“”We are talking about creating a legal framework to regulate the production, transit and consumption of drugs”
-- Otto Pérez Molina, president of Guatemala
What you can do
Mexico Unido Contra la Delincuencia conference
Transform’s senior policy analyst, Steve Rolles, gave a presentation at what was an historic drug policy reform conference in Mexico. Attended by ex presidents and prominent businessmen, the conference was a real demonstration of how Mexico is taking a major leadership role in charting a new way forward on drugs. You can read more about the event on the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition’s blog here, and you can see Steve at the event, moderating a discussion with the former president of Colombia César Gaviria, here.
‘It’s time to end the War on Drugs’ Google+ event
Steve Rolles also took part in the first Intelligence Squared debate organised by Google+, along with Richard Branson and Louise Arbour from the Global Commission on Drug Policy, Julian Assange, and other big names. The debate – which was the most high-profile ever of its kind – is now available to watch online here.
New Chatham House project
Chatham House announced their new project on drugs and organised crime, showing the ever increasing concern from high-level organisations about the current drug policy situation. Transform’s Danny Kushlick is on the advisory panel for this new project, which you can find out more about here.
New publication from the International Institute for Strategic Studies
Transform’s head of external affairs, Danny Kushlick, advised on a new IISS publication that examines how prohibition is generating conflict and insecurity across the world.
Home Affairs Select Committee Inquiry into drug policy publishes evidence
A Home Affairs Select Committee conducting an inquiry into UK drug policy put out a call in November 2011 for evidence to be submitted by individuals and organisations. This evidence has now been published and is available here. You can also read our blog summarising the inquiry here.
First 'legal high' to be banned under new powers
A new power known as a Temporary Class Drug Control Order has been used for the first time in order to ban methoxetamine – otherwise known as “Mexxy”. This order criminalises the production, importation and supply of methoxetamine. If possession is suspected, an individual can be detained for search and, if found, the methoxetamine can be seized. The order stays in place for 12 months while a decision is made on the permanent status of methoxetamine.
Police chiefs have warned the government that banning the substance would not solve the problem and that new drugs will be produced quickly to replace Mexxy on the ‘legal’ market. They also announced that officers might be lenient towards people found in possession of methoxetamine, and therefore focus on serious criminality instead. Read the Daily Mail’s coverage here and the Telegraph’s here.
The Home Office report can be read here and a statement of evidence on methoxetamine by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs is here.
Historic summits on drug prohibition in Latin America
On Sunday 24 th March a historic summit took place in Guatemala to discuss alternatives to drug prohibition. This was attended by the presidents of Guatemala, Panama and Costa Rica and representatives of El Salvador and Nicaragua. Support for the meeting was expressed by the presidents of Mexico and Colombia.
The Guatemalan President, Otto Perez Molina, was quoted as saying: "We are talking about creating a legal framework to regulate the production, transit and consumption of drugs."
You can read a summary of the event on the Guatemala Times website here. Although the summit didn’t result in a manifesto, it is an important step in placing drug law reform on the table, in preparation for the Summit of the Americas which will take place in April.
Some leaders are now pushing for a discussion on alternatives to the drug war to be on the agenda at next week’s Organization of American States (OAS) summit in Cartagena (14 th-15 th April), Colombia, which US president Barack Obama is expected to attend. This weekend, President Molina of Guatemala also wrote an article for the Comment is Free section of the Guardian on the importance of the summit, which you can read here.
An excellent article from The Economist on the current debate on drug policy in Latin American countries can be accessed here.
InSight Crime have produced a map in preparation for the summit which explains the various positions Latin American countries have on drug prohibition.
New Count the Costs video from HCLU
Count the Costs partners the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) have produced a new video to illustrate the human rights costs of the war on drugs. The video is available to watch on our blog here.
The video accompanies the Count the Costs human rights briefing, which you can download from the Count the Costs website. It's available in both English and in Spanish.
Canadian Chief Medical Officers say criminalising drugs has failed
The journal Open Medicine has published a paper reviewing the evidence on Canada's current illicit drug policies, written by the chief medical health officers in British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan. The paper states that the criminal justice approach to drugs has failed.
CBC News reports the doctors as saying: “With tough drug enforcement policies, organized crime has profited, incarcerated drug users have suffered HIV and hepatitis outbreaks and gun violence problems have grown.”
The International Red Cross argues against the criminalisation of drug possession
Dr. Lasha Goguadze, the senior health officer responsible for Global Harm Reduction and TB Programs at The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, made a statement at the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna on March 14, 2012. She called on CND member states to move away from national drug policies centred on criminalisation. The following is a quote from her statement:
“Treating drug addicts as criminals is destined to fuel the rise of HIV and other infections, not only among those unfortunate enough to have a serious drug addiction, but also for children both into addicted families and ordinary members of the public who are not normally exposed to HIV risks. Injecting drug use is a health issue. It is an issue of human rights. It cannot be condoned, but neither should it be criminalized.”
Also significant at CND in Vienna was the Czech Republic’s backing of the Global Commission on Drug Policy's report. Their statement included the following call from the country's prime minister: "We are convinced that changes in current legal regulations are necessary in certain segments of the countries and the world drug policies. We are ready to cooperate in this field with everybody who feels dedicated to those important changes ... We feel that the globalised world does not allow us anymore to continue with the expensive experiment of the War on Drugs without a serious international debate."
Read our blog for the full declaration from the Czech delegation here.
High-Profile Australians Call for End to War on Drugs
A number of prominent Australians have joined together as part of a campaign calling for an end to the country's war on drugs. The campaign was kicked off last week with the publication of a report (PDF) from the think tank Australia 21. For more information about the campaign, see the Transform blog.
Transform Scotland film screening
Transform Scotland is organising a film screening and discussion on 25 April 2012. They will be showing ‘Raw Opium: Pain, Pleasure, Profits’, an award winning Canadian 80 minutes documentary film about the trade, use and harms of heroin.
The event will take place at the Aberdeen Arts Centre, 33 King Street, between 5pm and 8pm. Tickets are £10 and you can contact Mike McCarron on
to book a place.
International Aids Conference
The 19th International Aids Conference will be taking place in Washington DC, from 22-27 July. For more information, see the conference website.
International Society for the Study of Drug Policy conference
The Sixth Annual Conference of the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy will take place in at Canterbury, at the University of Kent, from 30-31 May. The event will feature discussions on a wide range of drug policy issues, with a particular focus on 'How can and do empirical studies influence drug policy?". See here for more information, or to register for a place.
Students for Sensible Drug Policy UK's Third Annual Conference
Transform's Steve Rolles will be speaking alongside Johann Hari at the Opening Plenary of Students for Sensible Drug Policy UK's Third Annual Conference on Friday 20th April at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.
The conference will be held throughout the entire weekend and is about building on the re-invigoration of grassroots involvement in the drug policy reform movement and ensuring all who wish to be effective activists are equipped with the skills they need to make change possible.
Jane Slater, Transform’s operations and fundraising manager, will also be participating in the conference, as part of a panel discussion entitled ‘Sex Drugs and a Rocky War’ on 21 Saturday. She will speak alongside Emily Crick, MPhil candidate at Swansea University, and Eka Iakobishvili, human rights analyst at Harm Reduction International
Registration Fee for the entire weekend:
Employed: Donations above £10.
Non-students are welcome to attend but all must register in attendance.
For registration see www.ssdp.org.uk/conference2012
What you can do
The Giving Machine
Join the Giving Machine and every time you shop online with partner shops, a sales commission is donated to Transform! You can sign up here.
Share Espolea’s debate guide
To help young people answer questions about drug policy, and to stimulate discussion, Espolea have launched an edition of Guidelines for Debate as an introduction to the issue. The text is available in English, Spanish and Portuguese and may be downloaded for free here.
Transform relies on the generosity of our funders, and donations are always welcome, even small ones. If you feel like you can help, visit our donations page.
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