• 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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  • A Distortion of Reality

    Drugs, Conflict and the UNODC’s 2018 Myanmar Opium Survey
    Transnational Institute (TNI)
    Tuesday, March 5, 2019

    After decades of fighting between the central government and various ethnic armed organisations in Myanmar, the links between drugs and conflict have spiraled into a complex chain reaction. The roots of the conflict are political, but very few of the conflict parties in drugs-producing areas can claim to have clean hands when it comes to the narcotics trade. The recently-released “Myanmar Opium Survey 2018” by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) entails specific accusations against several of the conflict actors and distorts, rather than reflects, the complex realities in Myanmar. A neutral and factual survey that promotes accuracy about the realities on the ground could bring peoples together and serve as a basis for discussion, understanding and national reconciliation. But a biased and one-sided survey will only create further divisions and greater obstacles for mutual cooperation in the future.

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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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  • Taking stock: A decade of drug policy

    A civil society shadow report
    International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC)
    October 2018

    ‘Taking stock: A decade of drug policy’ evaluates the impacts of drug policies implemented across the world over the past decade, using data from the United Nations (UN), complemented with peer-reviewed academic research and grey literature reports from civil society. The important role of civil society in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of global drug policies is recognised in the 2009 Political Declaration and Plan of Action on drugs, as well as in the Outcome Document of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs. It is in this spirit that the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) has produced this Shadow Report, to contribute constructively to high-level discussions on the next decade in global drug policy.

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  • INCB hearing on the use of cannabis for medical and non-medical purposes

    An inter se agreement on cannabis regulation would allow a group of countries to modify certain treaty provisions amongst themselves
    INCB Civil Society Hearing
    Monday, May 7, 2018

    The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) held a meeting with civil society representatives on the “the use of cannabis for medical and non-medical purposes”. The meeting brought together a number of representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), selected by the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs (VNGOC), and members of the Board. Transnational Institute associate fellow and director of the Global Drug Policy Observatory (GDPO) Prof. Dave Bewley-Taylor, delivered a statement on how states can reconcile treaty obligations with democratically mandated policy shifts at the national level to a legally regulated cannabis market, with due regard for international law, and what role can the Board play in this process?

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  • In bid to intimidate Canada on cannabis regulation, INCB is reckless and wrong

    Canada should reject the Board’s false claims and thinly veiled effort at intimidation
    John Walsh (WOLA) and Martin Jelsma (TNI)
    Friday, May 4, 2018

    On May 1, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland appeared before the Canadian Senate’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade (AEFA) to discuss the international dimensions of Bill C-45 to regulate cannabis. She acknowledged that regulating cannabis would entail “contravening certain obligations related to cannabis under the three UN drug conventions,” adding that, “we have to be honest about that.” Asked about the ‘inter se’ proposal, whereby like-minded nations can negotiate amongst themselves to contract out of certain provisions of the treaty, Minister Freeland replied that the government had discussed the ‘inter se’ concept and that it was worth thinking about: “We are definitely open to working with treaty partners to identify solutions that accommodate different approaches to cannabis within the international framework.”

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  • Hearing on Bill C-45 as it relates to Canada’s international obligations

    An inter se agreement on cannabis regulation would allow a group of countries to modify certain treaty provisions amongst themselves alone
    Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade
    Meeting regarding Bill C-45 as it relates to Canada’s international obligations
    Thursday, April 19, 2018

    The international dimensions of Bill C-45 are of utmost importance not only for Canada itself but for many countries around the world that are moving in the direction of legally regulating the cannabis market. The position Canada will take vis-à-vis the UN drug control conventions could well be a crucial moment in the long and troubled history of international drug control. Inter se modification appears as a legitimate safety valve, and perhaps under current circumstances the most elegant way out for a group of countries to collectively derogate from certain cannabis provisions.

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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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