Canvassing for Opinion - aka "Blairs Brain on Cannabis"

IMHO prohibition sentiment requires inherent addiction to status quo, an incapacity to visualise beyond the here and now and a desperate desire to know others might feel the same... Reform is not revolutionary, rather it is evolutionary. Having survived banging your head against a brick wall the evolutionist relishes having stopped. / Blair

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Human Rights, Health and Harm Reduction

UN Special Rapporteur Speech from 'Harm Reduction 2008'
In August 2008, IHRA released a new report entitled 'Human Rights, Health and Harm Reduction: States' Amnesia and Parallel Universes' – which is the transcript of a keynote speech delivered by Professor Paul Hunt (then UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health) at the opening of Harm Reduction 2008: IHRA's 19th International Conference in Barcelona, Spain on May 11th 2008. Professor Hunt's speech focused on human rights and drug policy and contained some of the strongest comments to date from a UN human rights expert both in favour of harm reduction and against drug policies at the international and national levels that violate the rights of people who use drugs.

The speech began by listing some of the human rights abuses experienced by people who use drugs, and then went on to criticise the international policy environment that allows human rights abuses to occur with relative impunity. Professor Hunt recognised the 'amnesia' of many countries which acknowledge their human rights obligations in one forum (such as the Human Rights Council) and then go on to 'forget' them at another (such as the Commission on Narcotic Drugs) - a situation that he described as 'bizarre'. Professor Hunt then confirmed that drug policy must be carried out in conformity with human rights.

Acknowledging the necessity of harm reduction as an aspect of the right to health, Professor Hunt suggested that the overarching goal should be "a strong, accessible, integrated health system that is sensitive to the distinctive needs of all, including people who use drugs". He encouraged advocates and activists to incorporate human rights mechanisms at the international level into their existing and 'inspiring' work in order to help to achieve this.

HR2 (harm reduction and human rights) team decided to publish the speech in order to make it accessible to people who did not attend the conference, and so that these extremely helpful comments from a high level UN human rights expert may be made available for use for advocacy purposes and referenced in future publications.

This is in stark contrast to the Human Rights Commission in New Zealand - who simply 'don't get it'.

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ALCP Challenges Government to show some spine

ALCP calls on the Labour-led government to include a question in the next postal referendum, that asks New Zealanders to vote on the legality of cannabis.

Press Release: Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party
Tuesday, 26 August 2008

ALCP challenges the Labour government to finally act on it's two Health select Committees findings into the harms of cannabis, The 2003 cannabis inquiry received 532 written submissions, with 78 percent of those supported changes to the current way cannabis is managed. Only 17 percent supported the continuation of prohibition. The study concluded that the government "...should reconsider the legal status of cannabis."

ALCP Spokesperson, Steven Wilkinson says "This country has legalised prostitution, homosexuality, and acknowledges same-sex marriages. It is time time to deal with society's last great hypocrisy, the prohibition of cannabis. Regulation is the mature and intelligent way for society to handle the drug cannabis. he said.

ALCP calls for a question to be added into the next referendum, asking New Zealanders how they think cannabis should be managed, through prohibition or regulation?

The recently released 'New Zealand Illicit Drug Harm Index', paid for by the New Zealand Police, shows the cost of prohibition exceeds 115 million dollars, while the actual cost of cannabis to society is only 67.3 million. Steven Wilkinson says "Where is the logic in spending more to prohibit cannabis, than the social cost to society from cannabis?"

ALCP feels its high time for New Zealand to have a say in how this drug is managed in society. The referendum would allow normal people to have their say without the fear of stigmatisation, and be heard by representatives who are expected to act on their wishes.

Mr Wilkinson said "This issue needs no petition when over 370,000 New Zealanders used cannabis in 2006. The jury is in, the studies are done. Now is the time to act.

Steven Wilkinson says "Does Labour have the mettle to shake off the shackles of that flotilla of parasite parties and do one last bold act. Include the cannabis question in the referendum".

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Paradis goes NationWide - RadioNZ

Judge Jerry Paradis
Retired Canadian judge and member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. (duration: 35′29″)
Download: Ogg Vorbis   MP3

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NZHerald features reform position

 We must live in real world to fight drugs

5:00AM Saturday August 23, 2008
Paul Thomas


Last week, the former head of the Britain's Anti-Drug Co-ordination Unit revealed he quit because he got sick of having to implement policies that he and his colleagues knew were a waste of time but which their political masters insisted publicly were the only way to tackle the drug menace.

Julian Critchley believes the world would be a better place without drugs. However, he also believes - and one would've thought this would be the starting point for anyone who's serious about tackling a major social problem - that "we must live in the world as it is, not as we want it to be".

Critchley started out against decriminalisation but soon concluded that "enforcement and supply-side interventions were largely pointless. They have no significant, lasting impact on the availability, affordability or use of drugs".

(end snip)
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Sunday, August 24, 2008

MP. Blumsky Criminal?

"Story is: I tried to take his joint off him." says former Mayor of Wellington and then budding National MP subsequently elected via the list ( lets overlook technically a violation of rights, to self determination, to privacy. This would be theft and assault if over tobacco or a beer. So who was the victim?)

The young man punched Mr Blumsky, sending him hurtling down the stairs.
Mr Blumsky said the youth was "a lovely young man" and very apologetic.

If Mr Blumsky had some insight, it would have been he who was in the wrong and the young man the victim. Would this have happened over a can of Speights, an AlcoPop or a 30gms of 'Park Drive'?

I even suspect that Mr Blumsky's memory deficit was contrived 'self defence' - he knew he was in the wrong. Not the kind of MP I would have wanted.
/Blair Anderson

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Blumsky Criminal?

"Story is: I tried to take his joint off him." says former Mayor of Wellington and budding National MP.

( lets overlook technically a violation of rights, to self determination, to privacy. This would be theft and assault  if over tobacco or a beer. So who was the victim?)
The young man punched Mr Blumsky, sending him hurtling down the stairs.
If Mr Blumsky had some insight, it would have been he who was in the wrong and the young man the victim. Would this have happened over a can of Speights, an AlcoPop or a 30gms of  'Park Drive'?
I even suspect that Mr Blumsky's memory deficit was contrived 'self defence' -  he  knew he was in the wrong. Not the kind of MP I would have wanted.

/ Blair Anderson  ‹(•¿•)›
ph (643) 389 4065   cell 027 265 7219
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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Critchley Deserves Whistle Blower Award [Drug prohibition – an untenable hypocrisy]

War on DrugsImage via Wikipedia
Former Director of UK Anti-drug Co-ordination Unit calls for legalisation
The former head of the UK Anti-drug Co-ordination Unit (UKADCU - the Home Office department in charge of drug policy), Julian Critchley, posted to BBC Home Affairs correspondent, Mark Easton's blog last week, 'The War on Drugs' , calling for the legalisation of drugs [TDPF, UK]
"I think what was truly depressing about my time in UKADCU was that the overwhelming majority of professionals I met, including those from the police, the health service, government and voluntary sectors held the same view : the illegality of drugs causes far more problems for society and the individual than it solves. Yet publicly, all those intelligent, knowledgeable people were forced to repeat the nonsensical mantra that the Government would be 'tough on drugs', even though they all knew that the Government's policy was actually causing harm."

Julian Critchley is to be congratulated for speaking out with such candour on the issue. One can only wonder how many other former civil servants are of the same opinion, but haven't gone public.

Ex-drugs policy director calls for legalisation
Julian Critchley, the former director of the Cabinet Office's anti-drugs unit, also said that his views were shared by the "overwhelming majority" of professionals in the field, including police officers, health workers and members of the government [Guardian, UK]

Tough-on-drugs policy 'pointless'
Britain's policy of being tough on drugs is "pointless", says a former civil servant who once ran the Cabinet's anti-drugs unit [BBC, UK]
He also said the "overwhelming majority of professionals" he met, including those from the police, the health service, government and voluntary sectors, held the same view. "Yet publicly, all those intelligent, knowledgeable people were forced to repeat the nonsensical mantra that the government would be 'tough on drugs', even though they all knew that the government's policy was actually causing harm."
Drugs Legalisation: The First One Hundred Years
Today, as the notion of legalising drugs is making its way into the mainstream political agenda for the first time in living memory, one of the most common objections to it is that it represents a high-risk experiment whose outcome cannot be accurately modelled or predicted [Canna Zine, UK]

History offers, too, an illustration of how a society legally permeated by today's illicit drugs used to function, and shows that high levels of overall drug prevalence can coexist with low levels of problematic use.

Finally, it offers a chance to evaluate the tools of control and regulation which might form an alternative to our present policy and which, once an outright ban has failed to prevent availability of any drug, have historically proved the most effective response. / Mike Jay Emperors of Dreams: Drugs in the Nineteenth Century (Deadalus 2001).

While the rest of the world reports on a border war disturbingly bereft of the link to drugs; see the World Media comment on this crucial peacemaking initiative.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Cindy McCain - Drug Dealer

"This is not about party politics; it is about partying politics." - M.Tvert

From official photo (cropped)

Cindy McCain: Drug Dealer Campaign Launched
by SAFER press release (05 Aug, 2008)

Pro-Marijuana Group Launches National Campaign Labeling Cindy McCain, the Head of the Hensley Beer Cartel, a "Drug Dealer"

A Colorado-based marijuana policy reform organization, Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER), unveiled a national campaign titled "Cindy McCain: Drug Dealer." The campaign highlights the hypocrisy of laws that may allow a major alcohol dealer to become First Lady, yet make criminals out of adults who possess marijuana, a drug that has been found to be far less harmful than alcohol both to the user and to society.

The campaign has launched a Web site -- -- detailing Cindy McCain's role as the head of Hensley & Co., one of the nation's largest beer distributorships, as well as the relative harms of the two drugs. The site also includes an on-line ad titled "Drug-Deal-Er," downloadable "WANTED" posters featuring a photo of Cindy McCain, and a petition expressing the signer's belief that adults should be allowed to make "the rational, SAFER choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol for relaxation and recreation."

SAFER Executive Director Mason Tvert will formally announce the launch of the campaign at a press conference at 10 a.m. MST (1 p.m. EDT) in front of the Hensley Cartel's Headquarters in Phoenix (4201 N. 45th Ave.).

"SAFER is not an anti-alcohol organization," said Tvert. "Our purpose is to draw attention to the fact that our government steers citizens to choose alcohol over marijuana, despite the fact that marijuana is far less harmful. Through this campaign, we hope to highlight the hypocrisy that exists in our society. While adults are arrested for mere possession of marijuana, Cindy McCain has made a fortune dealing a far more harmful drug."

"This is in no way a partisan attack," Tvert said. "In fact, we ran a similar campaign surrounding popular Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper -- a Democrat and a brewpub owner -- in the past. SAFER simply takes advantage of any opportunity to point out the hypocrisy inherent in our nation's alcohol and marijuana laws. This is not about party politics; it is about partying politics."


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Monday, August 11, 2008

One Response to "South Ossetia"

The destabilisation of the Caucasus region has had no end of assistance from the cross border trade in certain agricultural substances. Indeed, the presence of radicalised agents, including many of Osama's mates in the region has not been because they like the food and the climate. The channeling of weapons and money via crucial links, the valleys and passes in and out of the region was noted back in June as one of the priorities of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

"…Russia will expand cooperation with CIS countries to ensure mutual security, combating international terrorism, extremism, drug turnover, transnational crimes and illegal migration. One of the main priorities of the country is neutralizing of terrorist act and drug turnover directed from Afghanistan, prevention of violation of stability in Central Asia and South Caucasus. "

The trouble is we are not having this conversation… there are so many pretenders to peace and security for whom oil addiction makes it the biggest drug of all, but there is another 'self repairing' pipeline as durable and as flexible and as disguised that carries the 'black stuff' - a product more fungible than cash, more concealable than a Kalashnikov AK-47 AKM Assault Rifle and more dangerous than an RPG.

Makes humbug of the Amnesty line of thinking… that unless the policy (victim) is hanging at the end of a rope, druggies have no human rights.

Yet there is the nexus. The balkanisation of the Caucasus is the french connection all over again; same story, different actors.

Drug Policy has defined international affairs since USA banned opium in the Philippines just over one hundred years ago… only the magnitude is now 'orders of'.

Where is GREEN thinking on drugs now?

Blair Anderson ‹(•¿•)›

Social Ecologist 'at large'

ph (643) 389 4065 cell 027 265 7219

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Law, Logic and the UYB test!

A woman prison officer's humiliation - being body cavity searched after being set up by malicious inmates - has led to her being granted name suppression after she admitted cannabis charges. (CHCh Press 7Aug)

When she was meant to have a defended hearing before a judge in Christchurch District Court today, the 63-year-old woman pleaded guilty to charges of possession of cannabis and two pipes for smoking it. (Ohhh, moral panic! two pipes! One needs to be specially gifted to use both at the same time.)

She has had suppression of her name and occupation since she first appeared in court 14 months ago, but Judge Philip Moran decided today to allow her occupation to be published. (Pity he didnt publish the name and address of the idiot who signed off the issuing of the warrant in the first place)

Crown prosecutor Kathy Bell said police searched her Christchurch home on June 4, 2007, and found a tin in the bedroom, hidden in a chest of drawers. It contained a snaplock plastic bag with 16.1g of cannabis head.

Tissue papers used to make cannabis cigarettes were also found (this is laughable), and two pipes, which had been recently used. The woman told police she had smoked cannabis for relaxation for years. (and give her stressful job, no doubt also displacing alcohol, she would in all likely hood been a better prison officer for the experience) She said she did not think it was unlawful to smoke it in her own home.

Defence counsel Jonathan Eaton said the case showed the risks of police and judges relying on information from inmates when issuing search warrants. (it shows the grave flaws of prohibition.... /Blair)

The woman was detained when she arrived at work, and remained with the police for 13-1/2 hours. (coercive care no doubt to alleviate any health risk, So how come we arrest people and make victims out of them in order to save them from themselves? /Blair )

She was subjected to a normal search, then invited to allow a body cavity search by a doctor. When the doctor thought he could feel something in the rectal search, an MRI scan was done. All proved negative. (and cost how much? another unintended consequence!)

There had been a suspicion she was bringing drugs into jail, relying on information from inmates. (even more laughable if it wasnt so damn stupid! )

"She ends up with a little bit of cannabis found in her home - nothing to do with what she had to go through,'' Eaton said.

The information that triggered the search warrant had obviously been wrong. (the search warrant was issued, by whom, based on? Is the the same "police powers to which they are not entitled" raised by Hon Tom McGuigan, Minister of Health commenting on the Misuse of Drugs Act Bill (1975))

"She's been humiliated, violated, subjected to the most intrusive procedures available to the law in New Zealand.'' (suggesting it is the law not the cannabis that is the problem ie: the policy Stupid!)

The woman has been suspended on full pay since her arrest, and she had now offered to resign. This may, or may not be accepted, but it may also involve the loss of entitlements - far more than the usual fine for cannabis offences. (more identified unintended consequences... we should remind the Hon Wollerton MP!)

Judge Moran said it was surprising that she did not know she could not smoke cannabis at home. (and nor should it be! )

He said it was outrageous that she had been set up by malicious inmates.

"The consequences of a conviction would outweigh your culpability for smoking a bit of dak at home,'' he said, discharging her without conviction.

Because of the humiliation she had suffered, he granted name suppression but decided to allow publication of her job as a woman prison officer.

"You have been humiliated enough,'' he said.

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

Data Sorely Lacking on Effectiveness of Nation's Drug-Enforcement Programs

WASHINGTON -- Although the federal government invests about $12 billion each year in drug-enforcement programs, scant data exist to determine their effectiveness.
(this story is now 8 years old, but cost-benefit analysis is the elephant in the committee room - acutely relevant in the current policy mix post Anderton's  NZ "Police" Drug Harm Index and Law and Order's brazen failure to account for Prohibition's mayhem. /Blair)
Federal spending on such research amounts to less than $1 for every $100 set aside for enforcement. As a result, the nation's ability to evaluate whether its drug policies work is no better now than it was 20 years ago, when drug-control efforts began to accelerate, says a new report from the National Research Council of the National Academies.

The assessment of enforcement activities is severely hampered by an absence of adequate, reliable data on both drug consumption and the actual cost of illegal drugs, the report points out. Such data are critical because a major goal of enforcement is to reduce drug supply and drive up costs, thereby cutting consumption. Work should begin immediately to develop better methods for obtaining both types of data.

"Neither the necessary data systems nor the research infrastructure to gauge the usefulness of drug-control enforcement policies currently exists," said Charles F. Manski, chair of the committee that wrote the report, and Board of Trustees Professor in Economics, Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill. "It is unconscionable for this country to continue to carry out a public policy of this magnitude and cost without any way of knowing whether, and to what extent, it is having the desired result. Our committee strongly recommends that a substantial, new, and robust research effort be undertaken to examine the various aspects of drug control, so that decision-making on these issues can be better supported by more factual and realistic evidence."
But such enforcement measures often are embraced without the benefit of scientific evidence indicating whether they can indeed make much of a difference, or any at all. Existing surveys do not collect enough information to shed sufficient light on how drug markets operate, the committee said. Current surveys also do not illuminate the dynamics of how users begin to consume drugs, how they decide to step up their use, and what factors play a role in their decision to quit. In addition to addressing these gaps, surveys should obtain details about the quantity of drug consumption to more accurately estimate overall consumption rates -- a key factor in determining the economic vitality of illegal drug markets.

Accurate information on how much drugs cost also is needed to better comprehend how drug users respond to price changes. Although the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and other law-enforcement agencies collect some price information, these data do not provide a solid foundation for analyzing the causes and consequences of fluctuations. Current enforcement policy has indeed increased drug prices relative to what they otherwise would be, but the magnitude of the increase is not known. Moreover, there is little understanding of which policy components have brought about this result, the extent to which higher costs have decreased consumption, or which drug users have been most affected.

Better data alone, however, will not boost the country's understanding of effective drug-enforcement policy. The committee called for additional research on the extent to which producers and traffickers thwart enforcement in one geographic area by moving their smuggling routes or production elsewhere. Furthermore, research is needed to determine how the effects of supply-reduction activities should be measured, and to pinpoint the typical time lag between successful enforcement operations and changes in the way that producers and traffickers conduct business.

A rational drug policy also must take into account the costs and benefits of drug penalties, the committee said. For example, the relationship between the severity of penalties and the initiation and termination of drug use should be researched.

As part of its work, the committee reviewed studies on the value of a wide range of prevention activities and found mixed results. Some prevention efforts do appear to be helpful in delaying the initiation of drug use or reducing the frequency of marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol use among minors. However, because most attention has been focused on evaluating school-based approaches, the success of many other strategies is unknown, the committee said.

At the same time, many popular programs -- such as "zero tolerance" projects -- have not been evaluated at all, or have been found to have little impact on illegal drug use, as in the case of D.A.R.E. Yet large sums of public funds continue to be allocated for programs whose effectiveness is unknown or known to be limited, the committee noted. Given such trends, current efforts to evaluate drug-prevention strategies should be significantly improved.
Data Sorely Lacking on Effectiveness of Nation's Drug-Enforcement Programs
Date: March 29, 2001

(I used this report to make my point in tackling NZ1st MP Wollerton in his wishywashy analysis of recently retired Green MP Nandor Tanczos excellent commentary )
Blair Anderson ‹(•¿•)›
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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Drugs swoops 'have little impact'

Home Office logoImage via Wikipedia

Police are fighting a losing battle against drugs crime, with seizures having little impact on reducing supply or demand, research has suggested.

The UK Drug Policy Commission said despite the large sums of money spent tackling the problem, traditional police tactics were not working.

It said the £5.3bn British drugs market was too "fluid" for law enforcement agencies to cut supply. It added more should be done to reduce the effects of drugs oncommunities.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "The government agrees that enforcement in isolation is not effective."BBC home editor Mark Easton said the report was a "very bleak assessment of where we are in what some people call the war on drugs".

The report, titled Tackling Drug Networks and Distribution Networks in the UK, concluded that although the amount of Class A drugs seized between 1996 and 2005 doubled, the market had proved to be "extremely resilient".

This was despite 12% of the heroin and 9% of the cocaine in Britain being impounded during the same period, and despite the convictions of dealers and traffickers. The independent think-tank said dealers were able to adapt quickly to interruptions in supply, for instance by reducing purity, enabling them to maintain their profit margins. The report estimated that between 60% and 80% of drugs would need to be seized to put major traffickers out of business - yet crackdowns on such a scale have never been achieved in the UK.

It went so far as to warn that police crackdowns could have a negative effect on the problem.

They could threaten public safety and health by "altering the drug users' behaviour and potentially…setting up violent drug gang conflicts as police move dealers from one area to another", said our correspondent.

Instead, the study's authors suggested the government concentrated on the "collateral damage" of the trade - sex markets, gangs, human trafficking, corruption, drug-related crime and anti-social behaviour. They added that resources should be focused on disrupting "street-level markets" and tackling violence and intimidation in communities.

The criminal justice costs of class A drugs alone are estimated at £4bn ayear. Tim McSweeney, one of the report's authors, said: "We were struck by just how little evidence there is to show that the hundreds of millions of pounds spent on UK enforcement each year has made a sustainable impact."

David Blakey, of the UK Drug Policy Commission, said enforcement agencies tended to be judged by the amount they had managed to capture."This is a pity as it is very difficult to show that increasing drug seizures actually leads to less drug-related harm," he added.

The Home Office said seizures were only part of the government's approach,with intervention programmes getting 1,000 offenders into drug treatment each week."Many of the report's recommendations are already being implemented," the spokesperson added. "Our drugs strategy encompasses enforcement, prevention, education and treatment."

Our correspondent said while few politicians would suggest that less should be spent on being tough on drugs, the government's own 10-year drugs strategy was already cautious in its claims on the effectiveness of law enforcement."

There is a recognition that we "have to do more than just catch people and lock them up, we have to do something else, it's not working," he added.

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UK, drug expendature "waste of money".

.. an independent group set up to examine the state of the nation's drug trade.

The report, published yesterday, paints a grim picture..

..suggesting that the billions of pounds spent on attempts to reduce the availability of drugs on the streets have been in vain.

It said there was "remarkably little evidence" that action by customs officials, police and the Serious Organised Crime Agency has had any significant effect in disrupting illegal drug markets.

The report argued that the UK should try a radically different approach to tackling the misery brought about by drug-dealing and the crime and social disorder associated with it.

Others advocate taking the ultimate step – legalisation.
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Monday, August 04, 2008

The Meth Mess

Notable interview, the blatantly obvious undertow is the prejudice inherent in the system for those on (any type of) drug charges.

9:30 Unsatisfactory delays in the court system
A South Auckland judge has thrown out a criminal case because of what he called a grossly unsatisfactory delay in the court system and inadequate facilities at the Manuakau District Court.
Tony Bouchier, lawyer who acted for the man whose charges were dropped; and Graeme Newell, President of the Criminal Bar Association.

listen in South Auckland Judge Throws Out Case
Judge said"A grossly unsatisfactory delay in the court system and inadequate facilities at the Manuakau District Court." (duration: 12′20″)
direct comments to
Blair Anderson ‹(•¿•)›

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overseas drug bust, tiny amount of hash, RNZ

RadioNZ   ninetonoon  Tuesday 5 August at 10:06

Tig HagueTig Hague

While travelling to Moscow on business, London broker Tig Hague was caught with a tiny amount of hash in his jeans pocket, left over from a stag party. He was arrested and spent 15 months in a brutal Russian jail, where during the winter the temperature fell to minus 35 degrees. He tells Kathryn about his experience and how he eventually got out.
(Photo by Neil Cooper)

Blair Anderson ‹(•¿•)›
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The UN General Assembly’s 20th Special Session on the World Drug Problem met in 1998, setting objectives centred on the achievement of significant and measurable reductions in the supply of and demand for illicit drugs over the ensuing 10 year period. The 2008 CND in Vienna began the process of reviewing the progress made toward these objectives, and will be followed by a period of reflection and analysis prior to deciding the future direction of the international drug control system.

The delegates to the 2008 CND confirmed that a 2 day, high-level, political meeting will be held in March 2009 in Vienna, which will agree the framework for the next phase of UN drug policy. The material and reports to be considered at that meeting will be generated through five intergovernmental working groups meeting between June and September 2008, and present draft texts for consideration by governments. These working groups are, respectively, covering Supply Reduction, Money Laundering, Crop Eradication & Alternative Development, Demand Reduction and Precursors & Amphetamine-Type Stimulants. The draft texts from the working groups will then be debated by member states in a series of ‘intersessional’ meetings (the first is scheduled for September 29th), and a prepared set of texts presented to the high-level meeting in March 2009.


The second week in July saw over 300 NGO delegates, from all regions of the world, meet in Vienna. The goal of the "Beyond 2008" event, a partnership between the UNODC and the Vienna Non Governmental Organizations Committee on Narcotic Drugs (VNGOC), was to develop a set of NGO-derived consensus documents for the CND to take into consideration as part of the preparations for its 2009 High Level Segment to review the UNGASS process. After three days of intensive and sometimes heated debate within the Vienna International Centre, the forum successfully produced a Declaration and three associated resolutions. The event was of significance not only because of its unprecedented nature; it also provided the only official mechanism by which civil society can directly contribute to the UNGASS review next year. In-depth discussions of the event can be found on the websites and blogs of some of those NGOS involved in the process

Here we outline the key points of discussion, provide a taste of some the debates and issues and highlight the notable aspects of the declaration.

During the forum the following issues dominated the proceedings:
• Harm Reduction
• Human Rights
• Fitness for Purpose of the UN Conventions
• Engagement of Drug Users and Other Affected Populations in Drug Policy Analysis
• The Need for a ‘Copernican Revolution’ i.e. Evidence-Based Drug Policy
• Unintended Negative Consequences of the War on Drugs
• A Special Status for Coca Leaf
• Drug Use as a Health Issue
• Distinctions between Drug Use, Misuse, and Abuse
• NGO Potential to Contribute to Drug Policy
• The Shortfall in Medical and Therapeutic Opiates
• Cost Effectiveness
• A Special Status for Cannabis
• Mechanisms for Reviewing Drug Policy

Somewhat worryingly, the event began in a far from promising fashion. During the first day of the forum various aspects of the procedure were immediately questioned. Of particular concern to some delegations was the process of reviewing the draft declaration word by word—a procedure borrowed from the CND sessions. There were concerns such a procedure left the process open to filibustering— a claim that was justified during the later phases of the debate. However, as Michel Perron, chair of the Beyond 2008 Steering Committee, reminded delegates, the CND was the target audience, and if CND processes were followed the outcome of the forum would be more intelligible to and more likely to be included in policy making by those government officials assembled in March. Other participants were alarmed by the twin issues of the balance of the representatives and the use of the consensus model. In particular, however, anxiety over protocol was dominated by disquiet about a number of abstinence-oriented NGOs having their interventions directed by what appeared to be a US government representative ( a situation referred to in the ACLU blog as "A spy in the House.") Anxieties about these practices were intensified when an official request was made to the UNODC to halt filming of the proceedings by the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union. The appeal was attributed by some to a desire of those involved to remain out of sight and "off-camera."

However, when the debate on the draft documents began, a mood of consensus gradually emerged. For example, perhaps unsurprisingly bearing in mind the array of NGOs involved, there was considerable discussion as to whether harm reduction should be accepted and supported as legitimate practice or whether some elements, such as safe injection sites, are contrary to the UN conventions. Nonetheless, a compromise was achieved in the form of a consensus definition. Preambular paragraph 6(iv) of Resolution Objective One thus defined harm reduction as meaning "efforts primarily to address and prevent the adverse health and social consequences of illicit/harmful drug use, including reducing HIV and other blood borne infections." There was also consensus that human rights should be a driver in drug policy and that the UNODC and CND should work more closely with ECHR. The majority of delegates appeared to talk of Human Rights with reference to the contents of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, a group of delegates did propose, without obtaining consensus, that "living in a drug free world" should also be recognized as a human right. Many other issues were also thoroughly discussed and debated with the unanimous declaration of the NGOs at beyond 2008 calling for:

• Recognition of the human rights abuses against people who use drugs;
• Evidence-based drug policy focused on mitigation of short-term and long-term harms and full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms;
• The UN to report on the collateral consequences of the current criminal justice-based approach to drugs and to provide an analysis of the unintended consequences of the drug control system;
• Comprehensive reviews of the application of criminal sanctions as a drug control measure;
• Recognition of harm reduction as a necessary and worthwhile response to drug use;
• A shift in primary emphasis from interdiction to treatment and prevention;
• Alternatives to incarceration;
• The provision of development aid to farmers before eradication of coca or opium crops;
• Acknowledging that young people represent a significant proportion of drug users worldwide, are disproportionately affected by drugs and drug policy, and should be actively involved in the setting of global drug policy.

For a copy of the final declarations and resolutions click here:

Despite some initial misgivings, the majority of delegates were optimistic about the process and the eventual consensus outcome. As Martin Jelsma of the TNI, commented, the event was a "remarkable accomplishment that will impress many officials now involved in the UNGASS review process as this can be presented as a consensus outcome of NGOs from all around the world and from different ideological perspectives."


In the first ‘UNGASS News’, we described how the work of the five intergovernmental expert groups was structured, and how they were meant to review progress over the last 10 years, and agree papers to enter into the intersessional process that will start in September, and will draft the declarations to be agreed at the political meeting in march 2009. Now that three of the expert working groups have met, it is clear that this process is not running as smoothly as intended:
- While the working groups were meant to be a forum for exchange of information and expert advice, and objective review of the situation, all three conducted so far have seen that objectivity curtailed by member state boasting of achievements, and the taking of political positions. While this is always to be expected to some extent, it has led to the second problem:
- It was hoped that the working groups would agree consensus statements on the progress achieved in the last 10 years, and the nature of future challenges, but (at the time of writing) none of the working groups has produced a clear report of conclusions that can be considered by member states in the run up to the intersessional meetings.
The first three expert working groups met in late June/early July. The earliest, covering Supply Reduction, Manufacturing and Trafficking, clearly came up too quickly at 23rd to 25th June. Few member states had the time to prepare properly, and the discussion document produced by the UNODC did not contain any detailed strategic analysis of the achievements, challenges, and forward policy options for attempts to reduce the production and distribution of controlled drugs. Perhaps it is therefore unsurprising that the working group, as tends to be the case with supply reduction policy discussions, failed to get to grips with the strategic issues (what have current strategies achieved, what are the unintended consequences of current strategies, what can they be expected to achieve in the future, are we working to the correct objectives, what new approaches may produce better results?), but concentrated on operational issues such as co-ordination mechanisms and resources. That said, the proceedings did include some useful exchanges, including consideration of the human rights issues in relation to supply reduction efforts, and the need to focus law enforcement on the organised crime groups causing the most harm to communities and societies. Much of this more sophisticated debate is in danger of being lost, however, as the proceedings were concluded with no clear attempt to embed the key agreements within a report – even those member states who attended the group are unclear what the outcome is, and when and in what format it will be presented.

The same problem exists with the outcome of the working group on Crop Eradication and Alternative Development. In many ways, this working group ran more smoothly, with many member states well prepared, and sending experts as part of their delegation, leading to a more textured discussion. Also, with this subject area, there is a clear division of opinion between those member states (largely from Europe and Latin America) who support a development-based approach to reducing cultivation, and those (primarily the USA) who prefer to put the emphasis on forced eradication and strong military and law enforcement interventions. These differences were played out in the working group around the ‘sequencing’ of interventions (ie whether eradication should only be undertaken when viable alternative livelihoods for farmers are in place), and whether to remove the ‘conditionality’ on development assistance (ie linking it, as the US currently does in several countries, to achievements in crop eradication). There were also notable exchanges as a group of North African countries tried to introduce a greater focus on cannabis cultivation, and the Bolivian delegation called again for Coca Leaf to be removed from the conventions, both proposals receiving little support. This is particularly unfortunate in the latter example, as many independent experts agree that the current status of coca leaf is at best ambiguous; however, it seems that few countries are yet willing to take any diplomatic risks in terms of the scheduling of substances under the conventions. (A fuller report on the proceedings of this group has been posted on the TNI website – – by Tom Kramer, who attended as part of the Dutch delegation).

The uncertain outcomes of this round of working groups means that the process of producing materials on these subjects for consideration at the first of the CND intersessional meetings (scheduled for 29th September) is at present unclear. It is likely that the UNODC will now be preparing such documents, which will at least be loosely based on the conclusions of the working groups, but which may also be influenced by the views of officials in Vienna, or behind the scenes lobbying by member states. When these documents emerge, those involved so far will be able to see to what extent they reflect the discussions held so far.

Two more expert working groups will be held in September, on Drug Demand Reduction (15-17 September), and Precursors and Amphetamine-Type Stimulants (17-19 September). The first of these is of priority interest to IDPC members and partners, and we will be holding a satellite meeting in the margins. There are encouraging signs that member states are preparing well for this group, and many are planning to include NGO experts in their delegations. As this is the working group that will address issues around harm reduction, enforcement against drug users, and standards of prevention and treatment, many of the fundamental strategic differences between member states will play out here, before being passed on to the intersessional meetings. The next ‘UNGASS News’ will report on the outcome.


The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the World Health Organization have recently co-authored a fact sheet on the Right to Health, which is available at the following URL:

Of special relevance during the UNGASS "period of reflection" is the publication’s grounding of the Right to Health in current international law. While numerous treaties and resolutions refer to health, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is generally considered the central instrument in this respect, and recognizes the right of everybody to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

The fact sheet is of significance to drug policy in a number of important ways. The key element is the central role it gives to the principle of non-discrimination, which means that health services, resources and technologies must be available equally to all sections of society. It recognizes that presently certain groups are marginalized along the lines of ethnicity, religion, political belief and "other social status"; this last category includes drug users (as people subject to health-related stigmatization).

The text informs us that States are under obligation "to prohibit and eliminate discrimination on all grounds and ensure equality to all in relation to access to health care and the underlying determinants of health." (our emphasis). Moreover, "Considering health as a human right requires specific attention to different individuals and groups of individuals in society, in particular those living in vulnerable situations. Similarly, States should adopt positive measures to ensure that specific individuals and groups are not discriminated against."
Explicit support is also given for the role of UN agencies in countering discrimination in access to healthcare, and to the recognition that combatting HIV depends crucially on a commitment to such inclusive measures, and to human rights in general.

We hope that you have found the second edition of UNGASS News to be both informative and helpful to your work in various parts of the world. The next issue is due to appear at the end of September 2008, and will include a report back from the demand reduction working group, and preparations for the intersessional phase of the process.
hat tip to IDCP.INFO

Blair Anderson

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Saturday, August 02, 2008

Drug ban will fuel gang black market - warning

Jim Anderton, former Deputy Prime Minister of ...Hon. Jim Anderton, former
Deputy Prime Minister
and current Associate Minister
of Health, popularily known as
NZ's 'Drug Czar'.
The banning of BZP party pills was "a sham" based on unreliable research and will feed a black market headed by drug-running gangs, a criminal law professor says. (By KERRY WILLIAMSON - The Press Friday, 01 August 2008 )

In an article in the New Zealand Law Journal - titled The Great BZP Hoax - Otago University professor Kevin Dawkins accuses the Government of rushing through legislation to ban BZP, ignoring regulatory measures that could have curbed rampant use of the drug.
He calls the Misuse of Drugs (Classification of BZP) Amendment Act, passed on April 1, "legislative folly" and writes that the BZP ban will push the drug underground and expose users to other drugs such as P and ecstasy.

"Since prohibition cannot repeal the law of supply and demand, those who prefer to continue using BZP will be forced into the black market and the arms of the gangs," he says.

Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton - who dismissed Professor Dawkins' article as "careless" - pushed through the BZP ban after a recommendation from an expert advisory committee on drugs. The research showed the pills caused migraines, hallucinations, vomiting, confusion, seizures and insomnia.

The ban came after regulatory measures were considered, including restrictions on dosages, labelling, points of sale, and advertising.

Professor Dawkins said those regulations were simply "a stalking horse" for prohibition.
"Not to have implemented the regulatory regime for BZP is a gross deception in itself," he writes in the Law Journal. "But to have jettisoned regulation in favour of prohibition aggravates the hoax."

He attacks the research used to support the ban, saying it was based on "unpublished, unreplicated and unreliable research, potentially compromised by conflicts of interest".
Mr Anderton said the BZP ban was implemented after "carefully weighing all the evidence I could". (that Anderton paid for and presented to the Expert Advisory Committee now overpopulated with justice, police, corrections, border control and other prohibitory vested interests, the very committe then Minister of Health, now Minister of Police, Hon Annette King said would 'take the politics out of drug policy'. Yeah Right! /Blair)

He said Professsor Dawkins had a "long record" of advocating drug law liberalisation. (so what!)
"The evidence told me very clearly that the drug had enough potential to cause harm that it could be banned," he said. (and alcohol doesnt?)

Mr Anderton said there was little evidence that banning BZP had turned users toward harder drugs.

Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell said he had questions about "the quality of some of the research" used to support a ban but that Mr Anderton "played a pretty straight bat" over party pills.

"I think [Professor Dawkins] is trying to find a conspiracy where there isn't one. I agree with him that there were a number of regulations put in place and they weren't enforced, and I think that's a real shame. But I disagree with his conclusion that there was a direct attempt by the minister to get his way."

Pity that the Press didnt take the opportunity to inquire into the larger 'legislative and public policy fraud' simmering behind the banning of BZP; the ommision of any discussion around the legislative framework for controlled availability; Class D.

That would have been the acid test to determine any Anderton agenda, or indeed if Bell 's opinion that 'this was about BZP' held water. / Blair Anderson

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Friday, August 01, 2008

Maxim/Business Round Table nails it

Maxim/Business Round Table nails it... and the implications for drug policy are?

Curiously Robert Sirico's visit follows MAXIM's hosting of eminent kiwi Law Professor Jeremy Waldron.

I particularly admire Waldron's discourse on disproportionate punishment, a matter highly relevant to international drug policy especially where the death penalty is applied. Seemingly the principle is forgotten when New Zealand Judges send medpot users 'down' for 5 months 'jail time' for possessing a couple of grams of weed 'just because they still growing'. /Blair

Listen to Waldron on "Parliamentary Recklessness"

Rev. Robert A.At a lecture, co-hosted by Maxim Institute and the [NZ] Business Roundtable, Father Robert Sirico (President of the US-based Acton Institute) discussed the role of social justice in a free society.

"Do we know who we are? I think that has to be the beginning question with regard to statism and social justice. I think we have to begin with the question of anthropology, if for no other reason than two facts: first, the human person is prior to the state. If we're going to understand what statism is, what the state is, we have to understand first that the human person is prior to the political arrangement. And the second fact that we have to keep in mind is that the state exists for man, and not man for the state."

By statism, I mean the presupposition that when confronted with human and social needs, the resort of first resort is the central government. That's what I take by statism. By social justice, I take my definition from the Catholic Catechism (though I believe the definition is broadly accessible to believers and non-believers alike) and so I quote: "Society ensures social justice by providing the conditions that allow associations and individuals to obtain their due."

"We ask the question of who we are with a sense of wonder. The very fact that we can wonder is itself an indication of our dignity: human beings have the ability to self reflect. We have the capacity of not merely to know, but to know that we know—and that there exists that which exceeds our knowledge. This capacity for transcendence takes place from within the reality of our corporal / physical dimension, which is the first and most obvious thing we know about ourselves and we see in others; that we are physical, we are material. We are located in time and space, but somehow sense that we are more than things. We are made up of a biological reality, to be sure, but we are not defined by that. We relate to the material world, and depend upon it, yet we do not ultimately discover our meaning from it ... because we transcend our material reality."
(end snip)

see: Statism vs Social Justice
Listen to "Statism vs Social Justice"

There is also an interview with Father Sirico in the New Zealand Herald

Blair Anderson
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