• Major UN report condemns punitive drugs policies

    The report calls for drug policies based on evidence, human rights and social justice
    Steve Rolles (Transform)
    Friday, March 15, 2019

    António GuterresA new report from the United Nations System Coordination Task Team describes punitive drug policies as “ineffective in reducing drug trafficking or in addressing non-medical drug use and supply”. It goes on to say that such approaches “undermine the human rights and well-being of persons who use drugs, as well as of their families and communities.” The report represents a clear rejection of drug policies based on criminalisation, punishment and harsh enforcement, instead endorsing evidence based policy rooted in public health, sustainable development, and respect for human rights. As such it marks a major shift in collective thinking across the leading United Nations agencies – and a major victory for civil society reform advocates.

  • The UN Chief Executives Board unanimously endorses decriminalisation of people who use drugs

    The Chief Executives Board of the UN represents 31 UN agencies
    Monday, March 11, 2019

    The Chief Executives Board of the UN, representing 31 UN agencies, has adopted a common position on drug policy that endorses decriminalisation of possession and use. This comes just days before a key meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, which will review, the UN’s 10-year Global Drug Strategy, and plan for the next one.


  • UN drugs watchdog still in denial over cannabis

    The INCB has taken a misguided position in their ongoing attempt to stifle reforms
    International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC)
    Tuesday, March 5, 2019

    incb logoToday, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) – the UN watchdog on compliance with the international drug control conventions – has released its latest position on cannabis which largely warns against ‘medical cannabis’ rather than welcoming the many advances in the therapeutic applications of the plant. The INCB’s hawkish position on cannabis, released as part of its Annual Report, comes at a pivotal moment for policy reforms. Forty-eight countries allow access to medicinal cannabis, while countries such as Canada, Uruguay and the USA (at state level) allow recreational cannabis use. Others are following suit, with plans announced for such moves in Mexico, New Zealand and Luxembourg.

  • Tramadol: Three cheers for the Expert Committee on Drug Dependence

    Tramadol is often the only analgesic available for those suffering ‘moderate to moderately severe’ pain, particularly in the developing world
    Christopher Hallam (IDPC)
    Wednesday, February 6, 2019

    tramadolIn November 2018, the Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) held its 41st meeting in Vienna. The ECDD is a committee that operates under the auspices of the World Health Organisation (WHO), and it is tasked with examining substances proposed for control under the United Nations international drug control treaties. It conducts a process of scientific review, and based on the evidence available to it, WHO makes a recommendation to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in Vienna, which is the political decision-making body of the UN drug control system. It is one of the few ways in which the imperatives of public health can have an impact on the system.

  • Drug law reform comes to Mexico

    The incoming government has already committed to establishing a regulated cannabis market
    Aram Barra & Zara Snapp
    Thursday, November 15, 2018

    Last month, Mexico’s Supreme Court handed down two decisions that effectively overturned Mexico’s longstanding ban on the personal use of marijuana. The Court affirmed the power of the individual—rather than the state—to decide what to do with their own body. More importantly, it struck down a form of prohibition and brought the “war on drugs” in Mexico closer its end than ever before. Both of us are plaintiffs in the two cases and, for the past decade, we have worked as drug policy reform advocates who have sought to decriminalize the use of cannabis in Mexico.

  • Taking stock of a decade of failed drug policies

    A new report also outlines new indicators for assessing drug policy progress and impacts
    Ann Fordham (IDPC)
    Monday, October 22, 2018

    colombia fumigation soldiersTen years ago, UN member states set themselves a target ‘to eliminate or reduce significantly and measurably’ the illicit cultivation, production, trafficking and use of internationally controlled substances by 2019. That deadline is fast approaching and at the next session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in March, a Ministerial Segment will be held, ostensibly to “take stock” of progress made and delineate the global drug strategy for the next decade. However, the UN preparations for the March meeting have arguably missed a rather crucial step.

  • Veneer of consensus masks deep disagreement on global drug policy

    Trump to host UN meeting on drug policy
    John Walsh, Ann Fordham, Martin Jelsma & Hannah Hetzer
    Saturday, September 22, 2018

    donald trump ungaOn September 24, President Trump will begin his appearance at the UN General Assembly by hosting an event on the “World Drug Problem.” Only delegates of those UN Member States that have signed a document circulated by the Trump administration – a “Global Call to Action on the World Drug Problem” – will be invited to attend. At the event, delegates will have the opportunity to pose for a group photograph with President Trump before he, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, and UN Secretary General António Guterres provide remarks.

  • We from the police advise: more money and powers for the police

    The inconvenient truth about an alarmist police report
    Tom Blickman
    Friday, September 7, 2018

    The study 'The Netherlands and synthetic drugs: An inconvenient truth' by the Dutch police academy on the role of the Netherlands in the production of synthetic drugs has the sound of "We, the people at Toilet Duck, recommend Toilet Duck". The rather predictable conclusion of this investigation is that law enforcement needs more money and resources. In passing, competitors for limited government budgets, like those who advocate a public health approach to drug policy, are rendered suspect; they stand in the way of an “effective” policy of repression.

  • New government in Spain: An opportunity for cannabis legalization?

    Pedro Sanchez is the new and unexpected president of Spain. Among his supporters, some openly call for the legalization of cannabis. Is this really an opportunity for things to change?
    Martín Barriuso
    Friday, August 10, 2018

    spain legalizeOn June 1, Pedro Sanchez became Spain’s first president to be elected through a no-confidence motion. A few days after the Popular Party was condemned for corruption, the socialist candidate won the support of an unlikely confluence of theoretically incompatible groups. Will this unexpected change serve to unblock the debate on the regulation of cannabis? For years, a long list of corruption cases has been gradually damaging the image of the Popular Party (PP), an organization which until recently drew together almost all the conservative electorate in Spain.

  • More drugs, more deaths, more damage...

    U.N. drug report shows global drug trade grows despite draconian enforcement efforts
    Juan Fernandez Ochoa (IDPC)
    Tuesday, June 26, 2018

    In 2012, Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos, referred to current drug control efforts as something akin to riding a stationary bicycle. "One keeps pedalling, pedalling and pedalling, and making great efforts,(...) only to find out one hasn’t really moved”. Today, as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) releases its latest figures on the drugs market, Santos’ words ring particularly true. In fact, the 2018 World Drug Report shows some countries are fruitlessly pedalling faster. Between 2012-2016, the amount of drugs seized by law enforcement authorities increased noticeably. By around 60% when it comes to cocaine, opioids and amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS); and a whopping 150% when it comes to ‘new psychoactive substances’ (NPS). Cannabis, an outlier in this trend, showed a slight downtick of roughly 10%.


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