In 1961, the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs placed the coca leaf in the same category with cocaine — thus promoting the false notion that the coca leaf is a narcotic — and ordered that “coca leaf chewing must be abolished within 25 years from the coming into force of this convention.” Bolivia signed the convention in 1976, during the brutal dictatorship of Col. Hugo Banzer, and the 25-year deadline expired in 2001. Mistakes are an unavoidable part of human history, but sometimes we have the opportunity to correct them. It is time for the international community to reverse its misguided policy toward the coca leaf.
Martha Fernback, 15, died from taking 91% pure ecstasy. The response of her mother, Anne-Marie Cockburn was unusual. She refused to blame her daughter, her friends, or the dealer or the manufacturer. Cockburn, a single mother, focused on a greater target: the government. "It quickly became obvious that prohibition had had its chance but failed," she said. "Martha is a sacrificial lamb under prohibition. The question is: how many more Marthas have to die before we change our approach? It's not acceptable to allow the risks to remain."
The first day at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs was marked by the announcement of President Evo Morales of Bolivia that he would start the process to remove the coca leaf from the 1961 Single Convention as well as the suspension of the paragraphs of that convention that prohibit the traditional chewing of coca leaf. Holding up a coca leaf in front of delegates at the UN summit on drugs he underlined his demand.
This is at the heart of the awakening in Latin America, a feeling that drugs prohibition has allowed rich and powerful cartels to rise to such prominence that they threaten the institutions of the state – the police, the judicial system, the army, the media, and the body politic. In Latin America it is not about rehab and criminality, it is about an existential threat to the state.
Over the years, the Mexican government has adopted increasingly heavy prison sentences and militarized drug policies to confront drug trafficking. The result has been an increase of vulnerable populations in Mexico’s prisons, but no impact on the drug trade or violence.
Well, let me start by saying that I appreciate the opportunity to share some of my thoughts and feelings with you. I hope maybe in some way, this gives you a little window into my reality and more importantly, into my heart. So, here I sit at my little table in the belly of the beast, writing to you. I have spent close to two of my four years of incarceration in solitary confinement.
Colorado voters will be asked to decide whether to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in a November ballot measure, setting up a potential showdown with the federal government over America's most commonly used illicit drug. The measure, which would legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults, is one of two that will go to voters in November after a Washington state initiative to legalize pot earned enough signatures last month to qualify for the ballot there.
As a law enforcement professional, I was waiting impatiently for the government’s recommendations for fighting gang crime. I’ve been especially impatient to see what kind of initiative they would come up with to attack the root of the problem: the cannabis trade. My disappointment when they announced what it was as great as my impatience had been. The right approach would have been to rob criminals of their source of income.
When it comes to policies for tackling drug misuse, we need an evidence based approach. These are not my sentiments, though I share them; these are the views of the leaders of all the UK political parties as expressed in recent government reports and a debate in parliament that gained cross party support. So we at The BMJ asked ourselves: what would an evidence based drug policy look like?
"If you can't control drugs in a maximum security prison, then how can you control drugs in a free society?" Those are my words that close Breaking theTaboo, a poignant new film about the global drug war. Breaking the Taboo is a stark and honest portrayal of the global war on drugs and its failure to resolve the many issues that derive from prohibition. The main character of the film is the former President of Brazil Fernando Henrique Cardoso.
In an effort to ensure new voter-approved amendments that legalize limited use of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington are not overrun by the federal government, Democratic U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette introduced bipartisan legislation that aims to curtail such a scenario. "My constituents have spoken, and I don't want the federal government denying money to Colorado or taking other punitive steps that would undermine the will of our citizens."
Angeline Chilton says she can't drive unless she smokes pot. The suburban Denver woman says she'd never get behind the wheel right after smoking, but she does use medical marijuana twice a day to ease tremors caused by multiple sclerosis that previously left her homebound. "I don't drink and drive, and I don't smoke and drive," she said. "But my body is completely saturated with THC." Her case underscores a problem that no one's sure how to solve: How do you tell if someone is too stoned to drive?
Copenhagen city officials have tried three times to legalize cannabis within the city. All three times, the answer from the national government has been a resounding no. Nevertheless, the prominent marijuana activist Khodr ‘Cutter’ Mehrisays it is only a matter of time until cannabis is legalized not only in the capital, but throughout all of Denmark. “By 2020, you’re going to [be able to] come by my coffee shop and buy a pound of weed,” he said.
The new Liberal Democrat minister responsible for drugs policy, Norman Baker, has refused to rule out a policy of legalising cannabis but said that it is not his prime objective in the job. "I think it needs to be considered along with everything else. It is not my prime objective and I am not advocating it at the moment. We should be prepared to follow the evidence and see where it takes us," he said.
On 26 and 27 August, 2010, the Second Latin American Conference and the First Brazilian Conference on Drug Policy took place in the noble hall of the National Law School of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) with more than 400 attendees and the presence of top drug policy experts from thirteen countries in Latin America. It was the most specialized meeting to take place to date in the region. The Conference was organized at the regional level by Intercambios, a key Latin American civil association that has worked for fifteen years on issues of harm reduction and drug policy. And, locally by Psicotropicus, a pioneer in bringing the drugs debate out from obscurity and bringing it into everyday discussions in Brazil.