VIENNA, 15 November (UN Information Service) – The President of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), Raymond Yans, has voiced grave concern about the outcome of recent referenda in the United States of America that would allow the non-medical use of cannabis by adults in the states of Colorado and Washington, and in some cities in the states of Michigan and Vermont. Mr. Yans stated that “these developments are in violation of the international drug control treaties, and pose a great threat to public health and the well-being of society far beyond those states”. Noting that studies have shown that the abuse of cannabis can cause cognitive problems as well as contribute to mental disorders, the INCB President said: “Legalization of cannabis within these states would send wrong and confusing signals to youth and society in general, giving the false impression that drug abuse might be considered normal and even, most disturbingly, safe. Such a development could result in the expansion of drug abuse, especially among young people, and we must remember that all young people have a right to be protected from drug abuse and drug dependency.” The limiting of the use of cannabis to medical and scientific purposes is laid out in the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which was agreed to by 185 States, who by consensus decided to place cannabis under control and limit its use to medical purposes. “Since the adoption of this Convention, very potent new forms of cannabis have appeared on the illicit market, and technological advances have been used to increase the content of the most ‘active ingredient’, so to speak, in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The cannabis on the illicit market today is much more dangerous than that seen in the 60s and 70s,” stressed the President of INCB, which is the quasijudicial body charged with monitoring the implementation of the international drug control conventions by Governments. He went on to further state that for the international drug control system to function effectively, to achieve its aim of ensuring availability of drugs for medical purposes while preventing their abuse, the conventions must be universally adhered to and implemented by all States. In this regard, Mr. Yans stressed that national laws, policies and practices in drug abuse prevention and control should be fully aligned with the conventions. He further emphasized that States Parties have an obligation under the Conventions to ensure their full compliance with the conventions within their entire territory, including federated states and/or provinces. Mr. Yans recognized the commitment of the Government of the United States to resolve the contradiction between the federal and state levels in the implementation of that country’s obligations under the drug control conventions. The INCB President requested the Government of the United States to take the necessary measures to ensure full compliance with the international drug control treaties within the entire territory of the United States, in order to protect the health and well-being of its citizens.
INCB President voices concern about the outcome of recent referenda about non-medical use of cannabis in the United States in a number of states
Thank you for your recent email. The passage of marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington remains under legal review by the Department of Justice. However, our Federal laws prohibiting the use, production, and trafficking of marijuana remain unchanged. To be clear: the Obama Administration opposes the legalization of drugs because it runs counter to public health and safety). Marijuana remains a Schedule I drug per the Controlled Substances Act. Marijuana is illegal because research shows that increased drug use and availability negatively impacts our families, schools, our economy, and places obstacles in the way of raising healthy and safe young people.
ONDCP has received many inquiries in recent months requesting information on how individuals or organizations can educate their communities about the consequences of marijuana use. As part of our efforts to help you prevent drug use among young people and provide evidenced-based information, please visit our online Marijuana Information Resource Center. This toolkit includes Frequently Asked Questions about marijuana, a fact sheet, and up-to-date information on State laws pertaining to marijuana. You can find the toolkit at www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp/marijuanainfo.
Thank you for the work that you do to keep your communities safe, healthy and drug-free,
ONDCP Office of Intergovernmental and Public Liaison
During his recent visit to Australia, the US Director of National Drug Control Policy Gil Kerlikowske held a series of high-level meetings with government, researchers and advocates, including Drug Free Australia. Director Kerlikowske is the chief adviser on Drug Policy in the Obama Administration.
In addressing a gathering of political and community leaders in the NSW Parliament, Director Kerlikowske outlined the following key elements of current initiatives in the US to help prevent and reduce drug use:
1) moving away from outdated (and misleading) terminology such as the ‘War on Drugs’:
2) countering legalisation lobby activities, including so called ‘medical’ marijuana
3) high priority given to prevention initiatives such as:
- the National Prevention Strategy, which aims to prevent harms in a diverse range of areas including domestic violence and alcohol and other drugs.
- drug-free communities: a $370 billion program which funds 700 small community organisations to educate young people about the effects of drugs.
- $31 billion in funding for drug education and treatment programs.
- new drug-driving initiatives; he complimented Australian effort in being world leader in this initiative
- more emphasis on children’s rights to be protected from the wide range of drug harms and exposure. This included support for the World Federation Against Drugs (WFAD) and their efforts to promote the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
4) moving towards a model combining health and law enforcement to prevent and reduce drug use. He gave the following examples:
- the establishment of 2600 drug courts, which has encouraging data about reduced recidivism;
- the HOPE project which works with former prisoners who fail the drug-testing conditions of their parole;
- the May 2012 signing of the 5 nation Joint Statement (in Stockholm) in support of humane and balanced illicit drug policy http://www.wfad.se/images/articles/Final_statement_WFAD.pdf
DFA Members raised the following issues related to illicit drugs and drug policy in Australia:
1) The need for and benefits of, mandatory rehabilitation
2) Continued efforts to publicise the dangers of cannabis use, including becoming dependent and mental health and social problems, which are now indisputable
3) The value of effective, specialised drug education for all sectors of the community
4) The demonstrable success of the Howard government’s ‘Tough on Drugs’ strategy and the need to return to this more restrictive policy platform
5) DFA conclusions from data in government-funded evaluations of the Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre and commentary similar research on Vancouver’s Insight injecting facility, showing minimal, if any beneficial effect in terms of drug related morbidity or mortaility, or reduction in drug use or increase in numbers entering treatment in the vicinity of these two facilities;
6) needle ‘exchanges’ that are no longer ‘exchanges’ and the flawed research related to their so-called success in reducing HIV and Hep C. (This was acknowledged by the Kerlikowske team).
7) The use of naltrexone implants as a successful recovery-based model for addictions to alcohol and opioids, including heroin and prescription morphine
8) The lack of reporting or acknowledgement of the evidence base that support use of naltrexone for alcoholism and opioid dependence
9) The spread of Harm Reduction philosophy and measures, including needle distribution in the Asia Pacific and the promotion of the use of needles among many who do not currently use needles and the prohibitive cost of using agonist treatment in poor countries
10) DFA’s Position Statement on Illicit Drug Legalisation/Decriminalisation and Regulation
Parliamentary members raised a number of questions including:
- ‘Medical’ Marijuana and the difficulties/anomalies between US Federal and State laws. Director Kerlikowske indicated that there is a continuous flow of Federal information other legal drugs on the market that are more effective in helping people with relief of pain and nausea than the so-called ‘medical marijuana’. The challenge is to reach people within communities which are being targeted by expensive pro drug lobby campaigns
- The reality of being able to effectively push back against the global illicit drug ‘business model’; Director Kerlikowke’s response was that there are numerous examples of the success of current push-back efforts, including a 40% reduction in cocaine use in the United States; Globally we have kept use down in overall illicit drug use (now 5% down from 6.1% 2011).
- In particular, he emphasized that current legalisation moves are NOT the answer and will only lead to an increase in use (example of increasing misuse of prescription drug, alcohol and tobacco was given).
- DFA members commented that increased supply reduction measures have shown reductions in use of illicit drugs and harm as result of less availability and higher prices in Australia
- The Human Rights argument that supports the right to use illicit drugs without constraint in Australian and forms the rationale for Harm Minimisation in Australia is not an argument that has much currency in the USA or elsewhere.
Recent debate on policy options for tackling the use of illegal drugs has stressed the merits of viewing drug use as a health rather than a criminal justice matter.
However, there are strong reasons for avoiding an ‘either or approach’ to drug enforcement and treatment and viewing these as complementary rather than as competing approaches to tackling the use of illegal drugs.
This article draws upon data from an evaluation of three major drug enforcement operations to show that in the aftermath of those operations, the proportion of drug users contacting drug treatment services markedly increased.
The implications of these results are that those planning drug enforcement operations should involve staff within drug treatment agencies to ensure that any increased demand for their services, in the aftermath of drug enforcement operations, can be met.
Further, the research shows the merit of viewing drug enforcement and treatment as complementary elements of a comprehensive drug strategy.
“In the middle of this brief by tragic foray into violence…really sad… is ONE small reference to the single biggest contributing factor to the violence…ALCOHOL. Even in this shocking context, the inability or unwillingness to the ‘call out’ booze for the damage it is doing to our young, is a best staggeringly ironic and at worst culpably negligent. Come on people, our young people need a better model and if the adult population are willing or sadly, able, to stand up to give that and keep excusing themselves from responsibility, then the emerging generation will continue in this tragic process.”
It has become increasingly difficult to find any ‘redemptive’ aspects to genuine health care and patient/client wellbeing when one looks at what has clearly become the ‘industry’ of addictionmaintenance for the purpose of – it would seem – anything but best practice health and wellbeing.Even the most ‘avid’ supporter of the ‘harm reductionist’ ideology has to raise their eyebrow at the self-protecting spin being engaged by practitioners seemingly much more interested in protecting an ideology that guarantees the funding flow for their vocational security, than seeing precious human individuals be given BEST options for health and restoration….Read More
Australia’s drug policy has been centred on harm reduction for 27 years
• It has supplied free needles for drug users
• Maintained users on methadone for up to 40 years
• Provided injecting rooms
• This is 27 years of facilitating drug use
• This could not possibly be construed as a war on drugs
• Therefore Australia21’s statement is further rendered meaningless
The recreational use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances is a matter on which all of us have opinions based on our cultural, social and/or moral background……Read More
The President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, criticized a possible legalization of marijuana in his country, which was proposed by two senators opposing a bill introduced last Wednesday before Congress.
“In these times when some advocate or promote the legalization of drugs, I mean that the government of Chile has a strong commitment to combat drug use,” Pinera said in a ceremony in which launched a Bill Prevention of Drug and Alcohol.
The questions of Piñera came after opposition senators that Fulvio Rossi and Ricardo Lagos Weber, son of former President Ricardo Lagos, presented a bill in Congress to legalize the cultivation, and personal consumption of marijuana in Chile.