This IDPC response to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)’s flagship publication, the World Drug Report, provides an overview of the data and topics presented in the Report and where appropriate, within the broader context of the current state of the UN drug control framework, offer a critical analysis of both.
In 2000, the Portuguese government responded to widespread public concern over drugs by rejecting a "war on drugs" approach and instead decriminalized drug possession and use. It further rebuffed convention by placing the responsibility for decreasing drug demand as well as managing dependence under the Ministry of Health, rather than the Ministry of Justice. With this, the official response toward drug dependent persons shifted from viewing them as criminals, to treating them as patients.
The central statistic of Mexico's violent drug war – 40,000 gangland murders in the past five years – is repeated so often it almost fails to alarm us anymore. But what happened last Thursday, Aug. 25, in the northern business capital of Monterrey – 52 innocent people massacred after gangsters set fire to a casino, presumably in a drug-cartel extortion operation – left even President Felipe Calderón sounding distressed. So agitated, in fact, that drug-war analysts believe Calderón, in his speech the next day, signaled a change in philosophy and told the U.S. to think about legalizing drugs as a way of weakening vicious drug traffickers.
Intercambios Civil Association and the Social Sciences School of the University of Buenos Aires launched the book “Encarcelamientos por delitos relacionados con estupefacientes en Argentina” (Imprisonment for drugs related offenses in Argentina) by Alejandro Corda on the 29th of August, 2011.
In the absence of government regulation, the local medical-marijuana industry increasingly is trying to professionalize the industry with such self-policing measures as "best practices" manuals, quality-control testing laboratories and training classes. After legal and political hiccups this spring and summer, the state's medical-marijuana industry is emerging reinvigorated, growing and almost entirely based in Seattle.
Colombia's Supreme Court ruled against harsh punishments for small-time drug offenders, in a move towards easing up Colombia's zero-tolerance drug laws, which have achieved little in the fight against organized crime.
Distinguishing between drug possession for personal use and supply and trafficking is widely acknowledged as one of the most difficult and controversial issues facing drug legislators and policy makers. To address the problem, two solutions are typically enacted: the threshold scheme and the "flexible" model.
The organisers of a Czech petition for the legalisation of cannabis in medical treatment have asked Prime Minister Petr Necas to support the relevant changes in legislation. The petition committee, including doctors, patients and scientists, recalls that it does not seek the legalisation of marijuana for recreational use. Since its launch on August 16, the petition has been signed by almost 5,000 people.
Louise Gallagher (Director, Public Relations, Volunteer Services, with the Calgary Drop In, Rehab Centre)
21 August 2011
In 2008, Safeworks, an outreach program of Alberta Health Services, began a harm reduction program aimed at mitigating the effects of sharing crack pipes with other addicts. Through the program, users had the opportunity to obtain a clean pipe. It helped cut down on transmittable diseases and it gave outreach workers an opportunity to build relationships and explore safer options with this at-risk population of crack users. It's disheartening that AHS decided last week to let this program go up in smoke because it became controversial.
A decision to stop a clean crack-pipe distribution program has disappointed those working to rehabilitate street addicts. Since 2008, Alberta Health Services had been giving out crack-pipe kits as part of the Safeworks program, an effort to reduce transmittable diseases. The kits contained a glass pipe, mouthpiece and cleaning tool and were handed out in an AHS van. More than 14,500 crack pipes were given out as of June 2011.
Stoners and scientists alike may be stoked to learn that a startup biotech company has completed the DNA sequence of Cannabis sativa, or marijuana. But here's something that could ruin a high: The company hopes the data will help scientists breed pot plants without much THC, the mind-altering chemical in the plant. The goal is instead to maximize other compounds that may have therapeutic benefits.
Mascha Nuijten, Peter Blanken, Wim van den Brink, Vincent Hendriks
18 August 2011
Cocaine, particularly in its base form ('crack'), has become one of the drugs of most concern in the Netherlands, being associated with a wide range of medical, psychiatric and social problems for the individual, and with significant public order consequences for society. Available treatment options for cocaine dependent users are limited, and a substantial part of the cocaine dependent population is not reached by the addiction treatment system.
Czech doctors, patients and scientists launched a petition for the legal use of marijuana in treating sclerosis multiplex, the Parkinson disease, cancer and the AIDS in the Czech Republic whose legislation bans such practice. The petitioners say the ban breaches people's free choice of treatment methods and want it to be lifted. They give research results and practice in foreign countries as arguments in support of their demand.
Should the use of cannabis be legalised to end the dealing that has poisoned life in France's banlieues, and to guarantee the quality of a substance that is widely consumed but is often of very poor quality? The economist Pierre Kopp, of Paris University, has compared the cost of combating cannabis abuse with its possible cost if legalised. He considers that, as with tobacco use, the key factor in cannabis legalisation would be the duty levied by the state: ideally that duty should be high enough to prevent increased consumption of the substance, while bringing in sufficient revenue to fund prevention.
Mexico's drug war is more than an armed conflict. With government estimates of its death toll well above 30,000, it is now a humanitarian crisis affecting families and shaping the lives of children. Photo reportage
Many Americans continue to believe that marijuana should be legalized, but are not supportive of making other drugs readily available, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found. In the online survey of a representative national sample of 1,003 American adults, 55 per cent of respondents support the legalization of marijuana, while 40 per cent oppose it.
Medical marijuana suppliers complain that the Justice Department is tightening the federal government's approach to enforcement. That's a disingenuous response to the department's latest directive that medical marijuana is not a business – though suppliers sure want it to be. The June 29 memo largely reaffirms one from October 2009 – known as the "Ogden" memo. Both memos advise US attorneys that individual marijuana users with serious illnesses – and their caregivers – are not an enforcement priority, but those in the business of cultivating, selling, or distributing marijuana are.
Liberal Democrats are expected to call for an independent inquiry into the decriminalisation of possession of all drugs. A motion to be put at the party's annual conference next month is likely to be passed. It would be the first government-sponsored inquiry into decriminalisation, but is unlikely to have the support of David Cameron who has hardened his approach to drugs after being a past advocate of more liberal legislation as a member of the home affairs select committee.
As if America's highly-publicised "war on drugs" were not already facing a credibility gap, two US superior court judges – one in Washington, DC, another in Colorado – are raising questions about whether the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and police departments are using "pseudo-scientific" drug identification methods to bust hundreds of thousands of suspected drug users, many of them inner-city minority kids. A flawed drug test means that innocent people are being locked up as suspects, deprived of their due process rights, and then pressured to accept plea bargains, whether they're guilty or not. The Duquenois-Levine test, widely used by police in the US, can detect marijuana, but also gives 'positive' results for numerous other commonly occurring substances.