• Criminalizing cannabis in Indonesia might do more harm than good

    Synthetic cannabinoids will continue to spread as long as cannabis remains illegal
    Tom Blickman Dania Putri &
    The Jakarta Post (Indonesia)
    Tuesday, February 28, 2017

    Indonesia’s National Narcotics Board (BNN) together with the Health Ministry recently made a swift move to criminalize synthetic cannabinoids called “super tobacco”, also known as “Gorilla tobacco”, as part of their anti-narcotics efforts. However, synthetic cannabinoids will continue to spread as long as cannabis remains illegal. A better approach would be to develop a regulatory framework for the use and production of natural cannabis.

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  • The DEA wants to ban another plant

    Researchers say the plan is 'insane'
    The Washington Post (US)
    Thursday, September 15, 2016

    The Drug Enforcement Administration has received a torrent of backlash from patients with chronic pain and former opiate users after announcing plans to ban kratom, a plant gaining popularity across the United States for its opiate-like effects. A DEA spokesman said that the agency has received a surprising number of comments about the ban and could ease the restrictions after further research. Kratom has been used in the Southeast Asia for recreational and medical purposes for centuries, according to a 2011 report from the Transnational Institute.

  • Will Myanmar’s economy ever kick its opium habit?

    Poppy fields are here to stay; "if we don’t grow it, we don’t eat", say its impoverished farmers
    South China Morning Post (China)
    Saturday, August 27, 2016

    A recent report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates Myanmar had 55,000 hectares of poppies under cultivation in 2015, most of it in Shan State. Some say that is a conservative estimate and place the figure at closer to 160,000 hectares. "Most farmers grow it because of poverty," says Tom Kramer, a researcher for the Netherlands’ Transnational Institute who has been visiting Myanmar regularly since 1993. "They grow poppy as a cash crop to address food shortages and to access health and education." (See also: Bouncing Back - Relapse in the Golden Triangle)

  • The opium bulbs of Myanmar: drug crop or lifeline for poor farmers?

    Rural development to wean poppy farmers off their illicit crop contend with lack of roads, water and power in remote areas plagued by militias
    The Guardian (UK)
    Wednesday, June 22, 2016

    An estimated 133,000 households in Myanmar, mainly found in impoverished, remote regions, last year grew poppies across 55,500 hectares (about 137,000 acres) of land, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Myanmar is the second largest producer of opium after Afghanistan. The trade in opium and its derivative heroin is controlled by many rebel groups and pro-government militias who use it to fund a long-running civil war. The opiates, along with methamphetamine, end up in China and across south-east Asia. (See also: Poppylands: Understanding Myanmar's addiction to heroin)

  • Drugs in Europe: Not mind-stretching enough

    Liberal drug policies have spread across Europe. But some early adopters are slipping behind
    The Economist (UK)
    Saturday, June 18, 2016

    European countries’ reforms have lost momentum, or even slipped backwards. Most drug-policy experts consider this a shame. The reformist countries’ experiences not only show how well liberal drug policies work; they suggest they need to go further. One of the problems is complacency – meaning that politicians in countries with harm-reduction policies often think the drug problem has been solved. In Europe “everyone is keeping each other in check,” says Tom Blickman. Europe is no longer a place where policymakers can take risks.

  • New agreement brings no end to war on drugs in ASEAN

    A global meeting on drugs failed to deliver a highly anticipated shift from a punitive approach to narcotics, disappointing Myanmar advocacy groups
    The Myanmar Times (Myanmar)
    Tuesday, April 26, 2016

    opium-burmaThe outcome of the UN General Assembly Special Session on drugs in New York resulted in an outcome document that brings little new to the table. Nang Pann Ei, a coordinator of the Drug Policy Advocacy Groups, called the UNGASS meeting significant because Myanmar civil society was able to speak up for opium farmers facing the constant threat of crop eradication. But she voiced disappointment about the resulting policy document, saying it has "some serious gaps". "It did not mention harm reduction specifically, and decriminalisation of drug use and abolishing the death penalty for drug-related offenses was not mentioned," she said.

  • To win the war on drugs, stop brutalising farmers who grow them

    Reform of drug policy is essential to protect the rights of cultivating communities, and ensure they make a living from their land
    Pien Metaal
    The Guardian (UK)
    Tuesday, April 19, 2016

    manual-eradication_copyReform of international drug control is urgently needed. The war on drugs has left a trail of suffering and criminality in its wake and has manifestly failed to achieve its objectives. The UN special session of the general assembly (UNGASS) presents an opportunity. Many reformers put drug users at the centre of changes to international drug policies, but the people growing the plants producing the substances they consume are often overlooked. Farmers’ livelihoods and communities are inherently linked to reform of international drug policies. For hundreds of thousands of farmers’ families, existing crop control laws and practices cause conflict and poverty. (See: Contributions of grower representatives at UNGASS)

  • The United Nations is supposed to be negotiating a solution to the ‘world drug problem’, and it’s not going well

    The UNGASS is now perilously close to representing a serious systemic failure of the UN system
    Open Democracy (US)
    Wednesday, March 16, 2016

    ungass2016This April, the UN General Assembly Special Session on drugs will convene in New York – seen by many as a possible breaking point for the global drug control system, and the first session to be held on this theme for two decades. The UNGASS is happening two years early, because the governments of Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala have called for it in advance. The UNGASS is expected to be a crucial moment in which dissenting countries could break the UN consensus over the ‘war on drugs’ and the model of prohibition, proposing alternative approaches towards harm reduction and decriminalisation instead. (See also: The UNGASS outcome document: Diplomacy or denialism?)

  • Is kratom the new bath salts?

    Kratom fans say it’s like a ‘safe opiate,’ but law enforcement paints a picture of addiction and psychosis
    The Daily Beast (US)
    Saturday, February 27, 2016

    The botanical substance is both a stimulant and a sedative. It is common and illegal in Thailand, where it grows naturally, but little-known and largely legal in the United States. The federal government is cracking down on kratom. Last month, the FDA asked U.S. Marshals to seize nearly 90,000 bottles of dietary supplements containing kratom, which is derived from tropical trees that grow throughout Southeast Asia. In 2014, the Marshals took over 25,000 pounds of raw kratom from a company in Van Nuys, California, at the FDA’s request.

  • See inside the Himalayan villages that grow cannabis

    Ganja grows wild in the Indian Himalayas, and it’s nearly impossible to curb its illegal cultivation
    National Geographic (US)
    Monday, February 1, 2016

    india-cannabis-himalayaCannabis is illegal in India, but many villagers have turned to charas manufacturing out of financial necessity. “Nearly 400 of the 640 districts in India have cannabis cultivation,” says Romesh Bhattacharji, ex-Narcotics Commissioner of India. "It's time for the Indian Government to stop being a slave of UN-backed policies: since 1985, cannabis use and cultivation has only proliferated." "The obligation to eliminate cannabis in countries with widespread traditional use is a clear example of the colonial background of the [UN] Convention," says Tom Blickman, from the Dutch think-tank Transnational Institute. "It would never pass nowadays."

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