Regulating “New” Drugs

Regulating “New” Drugs

Drugs, drugs, drugs
At the Commission on Narcotic Drugs last month, one topic that had delegates buzzing was New Psychoactive Substances. While technically “New” Psychoactive Substances are as old as global drug control laws, the rush to increasingly schedule substances combined with the proliferation of internet drug culture, has led to an explosion of new unscheduled drugs over the past few years. Some of these drugs have been used as medicine in indigenous cultures, or trialed by pharmaceutical companies for a variety of essential medicines ranging from anaesthetics to anti-depressants. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) World Drug Report (2013) New Psychoactive Substances were created to, “exploit loopholes in drug control legislation has been a problem since the international drug control system was first established. The proliferation of such substances in recent decades was influenced by the work done by Ann and Alexander Shulgin on phenethylamines and tryptamines in the 1960s and the 1970s. The Shulgins reported over 230 psychoactive compounds that they had synthesized and evaluated for their psychedelic and entactogenic potential. More recently, a number of piperazines, synthetic cathinones and synthetic cannabinoids emerged, which were marketed as ‘legal’ alternatives to controlled substances.”

National Actions

National Actions

Day of Action - Protect patient's rights - April 1
Please check out how you can get involved in transforming drug policy in Canada! On April 1st Health Canada attempted to change the medical marijuana laws adopting the new Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) program, punishing patients by taking away their right to grow their own medicine and forcing them to destroy all marijuana produced through the old Health Canada program. Luckily thanks to the MMAR Coalition Against Repeal, the government has been forced through the courts to backtrack  their decision until the trial is resolved.  Despite this huge win for medical marijuana activists,  Sensible BC is continuing with plans for a National Day of Action on April 1st and we encourage everyone to get involved!  We have also included two petitions to advocate for sensible drug policy; one rejecting Bill C-2 creating more red tape for safer consumption sites, and another campaigning for a 911 Good Samaritan Law for overdoses.

Presenting at CND and Meeting Russell Brand

Presenting at CND and Meeting Russell Brand

SSDP International Panel at CND2014
Today was a very exciting day at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). Not only did we present on the SSDP International Panel, titled “Protecting Youth with Drug Policy: Criminalisation has Failed,” but we also participated in a press briefing with Russell Brand and asked him what he thought about the legalization and regulation of cannabis and other drugs.

Protecting Young People (Who Use Drugs)

Protecting Young People (Who Use Drugs)

RIP Junior
On the final day of the CND High Level Segment, right before the Canadian Delegation presented their statement, I received a message informing me that my friend Junior had died of a drug overdose. Choking back tears, I had to force myself to focus on the task at hand in the name of advocating for sensible drug policy. In honour of Junior, I would like to dedicate this post to him, as I continue to believe that we must push for life saving services for young people who use drugs. During the CND, we have strived to be diplomatic in our calls for drug policy reform. Achieving this diplomacy is difficult when the lives of young people who use drugs are at continued risk because of ineffective drug policies. Unfortunately, the Canadian Delegation neglected to mention human rights, the death penalty for drug offences, harm reduction or reducing blood borne infections in their statement.

Tools for Debate

Tools for Debate

In the Americas, the War on Drugs has had disastrous consequences, leaving countries like Mexico with over 60,000 dead, filling prisons with the marginalized and shattering the social fabric of communities. Prohibition has arguably had a greater cost to society than the drugs themselves, and continues to fuel organized crime and violence. Originally called for by Nixon in 1971, the war on drugs has been a catastrophic failure. If any region has paid the price in terms of social, economic and public health outcomes, it has been Latin America, which is why it is no surprise that such member states are vehemently opposed to the continuation of prohibition. As well, the war on drugs has been used as a tool for neocolonialism and to justify overthrowing governments in Latin America throughout the 1980s by Reagan. Several Latin American member states have called for an urgent reevaluation of prohibition leading up to the UNGASS 2016 while at the High Level Segment of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

Take Control of Controlled Substances

Take Control of Controlled Substances

lisa_checkitEven on our Saturday off, we were still surrounded by innovative drug policy interventions! When strolling the streets of Vienna, we came across CheckIt, a nightlife harm reduction program that does outreach at parties, empowering recreational drug users with information on party drugs. CheckIt also provides onsite drug checking, detecting adulterants in substances and sharing the results with the community. The coolest thing about randomly coming across their office was that they had posters and fliers in the window from the TRIP Project that were so old that the colours had faded! It was really cool for Lisa to see, as she has been volunteering with TRIP since she was a teenager and also had a CheckIt sticker on her office door for the years when she worked as the TRIP Project Coordinator.

What Was Done, What Was Said & What Wasn’t Said: Uruguay, Czech Republic & Canada

What Was Done, What Was Said & What Wasn’t Said: Uruguay, Czech Republic & Canada


We continued to hear member states’ preliminary statements in the General Debate today at the 57th Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) High-Level Review. The Round-Table Discussion regarding Money-Laundering also took place. For a detailed account of the statements made at both of these events, please consult the International Drug Policy Consortium’s CND Blog at http://www.cndblog.org. In addition to the official events, Uruguay held a press conference today to discuss their creation of the first regulated market for cannabis (exhibited in the photo above taken from @encod). The following is a reflection on selected key comments made during the events today.

Similar Words, Conflicting Words, and Beautiful Words

Similar Words, Conflicting Words, and Beautiful Words

The following events took place today at the 57th Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) High-Level Review: the Round-Table Discussions regarding Demand Reduction, the High-Level Briefing of the 3rd Informal Civil Society Hearing and the 2014 UNODC Scientific Consultation, and the Round-Table Discussions regarding Supply Reduction. During the Round-Table Discussions, the General Debate was also taking place, during which member states made their preliminary statements. For a detailed account of the statements made at each of these events, please consult the International Drug Policy Consortium’s CND Blog at http://www.cndblog.org. The following is a reflection on selected key comments made during the 3rd Informal Civil Society Hearing and the 2014 UNODC Scientific Consultation, and the General Debate.

Featured Chapter: Durham College & UOIT

Featured Chapter: Durham College & UOIT

CSSDP at Durham College & UOIT has had a very busy school year! As of March, 2014, the chapter has raised over $300 for the national organization and a local harm reduction program through fundraising events.  In addition to this, the chapter has over gone massive...
NGOs Assemble at CND

NGOs Assemble at CND

Nazlee Maghsoudi STOP THE WAR ON DRUGS, AND START THE WAR ON IGNORANCE! – Dr. Gilberto Gerra UNODC Remember to keep checking our website for daily blog updates. We are also live tweeting all events we attend, so feel free to follow the conversation online on Twitter....
How to Create Social Change

How to Create Social Change

Step 1: Ask yourself, “What change do I want to see in the world?” Do I want to…    end stigma against people who use or are dependent on drugs? change local, provincial, or federal drug laws? help people who are harmed by drug use or drug policies? Finding your...
CSSDP Is Going to Vienna!

CSSDP Is Going to Vienna!

Nazlee Maghsoudi CSSDP has officially launched their first involvement in international drug policy! Thanks to the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network (http://www.aidslaw.ca/), CSSDP has secured two seats to attend the 57th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs...