have research finding out the health benefits of drugs, there are still basic, harm-minimising initiatives still being railroaded by politics. Canberra's Spilt Milk festival was supposed to have a landmark pill testing operation at its event this year, but just one month before the festival, it was dropped. Why? It's still unclear but harm minimisation advocate and STA-SAFE member Dr David Caldicott suggested conservative members of the Australian government had something to do with it.

Read the full article here

October 25
Over 12,000 kilos of cocaine has been found in boxes of bananas

"There's always money in the banana stand" said Arrested Development's George Bluth Sr, but maybe there's actually always money in the banana shipment? The 12,000 kilos found in October was just one of many banana shipments carrying coke to Europe and South America with shipments also stopped in Germany, Spain, Costa Rica and Ecuador.

Read the full article here

December 15
Norway votes to decriminalise drug use

"The majority will stop punishing people who struggle, but instead give them help and treatment,” was the way health spokesman for the Socialist Left, Nicolas Wilinson, described the government's reasoning to vote for decriminalising drugs. A progressive way to see out a progressive year.

Read the full article here

Louis Anderson-Rich is Mixmag's Digital Producer, follow him on Twitter

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