The bioeconomy is promoted as a response to current global social and environmental crises, with its promise of replacing fossil fuels with ‘renewable’ biological resources. How does it play out on the ground? Who wins and who loses? And what are the alternatives?
For more than ten years, TNI’s Drugs & Democracy programme has been studying the UN drug control conventions and the institutional architecture of the UN drug control regime. As we approach the 2016 UNGASS, this primer is a tool to better understand the role of these conventions, the scope and limits of their flexibility, the mandates they established for the CND, the INCB and the WHO, and the various options for treaty reform.
Argentina has been developing criminal laws on these substances since 1924, but their repressive aspects have become more pronounced since the 1970s. The growing persecution resulting from these laws has mainly fallen on drug users and minor players linked to trafficking activities.
The current law prohibits drug use and punishes possession for personal use with internment and forced treatment. Domestically, a legal market for coca leaf has always existed and Bolivia is trying to change the international legal regime for the coca leaf.
Brazil is debating reform of current drug legislation. Changes to the Criminal Code are being discussed in Senate and the debate includes new articles on drugs. Several legal bills to reform the existing drug law are waiting to be reviewed.
According to, Peruvian laws consumption or possession of controlled substances for personal use is not punishable, it is estimated that 60 percent of detentions on drug charges are related to use or simple possession. Moreover, the penalties for drug related crimes are relatively high and disproportionate, and infringe upon fundamental rights such as freedom, due process and other judicial guarantees. The penalty for small scale sales of drugs is between one to eight years in prison, according to the Criminal Code.
In 1993, Venezuela replaced prison sentences with ‘social security measures’ for possession of up to 2 grams of cocaine and 20 grams of cannabis. Possession for personal use is punished with referral to treatment, which can still lead to obligatory internment in specialized centers.
Under Decree 126/89, the cultivation and production and the trafficking and transport of drugs are punishable as crimes, as is the illicit use and possession of drugs. Article 7 prohibits the production, planting, cultivation and gathering of plants or seeds that contain ingredients that may be considered narcotics or controlled substances.
As a result of a truce between the country’s main gangs (Maras), the number of murders in El Salvador so far in 2013 is down by about 45 per cent in comparison to the year before. Since El Salvador is one of the countries with the highest murder rates in the world (71 per 100,000 people in 2011), the truce represents a step forward in the eradication of street violence and, some believe, in the fight against the retail drug trade and trafficking.
Ecuador is going through a process of reform of its legislation on drugs and the related institutional structure. The government of Rafael Correa is pushing forward this process, which began in 2008 with a new constitution that led to the declaration of an amnesty for small-scale traffickers. In February 2014 parliament approved the Organic Criminal Procedures Code. This replaces the criminal offences section of Law 108, a piece of legislation infamous for its harshly disproportionate sentences and drive to prosecute. As a result of the amnesty and the new legislation, thousands of people were freed from prison. Al the beginning of 2015 the National Congress started to debate a proposed Organic Law on the Integrated Prevention of Drugs and the Use of Controlled Substances, a bill which seeks to replace what remains of the old law.
In contrast to other Central American countries, the possession of drugs for immediate personal use is not a criminal offence in Costa Rica. In August 2013 the cultivation, manufacture, transport and trafficking of drugs have all been made a criminal offence under the same article, which provides for a prison sentence of between 8 and 15 years without making any distinction between the offences. The government of Costa Rica supports the launch of an open international debate on the issue, but has declared itself against decriminalisation.
Jennifer Franco, Satoko Kishimoto, Sylvia Kay, Timothé Feodoroff, Gloria Pracucci
20 October 2014
Water grabbing refers to situations where powerful actors take control of valuable water resources for their own benefit, depriving local communities whose livelihoods often depend on these resources and ecosystems.