Author Topic: Finally – a change in course on drug policy  (Read 2021 times)

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Offline SubliminallyOveranalyzed

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Finally – a change in course on drug policy
« on: October 27, 2015, 01:29:27 AM »
http://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/finally-a-change-in-course-on-drug-policy



Update 18:30 19/10/2015

It’s good to see UNODC have now engaged in this issue. However, I hope that they will remain strong in defending and implementing what is a remarkable statement.
 
I challenge Yury Fedotov, the Executive Director of UNODC, to point out if there is anything in their briefing paper that is inaccurate and to explain why (he should be proud of it). The paper spells out in clear terms and based on extensive evidence: there are strong arguments for treating drugs as a health issue and not imprisoning or otherwise criminalising people for personal use or possession of drugs.
 
As I outlined in this interview with Bloomberg, and the Global Commission on Drug Policy has stated for many years, drugs should be treated as a health issue. My great hope is that today’s actions bring that day a little bit closer to reality, so that the millions who continue to be harmed by current policies can be helped instead.

“Greatness comes in simple trappings,” Richard Nixon once said. It seems appropriate to quote the man who started the failed war on drugs to applaud good efforts to end it.

In an as-yet unreleased statement circulated to the BBC, myself and others, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which has shaped much of global drug policy for decades, call on governments around the world to decriminalise drug use and possession for personal consumption for all drugs. This is a refreshing shift that could go a long way to finally end the needless criminalisation of millions of drug users around the world. The UNODC document was due to be launched at the International Harm reduction conference in Malaysia yesterday.

My colleagues on the Global Commission on Drug Policy and I could not be more delighted, as I have stated in embargoed interviews for the likes of the BBC. Together with countless other tireless advocates, I’ve for years argued that we should treat drug use as a health issue, not as a crime. While the vast majority of recreational drug users never experience any problems, people who struggle with drug addiction deserve access to treatment, not a prison cell.

Yet, in their zeal for chasing the illusion of a drug-free world, governments have poured billions into tough law enforcement that did nothing to reduce drug supply or demand, or take control from the criminal organisations in charge of the global drug trade. In the US alone, over 1.5 million people were arrested in 2014 on non-violent drug charges, 83 per cent of those solely for possession. Globally, more than one in five people sentenced to prison are sentenced for drug offences.

It’s exciting that the UNODC has now unequivocally stated that criminalisation is harmful, unnecessary and disproportionate, echoing concerns about the immense human and economic costs of current drug policies voiced earlier by UNAIDS, the World Health Organisation, UNDP, The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN Women, Kofi Annan and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

If you look at the available evidence, UNODC is on the right side of history. In places where decriminalisation has been tried, like Portugal, drug-related deaths were reduced significantly, as were new HIV or Hepatitis infections. Combined with harm reduction programmes, decriminalisation will save lives as people who use drugs will no longer fear arrest and punishment when accessing healthcare services, it will also reduce crime and ease the burden on prison systems and law enforcement agencies.

As the UN General Assembly gears up for the first drug debate in 18 years next April, I hope this groundbreaking news will empower and embolden governments everywhere, including the UK, to do the right thing and consider a different course in drug policy. In the face of overwhelming evidence, UN expert opinion, and international human rights law, it’s not decriminalisation that “sends the wrong message” - it’s the continued refusal to engage, review or discuss reform.

It’s good to see evidence and common sense prevail at UNODC. Which government wouldn’t agree with that? But as I'm writing this I am hearing that at least one government is putting an inordinate amount of pressure on the UNODC. Let us hope the UNODC, a global organisation that is part of the UN and supposed to do what is right for the people of the world, does not do a remarkable volte-face at the last possible moment and bow to pressure by not going ahead with this important move. The war on drugs has done too much damage to too many people already.

Join the new Stop the Harm campaign – demand drug policy reform.
~Is there any means by which any number of individuals can delegate to someone else the moral right to do something which none of the individuals have the moral right to do themselves? ~Do those who wield political power (presidents, legislators, etc.) have the moral right to do things which other people do not have the moral right to do? If so, from whom and how did they acquire such a right? ~When law-makers and law-enforcers use coercion and force in the name of law and government, do they bear the same responsibility for their actions that anyone else would who did the same thing on his own? ~3) Is there any process (e.g., constitutions, elections, legislation) by which human beings can transform an immoral act into a moral act (without changing the act itself)?

Offline ijontichy

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Re: Finally – a change in course on drug policy
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2015, 05:20:37 AM »
Quote
Vienna, 19 October 2015 - "The briefing paper on decriminalisation mentioned in many of today's media reports, and intended for dissemination and discussion at a conference in Kuala Lumpur, is neither a final nor formal document from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and cannot be read as a statement of UNODC policy.

It remains under review and UNODC regrets that, on this occasion, there has been an unfortunate misunderstanding about the nature and intent of this briefing paper. UNODC emphatically denies reports that there has been pressure on UNODC to withdraw the document. But, it is not possible to withdraw what is not yet ready. Overall, UNODC remains committed to the balanced approach that, in particular, promotes alternatives to incarceration in line with international human rights standards."

https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/press/releases/2015/October/statement-by-the-spokesperson-for-the-un-office-on-drugs-and-crime.html
if but for a single instant you could see this world of ours the way it really is—undoctored, unadulterated, uncensored—you would drop in your tracks!

Offline SubliminallyOveranalyzed

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Re: Finally – a change in course on drug policy
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2015, 03:34:45 PM »
When all is said and done, all the actual harm reduction, massively reduced victimless and victim crime rates across the board, billions upon billions of dollars that would exponentially be saved, actually circulating truth about illicit drugs, that would inevitably lead to the majority of these drugs being able to be used safely and predictably, the countless lives that would be spared and.or saved due to decreased overdose, crime, gang violence, turf wars, & impure drugs flooding the market due to complete lack of any regulation and/or control in-place in the black market that prohibition creates in the first place, removing the inherent mystery from these drugs that prohibition naturlly saturates them with, which in itself spikes useage rates, first time trying ages and rates, always has & always will .........................

...............none of these known benefits that we all know (well, those of us who abide by the rules of evidence, anyway wink emoticon ) would be inevitable consequences/benefits of regulating and controlling the production and use of ALL illicit drugs, can even come close to holding a candle to the overshadowing importance and all surpassing decisiveness of the 2 most important assets that prohibition of illicit drugs provides the Scumbags and their constituencies.............. the control of people, other nations, and currency it inherently grants them just by being in effect, and the summoning power of money it allows them, which, at the end of the day, boils down to just one thing when you get right down to where the bullet meets the bone..................... politics, plain and simple  ;)
« Last Edit: November 03, 2015, 03:47:30 PM by SubliminallyOveranalyzed »
~Is there any means by which any number of individuals can delegate to someone else the moral right to do something which none of the individuals have the moral right to do themselves? ~Do those who wield political power (presidents, legislators, etc.) have the moral right to do things which other people do not have the moral right to do? If so, from whom and how did they acquire such a right? ~When law-makers and law-enforcers use coercion and force in the name of law and government, do they bear the same responsibility for their actions that anyone else would who did the same thing on his own? ~3) Is there any process (e.g., constitutions, elections, legislation) by which human beings can transform an immoral act into a moral act (without changing the act itself)?

Offline SubliminallyOveranalyzed

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Re: Finally – a change in course on drug policy
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2015, 07:09:12 PM »
The truth behind the UNODC's leaked decriminalisation paper


http://www.tdpf.org.uk/blog/truth-behind-unodcs-leaked-decriminalisation-paper



The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has responded to the ‘leak’ of its briefing paper calling for the decriminalisation of drug possession for personal use. Before considering this response, it’s important to be clear this wasn’t really a ‘leak’ in the classic sense. The document was to be presented by the UNODC at the International Harm Reduction Conference in Kuala Lumpur, and an embargoed copy had already gone to select media (the norm for such publication events). When it was then pulled at the last minute, the BBC, which had already filmed a news segment on it, decided to release it anyway. Richard Branson was filmed for the segment as a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, and was sufficiently annoyed when the UNODC backtracked, that he broke the story himself on his blog.

The UNODC response claims that the briefing is not a final or formal document, and does not amount to a statement of its policy position. It also rejects the allegation that the briefing was stopped from being launched as a result of political pressure. This does, however, feel distinctly like an organisation backtracking under pressure (even if that is something, of course, they would never own up to). It would certainly not be the first time member state presssure has led to supression of a controversial UN drugs paper. Its impossible to know what pressure might have been applied, but this report from New York Times at least strongly suggests that it was the US (as widely suspected) that derailed the publication (ironically having found out about it via a New York Times approach for comment).

Firstly, while the agency now says its decriminalisation paper “cannot be read as a statement of UNODC policy”, the paper itself explicitly says “This document clarifies the position of the UNODC”, before going on to deliver its damning critique of criminalisation and its recommendation to decriminalise personal drug possession and low-level drug dealing offences, all carefully referenced to the relevant UN statements, evidence and international law.

Secondly, it is entirely normal for departments within UN agencies (in this case the HIV/AIDS section of UNODC) to provide briefings and guidance on areas within their specific remit. In no way does every utterance from a UN agency require sign off from the director and board. Last year, for example, the World Health Organization recommended the decriminalisation of drug possession deep within a technical report on how to respond to HIV among key populations. Documents like this are quite rightly taken as statements of institutional positions – in the UNODC’s  case, the paper’s own introduction sets the document up as clarification and guidance from a UN agency, not merely from an individual consultant or staffer.

Thirdly, to provide some context missing from much of the coverage, this is a guidance paper that has come about following longstanding pressure from, and discussions with, a range of civil society organisations, notably the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), Harm Reduction International (HRI), and the International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD). They have demanded the UNODC clarify its position on decriminalisation – especially in light of evolving positions elsewhere in the UN. The UNODC committed to produce such a document almost two years ago. So to somehow suggest this has spontaneously appeared from one rogue staffer without thought or discussion is ludicrous. Contrary to the Telegraph’s reporting of the story, this document has in fact been developed and discussed internally within the UNODC, over a period of more than a year. Monica Beg and the UNODC’s HIV team – who the UNODC media spokesperson in Vienna has rather disgracefully been attempting to scapegoat – are in fact the heroes of the hour for driving this long overdue clarification through to publication.

It is also crucial to note that a range of other UN bodies and officials – including UNAIDS, the UN Development Programme, UN Women, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – have already clearly and publicly stated their support for decriminalisation.

UNAIDS in particular have been openly calling for decriminalisation as part of the HIV response as far back as 2010:
« Last Edit: November 13, 2015, 08:03:08 AM by SubliminallyOveranalyzed »
~Is there any means by which any number of individuals can delegate to someone else the moral right to do something which none of the individuals have the moral right to do themselves? ~Do those who wield political power (presidents, legislators, etc.) have the moral right to do things which other people do not have the moral right to do? If so, from whom and how did they acquire such a right? ~When law-makers and law-enforcers use coercion and force in the name of law and government, do they bear the same responsibility for their actions that anyone else would who did the same thing on his own? ~3) Is there any process (e.g., constitutions, elections, legislation) by which human beings can transform an immoral act into a moral act (without changing the act itself)?