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oD Drug Policy Forum: Front Line Report - Week of March 28th 2011

With the close of the 54th session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna last week, we lead this weeks report with news of a new website which puts into perspective the true reality of the failed war on drugs, and catch up with the latest news from Vienna ~ MW & CS
Mark Weiss Charles Shaw
28 March 2011

The War on Drugs: Time to Count the Costs – New Website

The global 'war on drugs' has been fought for 50 years, without preventing the long-term trend of increasing drug supply and use. Beyond this failure, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime has also identified the many serious ‘unintended negative consequences’ of the drug war. These costs result not from drug use itself, but from choosing a punitive enforcement-led approach that, by its nature, places control of the trade in the hands of organised crime, and criminalizes many users. In the process this:

  • undermines international development and security, and fuels conflict
  • threatens public health, spreads disease and causes death
  • undermines human rights
  • promotes stigma and discrimination
  • creates crime and enriches criminals
  • causes deforestation and pollution
  • wastes billions on ineffective law enforcement 

The 'war on drugs' is a policy choice. There are other options that, at the very least, should be debated and explored using the best possible evidence and analysis

We all share the same goals – a safer, healthier and more just world. Therefore, we the undersigned, call upon world leaders and UN agencies to quantify the unintended negative consequences of the current approach to drugs, and assess the potential costs and benefits of alternative approaches. To learn more and check out the informative Count the Costs Website, please follow this link

Source: Time to Count the Costs

End the Drug War on Women

Once again Nevada legislators are trying to win the unwinnable war on drugs by putting the burden on ordinary and innocent citizens.

This year, Washoe County Sen. Sheila Leslie is sponsoring legislation to change over-the-counter cold medicines into prescription drugs, thus increasing the cost of health care in order to make the ingredients for meth more difficult to obtain. This legislation was not requested by health care professionals, drug counselors or anyone who knows anything about how to combat drug use. Rather, it was requested by the Nevada District Attorneys Association as one more step in a punitive enforcement strategy that has failed for decades, designed by law enforcement officials with little knowledge of this health care issue.

It is worth remembering that when the United States handled drug abuse as a health care problem, it had a tiny problem. But since drug prohibition was enacted, drug abuse has become a gargantuan problem. The Nevada Legislature, instead of enacting more foolish anti-drug bills, should instead enact a resolution memorializing Congress to end the drug war once and for all before the family unit is destroyed.

As the National Organization for Women has described the situation, “the incarceration rate of women convicted of low-level drug-related offenses has increased dramatically in the past decade as a result of our nation’s relentless ‘War on Drugs,’ and poor women and women of color have been disproportionately targeted for drug law enforcement and receive long mandatory prison sentences that have little relationship to their actions or culpability. … [T]wo thirds of women in prison have at least two children who are displaced as a result of their incarceration, often forced to live in the care of family, friends, or state-sponsored foster care where they may be at increased risk of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse.” To learn more please follow this link

Source: Reno News and Review

UN drugs chief sticks to punitive policy despite major failings

International efforts to tackle the "global threat" of illicit drugs must be "rejuvenated" in accordance with a 50-year-old convention despite a series of major failings, the head of the UN drugs and crime agency has told The Independent

This week, Yury Fedotov acknowledged that global opium production increased by almost 80 per cent between 1998 and 2009, and the international market for drugs is now worth as much as $320bn (£199bn) a year – making it the world's 30th-largest industry.

In the face of such daunting statistics, Mr Fedotov, the new executive-director for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said the Single Convention of 1961 – the first international treaty to lay the framework for global drug-control systems – is still the most appropriate mechanism for tackling what he described as the "global, hydra-headed threat" of drugs and crime. He called on member states to "re-dedicate" themselves to the convention to take a tougher line against drug traffickers and "the drug threat originating from Afghanistan". To learn more follow this link

Source: The Independent  

UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs 54th Session Blog

CNDblog 2011 is a project of the International Harm Reduction Association, and is administered in partnership with the International Drug Policy Consortium. It is a joint civil society effort to ensure transparency in the deliberations of the 54th session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), taking place in Vienna 21-25 March 2011.

CND is the UN body tasked with overseeing global drug policy. However, despite this important mandate, the Commission chooses to work in relative secrecy. Its meetings are not webcast, nor are minutes or summary records made available to the public. The final reports of the meetings are extremely limited. The CND never votes, so it is difficult to find out what position your government has taken on key issues. CNDblog is an attempt to fill this gap, and provide hour by hour records of the debates and decisions rendered during the 54the session of CND in March 2011.

Want to know what positions your government is taking on global drug policy? You'll only find out at CNDblog.org

Source: CNDBlog

Generations of families caught in drugs cycle 

PROJECT workers in a number of communities are encountering increased instances of drug and alcohol abuse spanning three generations of the same family, a conference has heard.

At the conference, organised by the Ballymun Youth Action Project (BYAP), the country’s longest-running community drugs project, its director Dermot King called on the Government to recognise the vital role played by community-based drugs projects.

Mr King said some communities in Ireland are caught in a vicious cycle of addiction with drug and alcohol problems passed down through generations of the same families.  He said project workers have witnessed an intergenerational pattern of drug misuse within some families in Ballymun, and that similar patterns are being reported in other communities. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Irish Examiner

Grass-roots organizations indispensable for creating healthy societies, says Fedotov

Vienna. 25 March 2011 - Enlisting the support of activists voicing the full spectrum of views on drugs issues, Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), stressed the importance of community and grass-roots initiatives in preventing drug use. 

"Drug control is not all about governments and law enforcement; it is also about families, teachers, youth leaders and mentors. Prevention starts with a community that cares about the vulnerable".  Hearing the concerns of the groups, Mr. Fedotov said that community-level action must be stepped up.  "Think globally, act locally" he urged.

Mr Fedotov said he welcomed dialogue with all parties, including those who assert differences of opinion.  However, he stressed: "Let us not argue on the key issue - there are people who need treatment."

He praised those who quietly went about their work away from the media spotlight: "You are the unsung heroes of society. Sometimes all a person needs is a chance and a helping hand. Your support and encouragement can make a profound difference to people in despair." he said. To learn more please follow this link

Source: UNODC

UNODC Executive Director: "NGOs key partners in expanding efforts to prevent drug dependence"

Vienna. 23 March 2011. The head of the UN's drug and crime agency Yury Fedotov today met with members of the NGO community at the 54th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). The meeting, attended by close to 100 NGOs, marks the third annual informal dialogue between civil society and UNODC leadership during the CND and Mr. Fedotov's first engagement on this level. Reiterating his position on promoting health and justice in drugs and crime policy, Mr. Fedotov noted the need for a comprehensive and integrated drug policy inclusive of all views.

Considered an opportunity for civil society to engage directly with the Executive Director on his Office's approach towards illicit drugs and to highlight their main topics of work, Mr. Fedotov noted the underlying approach of UNODC's work: "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" Mr. Fedotov said.

Engagement with the NGO community has been bolstered in recent years following the 'Beyond 2008' initiative which aimed to bring the voice of civil society to the 1998/2008 ten year review of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session. Spearheaded by the Vienna Non-Governmental Organization Committee on Drugs (VNGOC), an umbrella organization representing around 70 civil society groups covering diverse ideologies regarding international drug policy, and in partnership with UNODC, 'Beyond 2008' works to improve interaction between civil society, UNODC and Member States in programming responses to the global drug problem. To learn more please follow this link

Source: UNODC

Managing substance abuse within families

24 March 2011 - At the fifth-fourth session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), held in Vienna from 21 to 25 March, UNODC - with the support of the Government of France - organized a side event entitled "Healthy and safe children through family skills training" to highlight the importance of family skills training programmes in preventing substance abuse among children and adolescents.

Research has shown that the family is the most important factor in protecting children and young people from drug abuse and other dangers. When parents spend quality time with their children and monitor their activities, children are much less vulnerable to substance abuse, delinquency and risky sexual behaviour. However, many parents lack the relevant child-rearing knowledge and life skills to prevent their children from abusing drugs or engaging in other risky behaviours.

UNODC has been running family skills training programmes as part of its larger programme to prevent drug abuse in order to equip parents with the skills they need to help to protect their families from drug abuse. Family skills training programmes enable parents and children to interact in a relaxed social setting that encourages communication. Parents learn skills that help them to supervise and provide consistent discipline to their children. Children learn personal and communication skills and how to resist peer pressure. To learn more please follow this link

Source: UNODC

Australian first website reaches out to siblings of alcohol and other drug users

24 March 2011: A new multimedia awareness campaign will bring attention to the hardships faced by young people who have a sibling struggling with an alcohol or other drug (AOD) problem.

The Alcohol Education & Rehabilitation Foundation (AER Foundation) will fund the $20,000 awareness push to help promote the Sibling Support website, which is run by the Self Help Addiction Resource Centre (SHARC). Activity will commence this month and includes creating a social media presence for the website, pamphlet drops at AOD services, referrals by crisis helplines and other websites for young people, and working with the Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association to grow the profile of the website.

The Sibling Support website engages the brothers and sisters of AOD users through online discussion boards, opinion polls and story sharing, as well as providing access to fact sheets, research information and links to other online support groups. There are also plans to develop online focus groups as the number of people accessing the website increases. To learn more please follow this link

Source:  AERF

Joint Statement against the Death Penalty

The statement copied below - calling for an end to the illegal use of the death penalty for drug offences was read out by Eka Iakobishvili (Human Rights analyst for the International Harm Reduction Association) as an NGO representative (via the Vienna NGO committee on drugs) at yesterday's pleanry session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

Such a call should be relatively uncontroversial at a UN gathering - the General Assembly has called for a moratorium on all use of the death penalty, and the UNODC has recently (it should be noted - following concerted NGO pressure) made a clear statement opposing the use of the death penalty. In a 2010 paper by the previous Executive Director of the UNODC, Antonio Maria Costa, titled 'Drug control, crime prevention and criminal justice: a human rights perspective - Note by the Executive Director' (para 25/26) the UNODC position was laid out

“The weight of opinion indicates that drug offences (such as possession and trafficking) and those of a purely economic nature do not meet this threshold. UNODC advocates the abolition of the death penalty and calls upon Member States to follow international standards concerning prohibition of the death penalty for offences of a drug-related or purely economic nature.”

However, as IHRA have demonstrated with their groundbreaking death penalty publications, the illegal use of the death penalty for drug offences remains widespread, with an estimated 1000+ such executions taking place annually, some even resulting from arrests made under UNODC funded enforcement projects. 

The plenary statement (endorsed by Transform) as read: Date: 24 March 2011, Agenda Item No. 7: World Situation with Regard to Drug Trafficking

"Thank you, Mr Chairman. This statement is made on behalf of:

  • The International Harm Reduction Association
  • The International Network of People Who Use Drugs
  • Penal Reform International
  • Human Rights Watch
  • The International Drug Policy Consortium
  • The German Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
  • The Open Society Foundations Drug Policy Programme
  • Reprieve
  • Transform Drug Policy Foundation
  • The Quaker Council for European Affairs
  • and 20 other non-governmental organisations

We are grateful for the opportunity to speak on this important agenda item. We heard yesterday from UNODC of the seizures of illicit substances made in many parts of the world. While looking at the statistics on tonnes and kilos, we must also recognise the human face of such seizures.

We must consider the penalties that will be applied to those who are arrested and prosecuted. This is not to excuse criminality – but nor can we excuse the taking of human life for any crime.

The death penalty for drug offences is a violation of international law. This is clear. Yet 32 jurisdictions retain this excessive and cruel punishment. The International Harm Reduction Association has identified hundreds of executions annually for drug-related offences but believes that as many as one thousand people may be executed for drug offences each year when states that keep their death penalty statistics a secret are counted.

The justification for this is usually deterrence. This is a faulty argument that has been presented many times over, and for a range of crimes.

While nobody should be executed for any offence, the vast majority of those known to be sentenced to die for drugs are not kingpins or major traffickers. They are carriers. Very often involvement in this aspect of the drug trade is driven by poverty, drug dependence and a lack of options. To kill these people is cruel in the extreme.

Our call is brief. All States must cease the application of the death penalty for drug offences, and, indeed, for all offences, and immediately institute a moratorium to spare the lives of those on death row."

 

Source: Transform

New report on Russia to be released at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs 

Civil society organizations will present a report at the 54th Commission on Narcotic Drugs to highlight the blatant disregard by the Government of Russia for health, human rights and scientific evidence related to the use of harm reduction measures for those who use illicit drugs.

The report was penned by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network together with the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network and Andrey Rylkov Foundation on behalf of the Public Mechanism for Monitoring Drug Policy Reform in the Russian Federation. Entitled “Report on the course of implementation by the Russian Federation of the Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem”, it is a scathing indictment of the two political documents that outline the Russian Government’s “State Anti-Drug Policy Strategy” and plan for its implementation.

Click here to access the full report in English and Russian.

Source: IHRA

A quick fix

The bleak statistics show that around 3,000 deaths every year in the UK are due to drug overdose, with 1,058 death certificates in 2007 giving the cause of death as injecting heroin or morphine. And the most at-risk group are newly released prisoners with a history of injecting. In the first four weeks of freedom, they are seven times more likely to die of an overdose than other heroin users.

In an attempt to address the problem, 5,600 prisoners with a history of injecting will take part next month in a £1m trial in which, come their release date, half of them will be issued with "take-home" packs containing one-shot injectors of naloxone. Giving addicts free access to naloxone - a cheap antidote to heroin that is almost free of side-effects and is regularly administered by paramedics and in accident and emergency units - could lead to a significant reduction in overdose deaths and become part of national drug treatment policy.

After promising trials, the homelessness charity St Mungo's also wants to offer naloxone to injecting users in its hostels and on the streets. However, there are concerns that giving addicts what they might regard as an insurance policy against an overdose could simply reinforce addictive behaviour, and could therefore increase the death toll. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Guardian

Wastewater analysis, an emerging science

Thanks to technological advances and more sensitive detection techniques developed over the last 30 years, experts today can detect and quantify drug residues in liquids, even at very low concentrations. By sampling a known source of wastewater — for example a sewage influent to a wastewater treatment plant — scientists can obtain precise estimates of the total quantity of drugs consumed by a community by measuring the levels of illicit drug metabolites excreted in urine.

To mark World Water Day (22 March), EMCDDA resources in the area of wastewater analysis are showcased here, along with documents from the second European meeting on the topic hosted by the agency on 28 January. EMCDDA Director Wolfgang Götz said: ‘The possibility that a new technique for estimating illicit drug use might be added to our existing multi-indicator repertoire is an exciting and promising prospect’.

Source: EMCDDA

News from the EMCDDA Delegation: 54th Commission on Narcotic Drugs

The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), the central UN policy-making body in drug-related matters, holds its 54th session in Vienna this week (21–25 March). The CND analyses the world drug situation and develops proposals to strengthen the international drug control system.

An EMCDDA delegation is attending the event and, throughout the week, will provide technical support to the European Commission and EU Member States. Visitors are welcome to the EMCDDA stand (21–23 March). To learn more please follow this link

Source: EMCDDA

Maryland Senate Passes Medical Marijuana Bill

A bill that would provide Maryland medical marijuana patients with an affirmative defense to criminal marijuana possession or charges passed the state Senate Thursday on a 41-6 vote. It now heads to the House of Delegates for a floor vote.

The bill, Senate Bill 308, builds on the 2003 Darrel Putnam Compassionate Use Act, which allowed for a medical necessity defense, but only to limit sentences. Under the 2003 law, qualified patients could still be found guilty and stuck with a misdemeanor conviction record, but could only be fined a maximum of $100.

SB 308 amends the 2003 law so that patients with "clear and convincing evidence" that they need to use marijuana for medical reasons are no longer found guilty and fined $100, but "if the court finds that the person used or possessed marijuana because of medical necessity, the court shall enter a finding of not guilty."

Source: Stop the Drug War                                      

Medical Marijuana Market huge and Growing, Invertors Report Finds 

The size of the US medical marijuana market is $1.7 billion, and that figure is likely to increase in coming years, according to a new report from See Change Strategy LLC, an independent financial firm. An executive summary of the report, The State of the Medical Marijuana Markets 2011, is available at MedicalMarijuanaMarkets.com.

"Hundreds of businesses exist around the country that cultivate and sell marijuana to customers," said report author Ted Rose in a statement. "Many of these businesses emerged in the wake of the Obama administration's decision to deprioritize federal prosecutions of individuals and business complying with state medical marijuana laws. The State of the Medical Marijuana Markets 2011 shows which states represent the most active markets, who is making money, and how are they doing it."

Although 15 states and the District of Columbia have medical marijuana laws, sales of medical marijuana through retail outlets are currently legal in only seven of them (and only arguably legal in some of those). But four more states and DC are expected to begin medical marijuana sales this year, the report said. Between expansion of the number of locales where medical marijuana is sold, increases in the number of patients taking advantage of medical marijuana laws, and increasing regulatory clarity, the market is set for further growth, Rose said. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Stop the Drug War

Medical Marijuana Providers Dr. Mollie Fry and Dale Schafer Prepare for Prison

After more than six years of litigation, and three years of appeals for manufacturing and conspiracy to manufacture and distribute cannabis, Dr. Marion "Mollie" Fry and her husband of 25 years, civil attorney Dale Schafer, attended a hearing at the US courthouse in Sacramento Monday week, in which their bonds were revoked and they were given a the date of May 2 to surrender to serve five-year federal prison terms.

Fry and Schafer's prior home located in the hills just north of Sacramento was raided in 2001, with 34 plants confiscated - what they believed to be well below the 99 plant limit set forth by local ordinances. According to Schafer, the couple had never grown more than 44 plants in a given year.  A little known fact, he explained, is that under federal law more than 100 plants grown in a five year period, accumulatively, is cause for the mandatory five-year sentence, overriding state laws.

Dr. Fry, who had gone through a radical mastectomy just three years prior, had made the decision to grow her own medicine, medicating through her illness, surgery and continued to medicate from myriad complications from chemotherapy until the arrest. Schafer suffers from hemophilia and failed back syndrome, is under constant care, and had also medicated with cannabis legally. To learn more and read this Stop the Drug War feature please follow this link

Source: Stop the Drug War

Arkansas Unemployment Drug Testing Bill Dies

An Arkansas bill that would have required recipients of unemployment benefits to undergo random drug tests has been stopped in the state Senate. The Senate Health, Welfare and Labor Committee killed Senate Bill 157 in a Monday vote.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Bill Pritchard (R-Elkins), told the committee he had received numerous calls in favor of the bill and that some callers wanted even stiffer anti-drug laws for those receiving unemployment benefits. Under the bill, recipients would be randomly tested for methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin, with 10% of them being tested at the third and 13th weeks of benefits.

"As soon as they get help and they can pass the test, they can get right back on benefits," he said. But the bill drew opposition from both the Arkansas chapter of the ACLU, whose Holly Dickson testified, and the Arkansas AFL-CIO, which was represented by its president, Alan Hughes. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Stop the Drug War

DEA Finally Admits Marijuana is Medicine 

If you thought they were going to issue a formal apology after decades of flagrant dishonesty, you would be mistaken. But the DEA is at long last conceding marijuana's incredible medical value…by giving pharmaceutical companies exclusive permission to make pills out of it.

"[M]arijuana has no scientifically proven medical value." So stated the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on page six of a July 2010 agency white paper, titled "DEA Position on Marijuana."

Yet only four months after the agency committed its "no medical pot" stance to print, it announced its intent to allow for the regulation and marketing of pharmaceutical products containing plant-derived THC -- the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.

DEA can try to frame this any way they like, but the bottom line remains that authorizing cultivation for pharmaceutical companies is the end of the debate. Over. Done. Whatever nuanced distinctions the enemies of medical marijuana seek to advance from this point forward will be devastated by the simple fact that new medicines are being made out of marijuana with the blessing of the Drug Enforcement Administration. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Stop the Drug War

The Drug Czar Shows Weaknesses in the Marijuana Legalization Debate

There's been much discussion recently about the Drug Czar's request to meet with the Seattle Times editorial board in an apparent response to this editorial endorsement of marijuana legalization. You can read here about how that meeting went, but I think this video more perfectly captures the absurdity of the situation: 

If anyone thought he had the ability to intimidate the press and chill the debate, just watch as he instantly loses control of the discussion by insisting pathetically that the timing of his meeting with the Seattle Times was a mere coincidence. Disoriented and defensive, the Drug Czar can scarcely even explain what he's doing in Seattle, let alone offer a spirited rebuttal to the stinging editorial that initiated this series of events.

Kerlikowske is crippled by the distracting strategic necessity of having to avoid admitting that everything he does is just a response to the movement for legalization. He can't admit that we're setting the pace in the debate, so instead he must claim preposterously that his request to meet with the Seattle Times two days after their pro-legalization editorial actually had nothing to do with it. That is actually less humiliating than acknowledging that his real job is just to wag his finger at us.

The whole episode has descended into an embarrassing exhibit in impotence and confusion, as the Drug Czar deploys damage control to the best of his ability and accomplishes nothing other than to legitimize and empower the argument for reform.

Source: Stop the Drug War 

New Report Finds "Drug Courts Are Not the Answer"                     

Washington, D.C. – At two briefings on Capitol Hill today, the Drug Policy Alliance released a groundbreaking new report, Drug Courts are Not the Answer: Toward a Health-Centered Approach to Drug Use, which finds that drug courts have not demonstrated cost savings, reduced incarceration, or improved public safety; leave many people worse off for trying; and have actually made the criminal justice system more punitive toward addiction – not less.

"The drug court phenomenon is, in large part, a case of good intensions being mistaken for a good idea," said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, deputy state director in Southern California for the Drug Policy Alliance, who contributed to the report. "Drug courts have helped many people, but they have also failed many others, focused resources on people who could be better treated outside the criminal justice system and in some cases even led to increased incarceration. As long as they focus on people whose only crime is their health condition, drug courts will be part of the problem – not the solution – created by drug war policies."

"Even if drug courts were able to take in all 1.4 million people arrested for just drug possession each year, over 500,000 to 1 million people would be kicked out and sentenced conventionally," Dooley-Sammuli added.

"Far from being a cure for the systemic problems of mass drug arrests and incarceration, drug courts are not even a stopgap," said Daniel Abrahamson, Drug Policy Alliance's Director of Legal Affairs, who also contributed to the report. "Drug courts have actually helped to increase, not decrease, the criminal justice entanglement of people who struggle with drugs and have failed to provide quality treatment. Only sentencing reform and expanded investment in health approaches to drug use will stem the flow of drug arrests and incarceration. The feel-good nature of drug courts hasn't translated into results. U.S. drug policy must be based not on good intentions, but on robust, reliable research.

Source: Drug Policy Alliance 

Shaping Recovery: The Role of the Residential Sector 

"Constant change in order to survive" is the challenge facing the residential rehabilitation sector as it shapes up to a new treatment and recovery landscape, said Brian Dudley, CEO of Broadway Lodge in Somerset.

He was among the speakers contributing to the first of a series of national networking events for residential providers and drug treatment commissioners, hosted by the National Treatment Agency in Bristol on 21 March.

Urging residential providers to speak up about the unique services they offer, Brian said the sector had become better at communicating, especially in the interests of choice. Rebalancing the treatment system was about ensuring rehabs offered individuals what they want and then doing it well – "the best treatment and the best outlook," he said. 

Representatives of more than 40 providers attended the Shaping Recovery conference, one of three events this month 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: NTA

UNAIDS strategy 2011-2015

The UNAIDS strategy aims to advance global progress in achieving country set targets for universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support and to halt and reverse the spread of HIV and contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development goals by 2015.

Adopted by the Programme Committee Board in December 2010, the strategy works to position the HIV response in the new global environment. The AIDS response is a long term investment and the intent of the strategy is to revolutionize HIV prevention, catalyse the next phase of treatment, care and support, and advance human rights and gender equality. UNAIDS strategy goals by 2015:

  • Sexual transmission of HIV reduced by half, including among young people, men who have sex with men and transmission in the context of sex work
  • Vertical transmission of HIV eliminated, and AIDS-related maternal mortality reduced by half
  • All new HIV infections prevented among people who use drugs
  • Universal access to antiretroviral therapy for people living with HIV who are eligible for treatment
  • TB deaths among people living with HIV reduced by half
  • People living with HIV and households affected by HIV are addressed in all national social protection strategies and have access to essential care and support
  • Countries with punitive laws and practices around HIV transmission, sex work, drug use or homosexuality that block effective responses reduced by half
  • HIV-related restrictions on entry, stay and residence eliminated in half of the countries that have such restrictions
  • HIV-specific needs of women and girls are addressed in at least half of all national HIV responses
  • Zero tolerance for gender-based violence

To learn more please follow this link

Source: UNAIDS

Update on the Civil Society Hearing: Attendance, Speakers & Contacts

An important update from the Civil Society Task Force (CSTF) on participation in and the format of the Civil  Society Hearing, an informal interactive hearing which will take place on April 8 2011 before the High Level Meeting (HLM) on 8 -10 June 2011. 

The HLM will aim to undertake a comprehensive review of the progress achieved in realizing the 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and the 2006 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS, as well as to promote the continued engagement of leaders in a comprehensive global response to AIDS. 

The objective of the civil society hearing is to create a space where civil society, NGOs and the private sector can interact with Member States and offer input to the comprehensive review process. A Summary of the hearing will be prepared by the President of the General Assembly, which will be issued as a document of the General Assembly prior to the High Level Meeting. To learn more please follow this link

Source: UNAIDS PCB NGO 

Mexico Drug War a Lost Cause as Presently Fought 

There's a powerful new piece of evidence that, the way it is being fought, the war on drugs on the Mexican-American border is a lost cause. It comes in a report issued by the Council on Foreign Relations, a highly-respected foreign policy think tank, that recommends that, as an experiment, the federal government allow states "to legalize the production, sale, taxation and consumption of marijuana." The report says authorities should redirect scarce law enforcement resources to stopping the importation of more dangerous drugs like heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. 

A spokesperson points out that the council takes no position on the reports it publishes by the people it calls "our experts," in this case Professor David A. Shirk of the University of San Diego, a scholar on U.S.-Mexican relations and a former fellow at Washington's prestigious Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. But the spokesperson adds that in her four years with the council she cannot recall its issuing any other report recommending legalizing marijuana. The report also recommends a commission to study the advisability of legalizing drugs generally. 

The report is scathing in its criticism of current U.S. and Mexican drug policy. It says "a state-driven, supply-side and penalty-based approach has failed" to curb illegal drug production and consumption, and that "The assumption that punishing suppliers and users can effectively combat a large market for illicit drugs has proven to be utterly false. Rather, prohibition bestows enormous profits on traffickers, criminalizes otherwise law-abiding users and addicts, and imposes enormous costs on society. Meanwhile, there has been no real effect on the availability of drugs or their consumption." To learn more please follow this link 

Source: Huffington Post

E=MC2 or Washington's Latin American Equation

Three imports shape US foreign policy towards Latin America: Energy, Migration, Cocaine and the Criminality that too often goes with drugs. A scientific mind would be tempted to summarize Washington's policy towards the rest of the continent using Einstein's equation E=MC2. Instead of describing the mass-energy equivalence, this equation within a diplomatic context may well mean: Energy = Migration X Cocaine2 

For more than a decade, the US relationship with Latin America has been the result of a series of ad hoc reactions to crises rather than long-term strategy. Successive administrations have settled for fire fighting instead of clearing the deadwood. There have, of course, been intermittent efforts to secure free trade agreements, such as NAFTA and CAFTA

For the most part, however, US diplomacy has focused on securing access to Latin American energy resources, fighting illegal immigration, and combating drugs through targeting supply (Plan Mérida and Plan Colombia). On the rare occasions when the US has ventured into politics, its efforts have proved belated and shapeless. Its interventions over the Honduran presidential conflict and the Ecuadorian crisis are just two instances of the pitfalls of acting without any such overarching strategy. To learn more please follow this link 

Source: Huffington Post

Writing Under the Influence: Best Drug Induced Writing in Books

We've all heard the cliche "Write what you know." Well, the following writers were addicted to drugs and, boy, did they write about it.

Writing under the influence. Whether they wrote while on drugs or just about drugs, these authors all had addiction in common. Luckily, unlike Charlie Sheen, they put their vices to good use. Did we forget any of your favorite drug-induced work? Let us know in the comments! To check out the books please follow this link

Source: Huffington Post 

 

 

 

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