Canada’s statement at this month’s CND is concerning to say the least.
On Friday March 20th CSSDP traveled all the way to the Supreme Court…
Today’s morning plenary session was one that many NGOs had been eagerly (and perhaps anxiously) awaiting. Now that the Special Segment of the UNGASS has ended, the first order of business at the 58th Commission on Narcotic Drugs was voting on the scheduling of several substances, including ketamine. As we outlined in Tuesday’s blog post, the possibility of scheduling ketamine has been an important issue, as it would undermine global health, international law, and the role of science in the international drug control regime. CND member states were set to vote on China’s request to put ketamine in Schedule IV this morning. Instead, at China’s request, the CND voted unanimously to postpone the decision to a future date when “more information could be provided.” Ketamine was not scheduled today, but the issue has not been put to rest.
The need to take a “public health approach to drug policy” is a language we have heard over and over at this year’s CND. We can’t help but wonder, however, what exactly does this mean? As the two side events we cover in tonight’s blog post demonstrate, addressing drug use from a public health perspective can look very different depending on who you ask.
Today was a very eventful day for Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy
at the UN! CSSDP, along with others from the SSDP International Outreach Committee, held a side event titled “Protecting Youth from Drug Policy.” CSSDP, SSDP, and SSDP UK have all been collaborating for months in preparation for this moment, and with only standing space available, it was one of the most successful sessions yet. Although the video will be available tomorrow for all to watch, the key points from the presentation are covered in this blog post.
One of the key issues at this year’s CND is a proposal put forth by China to bring ketamine, an essential medicine according to the World Health Organization (WHO), under Schedule I of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971. Although some readers will only know of ketamine as a recreational drug sometimes referred to as special K, ketamine is also the only available anesthetic in most rural parts of the developing world. Given that Schedule I is intended for substances that have “very limited medical usefulness,” the placement of ketamine in this category is inappropriate. Moreover, placing ketamine in any schedule is deeply problematic, as it will restrict the supply of this important medicine and leave nearly 2 billion people in the world without access to an anesthetic for essential surgery. Hence, scheduling ketamine will have detrimental impacts on global health.
The first day of the 58th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) was full of excitement as civil society and member states flew in from around the globe to talk drug policy. As it’s the second time CSSDP has attended CND, it felt kind of like a drug policy reunion! As soon as we stepped foot into the UN, the first thing we saw was a huge beautiful photo installation by the Harm Reduction Coalition. As we headed over to the civil society briefing, we learned that this was the greatest ever civil society presence at the CND!
CSSDP is returning to Vienna next week to attend the 58th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), the annual meeting during which representatives from every country gather to discuss the “world drug problem.” Last year, CSSDP attended the meeting for the first time and officially launched their involvement in international drug control regime advocacy. Since last year, CSSDP has become an official member of the New York NGO Committee on Drugs and the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs, the two bodies which act as a liaison between civil society and the United Nations (UN) on drug-related issues. By being actively engaged in these bodies and attending the CND as one of the few youth organizations present, CSSDP strives to ensure the voice of youth is at the table. Thank you to the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network for making CSSDP’s attendance possible for two years in a row by providing the necessary passes!
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Watch conference videos of plenary room panels & the Cannabus Tour!
Endings are always hard, if not harder than beginnings. Despite the hours of work that we put into the conference, seeing it all end was equally sad. Although Saturday was an amazing day, and I was haggard from the sheer amount of conversations that had occurred, Sunday had no intention of slowing down as some of the most fascinating talks were saved for last. Few of us realized the tension and bursting energy that Sunday would bring.
Saturday began with passion and intensity, the same that made Friday night exciting. CSSDP opened the conference with a territory acknowledgment and opening prayer by Wanda Whitebird, Womens Outreach Worker for the Ontario Aboriginal HIV/AIDS Strategy, who is a member of the Bear Clan, from the Mi’kMag Nation. Wanda drummed in the conference, welcoming us to the land and pointing out the importance of the conversations and movements beginning today. Wanda’s opening remarks were followed by a brilliant and heart wrenching personal story by Kali from the Eva’s Initiative Spot program. Kali brought us through his story of the impact drugs had on his personal life, and the steps he took to better it. CSSDP then brought out a memorial to all the friends, family, and loved ones that had been lost by the war on drugs. We had a minute of silence to mourn and remember those who could not be here, because their lives ended unfairly. Afterwards CSSDP introduced our timeline of drug policy, which details the historical past of drug policy, and potential future projects. The timeline laid bare, the common emotion through the room was that drug prohibition needs to end – for those we lost and will lose – and that we must be aware of the necessary steps that will bring us forward, that will create a rising revolution. A new board of directors would be elected that night, and CSSDP’s board would remember those left behind.