If you actually read the treaties, while they do set firm limitations on the legal, "non-medical" or "non-scientific" sale of schedule drugs — limits that Uruguay, Colorado and Washington ignored when legalizing cannabis — they don’t otherwise obligate countries to penalize drug use. Even the 1988 convention, the harshest of the three, which instructs countries to criminalize use, still provides an out for states, allowing such laws only as they are "subject to its constitutional principles and the basic concepts of its legal system." This loophole has been used by the Dutch to argue legally for their coffee shops.
Illicit drugs made from plants (e.g., cocaine, heroin) are being replaced in some national drug markets by those that are synthesized (e.g., methamphetamine, fentanyl). The U.S. has had a parallel experience in the past decade with the rise of illicit consumption of synthetic opioids and cannabinoids. If illicit drug markets continue to separate from an agricultural base, it would upend traditional understandings of drug markets and drug policy.
Greece is a central hub on the route connecting the main country where heroin is produced, Afghanistan, and its biggest markets in Western Europe, annual reports by Europol and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) have shown.
William Patey, British ambassador to Afghanistan from 2010-2012
25 June 2014
When Tony Blair deployed British troops in Afghanistan, ending the illicit production and supply of opium was cited as a key objective. In 2001 the prime minister linked heroin use in the UK with opium cultivation in Afghanistan. Yet after 10 years of effort with tens of thousands of troops in the country, and having spent billions trying to reduce poppy cultivation, Afghans are growing more opium than ever before. For the sake of both Afghans and British citizens, politicians must take responsibility for the failings of global prohibition, and take control of the drug trade through legal regulation.
The face of heroin use in America has changed utterly. Forty or fifty years ago heroin addicts were overwhelmingly male, disproportionately black, and very young. Most came from poor inner-city neighbourhoods. These days, the average user looks different. More than half are women, and 90% are white. The drug has crept into the suburbs and the middle classes. And although users are still mainly young, the age of initiation has risen: most first-timers are in their mid-20s. The spread of heroin to a new market of relatively affluent, suburban whites has allowed the drug to make a comeback, after decades of decline.
The abject drug misery that held sway at Zurich’s Platzspitz park, known popularly as “Needle Park”, spurred Switzerland in 1993 to opt for a pragmatic drug policy of distributing medically controlled heroin to therapy-resistant addicts. In the mid-1990s, the project to provide opiate-assisted treatment for hardcore addicts was formally evaluated and the results appeared promising. The addicts were doing better in terms of health and social issues, and drug-related crime had decreased.
If you’ve ever had surgery, you owe a debt to heroin-assisted therapy, and not because you were probably doped up on morphine in post-op. Rather, it’s because of William Halsted. Appointed the first chief of surgery of Johns Hopkins in 1889, the man now known as “the father of surgery” proceeded to revolutionize the craft during his more than 30-year career. Mr. Halsted introduced the use of surgical gloves and complete sterility, performed the first radical mastectomy and developed new stomach and intestinal surgeries. And one more thing: During his entire time at Johns Hopkins, Mr. Halsted injected himself with morphine on a daily basis.
Some European countries prescribe heroin for the most severe cases of addiction. Patients taking heroin are less likely to use illicit drugs and drop out of treatment than those who use methadone, a substitute. Vancouver’s eagerness to follow is not surprising. It has long had Canada’s most liberal drug policies, and it has a big problem. Addicts congregate in Downtown Eastside, two derelict blocks right next to tourist attractions and the financial district. In the late 1990s the city had the highest rate of HIV infection outside sub-Saharan Africa.