• The Cannabis Debate: Polak vs Costa

    Tom Blickman
    Tuesday, May 27, 2008

    Antonio Costa, the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and Frederick Polak, a Dutch psychiatrist have been engaged in an interesting (and worldwide) debate about Dutch cannabis policy. Polak challenges Costa to answer the question why cannabis use in the Netherlands is lower than in many neighbouring countries despite the free availability of cannabis in coffee shops for adults over 18 years. After a recent visit to Amsterdam, Costa is claiming that cannabis use in that city is three times higher than anywhere else in Europe. Is this true?

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  • The Coca Debate

    Tom Blickman
    Sunday, May 25, 2008

    In March 2008, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) provoked outrage in Bolivia by calling for the elimination of traditional uses of coca, such as chewing coca leaves and drinking coca tea. A new briefing urges to address the current erroneous classification of coca under the UN conventions. It also notes an apparent shift on the issue by the US government and urges the US to formally clarify its position. 

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  • Questions for Mr. Costa

    Questions for Antonio Maria Costa from attendees at IHRA's 19th International Conference in Barcelona, May 2008
    Wednesday, May 21, 2008

    During IHRA's 19th international conference this month the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) recorded a film which poses a series of questions to Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the UNODC, from a range of user representatives, harm reduction experts and drug policy advocates.

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  • Harm Reduction 2008

    Monday, 12 May 2008

    The International Conference on the Reduction of Drug Related Harms is taking place in Barcelona, May 11-15. UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, Paul Hunt, made an excellent keynote speech addressing the multiple violations of the human rights of people who use drugs. Our Hungarian friends from the HCLU taped his speech on video.

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  • Latin America needs a new drug policy approach

    Friday, 2 May 2008

    TNI’s Martin Jelsma participated in the inaugural meeting in Rio de Janeiro of the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy on April 30, 2008. Prominent members of the Commission are three Latin American former presidents: Fernando Henrique Cardoso from Brazil, César Gaviria from Colombia and Ernesto Zedillo from Mexico.

    "It is time to develop a proper Latin American response that is detached from the ideology from the United States that has been common in the past decade," Martin Jelsma told the meeting. "It is potentially a good time to try because politically there is now more distance to US policies in a growing part of Latin America and to US domination in general."

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  • European Parliament in favour of licit use of coca leaf

    Tom Blickman
    Monday, April 28, 2008

    On April 23, 2008, the European Parliament approved a report by MEP Giusto Catania on the Green Paper on the role of civil society in drugs policy in the European Union. The EP, among other things, called "on the Commission and the Member States to explore ways of cooperating with EU civil-society organisations involved in promoting substances derived from coca leaves for lawful use purely as a means of contributing effectively (by absorbing raw materials) to international action against drugs trafficking, ensuring at the same time the safe use of such substances."

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  • The Life of a Human Rights Resolution

    Tom Blickman
    Tuesday, April 22, 2008

    At the March 2008 Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), Uruguay tabled a resolution 'Ensuring the proper integration of the United Nations human rights system with international drug control policy'. In a previous blog we already described how this resolution was stripped of its content. The HR2 blog – IHRA's Harm Reduction and Human Rights Monitoring and Policy Analysis Programme – documented the process of its dismantling.

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  • Coca Leaf: The Heritage of the Andes

    Tom Blickman
    Thursday, April 10, 2008

    The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) released a new short film in their excellent series on the proceedings of the 2008 Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). In "Coca Leaf: The Heritage of the Andes" Felipe Cáceres, the Vice Minister of Social Defence of Bolivia is interviewed. He explains the traditional use of the coca leaf and rejects the controversial statements of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) in its 2007 annual report calling on the Bolivian and Peruvian governments to eliminate the use of coca leaf contrary to the 1961 Single Convention and to abolish coca chewing and coca tea.

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  • Missing document found

    Tom Blickman
    Tuesday, April 1, 2008

    Our worries about a possible censorship of Mr. Costa's Conference Room Paper "Making drug control 'fit for purpose': Building on the UNGASS decade" are unfounded. It is now available at the UNODC website.

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  • Decriminalization of cannabis

    Tom Blickman
    Friday, March 28, 2008

    An interesting essay discussing the case for decriminalization of cannabis use appeared in the March 2008 issue of Current Opinion in Psychiatry. The Dutch psychiatrist Wim van den Brink of the Amsterdam Institute for Addiction Research carefully weighs the currently available evidence regarding advantages and risks of such a policy change.

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