|Transform News – August 2010||Briefings||Support||Donate||Media Blog|
“They (the criminals) control who those drugs are distributed to. They don't ask for ID, they don't wanna know how old you are, they just want to see your money.”
1. Transform News
2. UK News
3. International News
4. What You Can Do
1. Transform News
The 18th International AIDS Conference took place in Vienna from 18th to 23rd July 2010. The conference brought together some 20,000 policy makers, people living with HIV, scientists, researchers, clinicians and advocates – all committed to halting the spread of HIV. Many issues were highlighted throughout the conference but there was one clear unifying call to address the criminalisation of key population groups most at risk from HIV – namely sex workers, men who have sex with men and people who use drugs.
Photo: Opening reception of the Networking Zone
Transform Drug Policy Foundation and IDPC co-hosted the Drug Policy Networking Zone – a busy and dynamic space that was shared with the Harm Reduction and Human Rights Networking Zones. The key message of the Drug Policy Networking Zone was a call to consider the costs of the dominant approach to drug control both in monetary and human terms. The week-long event included panel discussions put together by IDPC members such as Release, the Malaysian AIDS Council, Intercambios and the Correlation Network, and other partners such as the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, the International Doctors for Healthy Drug Policies and the International Center for Science in Drug Policy. Discussions were lively and varied and involved topics as diverse as law enforcement and harm reduction, advocacy strategies, reform of the UN Drug Control Conventions and the possibilities for a regulated drugs market.
In July, the British Medical Journal published a special edition on drugs titled: 'Drug users and HIV: treat don't punish'. The cover feature includes a special commentary section on drugs, HIV/AIDS and harm reduction. The article written by Transform’s Steve Rolles can be read here.
The Lancet published a special series on HIV in people who use drugs. Click here for the articles and for a great video of presentations for its launch at the Vienna AIDS Conference.
In his final Bulletin, the outgoing President of the Royal College of Physicians, Professor Sir Ian Gilmore wrote:
Danny Kushlick (Transform) debates with Professor Neil McKeganey (Centre for Drug Misuse Research) in the Speakers’ Corner Trust’s Forum for Debate. Is legalisation a recipe for disaster, or could regulation create a safer drug policy? Whilst McKeganey argues that it would be morally wrong for our government to be deeply involved in the drug supply, Kushlick says regulation and control is the only way to deal with the drug problem and the unintended consequences of prohibition. Read their debate here.
Steve Rolles (Transform) explains how the "punitive criminal justice-driven war on drugs" has delivered the opposite of its goal. Click here to listen to his interview and to hear about Ian Gilmore's own views regarding prohibition.
Steve Rolles (Transform) attended the 2nd Connections Project Conference in London. It gathered more than 160 people from 26 different countries. The conference worked around the 3“Es” which were introduced in the opening session: Ethics, Effectiveness and Economics around which the opening speakers posed the key questions which were addressed during the whole conference. The conference brought together in this effort researchers, policy makers, service providers and users. Read the Conference report in the special edition of the Drink and Drug News here.
2. UK News
The 8 th of August Observer’s editorial makes a case against prohibition shortly following Calderon’s proposition to debate legalisation. The change of government provides a rare opportunity to open the debate in Britain and for Clegg and Cameron to stop pretending prohibition is working. The full article is available here.
“Our Drugs War” on Channel4 is a documentary series examining the global story of drugs, from Afghanistan's poppy fields to the streets of New York and the estates of Edinburgh
The series started on the 2nd of August and the last episode was broadcast on Monday 16th August at 8pm. catch up here.
Here's a link to the article by Angus MacQueen, the series producer in the Observer - 'Why do we so wilfully cover up the failure of the war on drugs?'
A poll published in July by the campaigning group Liberal Democrats for Drug Policy Reform shows 70% support for cannabis legalisation/regulation, with 1 in 3 of those polled feeling it should be sold in a similar way to alcohol and tobacco. Read more on our blog.
Nicholas Green QC, chairman of the UK Bar Council, backed calls to reconsider drug laws. He said “"A growing body of comparative evidence suggests that decriminalising personal use can have positive consequences; it can free up huge amounts of police resources, reduce crime and recidivism and improve public health.” Read more here.
3. International News
Neill Franklin, the Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is interviewed for ReasonTV on drug policy in the US.
“These drugs in an illegal environment are more accessible to our kids because we leave complete control, regulations and standards up to the criminals. They control the entire market.” To watch the whole interview, click here.
On the 3rd of August, President Obama signed a bill reducing the disparity between federal mandatory sentences for convictions for crack cocaine and the powder form of the drug which has led to the disproporiate jailing of black people in particular. This changes a law that dates back to 1986, under which someone convicted for possessing crack cocaine got the same mandatory prison term as someone possessing 100 times the amount in powder cocaine. Read more here.
The Vienna Declaration (the official declaration of AIDS 2010) calls for drug policies that are based on scientific evidence rather than ideology. More specifically, the Declaration calls for the decriminalisation of drug use and the meaningful involvement of affected communities in developing policies and programmes. As of today there are over 15,000 signatories including ex-President of Brazil, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Michel Kazatchkine, the Executive Director of the Global Fund, and the First Lady of Georgia, Sandra Roelofs. To find out more on the Declaration and sign it yourself, click here.
As a new death toll estimates the drug war in Mexico has made 28,000 victims since 2006, Felipe Calderón agrees to a debate on legalising drugs, even though he admits being personally opposed to the idea. Read the Guardian article here.
4. What You Can Do
Transform is on Twitter! Follow us here
Call on Nick Clegg to carry out an immediate impact assessment of current drug laws. You can join the facebook group here
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