IDPC response to the 2013 Annual Report of the International Narcotics Control Board

International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC)
August 2014

The publication of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) Report for 2013 took place in the context of major shifts in the drug policy landscape. Uruguay became the world’s first country to legally regulate the market for recreational cannabis, while the US states of Washington and Colorado also began the process of establishing structures for regulating their domestic cannabis markets. These measures represent a seismic shift for the international drug control system and the three treaties that underpin it.

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Despite some marked improvements, the INCB report for 2013 remains a deeply conflicted document, shot through with tensions. In an attempt to address some notable aspects of the document, this response to the Board’s Annual Report for 2013 is organised under five inter-connected headings. This report consequently examines the President’s Foreword, the Board’s approach to the ‘Economic consequences of drug abuse’ in the thematic chapter, issues surrounding its lack of comment on harm reduction, drug treatment and human rights, the Board’s position on access to essential medicines and its reactions to shifts in the policy landscape.

The INCB presidency of Raymond Yans has been characterised by a sustained hostility to the reform of the drug control architecture and his foreword – the last he was to write – warns of the ‘grave danger to public health and well-being’ represented by the actions of Uruguay, which he goes on to term ‘misguided’. As has often been the case, Mr. Yans’ tone is strident and unyielding, and stretches to the limits of the INCB’s mandate, which is to maintain ‘cooperation’ and ‘continuing dialogue’ with States Parties to the UN drug control conventions.