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  1. The new drug warriors

    01 May 2015
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    The war on drugs is edging towards a truce. Half of Americans want to lift the ban on cannabis. America’s change of heart has led many to wonder if the UN conventions might be reformed to legalise some drugs and treat the use of others as a problem requiring health measures, not criminal or military ones. But as America has drawn back from prohibition, new drug warriors are stepping up to defend it. Russia is foremost among them. “The Russians have taken over the hard-line role that the US used to play,” says Martin Jelsma of the Transnational Institute.

  2. 2016: The UN's year to take on drugs

    26 April 2015
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    Global disagreement over drug policies provides an important opportunity to reconsider the effectiveness of existing counternarcotics policies, address their problematic side effects, and propose evidence-based alternative strategies. Because of the differences in attitudes on drug policy around the world, a substantial revision of existing counternarcotics treaties is unlikely at UNGASS 2016. (See also: Improving global drug policy: Comparative perspectives and UNGASS 2016)

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    La ONU ante una posible flexibilización de los tratados contra las drogas

    Luis Lidón
    16 March 2015
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    Para Martin Jelsma del Transnational Institute existe "mucha confusión" sobre la idea de una interpretación más abierta de los tratados, y no todos se refieren a lo mismo. Una regulación legal del mercado de cannabis no se puede legitimar con una "interpretación flexible" de las convenciones, como pretende Estados Unidos. "El miedo de los países a hablar sobre modificaciones de los tratados radica también en el hecho de que solamente piensan en la forma de enmiendas o nuevo tratado, y ven que sería imposible llegar a cualquier consenso en el actual clima polarizado", explica Jelsma.

  4. US official cautions Jamaica on ganja legalisation

    29 January 2015
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    The U.S. Government has signalled discomfort with Jamaica's move to decriminalise marijuana for specific uses.

  5. Pro-ganja lobby endorses changes on eve of Senate debate

    28 January 2015
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    Professor Archibald McDonald called on the Jamaican Government to continue with the reforms and disregard apparent threats from US Government official William Brownfield cautioning the Government against breaching international drug treaties to which it is a signatory. "He is saying that Colorado, Washington DC and so on can go ahead and legalise ganja, but Jamaica signed those treaties and therefore cannot do the same. What a ridiculous argument," McDonald commented.

  6. The year in drug policy: Movement at a crossroads

    26 December 2014
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    The 43-year-old war on drugs had never seen such a barrage of opposition as it did in 2014, with successful marijuana legalization initiatives in several U.S. states, California’s historic approval of sentencing reform for low level drug offenders and world leaders calling for the legal regulation of all drugs — all of which cement the mainstream appeal of drug policy alternatives and offer unprecedented momentum going into 2015.

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    Brindis por las drogas

    Milton Romani Gerner
    23 December 2014
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    milton-romani2Hoy un primer bloque latinoamericano (México, Guatemala, Colombia, Ecuador, Uruguay) al que se vienen sumando otros países del área, así como estados de la Unión Europea y algunos africanos, está librando una batalla para que la UNGASS 2016 no sea un nuevo fracaso. Las acciones y actividades desplegadas por la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA) aportan en el mismo sentido.

  8. Has the US just called for unilateral interpretation of multilateral obligations?

    Rick Lines, Damon Barrett
    17 December 2014

    These are interesting times for drug law reform, which, as it gathers pace, is asking important questions of international law. A UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs is set for 2016 just as national reforms are challenging international treaties that form the bedrock of a global prohibition regime that has dominated since the turn of the twentieth century. States parties to the three UN drug control conventions must now confront the legal and political dilemmas this creates. This is the situation in which the US now finds itself following cannabis reforms in various states that are at odds with these treaties.

  9. First lesson for new inquiry into ice: we've lost the war on drugs

    Alex Wodak
    16 December 2014
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    Five Labor and three Conservative governments adopted harm minimisation as Australia’s official national drug policy on 2 April 1985 and every Commonwealth, state and territory government since then has implemented harm minimisation programmes. 

  10. Drug control body concerned by pot legalization in some U.S. states

    03 December 2014
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    The head of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) monitoring compliance with international drug control conventions expressed concern about the moves by U.S. states to legalize marijuana.

  11. Into the breach: Drugs, control, and violating bad laws in good ways

    Rick Lines
    27 November 2014

    An October statement on drug control from the US State Department has prompted much comment and speculation at home and abroad. Delivered by Ambassador William Brownfield, the ‘Brownfield Doctrine’, as it has been named by some commentators, lays out a four pillar approach the United States will follow in matters of international drug control.

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    Atracción fatal: la doctrina de la flexibilidad de Brownfield y la reforma global de las políticas de drogas

    Martin Jelsma, Damon Barrett
    19 November 2014

    Las reformas estatales sobre el cannabis, que han cobrado impulso este mes, han puesto al descubierto la incapacidad de los Estados Unidos para atenerse a las disposiciones del fundamento jurídico del sistema global de control de drogas: la Convención Única de 1961 sobre Estupefacientes. Esto es algo que debería propiciar un diálogo muy necesario sobre la reforma de unos acuerdos internacionales que tienen ya muchos años. Pero aunque aparentemente ‘acoge con satisfacción’ el debate sobre la reforma de las políticas de drogas a escala internacional, se trata de un diálogo que el Gobierno federal estadounidense de hecho desea evitar.

  13. Fatal attraction: Brownfield's flexibility doctrine and global drug policy reform

    Martin Jelsma, David Bewley-Taylor, Damon Barrett
    18 November 2014

    State-level cannabis reforms, which gathered steam this month, have exposed the inability of the United States to abide by the terms of the legal bedrock of the global drug control system; the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. This is something that should force a much-needed conversation about reform to long- standing international agreements. But while ostensibly 'welcoming' the international drug policy reform debate, it is a conversation the US federal government actually wishes to avoid.

  14. The UN really wishes that voters in Alaska and Oregon hadn’t legalized weed

    13 November 2014
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    The director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Yury Fedotov, said that state-level marijuana legalization initiatives in the U.S. are violations of longstanding international drug treaties. "I don't see how [state-level marijuana legalization] can be compatible with existing conventions," he said according to Reuters. Fedotov's remarks are coming less than a month after Assistant Secretary of State Brownfield outlined an official policy of "flexibility" in the U.S.'s interpretation of existing U.N. drug control conventions, which require countries to outlaw the sale and use of cannabis. (See also: Fatal attraction: Brownfield's flexibility doctrine and global drug policy reform)

  15. A top UN official is not happy about US states legalizing weed

    13 November 2014
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    The UN's top narcotics official said on Wednesday that recent votes by US states to legalize marijuana have put America in deeper violation of the international conventions that guide drug policy around the world. Earlier this month, voters in Oregon, Alaska, and Washington DC legalized the recreational use and sale of marijuana. Similar ballot initiatives have already passed and taken effect in Colorado and Washington.

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    Critica ONU legalización de mariguana en estados de EU

    11 November 2014
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    La semana pasada, los ciudadanos de Alaska y Oregón aprobaron en un referendo la posesión, el cultivo y la venta de mariguana sumándose a Washington y Colorado. La decisión de legalizar la mariguana para uso recreativo "no está en línea con las convenciones internacionales" sobre drogas, declaró el máximo responsable de las Naciones Unidas en la lucha contra los narcóticos, Yuri Fedótov. "No veo cómo (el uso recreativo de esa droga) puede ser compatible con las convenciones existentes", declaró Fedótov, director ejecutivo de la Oficina de la ONU contra la Droga y el Delito (ONUDD). (Véase también: El control de drogas visto desde Washington)

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    Brookings: EE.UU. deberá replantear adhesión a tratados internacionales sobre drogas

    19 October 2014
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    La legalización de la marihuana en Washington y Colorado presenta desafíos para el Gobierno federal. Un informe del Instituto Brookings plantea que la legalización ponen a EE.UU. en conflicto con los tratados internacionales antidrogas que “comprometen a castigar y hasta criminalizar actividad relacionada con el uso recreativo de la marihuana”. El informe destaca que el Gobierno federal ha señalado que los tratados le facultan a los firmantes “flexibilidad y discrecionalidad” a la hora de implementar políticas relacionadas con la marihuana.

  18. Pushing treaty limits?

    Wells C. Bennett
    19 October 2014

    Suppose the United States government helps to negotiate, and subsequently champions, certain framework treaties – ones justly viewed as imposing significant constraints on all signatories. Down the road, the United States occasionally even calls out counterparties for their looser policy innovations, when the latter push the outer boundaries of what’s permitted under the treaties; a treaty-created monitoring body does likewise in its annual reporting. This pattern essentially holds year in and year out and from one presidential administration to the next.

  19. How marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington is making the world a better place

    16 October 2014
    Other news

    No pressure, Colorado and Washington, but the world is scrutinizing your every move. That was the take-home message of an event today at the Brookings Institution, discussing the international impact of the move toward marijuana legalization at the state-level in the U.S. Laws passed in Colorado and Washington, with other states presumably to come, create a tension with the U.S. obligations toward three major international treaties governing drug control.

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    Marijuana legalization is an opportunity to modernize international drug treaties

    • Wells Bennett, John Walsh
    14 October 2014

    Two U.S. states have legalized recreational marijuana, and more may follow; the Obama administration has conditionally accepted these experiments. Such actions are in obvious tension with three international treaties that together commit the United States to punish and even criminalize activity related to recreational marijuana. The administration asserts that its policy complies with the treaties because they leave room for flexibility and prosecutorial discretion.