• Willful blindness: INCB can find nothing good to say on cannabis legalisation

    A response to the annual report of the International Narcotics Control Board
    Tom Blickman, Martin Jelsma, John Walsh & Dave Bewley-Taylor
    Tuesday, March 14, 2023

    In its report for 2022, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), the “independent, quasi-judicial expert body” that monitors the implementation of the UN drug control conventions, focuses on the legalisation of cannabis. Each year, in the first chapter of its annual report, the Board addresses a specific issue it deems important for drug policy discussions and the functioning of the international drug control system. This year, cannabis legalisation is the focus, because as many have noticed, a decade after the first state legally regulated adult recreational cannabis “a growing number of States have adopted policies that permit the use of cannabis for non-medical and non-scientific purposes”.

  • Germany: Flirting with Plan B?

    More then anything, it is about time to coordinate better with other countries and agree on a common strategy
    Martin Jelsma
    Wednesday, December 7, 2022

    germany flag cannabisTwo articles published this week, in Der Tagesspiegel and LTO, throw cold water on expectations that the European Commission could give green light to Germany’s ‘Interpretationslösung’ to justify its cannabis regulation plan under EU law and UN treaties. No surprise, as I’ve also argued that the approach taken in the ‘Eckpunkte’ brings the whole project legally on thin ice. The way Peter Homberg (Dentons), Dirk Heidenblut (SPD) and Cornelius Maurer (Demecan) are ‘flirting with Plan B’, however, is equally problematic. Their narrative, based on the ‘Gutachten’ the Dentons law firm produced for Demecan, claims that a solution can be found by using the treaty exemption for ‘scientific purposes’.

  • German cannabis regulation on thin ice

    The government’s risky approach to international legal obstacles puts the entire project in jeopardy
    Martin Jelsma
    Friday, October 28, 2022

    Karl LauterbachThe German government has released its ‘Eckpunktepapier’, a concept note laying out the key points to shape the regulation of the recreational cannabis market. Presenting the key points at a press conference this week, Health Minister Lauterbach made clear that it had not been easy to reach agreement within the ‘Ampel’ coalition and between the involved ministries. Clearly one of the trickiest issues has been how to deal with the legal hurdles of the UN drug treaties and EU law. Germany’s current interpretative approach puts the fate of the entire project for cannabis regulation on very thin ice. But there is still time to change course, and legally sound and politically viable alternative options are available. 

  • Statement on the UN Common Position and Task Team

    It is highly disappointing and worrying that the new UNODC Strategy 2021-2025 does not mention or refer to the Common Position
    Transnational Institute (TNI)
    Thursday, April 15, 2021

    cnd2020Between 12 - 16 April 2021, the 64th session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) took place in Vienna. Here you can find the statement by the Institute for Policy Studies / Transnational Institute on Inter-agency cooperation and coordination of efforts in addressing and countering the world drug problem (Agenda Item 7) about the UN System Common Position on drug policy and the establishment of the inter-agency Task Team, which provides ‘authoritative guidance’ to all UN agencies to develop and promote a truly evidence- and human rights-based drugs policy.

  • A new EU Drug Strategy is being repared by the German presidency

    The new security-focused EU Drugs Agenda proposed by the EU Commission was criticised by civil society and member states
    Peter Sarosi (DrugReporter)
    Thursday, October 8, 2020

    eu flagThe International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) sent an open letter to the members of the Horizontal Working Party on Drugs (HDG) to reject the EU Drugs Agenda. The German EU presidency is now in charge of revising it. It was revealed at the online annual plenary meeting of the Civil Society Forum on Drugs that Member States did not accept the new EU Drugs Agenda proposed by the EU Commission. The HDG decided that a new EU strategy will be prepared by the German presidency. In a previous article we made some critical remarks about the new EU Drugs Agenda presented by the EU Commission.

  • Switzerland set to launch cannabis pilot projects 2021

    A handful of cities, including Berne, Geneva, Zurich, Basel and Biel have already expressed interest in joining the pilot projects
    Christoph Schindler (Groupement Romand d'Etudes des Addictions - GREA)
    Thursday, October 8, 2020

    switzerland flag cannabisIn September 2020, the Swiss parliament adopted a modification to the Federal Act on Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances. The change provides a legal framework for a pilot project that would see legal and government-controlled supply initiatives established in 2021. The projects are expected to provide data on the use of cannabis by the Swiss and contribute to substantiating any potential future regulations. A few days after its passing, a complimentary parliamentary initiative was submitted by a member of the National Council (the lower house of the Swiss legislature). The initiative aims to flesh out a political response to the regulation of cannabis, proposing standards similar to those in place for alcohol.

  • The EU should not fight drugs but reduce harms

    The new Security Union strategy would “fight” against drugs together with child abuse and arms trafficking. This is a bad approach
    Peter Sarosi (DrugReporter)
    Wednesday, August 5, 2020

    eu puzzleThe European Commission has published its new EU drug strategy (now called the Drugs Agenda), which is part of a wider Security Union strategy entitled “Delivering on a Security Union: initiatives to fight child sexual abuse, drugs and illegal firearms.” While I celebrated the previous Action Plan as the most progressive ever, I think this document has come as a disappointment for civil society organisations that have been advocating for a sensible, balanced approach in drug policies. Here are 4 reasons why.

  • The war on drugs is a war on human rights

    New report from Amnesty International on drug war in Cambodia
    James Nicholls, Chief Executive Transform
    Friday, May 15, 2020

    human rights are not optionalOne of the most appalling aspects of the war on drugs is that it can legitimise not just human rights abuses, but a complete rejection of human rights as a principle.  The degree to which this perverse reality has been normalised was made clear in a recent statement by the Cambodian Ministry of the Interior, responding to a new report from Amnesty International. When it is an anti-drug campaign,’ the spokesman said, ‘there is never a respect for human rights.’ He went on to say that during an anti-drugs campaign ‘human rights need to be put aside, so it is clean’. Let that sink in for a moment.

  • Parliament of Ghana passes historic new drug law, paving the way for a West African approach

    The new Bill represents an important example for drug policy reform advocacy in West Africa
    Maria-Goretti Ane
    Sunday, April 5, 2020

    On Friday, 20th March, the Parliament of Ghana passed the Narcotics Control Commission Bill into law. This brought great excitement to many who have been following the legislative process since 2015, when the Bill was first introduced. Many civil society organizations (CSOs) in Ghana laud the Government for this significant moment in the history of drug policy reform in the country. The new law makes huge inroads towards more humane drug policy, and will pave way for other good examples to emerge in the sub-region.

  • The ‘deja vú’ of aerial crop spraying in Colombia

    Before the spraying during Plan Colombia coca was grown in 12 regions, but after spraying it expanded to 22
    Nicolás Martínez Rivera
    Saturday, February 29, 2020

    colombia fumigation soldierAt the end of 2019 the government of Iván Duque presented a draft decree to resume the spraying of drug crops used for illicit purposes. It argued that spraying is the only instrument to curb the increase in coca crops. On February 10 and 11, 2020, a Dialogue on Aerial Spraying and Human Rights took place in Bogotá. At the event, several non-governmental organizations and representatives of different communities nationwide gathered to discuss the government’s decision to counter the illicit drug trade by resuming aerial sprays with glyphosate. The destruction of entire crops, contamination of water sources, miscarriages, malformations in newborns were, among others, some of the effects of glyphosate use that led the National Narcotics Council (CNE) to suspend aerial spraying in 2015.

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