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oD Drug Policy Forum: Front Line Report - Week of April 4th 2011

Following UNODC Executive Director Yuri Fedotov's speech last week in which he called for a rededication to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs; we lead our report with a call to take a fresh and pragmatic look at the Convention through a human rights perspective rooted in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. We also take a look at a moving campaign against violence in healthcare ~ MW & CS
Mark Weiss Charles Shaw
2 April 2011

A 50 Year Old Convention: What's Wrong With an Update? 

“This year is the 50th anniversary of the keystones of the international drug control system, the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs” said Mr. Yuri Fedotov, the director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in his opening speech at the 54th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in Vienna. “Some critics say this convention is out of date but I disagree. The provisions of the convention remain valid as it does center focus on the protection of health. I urge the international community to rejuvenate the convention and I encourage member states to rededicate yourselves to implement its provisions.” 

HCLU is one of the critics saying this convention is out of date. It is out of date because its main guiding principle is out of date. This convention, in the name of “the health and welfare of mankind”, attempted to limit the use of some drugs exclusively to medical and scientific purposes and decided to eliminate other forms of drug use. One of the provisions of the Single Convention say the chewing of coca leaves should be eliminated within 25 years: does Mr. Fedotov think that the aim to uproot an ancient Andean tradition within a quarter of a century was realistic?

Rather than rejuvenating the convention, we suggest to rejuvenate the founding principles of the United Nations and have a fresh look at the international drug control system in the light of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: does this system work? What are the intended and unintended consequences of the enforcement of the conventions? Are there feasible alternative policies to be considered by the member states? If you want to know the answers to these questions please join a new civil society campaign led by Transform, that calls on the governments to count the costs of the global war on drugs!

Source: Drug Reporter 

HIV and Injecting Drug Use: A Call for Global Action – The Official Declaration of the 2011 International Harm Reduction Conference

The 2001 UNGASS Declaration of Commitment and the 2006 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS established time-bound targets to be met and reported on by countries worldwide. The commitments aimed to address the needs of people who inject drugs, their families and the communities in which they live through an “urgent, coordinated and sustained response.”

The 2011 United Nations High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS held in New York from 8-10th June 2011 is one of the key international fora through which to advance progress on harm reduction and related drug policy reform. Ten years since the UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS, world leaders and civil society representatives will come together to review progress and chart the future course of the global AIDS response at the 2011 UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS. At this meeting, Member States are expected to adopt a new Declaration that will reaffirm current commitments and commit to actions to guide and sustain the global AIDS response.

At the 22nd International Harm Reduction Conference held in Beirut, Lebanon from April 3-7, the International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA) is launching HIV and Injecting Drug Use: A Global Call to Action.

The declaration aims to hold the United Nations accountable to their commitments on HIV/AIDS for people who inject drugs worldwide. It does this by providing a clear platform for mobilising a broad constituency of civil society organisations and governments in support of evidence-based harm reduction interventions and drug policy reform as outlined in the Vienna Declaration. Ultimately, efforts around the declaration aim to raise the profile of these issues within the proceedings and outputs of the United Nations HLM on HIV/AIDS in New York. To sign the Declaration please follow this link

Source: IHRA

Dispatch from El Salvador: Obama’s Drug War Feels Eerily Familiar 

It all feels intensely familiar, like the days of open conflict between El Salvador’s people and its government. Angry students marching, covering their coffee-colored faces with bandanas or masks as they file through the streets. Giant effigies of U.S. presidents and Uncle Sam next to huge, colorful banners demanding “Alto al Militarismo!” Nervous “security” demanding to know, “What press do you work for?” before forcing me to pull out my credentials.

Listening to wiry, tee-shirted student leader “Ana Maria” (a pseudonym) on the smoke-filled, sun-baked streets of San Salvador, I’m whisked back to similar scenes in the Cold War years of the 80’s and 90’s. “We’ve had to organize clandestine meetings because of the intervention of the police on our campus,” she tells me while glancing occasionally to the left and right of the long march. “These last days, police intervention on campus has increased,” she said. 

Watching this army of cell phone-wielding protesters through the smoke of rickety buses, it feels eerily like 1980, the year El Salvador’s civil war started, after U.S.-trained death squads murdered Monsenor Oscar Arnulfo Romero—the country’s ultimate symbol of peace, and of the consequences of militarization. Then, the militarization of society was driven by political ideologies; today, it is driven by the purported war on drugs. In both cases, the driving force has been Washington, D.C.’s agenda—and its guns. To learn more please follow this link

Source: ColorLines

Feds Raid Medical Marijuana Dispensaries: Tell Them to Back Off 

Shocking news: The Feds have raided more than two dozen medical marijuana dispensaries across California and Montana.  Armed agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI, and ATF swept through 28 stores and greenhouses, detaining the workers there and seizing computers, plants, and other items.  More than 20 states have decriminalized marijuana or legalized its use for medical purposes: There's no telling where the next round of raids will take place. 

The raids represent a swift change in law enforcement policy: When Obama took office, Attorney General Eric Holder promised to end the Bush-era attacks on sellers of medicinal marijuana and the patients who use it.  Obama made the same promise on the campaign trail: "I would not have the Justice Department prosecuting and raiding medical marijuana users. It's not a good use of our resources." (August 21, 2007, event in Nashua, New Hampshire)

Now the Feds are even refusing to say why they conducted these raids, and if and when they'll be pressing any charges. This shift in policy puts medical marijuana sellers and patients across America in jeopardy: There's no telling what state will be next.  Will you tell Obama and Holder to keep their promises and end the raids? To sign this important position please follow this link

Source: Demand Progress 

Drug dependence treatment and HIV prevention in Kenya

30 March 2011 - Globally, there are an estimated 16 million injecting drug users, around 3 million of whom live with HIV. As a major route of HIV transmission in many countries, the use of contaminated injecting equipment contributes up to 10 per cent of all HIV cases worldwide. As the lead UN agency in countering illicit drugs and in HIV and injecting drug use, UNODC works with countries to review and develop laws, policies and standards of care that enable them to put in place effective services for people who inject drugs.

During his first visit to East Africa since taking office as head of UNODC, Executive Director Yury Fedotov visited the Nairobi Outreach Services Trust in Kenya, an NGO working to prevent HIV among injecting drug users and other vulnerable sections of the population in the capital.

The visit directly follows the recently concluded Commission on Narcotic Drugs where Mr. Fedotov expressed the importance of civil society in working in the area of drug use prevention in all areas of the world: "We must continue to expand efforts to prevent drug dependence and strive to provide all drug users with the treatment, care and support they need. As we move to achieve this, we regard the NGO community as a key partner and a powerful voice in reaching the people whom UNODC ultimately work to serve." To learn more please follow this link

Source: UNODC 

Asia and the Pacific: UN Regional Task Force meeting on injecting drug use and HIV/AIDS held in India

The UN Regional Task Force (RTF) meeting on injecting drug use and HIV/AIDS for Asia and the Pacific took place on 10 and 11 February 2011 in New Delhi, India. Established in 1997, the goal of the task force is to contribute to the reduction of HIV infection among and from injecting drug users in the Asia Pacific region, by significantly increasing coverage of comprehensive HIV interventions through regional and country level advocacy, coordination, and use of strategic information for advocacy and policy dialogue.

Some of the topics included in the agenda were (i) compulsory centres for drug users (CCDUS), (ii) the possibility of a needle syringe programme survey in some Asian countries, (iii) the regional strategy for harm reduction in Asia Pacific 2010-2015 as well as (iv) the key findings and recommendations of the external review of the UN RTF. To learn more please follow this link 

Source: UNODC

Drug Courts: Martin Sheen Defends Them in Congress. But Do They Work? 

U.S. drug courts, which divert non-violent drug cases and assign offenders to treatment and supervision rather than jail, are championed by the left, right and center. The left likes them because they favor treatment over punishment; the right likes that they save money; for the center, they strike a middle ground between getting tough on drugs and getting help for addicts. 

On Friday, drug courts got another vote of confidence from Martin Sheen, at a Congressional briefing on the importance of the courts. Nearly 2,500 such courts currently operate in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. But, meanwhile, two think tanks last week released reports harshly critiquing them. "We're all here today with one purpose," Sheen said. "That is to ensure that Congress holds the line on the $88 million dollars that they are currently investing in drug courts. ... Drug courts are the very best deal Congress can make to reduce crime and the social consequences related to drug addiction." 

But setting aside the question of whether Charlie Sheen's experience is a positive example, are drug courts the best way to deal with addiction? To learn more please follow this link

Source: Time

Every Member of Seattle's Legislative Delegation Goes on the Record in Favor of Legalizing Pot 

As of yesterday evening, every member of Seattle legislative delegation to Olympia—all ten representatives and all five senators from the 34th, 36th, 37th, 43rd, and 46th Districts—had gone on the record to say that they support taxing, regulating, and legalizing marijuana. They join every elected official at City Hall (the mayor, the city attorney, and all nine members of the city council) and King County Executive Dow Constantine.

The final holdout was 46th District Representative David Frockt (who had been opposed to legalization a couple weeks ago). However, after a little goading and he heard testimonies from former US attorney John McKay and a former Whatcom County judge on a bill to tax and regulate pot, Frockt called last night to say that he had come around. He wouldn't commit to any specific bill, but said, "I am okay with legalization, I am okay with regulation, and I am fine with taxation." Good job, Rep. Frockt. 

This seems significant, whether we're the first city or not: It appears that the safest position politically these days—the most mainstream position a politician can take in Seattle—is to replace the War on Pot with a government takeover the entire industry. Quashing the politically toxic drug war is a winning platform. A decade ago, before Seattle voters had deprioritized enforcement of pot possession, most local lawmakers wouldn't touch this issue with a ten-foot bong. A poll last year found that most people in Washington support legalizing pot. Now all the lawmakers and the media are on board, too.  To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Stranger 

US National Cancer Institute acknowledges "potential benefits of medicinal cannabis for people living with cancer."

This complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) information summary provides an overview of the use of Cannabis and its components as a treatment for people with cancer -related symptoms caused by the disease itself or its treatment. This summary contains the following key information: 

  • Cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years prior to its current status as an illegal substance.
  • Chemical components of Cannabis, called cannabinoids, activate specific receptors found throughout the body to produce pharmacologic effects, particularly in the central nervous system and the immune system.
  • Cannabinoids may have benefits in the treatment of cancer-related side effects.  

Source: National Cancer Institute

Campaign to stop torture in healthcare launched 

Today, a coalition health and human rights groups launched the Campaign to Stop Torture in Health Care. This global effort builds on the recent groundswell of civil society activity to protect and advance human rights in health settings. The Campaign seeks to hold governments accountable for the most egregious abuses perpetrated against citizens in the name of health care.

The full announcement is here: http://blog.soros.org/2011/03/stop-torture-in-health-care-2/.

Of particular focus for the Campaign are the egregious abuses committed across SE Asia in compulsory detention centers for people who use drugs. In a growing number of countries, these so-called ‘rehabilitation facilities’ rely on physical abuse, locked wards, forced labor, and other indignities to “treat” drug addiction. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of detainees quickly return to drug use once they are released from these centers. From Cambodia, “Venta” shares his experience of drug detention.  

Find out more about the Campaign, get involved, and help spread the word www.stoptortureinhealthcare.org  

Source: IHRA

UKDPC Submission to the Department of Health – Healthy Lives, Healthy People Consultation  

The UK Drug Policy Commission broadly welcomes the approach in the strategy document Healthy Lives Healthy People, which places drug misuse and dependence in a Public Health context that recognises the role of inequality and disadvantage, and a range of social, environmental and economic factors in promoting and sustaining poor health outcomes. We also support the strong focus on using and developing the evidence base in support of interventions, and that the budget devolved to local authorities will be ring-fenced.

However, across the strategy and associated consultation documents, we have a number of concerns that specifically relate to the provision of services. To learn more about these concerns please follow this link

Source: UKDPC

Shaping Recovery – The Challenge for the Residential Sector 

Flexibility and responsiveness are the hallmarks of success in a rapidly changing drugs recovery landscape, according to leading providers of residential rehabilitation services. Adaptability was the watchword for many of the speakers contributing to the national networking events for residential providers and treatment commissioners hosted by the NTA.

Richard Johnson, CEO of ANA in Portsmouth, explained how his service listened to feedback from commissioners and clients and changed their business model accordingly. Representatives of more than 50 providers attended the final Shaping Recovery conference in London on March 29, the last of three events designed to raise the profile of the residential sector in the light of the emphasis on recovery in the government's Drug Strategy. To learn more please follow this link

Source: National Treatment Agency

UK - 'New hub for importing cocaine' 

Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain are the traditional routes for the drug’s entry to the EU, but the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) said there had been a recent surge in cases of the UK being used as point of entry. 

INCB president Hamid Ghodse explained: “It is not only the UK but the Netherlands also, Portugal also and Spain also. Traditionally they were the hub of the importing to Europe but now the UK is also one of the countries. Cocaine comes to the UK to be diverted to the rest of Europe.”

The rise in the importance of the UK as a cocaine hub was recognised after an increase in the number of seizures taking place at ports of entry, he said. Cocaine trafficking via the UK may have increased because of recent tightening of drug enforcement in countries such as Spain and Portugal. He added: “Drug traffickers are extremely clever. Whenever enforcement increases in one place they try to go to another place.” To learn more please follow this link

Source: IDPC

Cocaine: Unwrapped (trailer) from Transform on Vimeo.

IDPC Report - First IDPC seminar on drug policy in the Middle East and North Africa 

In the Middle East and North Africa, illicit drugs have long been tackled through drug policies mainly focusing on tough law enforcement. As a result, few efforts have been made to assess the nature and the scope of drug use and dependence, and drug users have become increasingly stigmatised. In recent years, some MENA countries have started to recognise that a law enforcement approach to illicit drugs had not addressed drug-related harms and drug dependence and are considering new options of intervention.

In an effort to support this new development, IDPC organised a seminar in collaboration with its local partner, the National Rehabilitation Centre in Abu Dhabi (NRC), in order to generate constructive discussions and share experience on drug policy, in the region and beyond. The seminar was attended by over 150 participants from 12 different countries, including Afghanistan, Egypt, Gaza, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, the West Bank and Yemen.

The goals of the seminar were twofold – to share experience and perspectives on drug policy to get a better understanding of the main issues in MENA, and to discuss possibilities for networking activities in the region. The main sessions focused on four themes, drug prevention, drug dependence treatment, harm reduction and drug laws and enforcement. This report highlights the main discussions that took place at the meeting- IDPC report on MENA seminar FINAL web

Source: IDPC

IDPC progress report 2010-2011 

IDPC was set up in 2007 as a response to the need for a global communication and advocacy structure in the area of drug policy. Since then, IDPC has become a dynamic collaborative initiative which has gradually expanded both its membership and activities to influence national and international drug policies and programmes.  

This is the first IDPC progress report, which aims to highlight IDPC's key activities and successes since its creation four years ago. IDPC Annual Report FINAL

Source: IDPC

CIDDH participates to design of plan on drug trafficking for Peruvian presidential candidate 

Presidential elections in Peru will be taking place on 10th April 2011. In November 2010, Ricardo Soberon, the director of the Centro de Investigación Drogas y Derechos Humanos (CIDDH) was invited, throught the Colectivo Ciudadanos por el Cambio, to participate to the Government Plan elaboration of one of the presidential candidates (Government Plan 2011 – 2016, Drug trafficking and Terrorism), and agreed to participate in the design of a proposal on drugs and drug trafficking based on efficiency, human rights, proportionality, and harm reduction principles.

Isolated and partial government responses have overwhelmed the Peruvian criminal justice system, distracted the police (45% arrested are non-offenders users) and overcrowded prisons. It is necessary that the next government adopts effective, sensible (realistic), measurable, human right based, autonomous (independent from international cooperation), sustainable, and verifiable public policies that are distant from the 'prohibition vs. legalisation' debate, in order to face both the causes and effects of the drugs and drug trafficking phenomena. To learn more please follow this link

Source: IDPC

Rule by the right-wing press dooms any sensible debate on drugs 

Not one of us, nor any of our children, nor any of their children, nor anyone at all even unto the seventh generation, will live to see it dawn. But one day, humanity will look back on "the war against drugs" with a shiver of the revulsion induced today by slavery, the criminalisation of homosexuality and other historic high points of legalised dementia.

For the unforeseeable future we're stuck with it, as the reaction to an attempt to create clearer penal distinctions between drug lords and their junior employees yesterday made clear. A group entitled the Sentencing Council, possibly in homage to Paul Weller's post-Jam band, proposes reducing the punishment for runners caught with relatively small amounts of drugs, and particularly for women coerced into acting as mules. In certain circumstances, it advises, such people should be spared jail even when the substances are Class A.

The views of the public are sought between now and 20 June, but any of you selfless souls tempted to chip in are hereby advised to save the effort, and restrict yourselves to a shrug of defeatist indifference. Since both The Sun and the Daily Mail have already addressed these proposals on their front pages in starkly unflattering terms, my actuarial calculations establish that there is a 27 times higher probability of the Steptoes' horse Hercules winning the Grand National, the Derby and the British Grand Prix than of the Government accepting the tiniest fraction of them. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Independent

Philippines Says China Executes Three Filipinos 

Three Filipinos convicted of drug trafficking in China were executed on Wednesday, Filipino officials said, prompting grief and outrage in the Philippines. Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, who had been designated by President Benigno S. Aquino III to intercede for the three convicts, confirmed that Sally Ordinario-Villanueva, Ramon Credo and Elizabeth Batain had been executed in China, according to Joey Salgado, the vice president’s spokesman.

Mr. Aquino’s spokeswoman, Abigail Valte, also confirmed the executions According to media reports here, the executions — Ms. Villanueva and Mr. Credo were executed in Xiamen, Ms. Batain in Shenzhen — took place shortly before noon on Wednesday.

The Philippine government had earlier asked Beijing to stay the executions, which were originally scheduled for February. Mr. Binay wrote President Hu Jintao on Tuesday pleading again for mercy, arguing that at least in the case of Ms. Villanueva, there was new evidence to indicate that she had been used as an unwitting drug courier and that sparing her would help in the prosecution of the drug traffickers who led her to bring heroin into China. To learn more please follow this link

Source: New York Times

A New Site Intended to Serve People in Recovery

Addiction is a big business — and not just for the treatment centers that rake in billions of dollars every year. It’s also a huge media business that has spawned popular shows like A&E’s “Intervention” and VH1’s “Celebrity Rehab,” and best-selling memoirs by Mary Karr, Augusten Burroughs and a seemingly inexhaustible list of other recovering writers.

Now, Maer Roshan, the founder of Radar magazine, is betting that addiction is also a good and potentially profitable proposition for the Web. 

TheFix.com, a Web site that combines feature writing, news, video and Zagat-like reviews of rehab facilities, will go live on Monday. It is the latest endeavor for Mr. Roshan, who became a fixture in New York media as an editor for Talk and New York Magazine, but then fell out of the public eye after Radar folded as a magazine for the third time.  To learn more please follow this link

Source: New York Times

New York’s Prisons Fall Short, Again 

Perhaps as many as three-quarters of New York State’s 57,000 prison inmates need drug counseling or treatment to have a chance at productive, crime-free lives once they are released. A three-year study of drug and alcohol abuse programs in the New York State Department of Corrections suggests that prisons are failing to provide adequate treatment programs for the tens of thousands of inmates who need them.

The study by the Correctional Association of New York, a nonprofit group, examined drug treatment programs at 23 of the state’s nearly 68 facilities. It found that the programs varied wildly in effectiveness and that most departed significantly from best practices laid out by the addiction research division of the federal Department of Health and Human Services. To learn more please follow this link

Source: New York Times

Did You Know: War on Drugs Edition

A brief animated video outlining just some of the failures of the war on drugs.

Did You Know: War on Drugs Edition from ICSDP Communications on Vimeo.

Source: Count the Costs

More Black Men Now in Prison System than Were Enslaved 

“More African American men are in prison or jail, on probation or parole than were enslaved in 1850, before the Civil War began,” Michelle Alexander told a standing room only house at the Pasadena Main Library this past Wednesday, the first of many jarring points she made in a riveting presentation.

Alexander, currently a law professor at Ohio State, had been brought in to discuss her year-old bestseller, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness . Interest ran so high beforehand that the organizers had to move the event to a location that could accommodate the eager attendees. That evening, more than 200 people braved the pouring rain and inevitable traffic jams to crowd into the library’s main room, with dozens more shuffled into an overflow room, and even more latecomers turned away altogether. Alexander and her topic had struck a nerve. 

Growing crime rates over the past 30 years don’t explain the skyrocketing numbers of black — and increasingly brown — men caught in America’s prison system, according to Alexander, who clerked for Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun after attending Stanford Law. “In fact, crime rates have fluctuated over the years and are now at historical lows.” To learn more please follow this link

Source: LA Progressive

International security and the global war on drugs: The tragic irony of drug securitisation 

A report which examines how the misuse of drugs has been framed as a security issue – a threat to humanity which is intended to justify the extraordinary measures of worldwide prohibition and a militarised war. As a result of this 'securitisation', global drug policy has been placed 'above politics' and effectively immunised from scrutiny. What is needed, the report argues, is a comprehensive impact assessment of drug policy, conducted along the lines of the three pillars of the UN – development, security and human rights – which would bring the issue back within the sphere of normal policy evaluation.

International security and the global war on drugs

Source: Count the Costs

Drug crime and criminalisation threaten progress on Millennium Development Goals 

This report highlights that international drug crime and the policies intended to tackle it are both threats to progress on health, human rights, and the Millennium Development Goals. Drug crime and criminalisation threaten progress on Millennium Development Goals

Source: Count the Costs 

‘Bling Back’ – What it could mean for Local Communities  

Baroness Newlove makes an interesting proposal in her recent report to the Home Office. Whereas any drug dealers' assets currently seized by police go into a central fund, Baroness Newlove proposes the idea of "bling back" - where those funds are channelled back into the areas where the drugs were dealt.

There are very good reasons for this to happen. It would directly use a dealer's money to repair the very communities they have helped destroy. And it would empower local people, involving them in redressing the impact drug dealing has had on the towns where they live. Far too often, these people have watched their communities become blighted, but have felt unable to do anything about it.

The reality is most drug dealers do not amass fortunes, but this proposal is not about huge sums of money, it is about principle. This money has come out of a local area, it is only right that the money is given back. Not only will local people feel able to wrestle back ownership of the place they live, they will do so in the knowledge that any 'bling back' they receive will help repair the damage drugs have caused; often to their friends and even to their families. Families such as those that Addaction works with, in fact. So; any step that helps these people feel empowered, and which strengthens their ability to tackle the impact of drugs is one I'd welcome.

Source: Addaction

The Human Right to Get High on Drugs 

This honestly sent a tingle down my spine, maybe because I so often find myself steering clear of the personal freedom argument for drug policy reform. It's not what I'd lead with in most cases, and yet it is in so many ways the simplest and most profound truth that defines my opposition to the war on drugs. Any attempt to restrict access to parts of our own minds in despicably evil and intolerable. Prohibition's numerous toxic consequences all owe their origin to the monumental injustice of trying to designate the boundaries of human experience.

For this reason alone, we can be beyond certain that the measures necessary to repair our broken system of so-called drug control are quite grand in scale. Thus, the discussion of "reprioritizing theHe has explored UK drug law for DrugScope and currently works at IHRA providing international advocacy support on UN / EU projects. budget" that you sometimes hear from the President or the Drug Czar is nothing but a pitifully inconsequential distraction from the enormous challenge before us.

Drug prohibition is morally and scientifically corrupt to its core, and although we have no choice but to break it down into smaller parts and repair them incrementally, it's also important to appreciate the staggering depth of the fraud that's been thrust upon us.

The Human Rights Argument for Drug Legalization from Criminal Justice Policy Foundati on Vimeo.

Source: Stop the Drug War

Delaware Senate Passes Medical Marijuana Bill 

A bill that would make Delaware the next state to legalize medical marijuana passed the Senate on a convincing 18-3 vote Thursday. The measure now goes to the House. 

The bill, Senate Bill 17, would allow qualified patients to obtain marijuana from state-licensed and -regulated compassion centers, which would grow it for them. Patients would not be able to grow their own, but would be allowed to purchase three ounces every two weeks and possess up to six ounces at a time. The legislation proposes at least one compassion center in each of the state's three counties within a year of enactment, but does not cap the number of centers.

The bill was approved after it was amended to lower the minimum age for qualifying patients from 21 to 18. Other states with medical marijuana laws allow patients of any age to use medical marijuana. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Stop the Drug War

UNCOD

A spoof of the UNODC website – follow this link

Source: UNCOD

Drug laws 'may make matters worse' 

Police efforts to fight drug gangs tend to lead to more violence and an increase in murders, according to a new international study. The authors, writing in the International Journal of Drug Policy, admit they were surprised by their own findings.

Their hypothesis was that the results "would demonstrate an association between increased drug law enforcement expenditures or intensity and reduced levels of violence". But that's not what they showed. Instead, they report:

"From an evidence-based public policy perspective and based on several decades of available data, the existing scientific evidence suggests drug law enforcement contributes to gun violence and high homicide rates and that increasingly sophisticated methods of disrupting organisations involved in drug distribution could paradoxically increase violence."

Source: BBC

Expose the ‘dark money’ bankrolling our politics

US Christian ‘fundamentalists’, some linked to Donald Trump and Steve Bannon, have poured at least $50m of ‘dark money’ into Europe over the past decade – boosting the far right.

That's just the tip of the iceberg: we've got many more leads to chase down. Find out more and support our work here.

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