Martin Jelsma is a political scientist who has specialised in Latin America and international drugs policy. In 2005, he received the Alfred R. Lindesmith Award for Achievement in the Field of Scholarship, which stated that Jelsma "is increasingly recognized as one of, if not the, outstanding strategists in terms of how international institutions deal with drugs and drug policy."...
Ernestien Jensema (1971) is a social anthropologist who has been working as a researcher and project coordinator with the Drugs & Democracy Programme of TNI since 2008. She focuses on issues related to the UN drug control system and the Drugs and Democracy Programme’s Asia project....
Pien Metaal is an activist and political scientist that has been part of the Drugs and Democracy programme since 2002, though her participation with the Programme dates further back. Her work for TNI has focussed on research, education, network- and policy development on coca and cocaine, producers of crops for illicit use, fair(er) trade cannabis and many other issues related to―international...
Tom Blickman is a Senior Project Officer at the Transnational Institute (TNI), based in Amsterdam. Since 1997, he has been working for TNI's Drugs & Democracy Programme, specializing in international drug control policy and the UN conventions, drug markets, alternative development, money laundering and organised crime. Tom is a regular speaker at international policy conferences and advises...
U.S. drug control officials have denounced Dutch drug policy as if it were the devil himself. One former U.S. Drug Czar said "you can't walk down the street in Amsterdam without tripping over junkies." In the Summer of 1998, however, one such denouncement turned into a small scandal. The first part of this chapter examines this incident as a window on the politics of drug policy. The second part offers a more general analysis of why U.S. drug control officials seem to be so threatened by the Dutch example.
Cannabis is the cutting-edge drug for reform, the only politically plausible candidate for major legal change, at least decriminalisation (removal of criminal penalties for possession) and perhaps even outright legalisation (permitting production and sale). Compared with other drugs, the harms, physiological or behavioural, are less severe and the drug is better integrated into the culture. Throughout Western Europe and in the Antipodes there is pressure for reductions in the punitiveness of the marijuana regime.
Economists have been among the leading critics of current drug policies, but this criticism does not mean they have reached a consensus about specific reforms. Although drug-policy researchers and economists in general seem opposed to prohibition, they are timid in their advocacy of decriminalization and even less supportive of legalization.
Robin Room, Peter Reuter (RAND), Wayne Hall, Benedikt Fischer, Simon Lenton, Amanda Fielding
01 September 2008
Despite cannabis being the most widely used illegal drug, and therefore the mainstay of the ‘war on drugs’, it has only ever held a relatively marginal position in international drug policy discussions. Amanda Fielding of the Beckley Foundation decided to convene a team of the world’s leading drug policy analysts to prepare an overview of the latest scientific evidence surrounding cannabis and the policies that control its use. The report of the Beckley Foundation's Global Cannabis Commission is aimed at bringing cannabis to the attention of policymakers and guide decision making.
This paper starts from the premise that, when a new psychoactive substance appears on the licit/illicit market in a country in Europe, legislators need to choose whether to bring it under control of the drug laws, and for public health reasons they may need to do so quickly. A comparative study of the systems and procedures finds that there are a variety of control methods available in the different countries, including the analogue and generic systems, as well as temporary emergency and rapid permanent scheduling procedures.
Tom Kramer (1968) is a political scientist who has been working as a researcher with TNI's Drugs & Democracy Programme since 2007. Over the years Tom has specialised in drug policy in Asia with a special focus on sustainable development and the link between drugs and conflict. Tom has authored various TNI reports, his expertise is regularly requested at international fora and in the media.
There is a growing recognition around the world that the prohibition of drugs is a counterproductive failure. However, a major barrier to drug law reform has been a widespread fear of the unknown—just what could a post-prohibition regime look like?
The application of regulatory theory to the problem of illicit drugs has generally been thought about only in terms of ‘command and control’. The international treaties governing global illicit drug control and the use of law enforcement to dissuade and punish offenders have been primary strategies. In this paper the application of other aspects of regulatory theory to illicit drugs – primarily self-regulation and market regulation – are explored. There has been an overreliance on strategies from the top of the regulatory pyramid.
The regulation of khat, one of the most recent psychoactive drugs to become a globally traded commodity, remains hotly contested within different producer and consumer countries. As regimes vary, it has been possible to compare khat policies in Africa, Europe and North America from different disciplinary perspectives. The research established the significance of khat for rural producers, regional economies, as a tax base and source of foreign exchange. At the same time, khat as a psychoactive substance is associated with health and public safety problems that in turn are met with often ill-informed legislative responses. Bans have in turn lead to the criminalisation of users and sellers and illegal drug markets.
In the United States the discussion on the pros and cons of regulating cannabis is well advanced. The national television news programme CNBC has dedicated a website, Marijuana & Money, to the issue. “Many Americans support legalization and many states already permit medical use,” the site says. “An end to prohibition would generate billions in tax revenue and relieve the criminal justice system. But is it the right thing to do?”
Within the last decade the hitherto little known psychoactive substance of khat has emerged as a regional and international issue. In the Horn of Africa khat production has spurred an economic boom, but dramatic increases in consumption have raised public health concerns. Given the complexity of the topic spanning multiple academic disciplines and fields of professional practice, the need for a systematic overview is urgent.
Beau Kilmer, Jonathan P. Caulkins, Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, Robert J. MacCoun, Peter H. Reuter
07 July 2010
To learn more about the possible outcomes of marijuana legalization in California, RAND researchers constructed a model based on a series of estimates of current consumption, current and future prices, how responsive use is to price changes, taxes levied and possibly evaded, and the aggregation of nonprice effects (such as a change in stigma).
The article reviews the status of khat, the most recent plant based psychoactive substance to reach a global market, and considers policy making processes in general and the framework of drug control in particular. The risk assessment and classification of psychoactive drugs is a contested arena where political, economic and moral agendas collide, leaving countries that have banned khat, with significant social costs. To best manage the risks arising from the increasing availability of khat it is therefore suggested to draft a regulatory framework with clear objectives and guiding principles.
Stephen Rolles argues that we need to end the criminalisation of drugs and set up regulatory models that will control drug markets and reduce the harms caused by current policy. Non-medical drug markets can remain in the hands of unregulated criminal profiteers or they can be controlled and regulated by appropriate government authorities.
Anand Grover, UN Special Rapporteur for the occupied Palestinian territories
06 August 2010
The current international system of drug control has focused on creating a drug-free world, almost exclusively through use of law enforcement policies and criminal sanctions. Mounting evidence, however, suggests this approach has failed, primarily because it does not acknowledge the realities of drug use and dependence. While drugs may have a pernicious effect on individual lives and society, this excessively punitive regime has not achieved its stated public health goals, and has resulted in countless human rights violations.