A more refined distinction is required to define appropriate drug control measures according to the specific characteristics of substances, their health risks, the dynamics of their markets and their user groups. The classification schedules of the UN 1961 and 1971 Conventions do not provide sufficient differentiation. The consideration of such diverse substances as coca, cocaine, cannabis, opium and heroin in the same schedule, hampers effective policy responses taking account of the different properties and reasons people use them.

  • IDPC contribution for the pre-review of CBD and Tramadol at the 39th WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence

    Marie Nougier
    IDPC Advocacy Note
    November 2017

    The Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) of the World Health Organization (WHO) will hold its 39th meeting from 6th to 10th November 2017 in Geneva. The ECDD is mandated by the 1961 and 1971 UN drug conventions with the task of undertaking scientific reviews of substances and recommending their appropriate scheduling to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), taking into account both risks related to non-medical use and therapeutic usefulness.

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    application pdfIDPC Statement at the 39th Meeting of the ECDD (PDF)

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  • WMA warns against making essential anaesthetic a controlled drug

    Scheduling ketamine would restrict its availability worldwide, which would lead to harmful impact on animal health and welfare, as well on public health
    WMA press release
    Friday, March 6, 2015

    The World Medical Association is urging its 111 member associations to lobby their governments to oppose scheduling the anaesthetic agent Ketamine as a controlled drug. The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs is due to vote next Friday (March 13) on whether to schedule Ketamine because of concern about its use as an illicit recreational drug in many countries. But the WMA warns that if it is made a controlled drug, it would effectively prevent the drug’s use in many poor countries where it is the only alternative for short term pain relief in surgery.

  • The ketamine controversy, continued

    UN legal opinion adds confusion while China changes its scheduling proposal
    Martin Jelsma
    Friday, March 6, 2015

    The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in Vienna will decide next week between two opposite proposals by China and the WHO about international control of ketamine, an essential anaesthetic in human and veterinary medicine. China originally proposed bringing ketamine under the 1971 Convention’s most severe control regime of Schedule I, which would dramatically affect its availability for surgery in poor rural settings and emergency situations. The WHO Expert Committee reviewed all the evidence and advised against any international control of ketamine, arguing it would trigger a public health disaster.

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  • CND decision to schedule ketamine would undermine WHO treaty mandate

    The UN Commission considers to bring ketamine under the control of the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances contrary to WHO recommendations
    Martin Jelsma
    Monday, February 16, 2015

    The 58th Session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in March 2015 has been asked to consider a Chinese proposal to place ketamine – an essential medicine used for anaesthesia – in Schedule I of the 1971 Convention (E/CN.7/2015/7 and E/CN.7/2015/81). Ketamine is the only available anaesthetic for essential surgery in most rural areas of developing countries, home to more than 2 billion of the world’s people. Scheduling ketamine under any of the 1971 treaty schedules will reduce its availability and further deepen the already acute crisis of global surgery.

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  • Fact Sheet on the Proposal to Discuss International Scheduling of Ketamine at the 58th CND

    A wide range of national and international civil society organizations have voiced concern about the proposal the schedule ketamine
    February 27, 2015

    Ketamine is an essential medicine used for anaesthesia. It is the only available anaesthetic for essential surgery in most rural areas of developing countries, home to more than 2 billion of the world’s people. Scheduling ketamine will leave these populations with no alternative anaesthesia for essential surgery, and will further deepen the already acute crisis of global surgery. The Commission on Narcotic Drugs, 58th Session, has been asked to review a proposal to place ketamine in Schedule I of the 1971 Convention.

    application-pdfDownload the fact sheet (PDF) | Version française
    application-pdfDownload the extended version (PDF) | IFRC position
    application-pdfSee also: The International Drug Control Regime and Access to Controlled Medicines
    application-pdfSee also: Scheduling in the international drug control system

  • Illegal drugs laws: Clearing a 50-year-old obstacle to research

    David Nutt
    PLoS Biology 13(1)
    January 27, 2015

    The United Nations drug control conventions of 1960 and 1971 and later additions have inadvertently resulted in perhaps the greatest restrictions of medical and life sciences research. These conventions now need to be revised to allow neuroscience to progress unimpeded and to assist in the innovation of treatments for brain disorders. In the meantime, local changes, such as the United Kingdom moving cannabis from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2, should be implemented to allow medical research to develop appropriately.

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  • Scheduling in the international drug control system

    Christopher Hallam Dave Bewley-Taylor Martin Jelsma
    Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies Nr. 25
    June 2014

    While often viewed as an obscure technical issue, the problem of scheduling lies at the core of the functioning of the international drug control system. Scheduling – the classification of a substance within a graded system of controls and restrictions, or 'schedules' – must take place in order for a substance to be included in the international control framework, and determines the type and intensity of controls to be applied. For this reason, the topic is of central importance.

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  • The concept of ‘drug harms’

    Peter Cohen
    Drugs and Alcohol Today
    December 2010

    In my view, perceived harms associated with drugs are vulnerable to so many restrictions on reliability and validity that, for the time being, a serious estimate of drug harm per drug is impossible. In my view, it is even invalid to associate harms to drugs alone. Drugs are used by humans, under individual, social and legal conditions, in certain purities and dosages. Whatever the 'effects' of drugs, harmful or not, they cannot be estimated or even discussed without associating the drug with a particular user or user culture. Drugs per se do not meaningfully exist.

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  • Drug harms in the UK

    A multicriteria decision analysis
    David J Nutt, Leslie A King, Lawrence D Phillips, on behalf of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs
    The Lancet
    November 1, 2010

    To provide better guidance to policy makers in health, policing, and social care, the harms that drugs cause need to be properly assessed. This task is not easy because of the wide range of ways in which drugs can cause harm. This study undertook a review of drug harms with the multicriteria decision analysis (MCDA) approach. This technology has been used successfully to lend support to decision makers facing complex issues characterised by many, conflicting objectives.

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  • Politics and science in classifying the dangers of drugs

    Robin Room & Dan I. Lubman
    Evidence Based Mental Health
    November 2010

    There is a long history of psychoactive substances being regarded as dangerous and subsequently being banned or forbidden. Often the bans were introduced on substances new and unfamiliar to a society, which were viewed as more dangerous than substances which were well known and enculturated. With industrialisation and the globalisation brought by European empires, the growing availability of psychoactive substances was increasingly seen as a problem in the 1800s, setting off social and policy reactions – what we know as the temperance movement against alcohol,
    and initial UK legislation limiting the sale of ‘poisons’.

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