A repost from our partners at SSDP contrasting the frustrating nature of the United Nations and the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the inspirational nature of the civil society groups and young people present.
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.”
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 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!
As some of our Twitter followers may know, the SSDP2014 Conference is taking place this weekend, and CSSDP is present and accounted for! I am thrilled to be representing our amazing organization and to be joining the SSDP network for what is sure to be a weekend filled with interesting discussions, thought provoking ideas, and new connections. For those of you that are not able to be here, follow the CSSDP blog as I report and reflect on what is taking place at the conference. I’ll also be live-tweeting the highlights, so make sure you follow CSSDP. Join me as I celebrate, learn, connect, and advocate!
CSSDP has been collaborating with SSDP over the past year to strengthen the international network, which includes chapters in places as far as Ireland and the United Kingdom. This past March when CSSDP went to Vienna to advocate at the annual UN meeting on drugs (which was known formally this year as the “High-Level Segment and 57th Session on the Commission on Narcotic Drugs), we worked together with international SSDP chapters to present at a side event on why criminalization has failed to protect youth, and in fact does more harm than good. Our attendance at this conference is just another way we are working hard to stayed connected to our roots, learn from our partners, and accomplish more together!
Check out the conference program and tweet at CSSDP if there is an event on the agenda in particular that you would like me to report from. I’ll do my best to attend! Be sure to follow my travel journal. 🙂
Chair of the Board of Directors
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.
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.
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.
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.
Canada’s statement at this month’s CND is concerning to say the least.
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.
Season’s Greetings! As always, Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (CSSDP) is thankful this holiday season for your continued support of our efforts to push for sensible drug policy in Canada. As you do your holiday shopping, we encourage you to consider giving a gift that makes a lasting difference by donating to CSSDP. Help build our student movement by supporting us to advocate for sensible drug policy both domestically and internationally. Every donation we receive goes directly towards supporting youth activism and education. Remember that no donation is too small!
On November 1, International Drug Users Day is celebrated around the world hailing the resiliency of people who use drugs against the longstanding war on our lives. While most forms of discrimination have been exposed as social injustices, discrimination against people who use drugs is still seen as justified in the eyes of the law in countries around the world. The War on Drugs has had a horrendous effect globally on human rights, further marginalizing the marginalized and cementing other forms of injustice such as racism and sexism. Yet despite the widespread global discrimination, the community of people who use drugs is stronger than ever in our struggle against injustice. Drug use is a normal part of our society, so let’s make drug policy reform mainstream!
Drug users in Crimea are facing disaster as they watch the stock piles of methadone and buprenorphine – medications that allow them to live normal and productive lives – run out in front of them, likely for good.
Those following the situation in Crimea have undoubtedly heard the concerns of the Tatars, the Jewish community, and even the affluent middle class, but the group in the most immediate danger of having life as they know it turned on its head – 803 drug users in opiate substitution therapy (OST) programs – have, as is often the case, received little attention.