Could mild herbal stimulants such as the coca leaf, khat, kratom or ephedra offer alternatives to the more concentrated substances that now dominate the market? Could the recreational stimulants market be steered towards a less harmful direction over time through differentiating the control mechanisms between plants and synthesized derivatives? Different legal regimes are currently implemented between countries and vary greatly for the different plants, some of which are erroneously classified as new psychoactive substances (NPS).

  • Ayahuasca: From the Amazon to the Global Village

    An analysis of the challenges associated with the globalisation of ayahuasca
    Constanza Sánchez & José Carlos Bouso
    Drug Policy Briefing Nr. 43
    December 2015

    Indigenous peoples in the Amazon have used ayahuasca for centuries as a remedy for physical and psychological health, and to ensure the life and wellbeing of their communities. In the past two decades, the use of this decoction has expanded beyond Amazon indigenous spheres. Globalisation, and with it the contact between populations, has facilitated cultural exchange between indigenous traditions and Western practices, which has led to a growing interest in the ritual, religious and therapeutic use of ayahuasca.

    application-pdfDownload the briefing (PDF)

  • Time for a Wake-up Call

    An historical and ethnographic approach to the Regulation of Plant-based Stimulants
    Anthony Henman* Pien Metaal
    Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies No. 27
    December 2014

    The chemically-based frame of reference adopted by the UN Single Convention is mistaken in the culturally loaded and falsely “scientific” manner in which it was applied to different plants. With the proliferation of new stimulant substances – many of them based on plants used in “traditional” cultural settings in different parts of the world – a need has arisen to monitor not just the substances themselves, but also the social contexts in which they are being used.

  • European policy on khat

    Drug policy lessons not learned
    Joanne Csete
    GDPO Policy Brief nr. 2
    May 2014

    The UK and the Netherlands commissioned distinguished scholars and experts to study the social and clinical harms of khat. These experts argued that any harms associated with khat did not require a criminal law response. In rejecting that conclusion and banning khat, these two governments have created an enabling environment for organized criminal networks and may exacerbate racial discrimination in drug law enforcement. Moreover, these policies put in danger the livelihood of thousands of people in some of the world’s lowest-income settings.

    application-pdfDownload the brief (PDF - outside link)

    READ MORE...
  • Generic legislation of new psychoactive drugs

    Jan van Amsterdam, David Nutt and Wim van den Brink
    Journal of Psychopharmacology 27(3)
    March 2013

    New psychoactive drugs (NPDs, new psychoactive substances) enter the market all the time. However, it takes several months to ban these NPDs and immediate action is generally not possible. Several European countries and drug enforcement officers insist on a faster procedure to ban NPDs. Introduction of generic legislation, in which clusters of psychotropic drugs are banned in advance, has been mentioned as a possible solution. Here we discuss the pros and cons of such an approach.

    application-pdfDownload the article (PDF)

    READ MORE...
  • Khat: A review of its potential harms to the individual and communities in the UK

    Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD)
    January 2013

    On the basis of the available evidence, the overwhelming majority of Council members consider that khat should not be controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. In summary the reason for this is that, save for the issue of liver toxicity, although there may be a correlation or association between the use of khat and various negative social indicators, it is not possible to conclude that there is any causal link.

    application-pdfDownload the review (PDF)

    READ MORE...
  • Towards a Safer Drug Policy

    Challenges and Opportunities arising from ‘legal highs’
    All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Drug Policy Reform
    January 2013

    For forty years the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 has formed the corner stone of drug policy in Britain. The emergence of new psychoactive substances (‘legal highs’) during the past fifteen years or so has challenged the drug control system. The arrival in 2012 of a new psychoactive substance on the market, on average, every six days raises questions about how best to protect young people from unknown and unsafe drugs. The Government is considering this challenge and we hope this Inquiry report will make a helpful contribution to their deliberations.

    application-pdfDownload the report (PDF)

    READ MORE...
  • New Psychoactive Substances

    The need for policy reform
    Youth Rise for Reform
    Drug Policy Series
    June 2012

    Addressing the rapid escalation in consumption of new psychoactive substances among young people around the world, we have produced a report outlining what the main government responses to this new phenomenon have been, why current approaches at dealing with increased consumption of new synthetic psychoactive substances has failed, what barriers currently exist to improving the harm reduction interventions for young people who use these drugs and our recommendations for better policies.

    application-pdf Download the report (PDF)

  • Chewing over Khat prohibition

    The globalisation of control and regulation of an ancient stimulant
    Axel Klein Martin Jelsma Pien Metaal
    Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies Nr. 17
    January 2012

    In the context of a fast changing and well documented market in legal highs, the case of khat (Catha edulis) provides an interesting anomaly. It is first of all a plant-based substance that undergoes minimal transformation or processing in the journey from farm to market. Secondly, khat has been consumed for hundreds if not thousands of years in the highlands of Eastern Africa and Southern Arabia. In European countries, khat use was first observed during the 1980s, but has only attracted wider attention in recent years.

    application-pdfDownload the briefing (PDF)

    application-pdfPersverklaring (PDF in Dutch)

    READ MORE...
  • Expert Seminar on Herbal Stimulants and Legal Highs

    Transnational Institute
    Amsterdam
    October 30-31, 2011

    A grey area has emerged between what is legal and what is not as states struggle with how to respond to the many new synthetic compounds emerging onto the market. Of the various types of ‘Legal highs’ the seminar focused on stimulants because of the parallels with the other main drug-policy issue of the moment; i.e. the status of traditional herbal stimulants. These older discussions have been reinvigorated by: Bolivia’s efforts to de-schedule coca-leaf at UN level; the debates on the status of khat between EU States, and of kratom across Asia; and the increasing stride of legitimate cannabis use on the domestic front, as in for example Spain.

    Download the report (PDF)

    READ MORE...
  • 'Legal highs'

    The challenge of new psychoactive substances
    Adam Winstock and Chris Wilkins
    Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies Nr. 16
    October 2011

    This paper aims to set out some of the policy and public health issues raised by the appearance of a wide range of emergent psychoactive substances of diverse origin, effect and risk profile (commonly referred to as ‘legal highs’). It will start by considering what is meant by the term ‘legal highs’ and consider the historical context that has framed their appearance and must inform any response. It will then consider some of the approaches that have been adopted by different nations to control their availability and associated harms, including a preliminary assessment of their consequences, both intended and not.

    application-pdfDownload the briefing (PDF)

    READ MORE...

Page 1 of 4