drug policy

New York: Activists To Call For Drug Policy Reform June 23 At Brooklyn Detention Center

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‘Support. Don’t Punish’ Actions a Counter-Demonstration to United Nations ‘Anti-Drug Day’, Often Used by Governments to Tout Punitive Policies

NYC Action: Rally at Brooklyn House of Detention

Activists will gather at 8 pm on Thursday, June 23, in front of the Brooklyn House of Detention and hold a rally as The Illuminator projects images and videos of people from all walks of life who use or have used drugs – fathers, teachers, friends, nurses – as part of the Support. Don’t Punish Global Day of Action.

This annual day of action is designed to tell a different story on the United Nations’ International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

Governments around the world often choose to use this day to celebrate their contributions to the global ‘War On Drugs’. In the past, some governments have even commemorated it by holding executions or public beatings of drug offenders.

For example, from 2009 to 2014, China unveiled executions and other harsh punishments in the lead-up to the International Day Against Drug Abuse and in 2008, Indonesia cited the day as it resumed executions after a four-year hiatus.

Global: World Leaders Call For Decriminalization and Regulation of Drugs

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Former Presidents of Colombia, Mexico, and Switzerland together with Sir Richard Branson, US Former Federal Reserve Chair Paul Volcker and members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy call for reducing the harms caused by failed drug policy

On Thursday, April 21 – the last day of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs – several members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy will hold a press conference in New York. The Global Commission will evaluate the outcome of the UN meeting and call for concrete steps to ensure more effective drug policy reform in the years ahead.

The UNGASS is taking place in New York from April 19-21 and is the first such gathering of governments in 18 years.

"Globally, we’re wasting too much money and precious resources on criminalizing people and sending them to jail when we should be spending this money on helping people - through proper medical care and education,” said Global Commission Member Sir Richard Branson. “From the perspective of an investor, the war on drugs has failed to deliver any returns. If it were one of my businesses, I would have shut it down many many years ago."

New York: Artists Announce 'The Museum of Drug Policy' On Park Avenue, NYC

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The Museum of Drug Policy is a popup cultural hub that includes an immersive art experience and special live programming looking at the impact of current drug policies on populations around the world . The Museum will occupy space on Park Avenue for three days this month, during the United Nations General Assembly’s Special Session (UNGASS) on the world drug problem.

Through art, conversations and experiential events, the Museum will showcase that the moment is now for drug policy reform and that damage caused by the War On Drugs is evident across the world. The Museum will uplift the voices of people most impacted by the global drug policy: people who use drugs, crop growers, people who are incarcerated, people who have saved lives or lost loved ones to drug overdose, people on death row for drug offenses, doctors who can’t prescribe adequate pain relief to their patients, and other voices of the international drug policy reform movement.

The Museum of Drug Policy will feature 70+ works from artists around the world, with interactive art installations, keynote addresses, panels, and community discussions that take attendees on a journey exploring the real impact and human cost of drug policy in communities around the world.

North America: 'No More Drug War' Caravan Departs From Central America On Way To U.N.

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Caravan to Hold Events in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and the United States Culminating at UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs in New York on April 19-21

Ahead of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on Drugs, which will be taking place in New York City from April 19 to April 21, the Caravan for Peace, Life and Justice started its journey in Honduras on March 28 (see Caravan schedule). The Caravan is a far-reaching initiative brought together by civic organizations, social movements, and victims of human rights violations from multiple countries demanding an end to the drug war to create alternatives to prohibitionist policies that fuel violence and illicit drug trafficking.

The Caravan will visit some of the places most affected by militarization, organized crime and mass incarceration, bringing to public attention the voices of victims, migrants, indigenous and farming communities, women, youths and human rights defenders.

The goal is to promote an honest and diverse discussion of drug policy with a focus on the social costs of prohibition and the Drug War, as well as alternatives based on human rights, public health and reducing violence.

Global: 'No More Drug War' Caravan Departs From Central America To The UN

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Caravan to Hold Events in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and the United States Culminating at UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs in New York on April 19-21

Ahead of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on Drugs, which will be taking place in New York City from April 19 to April 21, the Caravan for Peace, Life and Justice will be starting its journey in Honduras on Monday, March 28 (see Caravan schedule).

The Caravan is a far-reaching initiative brought together by civic organizations, social movements, and victims of human rights violations from multiple countries demanding an end to the Drug War to create alternatives to prohibitionist policies that fuel violence and illicit drug trafficking.

The Caravan will visit some of the places most affected by militarization, organized crime and mass incarceration, bringing to public attention the voices of victims, migrants, indigenous and farming communities, women, youths and human rights defenders.

The goal is to promote an honest and diverse discussion of drug policy with a focus on the social costs of prohibition and the Drug War, as well as alternatives based on human rights, public health and reducing violence.

U.S.: Blumenauer, Conyers Call For Public Health Approach To Drug Policy

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Representatives Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) and John Conyers (MI-13) on Thursday led 12 other members of the U.S. House of Representatives in sending a letter to President Obama urging the Administration to highlight the importance of a less punitive and more public health-centered approach to international drug policy at the upcoming United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem in April.

From states taking action to end the failed prohibition of marijuana to lifting the ban on federal funding for syringe access programs proven to reduce HIV infection rates, the United States has made significant advancements moving away from a punitive approach to drug policy to one centered on public health and healthcare, access to treatment services, and harm reduction tools that reduce overdose. The upcoming UNGASS provides an opportunity for the United States to showcase these advancements as a model for international drug policy.

New York: Victims of the War On Drugs Call For Abolishing The DEA

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Decades of violence, corruption, support for authoritarian governments, and illegal spying on Americans leave DEA unfit for service

Ahead of major United Nations meeting on global drug policy, activists call for new approach focused on public health and safety

What: Banner drop & protest at the NYC Drug Enforcement Administration Office.
When: This Friday (3/18) @ 11 AM
Where: Drug Enforcement Administration, New York City office, 99 10th Ave, NYC 10011

Details: People with a history of drug use, the formerly incarcerated and people living with AIDS, all identifying as “victims of the Drug War,” will protest the Drug Enforcement Administration for its role in perpetuating the worst of drug war policies, including mass incarceration of people of color, fueling violence abroad, and fighting scientific evidence and public health needs in order to wage the Drug War at all costs.

Protesters will do a banner drop off the High Line Park reading "Just Say NO to the DEA", followed by blocking traffic in front of the office.

For more background on DEA abuses, click here to read the fact sheet.

Global: More Countries Decriminalizing Ahead Of UN Debate On Global Drug Policy

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Release, the United Kingdom-based center for expertise on drugs and drug laws, on Monday launched a new report highlighting the enormous benefits that decriminalizing the possession of drugs for personal use brings to individuals, society and governments.

The report, ‘A Quiet Revolution: Drug Decriminalisation Across the Globe,’ analyses over 25 jurisdictions around the world that have decriminalized drugs, finding a surge toward this drug policy model in the past 15 years. Among the positive outcomes identified as a result of decriminalization are:

• Reduced rates of HIV transmission and fewer drug-related deaths (Portugal);

• Improved education, housing and employment opportunities for people who use drugs (Australia);

• Savings to the state of close to $1 billion over 10 years (California).

Furthermore, the report shows that despite critics’ fears that decriminalization will lead to a surge in drug use this has simply not been borne out in the evidence, with drug laws revealed to have a negligible effect on drug use levels.

“Governments can no longer ignore the irrefutable evidence -- ending the needless criminalization of people who use drugs brings tremendously positive outcomes for society as a whole," said Niamh Eastwood, the executive director of Release. "It is high time resources stop being channelled into futile efforts to combat drug use and instead are diverted into harm reduction and public health programmes.”

U.S.: Civil Rights, Health, Faith, Justice Groups Call On Obama To End Global Drug War

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More than 225 civil rights, health, faith-based and other organizations sent a letter to President Obama Thursday calling on him to use an upcoming United Nations high-level session on global drug policies to push for a fundamental change in course away from criminalization.

The groups, which include the American Civil Liberties Union, AIDS United, LatinoJustice PRLDEF and #cut50, say that the current US position for the session "takes a short-term approach, stopping short of the crucial reforms called for by UN agencies and US allies, while failing to address new realities."

They want bolder stances from the administration in areas like human rights, public health and development, and for the US to promote initial steps the UN can take toward reforming international drug conventions to reflect moves in the US and elsewhere toward marijuana legalization.

"We believe a stronger US stance on these issues would leave a legacy in global drug policy that is better aligned to the direction you've steered domestic policy," the groups wrote.

The letter was submitted as the UN prepares for its highest level session on drug policy since 1998 – the "UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem," or UNGASS, scheduled for April 19-21 at UN headquarters in New York. US diplomats and drug and crime officials have played a central role in negotiations over the UNGASS Outcome Document, an official product of the meeting that will impact policy.

U.S.: Congress Adopts Significant Drug Policy Reforms In New Spending Bill

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Congress on Friday morning passed a must-pass spending bill that includes language that stops the Obama Administration’s Department of Justice from spending money to block the implementation of state medical marijuana laws. The amendment was passed last year on a temporary basis and had to be renewed this year.

“The renewal of this amendment should bring relief for medical marijuana patients and business owners,” said Michael Collins, Deputy Director of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “For decades Congress has been responsible for passing disastrous drug laws. It’s encouraging to see them starting to roll back the war on drugs by allowing states to set their own medical marijuana policies.”

“Patients who benefit from medical marijuana should not be treated like dangerous criminals, and the businesses that support them need to be protected from the old drug war mentality that still runs deep within the DEA,” said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of criminal justice professionals working to end the Drug War. “It’s very encouraging to see such widespread support for protecting state’s rights and the rights of patients.”

Illinois: Bill Introduced To Remove Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession

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Rep. Kelly Cassidy on Thursday announced that she is introducing new legislation for 2016 that would replace criminal penalties with a civil fine for possession of a personal amount of marijuana in Illinois.

HB 4357 would make possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana a civil violation punishable by a fine. Adults would no longer face time in jail, and the civil offense would be automatically expunged in order to prevent a permanent criminal record.

The proposal largely mirrors legislation previously introduced by Rep. Cassidy that was approved in the Senate (37-19) on May 21 and in the House (62-53) on April 23, as well the amendments proposed by Gov. Bruce Rauner when he vetoed the bill and returned it to the legislature on August 14.

“This is a reasonable proposal that is long overdue,” Rep. Cassidy said. “It needs to happen, and I am hopeful that we can make it happen quickly since it’s already such familiar territory for legislators and the governor.”

Members of the Illinois faith community joined Rep. Cassidy at the news conference to voice support for the bill. More than 50 clergy from around the state have signed a Religious Declaration of Clergy for a New Drug Policy, which includes support for civil rather than criminal sanctions for marijuana possession.

U.S.: Ira Glasser To Receive Top Award At International Drug Policy Reform Conference

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Glasser Has Shown Leadership in Drug Policy Reform for Nearly 50 Years

Leading Drug Policy Reformers to be Honored at International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, November 21

The Richard J Dennis Drugpeace Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Drug Policy Reform will be awarded to Ira Glasser at the International Drug Policy Reform Conference on November 21, in Arlington, Virginia.

Ira Glasser will be honored for being a leader in drug policy reform for nearly 50 years, beginning in 1967 when he joined the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU). He directed that organization from 1970 to 1978, when he became the executive director of the ACLU, retiring in 2001. Ira joined the board of the Drug Policy Foundation (DPF) in the early 1990s, becoming its chairman some years later, and played a key role in the merger of DPF and The Lindesmith Center in 2000 to create the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA).

He has served as chairman of DPA’s board ever since, providing wise counsel and leadership, mentoring staff at all levels, and educating and inspiring countless activists with his unique capacity to place the drug policy reform movement in the historical context of other great political struggles for personal freedom and social justice. His sustained and pivotal contributions to drug policy reform in the United States are both exceptional and unparalleled.

Canada: New Prime Minister Plans To Legalize Marijuana

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Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party Supports Drug Policy Reform, including Marijuana Legalization and Cutting Edge Harm Reduction Policies

Trudeau Represents 180 Degree Turn From Prime Minister Harper’s Punitive Approach

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Canada on Monday voted in Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party in a general election, which will have outstanding implications for drug policy reform in the country. The Liberal Party plans to legalize cannabis.

The election puts an end to Conservative Party Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s 9-year rule, which was marked by a repressive approach to drugs, including a commitment to rolling out mandatory minimum sentences, pushback to effective supervised injection sites that reduce the harms of drug use, and strong opposition to marijuana reform. In contrast, the Liberal Party has promised to legalize and regulate marijuana and Trudeau has expressed support for harm reduction and the expansion of supervised injection sites across the country.

Global: Leaked UN Paper Calls For Decriminalizing Drug Use and Possession

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Drug Decriminalization Rapidly Emerging as Consensus Goal of Drug Policy, Public Safety and Health Stakeholders as 2016 UN Special Session on Drugs Approaches

Momentum Accelerating in the U.S. and Abroad Toward Drug Policy Reforms: Marijuana Legalization, Drug Decriminalization, and Ending Mass Incarceration

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) appeared set to call on governments to end the criminalization of drug use and possession, according to DPA Honorary Board Member Richard Branson – but in a dramatic turn of events withdrew a briefing paper under pressure from at least one country, reports Mark Easton at the BBC.

“On the one hand it’s promising that such a powerful statement strongly affirming the need to decriminalize drug use and possession made it this far in the UN process – that in itself represents a dramatic evolution from previous decades when any talk of decriminalization was studiously suppressed,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “It reflects both growing support for decriminalization in Europe and Latin America as well as the insistence of UN health, development and human rights agencies that drug control policies adhere to international conventions in those areas as well.”

California: Nadelmann To Keynote At Cannabis World Congress & Business Expo In L.A.

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Developing a responsible, safe and ethical marijuana industry will be the theme of Ethan Nadelmann's keynote speech at the Cannabis World Congress & Business Expo taking place September 16-18 at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles.

Described by Rolling Stone magazine as "the real drug czar," Nadelmann is the founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) and is known for his persuasiveness and passion for promoting alternatives to the war on drugs. His keynote presentation will take place at 2 pm PST on Thursday, September 17.

"California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana, almost 20 years ago, and its marijuana industry is certainly the biggest, most diverse and dynamic in the country," says Ethan Nadelmann. "The state is now poised to become a true global leader in responsible cannabis regulation, provided a smart and winnable ballot initiative prevails on Election Day 2016."

Nadelmann and his colleagues have played pivotal roles in many of the major drug policy reform ballot initiative campaigns in the United States on issues ranging from medical marijuana and marijuana legalization to prison reform, drug treatment and reform of asset forfeiture laws. They also have reformed state and federal laws involving drug sentencing, access to sterile syringes to reduce HIV/AIDS, access to drug treatment, prevention of overdose fatalities, and all aspects of marijuana policy.

D.C.: Activists To March Friday From State Dept. To White House To End War On Drugs

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U.N. Preparing to Reconsider International Drug Control Policies

Activists will march from the U.S. State Department to the White House on Friday morning, demanding that the Obama Administration do more to end the failed War On Drugs and the human rights violations it causes. The advocates especially want the U.S. to ensure that international aid it provides is not used to support the death penalty for nonviolent drug offenses.

The march is part of a global day of action called "Support, Don't Punish," with events taking place in 150 cities around the world, including New York. It coincides with the annual United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which some governments use to focus on prevention and awareness, but which others have used to highlight large drug busts and seizures, or even to carry out executions.

WHO: Organizations that oppose the War On Drugs and support human rights

WHAT: March -- part of an international day of action in 150 cities -- featuring signs with slogans like "Prohibition => Crime + Violence," "No Drug Executions With Our Dollars" and “Drug Execution Agency"

WHEN: Friday, June 26 at 9:30 AM ET

WHERE: From the State Department (2201 C St NW) to the White House (1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW)

New York: NYC Council Holds Hearing On Bill To Reorient Drug Policy Towards Health

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Legislation Would Create an Office to Coordinate Drug Strategy Between Dozens of Departments

Emphasizes Evidence-based Policy Making to Promote Health and Public Safety and Reduce Negative Impact of Past and Current Policies

As the New York City Council prepared to hold a hearing on legislation to reshape how the city deals with illegal drug use, advocates packed the steps of City Hall in support.

The bill would create an Office of Drug Strategy charged with coordinating policy and programmatic priorities across dozens of city agencies and collaborating with community organizations. While similar approaches exist in scores of Canadian and European cities, the New York City office would be the first of its kind in the U.S.

“I know firsthand why we need an Office of Drug Strategy, dedicated to creating alternatives to our city's failed drug policies," said Shantae Owens, a member of VOCAL New York. "When I was arrested for possessing a small amount of drugs, I was homeless and drug addicted, selling drugs just to support a habit.

"I was offered a prison sentence instead of treatment, which was a waste of my life and our tax dollars," Owens said. "New York City can and should be a national role model for how we can end drug war policies and replace them with policies of justice and equity, and politics of compassion and love."

Chile: Hundreds of Thousands Attend Largest Pro-Marijuana Demonstration Ever

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By Mike Bifari
Hemp News

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Santiago, Chile on Sunday to ask for a new law that allows the self-cultivation of marijuana and a change in the drug law in Chile. Estimates of 400,000 marchers are agreed on, but the number of people in Sunday's March range from 250,000 to 500,000, making it the largest pro-cannabis demonstration in history.

The demonstrators marched through the main streets of the Chilean capital to apply for a new drug policy and regulation of cannabis in March '11 Grow Your Rights' organized by Movimental, a civic association working with new drug law policies.

Movimental said that in recent years "the demand for a new drug policy and a new regulation on Cannabis, has achieved a remarkable and majority social legitimacy", which is reflected in the massive participation in the call on Sunday.

Families with children and people of all ages gathered at noon in a peaceful demonstration to demand, he said one of the participants told The Associated Press, "for the freedom of every person, it is a plant, like all others, such as tomatoes, such as avocado. It is a plant, there is nothing illegal, plant something natural."

Many attendees wore references to the marijuana plant, both as crown
tattooed on the body or printed on colorful flag backgrounds. The
march was also attended by people with different types of diseases who
resort to marijuana for medicinal use.

"I have diabetes, hypertension, lupus and now I found something in the

Illinois: Senate Approves Bill To Remove Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession

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Measure Will Be Sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner for His Signature

HB 218 replaces the threat of jail time and a criminal record with a civil penalty — a $125 fine, similar to a traffic ticket — for possession of a small amount of marijuana

The Illinois Senate on Thursday approved a bill 37-19 to remove criminal penalties for possession of a small amount of marijuana. The measure, which was approved by the House of Representatives in April, will now be sent to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner for his signature.

HB 218, introduced in the Senate by Sen. Michael Noland (D-Elgin) and in the House by Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), makes possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana a civil law violation punishable by a $125 fine. Individuals will no longer face time in jail, and the civil offense will be automatically expunged in order to prevent a permanent criminal record.

“Serious criminal penalties should be reserved for individuals who commit serious crimes,” Rep. Cassidy said. “The possibility of jail time should not even be on the table when it comes to simple marijuana possession. Criminalizing people for marijuana possession is not a good use of our state’s limited law enforcement resources.”

Global: Major Groups Call For UN To Respect Countries That Legalize Marijuana

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Human Rights Should Take Priority Over Drug Enforcement, New Letter Says

As the United Nations prepares for the first comprehensive review of global responses to drug problems in nearly two decades, a broad coalition of more than 100 organizations is pushing for the international body to respect countries that move away from prohibition.

"Existing US and global drug control policies that heavily emphasize criminalization of drug use, possession, production and distribution are inconsistent with international human rights standards and have contributed to serious human rights violations," the groups write in a new letter being released on Tuesday.

Groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, Global Exchange and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights are among the signatories. Also notable are a number of organizations devoted to health policy and AIDS services.

The letter's release is timed to a United Nations "High-Level Thematic Debate on the World Drug Problem" taking place in New York on Thursday, May 7, in preparation for a UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) scheduled for April 2016. Advocates believe that countries should take the UNGASS as an opportunity to pursue a range of reforms to global drug policy, including revising provisions of the UN Drug Conventions that threaten to stand in the way of reform.

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