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Africa: NGOs Criticize Emphasis on Cutting Drug Supply, Urge Attention to Demand Reduction

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from across West and Central Africa meeting last weekend in Dakar, Senegal, criticized the United Nations (UN) and West and Central African governments for focusing on reducing the supply of drugs to the extent that they are ignoring demand reduction strategies, according to the UN news service IRIN.

The region has received increasing attention in recent months as a transshipment point for South American cocaine headed for insatiable European markets. It also produces marijuana for local consumption and export to Europe.

While money is beginning to flow into the region in an effort to suppress the drug trade, that money is not being matched with funds for treatment and prevention, said delegates to the meeting, part of a global NGO forum called "Beyond 2008" and coordinated by the Vienna NGO Committee on Narcotic Drugs.

"There is total disequilibrium with regards to the means given to different actors in the fight against drugs," Cheikh Diop, president of the Federation of Senegalese NGOs Fighting against Drugs, told IRIN. "So much money is invested in the fight against drug trafficking or the reduction of supply; but when it comes to reducing the demand -- or the users themselves -- organizations working on this approach have almost no financial means."

"We don't have the means to do what we want to do," said Abdoulaye Diouf, local organizer of the meeting and manager of the Senegalese Jacques Chirac drug information and awareness center.

"The fight against drugs will never succeed solely through repression," the anti-drug federation's Diop said. "How long have we been putting people in jail? And how long has the drug problem continued?"

He said there are few if any treatment facilities available for drug users in West Africa. Poverty-stricken street kids who fall into drugs need to be given alternatives and the general population must be educated about the risks of drug use, he said.

NGOs have become deeply involved in the fight to reduce drug use since the UN General Assembly special session on the global drug problem in 1998, but they complain that they lack resources, as well as training in research, analysis, and marketing. And governments too often ignore them, they said.

"There is almost no collaboration between NGOs and government," Diouf said. "When it comes to planning and implementing activities, NGOs are ignored in many countries."

Injected Drugs Growing Source of New HIV Infections

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
Voice of America (DC)
URL: 
http://voanews.com/english/2007-05-14-voa20.cfm

No Prom, Unless Parents Go To Drug, Alcohol Class

Location: 
Buffalo, NY
United States
Publication/Source: 
WBEN NewsRadio 930 (NY)
URL: 
http://www.wben.com/news/fullstory.php?newsid=07382

Drug Policy Forum of Kansas: Action Alert April 25, 2007

Take Action! - Help Repeal Higher Education Act Drug Provision Take Action! - Ask Congress to Allow Medical Marijuana Research Take Action! - Support Second Chance Act for Drug Offenders ACLU Forum: Wakarusa '07 - Privacy Rights in Public Places Today, April 25, 2007, at the Lawrence Public Library, 7pm. Panelist include, DPFKS Executive Director Laura Green, Charles Branson, DG County DA, Skip Griffey, DG County Bar Association, and Lt. Kari Wempe, DG County Sheriff's Office. Wakarusa Music Festival Volunteer Sign-up DPFKS members interested in volunteering to work a few hours a day at the Wakarusa Music Festival should send go to the web site and click on Frequently Asked Questions for more information. The festival takes place June 7-10 at Clinton State Park outside of Lawrence. Next Volunteer Meeting April 28, 1 p.m. at the DPFKS offices, 941 Kentucky Street, Lawrence, first floor. We will discuss plans for the booths at Wakarusa Music Festival. Tell Senator Pat Roberts to REPEAL THE HEA DRUG PROVISION! The Higher Education Act Reauthorization bill being considered by the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee of which Kansas Senator Pat Roberts is a member. Repealing the Aid Elimination Penalty, also known as the "Drug Provision" would reinstate aid to aspiring students by removing the confusing drug conviction question from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, as recommended by Congress's own Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance. Read our policy paper for more information on the HEA drug provision. In a letter to committee chair Senator Kennedy, the Drug Policy Forum of Kansas, along with more than 335 organizations around the country have called for a full repeal of the provision. Read the text of the letter on the Coalition for Higher Education Act Reform (CHEAR) website. What you can do: Call Senator Roberts and tell him: The Higher Education Act Drug Provision harms otherwise well performing students in Kansas and should be repealed by his committee. Senator Robert's office number is 202-224-4774. Alternatively, you can send a form letter to Senator Roberts from the CHEAR website. DEA Resisting Own Recommendation to Allow Medical Marijuana Research! The DEA's own administrative law judge ruled last month that marijuana could be grown at the University of Massachusetts so it could be provided for legitimate medical research. (For more information on the ruling, go to the web site, http://www.maps.org/) So far DEA Chief, Karen Tandy, has not allowed the recommendation to go forward. A sign-on letter is being distributed to members of Congress urging Administrator Tandy to allow the marijuana to be grown and distributed to licensed researchers, so the confusion surrounding marijuana's benefits as a medicine can finally be settled. What you can do: Call your Representive and tell them: Please sign on to the letter Sponsored by Rep. John Olver (pron. Ol-ver) urging the DEA to allow marijuana to be grown for medical research! Rep. Boyda: 202-225-6601 Rep. Moore: 202-225-2865 Rep. Moran: 202-225-2715 Rep. Tiahrt: 202-225-6216 Don't know who your Representative is? http://www.house.gov/writerep/ Give Formerly Incarcerated Drug Offenders a Chance! From Kansas Families Against Mandatory Minimums: The Second Chance Act of 2007 has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate and is moving quickly through the legislative process. Show your support for formerly incarcerated people by supporting these bills! Among other things, the Second Chance Act would provide reentry funding on the state and local level to support the needs of formerly incarcerated people for housing, mental health and substance abuse treatment, education, employment and rebuilding family and community ties. Every year, approximately 650,000 people leave prison unprepared for the transition into society. It is no surprise that nearly two-thirds of them will be rearrested within three years. They deserve a better second chance, and H.R. 1593 and S. 1060 will help give them that. Next Volunteer Meeting Saturday, April 28, 1 p.m. at the DPFKS offices at 941 Kentucky Street, Lawrence, KS 785-841-8278 for more information. Won't you help us research and promote cost effective drug policies in Kansas by sending your tax-deductible donation today? Become a member. Add yourself to our mailing list by going to our web site www.dpfks.org.
Location: 
United States

Feature: In Britain, Labor's Decade-Long Drug War a Failure, New Report Finds

With Britain's 10-year UK Drug Strategy up for renewal or replacement next year, a series of reports detailing its flaws have appeared in recent months. Now, we can add one more to the list. This week, a new independent panel on drug policy issued a report saying that a decade of Labor's drug war had failed to curb the social problems and criminality related to drug abuse under prohibition.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/ukparliament.jpg
UK government: failing at drug policy
The report, An Analysis of UK Drug Policy was authored by University of Maryland drug policy analyst Peter Reuter and Alex Stevens of the University of Kent, for the UK Drug Policy Commission. Headed by long-time drug reform proponent Dame Ruth Runciman, the commission describes its mission as "to provide independent and objective analysis of drug policy and find ways to help the public and policy makers better understand the implications and options for future policy."

If the commission's report is any indicator, policy makers can use the help. Labor's strategy of education campaigns, forced drug treatment, some harm reduction measures, and harsher prison sentences has not made an appreciable dent in drug use. Britain has the highest level of dependent drug users in Europe, the report found, and heroin use has skyrocketed from 5,000 people in 1975 to an estimated 280,000 now.

The report estimated the size of the British drug market at more than $10 billion a year and the cost of drug-related crime at more than $25 billion a year. It also found that Britain's drug use rates were among the highest in Europe.

While Reuters and Stevens were highly skeptical of the ability of drug policy to influence drug use, they praised harm reduction measures. "Government policies have only limited impact on rates of drug use itself," they wrote. "However, the UK has introduced evidence-based measures, notably the expansion of treatment and harm reduction, that have reduced the harms that would otherwise have occurred. On the other hand it operates measures, such as classifying drugs to deter use and increasing use of imprisonment, that have little or no support from available research."

The number of people in drug treatment had increased from 85,000 to 181,000 between 1998 and 2005, much of that increase driven by the criminal justice system, the authors noted. But the number of drug war prisoners has also increased by 111% in the past decade, and sentences are nearly a third longer than when Tony Blair took office.

The report's executive analysis section on policy implications is worth quoting at length:

There is little evidence from the UK, or any other country, that drug policy influences either the number of drug users or the share of users who are dependent. There are numerous other cultural and social factors that appear to be more important. It is notable that two European countries that are often used as contrasting examples of tough or liberal drug policies, Sweden and the Netherlands, both have lower rates of overall and problematic drug use than the UK.

Given the international evidence as to the limited ability of drug policy to influence national trends in drug use and drug dependence, it is unreasonable to judge the performance of a country's drug policy by the levels of drug use in that country. Yet that is the indictor to which the media and public instinctively turn. However, this is not to say that drug policy is irrelevant.

The arena where government drug policy needs to focus further effort and where it can make an impact is in reducing the levels of drug-related harms (crime, death and disease and other associated problems) through the expansion of and innovation in treatment and harm reduction services.

We know very little about the effectiveness and impact of most enforcement efforts, whether they are directed at reducing the availability of drugs or at enforcing the law over possession and supply. Imprisoning drug offenders for relatively substantial periods does not appear to represent a cost effective response.

Transparency in resource allocations is urgently needed if the overall and relative balance of supply and demand reduction interventions is to be considered.

The UK invests remarkably little in independent evaluation of the impact of drug policies, especially enforcement. This needs redressing if policy makers are to be able to identify and introduce effective measures in the future.

Unsurprisingly, the Blair government rejected the report's findings. "The British Crime Survey shows that drug use has fallen by 16% since 1998 and drug use among adults has fallen by 21%," a Home Office statement said. "We are determined to build on this progress by continuing to take more drugs off our streets, put more dealers behind bars and make sure young people are informed about the harms drugs cause," he said.

Equally unsurprisingly, the opposition Tories called the report "a shocking indictment" of Blair's drug policy. "After ten years in power this is a shocking indictment of the government's failure and shows that Tony Blair has utterly failed in his pledge to get tough on the 'causes' of crime," said Tory Shadow Home Secretary David Davis in a press release. "The consequences of this failure are not just that hundreds of thousands of young lives are being ruined -- drugs also fuel much of the gun and knife related violence on our streets today, thus destroying communities."

But the Tories would only offer more of the same, the press release indicated. "Conservatives would take real action to combat this scourge on society. Not only would we increase the amount of residential drug rehab beds and increase the prison capacity so that offenders can settle and complete their drug rehab courses, we would also establish a dedicated UK border police to stop drugs simply flowing in through our porous borders. This force would also act to detect and prosecute those who smuggle drugs into our country."

Danny Kushlick, director of Transform Drug Policy Foundation, which advocates legalization, had a different solution. "We know from evidence that misuse of drugs is related significantly to social ill-being and social deprivation," he told the Guardian. "You cannot deal with that stuff with education and prevention or through teaching younger and younger children. You deal with it by redistributing wealth and improving wellbeing."

Britain has seen report after report detailing the failures of prohibitionist drug policy in the last two years. Next year, it will have the opportunity to put the lessons learned into practice. When was the last time we had such an overview of drug policy in the United States?

Tougher prison sentences 'have little impact on flow of drugs'

Location: 
United Kingdom
Publication/Source: 
The Guardian (UK)
URL: 
http://politics.guardian.co.uk/homeaffairs/story/0,,2060658,00.html

Britain's fight against drugs 'a total failure'

Location: 
United Kingdom
Publication/Source: 
The Observer (UK)
URL: 
http://observer.guardian.co.uk/politics/story/0,,2057575,00.html

Millions More for a Failed Anti-Drug Propaganda Campaign? Ridiculous!

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
AlterNet (CA)
URL: 
http://www.alternet.org/drugreporter/49231/

Op-Ed: The federal anti-drug ad campaign yields only disappointing results

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
The News-Sentinel (IN)
URL: 
http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/newssentinel/16887843.htm

Britain's drug policy 'not fit for purpose'

Location: 
United Kingdom
Publication/Source: 
The Daily Telegraph (UK)
URL: 
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/03/08/ndrug108.xml

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