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Harm Reduction: Global Harm Reductionists Issue Urgent Declaration Calling for Action on Drug Use and HIV

Representatives of 19 international and regional harm reduction organizations meeting in Toronto this week have issued a declaration calling for immediate action to address the spread of HIV through injection drug use. Known as the Declaration of Unity, the statement demands that governments and international anti-drug organizations stop impeding the adoption of harm reduction measures proven to reduce the spread of disease, such as needle exchanges and safe injection sites.

The groups urged governments to:

  • provide adequate coverage and low threshold access, including in correctional settings, to sterile injection equipment, condoms, methadone and buprenorphine as essential components of comprehensive HIV prevention and care;
  • ensure that drug users and all marginalized populations have equitable access to quality HIV prevention, medical care, and highly active antiretroviral treatment, that concrete country-level and global targets be established, and that progress be monitored;
  • provide meaningful involvement of drug users at all levels of planning and policy, and financial support for their organizations; and
  • put an end to disenfranchisement and human rights violations of drug users including mass imprisonment, punitive and degrading drug treatment programs, and the widespread use of withdrawal as a form of coercion.

Noting that UNAIDS cannot effectively slow the spread of HIV when forces within the UN system are creating obstacles to effective harm reduction measures, the groups demanded that:

  • the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, as the UN agency tasked with leadership on HIV prevention among drug users, ensure that effective community protection against HIV is not ignored in the name of drug control and law enforcement;
  • the International Narcotics Control Board, as the body charged with responsibility for monitoring implementation of the drug treaties, publicly and unambiguously endorse and promote harm reduction as an approach consistent with those treaties and monitor global delivery of substitution treatment and HIV prevention measures for drug users;
  • the international community and all major UN bodies involved in drugs and HIV approach drug use as a health and social matter which also requires some law enforcement interventions rather than being primarily a matter of criminal justice.

The harm reductionists from around the globe were in Toronto for the International AIDS 2006 conference. "HIV is being spread increasingly -- in some parts of the world, chiefly-through the sharing of injecting equipment, said Dr. Diane Riley, who signed the declaration on behalf of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy and the Youth Network for Harm Reduction International. "Considerable evidence exists that harm reduction strategies such as needle exchange programs can effectively, safely and cheaply reduce the spread of HIV; yet very few such programs are in place. Governments are in effect spreading infection through their own drug control and enforcement policies which encourage use of non-sterile equipment, and marginalization and incarceration of users," Riley added in a press release announcing the declaration.

"The United States, the world's most important donor of international aid, restricts implementation of harm reduction strategies," Riley charged. "Political and social commitment, including commitment of the necessary resources, and an end to the US administration's embargo on harm reduction are needed now," Riley said. "If we fail to do this, further catastrophe is inevitable and the global economy will simply not be able to cope with the resultant burden."

Interpol Medical Marijuana Letter, Michael Krawitz

A nice letter from Michael Krawitz. I can't speak to the meaning of the treaties insofar as they could be said to support medical marijuana, but at a bare minimum the DEA's claim that international treaties preclude medical marijuana is amazingly bogus -- even by DEA standards! And Michael is right -- in moral terms, at least, what's going on now is a crime against humanity. Dear Interpol, My name is Michael Krawitz. I am a patient advocate in the United States of America. My organization [NGO] is Patients Out of Time, an organization on the roster of the International Narcotics Control Board. I have come to you today in a desperate attempt to seek justice in a matter of grave importance to thousands of seriously ill individuals of the state of California in the United States of America and by extension tens of thousands of similarly situated individuals across America. The crimes I am about disclose are crimes against humanity involving violation of the Single Convention Treaty on Narcotic Drugs, the international Declaration of Human Rights and involves either corruption or gross incompetence at the highest levels of police agencies of the United States. Background: As I am sure you know Cannabis [aka marihuana or marijuana] is both a schedule 1 and schedule 4 drug in the Single Convention On Narcotic Drugs simultaneously calling for the prohibition of non medical use and providing for it's medical use. I also feel confident that you know that the Netherlands is currently distributing Cannabis to patients via prescription [and has done so for 5 years] under the control of the appropriate United Nations bodies attesting to it's international legality as a medicine. I am not sure that you realize that the United States government drug police, the United States federal Drug Enforcement Administration, DEA, has been misstating the international law for years to justify an overall prohibition of this important medicine even from those who most need it medically for the relief of suffering. Please accept as evidence of this the following link to DEA United States Congressional testimony from 2001. http://www.dea.gov/pubs/cngrtest/ct032701.htm This misstatement of the international law has been propagated down the food chain to lower government bodies and is most recently evidenced in the text of a lawsuit brought to California state court by the council for the County of San Diego, California USA. Please see the text of the lawsuit at the following link: http://aclu.org/images/asset_upload_file802_23911.pdf The Crime: Evidently emboldened by the misguided lawsuit from San Diego the United States federal Drug Enforcement Administration has taken the unprecedented step of seizing medicine from every not for profit distribution center in the area. They have done so without making arrests and have made it clear they do not intend to return the medicine and further have threatened these same facilities with further raids should they restock with medicine. Please note that these distribution centers and indeed the California medical Cannabis law itself was set up as a humanitarian and stop gap measure to deal with the fallout from the United States intransigence with regard to the medical access to this important medicine. In 1988 a federal judge working for DEA ruled the medical prohibition improper even by DEA's own rules and the DEA instead of following the judges order to reschedule the medicine to allow patient access appealed the ruling and was allowed to disobey the judges ruling for administrative reasons. Before 1970 and since 1937, in the United States, prescription access to Cannabis was expressly allowed and taxed for control. Since 1970 prescription access to Cannabis has been arbitrarily prohibited by the United States Government in violation of both the Single Convention Treaty and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but to my knowledge the DEA has never undertaken to actually take away this medicine directly from those who need until recently. Most recently, this last Friday to be exact, I began receiving panicked emails stating "the DEA is here taking away our medicine" from patients and care givers across San Diego. Patient access to Cannabis under California law is only allowed via doctors orders as part of medical care, access to wit is specifically protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I am being very kind when I say this may just be caused by gross incompetence since surely the DEA must be considered the United States leading experts on the international drug control convention and surely they know that patient access is not prohibited. To be honest I am personally afraid of reprisals from the DEA just for coming forward to bring you this information. Please, in honor of those who have given their lives to ensure member nations worldwide the protection of these treaties, act on these charges and bring justice back where it has been pushed aside. I say this as a disabled veteran of the United States Air Force, a citizen of the United States of America and a representative and volunteer of a non governmental organization working to defend the truth about this important medicine and those who require it to relieve their suffering. Sincerely yours, Michael Krawitz Patients Out of Time www.medicalcannabis.com ###
Location: 
United States

Web Scan: WOLA on Mexico Drug Wars, Sentencing Project and Others Report to UN Human Rights Committee, CURE on Prisons in OAS

"State of Siege: Drug-Related Violence and Corruption in Mexico," Laurie Freeman of WOLA on "Unintended Consequences of the War on Drugs"

Sentencing Project Statement to UN Human Rights Committee on Felony Disenfranchisement Violations of Article 25

Criminal Justice Section of Shadow Report on US compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, from Sentencing Project, Criminal Justice Policy Foundation Open Society Policy Center and Penal Reform International

Evaluation of Prisons in the Organization of American States, by the international branch of Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants

Middle East: US Troops, Iraqi Police Seize Marijuana Plants

US troops and Iraqi police seized and destroyed a bumper crop of marijuana plants last week, according to a report in Stars & Stripes. Based on a military press release, the report said soldiers from the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, which has responsibility for most of northern Iraq, discovered the field in an unnamed location.

According to the military press release, the field contained "juvenile marijuana plants grown in a series of furrows. The owner claimed he was growing sesame." Police put the value of the field at $2 million. The crop was cut down and destroyed, and the man arrested.

While drug use and trafficking was rare under the repressive regime of Saddam Hussein, the chaos and violence into which the country has descended since the US invasion in 2003, has both increased drug use and made the country more attractive to smugglers. That is to be expected, complained Hamid Ghodse, head of the International Narcotics Control Board, the United Nations body charged with monitoring compliance with UN anti-drug treaties.

"Whether it is due to war or disaster, weakening of border controls and security infrastructure make countries into convenient logistic and transit points, not only for international terrorists and militants, but also for traffickers," Ghodse told the BBC in referring to Iraq last year.

"You cannot have peace, security and development without attending to drug control," Ghodse added, staying on point. But in Iraq, maybe we'd all be better off if everyone just smoked some herb and chilled out.

July Issue of Cannabinoid Chronicles (Vancouver Island Compassion Society)

Location: 
United States
URL: 
http://www.thevics.com/publications/vol3/VICSNews3_11.pdf

Canadian Senator and Former Mayor Roasts UN Anti-Drug Chief in E-Mail over "World Drug Report"

We didn't get the permission back in time to include this in issue #441 of Drug War Chronicle, but Sen. Campbell wrote back and said it's okay. In an e-mail sent to Vancouver drug reformer and harm reductionist Mark Haden, Vancouver's former mayor, Larry Campbell, now a Senator, wrote the following e-mail, titled " UNODC World Drug Report 2006 full of scientific insults," with permission to distribute it:
"UNODC Executive Director, Antonio Maria Costa claims that the world is experiencing a devastating "cannabis pandemic." This gentleman is the same person who said we were putting "cannabis oil" on pasta. It was pointed out that is hemp oil which is not a sativa product. He didn't know the difference and appeared not to care. Simply another high paid UN stooge. Isn't it amazing that the US only supports the UN when they toe the US 'drug war' line."
Visit http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/311/campbell.shtml to read DRCNet's November 2003 interview with Campbell.
Location: 
United States

Out from the Shadows

An estimated 300 people attended The First Latin American Legalization Summit, or Out from the Shadows Mérida, at the Autonomous University of the Yucatan in Mexico, February 12-15, 2003, including Mexican activists, national legislators and advocates throughout Latin America, Americans, Europeans, and numerous students and interested members of the community -- an historic, first of its kind, global summit calling for and end to drug prohibition. Though the event's primary focus was on legalization, the coca issue was also dealt with extensively. Among the important leaders from the cocalero movement were Felipe Quispe of the Bolivia Parliament and Nancy Obregon of Peru. Other events in this international legalization conference series included an institutional two-day event at the European Parliament in Brussels in September 2002 and a press conference with Canadian Sen. Pierre Claude Nolin in Washington in April 2003.

This program is currently inactive due to lack of funding. If you are interested in supporting an international legalization conference, please contact us! Seed costs for the next conference should be in the neighborhood of $50,000US.

Please view video footage and photographs from Mérida online! Our thanks to Jim & Ellen Fields of Eclectech Media in Mérida, and to Radio Radicale, for their outstanding work documenting this historic event, as well as Jeremy Bigwood for photography. View or listen to Eclectech video or audio of most of the conference, English and Spanish versions available. Visit Radio Radicale for video as well as interviews from the conference, in the original language of the presenters.

Check out our "Road to Mérida" interview series:

Mario Menéndez, Publisher of !Por Esto!, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico
Dr. Jaime Malamud-Goti, former Argentine Solicitor General
Dr. Francisco Fernandez, Anthropologist and Former Rector of Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán
Gustavo de Greiff, Former Prosecutor General of Colombia
Luis Gómez, Andean Bureau Chief for Narco News
Ricardo Sala, ViveConDrogas.com (Live With Drugs), Mexico
Dr. Silvia Inchaurraga, Argentine Harm Reductionist
María Mercedes Moreno of Mama Coca
Luiz Paulo Guanabara, Brazil, Executive Director of Psico-Tropicus

 

Click here for further background on DRCNet and Out from the Shadows.

Organizations participating in the Out from the Shadows campaign:

ABRAÇO • Ale Yarok • Asociación Civil DRIS • Asociación Mexicana de Estudios del Cannabis • Asociación de Reducción de Daños de la Argentina • Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy • Centro de Investigación de la Comunicación Social • Centro de Mídia Independente Belo Horizonte • CocachasquiCommon Sense for Drug PolicyCriminal Justice Policy Foundation • DEBED vzw • DieCannabisKampagneDrug Policy AllianceDrug Reform Coordination NetworkDrolegDrug Policy Forum of California • Drug Users Advocacy Group of Amsterdam • EfficacyFamilies and Friends for Drug Law ReformForum DrogheFuoriluogo • Grupo Ekologiko Ayün • International Antiprohibitionist LeagueInternational Coalition of NGOs for Just and Effective Drug Policies • JES Rhein-Main • John Mordaunt Trust • Law Enforcement Against ProhibitionMild Green Media Centre • Movimiento Canábico de Perú • Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies • National Association for Public Health Policy • Netherlands Drug Policy Foundation • November Coalition • Parliamentarians for Antiprohibitionist Action • Por Esto! • Psicotropicus • ReconsiDer: Forum on Drug Policy • Red Latinoamericana de Reduccion de Daños • SOMA Associação Portuguesa Antiproibicionista • Students for Sensible Drug PolicyTransform - the Campaign for Effective Drug PolicyTransnational Radical PartyTrebach InstituteTri-State Drug Policy ForumUnitarian Universalists for Drug Policy ReformUniversidad Autónoma de YucatánVirginians Against Drug Violence

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