The cocaine base, or “pasta”, may be seen as a type of South American crack. Its obligatory method of administration is smoking. A primary condition of the “pasta” smoker is compulsive drug-search behavior and addiction to cocaine base destroys emotional and mental balance. Socio-economic maladjustment is the norm amongst “pasta” addicts. Since 1984 I have recommended the chewing of the coca leaf, between 100 to 200 grams of coca leaf per week for the treatment of cocaine dependence.
U.S. drug control officials have denounced Dutch drug policy as if it were the devil himself. One former U.S. Drug Czar said "you can't walk down the street in Amsterdam without tripping over junkies." In the Summer of 1998, however, one such denouncement turned into a small scandal. The first part of this chapter examines this incident as a window on the politics of drug policy. The second part offers a more general analysis of why U.S. drug control officials seem to be so threatened by the Dutch example.
State-controlled public injection rooms are not expressly referred to in any of the relevant international conventions. It is thus necessary to determine, by way of a preliminary factual enquiry, the exact characteristics of such institutions that fall within the ambit of one or more of the conventions. The rather superficial provisions concerning drug addicts stand in stark contrast to the stated primary aims of the conventions, which are formulated in the preambles as preventing and combatting abuse of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and the public health and social problems which such abuse engenders.
European Monitoring Centre for Drugs, Drug Addiction (EMCDDA)
01 August 2000
Treatment for drug addiction was seen as a measure to reduce drug abuse as early as 1961 when the UN Single Convention was signed. However, the only recognised concept of drug treatment mentioned by the Convention concerned the detoxification of the individual through ‘drug-free treatment’. Therapeutic measures aimed at treating drug addictions through maintenance and related distributions of alternative substances are not expressly mentioned by the UN Conventions of 1961, 1971 and 1988.
A program of heroin prescription was introduced in Switzerland in 1994. This initially targeted 1,000 heavily dependent heroin users, most of whom were also involved in drug dealing and other forms of crime. It has recently been extended to cover 3,000 users. Evaluation of its impact on users shows large reductions in use of illicit drugs and in drug-related crime.