• A World with Drugs: Legal Regulation through a Development Lens

    Webinar Series

    Drugs are a development issue. Let’s stop pretending that they’re not. The so-called ‘war on drugs’ has been undermining progress towards development goals for decades. It has fuelled violence and conflict, undermined democracy, and driven poverty, inequality and poor health worldwide. The shift towards the legal regulation of drugs provides a chance to repair the harms of the past – and create a fairer, more just world for the future. Now is the time to build a new approach to drugs that prioritises, promotes and protects health and well-being, helps address poverty and inequality, and contributes to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Join us for this ground-breaking 8-part webinar series

  • Cannabis Regulation and Development

    Fair(er) Trade Options for Emerging Legal Markets
    David Bewley-Taylor, Martin Jelsma, and Sylvia Kay
    Drug Policies and Development: Conflict and Coexistence
    12th volume of International Development Policy, August 2020

    Significant policy shifts have led to an unprecedented boom in medical cannabis markets, while a growing number of countries are moving towards the legal regulation of adult non-medical use. This trend is likely to bring a range of benefits. Yet there are growing concerns over the many for-profit cannabis companies from the global North that are aggressively competing to capture the licit spaces now opening in the multibillion-dollar global cannabis market. This threatens to push small-scale traditional farmers from the global South out of the emerging legal markets.

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  • Cannabis rescheduling

    What could it mean for Africa?
    Dania Putri
    International Drug Policy Consortium / Transnational Institute
    Briefing Paper
    June 2020

    In January 2019 the World Health Organization issued a collection of formal recommendations to reschedule cannabis and cannabis-related substances, these present an opportunity for African governments and civil society to further decolonise drug control approaches on the continent, as well as to strengthen the international legal basis for emerging medicinal cannabis programmes in several African countries.

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  • Smokable cocaine markets in Latin America and the Caribbean

    A call for a sustainable policy response
    Ernesto Cortés Amador & Pien Metaal
    Transnational Institute (TNI)
    March 2020

    The smokable cocaine market was established decades ago, and is definitely not a new phenomenon. Rather than disappear, it is undergoing a slow expansion: from constituting a rather localized and isolated habit in the Andean region in the 1970s, its reach has extended in all directions, throughout North and South-America, including the Caribbean and Central American regions. Societies in the Americas have coexisted with smokable cocaines for over four decades, but - surprisingly - there is a dearth of research on the development of the market, or much first-hand evidence of how this substance is actually commercialized and used by millions of people in the region.

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  • UN Common Position on drug policy

    Consolidating system-wide coherence
    Martin Jelsma
    Briefing paper
    December 2019

    In November 2018, the UN System CEB adopted the ‘UN system common position supporting the implementation of the international drug control policy through effective inter-agency collaboration’, expressing the shared drug policy principles of all UN organisations and committing them to speak with one voice. The CEB is the highest-level coordination forum of the UN system, convening biannual meetings of the heads of all UN agencies, programmes and related institutions, chaired by the UN Secretary General. 

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  • Regulating Drugs: Resolving Conflicts with the UN Drug Control Treaty System

    John Walsh & Martin Jelsma
    Journal of Illicit Economies and Development, 1(3), pp.266–271
    November 2019

    There are good reasons to legally regulate drugs markets, rather than persist with efforts to ban all non-medical uses of psychoactive substances. Regulated cannabis and coca markets are already a reality in several countries, with more likely to follow. But ignoring or denying that such policy shifts contravene certain obligations under the UN drug control treaties is untenable and risks undermining basic principles of international law. States enacting cannabis regulation must find a way to align their reforms with their international obligations.

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  • The Challenges of Medicinal Cannabis in Colombia

    A look at small - and medium - scale growers
    Nicolás Martínez Rivera
    Drug Policy Briefing Nr. 52
    September 2019

    In July 2016, the Colombian government enacted Law 1787, which regulates the use of medicinal cannabis and its trade in the country. With this decision and a series of subsequent resolutions, Colombia joined the more than a dozen countries that have put into practice different types of regulation to explore the advantages of this plant as an alternative pharmaceutical. Even though the law stipulates that 10 per cent of production should come from small- and medium- scale growers, the reality is that most of the business has been dominated by large local and foreign investors.

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  • Cannabis regulation and local authorities in Europe

    Bottom-up policy reform for cannabis regulation
    Transnational Institute (TNI)
    March 2019

    Local and regional authorities across Europe are confronted with the negative consequences of a persisting illicit cannabis market. Increasingly, local and regional authorities, non-governmental pressure groups and grassroots movements are advocating a regulation of the recreational cannabis market. The Transnational Institute (TNI) analysed possible cannabis market regulation models (in Belgium, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands) to allow local authorities to share best practices and improve the understanding of drug markets as a means to reduce the negative consequences of illicit drug markets on individuals and society.

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  • Fair(er) Trade Options for the Cannabis Market

    Martin Jelsma, Sylvia Kay & David Bewley-Taylor
    Cannabis Innovate
    Policy Report 1, March 2019

    Policy changes over the past five years or so have dramatically reshaped the global cannabis market. Not only has there been an unprecedented boom in medical markets, but following policy shifts in several jurisdictions a growing number of countries are also preparing for legal regulation of non-medical use. Such moves look set to bring a clear range of benefits in terms of health and human rights. As this groundbreaking Report, highlights, however, there are also serious concerns about the unfolding market dynamics.

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  • The WHO’s First-Ever Critical Review of Cannabis

    A Mixture of Obvious Recommendations Deserving Support and Dubious Methods and Outcomes Requiring Scrutiny
    Transnational Institute (TNI), Global Drug Policy Observatory (GDPO-Swansea University) & Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)
    March 2019

    The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD or Expert Committee) released in January 2019 the outcomes of the first-ever critical review of cannabis, recommending a series of changes in the current scheduling of cannabis-related substances under the UN drug control conventions. Eagerly awaited, the ECDD recommendations contain some clearly positive points, such as acknowledging the medicinal usefulness of cannabis by removing it from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs; clarifying that cannabidiol (CBD) is not under international control; and addressing some long-standing scheduling inconsistencies.

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