• 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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  • 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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  • Methamphetamine use in Myanmar, Thailand, and Southern China: assessing practices, reducing harms

    Renaud Cachia & Thura Myint Lwin
    Drug Policy Briefing Nr. 50
    February 2019

    Over the past decade, methamphetamine use has grown more popular in Myanmar, Thailand and Southern China. Based on in-depth interviews conducted with individuals who use methamphetamine, this briefing sheds light on the importance of promoting an environment that reinforces, rather than undermines, the ability of people who use methamphetamine to regulate their drug use, preserve their health and adopt safer practices.

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  • Connecting the dots...

    Human rights, illicit cultivation and alternative development
    Martin Jelsma
    Transnational Institue (TN)
    October 2018

    How can we resolve the tensions between current drug control policies and states’ human rights obligations? The international human rights framework clearly establishes that, in the event of conflicts between obligations under the UN Charter and other international agreements, human rights obligations take precedence. As legally regulated cannabis markets start to grow, now is the time to secure a legitimate place for small farmers using alternative development, human rights and fair trade principles.

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  • Balancing Treaty Stability and Change

    Inter se modification of the UN drug control conventions to facilitate cannabis regulation
    Martin Jelsma, Neil Boister, David Bewley-Taylor, Malgosia Fitzmaurice & John Walsh
    Global Drug Policy Observatory (GDPO) / Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) / Transnational Institute (TNI)
    March 2018

    Legal tensions are growing within the international drug control regime as increasing numbers of member states move towards or seriously consider legal regulation of the cannabis market for non-medical purposes. Amongst reform options not requiring consensus, inter se modification appears to be the most ‘elegant’ approach and one that provides a useful safety valve for collective action to adjust a treaty regime arguably frozen in time.

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  • Poppies, opium, and heroin

    Production in Colombia and Mexico
    Jorge Hernández Tinajero, Guillermo Andrés Ospina & Martin Jelsma
    Transnational Institute (TNI)
    February 2018

    Poppy cultivation in Mexico and Colombia is part of a local economy geared almost exclusively toward the illegal market abroad: it is driven by demand for heroin, primarily in the United States. North America, including Canada, is currently experiencing a major humanitarian crisis related to this use and the opioids circulating on this market. To understand the dynamics of this market and to evaluate whether political responses to the phenomenon are appropriate and effective, we present this report on opium poppy cultivation in Mexico and Colombia, which, together with Guatemala, are the poppy-producing countries of Latin America.

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  • Edging forward

    How the UN’s language on drugs has advanced since 1990
    Jamie Bridge (IDPC), Christopher Hallam (IDPC), Marie Nougier (IDPC), Miguel Herrero Cangas (IDPC) Martin Jelsma (TNI), Tom Blickman (TNI) & David Bewley-Taylor (GDPO)
    IDPC Briefing Paper
    September 2017

    Diplomatic processes at the United Nations are notoriously slow and difficult, perhaps increasingly so in a modern world of multi-polar geopolitics and tensions. This is certainly no different for the highly charged and provocative issue of international drug control. After the latest high-level UN meeting on drug control – the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the ‘world drug problem’ in New York in April 2016 – many stakeholders came away with mixed feelings at best. Despite acknowledgements of the progress made in certain areas of the debate, and the rich content of some of the country and civil society statements, the UNGASS failed to deliver the ‘wide-ranging and open debate that considers all options’ that had been called for by the UN Secretary-General at the time, Ban Ki-Moon.

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