Summary of Drugs & Democracy Activities October-December 2013
In December 2013 we had undoubtedly the biggest news of the last few decades concerning drug policy: Uruguay became the first country in the world to adopt a law regulating the production, sale and consumption of cannabis throughout the national territory. Amidst heated debate, the project was approved on July 31, 2013 by the Chamber of Deputies, and on December 10, 2013 by the Senate. A few days later President José Mujica formally enacted the law that will regulate the cannabis market.
Meanwhile, the states of Colorado and Washington in the United States developed their cannabis regulations that will come into effect on 1 January 2014 and will allow the cultivation, sale and consumption of cannabis for recreational purpose.
2013 will be remembered as the year that the world, having experienced the failure of punitive drug strategies, wisely began to try new approaches. TNI is proud to have contributed to this process with our events, research and dissemination of information that sought to show that a paradigm shift in drug policies is possible.
"The current drug policy is disastrous. Doing nothing is not an option anymore… A society without drugs is a utopia. It's better to regulate the existing market than leave it to organised crime", says Julio Calzada, one of the architects of the Uruguayan drug revolution.
30 October – TNI and the Epicurus Foundation organised a conference in Utrecht about how to move forward Dutch cannabis policy. The event, “The Transparant Chain”, brought together about 200 Dutch politicians, local authorities, lawyers, activists and entrepreneurs from the coffeeshop branch. Three people from abroad deeply involved in the regulation initiatives in Uruguay and the United States delivered comments.
From 31 October to 1 November, TNI organised a seminar on the Costs and Benefits of Cannabis Regulation Models in Europe, as part of a European Commission funded series of expert seminars on drug policy innovation in Europe. A group of about thirty experts participated from different European countries and intergovernmental agencies, and from Morocco, Mexico, Uruguay and the USA. The objective of this seminar was to identify and map existing and possible future cannabis regulation models in Europe, look at the local, provincial and national jurisdiction levels and the potential impact of different models on the illicit cannabis market. The costs and benefits of different existing or proposed regulation models – such as the coffeeshop model in the Netherlands, proposed hash shops in Denmark, cannabis social clubs in Spain (notably the regulation of these clubs in Catalonia and Basque country), initiatives for cannabis regulation tabled in various parliaments and the approved licensing systems in Uruguay, Colorado and Washington state were explored and compared.
On 5th November, Martin Jelsma attended the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) intersessional meeting in Vienna, focused on the preparation of discussions at the High Level segment in 2014 and UNGASS 2016.
10-11 November: Tom Kramer participated as a speaker and resource person at a GIZ/BMZ (German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development)-UNODC Expert Group Meeting “Outreach to new stakeholders in the field of Alternative Development” in Berlin. The meeting was attended by representatives of countries that would like to become involved in discussions on Alternative Development, including China, India, Russia, and Nigeria. Representatives from countries where AD programmes have been implemented, such as Thailand, Myanmar, Afghanistan and Morocco were also present to share experiences and lessons learned. The outcomes of the meeting will be published in March 2014 at the CND.
15 November – Martin Jelsma traveled to Brussels to speak at a closed seminar organized by the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum (CPPF) in collaboration with the UN Department of Political Affairs (DPA) that examined the European experiences regarding the impact of the drugs trade and international crime. Special attention was given to the preparations for the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs and the role that could be played by the new UN Task Force on Transnational Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking co-chaired by DPA and UNODC.
25-26 November, the German Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and TNI in collaboration with the Thai Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) organised a workshop ‘Implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Alternative Development in Southeast Asia’ in Bangkok, Thailand. The workshop looked at the key challenges and opportunities to implement these guidelines on alternative development (AD) in Southeast Asia. The workshop provided a platform for sharing experiences and best practices from Latin America and from the region itself, and for discussion on the future of AD in Southeast Asia. It was attended by government officials, NGO representatives and drug policy and rural development experts from Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, China and India, and from international agencies.
December 5 – 7. Martin Jelsma attended the Conference on Illicit Drugs in the North East: Searching for Truth and Solutions, organised by: Institute for Narcotics Studies and Analysis funded by the Government of India at Don Bosco Institute, Kharguli Hills, Guwahati.
Majority of the Dutch favour cannabis legalization, article by Tom Blickman – October 4, 2013
Human rights and drug control: an irreconcilable contradiction? Article by Ernestien Jensema, October 15, 2013
Alternativas a la prohibición de las drogas en Colombia. ¿Presentaron los foros sobre drogas realmente alternativas a la prohibición en Colombia?, article by Colombia consultant Ricardo Vargas, October 21, 2013
Tom Blickmann, Martin Jelsma and associate fellow Dave Bewley-Taylor drafted a paper on cannabis [Rise and Decline? History of cannabis in the UN drug control system and options for reform] and the conventions to feed into the expert seminar held on 31 October-1st November. The paper has been peer reviewed by some of the participants of the seminar, and it is the basis of a full report which will be published early 2014.
First issue of our new briefing series on Drug Markets and Violence, Eyes wide shut: Corruption and drug related violence in Rosario, written by Ross Eventon. December 2013.
On December 10, when the Senate approved cannabis regulation in Uruguay, TNI published these two infographics which were visited by 120,000 people:
Uruguay’s pioneering cannabis regulation marks the tipping point in the failed war on drugs – TNI Press Release, December 10, 2013
Un Plan Paz. Una nueva estrategia sin armas para las drogas en Colombia, article by Amira Armenta, December 12, 2013
INCB vs Uruguay: the art of diplomacy. INCB President Yans disqualified himself and should consider stepping down, article by Martin Jelsma, December 17, 2013
The Netherlands is ready to regulate cannabis, article by Tom Blickman and Martin Jelsma, December 19, 2013
IN THE MEDIA
Ecuador-Colombia Settlement Won’t End Spraying – Inter-Press Service IPS, by Angela Meléndez - October 28, 2013
Wat we kunnen leren van 'cannabisstaat' Colorado – Trouw (Dutch Newspaper), November 5, 2013.
War on Drugs-debat in Amsterdam met Tom Blickman – November 11, 2013
Diálogos de paz: el reto de sacar a las Farc del negocio de las drogas – El Heraldo (Colombia), November 17, 2013
More U.N. States Quietly Say No to Drug War – Inter-Press Service IPS, by Samuel Oakford, December 7, 2013
Informe en mayoría – Senator Roberto Conde opening speech to the debate on the Uruguay Senate to vote on the cannabis regulation bill. December 10, 2013. Senator Conde quotes extensively from the TNI/IDPC briefing The limits of latitude.
La hora de regular el cannabis en Uruguay – El Espectador (Colombia) by Daniel Salgar Antolínez, December 10. 2013
'Uruguay da un paso hacia el cambio global' – El Espectador (Colombia) by Daniel Salgar Antolínez, December 11, 2013
Weed all about it – The Economist (UK), December 11, 2013
Infographic Uruguays pioneering cannabis regulation - Our two infographics have been replicated in numerous Facebook pages and the Spanish version received more than 100,000 hits
On the Uruguay regulation, TNI has also been interviewed by De Standaard (Belgian newspaper), Radio France International RFI, and BNR Nieuws Radio.
Paz entre los colombianos y con los psicoactivos – Razón Pública (Colombia), por: Elías Sevilla Casas, December 16, 2013 Our briefing Bogotá’s medical care centres for drug addicts (CAMAD) is quoted.
Our monthly column in “Cáñamo” Magazine (Barcelona):
-La inspiración uruguaya
-En Colombia siguen fumigando la coca
-La mayoría de los holandeses está a favor de legalizar el cannabis – Iniciativas locales
Coming up the next quarter
We will publish (among others):
-A glossy report on cannabis and the UN Conventions
-A seminar report on the costs and benefits of cannabis regulation models in Europe
-A web primer on the UN drug control conventions
-A web primer on cannabis
-A report on changes in the drug markets in South East Asia (glossy)
-A briefing in the series Drugs Markets and Violence, on Brazil and the UPPs.
-A briefing in the series Drug Law Reform, on cannabis in Morocco.
We will organise:
-An Informal Drug Policy Dialogue on Europe and the 2014 high level CND meeting, in Athens together with Diogenis Foundation and the Greek EU Presidency
-Co-organise two side events during the March CND in Vienna: one event on the scheduling of substances, and one on Uruguay.
October - December 2013