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  1. The U.S. Can Still Correct its Position on Bolivia's UN Coca Chewing Amendment

    28 January 2011
    Press release

    The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), the Andean Information Network (AIN), and more than 200 other concerned organizations and individuals yesterday sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, calling for the Obama administration to immediately withdraw its objection to Bolivia’s proposed amendment to the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

  2. Drug Control Policy: What the United States Can Learn from Latin America

    • Coletta Youngers
    21 June 2011

    Since the 1912 signing of the Hague Opium Convention—the agreement that formally established narcotics control within international law—the United States has established itself as the dominant actor in determining drug control policies around the world. A chief architect of the international drug control regime, Washington has done its best to ensure that all subsequent international conventions obligate countries to adapt their domestic legislation to criminalize virtually all acts related to the illicit market in controlled substances, with the important exception of drug consumption. The predominant focus on prohibition and criminalization has been exported to Latin America, where the vast majority of the cocaine and heroin consumed in the United States originates.

     

  3. Kerlikowske draws the wrong conclusions

    Martin Jelsma
    16 August 2010
    Article

    In "Has the time come to legalize drugs?" Andres Oppenheimer, the influential opinion maker about Latin American affairs at the Miami Herald, describes how the debate about cannabis regulation "is rapidly moving to the mainstream in Latin America." He quotes White House drug czar Kerlikowske who argues that The Netherlands proves that relaxation of cannabis laws increases consumption, and that the Dutch government is now reversing its strategy. That requires some rectification.

  4. Stepping away from the darkness

    Martin Jelsma
    01 September 2009
    Article

    The experiences of countries that have decriminalised drugs show that fears of explosions in drugs use are unfounded.

  5. Objections to Bolivia's reservation to allow coca chewing in the UN conventions

    Tom Blickman
    03 January 2013
    Article

    Sweden joined the United States and the United Kingdom in objecting to the re-accession of Bolivia to the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs after Bolivia had denounced the convention and asked for re-accession with a reservation that allows for the traditional age-old ancestral habit of coca chewing in the country. Italy and Canada also objected, but the objection of Sweden is particularly disturbing.

    Foglia di coca, la congiura degli ipocriti, versione in italiana

  6. Bolivia wins a rightful victory on the coca leaf

    11 January 2013
    Press release

    Today the Plurinational State of Bolivia can celebrate a rightful victory, as the country can become formally a party again to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, but without being bound by its unjust and unrealistic requirement that “coca leaf chewing must be abolished.” This represents the successful conclusion of an arduous process in which Bolivia has sought to reconcile its international treaty obligations with its 2009 Constitution, which obliges upholding the coca leaf as part of Bolivia’s cultural patrimony.

  7. Taking the initiative on legal marijuana

    John Walsh
    05 November 2012
    Article

    Two years ago, California’s bid to legalize marijuana—Proposition 19—achieved great notoriety in Latin America, but ultimately fell short at the ballot box. Next Tuesday, voters in the state of Washington appear ready to do what Prop 19’s supporters could not quite achieve—an Election Day victory.

  8. In drug war, failed old ideas never die

    Bernd Debusmann
    26 February 2010
    Article

    WASHINGTON, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Here's a stern warning to the U.S. states of Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. A United Nations body is displeased with your liberal medical marijuana laws. Very displeased.

  9. International Impacts of the U.S. Trend towards Legal Marijuana

    17 October 2014

    For decades, the United States has been a champion of the global drug control treaty system, which limits the use of marijuana exclusively to medical and scientific purposes, and obligates governments to punish and even criminalize recreational marijuana activity. But American attitudes toward marijuana policy are shifting: voters in Colorado and Washington approved ballot initiatives to legalize regulated recreational marijuana in 2012, and recent polls suggest that the majority of Americans think marijuana use should be legalized.

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

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

    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.

  11. Drug-law reform genie freed from bottle at Summit of the Americas

    Coletta Youngers
    19 April 2012
    Article

    Present international drug control policies are deeply-rooted and change will no doubt come slowly. However, as a result of the Cartagena summit, for the first time a meaningful debate on developing and implementing drug control policies that are more humane and effective is underway. The genie is out and will be very hard to put back in the bottle, as much as U.S. officials might try.

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

    Rick Lines
    27 November 2014
    Opinion

    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.

  13. U.S. marijuana vote may have snowball effect in Latin America

    Tim Johnson (McClatchy Newspapers)
    07 November 2012
    Article

    Voters in Colorado and Washington state who approved the recreational use of marijuana Tuesday sent a salvo from the ballot box that will ricochet around Latin America, a region that's faced decades of bloodshed from the U.S.-led war on drugs. Experts said the moves were likely to give momentum to countries such as Uruguay that are marching toward legalization, to undercut Mexican criminal gangs and to embolden those who demand greater debate about how to combat illegal substances.

  14. Selling cannabis regulation

    • Emily Crick, Mark Cooke, David Bewley-Taylor
    29 November 2014
    Policy briefing

    In 2012, voters in the US states of Washington, Colorado and Oregon were given the opportunity to vote in ballot initiatives for the creation of legally regulated cannabis markets. Washington’s Initiative 502 and Colorado’s Amendment 64 both passed with 55.7% and 55.3% of the vote respectively. Oregon’s Measure 80 failed with 53.4% of those voting rejecting the measure. As calls for and legal processes towards the initiation of cannabis policy reform become more common within US states, it is a timely and useful exercise to reflect upon the campaigns for reform in Washington (WA), Colorado (CO) and Oregon (OR) and examine why the public supported cannabis policy reform in some instances and not others.

  15. Cover of RAND report on Cannabis production regimes

    Multinational overview of cannabis production regimes

    • Beau Kilmer, Kristy Kruithof, Mafalda Pardal, Jonathan P. Caulkins, Jennifer Rubin
    14 December 2013

    This RAND report provides an overview of the changes to laws and policies pertaining to cannabis in different countries. Several jurisdictions have reduced the penalties for possessing cannabis for personal use (and in some places even for home cultivation), while some jurisdictions have taken more dramatic steps and changed their laws and practices with respect to producing and distributing cannabis.

  16. US Federal Government Data on Cannabis Prohibition

    07 October 2010

    The report reviews 20 years of data from US government funded surveillance systems on government drug control spending, cannabis seizures and cannabis arrests, in order to assess the impact of enforced cannabis prohibition on cannabis potency, price and availability. The report’s findings highlight the clear failure of cannabis prohibition efforts by showing that as the United States has dramatically scaled up drug law enforcement, cannabis potency has nevertheless increased, prices have dropped, and cannabis remains widely available.

     

  17. Major victory for President Morales: UN accepts “coca leaf chewing” in Bolivia

    14 January 2013
    Article

    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.

  18. Summary of Drugs & Democracy Activities, April - June 2014

    15 July 2014
    Article

    The dynamics of reform in the Americas continues. This time, the momentum comes from the Caribbean region.  Jamaica and other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states are now moving to change their marijuana laws. Among the proposed changes discussed in Jamaica were the decriminalisation of possession of small amounts of ganja for recreational and religious use and cultivating it for medicinal purposes.

  19. Bolivia fights objections to coca-leaf chewing

    28 January 2011
    Article

    Bolivia will ask the United Nations to organize a conference on coca leaf-chewing if the U.S., Britain and Sweden don't withdraw their objections to the country's efforts to drop the ban on the age-old practice in an international treaty, Bolivia's U.N. ambassador said Friday.

  20. Obama: Drugs Should Be Treated as "Public Health Problem"

    Kathleen Kingsbury
    28 January 2011
    Article

    In an online town hall session yesterday, U.S. President Barack Obama suggested that, while he is not in favor of drug legalization, he does believe drugs ought to be treated as “more of a public health problem.” Obama went on to add: “On drugs, I think a lot of times we’ve been so focused on arrests, incarceration, interdiction, that we don’t spend as much time thinking about how do we shrink demand.” (See the video clip below for the president’s full remarks.)

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