quote:Medicinal cannabis products to be legalised
Specialist doctors in the UK will be able to legally prescribe cannabis-derived medicinal products by autumn, the home secretary has announced.
Those that meet safety and quality standards are to be made legal for patients with an "exceptional clinical need", Sajid Javid said.
It follows high-profile cases involving children with severe epilepsy being denied access to cannabis oil.
Others forms of cannabis will remain illegal.
Mr Javid's decision was made after the chief medical officer for England, Prof Dame Sally Davies, and the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs said patients with certain medical conditions should be given access to the treatments.
Their advice was part of a review into medicinal cannabis launched by the home secretary following an outcry over Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley being denied access to cannabis oil.
The parents of the boys, who have rare forms of epilepsy, say it controls their seizures.
The Home Office recently granted them licences to access the treatments.
Mr Javid said: "Recent cases involving sick children made it clear to me that our position on cannabis-related medicinal products was not satisfactory.
"That is why we launched a review and set up an expert panel to advise on licence applications in exceptional circumstances.
"This will help patients with an exceptional clinical need but is in no way a first step to the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use."
Billy Caldwell's mother, Charlotte, said Mr Javid's announcement had been made on her son's 13th birthday.
"For the first time in months I'm almost lost for words, other than 'thank you Sajid Javid'," she said.
"Never has Billy received a better birthday present, and never from somebody so unexpected...
"But, crucially, my little boy Billy can now live a normal life with his mummy because of the simple ability to now administer a couple of drops a day of a long-maligned but entirely effective natural medication."
Cannabis is classed as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it is judged to have no therapeutic value but can be used for the purposes of research with a Home Office licence.
The decision by the Home Office will put certain cannabis-derived products into Schedule 2 - those that have a potential medical use - and will place them in the same category as cocaine and heroin, among other drugs.
The Department for Health and Social Care and the Medicines and Health products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will now develop a clear definition of what constitutes a cannabis-derived medicinal product so they can be rescheduled and prescribed, the Home Office said.
In the meantime, clinicians will still be able to apply to an independent expert panel on behalf of patients wishing to access these products.
The home secretary said licence fees for applications made to the panel will be waived, and those already granted will not be charged.
The home secretary's decision was welcomed by campaigners and health experts.
Donna Kinnair, from the Royal College of Nursing, said the decision was "very welcome".
Dr Tom Freeman, senior academic fellow at King's College London, said Mr Javid's decision would have a "substantial impact on research by facilitating the development of safer and more effective medicines".
Former justice minister Sir Mike Penning, who was among those appealing for Alfie Dingley to be given a special licence for medicinal cannabis, welcomed the announcement but said there were still unanswered questions about which treatments would be rescheduled.
"Any move to restrict medical cannabis in the UK to a very narrow range of derived products, each requiring full pharmaceutical trials, thereby blocking out the many products available overseas, will lead to great disappointment and be a missed opportunity."
quote:Synthetic cannabis deaths spike in New Zealand, igniting legalisation debate
Medics say they are called to dozens of overdoses from drug that is cheaper and more addictive than natural product
The number of fatal overdoses from synthetic cannabis use has soared in New Zealand, going from two deaths in five years to 45 in 12 months.
The emergency St John ambulance services said it received about 30 call-outs a week relating to synthetic cannabis overdoses. The drug could be bought in corner stores very cheaply before it was outlawed in 2014.
New Zealand’s two major political parties have proposed bills to legalise medicinal cannabis, recognising a correlation between the spike in synthetic cannabis deaths and the expense and illegality of natural cannabis.
The executive director of the Drug Foundation Ross Bell said legalising natural cannabis would go a long way to curbing people’s use of synthetic cannabis, which was far more potent, addictive and dangerous. “Let’s legalise natural cannabis to get rid of synthetic stuff,” Bell told Radio NZ.
Prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s Labour party has long supported legalising cannabis for medicinal use, and in a shock move this week the conservative opposition National party proposed its own bill to legalise the drug, despite opposing legalisation for more than a decade.
The National party’s medicinal marijuana bill proposes that medicinal cannabis products be approved in the same way a medicine is approved by regulator Medsafe, that medical practitioners should decide who has access to the drug, that cultivators and manufacturers must be licensed and products will be pharmacist-only medicine.
Opposition leader Simon Bridges said: “New Zealanders deserve greater access to high-quality medicinal cannabis products to ease their suffering but we must have the right regulatory and legislative controls in place.”
Green MP Chl÷e Swarbrick’s bill on legalising medicinal marijuana failed on its first reading in January, but as part of its coalition deal with Labour, Ardern has promised she will hold a referendum on legalising recreational marijuana use before the end of 2020. “I’ve always been very vocal about the fact that I do not believe people should be imprisoned for the personal use of cannabis,” said Ardern.
“On the flip-side, I also have concerns around young people accessing a product which can clearly do harm and damage to them.”
terwijl de primaire verantwoordelijkheid ligt bij het verbod op drugs en dus bij politici en bestuurders zoals hij.quote:Middle-class cocaine use fuels London's rising violence, says Sadiq Khan
Mayor says action needed against party-goers who buy drug as well as gang members
quote:Volgens de ombudsman is het probleem niet zomaar op te lossen door meer agenten en handhavers in te zetten. "Wat ik zie is dat de handhavers die er zijn, vreselijk hun best doen. Maar het probleem is groter dan ze aankunnen."
"Ze hebben ook niet de goede bevoegdheden om op te treden. Handhavers worden nu in hun gezicht uitgelachen", zei Zuurmond. "En dan zijn er zomaar zestig tot zeventig dealers in zo'n gebied die daar best heel veel geld staan te verdienen. En dat terwijl we met elkaar hebben afgesproken dat dat niet mag."
quote:President Santos on the Drug War: "The Cure Has Been Worse Than the Disease"
The outgoing president of Colombia takes a frank look at the failed "War on Drugs" and maps a way forward.
More than a century ago, in 1912, representatives from countries around the world signed the International Opium Convention, aiming to curb the abuse of opium, cocaine and other illicit substances. Fifty years later, in 1961, the United Nations adopted the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, establishing a global framework for the control and prohibition of psychoactive substances. In 1971, President Richard Nixon declared a War on Drugs.
After more than 106 years of head-on battle, we must now assess, with brutal honesty, where we stand. The conclusion will not be positive. Drugs continue to be one of the main challenges facing societies throughout the world. An effective policy tonight illicit drugs should have led to a reduction in trafficking and use. Yet data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) World Drug Report show that between 2006 and 2015, worldwide consumption by adults remained stable.
High levels of consumption, of course, have an effect on public health. In 2015, we lost 28 million years of healthy life to disabilities and premature deaths caused by the abuse of illicit substances, according to UNODC estimates.
But we are not only losing the war on the public health front. U.S. law enforcement agencies have arrested at least 1.4 million people for drug violations annually since 1997. But despite these high numbers, the availability of drugs on the streets has not diminished. Criminal organizations wreak violence and terror and represent a threat to individual security, national security and even global security. Also, drug-trafficking mafias consistently seek to corrupt state institutions and democracy.
In the world, and particularly in Colombia, we invest billions of dollars a year chasing the dream of a drug-free world. In the last 10 years, for example, we have eradicated about 2.5 million acres of coca through aerial and manual spraying. Still, according to UNODC statistics for 2016, 361,000 acres remain under cultivation. Colombian authorities have made more than 1 million drug seizures since 1993. While such figures demonstrate Colombia’s efforts to fight drug trafficking, they also show we’re on a stationary bicycle, spinning our wheels instead of moving forward.
The policy prescription we have used for years, based mainly on punitive repression, has not solved the problem. We must look for an alternative course of treatment. We cannot insist on a strategy that focuses on repression of small peasant producers and consumers — the weakest links in the drug trafficking chain.
We need a global drug policy free of prejudice, based instead on empirical evidence and, above all, recognition that there will always be drug users. Drug use should be a matter of public health, not law enforcement. Society wins when it sends addicts to rehabilitation and loses when it locks them in prison.
At the 2016 Special Session of the U.N. General Assembly on drugs (the result of a proposal by Colombia), some steps were taken in the right direction. The outcome document included a section on respect for human rights as a component of drug policies. We also managed to broaden the focus on public health through prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of drug users, and strengthened the members’ autonomy to apply the agreement according to their country’s particular circumstances.
Despite these advances, we are still far from reaching a new global consensus to frame the problem and devise global solutions and goals.
The drug problem must be approached from a comprehensive perspective that addresses individual links of the supply chain separately. Enforcement must focus on the criminal organizations that profit from drug trafficking and are the leading engines of violence. We must also act decisively against the trafficking of supplies and precursor chemicals for drug production, and against money laundering as well.
As for the weakest links in the chain – small producers and drug users – we must offer solutions based on respect for human rights. We must provide the former with substitution options and invest in public services that change the conditions incentivizing them to produce illicit crops. For the latter we must implement drug use prevention campaigns and provide rehabilitation programs.
In Colombia, peace with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) offers us a unique opportunity to overcome the illicit crops problem structurally. In the past, fumigated areas were immediately replanted, since they were under FARC protection and lacked a government presence. Now that the conflict is over, the state is establishing a permanent presence, offering legal opportunities for alternative forms of development as well as public goods and services.
In collaboration with the United States, we are advancing a plan to combine eradication and substitution, aiming to halve coca crops in five years. In the last year we have managed to add more than 62,000 families to the Voluntary Crop Substitution Program. Crop substitution is much more difficult than crop destruction, but it is the only route to a lasting solution that is in line with alternative development and environmental protection imperatives. We also maintain an aggressive program of forced eradication. In the last year and a half, we have manually eradicated close to 173,000 acres of coca.
We have not let down our guard in our fight against the criminal organizations that control the drug business. In 2017 alone, we seized record figures of cocaine (about 480 tons) and heroin (957 pounds).
Colombia will continue to fight this scourge with determination. For us, it has been – and continues to be – a matter of national security.
The War on Drugs has taken too many lives: The cure has been worse than the disease. In Colombia, we have paid a very high price for it, perhaps the highest of any nation.
The time has come for the world to take a moment of sober reflection. We must study, seriously and rigorously, the efforts that have been made around the world to regulate the drug trade, in order to learn from our successes, as well as our difficulties and failures.
It is time to accept the reality that as long as there are drug users there will be drug suppliers – and that there will always be drug users.
The solution is not so simple as advocating for the legalization of drugs. Nor will it come from a debate about who is solely responsible. Under the principles of common and shared responsibility that we adopted decades ago, we all are. Those who say this is solely a problem of drug-producing countries are mistaken.
It is time we talk about responsible government regulation, look for ways to cut off the drug mafias’ air supply, and tackle the problems of drug use with greater resources for prevention, care and harm reduction with regard to public health and the social fabric.
This reflection must be global in scope in order to be effective. It must also be broad, including participation not only of governments but also of academia and civil society. It must reach beyond law enforcement and judicial authorities and involve experts in public health, economists and educators, among other disciplines.
But above all, it must be an innovative, intelligent reflection based on facts. Reaching a consensus – a new, global consensus – that is more balanced, more effective and more humane is essential if we are to face this challenge of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
quote:The police are losing the war against London's illegal rave scene
It’s one o’clock in the morning in a dimly lit basement beneath an office block on Hackney Road and the rhythmic wailing of the building’s fire alarm is discordantly mingling with the flickering drums and grinding bass of Ed Rush and Optical’s 1998 dark drum and bass classic, 'Alien Girl'.
At the edge of the crowd that has started to mass in front of a sprawling soundsystem, cigarette smoke is mingling with paint fumes as a punk girl wearing a black tutu rapidly spray paints on one of the basement walls.
As the siren blares out a raver carrying a torch and wearing a camouflage jacket walks methodically through the tangle of people on the dancefloor, stopping at certain points to gaffer-tape black bin sacks over the smoke detectors that are dotted across the low ceiling of the basement.
Seconds after the final smoke detector is taped up the alarm abruptly cuts out, leaving the bass to swirl through the smoke and paint fumes uninterrupted.
Tonight, this empty four-storey building has been taken over by some of London’s most active free party soundsystems, becoming a frontline in the city’s war on, what the police call, “unlicensed music events”.
Over the last decade, as licensing requirements in the capital have become more onerous and the number of legitimate nightclubs in London has halved, illegal raves have seen a renaissance.
The number of unlicensed parties in London nearly doubled between 2016 and 2017, according to data collected by SCO-36, a Metropolitan Police intelligence unit.
As illegal raves have proliferated, the Met has increasingly associated them with public order and drug offences and allocated more resources to prevent them from happening. In March, the Metropolitan Police released a statement saying it had “renewed” its focus on unlicensed music events over recent years “following the deaths of young people and serious disorder”.
This followed statements from Detective Chief Inspector John Oldham, the Head of Crime at the Met’s Public Order Command, who said his police force had changed its tactics regarding unlicensed music events in 2015, and started to prioritise the surveillance of suspected organisers.
Covert tools now used by the Met’s Public Order Command include online monitoring and the use of intelligence collection officers that are sent into venues. Speaking in January, Oldham said he expected that the ongoing crackdown would lead to a significant decline in illegal raves over 2018.
“I think that we’re at the cusp of having a drastic effect on them in terms of turning the corner and making the numbers go down,” he said.
But, so far, this hasn’t happened.
About an hour after the location of the party is released, the trickle of people pouring in through the gap in the gate turns into a flood.
On Hackney Road, small groups assemble in the streets and lock bicycles to railings before following the sound of thumping bass down a back street and, eventually, through a gap in some chained gates into the building’s car park.
Inside the yard a group of people are milling around next to a loading bay – chatting and smoking cigarettes. Others form part of a rapidly expanding queue to the building’s narrow doorway.
One girl in a black and white checked dress is wearing a plastic tiara in honour of the royal wedding, which concluded just 12 hours before and saw film stars and aristocracy pile into an ancient building where they listened to Bach, Schubert, and FaurÚ.
“Did you watch the royal wedding?” she asks as she stands in the queue. “Now it’s time for a different kind of British tradition.”
At the door a fiver is handed over and pink permanent marker is scribbled onto each person’s hand as they enter. Within minutes, the cold, empty office block becomes a sweaty pit – with a gridlocked throng of revellers clutching balloons crushing into the staircase that leads to the basement.
The crowd ranges from shell suit-wearing full-time squatters with asymmetrical haircuts to bearded accountants and dreadlocked virtual reality tech entrepreneurs.
Ancient, mohawked speed freaks mingle with vegans in hemp robes. There are men wearing hoop earrings and gold-trimmed sportswear. Anarchists, hippies, transvestites, and young, spray can-toting teenagers.
All are united by one thing: the desire to party without being constrained by the rules laid down by a club, a licensing body, or the law.
As the building starts to fill up with people and the party moves up a gear, on the ground floor speakers start to be unloaded from a white van and another rig is assembled.
This is raving stripped down to its most basic elements: big soundsystems, minimal lighting, no searches at the door, no ID checks, no fixed set times, no closing time, and no maximum capacity.
Instead of expensive drinks, cans of beer and balloons of nitrous oxide, pumped straight from a large blue cylinder, are being sold for two pounds each at a makeshift bar.
Instead of bouncers, squat dogs trot about, winding their way through people’s legs. Instead of toilets, traffic cones have been wedged upside down into holes in the concrete floor in an area next to the bar that has been partitioned off with a shoulder-high piece of wooden fence.
Above the cones '"Ladies Toilets” has been scrawled on the wall in spray paint. Despite the intentions of the Metropolitan Police, 2018 has been studded by scores of anarchic parties like this in London – from low key events, discreetly tucked away in dilapidated industrial estates to outdoor raves in the city’s rural nooks.
There have also been audacious building hijackings, like when rave crews took over the abandoned Coronet Theatre in late January, putting on a party for hundreds of people as police vehicles lined the roads outside.
Nearly all of these parties have gone off without any problems, but not every hastily arranged rave in an abandoned building ends well.
The lack of security at some illegal parties makes them vulnerable to gangs that are willing to use violence to make fast money, and parties can be marred by tragic deaths from drug overdoses. Last Halloween two people were shot when gunmen wearing masks let off semi-automatic weapons at an illegal party in Leyton, and over the course of 2014 two teenage boys died after taking drugs at separate unlicensed raves in London.
The Met says incidents like these justify its ongoing crackdown, but free party crews argue there are just as many issues with drugs and violence at licensed music events, and heavy-handed police tactics often cause more problems than they solve.
In November 2015, when the Met first started to harden its stance against squat parties, one instalment of the notorious Scumoween raves resulted in pitched battles between partygoers and police officers in Lambeth.
A total of 26 officers and a police dog were hurt in the clashes and 54 people were arrested.
Afterwards, both the free party crews and the police blamed each other for the rioting, with ravers saying the police were too aggressive and unwilling to negotiate a resolution. The police complained of being attacked and taunted by the crowd.
The investigation into the 2015 Scumoween cost the Met more than half a million pounds, according to information provided to Mixmag under freedom of information laws. Those behind some of the more brazen illegal parties say the police effort to clampdown on London’s rave renaissance is a futile waste of public resources.
“The police may say they are conducting 'intelligence-led operations' - but the truth is they really don’t have a clue what they are dealing with,” says a member of one of the most active London free party crews, who asked to be referred to as Dave, though this is not his real name.
“One of the big mistakes the police make is that they always want to know who ‘the organiser’ is.
“Really, there is no single organiser at these parties. They don’t understand just how random it is. It’s not like we have a rigid plan. There’s a lot of chance involved.”
Dave says his crew doesn’t charge people to get into parties unless they are collecting funds for a cause.
On the night of the party in the Hackney office block money is being raised for the Brufut Education Project, a scheme to provide education to children in Gambia that has been supported by several rigs in the London freeparty scene since 2010.
“We’re not trying to make money,” says Dave.
“We don’t want a fight and we don’t want to cause any trouble. All we want to do is have a good time, take drugs, and listen to music.”
The world of legitimate clubbing and promotion has been turned on its head by the rise of social media, with marketing teams doing everything possible to generate viral advertising campaigns and “Instagenic” moments.
But in the free party scene, much has remained the same since the late eighties, when the likes of Carl Cox and Paul Oakenfold were making a name for themselves at rural raves on the outskirts of London.
Most illegal parties still use the last-minute release of the location via a voicemail message as a tactic to try and stop the police from shutting the party down in its early stages – allowing the rave to reach a size where the police risk prompting a riot if they try to shut it down.
“Promoters at Printworks or Fabric want the maximum number of people seeing details of their party on Facebook and Instagram,” says a member of one crew.
“For us it’s the opposite – it’s offline and it’s about friends of friends. It’s the most organic reach you’ll ever get.”
Part of the reason that London is seeing surging demand for illegal parties is down to simple economics, according to the free party veteran and acid techno innovator Chris Liberator.
"Working people can’t buy homes. They've got no foothold in any part of London’s environment whatsoever - and very little cultural representation."
Chris, who released the tongue-in-cheek squat party anthem One Night In Hackney in collaboration with Dave The Drummer in 2004, says illegal parties can be seen as a way for people to take back part of the city and make it their own - even if it is just for one night.
"Cultural expression does not work within a strict set of rules. At most big clubs now you have to jump through hoops to get in. At some you literally have to bring your passport.
"There are people in their fifties who have been raving for 30 years and they don’t want to be literally humiliated when they go out.
"This is not the Handmaid’s Tale or some dystopian future. This is a normal London night out. We shouldn’t have to go through all this kind of stuff.
"I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be health and safety rules. I’m just saying what people feel and a lot of people do not want to play, all the time, by a set of rules that pretty much take the fun out of everything."
As the rave spirals into the early morning the pounding techno in the basement disintegrates into a scattering of broken beats and synth lines as the French breakcore DJ Stazma The Junglechrist opens his set with the track Fluent from his ‘Fluorhydrique’ EP, which is set to be released on the Houston-based label Defunkt Records. Gradually, Stazma drags the rave into a new dark and chaotic phase, ushering in a chopped-up, reconfigured sprawl of drum patterns and juddering bass sounds.
Upstairs, on the ground floor, a different kind of chaos is unfolding as a mishmash of jazz and Afrobeat oddities are played out. The psychedelic '70s Soviet jazz of Aleksandr Zatsepin smoothly slides into the disco flute riffing of Jimi Tenor and funk drumming of Tony Allen, which in turn transitions into ‘Juan Pablo’ by South London’s new age jazz pioneers Ezra Collective.
The growing strength and diversity of London’s illegal rave scene is partly being driven by higher costs and stricter rules at mainstream clubs, according to Tommy, a member of the collective Broken Note.
“London is becoming less and less available for any promoters to do anything,” he says.
“Forget making a profit – you’ll be lucky if you don’t lose money on renting a venue because of all the overheads and costs involved. What that has resulted in is an incredibly strong underground art and music scene.”
Broken Note’s sound is a relentlessly heavy mishmash of dubstep, drum ‘n’ bass, techno, metal, and punk rock.
It was originally forged in the squat parties of Hackney Wick 13 years ago and its members have witnessed London’s free party scene fluctuate over the years.
“When we first came into the scene there was a lot of techno guys around like Dave The Drummer and Chris Liberator,” he says.
“We kind of picked up where they left off ethos and format-wise, but it's a new sound for a new generation.”
Over the last few years Broken Note has taken its sound to clubs and festivals in the US, South America, Australia, Japan and Thailand.
“We’ve played all over the world at this point, but I feel that the core of what keeps us on track is remembering why we do it and how we started,” says Tommy.
“It’s never been about making money. We always try to go into the studio with the same mentality as if we are taking a rig into a warehouse."
Manchester-based DJ and producer Gore Tech manages the label Exe Project and says it’s the unpredictability that keeps him coming back to the London freeparty scene, despite the risk of police raids and occasional loss of equipment.
“I know lifelong ravers that have been completely put off the scene after a single night when it all goes wrong,” he says. “It can be terrifying – people running everywhere and police sending in dogs.
“But I still find it exciting to breathe life into these huge structures that are otherwise abandoned.
“In a club often everything sounds great and the DJ will usually walk away happy with the engineering, but when you are in a building that isn’t actually designed for music you get some incredible, unexpected effects,” he says.
“You can listen to a DJ perform on a massive sound system four rooms away and hear the reverberation of the asbestos Artex roof. It becomes very environmental.”
As pale morning light drifts though the windows on the ground floor, the jazz DJ is replaced by Oliotronix, a female Estonian DJ-producer dressed in NASA overalls with her entire face painted bright blue who proceeds to bombard the room with pounding 8-bit techno via a bastardised Gameboy with enhanced bass and a 3.5mm line out socket soldered into it.
Speaking after the party, Stazma says London’s illegal parties often give opportunities to uncompromising producers and DJs that are deemed uncommercial by licensed nightclubs and venues.
“The spirit at these parties is unique,” he says. “What I like about the English guys, especially the free party crews in London, is that they come to rave hard to super weird music.
“Places like this, where making money is not the main objective, need to exist for musical progression to occur – and this underground experimentation paves the way for changes in more mainstream music scenes.”
“There is a freedom you rarely experience in London’s legitimate clubs,” she says. “You’ve got this huge diverse audience - all harmoniously working together - bringing their art, bringing their sound system, their time, their skills, their effort.
“It’s a kind of cooperation that is unseen in most of mainstream society”
When the police arrive, at around 9am, dozens of ravers are lounging around in the car park in the morning sun.
While the officers negotiate with a small group at the gate they are generally ignored by the huddled groups of smokers and drinkers that fill the yard – some sitting on battered armchairs that have been fished out of a nearby skip.
After around 40-minutes at the gates the police drive away. It seems like a deal has been brokered and the, now very hot and sweaty, party in the basement is free to carry on without interruption.
Outside, conversations range wildly from deranged nonsense, to discussions on the pros and cons of playing jazz at a squat rave, to reminiscences about other parties – an oral history of the anarchic underbelly of the UK’s electronic music scene.
Castlemorton Common. Reclaim The Streets. Keith from Desert Storm.
“Rigs come and go, but the free party scene is doing ok,” mulls one squatter as he sits in the sunshine, patting Zeus, a sociable Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross.
“Every time a law is introduced or the police change their tactics it just burrows a bit deeper underground.”
Wil Crisp is a freelance journalist, follow him on Twitter
quote:Too many people are dying. New Zealand needs to talk about decriminalising drugs
The nation’s drug laws are 40 years old and have done little to solve the problem, writes a Green Party MP
The status quo approach to drug policy is broken. I refuse to accept that we’re helplessly and cluelessly bound to continue repeating past mistakes. It’s past time to end the war on drugs, and the pain and suffering associated with it, in favour of an evidence-based approach.
Politicians have it within their power to do so, and the people they represent have every right to be calling for urgent, cross-party action.
This week, New Zealand’s chief coroner released the information that in the past twelve months, up to 45 people in this country have died as a result of synthetic cannabis.
There’s a number of ways to respond to that fact, but I hope the starting point for many is a human response: a sense of loss. These are unnecessary deaths.
We do not know the details yet – there is a substantive coroner’s report on the way – but if the previous reports of deaths of the same nature are anything to go by, these people will be among the most vulnerable in our society.
There will be an important spate of commentary following this news, most of which will call on politicians to do “something”, and I think it’s time we talked frankly about what that something should be.
New Zealand’s Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 is over 40 years old. It sets out the penalties and punishments for production, supply, and possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia.
Yet, despite the deemed intention, the approach laid out in the Act has done little to decrease the misuse of drugs. In fact, the New Zealand Law Commission’s thorough 2010 report on controlling and regulating drugs demonstrated drug use stats have remained largely unmoved.
So what is it we, as a society, want politicians to do?
There will be many who’ve experienced loss and heartache as a result of drug consumption. There will be many who are angry. Many will be asking for us to just get rid of the damn things.
But how do we get rid of something that’s plagued society, arguable since its modern conception?
Without a shadow of a doubt, I can foresee the beating of the drum for harsher penalties. But when we’ve had 40 years of penalties and punishment, how could we at all follow the logic that more of the same will produce a different result?
Despite all of our best efforts, and even in the toughest jurisdictions in the world, drugs have not gone away. They’re not going to. No amount of punishment is going to make that happen.
So how do we deal with the fact that we live in a world where drugs exist? Do we genuinely want to reduce harm, or do we want to continue to beating the problem with a blunt and broken instrument?
There has to be a point at which we say enough is enough. There are absolutely no excuses, beyond comfort or cowardice, for resorting to tired tropes and rhetoric and giving into the irrationality of the “war on drugs” when it is literally costing people’s lives.
This “war” has done the opposite of eradicate drugs. It’s pushed the problem into the shadows, where it has become more complicated, more harmful, and more difficult to deal with. Who’s going to stick their hand up and ask for help when they risk going away in handcuffs?
More than fifteen years ago Portugal decriminalised all personal possession and consumption of all illicit substances. People were no longer locked up for drugs, but referred to health and addiction services. Overdose deaths, drug-related crime, problematic drug use, and of course incarceration rates have all decreased.
The evidence is there. It’s not only strong, but has a 17-year track record. Portugal is the only country in the world so far to have abandoned the archaic punitive approach, meanwhile increasing support for abuse and addiction and has seen massive, substantive, and sustainable drug harm reduction.
It’s time for New Zealand to have the necessary, bold conversation focused on genuinely ending drug harm in our country. Let’s ground that conversation in evidence. Let’s look at what works.
Moral crusades are costing lives. Knee-jerk penalisation not only costs silly amounts of money, it multiplies the problem.
So what are we waiting for? If we want to do “something”, it’s past time we did the something that works.
Chl÷e Swarbrick is a member of parliament for the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand. She is the party’s Sensible Drug Law Reform spokesperson.
SPOILEROm spoilers te kunnen lezen moet je zijn ingelogd. Je moet je daarvoor eerst gratis Registreren. Ook kun je spoilers niet lezen als je een ban hebt.Haha! Ze heet Dick ook nogquote:Middle-class cocaine users are hypocrites, says Met chief
Cressida Dick criticises those with progressive politics whose drug use fuels violencequote:The Metropolitan police commissioner has criticised hypocritical middle-class cocaine users who care about fair trade and organic food, but who she said have been fuelling the drug trade.
Cocaine was used by an estimated 875,000 people in 2017-18 according to the latest crime survey for England and Wales – the highest number in a decade and a 15% year-on-year rise.
Cressida Dick, the UK’s most senior police chief, said: “There is this challenge that there are a whole group of middle-class – or whatever you want to call them – people who will sit round … happily think about global warming and fair trade, and environmental protection and all sorts of things, organic food, but think there is no harm in taking a bit of cocaine. Well, there is; there’s misery throughout the supply chain.”
Use of cocaine in England and Wales is higher than at any point in the past 10 years and the EU drugs agency has said purity of street cocaine is also at its highest level in a decade.
The Tottenham MP, David Lammy, citing reports from Interpol and Europol, has said the white middle-class market for cocaine was booming at the same time that many of the killings were being fuelled by an increase in the movement of drugs, particularly the class A substance.
John Coles, head of special operations at the National Crime Agency, has said gangs’ drug activities “are in part fuelling the surge in violent crime in London.”
There has been a sharp rise in the number of arrests of teenagers for drug dealing, prompting concern about young people being groomed to work as drug mules in county lines operations.
Dick described the cocaine problem in the capital as one “which goes well beyond the police” with “high demand ... causing many of the challenges”.
At the other end of the social spectrum she said the Met has been raiding crack houses and her officers were applauded on an estate after arresting suspected drug dealers a fortnight ago.
In another example of the effect on Londoners’ lives, she said: “I met a little girl the other day who was saying ‘I feel concerned by ... the paraphernalia’, she didn’t actually use that word, but, ‘the paraphernalia of drug dealing I get in my staircase’.”
Her words echoed those of the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, last week. He criticised people who took cocaine at “middle-class parties” believing it to be a victimless crime.
In May, the justice secretary, David Gauke, said middle-class people who used cocaine “should feel a degree of guilt and responsibility” when they saw stories of teenagers being murdered in Hackney, east London.
Drugs and gangs have been behind the spate of “street homicides” in London that have mainly involved young people, Dick said. There have already been 87 homicides this year, compared with 117 in the whole of last year.
Recently published national statistics showed a surge in serious offences such as murder, manslaughter and stabbings, helping to fuel concerns about violent crime. However, Dick said the picture was stabilising.
“What I can report is that in the last several weeks, we have seen the rates of many categories of violent crime, I would describe as beginning to stabilise,” she said. “I mean by that they are definitely not increasing, they are indeed flattening, and in some categories they are reducing.”
Dick said there had been “continuous reductions” in scooter-enabled crime since last summer – although there was a rise which she described as a “blip” in June – and that knife crime involving under-25s was starting to fall.
There had only been one “street homicide” in July, Dick said: 18-year-old Latwaan Griffiths died of stab wounds after being dropped off at hospital in Camberwell, south London, by a moped rider.
“In the first five months of 2018 we saw on average around 15 homicides per month, for June and July the average was around six a month,” she said.
Dick made violent crime her priority when she became commissioner. Since she set up the violent crime task force, consisting of more than 150 officers, with ú15m of funding from Khan, in April, it has made more than 500 arrests and taken more than 200 knives and offensive weapons and13 firearms off the streets.
Det Supt Sean Yates from the task force said police officers could not solve the problem alone, particularly with children being pulled into violence at a younger age.
“There should be conversations had in schools, not necessarily by police officers but by teachers with their children. The teacher understands the class dynamic,” he said.
“We’ve seen an explosion in social media, all young children now have got phones. It’s not unknown for seven or eight-year-old children to have phones. They are being exposed to violent incidents intentionally or not because they’re viewing this on social media.
“The teacher knows the classrooms better than any police officer would, and they can have those conversations one-to-one with children about what they might be being exposed to, what they’re witnessing, or if they’re peripherally being drawn into it.”
Dick said the Met had conducted more than 10,000 weapon sweeps since April, yielding 1,200 knives, 140 firearms and 450 other offensive weapons. She said 74 people had been charged and 123 arrested in relation to the 87 homicides this year.
Dick defended stop and search, which is controversial for its disproportionate use against black people, saying it had led to more than 200 of the arrests made by the task force.
[ Bericht 1% gewijzigd door Papierversnipperaar op 31-07-2018 18:36:20 ]
quote:Dodelijke explosie Arnhem veroorzaakt door drugs
De explosie in een flat in Arnhem die deze week aan twee mannen het leven kostte, is ontstaan door een chemische reactie bij de verwerking van drugs. Er werd al vermoed dat drugs de oorzaak waren en onderzoek door de politie heeft dat bevestigd.
Bij de ontploffing en de daaropvolgende brand in de flat in Arnhem-Zuid raakten maandagavond drie mannen zwaargewond. Een van hen werd bij buren onder de douche gezet, een tweede rende de sloot in. Beiden overleden later in het ziekenhuis. De derde betrokkene ging ervandoor, maar werd de volgende ochtend ergens anders in Arnhem gevonden.
Een van de twee doden is de 33-jarige bewoner van het appartement. Het andere slachtoffer is nog niet ge´dentificeerd. Ook van de zwaargewonde man is nog geen identiteit bekend. Vermoedelijk komen zij uit het buitenland, waardoor de identificatie langer gaat duren. De zwaargewonde man is nog niet verhoord.
De politie heeft gisteren bij de flat twee auto's in beslag genomen. Een van de voertuigen had volgens Omroep Gelderland een Frans kenteken.
Het appartement is tijdens het politieonderzoek bewaakt door een eenheid die bestaat uit speciaal getrainde agenten met automatische wapens. De politie wilde op die manier voorkomen dat anderen drugs zouden meenemen.
quote:Georgia Becomes First Former Soviet Country to Legalize Marijuana Consumption
The country of Georgia has legalized the consumption of marijuana, making it the first former member of the now-defunct Soviet Union to do so.
In a Monday ruling, the nation’s constitutional court ruled that punishing an individual for using cannabis restricts an individual’s freedom as the plant can only potentially cause harm to the user, Radio Free Europe reported. The court ruled that punishing a person for using pot will only be allowed if their actions put a third party at risk. Cultivation and selling will remain a punishable offense, however.
Speaking to reporters after the ruling, legalization campaigner Zurab Japaridze, who filed the suit with the top court, hailed the decision as making Georgia “a freer country.”
"I would like to congratulate everybody on the decision made by the Constitutional Court,” Japaridze said, according to local English-language newspaper Georgia Today. “Administrative punishment for consumption of marijuana was revoked by the Constitutional Court, which means that consumption of marijuana in Georgia is now legal," he explained.
The decision comes after the same court last November ruled to decriminalize consumption of marijuana. The country’s Criminal Code previously allowed for individuals to be punished for repeatedly using cannabis and possessing more than 70 grams of the dried plant.
While campaigners and opposition politicians, who have campaigned for legalization for several years, welcomed the legalization as a major victory, ruling party officials decried the decision.
“I do not agree with the decision of the Constitutional Court,” said Akaki Zoidze, chair of the healthcare committee in Georgia’s parliament, according to local media. “Marijuana consumption should be allowed only for medical purposes…our aim was not to make marijuana accessible for everyone but to reduce the number of drug-addicts.”
Georgia now joins a growing number of countries around the world that have taken steps to legalize and regulate cannabis.
Back in 2013, Uruguay became the first country in the world to decide to legalize and regulate the plant for recreational use. Cultivation, buying and selling are also legal, although closely regulated by the South American nation’s government. In June, the Parliament of Canada passed legislation that will see recreational marijuana legalized by October, also allowing for the regulation of cultivation and sales. Many other countries have moved to decriminalize cannabis for personal use as well.
Although pot remains completely illegal at the federal level in the U.S., nine states have moved to legalize the plant for recreational use, while over 30 have done so for medical purposes. With the majority of Republicans and Democrats supporting legalization, Canada’s decision to legalize, and with southern neighbor Mexico exploring legalization as well, federal legalization will likely come soon.
Georgia, a former Soviet Union member that has recently sought to improve ties with Moscow, has now moved to legalize marijuana, but Russia remains a staunch opponent to global legalization efforts. Following Ottawa’s June decision, Russia lashed out, calling the move a “breach” of Canada’s “international legal obligations.”
quote:Fentanyl drug deaths rise by nearly a third in England and Wales
Fatalities linked to synthetic opioid increased by 29% in a year, according to ONS figures
Deaths caused by the drug fentanyl rose by nearly 30% last year, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.
While statistics show that the rate of deaths from drug poisoning in England and Wales has remained steady – 66.1 deaths per 1 million people (3,756 deaths) – fatalities involving the synthetic opioid fentanyl were up 29%. There were 75 deaths in 2017, up from 58 deaths in 2016.
Fentanyl has been found mixed with street heroin, causing accidental overdose in users. The drug can be up to 100 times stronger than heroin and is sometimes prescribed as a painkiller for the terminally ill.
One type of fentanyl, carfentanyl, is 10,000 times stronger and is used as an elephant tranquilliser. It was first seen mentioned in death certificates in 2017 and accounted for 27 deaths, 87% of the 31 deaths related to types of fentanyl in 2017.
In April 2017, after a spate of deaths linked to fentanyl in northern England, Public Health England issued a warning to heroin users to be extra careful when using the drug, urging them to test a small amount first and not to take it alone.
The ONS statistics also show that deaths from cocaine were up for the sixth year in a row. There were 432 deaths related to the drug in 2017, compared with 371 deaths in 2016.
In June a report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) found that purity of street cocaine across Europe was at its highest level in a decade and the number of people seeking treatment for use of the drug was on the rise.
Deaths caused by new psychoactive substances (NPS), such as the drug Spice, halved in 2017. There were 61 deaths from NPS in 2017, down from 123 in 2016. In 2016, the government introduced a blanket ban on the importation, production or supply of most NPS.
Rates of drug misuse deaths in England were highest in the north. The north-east had the highest rate of drugs deaths, with 83.2 deaths per 1 million people. The north-west had a rate of 64.7 deaths and Yorkshire and the Humber 54.5. London had the lowest rate of deaths of any region, with 24.6 per 1 million people in 2017.
Ellie Osborn, a health analysis statistician at the ONS, said: “The figures published today show that the level of drug poisoning deaths in 2017 remained stable.
“However, despite deaths from most opiates declining or remaining steady, deaths from fentanyl continued to rise in 2017 as did cocaine deaths which increased for the sixth consecutive year.”
Karen Tyrell, executive director at the drugs charity Addaction, described the statistics as devastating. “It’s such needless waste of life and a tragedy for so many families and loved ones. We have so much more to do. The truth is that most drug related deaths are preventable.
“People who use opioids (like heroin) often have cumulative physical and mental health problems. Most of them have had very difficult, often traumatic lives and we’re letting them down if we don’t give them the best care that we can.
“Nobody wakes up in the morning and decides to become dependent on drugs. Everyone deserves help, and we know that every person can recover with the right support.”
She added: “After 20 years in this sector, I know for sure that we need to do a much better job of providing safe and non-judgmental advice. The reality is there aren’t enough trustworthy places to get support around drugs and alcohol.”
Ja,ja een week of aantal dagen na een festival door XTC overledenquote:In BelgiŰ zijn tijdens het dance-festival Tomorrowland twee vrouwen overleden na drugsgebruik, meldt de VRT op basis van bronnen. In ÚÚn van de twee gevallen ging het naar verluidt om xtc-gebruik.
De vrouwen kwamen niet uit BelgiŰ. Over hun identiteit is verder niets bekend.
Het dancefestival werd tijdens de twee weekends tussen vrijdag 20 en zondag 29 juli gehouden in de plaats Boom. Het eerste slachtoffer nam de drugs in tijdens het eerste weekend. Ze overleed een kleine week later in een ziekenhuis in Antwerpen.
De tweede vrouw gebruikte de drugs een weekend later op Tomorrowland. Ook zij bezweek een paar dagen later in het ziekenhuis.
Niet op de hoogte
De politie zegt niet op de hoogte te zijn van een niet-natuurlijk overlijden. Ook Tomorrowland zegt niet op de hoogte te zijn.
Eerder liet de federale politie al weten dat er tijdens de twee weekends 63 drugdealers op heterdaad zijn betrapt. Onder hen was een aantal Nederlanders.
quote:Cannabis petition reaches vote threshold in under 24 hours
Petition to legalise 'coffee shops' selling cannabis in Luxembourg will now be debated by lawmakers
It took very little time for petition 1031 on the Luxembourg government's website – calling for the legal sale of cannabis in 'coffee shops' – to reach the 4,500-signature threshold.
This means the petition will now be debated in parliament.
A coffee shop based on the Dutch model – and, therefore, the legalisation of cannabis sales under controlled conditions – is the aim of petition 1031, filed in May on the Chamber of Deputies website.
The petitioner cites a current policy of "acquiescence" in the sale and consumption of cannabis and argues for legalisation to curb drug trafficking in Luxembourg.
The petition claims coffee shops would not only reduce pressure on police forces but also create jobs.
Strict conditions would ensure cannabis sales adhered to certain rules, according to the petition.
For example, trade in cannabis within 500 metres of a school would be prohibited, and no more than five grams per person at a time would be sold, it says.
The demand appears to be a popular one in Luxembourg. The petition was filed at the end of May and released for signatures on Wednesday 13 June.
By Thursday morning at 10:30am, it had already reached 5,162 signatures.
This means that the required 4,500 signatures needed for it to be debated in parliament was reached and surpassed in fewer than 24 hours.
Earlier this spring, in a survey conducted by TNS-Ilres, 56% of Luxembourg's residents supported the legalisation of cannabis for non-medical purposes.
quote:Police chief calls for more cannabis clubs where drug can be used and traded safely
North Wales police and crime commissioner says ‘war on drugs’ will continue to fail without radical change
A police chief has called for cannabis users to be allowed to freely grow and sell the drug without fear of arrest in cannabis clubs, saying the “war on drugs” would continue to fail if radical changes were not made.
Arfon Jones, the police and crime commissioner for north Wales, has campaigned on the issue for most of his tenure and is now calling for Spanish-style “collectives”, where cannabis users sell homegrown drugs to each other.
Hundreds of cannabis clubs are already registered across the UK where the drug is traded and used in a safe and controlled space but not sold to the general public. Club members pay about ú35 a year to join and gather on a regular basis, sometimes weekly, to smoke and share the drug.
Details are available online on websites such as United Kingdom Cannabis Social Clubs (UKCSC), which has 75 clubs registered across the country.
Jones visited the Teesside cannabis club earlier this year and also travelled to Switzerland to learn how different drug programmes work.
He said: “I support a legalised and regulated cannabis market with age restrictions and the personal cultivation of a certain number of plants. It has been clear for a very long time that the so-called war on drugs has failed. I am sympathetic to the Spanish-style cannabis clubs which grow their own cannabis for regulated consumption by their members.”
Jones said he worked in an area, Wrexham, where there have been well-documented drugs problems. He called for a change in the way substance abuse was viewed and treated by society as a whole.
He added: “My views on this issue were formed over many years working as a police officer, seeing the futility of locking up people with problematic drug use, only to see them come before the courts again and again.
“There is an expectation that drug-taking and the antisocial behaviour are police matters. That is not the case. We deal with the symptoms but other agencies should be dealing with the underlying causes.
“Saving lives by adopting sensible harm reduction measures would be a win-win for everybody.”
Greg de Hoedt, head of UKCSC, which was set up in 2011 to advise and advocate for change, started the network after being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. He spent six months in the US after he found that medicinal cannabis alleviated his suffering.
He said: “Most of the clubs are founded with at least one or two members that require cannabis medicinally, so it’s a built-in ethos and understanding that cannabis helps people. Whether they like it or not, when people find out they have a medical condition that cannabis can be helped by and they look around for support, their first port of call is their local cannabis social club.”
He said that since the network was set up he was not aware of any police raids, or any member being arrested entering or leaving any cannabis club. De Hoedt also claimed members included magistrates, bank managers, nurses and television actors.
One of its members – the Teesside club, run in a city centre office block, with 180 members paying ú45 annually – has been open for four years. Now its founder, Michael Fisher, 33, wants to expand the model across the UK.
He said: “What we’ve had here is a lot of success, in 14 months, where we’ve gone from about 60 to 70 members to around 180 people.
“The conversation around cannabis is changing and it is becoming more acceptable to talk about. We don’t feel the need to hide in the shadows about it. Something I would like to see is more clubs, across the country.”
Although still illegal, Fisher said Cleveland police tolerated the use of small quantities of the drug, and he described local officers as “very supportive”.
But the Home Office has issued a reminder that recreational possession, cultivation and supply of marijuana remain illegal and that it expected the law to be enforced.
A Home Office spokesman said: “The trade and possession of recreational cannabis is illegal, regardless of where you use it.
“Scientific and medical evidence is clear that recreational cannabis use can cause harm to individuals and society. Those using it should be in no doubt that if they are caught they face prosecution and a jail term of five years. How police choose to pursue investigations is an operational decision for chief constables, but we expect them to enforce the law.”
quote:How America Convinced the World to Demonize Drugs
Much of the world used to treat drug addiction as a health issue, not a criminal one. And then America got its way.
In Baltimore, a young black man is sent to prison for felony cannabis possession. In Glasgow, Scotland, an apartment door is kicked in by the drugs squad. In Afghanistan, a field of poppies is incinerated from the air. In Mexico, police corrupted by drug cartels are implicated in disappearances and massacres.
The War on Drugs is generally presented as a global phenomenon. Each country has its own drug laws and enforces them as they see fit. Despite small regional differences, the world—we are told—has always been united in addressing the dangers of illicit drug use through law enforcement.
This is a lie.
When one traces back the history of what we now call the War on Drugs, one discovers it has a very specific origin: the United States. The global development of the drug war is inseparable from the development of US imperialism, and indeed, is a direct outgrowth of that imperialism.
Prior to the 19th century, drugs now illegal were widely used across the world. Remedies derived from opium and cannabis were used for pain relief, and less widely for "recreation." Queen Victoria herself was fond of both opium and cannabis, before being introduced to cocaine later in life.
Then came the American railroads.
Thousands of Chinese workers came to America during the mid-1800s to build the Central Pacific Railroad. Once the track was complete, however, they immediately became regarded as a threat to white American workers. In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, the only US law to ever successfully ban immigration solely on the basis of race.
One method of stirring up anti-Chinese hatred was to attack the practice of opium smoking. Although morphine and laudanum were popular as a medicine throughout the US, Chinese opium was seen as a threat to American Christian morality, and particularly to American Christian women.
By 1881, as the Exclusion Act was being debated in Congress, reports began flooding out of San Francisco of opium dens where "white women and Chinamen sit side by side under the effects of this drug—a humiliating sight to anyone with anything left of manhood."
Newspaper editorials thundered that the Chinese opium menace must be wiped out lest it "decimate our youth, emasculate the coming generation, if not completely destroy the population of our coast," and that for white Americans, smoking opium was "not at all consistent with their duties as Capitalists or Christians."
Crucially, however, the first modern prohibition regime was not founded in America itself, but in its first overseas colony. In 1898, America conquered the Philippines in the Spanish–American War. Charles H. Brent, the openly racist Episcopal bishop of the Philippines, despised opium users, and appealed to President Roosevelt to ban this "evil and immoral" habit. By 1905, Brent had succeeded in installing the first American prohibition regime—not in the US itself, but in the Philippines.
Unsurprisingly, the ban failed. Bishop Brent decided that continued opium use must be the fault of the booming trade in China, and wrote again to President Roosevelt, urging that the US had a duty to "promote some movement that would gather in its embrace representatives from all countries where the traffic and use of opium is a matter of moment." The idea of international control of the drug trade had been born.
In the American debate, drug addiction had been framed as an infection and contamination of white America by foreign influences. Now, that vision was internationalized. To protect white American moral purity, the supply of drugs from overseas had to be curtailed at their source. As the campaigner, Richard P. Hobson had it, "like the invasions and plagues of history, the scourge of narcotic drug addiction came out of Asia."
In 1909, America succeeded in convening the first International Commission on Opium in Shanghai. Representing the US was Bishop Brent and the doctor Hamilton Wright, who was to become a major force in the American prohibitionist movement. For the next century, almost every major international conference and commission on drug control was formed through American pressure and influence.
Interestingly, despite what we are told about the "special relationship," the country that offered the most consistent and organized resistance to the American drive toward drug prohibition was the United Kingdom. Time and again, Great Britain diplomatically frustrated American attempts to impose prohibition regimes and establish international protocols.
This was partly because the British were themselves operating lucrative opium monopolies in their own overseas colonies, but also because they resented "overtones of high-mindedness and superior virtue." Britain had its own system of dealing with drug addiction—treating it as a medical rather than a law enforcement issue—and, for a long time, resisted the moralizing hysteria of the American approach.
But it was difficult for the US to push the prohibition of drugs on the rest of the world while not enforcing it itself. Wright began spearheading a fresh campaign for full drug prohibition within the US—once again built almost entirely on racial prejudice.
But this time, a new drug had emerged to capture America's fevered imagination, with a fresh racial minority to use it to persecute. The drug was cocaine, and the minority was African Americans. In 1910, Wright submitted a report to the Senate stating that "this new vice, the cocaine vice… has been a potent incentive in driving the humbler negroes all over the country to abnormal crimes."
There followed an explosion of headlines linking black people to cocaine use and criminality. The New York Times ran a typical story under the headline "NEGRO COCAINE FIENDS—NEW SOUTHERN MENACE." The story tells of "a hitherto inoffensive negro" who had reportedly taken cocaine and been sent into a frenzy. The local police chief was forced to shoot him several times to bring him down. Cocaine, it was implied, was turning black men into superhuman brutes. As the medical officer quoted in the article put it, "the cocaine nigger sure is hard to kill."
This hysteria resulted in the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914, instituting the prohibition of drugs across the United States. Over the next 50 years, America would aggressively seek to internationalize its form of prohibition across the world.
Harry J. Anslinger was appointed the head of the US Federal Bureau of Narcotics in 1930. Alcohol prohibition was about to be repealed, and this tiny department must have seemed like a dead-end posting. But Anslinger embarked on a campaign of political and media manipulation that was to build drug prohibition into a key plank of both US domestic and foreign policy. He was to remain head of the FBN for 32 years, serving under five presidents and holding his office longer than any other senior civil servant except Herbert Hoover.
Anslinger was, in many ways, the architect of the modern War on Drugs—and the archetype of the American model of the moralizing drug warrior. Anslinger was ruthless in his crusade, often stooping to methods that were unethical and, at times, actually illegal—particularly in the monitoring and persecution of artists, scientists, and intellectuals he saw as a threat.
He was also a race baiter. In order to whip up hysteria in the press, Anslinger incessantly played on racial fear and prejudice, linking cannabis to Hispanic people, cocaine to African Americans, and heroin to the Chinese.
Chinese people, he warned, had "a liking for the charms of Caucasian girls," using opium to force them into "unspeakable sexual depravity." The increase in drug addiction, he insisted, was "practically 100 percent among negro people," who would party with white women, "getting their sympathy with stories of racial persecution. Result: pregnancy."
Anslinger was not content to simply wage his crusade within the US. Throughout the 1930s, he lobbied the US government to pressure the rest of the world to adopt a prohibitionist approach.
Then came the Second World War. Every country in the world emerged from the war significantly poorer, save one: the United States. Anslinger and his underlings lost no time in leveraging America's newfound hegemony to force the other nations of the UN toward a prohibition model. They ensured that versions of the Harrison Act were written into the laws of the occupied Axis powers, and Anslinger had himself been appointed as the US representative to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of the newly formed United Nations.
Every aspect of international relations, from military protection to trade deals to aid programs, became a carrot or a stick to coerce other states to adopt the American way. Charles Siragusa, a high-ranking FBN agent, laid out these bullying tactics explicitly: "Most of the time… I found that a casual mention of the possibility of shutting off our foreign aid programs, dropped to the proper quarters, brought grudging permission for our operations almost immediately."
Other countries were absolutely aware of this stitch-up and resented being forced to adopt American norms in order to satisfy racial arguments internal to the US. The British delegate to the CND complained that, had it not been "for the white drug problem in the US." other nations might have been left alone to pursue their own drug policies. Another UK representative expressed his frustration that at the CND, "Chairman Anslinger… continually confused his position as Chairman and as US representative."
From the end of the War in 1945, it took 16 years of American behind-the-scenes bullying, but eventually, Bishop Brent's dream of a blanket international ban on illicit drugs was realized. The 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs was passed, intended to bring the confusing tangle of all previous drug treaties and conventions into line. This was the result of a US-drafted, and US-sponsored, resolution. It was an American policy, serving American interests—and the hallmarks of crusading American prohibitionism are threaded through its core.
The 1961 Convention is the only convention in the history of the UN to use the word "evil," stating that "addiction to narcotic drugs constitutes a serious evil for the individual and is fraught with social and economic danger to mankind."
Torture, apartheid, and nuclear war are not described in these terms. Genocide is referred to in UN documents as an "odious scourge" or "barbarous acts," but never as actually "evil." That the UN, founded in the ashes of world war and the Holocaust, finds drug addiction the only phenomenon worthy of this word is a testament to just how heavily American moralizing pressure was brought to bear.
The Single Convention laid out the international standard of placing drugs in different "schedules" to determine their levels of danger, the punishments for trading them, and their potential benefits to medicine and science. This Convention forms the basis for almost every individual country's drug legislation. When other nations have threatened to deviate from the American model, the automatic sanctions written into the Single Convention are what keeps them in line.
A full inventory of how the United States has fully militarized the drug war around the world since the signing of the Single Convention in 1961 would take several books to explore. From sponsoring death squads in Latin America, to the DEA undertaking Special Forces-style missions in Afghanistan, to the old-fashioned method of making eligibility for US foreign aid and preferred trade status based on cooperation with drug eradication and interdiction activities, the War on Drugs has consistently functioned as an arm of US military and economic hegemony.
Governments around the world—even that of Britain, which once resisted the prohibition approach and offered an alternative model—claim that it is right that they continue to "fight the war on drugs." When they say this, one should never forget they are enacting an American policy that was forced on the rest of the world. A policy, moreover, derived from some of the ugliest and most shameful threads in US history itself. The War on Drugs is not a global conflict—it is an American conflict that has become globalized. We should all examine its failures and think twice about continuing to fight it.
This article contains extracts from the book Drug Wars, published by Ebury Press.
quote:Beleggerscongres over cannabis in Nederland: 'Er zit veel potentie in'
Belegger Michael Kraland (68) bedacht en organiseert het eerste beleggerscongres over cannabis in Nederland. Volgens hem zit er veel potentie in de markt. "Heineken maakt al drank met cannabis. Je kan het voor van alles gebruiken."
De Cannabis Capital Convention, eind september, moet vooral beleggers, vermogensbeheerders en ondernemers trekken, vertelt Kraland aan RTL Z vanuit Ierland, waar hij woont.
Sprekers zijn analisten van de Duitse investersbank Berenberg Bank, medewerkers van een groot cannabisverwerkingsbedrijf uit de VS maar ook Nederlandse bedrijven die zich bezig houden met cannabis, zoals Bedrocan. Dit bedrijf produceert sinds 2003 medicinale cannabis voor het ministerie van Volksgezondheid, Welzijn en Sport.
Corona stapt in cannabis
Volgens Kraland is deze beginnende markt volop in beweging en stappen steeds meer grote bedrijven in de cannabisindustrie. Reden om beleggers enthousiast te maken en ze te informeren.
Zo werd deze week bekend dat Constellation Brands, de producent van Coronabier, 3,4 miljard euro steekt in de Canadese wietproducent Canopy Growth. Vorig jaar nam Constellation Brands ook al een belang in het bedrijf.
In Canada is het gebruik van cannabis vanaf september legaal. "Daar is nu een groot aantal bedrijven opgestaan die iets met cannabis doen. Hun omzetten stellen niet heel veel voor maar ze hebben beurswaardes van hier tot Tokyo", laat een woordvoerder van Bedrocan weten.
Of dat enthousiasme overslaat naar Europa, is volgens hem de vraag. "De Noord-Amerikaanse markt is echt heel anders."
Niet meer roken, maar likken
Toch ziet Kraland volop vooruitgang aan deze kant van de oceaan. "Bovendien denk ik dat Canada leidend kan zijn voor veel andere landen op het gebied van regelgeving."
De markt wordt volgens hem ook steeds breder. "Er komen steeds producten bij. De trend is echt: niet meer wiet roken, maar op andere manieren binnenkrijgen." Te denken valt aan lolly's, cake en oliŰn.
'Geen witbier maar wietbier'
Als voorbeeld van hoe enthousiast grote bedrijven deze markt omarmen noemt hij Heineken. Een dochter van deze brouwer, Lagunitas, kwam deze zomer met Hi-Fi Hops.
In dit bruisende water, dat geschonken zal worden bij de borrel op het congres in Amsterdam, zit naast THC (de stof die je stoned kan maken) ook CBD. Dit laatste zou zorgen voor een blij gevoel. Kraland, overtuigd: "Over een paar jaar zullen we ook geen witbiertjes maar wietbiertjes drinken."
Grootste risico: overwaardering
Zijn er naast deze jubelverhalen dan weinig risico's voor beleggers? Nee, dat ook weer niet, zegt Kraland die al zijn hele leven belegt.
Naast het bekende 'je kunt al je geld kwijt raken' ziet hij zelf twee risico's: "Of het gaat allemaal toch niet zo'n vaart lopen en dan zijn er een groot aantal bedrijven die echt overgewaardeerd worden." Als dat gebeurt, kan de waarde van je belegging heel snel dalen.
Het congres in Amsterdam vindt op 26 september plaats. Er zijn 300 kaarten beschikbaar. "En mocht het nou echt stormlopen, dan organiseren we er nog ÚÚn", aldus Kraland.