Drug reform advocates have long criticized Vienna-centric negotiations over global drug policyVice (US)
Monday, March 14, 2016
After decades of prohibition, 2016 could be the year governments around the world admit that the war on drugs has failed. Or, just as easily, they could maintain the status quo. Next month, the UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) will endorse a resolution that many hoped would encourage countries to stop locking up and marginalizing drug users, and instead embrace harm reduction, alternatives to incarceration, and even decriminalization. But, as the UN's Commission on Narcotics Drugs (CND) convened in Vienna for its annual meeting ahead of UNGASS, nearly 200 civil society groups and opponents of the drug war released a joint letter that said the planning for next month's event is "perilously close to representing a serious systemic failure of the UN system."
Why has drug prohibition had so many negative effects on communities and human rights? What changes are needed?Open Democracy (US)
March 14-19, 2016
The international drug control system has caused much greater damage than the substances it targets. Gross human rights violations have been committed in its name. And after five decades of harsh legal enforcement, criminalisation and militarisation (largely outside the consumption centres of Europe and north America), it has failed to reduce the drug trade. In the articles, videos and personal stories being published this week, we look at the consequences of this punitive approach in different parts of the world, the myths involved, the gender and race implications, security structures and economic links. We also begin to explore alternative policies.
Diplomats attending the UN special session on drugs next month must confront the obvious failure of most existing drug lawsFernando Henrique Cardoso, Cesar Gaviria and Ernesto ZedilloLos Angeles Times (US)
Friday, March 11, 2016
Outdated drug policies around the world have resulted in soaring drug-related violence, overstretched criminal justice systems, runaway corruption and mangled democratic institutions. After reviewing the evidence, consulting drug policy experts and examining our own failures on this front while in office, we came to an unavoidable conclusion: The “war on drugs” is an unmitigated disaster. (See also: Public Statement on the UNGASS 2016 process and draft outcome document, by Global Commission on Drug Policy (GCDP)
Reformers want the government to focus on rehabilitation of drug users rather than on legal penaltiesDeutsche Welle (Germany)
Friday, March 11, 2016
The United Nations is due to hold a special session on drug policy in April and one of Ghana's most famous sons, Kofi Annan, has already weighed into a heated debate. Annan, who served as UN Secretary General from 1997 to 2006, is a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy. The executive secretary of Ghana's Narcotics Control Board, Akrasi Sarpong, is a longtime campaigner for the drug policy reform. His board is tasked with tracking down and detaining people who deal in, or use, illicit substances. Sarpong believes the confiscation of narcotics and jailing of the dealers has little impact on drug use.
Latest sign that the US is walking back decades of hardline rhetoricVice (US)
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
William Brownfield, Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, gave a qualified go-ahead for countries to decriminalize drugs. A consensus outcome document currently under negotiation at the Committee on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna is expected to be finalized by the middle of next week, he said, and will be presented at the UN special session (UNGASS). American officials were attempting to "find areas of pragmatic reform" with other member states over drug policy. (See also: Drug Czar: Treating substance abuse as a crime is "inhumane")
Only two states have seen serious attempts to address marijuana legalization via the legislatureThe Washington Post (US)
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
Massachusetts' top politicians just came out swinging against legal marijuana. Voters there are on track to decide whether to legalize marijuana at the ballot box this November. But the state's Republican governor and Democratic attorney general have penned an op-ed with Boston's mayor encouraging residents to Just Say No. They argue that regular marijuana use causes IQ declines (studies say no, it doesn't), that it impairs brain development (latest research says no), and that it negatively impacts graduation rates and career success (not that simple). They argue that a commercial market will lead to more teens using the drug (hasn't happened in Washington and Colorado -- yet).
Sales of cannabis to over-18s in the UK should be legalised and "social clubs" should be established to sell itWired (UK)
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
The Liberal Democrats have backed a study that argues cannabis can't be eliminated by a "total ban" and that it should, instead, be regulated. The report, A framework for a regulated market for cannabis in the UK, puts forward a number of suggestions for how drug policy should be updated: (1) The sale of cannabis to over-18s should be legalised; (2) it would be sold over the counter by licensed vendors, in plain packaging with any health risks written on it; (3) home-growth for personal use, should be allowed; and (4) a regulator should be created to oversee the cannabis market. (See also: Cannabis legalisation in UK 'would raise £1bn a year in taxes')
Early lessons from the U.S. reinforce the need to take time to implement a legalized modelCP24 (Canada)
Saturday, March 5, 2016
As the Liberal government began moving on its commitment to legalize marijuana, Health Canada flagged nine key considerations – from health risks and benefits to the experience of other jurisdictions, newly obtained documents show. A November 2015 ministerial briefing presentation, "Legalizing & Regulating Marijuana," was released to The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act. Some conclusions and recommendations were withheld from release, but the document offers insight into how the new government will navigate the issue.
China’s desire to tighten controls on the drug threatens surgery in many developing countries where it’s the only affordable option for anaesthesiaThe Guardian (UK)
Thursday, March 3, 2016
My supply of ketamine is under threat. I’m not a recreational drug taker. I’m an anaesthetist, and for me ketamine is medicine. In rural hospitals in Nigeria, injecting the drug is essential for pregnant women to have safe ceasareans, and for us to be able to insert IVs for fluids and attach the required monitors to children prior to an operation without a struggle. Some of my colleagues advocate the use of oral ketamine in soda for procedures in the emergency department. China's drive to place ketamine under international control at the United Nations would severely affect the supply and ketamine would become unavailable in more remote areas.
Doctors and researchers say there is a strong argument – and wide public support – for replacing criminal penalties with a harm reduction approachThe Guardian (UK)
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Senior doctors and researchers will tell an annual parliamentary drug policy summit in Australia it is “time to be courageous” and remove all criminal penalties for drug possession. Criminologist Caitlin Hughes said there was “strong public support” for decriminalisation, which would save the public money without necessarily increasing drug use or crime. “Decriminalisation removes criminal penalties for use and possession by law or in practice. It does not provide a legal avenue to obtain drugs,” the University of New South Wales drug policy specialist said. (Drug decriminalisation helps minimise harm)