The recently-released “Myanmar Opium Survey 2018” by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) entails specific accusations against several of the conflict actors. This commentary explains how this further distorts, rather than reflects, the complex realities in Myanmar.
The problem of opium should not be perceived only as a simple, black-and-white, law enforcement problem. To address problems related to opium cultivation, substantial socio-economic development is required to provide meaningful alternatives for farmers, and to ensure that a humanitarian crisis will not occur as the consequence of repressive drug control policies.
For most farmers and their families, opium cultivation is a means of survival, especially in the context poverty, insecurity, and repression. This film sensitively portrays the lives of two opium farming families in Myanmar and sheds light on their plight.
The government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) recently introduced a set of bills decriminalising cannabisfor medical and scientific purposes. Amid heated debates surrounding the future of cannabis policy in SVG and the wider region, traditional cannabis grower Junior Spirit Cottle shares his insights on the subject through the following opinion piece, which was published by a local newspaper The News on 7 December 2018. An active participant of both the Barcelona and Heemskerk Global Forum of Producers of Prohibited Plants, Spirit has also been part of TNI’s Advocacy Fellowship for Farmers Leaders.
The voice of communities involved in illicit cultivation had long been excluded from policymaking platforms. However, thanks to growing networks such as the Myanmar Opium Farmers Forum, more and more farmers have gained more space to provide input to drug policy discussions at the UN level.
Between 26 and 28 May 2018, representatives of opium farming communities in several states in Myanmar came together in Lashio, Shan State, to share experiences, concerns, and initiatives on the issue of illicit cultivation, especially in relation with supply-side policies which have affected their lives and livelihoods. A final statement was concluded at the end of the forum.
In December 2017, the Transnational Institute (TNI) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany (BMZ), in collaboration with the Thai Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) and the Mae Fah Luang Foundation under Royal Patronage (MFLF), jointly organised the 9th Asian Informal Drug Policy Dialogue (IDPD) in Chiang Rai, Thailand.
On 28 May 2018, the Transnational Institute and the Epicurus Foundation co-hosted the second edition of the “The Transparent Chain,” a conference on transparent cannabis supply chains in Utrecht, Netherlands.
The following statement by Abdellatif Adebibe of the Moroccan Confederation of Associations for the Development of the Senhaja Rif Region, was due to be screened as a civil society contribution to a discussion on alternative development and development-oriented drug policy at an intersessional meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna. Abdellatif represented cannabis farmers at UNGASS 2016, following the meeting of the Global Forum of Producers of Prohibited Plants in Heemskerk, the Netherlands, organised by TNI.
Together with the Cannabis News Network, Martin Jelsma travelled to Colombia to report on the newly emerging medical cannabis industry in the country, specifically looking at the impacts of private investment and licensing on farmers and indigenous communities.
In a letter to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), a global network of 177 NGOs, expresses strong support for the Peace Accord signed by the Colombian government and the FARC, while also expressing deep concern regarding intensified, and increasingly militarized, forced coca eradication efforts, especially in areas where communities have already signed crop substitution agreements.
Getting to the Briceño region in the heart of Antioquia requires an excellent vehicle, and a lot of time and luck. The week before our journey there in mid-July, heavy rains wiped out part of the road between Briceño and Pueblo Nuevo, stranding folks on one side or the other. We were lucky on the day of our journey – no rain. But it took a six-hour drive to get from Medellín to Briceño, and another three hours of sometimes harrowing curves to Pueblo Nuevo. The dirt-road drive itself was a stark reminder of the challenges Colombia faces as it seeks to eliminate 50,000 hectares of coca this year through the crop substitution program, Programa Nacional Integral de Sustitución de Cultivos de Uso Ilícito (National Comprehensive Program for the Substitution of Illicit Crops), known by the acronym PNIS.
The voices of affected communities involved in the cultivation of coca leaf, opium poppy and cannabis plants are lacking in the global debate on drug policy reform in general and were at risk of being excluded from the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) 2016 on The World Drug Problem.
Paraguay is the principal producer of cannabis in South America. Despite its importance as a supplier of cannabis in South America, there has been a surprising absence of serious studies of its impact on its own society, and on the play of offer and demand in neighbouring countries.
Opium farmers and representatives of their communities came together to discuss the challenges they face in their lives, and to share experiences and find ways to solve their problems. This is their statement.