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The Details of Prince’s Death Are Dizzying

“A rational discussion of the death of Prince—and of so many others—should not be guided by notions of ‘doctor-shopping,’ an opioid ‘epidemic,’ or vague images of those in pain enslaved by drugs,” wrote Dr. Jerrold Winter, a pharmacologist at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences of the University at Buffalo. […]

Whirlwind Reform This Most Definitely Is Not

Peter Dunne MP, New Zealand Minister for Internal Affairs – and long running voice of reason in New Zealand’s debates on drug policy – provided new hope of progress for the country’s tortured reforms yesterday. […]

Asia’s War on Drugs

Half a million drug users are held annually in compulsory detention centers in China and Southeast Asia, according to estimates from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Arduous physical exercises and military drills are often routine there, as is violence – former detainees described shocks with electric batons and whipping with electric wires to Human Rights Watch. […]

President Obama Commutes Prison Sentences for 58 Non-Violent Drug Offenders

In a post on, President Obama wrote that he will continue to review clemency applications, but said that “only Congress can bring about the lasting changes we need to federal sentencing.” Recent bipartisan efforts in Congress to reform federal sentencing laws are encouraging, he wrote, especially regarding “harsh mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses.” […]

Drug Addiction Cannot Be Decoupled from Mental Illness

People with mental health and substance use problems need counseling and medication-assisted treatments, like methadone maintenance. Community programs should expand the use of harm reduction practices, such as naloxone distribution, which aim to mitigate the harms of drug use. […]

Region’s harsh drug policies slammed by experts

Countries in the region seem “unable to confront the realities of steadily growing drug markets and to contemplate a rational approach to drugs that would cause less harm to individuals and societies”, said Gloria Lai, senior policy officer for the International Drug Policy Consortium. […]

Why America Can’t Quit the Drug War

After 45 years, more than $1 trillion wasted, and the creation of the world’s largest prison system, America still lacks the political will to change its failed drug policy


UNGASS: The World is Failing to Learn the Right Lessons from its ‘War’ on Drugs

The discussions before and during the UNGASS clearly indicated the divisions within the international community on drug issues. Even as the special session failed to usher any revolutionary changes, there was a tacit acknowledgement of the sentiment that an all inclusive debate is not possible. In an unstated manner, this UNGASS was also confronted with doubts about the consensus approach and even the universal applicability of the three UN drug conventions. […]

NSW Govt’s Stance Against Pill Testing Could Result In Trial Outside State

Due to the NSW Government’s firm stance against pill testing, talks of the initiative have commenced with senior politicians and police in other states which could see it be trialled at summer music festivals throughout the country. “We continue to progress,” said Dr David Caldecott of the pill testing proposal. […]

How the UN Drugs Summit Excluded Young Voices and Failed Youth All Over the World

To us, as students, the most maddening part of the whole ordeal was the growing realization that although the drug war is waged in the name of protecting young people from the dangers of drugs, our voices are continually shut out of the debate about the negative impacts that criminalization policies have on our generations. […]

Rethinking Drug Prohibition on a Global Scale

The meeting did clearly illustrate one reality: Because the US itself is violating international drug conventions by allowing individual states to legalize marijuana, America has basically resigned as the world’s lead narcotics cops. And that means countries like Canada and Jamaica, which are legalizing or plan to legalize marijuana, will be able to do so without facing threats of trade war or other sanctions, as they have in the past. […]

Above All, Do No Harm: Searching for HIV Harm Reduction Strategies at the UN Special Session on Drugs

On the first day of the UNGASS, UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidebé gave a speech that highlighted the organization’s most recent report addressing the ways in which the world can reduce HIV infection due to drug use. Entitled “Do No Harm: Health, Human Rights and People Who Use Drugs,” the report’s advocacy for the universal implementation of a “people-centred, public health and human rights-based approach to drug use” is a refreshing departure from UNGASS’s intransigence. […]

There’s something missing from our drug laws: Science

At a minimum, responsibility for determining drug classifications and other health determinations should be completely removed from the DEA and transferred to a health or scientific body. Congress should overhaul the entire scheduling process to ensure that decisions on whether to criminalize a drug or not, and whether and how to regulate it, are decided by an objective, independent scientific process. […]

A year after the Bali Nine executions, Indonesia prepares firing squads again

According to Amnesty International, there were at least 165 people on death row in Indonesia at the end of 2015, and more than 40% of those were sentenced for drug-related crimes. Indonesia has some of the harshest drug laws in the world, and Jokowi has stated that no drug prisoner will receive a pardon from him. […]

The Deaths of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran One Year on

The bullets may have killed Andrew Chan and Maran Sukumaran, but it was Indonesia’s war on drugs that sent them to their deaths. At the time it happened, few outside the country could understand how Indonesia might shoot apparently reformed men. […]

On a downer

At the 1998 UNGASS, delegates pledged to deliver “significant and measurable” reductions in demand for drugs by 2008. That meeting even used the slogan: “A drug-free world, we can do it”. The deadline has slipped, but the intention seems to remain the same. Who are they kidding? […]

What Ever Happened to New Zealand’s Lauded Drug Regulation?

If we have learned nothing else from the drug wars, it is that a non-negotiable principle in any reform, must be that personal possession of any substance must never be an offence. But our ‘world leading’ kiwi drug ‘reform’ has succeeded in outlawing personal possession of all new psychoactive drugs – even those not yet invented. […]

The Guardian view on cannabis and psychosis: how do we protect teenagers?

One of the effects of prohibition has been to drive up the THC content and thus the potency of what’s on sale, because this is maximises the ratio of profit to risk. Whether that is what consumers would choose if they could is another question. It’s not entirely fanciful to suppose that legal cannabis, intelligently taxed, would tend to be less powerful than much of what is on the market now, just as most of the drink sold in Britain is not spirits. […]

Rethinking the Global War on Drugs

The United States will need to play a much stronger role in shaping new policies. It is in the untenable position of violating the existing treaties — now that four states have legalized the sale of recreational marijuana — while arguing that they remain a viable framework. Clearly, those accords need to be updated, heeding the experiences and lessons learned by the nations that have paid the highest price in the drug war. […]

We Need A Joint Approach On Drug Reform

There has been a shift. We are close to a tipping point, thanks to the consistent work of many stakeholders and activists who have spent years fighting these tough battles in the political minefield that is illicit drug policy. […]

U.S. Should Seek Bold New Approach on Drugs

The “War on Drugs” has been lost. Not only has it failed to reduce problematic drug use, it has cost more than a trillion dollars over the past few decades, and produced horrific unintended consequences. It has left in its wake a trail of violence, human rights abuse, and infectious disease. […]

Portugal’s Example: What Happened After It Decriminalized All Drugs, From Weed to Heroin

As diplomats gather at the United Nations in New York this week to consider the future of global drug policy, one Portuguese official, João Goulão, will likely command attention that far outstrips his country’s influence in practically any other area. That’s because 16 years ago, Portugal took a leap and decriminalized the possession of all drugs — everything from marijuana to heroin. […]

Countries should put women at the forefront of the UN drug policy debate

Globally, women make up one-third of all drug users, including around 3.8 million women who inject drugs. Women who use drugs are at higher risk than men of acquiring disease, including HIV. These unique challenges are due to biological differences, social and structural vulnerabilities, and decreased economic opportunities.UN drugs summit can change the lives of the world’s most disadvantaged women, their families and their communities. […]

The World Needs a Healthier, Rights-based Approach Towards People Who Use Drugs

There is a unique opportunity to begin to treat people who use drugs with dignity and respect, to provide people who use drugs with equal access to health and social services, to greatly reduce the harms of drug use and to take a step towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. […]

The war on drugs has failed: time to stop fighting and start thinking

Many countries are exploring different policy and programme solutions. These include alternatives to arrest and incarceration for minor drug offences, harm reduction programmes, decriminalisation of drug users and small farmers and increased access to pain medication. […]

A drug-free world is an impossible dream

The vision of a drug-free world has faded. We are instead presented with a nightmare scenario, where a multi-billion dollar black market funds organised crime and terrorist organisations. […]

We Need A Level Playing Field For Illicit Drugs Policy

The recent unofficial disclosure of positive illicit drug tests for some elite football players has thrown up some interesting responses on the use of illicit drugs in sport. However, it has also served to highlight the inherent discrimination and unfairness of our approach to drugs in general, particularly for those that don’t happen to be elite sportspeople — which, of course, is the overwhelming majority of us. […]

Why drug law reform matters for families

Those who would seek to dismiss reform as ‘going soft on drugs’, ask yourself: if it was your family member, wouldn’t you want a system that supports them to make positive change, instead of one that punishes them and leaves them worse off? Less punitive drug law doesn’t mean increased drug use. […]

High on Irrationality: At the UN Drugs Summit, It’s Time to Climb Down

“A Drug-Free World—We can do it!” That’s the slogan that was agreed upon and adopted as the United Nations’ mandate when this body last convened in a major summit in 1998 to discuss global drug policy. Today, there is little question that global drug control has been misguided, overly punitive and largely ineffective, and has steered national drug policies in disastrous directions. […]

Medicinal cannabis legalised in Victoria

Victoria has become the first state in Australia to legalise the use of medicinal cannabis.The legislation enables the manufacture, supply and access to medicinal cannabis products in the state. […]

Canada expected to promote harm reduction at UN drug meeting next week

“Harm reduction is here to stay. Canada’s drug regulation approach is going to grow around the world, as countries start to explore different options.” The government’s support of harm reduction and the legalization of cannabis was made clear last month at the latest Session of the Commission of Narcotic Drugs in Vienna. […]

Regulate, Evaluate, Educate on Cannabis

Crucially, all policy recommendations have to be based on the most robust evidence; this was no place for dogma, unfounded theories or wishful thinking. What the report makes painstakingly clear is that to legalise responsibly, you need to regulate, then reevaluate to see where you’re going wrong and readjust. […]

The old global consensus on the war on drugs is crumbling

The drug war is now the subject of a raucous debate within the U.S., they might sound strangely familiar. The reasons why U.S. citizens are rejecting the war on drugs are, it turns out, also the reasons why it is being rejected all over the world, from the Caribbean to Europe to South America. […]

The overdose crisis is making America finally consider supervised injection facilities

The U.S. has buried its head in the sand for the last couple of decades and ignored health-based strategies to deal with addiction and drug use. Instead we have waged a war on our citizens, filled our prisons with people who have drug problems and watched as hundreds of thousands of people have died from preventable overdose and HIV. […]

Drug experts say Australia’s presence at UN summit a waste of money

The president of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, Dr Alex Wodak, has questioned Australia’s attendance at a meeting of UN member countries to debate global drugs policy later this month, describing the conference as “the last big international forum before global drug prohibition collapses”. […]

Top Reformers Share Hopes and Disappointments as UNGASS Looms

A high-powered group of reformers ushered in the month of UNGASS—the first special UN drugs summit since 1998—at the Open Society Foundations in New York this morning. They expressed hopes and disappointments about the progress and lack of it surrounding the event.Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, noted the much-improved context of this summit versus the last one, 18 years ago, which adopted the clueless tagline: “A Drug-Free World—We can do it!” […]

Global consensus and dissensus on drug policy

U.N. member states will convene to reassess global drug policies. Some countries, particularly within Latin America and Western Europe, see the existing policies as ineffective and counterproductive. Others, particularly in East Asia and the Middle East (as well as Russia), staunchly support them. As a result of changing domestic policies, including state-level marijuana legalization, the United States is no longer interested in playing the role of the world’s toughest drug cop. […]

The roots of mass incarceration

The prison-industrial complex can be traced back to the school-to-prison pipeline. Our children are punished at alarming rates, setting them up for a bleak future in our revolving-door prison system. […]

Pressure mounts on UN to create positive change at UNGASS

Two new reports, released to mark the beginning of the 59th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna this week, have once again laid bare the harms caused by prohibition and the need to radically change the way we look at drug policy in the build up to UNGASS 2016. […]

A quiet revolution: Drug decriminalisation across the globe

The aim of this report is to inform the public and policymakers alike on the impact of decriminalising drug possession offences, showing that decriminalisation does not lead to increased rates of use while equally demonstrating that law enforcement led approaches have little impact on this metric. […]

NCB President Werner Sipp speaks at CND side event on Portuguese drug policy

At the reconvened 58th CND in Vienna, a number of side events were held on 9th December 2015, including’Public health as a basis for drug policy in Portugal’. The Permanent Representative of Portugal, Pedro Moitinho de Almeida, opened discussions by explaining that the Portuguese policy model is no longer an experiment; instead, it is a success. […]

Doing drugs differently

Does Australia have the courage to changes drug laws in ways that will actually save lives? […]

A regulated cannabis market for the UK

The most comprehensive framework for how a regulated cannabis market could work in the UK has been published by an independent panel of experts set up by the Liberal Democrats. […]

Voluntary drug-testing ‘a priority’ to save lives, say MPs

Pressure is mounting on state governments to allow drug-testing trials of illicit substances at public events after a federal parliamentary group declared they were a “matter of priority”.
On Wednesday, experts from Australia, New Zealand and the US addressed cross-party MPs on the latest strategies for dealing with illicit drugs. The event culminated in a draft declaration, which included support for drug checking (also known as pill testing) and moving away from “failed punitive enforcement”. […]

‘A laughing stock’: doctors to continue pill testing despite threat of arrest

Two doctors planning to test illicit drugs at Sydney music festivals have vowed to continue their campaign despite threats of arrest and condemnation from NSW Premier Mike Baird. Dr David Caldicott, a Canberra-based emergency medicine specialist, said the trial was a common sense precaution and the government’s resistance to pill testing had become “a laughing stock overseas”. […]

Drug decriminalisation helps minimise harm

This week federal parliamentarians will discuss with world experts ways to minimise harm caused by illicit drugs. At a national drug summit, legislators will also be reminded of the sobering reality that Australians consume illegal drugs at concerning levels. […]

Outflanking the war on drugs?

In April, the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) will adopt a consensus position on drug control, but few are expecting a shake-up to the current, conservative, global framework.
That’s why some reformers are turning to the Sustainable Development Goals as a blueprint for the future. […]

End polarising stand-off and trial pill testing

No one wants another summer of deaths at music festivals. Prominent doctors are convinced that pill testing will make a difference, so convinced they are prepared to break the law to conduct pill-testing trials. […]