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Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work

The United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) in 2016 is an unprecedented opportunity to review the future of the global drug control regime

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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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  • TNI calls for a wide-ranging and open debate that considers all options at UNGASS 2016

    An open debate is no longer open when certain ideas for improvement are declared to be off-limit
    Martin Jelsma
    Statement at the 58th Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND)
    Wednesday, March 11, 2015

    Just over one year away from the 2016 UNGASS, denying the reality that the drug policy landscape has fundamentally changed and that tensions with the UN drug conventions are occuring, is no longer a credible option. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged member states to use the 2016 UNGASS on drugs "to conduct a wide-ranging and open debate that considers all options." TNI calls for a special advisory group that should be tasked with recommending how to better deal with the contentious issues following the 2016 UNGASS, in preparation for the next UN high-level review in 2019.

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  • Urban drug markets and zones of impunity in Colombia

    The assumptions and the facts behind the retail drug trade and the responses to it
    Isaac De León Beltrán and Juan Carlos Garzón
    Briefing Series on Drug Markets and Violence Nr 2
    December 2014

    dmv2_coverThe retail drug trade has been identified by the authorities as a strategic priority, under the hypothesis that it is one of the main triggers of violence and crime, as well as a response by the criminal organisations to their loss of influence in global markets. How valid is this argument? The aim of this briefing is to put to the test the starting points and assumptions underlying the definition of this ‘new’ threat, and provide an overview of local drug markets and their relationship with violence and crime in Colombia’s cities.

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  • Fixing a broken system

    Modernizing drug law enforcement in Latin America
    Juan Carlos Garzón Vergara
    Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies No. 29
    December 2014

    dlr29Despite efforts by governments in Latin America, illicit drugs continue to provide one of the largest incomes for criminal organizations, enabling them to penetrate and corrupt political and social institutions. Criminal organizations exploit the vulnerabilities of the state and take advantage of governments’ inability to provide security to their citizens. With few exceptions, the weak capacity of Latin American governments is reflected in high rates of homicides, notorious levels of impunity, and the feeling of mistrust that citizens harbour regarding justice institutions and the police.

    application-pdfDownload the Briefing (PDF)

    application-pdfFaça o download do relatório em português (PDF)

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  • Cannabis policy reform in Europe

    Bottom up rather than top down
    Tom Blickman
    Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies No. 28
    December 2014

    While in the Americas cannabis policy reform is taking off, Europe seems to be lagging behind. That is to say, in European nations at the level of national governments – where denial of the changing policy landscape and inertia to act upon calls for change reigns. At the local level, however, disenchantment with the current cannabis regime gives rise to new ideas. In several countries in Eu­rope, local and regional authorities are looking at regulation, either pressured by grassroots movements – in particular the Cannabis Social Clubs (CSCs) – or due to the involve­ment of criminal groups and public disorder.

    application-pdfDownload the briefing (PDF) | Version auf Deutsch

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  • Time for a Wake-up Call

    An historical and ethnographic approach to the Regulation of Plant-based Stimulants
    Anthony Henman* Pien Metaal
    Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies No. 27
    December 2014

    The chemically-based frame of reference adopted by the UN Single Convention is mistaken in the culturally loaded and falsely “scientific” manner in which it was applied to different plants. With the proliferation of new stimulant substances – many of them based on plants used in “traditional” cultural settings in different parts of the world – a need has arisen to monitor not just the substances themselves, but also the social contexts in which they are being used.

  • The International Drug Control Regime and Access to Controlled Medicines

    Christopher Hallam
    Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies No. 26
    December 2014

    dlr26-e_cover The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that some 5.5 billion people around the globe inhabit countries with low to non-existent access to controlled medicines and have inadequate access to treatment for moderate to severe pain. This figure translates to over 80 per cent of the world's population. Only in a small number of wealthy countries do citizens stand a reasonable chance of gaining adequate access to pain care, though even here room for improvement remains.

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    application-pdfTélécharger ce rapport en français (PDF)

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  • Making a mountain out of a molehill: myths on youth and crime in Saint Lucia

    Marcus Day
    Briefing Series on Drug Markets and Violence, Nr 3
    December 2014

    dmv3-e_coverCaribbean states face challenges of youth involvement in crime, violence, gangs and other anti-social activities. It is not uncommonly heard the “drug problem” is to be blamed for this. This briefing wants to show this relation is far more complex and often misunderstood.

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  • Marijuana legalization is an opportunity to modernize international drug treaties

    Wells Bennett and John Walsh
    Brookings Center for Effective Public Management
    October 2014

    brookings-paper-102014Two U.S. states have legalized recreational marijuana, and more may follow; the Obama administration has conditionally accepted these experiments. Such actions are in obvious tension with three international treaties that together commit the United States to punish and even criminalize activity related to recreational marijuana. The administration asserts that its policy complies with the treaties because they leave room for flexibility and prosecutorial discretion.

    Download the briefing (PDF - outside link)

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  • Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work

    Global Commission on Drug Policy (GCDP)
    September 2014

    CoverReportThe upcoming United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) in 2016 is an unprecedented opportunity to review and re-direct national drug control policies and the future of the global drug control regime. As diplomats sit down to rethink international and domestic drug policy, they would do well to recall the mandate of the United Nations, not least to ensure security, human rights and development.

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  • Scheduling in the international drug control system

    Christopher Hallam Dave Bewley-Taylor Martin Jelsma
    Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies Nr. 25
    June 2014

    dlr25While often viewed as an obscure technical issue, the problem of scheduling lies at the core of the functioning of the international drug control system. Scheduling – the classification of a substance within a graded system of controls and restrictions, or 'schedules' – must take place in order for a substance to be included in the international control framework, and determines the type and intensity of controls to be applied. For this reason, the topic is of central importance.

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Drug Law Reform in Latin America is a project of the TNI Drugs & Democracy programme

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"Promoting a more effective and humane drug policy in Latin America"

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.