oD Drug Policy Forum: Front Line Report - Week of June 21st 2011

We lead this week with an excerpt from the documentary film, The Exile Nation Project - by our very own Charles Shaw. In 1991 Amy Ralston Povah was sentenced to 24 years in Federal prison. Her only crime was being divorced from an alleged "drug kingpin." In this two-part interview, Amy relays the horrors of her arrest and prosecution, the 9 years she spent in prison, and her long and arduous journey to eventually win clemency in 2000 from President Clinton ~ MW & CS
Mark Weiss Charles Shaw
21 June 2011


The Exile Nation Project - Former Federal prisoner Amy Ralston Povah

In 1991 Amy Ralson Povah was sentenced to 24 years in Federal prison for a crime she did not commit. An incredible look inside the ruthless and craven nature of the DEA and US Department of Justice.

The Land of the Free punishes or imprisons more of its citizens than any other nation. This collection of testimonials from criminal offenders, family members, and experts on America’s criminal justice system puts a human face on the millions of Americans subjugated by the US Government's 40 year, one trillion dollar social catastrophe: The War on Drugs; a failed policy underscored by fear, politics, racial prejudice and intolerance in a public atmosphere of "out of sight, out of mind. 

This complete two-part interview is #3 of 100 in The Exile Nation Project's archive, which can be found on ExileNation.org.  In 1991 Amy Ralston Povah was sentenced to 24 years in Federal prison. Her only crime was being divorced from an alleged "drug kingpin." In this two-part interview, Amy relays the horrors of her arrest and prosecution, the 9 years she spent in prison, and her long and arduous journey to eventually win clemency in 2000 from President Clinton.

Amy is the Founder and Director of CAN-DO, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit foundation that advocates Clemency for All Non-violent Drug Offenders, a group that advocates for people that have been wrongfully or unjustly convicted in drug "conspiracy" cases. "The repercussions of a single injustice spread unnecessary suffering to all the innocent family members and friends. Moreover, the impact on a child that loses a parent – especially a mother – to incarceration yields horrible consequences and perpetrates a vicious cycle of negative behavioral patterns." (source: CAN-DO)


The Exile Nation Project - Interview with Amy Ralston Povah (Part 1) from Charles B Shaw on Vimeo.

The Exile Nation Project - Interview with Amy Ralston Povah (Part 1) from Charles B Shaw on Vimeo.

Source: Exile Nation

Jimmy Carter: Call Off the Global Drug War 

IN an extraordinary new initiative announced earlier this month, the Global Commission on Drug Policy has made some courageous and profoundly important recommendations in a report on how to bring more effective control over the illicit drug trade. The commission includes the former presidents or prime ministers of five countries, a former secretary general of the United Nations, human rights leaders, and business and government leaders, including Richard Branson, George P. Shultz and Paul A. Volcker.

The report describes the total failure of the present global antidrug effort, and in particular America’s “war on drugs,” which was declared 40 years ago today. It notes that the global consumption of opiates has increased 34.5 percent, cocaine 27 percent and cannabis 8.5 percent from 1998 to 2008. Its primary recommendations are to substitute treatment for imprisonment for people who use drugs but do no harm to others, and to concentrate more coordinated international effort on combating violent criminal organizations rather than nonviolent, low-level offenders. 

These recommendations are compatible with United States drug policy from three decades ago. In a message to Congress in 1977, I said the country should decriminalize the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, with a full program of treatment for addicts. I also cautioned against filling our prisons with young people who were no threat to society, and summarized by saying: “Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself.” To learn more please follow this link

Source: New York Times 

The day the drug war really started

On June 19, 1986, 25 years ago Sunday, University of Maryland basketball star Len Bias died of cocaine intoxication. Many believed the 6-foot 7, 220-pound small forward possessed a level of talent equal to that of Michael Jordan, and only two days earlier he'd been selected as the No. 2 overall pick in the NBA draft by the reigning champion Boston Celtics.

In Ronald Reagan's America, Bias instantly became the poster child for what could happen to anyone who didn't just say no. His sudden, shocking death dominated the headlines and unnerved millions of Americans, who were told that the cardiac arrhythmia he suffered was the result of casual, one-time experimentation with drugs. "Leonard's only vice," his college coach, Charles "Lefty" Driesell, had declared just days earlier, "is ice cream."

Responding to this outpouring of grief and fear, Congress promptly passed (and Reagan signed) the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. In their haste, they may not have fully grasped what they were doing.

Source: Salon 

Indian Court overturns mandatory death penalty for drug offences 

16 June 2011, Mumbai: In an unprecedented decision, the Bombay High Court struck down the mandatory death penalty for drug offences, becoming the first Court in the world to do so. Announcing the order via video conferencing, a division bench of Justices A.M Khanwilkar and A.P Bhangale declared Section 31A of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act) that imposes a mandatory death sentence for a subsequent conviction for drug trafficking ‘unconstitutional’.

The Court however, refrained from striking down the law, preferring to read it down instead. Consequently, the sentencing Court will have the option and not obligation, to impose capital punishment on a person convicted a second time for drugs in quantities specified under Section 31A.

The decision brings some reprieve to Ghulam Mohammed Malik, a Kashmiri man sentenced to death by the

Special NDPS Court in Mumbai in February 2008 for a repeat offence of smuggling charas [cannabis resin]. Because of the mandatory nature of the punishment under Section 31A as it stood then, Malik was sentenced to death, without consideration of individual circumstances or mitigating factors. The High Court’s verdict came in response to a petition filed by the Indian Harm Reduction Network (IHRN), a consortium of NGOs working for humane drug policies, who assailed mandatory capital punishment as arbitrary, excessive and disproportionate to the crime of dealing in drugs. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Human Rights and Drugs

‘Mexico’s “War on Drugs”: Real or Rhetorical Armed Conflict?’

The author considers Mexico’s “drug war” to determine if the ongoing violence between authorities and drug cartels can be classified as an armed conflict, which would make the situation subject to international humanitarian law. Looking at several influential decisions that determined the existence of an armed conflict as well as a consideration of modern, so-called “anarchic” conflicts, the current crisis seems well suited for such a categorisation. However, classifying Mexico’s situation as an armed conflict would be inappropriate. Though sophisticated in some respects, these groups lack the organisation requirement and the violence unique to this crisis make this “drug war” a rhetorical war rather than a real armed conflict: Download

Source: Human Rights and Drugs

Children who use Drugs: The Need for More Clarity on State Obligations in International Law

Drug use among children has two systems of international law that may be brought to bear to ensure that States take measures to protect children from drug related harms. Neither, however, appears to have been adequately applied to the issue. This commentary raises a number of questions related specifically to the UN drug conventions and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Broadly – how ‘up to date’ are the UN drug control conventions in the 21st century, and in the light of drug use among children? How does the CRC (coming from the different tradition of international human rights conventions) fit in? What does the CRC add, including via its various other interconnected provisions? Finally, what is the relationship between these two branches of international law? Download the full article

Source: Human Rights and Drugs

The Mexican Drug Cartels Are a National Security Issue 

The U.S. and Mexico have categorically rejected a recent report from the high-profile Global Commission on Drugs, which claims that the U.S.-led war on drugs is a colossal -- and costly -- failure.

The report -- signed by world leaders including former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz and former NATO Secretary General Javier Solana -- argues that harsh drug policies have primarily resulted in the proliferation of organized crime, corruption, and mass criminalization, while failing to substantially reduce illegal drug use. It advocates addressing illegal drug use as a public health issue rather than a crime problem, with an emphasis on “legal regulation” and treatment over punishment.

Despite the panel’s big-name cachet, the U.S. and Mexico have indicated that they have no intention of abandoning their strategies for fighting the drug war, which has claimed more than 40,000 Mexican lives since December 2006. In a statement last week, the Obama administration claimed that the fight against illegal drugs is working. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Business Insider

James Downey: Time to use the nuclear option in the drugs 'war' -- legalise them all 

OFFICIAL: the world has lost the war on drugs. The formal surrender came last week in the form of a report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy, probably the most authoritative body ever set up to study the subject. 

Its members include the former UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, the British businessman Richard Branson and the former US secretary of state, George Shultz. They also include three ex-presidents, of Brazil, Switzerland and Colombia. They know all about drugs in Colombia. Come to think of it, we know too much about them here and everywhere else.

But this knowledge has not been well-absorbed, especially in Ireland. Like the rest of the world, we have been waging this war for 40 years or thereabouts and frantically refusing to believe the evidence. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Independent

Irish Press Ombudsman upholds complaint by coalition of drug services 

The Press Ombudsman made a historic decision yesterday finding in favour of a coalition of national and international drug services against the Irish Independent for a column by Ian O’Doherty which described drug users as “vermin”, “feral, worthless scumbags” and proclaimed that “if every junkie in this country were to die tomorrow I would cheer”. The complaint was filed jointly by Harm Reduction International (aka International Harm Reduction Association), the Irish Needle Exchange Forum and the CityWide Drugs Crisis Campaign, and was supported by approximately thirty Irish drugs services and professionals.

The Ombudsman found that the column, titled Sterilising junkies may seem harsh, but it does make sense (18 February 2011) “was likely to cause grave offence to or stir up hatred against individuals or groups addicted to drugs on the basis of their illness”. The column was found in violation of the Code of Practice for Newspapers and Magazines, specifically of Principle 8 on Prejudice, which states: “Newspapers and magazines shall not publish material intended or likely to cause grave offence or stir up hatred against an individual or group on the basis of their race, religion, nationality, colour, ethnic origin, membership of the travelling community, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, illness or age” 

“We are extremely gratified by this decision," said Rick Lines, Executive Director of Harm Reduction International. "We believe this to be the first time that drug users have been identified by a media watchdog as an identifiable group, entitled to protections against hate-type speech in the press. In this sense, we think the decision of the Press Ombudsman has international significance.” To learn more please follow this link

Source: IHRA

An Addiction Expert Faces a Formidable Foe: Prescription Drugs 

From heroin and cocaine to sex and lies, Tetris and the ponies, the spectrum of human addictions is vast. But for Dr. Nora D. Volkow, the neuroscientist in charge of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, they all boil down to pretty much the same thing. 

She must say it a dozen times a day: Addiction is all about the dopamine. The pleasure, pain and devilish problem of control are simply the detritus left by waves of this little molecule surging and retreating deep in the brain.

A driven worker with a colorful family history and a bad chocolate problem of her own, Dr. Volkow (pronounced VOHL-kuv), 55, has devoted her career to studying this chemical tide. And now, eight years into her tenure at the institute, the pace of addiction research is accelerating, propelled by a nationwide emergency that has sent her agency, with a $1.09 billion budget, into crisis mode. To learn more please follow this link

Source: New York Times

Senate report: Funds funnelled to private contractors in drug war go untracked 

As the United States has ramped up efforts to counter drug cartel violence in Latin America, government agencies have relied heavily on a handful of private contractors whose actions are poorly tracked, according to a Senate report released Wednesday.

Private companies have played a major role in the U.S. government’s efforts to train Latin American law enforcement agencies and increase intelligence-collection efforts against drug cartels. But it has been difficult to see where the money is going. The Department of Defense described its own system for tracking counternarcotics contracts as “error prone.” The State Department doesn’t have a centralized system for such tracking, according to the report.

“We are wasting tax dollars and throwing money at a problem without even knowing what we are getting in return,” Sen.Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), chair of the Senate subcommittee that authored the report, said in a statement Wednesday. To learn more please follow this link

Source: LA Times

Will Timothy Leary's papers turn us on to LSD? 

What was Timothy Leary really up to? We may soon know more now that the New York public library is buying 335 boxes of his papers, videotapes, letters and photographs for $900,000. Once it has spent 18 months to two years sorting them out, the collection will be available to the public.

These papers are not just the rants of this decidedly peculiar man – the 1960s drugs guru whom Richard Nixon called "the most dangerous man in America". There is correspondence with the likes of Allen Ginsberg, Cary Grant, Aldous Huxley, William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac and Arthur Koestler.

Perhaps these papers will give a glimpse of great genius arising from the clash of creative minds with powerful drugs – of insights gained and mystical peaks reached. Or perhaps they will show the horrors and mental decline of drug abuse and excess. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Guardian

Brighton needs a drugs rethink 

In times of war, we're told, the law falls silent. Well, in Brighton and Hove, the law clearly feels it has been silent long enough. This Friday marks the 40th anniversary of President Nixon's declaration of the "war on drugs", and chief superintendent Graham Bartlett, Brighton's top police officer, has decided to speak out against a war that he thinks we have lost.

In doing so, he is backing the local MP, Green party leader Caroline Lucas, who has been calling for a radical realignment of our attitude to personal drug use. They maintain, reasonably enough, that the trade in illicit drugs damages society and should remain a crime. However, they believe that the current punitive approach does not effectively address the problems arising from individual drug use. I have to agree. In my experience of working with heroin users, punishment only adds to the problems. A jail term is hardly a character-building experience, and it creates an embarrassing gap on a CV. Not to mention that it costs the taxpayer getting on for a grand a week to keep someone in jail. 

What is worse is that it offers no solutions. Fear of punishment, at least among established users, is no deterrent. Rather, I would argue, when something is forbidden it acquires a mystique that can be attractive to the anti-establishment mindset (I endorse the principle of "making drugs boring"). On Monday, Lucas set out her views on drug policy. Addressing a meeting of community healthcare professionals – mainly pharmacists and GPs – involved in providing treatment for heroin addiction, she argued for drug use to be treated as a medical rather than a criminal issue. Talk of "decriminalisation" of drug use usually raises fears of some Hogarthian Gin Lane nightmare. But in its most basic form, it simply involves giving drug users treatment and support where required. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Guardian

Mexicans are uneasy about America's outsourced war on drugs 

Cipriana Jurado is a Mexican activist who for years struggled to assert the rights of maquila workers in Ciudad Juarez on the US border. She directed the Centre for Research and Worker Solidarity until, in mid-March 2010, she took refuge in the United States and applied for asylum because her life was in danger. On Saturday 11 June 2011, the United States granted her political asylum.

Her asylum application was accepted on the basis of evidence that the Mexican army persecuted her after she sought to defend a family from which three members, including two women, disappeared in Chihuahua in late 2009. The Mexican army has been used in Chihuahua as part of the federal anti-drug strategy, and it has been repeatedly linked to human rights violations.

Cipriana Jurado is the first human rights defender to receive political asylum for being persecuted by the Mexican army – the same army the United States is supporting to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars in the war against drugs. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Guardian

How West Africa is harmed by Europe's coke habit

WEST AFRICA has become an attractive trade route for Latin America’s cocaine smugglers in recent years. On June 8th two tonnes (2000kg) of the stuff (with an estimated street value of over $1 billion) were seized in the Gambia. While cocaine use in America has fallen by 50% over the last two decades, some European countries have seen consumption rates double or triple. Aided by its corruptible police and flimsy money-laundering laws, up to 150 tonnes of cocaine are estimated to pass through the region a year. In 2006 36% of the cocaine carriers caught in one network of European airports had come from west Africa. In 2008 this had dropped to 17%. Whether this reflects a drop in trade or the traffickers’ increasing skill in avoiding capture is unclear. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Economist

The war on drugs' bitter blowback 

The violent deaths of Brian Terry and Juan Francisco Sicilia, separated by the span of just a few months and by the increasingly bloody US-Mexico border, have sparked separate but overdue examinations of the so-called "war on drugs", and how the US government is ultimately exacerbating the problem.

On the night of 14 December 2010, Agent Brian Terry was in the Arizona desert as part of the highly trained and specially armed Bortac unit, described as the elite paramilitary force within the US Border Patrol. The group engaged in a firefight, and Terry was killed. While this death might have become just another violent act associated with drug trafficking along the border, one detail has propelled it into a high-stakes confrontation between the Obama administration and the US Congress: weapons found at the scene, AK-47s, were sold into likely Mexican criminal hands under the auspices of a covert operation of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Dubbed "Operation Fast and Furious", the secret programme aimed to trace arms sold in the US to so-called straw buyers, people who buy arms on behalf of others. The ATF's operation allowed gun shops to sell bulk weapons to straw buyers who, the ATF suspected, were buying on behalf of Mexican drug cartels. Instead of arresting the straw buyer, considered a relatively low-level criminal by the ATF, tracing the guns as they made their way into Mexico might allow the ATF to arrest more senior members of the criminal cartels. At least, that was the plan. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Guardian

UNODC: "Regional cooperation key in countering drug routes in Central Asia" 

Vienna / Astana. 15 June 2011. UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov yesterday met with the President and several key leaders in Kazakhstan to discuss the country's and region's ongoing efforts in curbing drug use, illicit trafficking, and organized and financial crime. Kazakhstan - as with several Central Asian countries - is situated on an important route of Afghan heroin towards the key markets in Europe and has a key role to play in the fight against drugs. 

UNODC Executive Director met with the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and praised the active role of the country at the international arena. The meeting coincides with the 10th anniversary Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) presently Chaired by Kazakhstan, and Executive Director thanked Kazakhstan for the excellent organization of the Summit. Yury Fedotov also met with lead officials, including Prime Minister Karim Massimov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Yerzhan Kazykhanov, the Minister of the Interior Kalmuhanbet Kasymov and the Chairman of the Agency on Combating Economic and Corruption Crimes Kairat Kozhamzharov. 

Mr. Fedotov's discussions covered a wide range of topics surrounding UNODC's cooperation with Kazakh authorities, including illicit drug trafficking, corruption, anti-money laundering and others. He commended Kazakhstan's commitment towards its anti-drug response, in particular the efforts behind the current 2009-2011 national drug control programme which was boosted through the Government's US$ 270 million allocation. Nationally, UNODC is currently working with authorities to strengthen Kazakhstan's counter-narcotics identification expertise along the country's main transportation routes, while additionally working with selected schools on a pilot-basis to address drug use amongst students. To learn more please follow this link

Source: UNODC

UNODC, Shanghai Cooperation Organization sign agreement to boost international health, safety and security 

Vienna / Astana. 14 June 2011. The United Nations Office and Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote partnerships across a range of areas related to international health, safety and security.

The SCO which was formed in June 2001 is a regional organization comprising China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan with a focus on promoting effective cooperation in politics and trade as well as security and stability in the region. The MoU signing coincides with the 10th anniversary of the SCO when the countries assess the results of the work and the prospects for the future. The MoU is set to look at several core areas including illicit trafficking, drug use, organized crime, international terrorism, human trafficking and other forms of transnational organized crime.

UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov, head of the UN delegation to the SCO Summit, noted the importance of this move towards building closer ties, particular given the nature of crime in today's world: "It is impossible to consider responses to the threats posed by drugs, organized crime and terrorism in isolation. Criminals do not respect national borders and we must respond by cooperating on regional and international levels." To learn more please follow this link

Source: UNODC

Brazil Supreme Court Rules Pro-Marijuana Marches Are Legal 

The Brazilian Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that marches in favor of marijuana legalization can take place. The decision overturns various lower-court decisions that had banned them as "apology for drug use" and "support of drug trafficking."

The ruling came on a unanimous 8-0 vote. The court held that the marches must be allowed if authorities were to respect the rights of freedom of expression and the right to assemble. The marches are a way for citizens to exercise their rights, Justice Celso de Mello said. "Nothing proves more harmful and dangerous than the desire of the state to repress freedom of expression, especially of ideas that the majority repudiate. Thought should always be free," De Mello said.

In 1997 police arrested members of the band Planet Hemp, immediately following a Sao Paulo show they had recorded for evidence. Police charged the band members with lyrics supporting the use of maconha (marijuana). Pro-pot legalization marches associated with the Global Marijuana March the first weekend in May each year began in Brazil in Rio de Janeiro and have since popped up in other cities across the country. Beginning in 2008, local courts began banning them, arguing that they were a justification for drug use. Just a month before this ruling, riot police in Sao Paulo attacked with tear gas and batons more than 1,000 marcherswho had gathered despite a ban on the march. Next year, they won't have the excuse of illegality to repress the pot parade.

Source: Stop the Drug War

A weed card to be introduced in the Netherlands 

The Netherlands Board of Tourism and and Conventions (NBTC)have criticised the government's plan that aims to ban foreigners from coffee shops. The Board released the following statement:

Statement of the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions: The new coalition government in the Netherlands has announced its intention to make all coffeeshops in the country private clubs open only to card-holding customers. The cards will be obtainable by residents of the Netherlands aged 18 and over. This measure might mean that foreign tourists will be ineligible and will no longer have access to coffee shops in the Netherlands. The purpose of the measure is to reduce use of soft drugs among young people and to cut down crime and street nuisance near coffee shops. The Lower House of Parliament will decide on this matter in the near future. To learn more please follow this link

Source: IDPC

Al Jazeera documentary - Filipino drug mules

Increasing numbers of Filipino women are willing to risk their lives to smuggle drugs.

The Philippines is well-known for exporting domestic workers across the world, but as low-income jobs disappear in the global recession, increasing numbers of desperate Filipinos are resorting to something much more dangerous – smuggling drugs as mules. 

And more are getting caught. Over 690 Filipinos are currently sitting in jails around the world on drug offences, 227 in China alone. Of these, data shows there are 85 currently facing death row from drug-related crimes, and more and more of them are women.

Source: IDPC

UNODC: "Regional cooperation key in countering drug routes in Central Asia" 

On 14th June 2011, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov, met with the President and several key leaders in Kazakhstan to discuss the country's and region's ongoing efforts in curbing drug use, illicit trafficking, and organized and financial crime. Kazakhstan - as with several Central Asian countries - is situated on an important route of Afghan heroin towards the key markets in Europe and has a key role to play in the fight against drugs.

Mr. Fedotov's discussions covered a wide range of topics surrounding UNODC's cooperation with Kazakh authorities, including illicit drug trafficking, corruption, anti-money laundering and others. He commended Kazakhstan's commitment towards its anti-drug response, in particular the efforts behind the current 2009-2011 national drug control programme which was boosted through the Government's US$ 270 million allocation. Nationally, UNODC is currently working with authorities to strengthen Kazakhstan's counter-narcotics identification expertise along the country's main transportation routes, while additionally working with selected schools on a pilot-basis to address drug use amongst students. 

On a regional-level Mr. Fedotov spoke of the importance of Central Asia's role in the fight against transnational heroin trafficking: "The Central Asian states are presented with a geographical challenge in the international drug fight. Countries such as Kazakhstan are on the frontline of the flow of Afghan heroin headed towards the West. The work in countering organized crime and drug trafficking, which I am pleased to see is increasingly taking on a cooperative approach, is so critical to international safety and security." To learn more please follow this link

Source: UNODC

The Long Road to Freedom

While a handful of user activists trudged back and forth from their hotel to the UN building, – never forgetting I must add – the reason why we were there – New York citizens who use drugs were also undergoing their own battles. I almost went to the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, as it was only up a few blocks from my hotel, and it’s a shame that I didn’t, so when i saw this story in the New York Times it was a stark reminder how we all fight against the oppressiveness of misguided and plain ridiculous drug policies every single day and how the consequences can stretch from losing your first hard won job -to getting HIV from lack of access to effective prevention. To learn more please follow this link

Source: INPUD

The WHO Policy Guidelines for Controlled Substances  

The international drug control treaties came into being to prevent the abuse of substances that can induce dependence. The universal adoption of the treaties and their implementation continue to be highly effective in preventing the diversion of drugs from licit to illicit markets in international trade and in protecting society from the consequences of dependence. However, equal emphasis has not been placed on the other fundamental objective of the treaties of ensuring that controlled substances are available for medical and scientific purposes. As a result, the health benefits that can be derived from medicines containing controlled substances remain inaccessible to the large majority of people around the world. To learn more please follow this link

Source: ISSDP

HIV & Islam  

Since the HIV epidemic was first established in 1986, a total of 65,235 cases of HIV have been cumulatively reported in the Malay Muslim community, which constitute 71% of the total caseload. Injecting drug use, the main driver of the epidemic in Malaysia, is another factor that predisposes Muslim Malays to the risk of HIV infection.

The profile of injecting drug users (IDU) in the country has been, through the years, predominantly male, young, of Malay ethnicity and heterosexual. Strict and prohibitive legal, religious and socio-cultural environments also negatively impact on access to appropriate HIV and AIDS education, and treatment, care and support services in the Muslim Malay population.

Recognising the low level of engagement of Islamic religious authorities in the community-based responses to HIV and AIDS, the Malaysian AIDS Council took the pragmatic approach of building strategic partnerships with national and state level religious departments. The HIV & Islam programme was born out of this initiative in 2009, breaking new grounds in amplifying the visibility of Islamic authorities leading the efforts to address the needs of Muslim PLHIV and other most at risk populations. To learn more please follow this link: hiv-and-islam.pdf

Source: ISSDP

Reference Group calls on UN Member States to scale-up evidence-based interventions to address HIV among people who use drugs 

The head of the 2011 United Nations High Level Meeting on AIDS, theReference Group to the United Nations on HIV and Injecting Drug Use has issued a statement calling for Member States to focus on HIV transmission among people who inject drugs. The statement details eight key priorities for Member States as they negotiate the outcome document for June’s General Assembly meeting. 

Harm reduction is neither a matter of rhetoric, nor of politics. It is evidence-based and when implemented to scale, reduces HIV transmission among people who inject drugs,” says Bronwyn Myers, Reference Group Secretariat and Specialist Scientist at the Medical Research Council. To learn more please follow this link You can read the report here: un-reference-group-hiv-idu.pdf

Source: IDPC

The TEDS Report - Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions for Abuse of Benzodiazepines 

The number of benzodiazepine admissions nearly tripled between 1998 and 2008, while overall treatment admissions increased only 11 percent. The majority of benzodiazepine admissions were male, between the ages of 18 and 34, or non-Hispanic White. Almost all benzodiazepine admissions (95 percent) reported abuse of another substance in addition to abuse of benzodiazepines: 82.1 percent reported primary abuse of another substance with secondary abuse of benzodiazepines, and 12.9 percent reported primary abuse of benzodiazepines with secondary abuse of another substance. PDF format  

Source: ISSDP

The drugs (policies) don’t work 

More than half of British people believe that the Government’s approach to illegal drugs is ineffective, our poll has discovered. Nearly half think that illegal drugs are a serious problem that is affecting the entire country, but almost 90% feel that realistically, there will always be people who use drugs, and that the aim should therefore be to reduce the amount of harm they cause to users and others.

The majority of Brits believes that those who use illegal drugs but have not committed any other crimes should be regarded as people who may need treatment and support, not as criminals, while more than two in five think that the legalisation of drugs would see an decrease in associated illegal activities such as drugs smuggling and human trafficking. To learn more please follow this link

Source: YouGov

Rescue breathing for opioid ODs

Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is essential in responding to opioid overdoses: In 2006, 26,400 unintentional drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States, the majority of which involved opioids. Mouth to mouth resuscitation (rescue breathing) is essential when responding to an opioid overdose because the victim is dying of lack of oxygen due to reduced or arrested breathing caused by the opioids. Rescue breathing, if initiated soon enough, provides oxygen which is essential to saving a life by keeping the heart pumping and preventing brain damage.

Naloxone is a medication that can prevent an overdose from becoming fatal by blocking the opioid receptors thus reversing the respiratory depression. As of November 2010, over 10,000 reversals with naloxone by bystanders trained in overdose prevention had been reported in the United States (Wheeler). It is likely that in many, if not the majority of cases, rescue breathing was initiated before cardiac arrest occurred. Providing breaths with or without chest compression oxygenates the blood and may prevent the heart from stopping and the brain from dying. Drowning and strangulation should be treated similarly. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Harm Reduction Coalition

Latin American Cocaine Trade Persists Despite Gains Made by U.S. Efforts 

Efforts by the United States to combat Latin American cocaine smugglers have disrupted drug supplies and captured key cartel leaders, but they have not significantly reduced the region's overall narcotics trade, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

The number of drug players operating in Colombia, the world's chief supplier of refined cocaine, has not declined. The drug trade also has undermined national stability and security in Mexico, according to the report. Moreover, while U.S. interdiction has disrupted traditional drug smuggling routes through the Caribbean, syndicates have developed new shipment corridors in the Pacific and the Atlantic.

"American enforcement measures have had notable successes against the Latin American cocaine trade, but the effort has had little impact on the amount of illicit drugs that are reaching the United States," said Peter Chalk, the study's author and a senior political scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Rand

From poppies to prisons 

Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt met with Mawlawi Shazada Shahed, Deputy Chair of the National Assembly of Afghanistan’s Counter Narcotics Committee. 

Committee members Shah Abdul Ahad Afzali, a former Governor of Ghor province, Pir Bakhsh Gardiwal, and Habiba Danish, one of Afghanistan’s 69 female MPs, also took part in the meeting with the Minister. The committee members were in London between 13 and 16 June as part of a UK-sponsored fact-finding visit to learn more about all aspects of UK drugs policy. In the meeting with Alistair Burt the group focused on the importance of tackling narcotics to secure a peaceful and stable Afghanistan and the role that the Committee is playing to achieve this.

During their visit to the UK, the Committee met James Brokenshire, Home Office Minister for Crime and Security, senior officials from the Department of Health and the Foreign Office, and members of the Home Affairs and Health Select Committees.  They also visited a detention facility, a drug treatment facility and Drugscope, the UK's leading independent centre of expertise on drugs and drug use. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Foreign Office

Incarcerex: It's Time for a New Bottom Line

Source: Youtube


"Lockdown High": The War on Drugs Goes to School 

Chris Steffner strode to the front of the packed audience, shunning the podium to deliver her sermon Oprah-style with a wireless mic transmitting the Word loud and clear. The pert, petite blonde is principal of Colts Neck High School in Monmouth County, New Jersey, and a true believer in the national movement to randomly drug-test students in order to save them from themselves and the perceived epidemic of youth drug and alcohol abuse. Steffner was among nine presenters at this, the second Regional Drug Testing Summit of 2007, organized by the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and held at the Hilton Hotel near Newark International Airport on February 27. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Truth Out 

Rep: Steve Cohen: The War on Drugs has Been a Terrible Mistake 

Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) called Wednesday on the U.S. House floor for an end to the 40-year war on drugs, which Cohen said had spent trillions of dollars to incarcerate millions of people for non-violent crimes.

“Now don’t get the wrong impression; I’m not suggesting that drug abuse and drug addiction is not a great problem that we must deal with,” he said. “But our approach in treating it as a law enforcement and not as a health matter, a health care issue, has led to prison populations increasing, racial disparities of the greatest source in this nation in the arrest process, and a lost generation of people with no education and no job prospects because those arrests haunt them for the rest of their lives.”

Cohen introduced the Justice Integrity Act to the House in May. The legislation would create an advisory group to investigate racial and ethnic disparities in the criminal justice system. “Marijuana use has not skyrocketed in the last year, but arrests are vamped up and they use arrest as a basis to get people, particularly people of color where it’s 7 times more likely you’ll be arrested if you’re African American and 4 times more likely you’ll be arrested if you’re Latino and more likely if you’re African American or Latino that you’ll spend a night in jail than if you’re Caucasian,” he noted.


Source: Raw Replay

Schulz & Volker: A Real Debate About Drug Policy 

"The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world." That is the opening sentence of a report issued last week by the Global Commission on Drug Policy. Both of us have signed on to this report. Why? We believe that drug addiction is harmful to individuals, impairs health and has adverse societal effects. So we want an effective program to deal with this problem.

The question is: What is the best way to go about it? For 40 years now, our nation's approach has been to criminalize the entire process of producing, transporting, selling and using drugs, with the exception of tobacco and alcohol. Our judgment, shared by other members of the commission, is that this approach has not worked, just as our national experiment with the prohibition of alcohol failed. Drugs are still readily available, and crime rates remain high. But drug use in the U.S. is no lower than, and sometimes surpasses, drug use in countries with very different approaches to the problem.

At the same time, the costs of the drug war have become astronomical. Inmates arrested for consuming drugs and for possessing small quantities of them now crowd our prisons, where too often they learn how to become real criminals. The dollar costs are huge, but they pale in comparison to the lives being lost in our neighborhoods and throughout the world. The number of drug-related casualties in Mexico is on the same order as the number of U.S. lives lost in the Vietnam and Korean wars.

Source: Wall Street Journal

What Fake Reform of the Prison State Looks Like: Georgia's Criminal Justice Reform Commission 

On Tuesday June 7, this reporter attended the first meeting of Georgia’s Commission on Criminal Justice Reform. Over the last several weeks Governor Nathan Deal appointed its 13 members, named the Pew Charitable Trust andApplied Reseach Services as its principal consultants and directed the commission to present its findings and recommendations to the state legislature by November 1.

The Pew and ARA consultants ran the seventy or eighty minute session, stating near the beginning that their guiding philosophy would be in keeping with Right On Crime, a web site that describes itself as “...the one-stop source for conservative ideas on criminal justice... committed to limited government, free markets, private property rights, individual liberty and personal responsibility.”Right On Crime’s peculiar notions of “criminal justice reform” were endorsed, they gushed, by luminaries like Newt Gingrich. The ARA consultant boasted about his firm's previous collaborations with “partners and stakeholders” like ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is a notorious right wing corporate front group that wrote legislation to detain and jail tens of thousands of immigrants in Arizona and Georgia, at the behest of the private for-profit prison industry. ALEC has also written bills for introduction into all 50 state legislatures on behalf of its corporate sponsors in the tobacco, pharmaceutical, energy, insurance, banking and telecom industries.

In keeping with the race-blind pretenses of modern conservatives, the consultants unleashed torrents of state and national statistics, but managed to omit any present or historical racial data on arrests, convictions, sentencing or any other aspect of the prison state. One would never know, listening to these experts, that while an eighth of the US is black, more than forty percent of her prisoners are, and that the nation's Latino one-eighth are closing fast on another thirty percent of the locked down. The meeting’s only reference to the US prison state's ferocious  racial selectivity was when the Pew consultant observed that “different demographic groups in the state's population are affected differently.” Clearly, criminal justice reform, with reformers like these in charge, will neither acknowledge nor address the obvious racism that guides, underlies and infuses almost every aspect of the nation's vast crime control apparatus. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Black Agenda Report

False Memories: The Perils of Eyewitness IDs

Mistaken identifications by victims and eyewitnesses annually send too many people to jail for crimes they didn’t commit.  In Texas, legislation to address the problem was introduced last month, but justice advocates claim it doesn’t go far enough.

On March 22, 1984, two teenage girls were walking home from a store in the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas, when they were confronted by a man with a gun. “Follow me,” he told them, “Or I'll shoot.” He took them to a nearby field, raped them, and fled on foot. Several days later, Johnny Pinchback was driving a friend's Datsun 280Z through an apartment complex parking lot, when one of the girls, who happened to live in the complex, spied Pinchback.  Believing he was her attacker, she jotted down the license plate number. The following day, Pinchback's friend, the Datsun's owner, called Pinchback on the phone.

Saying, “you're not going to believe this, ” the friend reported he had been visited by police who asked for the name of the man seen driving his car the previous evening. The man, according to the police, was the principal suspect in the rape of two young girls. Pinchback recalled that he was shocked, but thought the situation would quickly resolve itself. "When I found out that I'd been accused, I called [Dallas Police] Crimes Against Persons [division] and said, 'I didn't do this; I had nothing to do with this,'" he said in an interview with The Crime Report. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Crime Report

Why TV Cops Are Too Good (or Too Bad) To Be True 

The murder of fictional Seattle teenager Rosie Larsen launched the tangled plot of AMC’s intriguing,  rain-soaked police procedural “The Killing.”   The show follows three distinct groups of people involved in the case: the victim’s family, the (widening list of) suspects and a pair of homicide detectives who have to wrestle with their own demons while they pursue the leads. 

But as we learn during the course of the show, things aren’t always as they seem. Former NYPD narcotics detective, John Scaccia, who worked undercover for 15 years and now produces and consults for police television shows, including “Law and Order” and “The Shield”  discusses with The Crime Report’sCara Tabachnick some of the pivotal scenes. He also debunks some of the myths about police work broadcast on other police procedurals. To read the interview in full follow this link

Source: The Crime Report

Drug Bust 

Friday marks the 40th anniversary of one of the biggest, most expensive, most destructive social policy experiments in American history: The war on drugs. 

On the morning of June 17, 1971, President Richard Nixon, speaking from the Briefing Room of the White House, declared: “America’s public enemy No. 1 in the United States is drug abuse. In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive. I have asked the Congress to provide the legislative authority and the funds to fuel this kind of an offensive. This will be a worldwide offensive dealing with the problems of sources of supply, as well as Americans who may be stationed abroad, wherever they are in the world.”

So began a war that has waxed and waned, sputtered and sprinted, until it became an unmitigated disaster, an abomination of justice and a self-perpetuating, trillion-dollar economy of wasted human capital, ruined lives and decimated communities. To learn more please follow this link

Source: New York Times

Three Strikes and Civil Rights 

The racism within the police-court-prison system is one of America’s most neglected evils, as is the impact it has on the poor African-American and Latino communities that are home for so many released convicts. I’m wondering if I’ve already lost some of my readers. Who cares about criminals? Some of the journalists I met last week said they get the same reaction from their editors.

I joined them at a symposium sponsored by New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s Center on Media, Crime and Justice designed to encourage better reporting of this neglected field…. My fellow attendees were journalists working for newspapers, radio stations and online operations. Some were staff reporters, others freelancers….

The main topic was how to report the long and repetitive controversy over California’s three-strikes law, a draconian statute approved by the voters in 1994 after the horrible murder of 12-year-old Polly Klass by an ex-convict. The killer had been released from prison after serving eight years of a 16-year sentence for a series of armed robberies. Previously, he served six years in prison after he attempted a rape, brutally assaulted a woman in the course of a burglary, and tried to kidnap another woman at gunpoint. To learn more please follow this link 

Source: Forensic Psychologist


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