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World Leaders Say End the Drug War

Not all of them just yet, but it's a start:

On Thursday the former presidents of several countries, former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, former U.S. secretary of state George Shultz, former U.S. Fed chairman Paul Volcker and other luminaries will release a report calling the global "war on drugs" a failure and encouraging nations to pursue legalizing and regulating drugs as a way to put a stop the violence inherent in the illegal drug market. (LEAP)

If you haven't yet, you still have a short time to sign this massive petition in support of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which is doing an excellent job creating international pressure for drug policy reform. Tomorrow's events will hopefully bury the notion that there remains any international consensus for continuing the War on Drugs.

Drug Lords Celebrate the Drug War at the UN

This video is typical of the clever work I've come to expect from the HCLU. It deserves more exposure, so whoever's in charge of making things go viral, I hereby nominate this for consideration:


Drug Lords Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Global Prohibition (Video)

Location: 
50 years ago the United Nations adopted the first international treaty to prohibit some drugs. The logic of the system was simple: any use of the drugs listed, unless sanctioned for medical or scientific purposes, would be deemed 'abuse' and thus illegal. As a result of this convention, the unsanctioned production and trafficking of these drugs became a crime in all member states of the UN. There is a small group that benefits phenomenally from the global war on drugs: organized criminals and terrorists. View this video from the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union and find out more.
Publication/Source: 
Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (Hungary)
URL: 
http://drogriporter.hu/en/dli_short

Bolivia President Evo Morales Attacks Drug Reports

Location: 
Bolivia
Bolivian president Evo Morales has accused the United States and the United Nations of conspiring to defame his government in two drug reports. He said criticism over Bolivia's handling of the war on drugs were part of a strategy to falsely link his government to drug trafficking. Morales said the US was trying to force him to invite American anti-narcotics agents back into Bolivia.
Publication/Source: 
BBC News (UK)
URL: 
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-12707641

Most of World Lacks Access to Pain Drugs, UN Agency Says [FEATURE]

More than eight out of 10 of the world's inhabitants have little or no access to opioid pain medications, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) said Wednesday. The finding came as the INCB released both its Annual Report 2010 and a special report on the global availability of pain medications.

INCB head Hamid Ghodse (l) briefing reporters in Vienna (incb.org)
People in many countries in Africa, Asia, and parts of the Americas had little or no access to opioid pain medications and psychotropic substances for medical purposes, the INCB found. Opioids include both narcotics, such as morphine and oxycodone, and synthetic opiates, such as fentanyl. Psychotropic medicines include depressants, antidepressants, and antipsychotics.

"Ninety percent of the licit drugs are consumed by 10% of the world's population in the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and some European countries," Hamid Ghodse, the INCB's president, said in a briefing on the release of the reports. "It has to be recognized that the availability of narcotics and psychotropic medicines is indispensable to medical practice," Ghodse told reporters.

The US is by far the world's leading consumer of opioid pain medications. According to INCB figures, for every pain pill consumed per capita in Asia, Africa, or Latin America, 50 are consumed in Europe, and 300 in North America. The US alone, with 5% of the world population, consumed 56% of the world's pain pills. [Editor's Note: This does not mean that US patients who need opioids can always get prescriptions for them.]

The special report on the availability of pain medicines found that while the global supply of raw opium for licit needs is adequate, there are a number of obstacles blocking their availability in large parts of the world. The INCB identified the obstacles in descending order as concerns about addiction, reluctance to stock or prescribe, lack of training of professionals, restrictive laws, administrative problems, cost, distribution problems, lack of supply, and absence of policies around the prescribing of the drugs for pain treatment.

Lack of supply was near the bottom of the list. The INCB said opiate raw materials, including opium, poppy straw, and poppy straw concentrate were sufficient to outstrip consumption. "There is no problem whatsoever with the availability of raw materials," Ghodse said.

Ghodse called on governments to analyze the problem, identify barriers to adequate availability, and take action to reduce or remove them. The report called on governments to collect data on licit drug requirements, legislation, education and training, national drug control systems, and steps to combat misuse.

For the INCB, the flip side of barriers to adequate pain pill access in large swathes of the world is excess availability, which it said can lead to abuse and drug dependence. While the number of single doses of opioid pain medications consumed has increased four-fold in the last 20 years, driven largely by increases in synthetic opioid production, consumption in the US, for example, has increased six-fold. The US now sees more people dying of prescription drug overdoses than from illegal drugs.

morphine consumption by region (incb.org)
"In countries with excessive availability, the non-medical use of pain relievers, tranquillizers, stimulants or sedatives has become the fastest growing drug problem," the report said.

That is a theme repeated from last year's INCB report, when the monitoring body reported that the abuse of prescription drugs was increasingly markedly worldwide. More people were taking prescription drugs for non-medical reasons than were using heroin, cocaine, and ecstasy combined, that report said.

Another major theme for the INCB in this year's report was increasing concern over the emergence of new synthetic drugs, or what it called designer drugs. The INCB said the development of such drugs is escalating so rapidly that governments need to adopt generic bans on new substances.

The report cited 4-methyl-methcathinone, or mephedrone, which has effects similar to cocaine or amphetamines and is being marketed as bath salts under names like Ivory Wave. The drug is currently the cause of ongoing concern in the US, where it has been banned in at least four states, and in Europe, where it has been banned by the European Union.

"Mephedrone has now become a problem drug of abuse in Europe, North America, Southeast Asia and in Australia and New Zealand," the INCB report said. But mephedrone is just "one example of a large number of designer drugs that are being abused."

The European Union, for example, is monitoring 15 other methcathinone analogues alone, while Japan recently placed 51 designer drugs under control. The INCB is recommending generic bans on such substances.

"Given the health risks posed by the abuse of designer drugs, we urge governments to adopt national control measures to prevent the manufacture, trafficking in and abuse of these substances," said Ghodse.

The INCB's schizophrenic report -- increase access to licit opioid pain medications, continue to ban new drugs -- reflects its bifurcated mission. At the same time it is charged with ensuring an adequate supply of medicines to the world, it is also charged with preventing non-medical use and diversion.

Vienna
Austria

54th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs

The Economic and Social Council established the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in 1946 as the central policy-making body of the United Nations in drug related matters. The Commission enables Member States to analyse the global drug situation, provide follow-up to the twentieth special session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem and to take measures at the global level within its scope of action. It also monitors the implementation of the three international drug control conventions and is empowered to consider all matters pertaining to the aim of the conventions, including the scheduling of substances to be brought under international control.

For more information, see http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/commissions/CND/session/54.html

Date: 
Mon, 03/21/2011 - 10:00am - Fri, 03/25/2011 - 6:00pm
Location: 
Wagramer Strasse 5 Vienna International Centre (VIC)
Vienna 1220
Austria

Bolivians Hold Coca "Chew-Ins" Opposing UN Ban

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/coca-chew-in-1.jpg
photos courtesy Andean Information Network
Thousands of Bolivians took to the streets January 26 to chew coca leaf in support of their government's effort to have coca chewing removed from the list of proscribed activities and substances under the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. The government of President Evo Morales 18 months ago offered an amendment to the treaty that urges the United Nations to undo the ban on coca chewing.

Coca, a plant indigenous to the Andes, is the source of cocaine, but the coca leaf has been part of traditional Andean culture for thousands of years. Chewing the leaf provides an energy boost and relieves hunger pangs. Bolivia has recognized the coca leaf as part of its cultural patrimony.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/coca-chew-in-2.jpg
Advocates for the amendment point to the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. It says that "indigenous peoples have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions."

As the January 31 deadline to contest the amendment draws has come and gone, the US, Canada, Britain, Denmark, Germany, and Norway have objected to the amendment. The new Colombian government of Juan Manuel Santos withdrew an objection it had filed in December. If there had been no objections, the amendment would have automatically taken effect, but now the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) will have to decide whether to approve or reject the amendment, or to convene a conference of the parties to discuss the matter.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/coca-chew-in-3.jpg
Last week, the US Embassy in Bolivia tried to play both sides of the aisle, saying in a statement that it "respects indigenous peoples' culture and recognizes that acullico (coca-chewing) is a traditional custom in Bolivian culture," but that it does not support the amendment because of "the importance of maintaining the integrity of the 1961 Convention, which represents an important tool in the global fight against narcotrafficking."

Now it will be up to ECOSOC to move this issue forward.

 
http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/coca-chew-in-4.jpg












 

Bolivia

International Day of Action in Defense of Coca Chewing Underway

Location: 
Bolivia
Coca growers from the Chapare (Cochabamba) and the Yungas (La Paz) — Bolivia’s two coca-growing regions — have travelled to Bolivia’s nine departmental capitals today to publicly chew the traditional leaf and to support the Bolivian government campaign to end the UN prohibition on coca chewing.
Publication/Source: 
European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies (Belgium)
URL: 
http://www.encod.org/info/International-Day-of-Action-in.html

Afghan Opium Crop May Rise After "Cash Bonanza"

Location: 
Afghanistan
Opium prices in Afghanistan more than doubled last year after disease cut production in half, the United Nations said, creating a "cash bonanza" for many farmers that could drive up cultivation of the drug in 2011.
Publication/Source: 
Reuters
URL: 
http://ca.reuters.com/article/topNews/idCATRE70J4H120110120

Bolivia Presents Coca Leaf Soda. The U.S. Objects

Location: 
Bolivia
The United States is urging all countries to file formal objections to Bolivia’s announcement that it had developed a coca leaf soft drink. Bolivia, like neighboring Peru, permits limited cultivation of coca for legal use in cooking, folk medicine and Andean religious rites. Unadulterated coca is a mild stimulant that counteracts the effects of altitude sickness and suppresses hunger pangs.
Publication/Source: 
Fox News (US)
URL: 
http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/lifestyle/2011/01/18/new-coca-based-soda-backed-bolivian-government/

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