National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) Weekly Briefing


NDEWS Hotspot Alerts: March 26April 8, 2022

NDEWS Hotspot Alerts is a dynamic notification system of that quantifies the degree to which observed 911 dispatch rates deviate from expected ranges of values over an 84-day window. During the two-week period of March 26—April 8, 2022, 11 counties had higher-than-expected rates of drug-related dispatches: Sacramento, CA; San Diego, CA; Denver, CO; Duval, FL; Kings, NY; Pinellas, FL; Cook, IL; Miami-Dade, FL; Fulton, GA; and San Francisco, CA. Read the full report here.

Alert from the NDEWS Web Monitoring Team: Online mentions of 3-CMC

Context: This alert follows publication of a 3-Chloromethcathinone (3-CMC) risk assessment report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) in March 2022. This alert was included in the NDEWS Weekly Briefing Issue 77.

What was found? Drug subreddit discussion indicates resurgent interest in 3-CMC in the early months of 2022. Notably, this discussion trend occurs after the data collection period of the EMCDDA's report, but preceding its publication.

What is 3-CMC? 3-CMC is a stimulant and synthetic cathinone drug. It has been sold online and discussed on Reddit in previous years.

How is 3-CMC being discussed? Subreddit commenters frequently co-mention 3-CMC with a similar synthetic cathinone, 3-Methylmethcathinone (3-MMC), when comparing the availability and effects of the two substances.

How do people feel about 3-CMC? Six of ten sentences in comments mentioning 3-CMC expressed positive sentiment, as predicted by algorithmic sentiment analysis.

Drug Terms: 3-Chloromethcathinone, 3-CMC, Clophedrone.


Notes from the Field: Xylazine-related deaths — Cook County, Illinois, 2017–2021

A study from last week’s MMWR examined xylazine-related deaths in Cook County, Illinois, between 2017 and 2021. A total of 236 xylazine-related deaths were reported. Xylazine-related deaths increased throughout the study period; incidence peaked during July 2021. The percentage of fentanyl-associated deaths involving xylazine rose to a peak of 11.4% of fentanyl-related deaths assessed by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office in October 2021. Read the full report here.

Temporal monitoring of stimulants during the COVID-19 pandemic in Belgium through the analysis of influent wastewater

A study published in International Journal of Drug Policy investigated intra- and inter-year temporal changes in stimulant use in Belgium during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and evaluated the effect of the COVID-19 restrictive measures on stimulant consumption. An increase in amphetamine and cocaine use was was observed, with highest consumption predominantly during lockdown. Read the full study here.

Toronto’s Drug Checking Service: Noteworthy drug trends

The Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation published a report last week on trends in drugs unexpectedly found in samples checked by Toronto's drug checking service from 2019 to 2022. This service shares information on Toronto’s unregulated drug supply with harm reduction workers and clinicians, as well as people who use drugs. View the full report here.


Justice Department investigation leads to shutdown of largest online darknet marketplace

Earlier this week, the Justice Department announced the seizure of Hydra Market (Hydra), the world’s largest and longest running darknet market. The seizure of Hydra servers and cryptocurrency wallets containing $25 million worth of bitcoin was made Tuesday morning in Germany by the German Federal Criminal Police, in coordination with US law enforcement. In 2021, Hydra accounted for an estimated 80% of all darknet market-related cryptocurrency transactions, and since 2015, the marketplace has received approximately $5.2 billion in cryptocurrency. Read the full news release here.

Fiscal Year 2023 budget request to Congress

Last week, the Fiscal Year 2023 budget request was sent to Congress. Included in the budget request are calls for increases in funding for the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s Drug Free Communities Support (DFC) program and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program, which strengthens collaboration between Federal, State, local, and Tribal law enforcement and public health officials. View the full budget request here.

DEA warns of increase in mass-overdose events involving fentanyl

Earlier this week, the Drug Enforcement Administration sent a letter to federal, state, and local law enforcement partners warning of a nationwide spike in fentanyl-related mass-overdose events. Fentanyl-related mass-overdose events are characterized as three or more overdoses occurring close in time and at the same location. There have been 58 overdoses and 29 deaths in recent months. Cities impacted include Wilton Manors, Florida; Austin, Texas; Cortez, Colorado; Commerce City, Colorado; Omaha, Nebraska; St. Louis, Missouri; and Washington, D.C. Read the DEA letter here.

House votes to decriminalize cannabis

Last Friday, the House passed legislation to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level. The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act would remove cannabis from the federal government's list of controlled substances, impose an 8 percent tax on cannabis products, allow some convictions on cannabis charges to be expunged, and press for sentencing reviews at the federal and state levels. It would also make Small Business Administration loans and services available to cannabis businesses while setting standards for them. Read the full article here.

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