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  1. Image of UN Flag

    UN expert calls for a fundamental shift in global drug control policy

    26 October 2010
    Article

    At a press conference in New York on Tuesday 26 October, 2010, at the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly, one of the UN’s key human rights experts will call for a fundamental rethink of international drug policy. Anand Grover, from India, is the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right of Everyone to the Highest Attainable Standard of Physical and Mental Health, whose mandate is derived from the UN Human Rights Council.

  2. Black people six times more likely to face drug arrest

    Mark Townsend
    31 October 2010
    Other news

    Black people are six times more likely to be arrested than white people for drug offences and 11 times more likely to be imprisoned, according to new research claiming to show the racial bias of the criminal justice system.

  3. Bigger welfare state 'reduces hard drug use'

    02 November 2010
    Other news

    Reducing the use of drugs would be better tackled by having a bigger welfare state, rather than criminalising addicts, according to research. The work shows countries that provide a generous social security system have low levels of injecting drug use, irrespective of how punitive the drugs policy is. Charities have used the study to argue that the government's welfare cuts will see a rise in drug addicts.

  4. Drug experts plead for a better way

    17 May 2015
    Other news

    In an Alternative Drugs and Addiction Report, experts have warned politicians that current laws on dangerous drugs are doing more harm than good in Germany. 

  5. A Call to Shift Policy on Marijuana

    Jim Dwyer
    14 June 2011
    Other news

    More people are arrested in New York City on charges of possessing small amounts of marijuana than on any other crime on the books. Nearly all are black or Latino males under the age of 25, most with no previous convictions. Many have never been arrested before. Last year, the police in New York City arrested more than 50,000 people on the marijuana possession charge, New York State Penal Law 221.10, which makes it a misdemeanor to openly possess pot.

  6. Jeremy Sare on drug sentencing

    Jeremy Sare
    18 April 2011
    Other news

    Most drug users are not addicted. Most suppliers of drugs are not dealers. These central truths about patterns of drug use in Britain are incompatible with the policies adopted by those in power who believe ever more muscular enforcement will somehow steer young people away from taking them. In drugs policy, there remains an unparalleled disconnect between power and knowledge. And power means both ministers and media who, on drugs policy, are intertwined in a deadly embrace.

  7. Dope smokers face fines but no court procedure

    04 June 2012
    Other news

    The Swiss Parliament has agreed in principle to impose a fine on consumers of small amounts of cannabis instead of opening a mandatory criminal proceeding. The move stops short of a full legalisation of the substance. Accepting liberalisation of the law by 31 votes to four, the Senate followed an earlier vote by the House of Representatives in parliament's spring session. The proposal, which dates back eight years, aims to decriminalise the consumption of up to ten grams of cannabis for consumers above the age of 18. However, both chambers still have to agree on the level of the financial penalty.

  8. Which countries have the death penalty for drug smuggling?

    27 April 2015
    Other news

    Indonesia executed eight convicted drug traffickers. The sentences have provoked outrage from the prisoners’ home countries, none of which hands down the death penalty to drug offenders. Brazil and the Netherlands had already withdrawn their ambassadors, following an earlier round of executions in January. Indonesia is rare in executing drug smugglers, who in most of the world are condemned only to long stretches in prison. Where else does trafficking earn a death sentence?

  9. Moeizame veranderingen na de War on Drugs

    20 April 2016
    In the media

    Volkskrant - De Verenigde Naties houden voor het eerst in twintig jaar een conferentie over drugs, op verzoek van drie Latijns-Amerikaanse landen die vinden dat het tijd wordt een alternatief te zoeken voor de War on Drugs.

  10. coverreport

    Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work

    09 September 2014

    The upcoming United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) in 2016 is an unprecedented opportunity to review and re-direct national drug control policies and the future of the global drug control regime. As diplomats sit down to rethink international and domestic drug policy, they would do well to recall the mandate of the United Nations, not least to ensure security, human rights and development.

  11. Drug Courts Are Not the Answer

    21 March 2011

    Drug Courts are Not the Answer finds that drug courts are an ineffective and inappropriate response to drug law violations. Many, all the way up to the Obama administration, consider the continued proliferation of drug courts to be a viable solution to the problem of mass arrests and incarceration of people who use drugs. Yet this report finds that drug courts do not reduce incarceration, do not improve public safety, and do not save money when compared to the wholly punitive model they seek to replace. The report calls for reducing the role of the criminal justice system in responding to drug use by expanding demonstrated health approaches, including harm reduction and drug treatment, and by working toward the removal of criminal penalties for drug use.

     

  12. 'Legal highs'

    • Adam Winstock, Chris Wilkins
    21 October 2011

    This paper aims to set out some of the policy and public health issues raised by the appearance of a wide range of emergent psychoactive substances of diverse origin, effect and risk profile (commonly referred to as ‘legal highs’). It will start by considering what is meant by the term ‘legal highs’ and consider the historical context that has framed their appearance and must inform any response. It will then consider some of the approaches that have been adopted by different nations to control their availability and associated harms, including a preliminary assessment of their consequences, both intended and not.

  13. Sentencing for Drug Offences

    01 March 2010

    In determining the seriousness of a drug offence the courts should focus on the quantity of the drug involved (or the scale of the operation) and the role of the offender; the Panel advises a starting point of 12 years custody for the most serious cases. Offences will be aggravated where offenders used a young person as a courier, supplied or offered to supply close to schools, targeted premises used by vulnerable people or supplied to prisoners.

     

  14. Obama Signs Drug Parity Law

    Peter Baker
    04 August 2010
    Other news

    President Obama signed legislation on Tuesday reducing sentencing disparities between those caught with crack and those arrested with powder cocaine. The legislation was a compromise reached by Democrats and Republicans who agreed that the old law imposed unduly harsh sentences for crack violations, which especially affected minorities, compared with powder cocaine violations. Under the old law, a person caught with five grams of crack received a mandatory five years in prison, while a person caught with powder cocaine had to have 500 grams to merit the same term. The new law reduces the 100-to-1 disparity to 18-to-1.

  15. Expert Seminar on Proportionality of Sentencing for Drug Offences

    20 May 2011
    Report

    There has in recent years been a renewed interest in the principle of proportionality in sentencing policy for drug offences. There has been official analysis of the issue by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and several national initiatives that have inscribed a requirement for proportionality when sentencing in statute or penal code, asserted it through the courts, or, as with the UK Consultation on sentencing for drug offences by the Sentencing Council of England and Wales, are continuing to explore the concept through policy processes.

     

  16. Human Rights and Drug Policy

    30 November 2010

    In many countries around the world, drug control efforts result in serious human rights abuses: torture and ill treatment by police, mass incarceration, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, denial of essential medicines and basic health services. Drug control policies, and accompanying enforcement practices, often entrench and exacerbate systematic discrimination against people who use drugs, and impede access to controlled essential medicines for those who need them for therapeutic purposes.

  17. Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Drug Offences

    01 April 2006

    The use of illegal drugs is often associated with a wide range of health, social and community problems, substantial drug-related crime, and stigma and marginalization of people who use drugs. In response, policy-makers have relied heavily on law enforcement, despite evidence that certain law enforcement practices actually worsen the impact of drug use on individuals and communities, and sometimes lead to human rights violations.

     

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