general assembly

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Global Commission on Drug Policy 'Profoundly Disappointed' With UN

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The Global Commission on Drug Policy on Thursday announced it is "profoundly disappointed" with the adopted outcome document agreed at the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on "the world drug problem." According to Commissioners, the document does not acknowledge the comprehensive failure of the current drug control regime to reduce drug supply and demand.

"Nor does the outcome document account for the damaging effects of outdated policies on violence and corruption as well as on population health, human rights and wellbeing," the statement from the Commission reads. "By reaffirming that the three international conventions are the 'cornerstone of global drug policy,' the document sustains an unacceptable and outdated legal status quo."

"UNGASS has not seriously addressed the critical flaws of international drug policy," the statement reads. "It does not call for an end to the criminalization and incarceration of drug users. It does not urge states to abolish capital punishment for drug-related offences. It does not call on the World Health Organization (WHO) to revisit the scheduling system of drugs. It does not advocate for harm reduction and treatment strategies that have demonstrated effectiveness. Finally it does not offer proposals to regulate drugs and put governments – rather than criminals – in control.

Global: Blumenauer Says UN Drug Policy Should Be More Just and Compassionate

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U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (Oregon) this week joined leaders from around the world in New York at the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem. Rep. Blumenauer attended the opening day’s events as a Congressional observer.

“There is no better time than now for world leaders to gather to reevaluate international drug policy," Blumenauer said. "The War on Drugs has failed. Instead of escalating the horrific violence of this war, we need a more just and compassionate approach that focuses on public health and harm reduction, rather than punishing drug users.

“I was encouraged to hear a number of countries leading the charge for a different approach, in particular from those countries that have changed or are considering changing their policies surrounding the treatment of marijuana," Blumenauer said. "It was also very promising to hear Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, representing a nation that has experienced horrific violence as a result of the War on Drugs, announce his support for legalizing medical marijuana in Mexico and a call to change a paradigm of prohibitionism that has not yielded results.

New York: More Than 1,500 Visit Opening Day of the Museum of Drug Policy

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The Museum of Drug Policy in New York City opened up to long lines and more than 1,500 people attending events all day long on Tuesday, including a sold-out #NerdlandForever: Melissa Harris-Perry Live show.

Special guests included The Wire's Michael K. Williams, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, Orange Is The New Black's Piper Kerman, Comedian Cristela Alonzo, 12 Years A Slave's Adepero Oduye and many members of the international community.

The Museum of Drug Policy, supported by The Open Society Foundations, is an immersive art experience and pop-up cultural hub with special live programming looking at the impact of current drug policies on populations around the world.

The Museum will be open on Park Avenue in New York City for three days this week, during the United Nations General Assembly’s Special Session (UNGASS) on the world drug problem.

More than 70 works of international art will be on display, including special installations, and the Museum will feature daytime discussions and evening performances with a powerful lineup of speakers, panels, performances and keynote addresses that will take attendees on a journey exploring the real impact and human cost of drug policy in communities around the world.

Global: UN Orders Security To Confiscate Open Letter Calling For End To Drug War

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Letter Signed by Over 1,000 Leaders and Celebrities, Distributed by Performers Dressed in Prohibition Era Costumes, Seized from Attendees Entering the UN

Hillary Clinton Latest to Sign Letter, Joining Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Cory Booker, Warren Buffett, George Soros, Richard Branson, More Than a Dozen Former Heads of State, and Hundreds of Other Legislators, Cabinet Ministers, Former UN Officials, and Celebrities

On the opening day of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) gathered more than 60 performers dressed in costumes from the era of U.S. alcohol prohibition to greet attendees at the entrance to the United Nations and hand them copies of the “Post-Prohibition Times,” a newspaper printout of a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urging him to set the stage “for real reform of global drug control policy.”

UN Security was apparently ordered to confiscate the letter, and attendees were ordered to hand over their copies upon entering the building. According to a number of participants in the UN Special Session, they were told that the document was not allowed in the building.

Global: More Than 1,000 Leaders Issue Worldwide Call For End To Disastrous Drug War

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“Humankind cannot afford a 21st century drug policy as ineffective and counter-productive as the last century’s,” Letter Says

On the eve of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem, world leaders and activists have signed a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urging him to set the stage “for real reform of global drug control policy.”

The unprecedented list of signatories includes a range of people from Senators Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders to businessmen Warren Buffett, George Soros, Richard Branson, Barry Diller, actors Michael Douglas and Woody Harrelson, Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, singers John Legend and Mary J. Blige, activists Reverend Jesse Jackson, Gloria Steinem and Michelle Alexander, as well as distinguished legislators, cabinet ministers, and former UN officials.

“The drug control regime that emerged during the last century,” the letter says, “has proven disastrous for global health, security and human rights. Focused overwhelmingly on criminalization and punishment, it created a vast illicit market that has enriched criminal organizations, corrupted governments, triggered explosive violence, distorted economic markets and undermined basic moral values.

New York: 'Race and the Drug War' Strategy Session Set For Eve of UN Assembly on Drugs

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On Sunday, April 17, just prior to the UN General Assembly’s Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS), scholars and activists will participate in what is likely the largest strategy-session that has been held in New York City on racial justice and drug policy.

Brought together by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) and Columbia University’s Center for Justice and Center on African American Politics and Society, hundreds of the nation’s leading advocates will gather for this unprecedented collaboration around race, economic justice, drug sellers, drug users, stigma and what policies we need to embrace if we are serious about ending both America's racial caste system and the Drug War.

Last month, an article in Harper’s confirmed what many have suspected all along: that the Drug War was designed with the intent of destroying black communities. It quotes John Ehrlichman, Watergate co-conspirator, as saying: “We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did."

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.

Global: Canadian, Mexican Lawmakers and Advocates Discuss Marijuana Law Reforms

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US Cannabis Legalization Emboldens International Moves, Which Spur Further American Efforts

Just weeks ahead of the highest-level review of the global War On Drugs in nearly two decades, national legislators and activists from Canada and Mexico will join on Wednesday with US-based drug policy reformers to discuss the countries' moves moves away from prohibition-based marijuana laws.

"With the governments of both Canada and Mexico preparing to enact major reforms to their marijuana policies, these moves will have a major impact on the debate here in the US," said David Borden, executive director of StoptheDrugWar.org. "This is especially true with the special session of the United Nations coming up in just a few weeks, where world leaders will have the opportunity to discuss the failure of current prohibition-based drug policies and chart more effective ways forward."

Legislators and advocates will join in Wednesday's discussion, including:
• Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, Member of Canada's House of Commons, who argued for legalization at a recent UN/Inter-Parliamentary Union debate on marijuana
• Laura Angélica Rojas Hernández, Mexican senator, who also spoke in favor of legalization at the UN/Inter-Parliamentary Union debate
• David Borden, executive director of StoptheDrugWar.org
• Donald MacPherson, executive director of Canadian Drug Policy Coalition
• Aram Barra, program officer for Transform Drug Policy Foundation and México Unido Contra la Delincuencia

Global: Canada To Advocate Marijuana Legalization At UN Drug Conference

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The long awaited, much anticipated UN General Assembly's Special Session on Drugs will happen April 19-21 at the UN Headquarters in New York City, and Canada is expecting to advocate for abandoning the organization's longstanding prohibition of marijuana.

Just a month before the important UN drug conference begins, Assistant Deputy Minister of Health Hilary Geller, at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting in Vienna this month, said the new Canadian Liberal government headed by Justin Trudeau will be moving away from American War On Drugs policies, as pointed out by Lanny Swerdlow at the Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project (MAPP),

The Canadian government plans not only to legalize marijuana, but also to open for safe-injection sites for intravenous drug users and to promote other harm-reduction policies.

Attendees at that conference, made up of government and non-governmental organization officials from around the world, "erupted in applause" mid-way through Geller's address and gave a prolonged ovation.

Geller's presentation was at odds with the policies of the former Canadian government of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose Drug War policies closely followed those of the United States, including implementing mandatory-minimum prison sentences and boosting police narcotics enforcement.

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: Civil Society Groups Condemn Governments For Failure In Global Drug Policy

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More than 200 civil society groups from all over the world on Monday released a statement condemning governments for failing to acknowledge the devastating consequences of punitive and repressive drug policies as they prepare for a UN summit on the issue next month.

In April 2016, world leaders will gather in New York to decide on the future of global drug policy, at the first UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the topic in two decades. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for this meeting to be a “wide-ranging and open debate that considers all options.”

But as the preparations continue this week in Vienna at an annual meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), it is becoming clear that the ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to rethink the failed ‘war on drugs’ is unlikely to deliver, according to Monday's statement.

“The global community had high hopes for this important opportunity for a considered re-think of how to control drugs, but by denying the realities on the ground and failing to admit a new approach is required, governments are at risk of squandering this rare moment,” warned Ann Fordham, executive director of the International Drug Policy Consortium. “There is still time to rescue the process before the final summit in New York next month, but governments must be honest about the challenges and allow new thinking and new ideas.”

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.

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 Commission On Drug Policy Report: The Negative Impact of Drug Control on Public Health

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The Global Commission on Drug Policy (GCDP) on Monday released its third thematic report, The Global Crisis of Avoidable Pain: The Negative Impact of Drug Control on Public Health: at the 24th International Harm Reduction Conference (IHRC2015) taking place October 18-21 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The report was launched by Commissioners, former Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss, UN Secretary General Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Michel Kazatchkine and former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Anand Grover.

Key conclusions of The Global Crisis of Avoidable Pain are:

Ninety-two percent of the world’s supply of morphine is consumed by just 17 percent of the global population, with consumption primarily concentrated in the global north. Seventy-five per cent of the world’s population does not have access to any pain reliving drugs. That is to say, that most people, in late stages of cancers, enduring severe forms of acute or chronic pain, simply do not have access to pain relief, despite these medicines being included in the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines.

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.”

Uruguay Recommends Marijuana Legalization To Rest Of The World

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Uruguay isn't just defending its own national sovereignty regarding its legalization of marijuana. The small South American country is now recommending that the rest of the world adopt its policies as an alternative to the War On Drugs.

The Drug War creates a "diversion of focus," according to Andres Roballo, president of the National Drug Board, making it necessary to switch to a "sophisticated" way of regulating cannabis, rather than prohibiting it, reports El Diario.

Roballo made the remarks during an international seminar on "New Approaches in Drug Policy in the 21st Century." Lawmakers from Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico and Uruguay discussed a "paradigm shift" when it comes to the prohibition and legalization of drugs.

For now, domestic growers responsible to providing the substance for registered users through the Institute for Regulation and Control of Cannabis (IRCCA) are the only ones who have profited from legalization. About 3,000 growers are operating nationwide, according to officials.

"We are telling the world that the market regulation of marijuana is possible," said Ernest Samper, secretary general of the Union of South American Nations.

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