A clash between the home secretary, Theresa May, and her expert drugs advisory group is looming after it decided against banning qat, a mild herbal stimulant, traditionally used in Britain's Somali, Yemeni and Ethiopian communities. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs said there was insufficient evidence that Qat caused health or wider societal problems to justify a ban in Britain.
Last week, the United Nations voted on an appeal by Bolivia to amend the international treaty that prohibits the chewing of coca leaf. Bolivia won a partial victory — a tiny sign that the world may be ever so slowly coming to its senses on the insanely harsh treatment of this humble, mostly harmless plant and the people, mostly South American natives, who enjoy it in its raw form. (Ricardo Cortés is the author of A Secret History of Coffee, Coca & Cola)
This is at the heart of the awakening in Latin America, a feeling that drugs prohibition has allowed rich and powerful cartels to rise to such prominence that they threaten the institutions of the state – the police, the judicial system, the army, the media, and the body politic. In Latin America it is not about rehab and criminality, it is about an existential threat to the state.
Evo Morales’ global crusade to decriminalize the coca leaf, launched in 2006 after the coca growers’ union leader was first elected president of Bolivia, has finally attained a partial, if largely, symbolic victory. A year ago, Bolivia temporarily withdrew from the 1961 U.N. convention on narcotic drugs because it classifies coca leaf, the raw material of cocaine, as an illicit drug. It has now rejoined, with one important caveat: The centuries-old Andean practice of chewing or otherwise ingesting coca leaves, a mild stimulant in its natural form, will now be universally recognized as legal within Bolivia.
Yet another parliamentary group has pronounced in favour of drugs decriminalisation. It still won’t happen. What is baffling is the intransigence of British politicians on the subject. Plenty are individually reasonable. Some three-quarters of MPs agree individually. They read the surveys, reports and opinion polls — all unanswerable. Yet the mere mention of the subject sends most politicians screaming down the road with bags over their heads.
The government’s campaign to curb crack cocaine use that was launched late last year is failing to deliver on its targets, reports O Globo. As of the start 2013, the program Entitled ‘Crack, É Possível Vencer’, which aims to treat crack addiction through the combined effort of four separate government departments, can only count half of Brazil’s states as members.
The Czech Senate approved a bill allowing for the legal sale of cannabis for medical purposes, affirming a decision of the country’s lower house of parliament. The proposal, which enjoys very strong support from all political parties in both houses of parliament, should become law later this year, pending an expected presidential signature. But there’s a catch: the text of the bill says that only imported cannabis will be allowed for sale in the first year “to ensure standards.”
The success of legalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington has sparked a new conversation in a nation that is one of the world's top marijuana growers: Should Mexico, which has suffered mightily in its war against the deadly drug cartels, follow the Western states' lead? Mexico's new president, Enrique Peña Nieto,opposes legalization, but he also told CNN that the news from Washington and Colorado "could bring us to rethinking the strategy."
The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) said there was "insufficient evidence" that khat caused health problems. The stimulant is traditionally used by members of the Somali, Yemeni and Ethiopian communities. It has been outlawed by the US and Canada and in most European countries, most recently by the Netherlands. The review was commissioned by the Home Office. The ACMD said there was "no evidence" khat was directly linked with serious or organised crime. (See also: Chewing over Khat prohibition)
The all-party parliamentary group on drug policy reform undertook an inquiry into the implications of the arrival of "legal highs" – a new substance appeared on the UK market every week in 2012. The prime minister says the current policy is working. I wish it were. But as the use of cannabis has declined by a few percentage points over the past few years, the use of "legal highs" has soared. The position for drugs users is therefore more dangerous than it was a few years ago.
Bolivia will again belong to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs after its bid to rejoin with a reservation that it does not accept the treaty’s requirement that “coca leaf chewing must be banned” was successful Friday. Opponents needed one-third of the 184 signatory countries to object, but fell far, far short despite objections by the US and the International Narcotics Control Board.
“It is an act of civil disobedience. We want to impose our activity,” Dominique Broc, the spokesperson for the project. Without hiding his face, he presents a “cultivation space” of about 100 square feet installed in his home. “We produce to protect our society from the perverse effects of mafias that are entering the territory to produce cannabis (often impure) on a large scale to sell them to our children.” (This is a translation of Les cultivateurs des "Cannabis Social Clubs" ne veulent plus se cacher, an article originally published by the French magazine Le Point)
Des milliers d’habitants des communes de Beni Jmil et de Ketama, province d’Al Hoceima, ont bruyamment manifesté, samedi 26 janvier 2013, devant les sièges du caïdat, de la commune et de la gendarmerie royale, leur mécontentement contre cette décision. Les manifestants, qui scandaient, entre autres slogans, “Des alternatives et du pain”, sont allés jusqu’à barrer la route côtière entre Al Hoceïma et Tétouan avec des amas de pierre, demandant le départ du nouveau commandant de la gendarmerie royale pour son approche sécuritaire dans la gestion de ce dossier. Les protestations ont fini en affrontements avec les forces de l’ordre.
Bolivian president Evo Morales, a former coca-leaf farmer, came to power promising to defend the right of Bolivians to produce coca for traditional uses. He kicked out the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 2009, and began the country's own system of regulating coca-leaf production. Morales' move brought heavy criticism from Washington, and led the US government to conclude that Bolivia was failing to meet its commitment to fight the production of cocaine. But a new WOLA report suggests that the country's unorthodox measures are working
On the basis of the available evidence, the overwhelming majority of Council members consider that khat should not be controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. In summary the reason for this is that, save for the issue of liver toxicity, although there may be a correlation or association between the use of khat and various negative social indicators, it is not possible to conclude that there is any causal link.
For forty years the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 has formed the corner stone of drug policy in Britain. The emergence of new psychoactive substances (‘legal highs’) during the past fifteen years or so has challenged the drug control system. The arrival in 2012 of a new psychoactive substance on the market, on average, every six days raises questions about how best to protect young people from unknown and unsafe drugs. The Government is considering this challenge and we hope this Inquiry report will make a helpful contribution to their deliberations.