This chapter looks at the past, present and future of international cannabis control required by the UN drug control conventions in the post-2016 United Nations General…
This chapter looks at the past, present and future of international cannabis control required by the UN drug control conventions in the post-2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session era with an eye on the next High Level Ministerial Segment (HLMS) at the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs in 2019, and beyond. From a policy analysis perspective, the author meanders through the increasing tendency to legally regulate recreational cannabis markets notwithstanding the obligation enshrined in the UN drug control conventions to limit cannabis exclusively for ‘medical and scientific’ purposes. Taking into account relevant national and international developments, the chapter describes how the growing discomfort with the status of cannabis and the prohibitive and punitive approach stemming from the international drug control regime went through a process from soft to hard defections of the treaty obligations. The case of the Netherlands demonstrates the difficulty faced by reform-minded states in reconciling their wish for a different cannabis control mechanism with their obligations under international law, resulting in an incomplete regulation of its coffee-shop system, where small amounts of cannabis are tolerated for sale, but where the illicit supply to the shops remained unregulated. Subsequent more wide-ranging reforms to regulate cannabis from seed to sale in Uruguay, several US States and – in 2018 – in Canada, are clearly violating the obligations of the UN drug control conventions. Nevertheless, the HLMS will likely leave the elephant in the room untouched. The emerging paradigm shift regarding cannabis shows that a modernisation of the UN drug control regime is long overdue. This chapter discusses some of the options available.
This chapter discusses the genealogy and development of the ‘access abyss in palliative care and pain relief’ affecting 80 per cent of the world’s people. It argues that…
This chapter discusses the genealogy and development of the ‘access abyss in palliative care and pain relief’ affecting 80 per cent of the world’s people. It argues that the larger context is an epistemic abyss constituted by incomplete information about the need for controlled medicines for pain relief, and that decades of drug policy based on supply control have prevented development of the necessary knowledge base in many countries. Transnational civil society organisations are working to map and bridge this abyss through education, advocacy and action. Deeper (original) systemic and tensions in the original multilateral drug control narrative produced the current epistemic/clinical abysses and now provide space for more participatory civil society involvement. Where the earlier narrative focussed on a fear-based drive to discipline and punish non-medical use of controlled substances, the evolving (and still contested) ‘world drug problem’ narrative foregrounds person centred, human rights based, public health approaches to drug policy that explicitly support improved access to internationally controlled essential medicines. Recommended policies can only be operationalised through a concerted ‘all hands on deck’ effort guided by the international law principle of ‘mutual and shared responsibility’ for improving access within the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This calls for enhanced communication, concerted advocacy, collaboration and pluralist praxis to fill the often gaping abyss between ‘black letter law’ — what is actually written in the drug control conventions — and how member states learn to interpret and operationalise it.
The landscape for international drug policy is shifting rapidly as the tensions between the objectives, assumptions and activities that are being introduced at local level are tearing apart the assumptions on which the system was founded. Countries are divided into camps that pursue different aims with drug policy. In addition to an established distinction between those that seek to reduce drug harms and those pursuing a vision of a drug-free world, some UN member states have established licit markets for products that the conventions hold are available for medical and scientific purposes. This incongruence is matched by states in the other camp who apply capital and corporal punishment ostensibly in pursuit of a public health objective. These differences over underlying values, but also in the use of evidence, and interpreting the purpose of the drug control system are no longer reconcilable. While there is pressure on maintaining the system, it no longer serves an organic function and continues mainly for the benefit of constituent members. With the dissolution of US leadership, drug policy is no longer operating within an effective international framework.
Both Bolivia and Uruguay broke ranks with the global drug prohibition regime by introducing novel drug policies. State control of the production and supply of coca and…
Both Bolivia and Uruguay broke ranks with the global drug prohibition regime by introducing novel drug policies. State control of the production and supply of coca and cannabis represents a clear departure from both the spirit and the letter of the international drug conventions. Although, the rationale, processes and outcomes of policy change were distinctive in many regards, this chapter posits that there are conceptual resemblances. In both countries, the leadership of a charismatic and idiosyncratic president has to be considered. Furthermore, in both countries, mobilisation and activism were also decisive. Lastly, in both countries novel drug policy responded to specific problems that decision-makers faced. Approaching drug policy reforms in Bolivia and Uruguay in terms of personal leadership, mobilisation and policy problems provides a useful analytical first-cut to assess the continuity and change in drug policy observable elsewhere. Additionally, scrutinising the reasons and motivations for undertaking drug policy reform also allows to better understand each country’s behaviour on the international stage.
This chapter provides a critical exploration of the European Union’s impact on the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) proceedings and Outcome document. It demonstrates that the ability to produce a European ‘common position’ ahead of the UNGASS debates represents a significant step forward in the ability to ‘speak with one voice’ in the global illicit drug policy arena, and has played an important role in ensuring key issues such as human rights and public health remain on the agenda. In highlights, however, a European failure to engage with issues such as the continuing suitability of the international drug conventions to preside over the current climate of drug policy innovation and experimentation, and the unintended consequences of a ‘war on drugs’ approach. Ultimately, therefore, it argues that these failures will hamper the development of a more progressive and effective global drug policy.
This paper aims to analyse the fundamental principles of the main international conventions against use of drug and to verify if it would be preferable to let European…
This paper aims to analyse the fundamental principles of the main international conventions against use of drug and to verify if it would be preferable to let European Member States adopt specific measures according to own needs at a national level.
The research uses a comparative approach by examining the different national legislations in respect of the discipline of the international conventions for finding analogies and differences between them.
The research has discovered a wide variation in the criteria for triggering a legislative response and in the penalties for non-compliance. Nevertheless, there seems to be a trend towards countries focusing on penalising supply rather than possession of these substances.
To maintain a common international level in fighting against the use and commerce of drug to enforce the effectiveness of national regulations.
The achievement of a high level of health protection, well-being and social cohesion to prevent and reduce drug use, dependence and drug-related damage to health and society.
To ensure a high level of security for the general public by taking action against drug production, cross-border trafficking in drugs and the diversion of chemical precursors used in drug production, as well as by intensifying preventive action against drug-related crime through effective cooperation, embedded in a joint approach.
This is a fast-moving area of law, which continues to evolve for the different new substances being introduced in international drug traffic, so different solutions to the problem can be found by national legislators who need to be coordinated at an international level.
In two separate sections the authors summarise the observations, use the insights to reflect on some of the propositions made in the book, and follow the appeal of one of…
In two separate sections the authors summarise the observations, use the insights to reflect on some of the propositions made in the book, and follow the appeal of one of the authors to civil society and academics to “help governments out of the drug policy dilemma that is now facing them”. The paper aims to discuss this issue.
The genre the authors follow here is ethnography and the material takes the form of reflective field notes. Since each author follows a particular set of interests the authors split the paper into two sections. There are no strong conclusions, safe that the concerns about the international drug control system were fully borne out by events on the floor.
The role of CSOs is critical in moving the process forward – but countries are likely to drift apart as the policy differences are becoming inrreconcilable.
It is imperative to develop new models of cooperation in the management of psychactive substances.
This is in recognition that at national level just as much as at Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) and UN General Assembly Special Session the increased involvement of CSOs has been pivotal in shifting focus towards public health and human rights. This in turn has encouraged some nations to do the same in their domestic policies – and to stand up and say so in CND meetings.
More involvement of academics and editorial teams in the design of sustainable policies and practices.
In a critical report on the CND the authors challenge the viability of the international drug control regime in view of the emerging differences between different member states. This is the first attempt in the drug policy literature to assess the durability of the drug control regime as it is faced by the fast paced transformation of cannabis into a recognised medicine and regulated recreational substance. If the appearance of agreement is maintained this is entirely for diplomatic reasons and organisational benefit. In reality, the system is breaking apart and new methods for regulating drugs are emerging.
This chapter explores the historical context of drug control in the United States, the ongoing regulation of the cannabis market at the State level and the role of the…
This chapter explores the historical context of drug control in the United States, the ongoing regulation of the cannabis market at the State level and the role of the United States in the international negotiations related to the United Nations General Assembly Special Sessions (UNGASS) on drugs in 1998 and 2016. We continue by analysing the position, allies and activities of the United States before and during UNGASS 2016 to provide an understanding of possible scenarios related to the 2009 Political Declaration and Plan of Action review to take place via a High-level Ministerial Segment within the 2019 Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting. While US drug policy is not expected to positively shift in the next few years, State-level regulation of cannabis is expected to continue and create pressure from below.
For three days in early June 1998 the General Assembly of the United Nations was imbued with an air of unity as members strove to find ‘common ground’ against the…
For three days in early June 1998 the General Assembly of the United Nations was imbued with an air of unity as members strove to find ‘common ground’ against the escalating drug crisis. The international community had gathered together under the auspices of a special session to contemplate a concerted approach to countering the global drug problem. The latter is perceived to be a grave threat to ‘the well‐being of mankind, the independence of states, democracy, the stability of nations, the structure of all societies, and the dignity and hope of millions of people’.