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Bouncing Back: Relapse in the Golden Triangle

ASEAN's 'drug free' strategy is failing and needs a new approach.

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Cannabis and the Conventions

The question facing the international community today is no longer whether or not there is a need to reassess the UN drug control system, but rather when and how ...

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Unscheduling the coca leaf

The coca leaf has been chewed for centuries in the Andean region – and does not cause any harm. Yet the leaf is treated as if it is comparable to…

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  • What comes next? Post-UNGASS options for 2019/2020

    IDPC
    November 2016

    idpc-post-ungassThe UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs – held in New York in April 2016 – was hailed as an opportunity for the international community ‘to conduct a wide-ranging and open debate that considers all options’. Although the UNGASS was characterised by many shortcomings and disappointments, it was nonetheless a critical moment for global drug policy reform. Now that the dust has settled, one serious omission from the proces has become increasingly apparent – the fact that nothing was decided or proposed for the next important UN moment for drug policy in 2019.

    application-pdfDownload the advocacy note (PDF)

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  • Highs and lows in cannabis policy reform

    Recent developments in cannabis regulation

    coffee-shop-licenceCannabis is the most widely produced and consumed illicit substance globally. A significant number of states have long engaged in soft defection from the UN drug control regime in relation to tolerant policies on the personal possession, cultivation and use of cannabis. Recently, there has been growing debate within political circles on the benefits of regulated cannabis markets. This has been driven by a number of factors, including the continuing illegality of supply, the associated and often violent involvement of criminal elements and the use of finite criminal justice resources. In this section you will find an overview of our most recent blogs on the issue.

    Latest: Silver linings: U.S. State votes to legalize cannabis boost reform opportunities in the Americas, John Walsh, November 10, 2016

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  • The Global Forum of Producers of Prohibited Plants (GFPPP)

    Transnational Institute (TNI)
    October 2016

    The voices of affected communities involved in the cultivation of coca leaf, opium poppy and cannabis plants are lacking in the global debate on drug policy reform in general and were at risk of being excluded from the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) 2016 on The World Drug Problem. In January 2016 the Transnational Institute (TNI) gathered a group of approximately 60 farmers and farmers’ representatives in the Netherlands for the Global Forum of Producers of Prohibited Plants (GFPPP), facilitating a discussion of their views on and experiences with illicit crop control policies.

    Download the report (PDF)

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  • 'Found in the Dark'

    The Impact of Drug Law Enforcement Practices in Myanmar
    Ernestien Jensema & Nang Pann Ei Kham
    Drug Policy Briefing Nr. 47
    September 2016

    To address its serious drug use problems, Myanmar should change its drug policy towards a harm reduction approach. Instead of a repressive approach, voluntary and evidence-based treatment and public health services, including harm reduction, should be made available and become generally accepted by enforcement officials and by the community at large. Myanmar has very strict drug laws and policies, and its legal framework emphasises harsh sentences and the criminalisation of drug users rather than providing access to health and harm reduction services. This report highlights the impact of current drug law enforcement practices in Myanmar and illustrates why a change in drug legislation and policy is necessary.

    Download the report (PDF)

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  • Paraguay: The cannabis breadbasket of the Southern Cone

    A focus on the largest cannabis producer in South America
    Guillermo Garat
    Drug Policy Briefing Nr. 46
    July 2016

    dpb46Paraguay is the principal producer of cannabis in South America, though nobody knows for certain how many hectares are planted with this crop, probably on account of its concealment and a prevalent climate of corruption. National authorities and international control agencies estimate an area between 6,000 and 7,000 hectares, with an annual production of 16,500 tonnes. At present, according to estimates of the Paraguayan National Anti-Drug Secretariat (Secretaría Nacional Anti Drogas - SENAD), some 20,000 farmers are involved in cannabis cultivation, boosting the microeconomy of the north-eastern region of the country.

    application-pdfDownload the briefing (PDF)

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  • UNGASS 2016: A Broken or B-r-o-a-d Consensus?

    UN summit cannot hide a growing divergence in the global drug policy landscape
    Dave Bewley-Taylor Martin Jelsma
    Drug Policy Briefing Nr 45
    July 2016

    A special session of the General Assembly took place in April revealing a growing divergence in the global drug policy landscape. Difficult negotiations resulted in a disappointing outcome document, perpetuating a siloed approach to drugs at the UN level. There is a clear need to realign international drug policies with the overarching 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, embedding the drugs issue comprehensively within the UN’s three pillars: development, human rights, and peace and security. The UNGASS process has helped to set the stage for more substantial changes in the near future, towards the next UN review in 2019.

    application-pdfDownload the briefing (PDF)

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  • Cannabis Regulation and the UN Drug Treaties

    Strategies for Reform
    WOLA, GDPO, TDPF, TNI, ICHRDP & CDPC
    June 2016

    As jurisdictions enact reforms creating legal access to cannabis for purposes other than exclusively “medical and scientific,” tensions surrounding the existing UN drug treaties and evolving law and practice in Member States continue to grow. These treaty tensions have become the “elephant in the room” in key high-level forums, including the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs — obviously present, but studiously ignored.

    Download the briefing (PDF) | Press release | Version française (PDF)

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  • The history of cannabis and international control

    How cannabis was included in the UN drug control system and the defections that have brought the international treaties to breaking point

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  • Ayahuasca: From the Amazon to the Global Village

    An analysis of the challenges associated with the globalisation of ayahuasca
    Constanza Sánchez & José Carlos Bouso
    Drug Policy Briefing Nr. 43
    December 2015

    dpb43Indigenous peoples in the Amazon have used ayahuasca for centuries as a remedy for physical and psychological health, and to ensure the life and wellbeing of their communities. In the past two decades, the use of this decoction has expanded beyond Amazon indigenous spheres. Globalisation, and with it the contact between populations, has facilitated cultural exchange between indigenous traditions and Western practices, which has led to a growing interest in the ritual, religious and therapeutic use of ayahuasca.

    application-pdfDownload the briefing (PDF)

  • UNGASS 2016: Background memo on the proposal to establish an expert advisory group

    Several countries have recently expressed support for the idea to use the mechanism of an expert advisory group again for the UNGASS in 2016
    Transnational Institute (TNI)
    November 2015

    memo-expert-group-ungass-nov2015eSignificant changes in the global drug policy landscape are shaping up in the UNGASS 2016 preparations, in the direction of more humane and proportional responses based on health, human rights and development principles. But few countries are willing to openly acknowledge the existence of structural deficiencies with regard to UN system-wide coherence, the institutional architecture and the legal treaty framework. In spite of more and more cracks in the Vienna consensus and treaty breaches in the area of cannabis policies, questioning the basic principles of the international drug control system is still largely a political taboo.

    application-pdfDownload the memo (PDF)

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UN Drug Control

In 2011 the 1961 UN Single Convention on drugs will be in place for 50 years. In 2012 the international drug control system will exist 100 years since the International Opium Convention was signed in 1912 in The Hague. Does it still serve its purpose or is a reform of the UN Drug Conventions needed? This site provides critical background.