• Growers' voices at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs

    Representatives of opium and coca growers from Myanmar and Colombia delivered statements describing situation on the ground
    Transnational Institute (TNI)
    Sunday, November 24, 2019

    burma opiumfieldFrom 16 to 18 October 2019, representatives of member states, intergovernmental organisations, and civil society attended the 6th Intersessional Meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. On 17 October 2019, representatives of coca and opium growers from Colombia (Pedro Arenas) and Myanmar (Sai Lone of Myanmar Opium Farmers' Forum) delivered statements highlighting the situation of communities involved in the illicit cultivation of coca and opium in both countries. Read their full statements.

  • Nowhere to hide

    It’s high time we measured countries’ performance in drug policy
    Marie Nougier & Dave Bewley-Taylor
    Wednesday, October 30, 2019

    gdpiTraditionally, the UN and governments have measured progress in drug policy in terms of flows and scale; principally the numbers of people arrested, hectares of drug crops eradicated and the amounts of drugs seized. For years now, IDPC and many civil society colleagues (in particular the Global Drug Policy Observatory (GDPO), CELS, the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation, and the Social Science Research Council among others), have advocated against such an approach, because of its inability to truly assess the real impacts of drug control policy – especially for communities affected by the illicit drug trade on the one hand and by drug policies on the other.

  • INCB stronger than ever before on decriminalisation, capital punishment & extrajudicial killings

    ‘There is no obligation stemming from the conventions to incarcerate drug users who commit minor offences’
    Marie Nougier (IDPC)
    Friday, June 28, 2019

    The INCB dedicated one of its latest series of Alerts, from June 2019, to the issue of ‘State responses to drug-related criminality’, covering decriminalisation, proportionate sentencing, the death penalty and extrajudicial killings. The Board has recently taken a more positive stance towards decriminalisation, in particular under the leadership of Werner Sipp in 2016. In April 2017, the INCB had already published an Alert on the issue, although mostly reiterating language included in the UN drug conventions. This month’s Alert goes into further detail, explaining the ‘more differentiated’ approach adopted by member states in recent years – as 26 countries have now moved towards a decriminalisation model.

  • Medical cannabis moving ahead in Thailand, but who stands to benefit?

    The cultivation, distribution, possession and use of kratom will be decriminalised in certain communities
    Chokwan Kitty Chopaka (Highland Network)
    Tuesday, May 14, 2019

    thailand marijuana awakening25th December of 2018 was a historical day for cannabis enthusiasts in Thailand. The (interim) Parliament voted, 166-to-0, to pass new amendments to the country’s Narcotics Act. These legislative changes will allow for the cultivation, importation/exportation, distribution, possession and use of cannabis for medical and research purposes in the Kingdom. The move is regarded by many as a big leap forward, especially as the country still retains a criminal penalty (one year of imprisonment) for the simple use of illicit drugs, including cannabis.

  • Migrants and traditional use

    The coca leaf travels from the Andean Amazon to the European courts
    Pien Metaal, Constanza Sánchez & Natalia Rebollo
    Thursday, April 25, 2019

    boliviablogFor the past several years, Fundación ICEERS, with the support of allied organisations such as the Transnational Institute (TNI), has been assisting in the legal defense of people with a migrant background who are prosecuted in Spain (or other European countries) for the possession or importation of coca leaf for the purposes of traditional use. These people originate from countries with a legal framework allowing for licit traditional use of coca leaf, such as Colombia, Bolivia, Peru and Argentina. These cases have had different outcomes and, when people have been convicted, sentencing has not been uniform. How to reconcile migrant communities’ right to the enjoyment of cultural life (including the use of traditional plants) with international drug control obligations.

  • 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.


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