Calls for legalisation are sprouting from all around the world from presidents, scientists, politicians and journalists alike. The voices of development, however, remain pretty quiet, even though the production and trading of drugs affect "the poorest and most marginalised communities". In an article in the Guardian, Jonathan Glennie explains why prohibition and its consequences are a development issue and how the development community should take more of a stance to support legalisation.
Furthermore, in the Lancet, Kelly Morris explains the paradox between the Millenium Development Goals (end poverty and hunger, universal education, gender equality, child health etc.) and prohibition which fuels crime, violence, poverty etc... According to Professor Robin Room,
'UN policy defines the problem in terms of crime and not public health'. Morris explains countries should apply and evaluate evidence-based health models for regulation.
The full article is here.
Cannabis should be sold in shops, says expert.
Professor Robin Room, an expert on drugs and addictions, wrote in the British Medical Journal that banning cannabis only made the problem worse and that we should legally supply it in controlled retail outlets. Here is Christopher Hope's coverage of the editorial in the Daily Telegraph and here is the BMJ article from 9th October.
The ACMD had been asked to place restrictions on khat
These chewing leaves, mainly used by Somali, Ethiopian and Yemeni communities (by around 0.2% of the UK population) are part of a cultural tradition and chewing them is a socially accepted practice. This was demonstrated in a new Home Office study published this month. It also highlights some concerns over the consumption of khat, and the 'drug' has now been referred to the ACMD for a potential ban.
Westminster Drug Project calls for decriminalisation
In its response to the Drug Strategy consultation, the WDP has called on the government to decriminalise drug users. They say the law as it stands is adding to the damage done by drugs and it is time to turn our drug and alcohol problem around. Here is a link to their web page and their full response to the consultation.
'High Society' exhibition from 11th November 2010 till 27th February 2011
The Wellcome Gallery in London is putting up an exhibition called 'High Society', which looks at mind-altering drugs in history and culture.
"With the illicit drug trade estimated by the UN at $320 billion (£200bn) a year and new drugs constantly appearing on the streets and the internet, it can seem as if we are in the grip of an unprecedented level of addiction. Yet the use of psychoactive drugs is nothing new, and indeed our most familiar ones - alcohol, coffee, tobacco - have all been illegal in the past.
From ancient Egyptian poppy tinctures to Victorian cocaine eye drops, Native American peyote rites to the salons of the French Romantics, mind-altering drugs have a rich history. 'High Society' will explore the paths by which these drugs were first discovered - from apothecaries' workshops to state-of-the-art laboratories - and how they came to be simultaneously fetishised and demonised in today's culture."
October 7, 2010 [Vancouver, Canada] – The International Centre for Science in Drug Policy (ICSDP) last week released a new research report that demonstrates the clear failure of U.S. marijuana prohibition and supports calls for evidence-based models to legalize and regulate the use of cannabis.
Jimmy Carter Former U.S President
"Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself; and where they are, they should be changed. Nowhere is this more clear to me than in the laws against possession of marihuana in private for personal use. . . . Therefore, I support legislation amending Federal law to eliminate all Federal criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marihuana."
Source: speech delivered to US Congress 1977
“We should encourage local police to give priority to violent crimes- assault, robbery, rape, muggings, murders. When I was Governor of Georgia, we stopped treating alcoholism as a crime to provide increased medical help to alcoholics and to free our police and courts to concentrate on violent crimes.”
Source: campaign speech in Detroit, in ‘Good As Its People' p. 220. Oct 15, 1976
Widespread calls for legalisation
Mario Vargas Llosa, Peruvian writer and politician, who this year won the Nobel Prize for literature, called for legalisation in January. Support also comes from a noted medical professional, the U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders,. In October she called for the legalisation of cannabis, saying "I don't think much could be worse than the present situation that we have."
In Australia, Sir Ken Jones, Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner also called for legalisation, showing growing concern amongst criminal justice professionals too. He said at a conference on organised crime in Melbourne that he'd "love to have a debate at some point about legalisation". He added:
"There are people in academia, in public policy and law enforcement who are challenging us and saying the current approach is not working. I'm hearing it come up a lot". Read the entire Sunday Herald article here.
California voted on Proposition 19
On the 2nd of November, California citizens voted on Proposition 19 (the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010). Even though it was defeated, the months leading up to the vote were very exciting, and generated a many positive debates and a great deal of media coverage. Here is a Guardian report on the 2nd November's vote,
Here are a few articles from these exciting past few months. Even though Prop 19 'blew up in smoke', it certainly generated a useful debate, and the battle isn't going to stop here.
California Pot Initiative Opposed by Beer Industry - Huffington Post The California Beer & Beverage Distributors is spending money to oppose Proposition 19. Although not all its members are against the proposition, but it seems some see the legalisation of cannabis as a threat to their sales.
Prison guards' bosses are also opposing it; the California Correctional Supervisors has given $7,500 to Public Safety First, the main opposition campaign - but prison guards themselves remain neutral. Many criminal justice associations are also funding the opposition. This seems like a somewhat hypocritical move from all these associations that witness first hand the damaging consequences of the war on drugs yet won't speak up against it.
State NAACP backs marijuana legalisation initiative - LA Times blogs
The California chapter of the NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, is backing legalisation. "The war on drugs is a failure and disproportionately targets young men and women of color, particularly African-American males," said Alice Huffman, president of the NAACP's state conference.
Here is the Drug Policy Alliance's page on Marijuana and a great PDF explaining all about Prop 19.
67 Law professors have signed and endorsed Proposition 19. Here is their letter to the voters of California.
Injecting centre in Sydney passes the lower bill in the NSW parliament
A bill to make the drug injecting centre in Sydney's Kings Cross permanent has passed through the lower house of the NSW parliament by an overwhelming vote of 57 to 29. The centre, established in 2001 on a trial basis will be made permanent if the bill is passed by the NSW Upper house. Since its opening, "
it has saved lives, it has reduced disease risk, it has reduced incidents of public injecting, it has brought people who live on the margins, who live on the edge, into contact with health services and drug treatment services". The story is here.
3. Transform News
Transform at the NYC Bar Association
In November Steve Rolles will be addressing the New York Bar Association at a conference entitled "Confronting an oxymoron: Taking control of controlled substances". He will talk about different existing models of regulation around the world.
Other participants include Roger Goodman, Vice Chair of the Washington House Judiciary Committee, Mark Haden, an Addiction Clinical Supervisor and Eric E. Sterling, President of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation. The evening will approach the issues of control and supply of psychoactive substances both from a legal and a medical point of view. The experts will question what economic and social tools we could be using to control the drug market, how to protect young people, as well as how to adapt our current regulated markets for a more successful drug policy.
Transform Drug Policy Foundation, Easton Business Centre, Felix Rd, Bristol, BS5 0HE, Telephone: +44 (0) 117 941 5810
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