Politics Outside US

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War on drugs strengthens Afghan mafia (Financial Times, UK)

Location: 
United States
URL: 
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/d4a8046a-7e3b-11db-84bb-0000779e2340.html

Army Protecting Opium Trade in Myanmar

Location: 
Myanmar
Publication/Source: 
Asia News
URL: 
http://www.asianews.it/view.php?l=en&art=7854

Jesus Blancornelas, 70; wrote exposes on Tijuana drug cartels

Location: 
Tijuana, BCN
Mexico
Publication/Source: 
Los Angeles Times
URL: 
http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/california/la-me-blancornelas24nov24,1,7626636.story

British troops wary of joining Afghan war on drugs (Daily Times, Pakistan)

Location: 
United States
URL: 
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2006%5C11%5C24%5Cstory_24-11-2006_pg4_20

War on drugs returns to bite Thaksin (Bangkok Post)

Location: 
United States
URL: 
http://www.bangkokpost.com/breaking_news/breakingnews.php?id=114443

Canada: BC Business-Academic Panel Tells Government to Consider Legalizing Drugs

A very establishment advisory group to British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell has advised the Liberal leader that if he wants to deal with crime and illegal drugs in the province, he has two starkly contrasting choices: Legalize it, or unleash an all-out drug war. The panel from the BC Progress Board made the recommendations in a research report released November 15, "Reducing Crime and Improving Criminal Justice in British Columbia: Recommendations for Change."

The BC Progress Board is a group of 18 businessmen and academics selected by the provincial government to provide advice on economic and social issues. Simon Fraser University criminologist Rob Gordon, a board member, was the report's primary author.

The report comes as BC grapples with crime rates higher than the Canadian average. The board identified illegal drug use and the drug trade as one of four motors driving crime in the province. The others were deficient child rearing and services, mental illness, and the "impoverished and unstable lifestyles" of many people living in inner urban areas.

In its second recommendation to Premier Campbell, the board said that "the provincial government must address the problem of the illegal trade in drugs in a clear and consistent manner." The first option it listed was to "lobby the federal government to legalize the trade, perhaps limiting access to products to adults in the same way that access to alcohol and tobacco is limited."

That would allow the government to treat drug use and abuse as public health -- not criminal justice -- problems and would allow the government to obtain revenue from taxing the sales of drugs.

But the BC Progress Board was careful to note that it was not endorsing drug legalization, merely providing options for the provincial government. The board's second recommendation on drug policy made that perfectly clear. In the event legalization proves impossible to implement, the board suggested, "the provincial government should provide the resources to eliminate the drug trade entirely in the province." Alternately, the board suggested a combination of recommendations one and two. The province should first spend 10 years trying to wipe out the drug trade, then move to legalization.

While the board's recommendations are not exactly a clarion call for legalization, the panel put the idea squarely on the table.

Europe: Give Addicts Prescription Heroin, Says British Police Commander

Heroin addicts should be prescribed the drug through the National Health Service (NHS) to reduce crime, a senior British police officer told a conference of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) this week. The forthright advice came from Nottinghamshire Police Deputy Chief Constable Howard Roberts, who is vice-chairman of the ACPO drugs committee.

The remarks came as ACPO considers whether to seek changes in British drug policy and amidst news reports that some 150 heroin addicts are already receiving prescription diamorphine (heroin) from NHS. Roberts made clear he was expressing his personal opinion, not speaking for ACPO.

"We should actively consider prescribing diamorphine, pharmaceutical heroin, to those seriously addicted to heroin as part of a treatment program for addiction," he said in comments reported by ITV News. "My motives for making such a statement are frankly this: there is an undeniable link between addicted offenders and appalling levels of criminality, as heroin and crack cocaine addicts commit crime from burglary to robbery, to sometimes murder, to get the money to buy drugs to satisfy their addiction. The resulting misery to society is huge."

According to the Home Office, heroin addicts commit 432 crimes a year, Roberts noted. "Therefore the logic is clear, I suggest, that we take highly addicted offenders out of committing crime to feed their addiction, into closely supervised treatment programs that, as part of the program, can prescribe diamorphine," said Roberts.

Roberts' comments won the immediate support of the think tank DrugScope, whose chief executive, Martin Barnes, said: "We support calls for the extension of heroin prescribing, which for some problem drug users can be an extremely effective form of drug treatment. It can have immediate health benefits for the drug user and can for some be the best route to becoming drug-free. There is compelling evidence that heroin prescribing, although more expensive than some forms of drug treatment, is cost-effective in reducing drug-related crime and other costs to communities."

But there is no word yet on whether the British government or the ACPO will be as enthusiastic.

Along the Northern Mexican Border, Fear Rules

Location: 
Mexico
URL: 
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-laredo23nov23,0,7147230.story?coll=la-home-world

Cost of illegal drugs falls across EU (TheParliament.com)

Location: 
United States
URL: 
http://www.eupolitix.com/EN/News/200611/1a507a9b-86ac-496a-b494-b24947956413.htm

Europe: British Drug Expert Calls for Downgrade on LSD, Ecstasy

Britain's drug classification scheme is out of whack and should be adjusted, said Dr. David Nutt, head of the British parliament's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) in remarks reported by the BBC. Nutt called for ecstasy and LSD to be downgraded from Class A to Class B, while suggesting that barbiturates should be upgraded to Class A.

Grouping ecstasy and LSD with other Class A drugs like heroin is "an anomaly," Nutt said, adding that barbiturates could be "worth moving up to Class A." Nutt was responding to a query from the House of Commons' all-party Science and Technology Committee. "I think 4MTA [a little used relative of Ecstasy], LSD and ecstasy probably shouldn't be Class A," he told the committee.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/ukparliament.jpg
British Parliament
In theory, Britain's drug classification scheme reflects the relative dangers of various controlled substances. But the scheme has been under increasing attack from critics -- including a parliamentary committee -- who say it does not accurately reflect the comparative social and personal harms of using various drugs.

Under Britain's classification scheme, possession of Class A drugs carries a maximum sentence of seven years, compared to five for Class B drugs. Sales of Class A drugs can bring a maximum of life in prison, compared to 14 years for Class B drugs.

While other committee members confirmed that ecstasy's status is under review, British drugs minister Vernon Croaker told the BBC he would listen to the ACMD's recommendations, but would not be bound by them. "If the ACMD look at a drug and come to us with a recommendation of course we will look at it," he said. "Whether we then act on it will be a matter of political judgment."

This isn't the first time a move to downgrade ecstasy -- which is used by an estimated half-million Britons each weekend -- has been bruited. In 2002, the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee recommended lowering the penalties for ecstasy, but that suggestion was dismissed by then Home Secretary David Blunkett. Last month, current Home Secretary John Reid said he would not revise the classification system despite rising criticism.

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