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Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work

The United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) in 2016 is an unprecedented opportunity to review the future of the global drug control regime

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Cannabis and the Conventions

The question facing the international community today is no longer whether or not there is a need to reassess the UN drug control system, but rather when and how ...

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Addicted to Punishment

The Research Group CEDD has this and other publications now available on their own website..

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Systems Overload

An unprecedented one-year comparative study reveals alarming pattern in imprisonment for drug crimes in Latin America. The weight of the law falls on the most vulnerable individuals, overcrowding the prisons,…

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Drug Law Reform on the Map

Drug Legislative Reforms in Latin America: A country by country overview of drug law reform in the Latin American region.

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The Human Face

These videos feature people who have spent years in prison enduring harsh sentences that are disproportionate to the crimes they committed...

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  • The Heemskerk Declaration

    Final declaration of the Global Forum of Producers of Prohibited Plants
    Global Forum of Producers of Prohibited Plants (GFPPP)
    January 21, 2016

    Representative of Carribean Farmers speaking at the Growers Forum 2016 / Photo credit Floris LeeuwenbergIn a global meeting small scale farmers of cannabis, coca and opium from 14 countries discussed their contribution to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS). The UNGASS will discuss all aspects of global drug control policies, including the worldwide ban on the cultivation of coca, poppy and cannabis, an issue the Global Farmers Forum demands that their voices be heard and taken into account.

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  • Cannabis in Indonesia

    Patterns in consumption, production, and policies
    Dania Putri Tom Blickman
    Drug Policy Briefing Nr 44
    January 2016

    Cannabis use has never posed major problems in Indonesia, yet prohibitionist policies prevail. Despite the high prevalence of cannabis use, local or national discussions on cannabis policies are nearly non-existent, exacerbated by strong anti-drug views and public institutions' failure to design and implement comprehensive policies based on evidence. Because of the current anti-narcotics law – discussed in detail in this briefing – there have been many obstacles to research on cannabis, both in terms of medical and anthropological research.

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  • Ayahuasca: From the Amazon to the Global Village

    An analysis of the challenges associated with the globalisation of ayahuasca
    Constanza Sánchez & José Carlos Bouso
    Drug Policy Briefing Nr. 43
    December 2015

    dpb43Indigenous peoples in the Amazon have used ayahuasca for centuries as a remedy for physical and psychological health, and to ensure the life and wellbeing of their communities. In the past two decades, the use of this decoction has expanded beyond Amazon indigenous spheres. Globalisation, and with it the contact between populations, has facilitated cultural exchange between indigenous traditions and Western practices, which has led to a growing interest in the ritual, religious and therapeutic use of ayahuasca.

    application-pdfDownload the briefing (PDF)

  • UNGASS 2016: Background memo on the proposal to establish an expert advisory group

    Several countries have recently expressed support for the idea to use the mechanism of an expert advisory group again for the UNGASS in 2016
    Transnational Institute (TNI)
    November 2015

    memo-expert-group-ungass-nov2015eSignificant changes in the global drug policy landscape are shaping up in the UNGASS 2016 preparations, in the direction of more humane and proportional responses based on health, human rights and development principles. But few countries are willing to openly acknowledge the existence of structural deficiencies with regard to UN system-wide coherence, the institutional architecture and the legal treaty framework. In spite of more and more cracks in the Vienna consensus and treaty breaches in the area of cannabis policies, questioning the basic principles of the international drug control system is still largely a political taboo.

    application-pdfDownload the memo (PDF)

  • The UN Drug Control Conventions

    A primer

    ungass_decadesFor more than ten years, TNI’s Drugs & Democracy programme has been studying the UN drug control conventions and the institutional architecture of the UN drug control regime. As we approach the 2016 UNGASS, this primer is a tool to better understand the role of these conventions, the scope and limits of their flexibility, the mandates they established for the CND, the INCB and the WHO, and the various options for treaty reform. (PDF version: Primer: The UN Drug Control Conventions)

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  • International Law and Drug Policy Reform

    Report of a GDPO/ICHRDP/TNI/WOLA Expert Seminar
    Final report of proceedings
    July 2015

    un-building-ny2-ildpfDrug policy reform is currently higher on the international agenda than it has been in recent memory. With a United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs set for 19-21 April 2016, the prominence of this issue will further increase. Significant legal and policy reforms at the national level have taken place in recent years that pose considerable challenges to the international legal framework for drug control, and beg important questions regarding states’ international legal obligations.

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  • Improving global drug policy: Comparative perspectives and UNGASS 2016

    Vanda Felbab-Brown and Harold Trinkunas (eds)
    Brookings Institute
    April 2015

    un_general_assemblyAs the world prepares for the 2016 Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS 2016), an increasing number of countries around the world now find the regime’s emphasis on punitive approaches to illicit drugs to be problematic and are asking for reform. In this moment of global disagreement, the Brookings project on Improving Global Drug Policy provides a unique comparative evaluation of the effectiveness and costs of international counternarcotics policies and best approaches to reform.

    See the content (outside link)

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  • TNI calls for a wide-ranging and open debate that considers all options at UNGASS 2016

    An open debate is no longer open when certain ideas for improvement are declared to be off-limit
    Martin Jelsma
    Statement at the 58th Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND)
    Wednesday, March 11, 2015

    Just over one year away from the 2016 UNGASS, denying the reality that the drug policy landscape has fundamentally changed and that tensions with the UN drug conventions are occuring, is no longer a credible option. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged member states to use the 2016 UNGASS on drugs "to conduct a wide-ranging and open debate that considers all options." TNI calls for a special advisory group that should be tasked with recommending how to better deal with the contentious issues following the 2016 UNGASS, in preparation for the next UN high-level review in 2019.

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  • Cannabis policy reform in Europe

    Bottom up rather than top down
    Tom Blickman
    Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies No. 28
    December 2014

    While in the Americas cannabis policy reform is taking off, Europe seems to be lagging behind. That is to say, in European nations at the level of national governments – where denial of the changing policy landscape and inertia to act upon calls for change reigns. At the local level, however, disenchantment with the current cannabis regime gives rise to new ideas. In several countries in Eu­rope, local and regional authorities are looking at regulation, either pressured by grassroots movements – in particular the Cannabis Social Clubs (CSCs) – or due to the involve­ment of criminal groups and public disorder.

    application-pdfDownload the briefing (PDF) | Version auf Deutsch

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  • The Rise and Decline of Cannabis Prohibition

    The History of Cannabis in the UN Drug Control System and Options For Reform
    Dave Bewley-Taylor Tom Blickman Martin Jelsma
    Transnational Institute / Global Drug Policy Observatory
    March 2014

    rise-decline-coverThe cannabis plant has been used for spiritual, medicinal and recreational purposes since the early days of civilization. In this report the Transnational Institute and the Global Drug Policy Observatory describe in detail the history of international control and how cannabis was included in the current UN drug control system. Cannabis was condemned by the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs as a psychoactive drug with “particularly dangerous properties” and hardly any therapeutic value.

    application-pdfDownload the report (PDF 5MB)
    application-pdfRésumé en français (PDF)
    application-pdfDownload the press release (PDF)

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UN Drug Control

In 2011 the 1961 UN Single Convention on drugs will be in place for 50 years. In 2012 the international drug control system will exist 100 years since the International Opium Convention was signed in 1912 in The Hague. Does it still serve its purpose or is a reform of the UN Drug Conventions needed? This site provides critical background.

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Drug Law Reform in Latin America is a project of the TNI Drugs & Democracy programme
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"Promoting a more effective and humane drug policy in Latin America"