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

Friday, June 26, 2009

Support Global Drug Policy Reform: World Drug Day, 26 June

A field of opium poppies in Burma.Image via Wikipedia

Call to Action: Support Global Drug Policy Reform
World Drug Day, 26 June 2009

I. The War on Drugs has become a War on People.

As the United Nations brings worldwide attention to problems related to illicit drugs, we call for a new approach. In too many countries, the “war on drugs” has become a war on people. Millions of non-violent drug users face abuse and imprisonment, while they have no access to proper healthcare or effective treatment. Lowlevel traders and producers receive sentences disproportionate to their crimes and languish in prisons around the globe. Millions more face crop destruction and police harassment as they struggle to make ends meet, with few alternatives as the global economy falters. Meanwhile, the HIV epidemic gains pace.

II. Five Actions Today

After decades of policies that have failed to make our societies safer or healthier, and given overwhelming evidence which shows that criminalizing drugs is both counterproductive and highly destructive, we call on governments to:

  1. Focus on reducing the harms related to drug trade and use, such as making needle and syringe exchange programs widely available (NZ as worldwide AIDS/HEPC initiative).
  2. Decriminalize the possession of drugs for personal use. (NZ as worldwide "D" Classification)
  3. Ensure that evidence-based treatments for pain and addiction are widely available, including methadone and buprenorphine. (& Cannabis)
  4. Treat supporting farmers in moving away from coca or poppy cultivation as a development issue. (remove the subsidy of prohibition!)
  5. Comply fully with human rights obligations in any drug control measure, ensuring proportionality of penalties, abolishing the death penalty, and avoiding non-evidence-based forms of treatment.

III. Driving Away Drug Users Creates Public Health Disasters

Facing HIV/AIDS exhibitImage by John Gevers via Flickr

Nearly three decades into the global HIV epidemic, we reiterate that driving people who use drugs underground only makes the transmission of HIV and hepatitis more likely. The number of HIV infections due to injecting drug use is rising steadily. In parts of Eastern Europe and South-East Asia, this figure reaches 80%. As the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has said, “Forcing drug users to hide and denying them access to life-saving treatment and prevention services is creating a public health disaster. This happens even though the evidence from scientific and medical research on best practices and cost benefit analyses is overwhelmingly in favour of harm reduction programming....

The message is clear. It is time to be guided by light of science, not by the darkness of ignorance and fear.” Indeed, rather than a security-focused approach that costs roughly $100 billion per year worldwide, we need to look at this first and foremost through the lens of public health. In the blind effort to rid the world of drugs, 80% of cancer patients worldwide are denied access to opiate-based pain relief.

IV. Adopt a Humane Approach

A humane, compassionate approach to drug use based on harm reduction principles and respect for human rights is the most effective way to limit the negative impact of drug use, trade, and production. Scientific and medical research on best practices and cost benefit analyses overwhelmingly favors harm reduction programs, including needle exchange, drug substitution therapy, and condom distribution. We applaud countries who have already taken steps in this direction. Recently, both Germany and Switzerland have voted to make medical heroin available for chronically dependent opiate users and the new U.S. administration has come out in support of needle exchange. Ecuador pardoned thousands of drug ‘mules’

WASHINGTON - MARCH 19: Students with the group...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

imprisoned with disproportionate sentences and 80 Argentinean judges made a public call to reform their country’s drug laws. In order to stop the spiral of drug-related violence and disease intensifying across the globe, more countries must follow suit.

[See comments for the list of signatories)

Blair Anderson

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  • At 8:54 pm, June 30, 2009, Blogger Blair Anderson said…

    This Call to Action is supported by:
    International Organizations
    President Cardoso, Co-chair, Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy
    Michel Kazatchkine, Executive Director, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
    Massimo Barra, Vice-President, Standing Commission of Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement
    Kieran Daly, Executive Director, International Council of AIDS Service Organizations
    Balasz Denes, Executive Director, Hungarian Civil Liberties Union
    Gregg Gonzalves, International Treatment Preparedness Coalition
    Martin Jelsma, Drugs and Democracy program, Transnational Institute
    Craig McClure, Executive Director, International AIDS Society
    Dr. Robert Newman, International Center for Advancement of Addiction Treatment
    Professor Gerry Stimson, Executive Director, International Harm Reduction Association
    Raminta Stuikyte, Director, Eurasian Harm Reduction Network
    Carmen Tarrades, International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS
    Mike Trace, Chairman, International Drug Policy Consortium
    Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch and Daniel Wolfe, Open Society Institute
    National Organizations
    Zackie Ahmat, Deputy General-Secretary, Treatment Action Campaign, South Africa
    Dr.Apinun Aramrattana, MD, PhD, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine,
    Chiang Mai University, Thailand
    Patrizia Carrieri PhD, Researcher, French National Insitute for Health and Medical Research (INSERM),
    Rubem César Fernandes, Director, Viva Rio, Brazil
    Jacek Charmast, Chairman, Polish Drug Policy Network, Poland
    Professor John Nicholas Crofts, Nossal Institute for Global Health, University of Melbourne, Australia
    Aleksander Ciechanowicz, Director General, Humanitarian Action, St Petersburg Fund for Medical and
    Social Programs, Russia
    Dr. Marcus Day DSc, Director, Caribbean Drug & Alcohol Research Institute, Saint Lucia
    Clement Edwards, Director, Substance Abuse Advisory Council Secretariat of Saint Lucia
    Richard Elliott, Executive Director, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Canada
    Professor Pat O'Hare, Director, HIT, United Kingdom
    Hakima Himmich, Director, Association de Lutte Contre le SIDA, Morocco
    Professor Dr. Adeeba Kamarulzaman, President, Malaysian AIDS Council, Malaysia
    Sandra Kanck, Australian Parliamentary Group on Drug Law Reform, Australia
    Grażyna Konieczny, Chairperson, Social AIDS Committee, Poland
    Professor Joep M.A. Lange, Center for Poverty-related Communicable Diseases, Academic Medical Center,
    University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
    Prem K Limbu, President, National Users’ Network, Nepal
    Joesph Meharris, Manager, d'Oasis Drop in Centre, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
    Professor Daniel Mejia, Economics Department, University of the Andes, Colombia
    Phumi Mtetwa, Executive Director, Lesbian and Gay Equality Project, South Africa
    Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director, Drug Policy Alliance, United States
    Professor Aimé Charles Nicolas, University Hospital of Fort de France, Martinique
    Professor Wiktor Osiatyński, Poland
    Dr. Cristina Pimenta, Executive Director, Brazilian Interdisciplinary AIDS Association, Brazil
    Professor Carla Rossi, Director, Centre for Biostatistics and Bioinformatics of the University of Rome Tor
    Vergata, Italy
    Sebastian Saville, Executive Director, Release, United Kingdom
    Joel Simpson, Founding Co-Chairperson, Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination, Guyana
    Paisan Suwannawong, Director, Thai AIDS Treatment Action Group, Thailand
    Professor Pierre de Vos, Department of Public Law and Jurisprudence, Law Faculty, University of Western
    Cape, South Africa
    Professor Daniel Tarantola, School of Public Health and Community Medicine,
    University of New South Wales, Australia/France
    Dr. Alex Wodak, President, Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, Australia
    Wan Yanhai, Director, Beijing Aizhixing Institute, China


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