July 21, 2009 – It will come as absolutely no surprise to some, that in 1971, the year British Petroleum took out the largest bank loan in history to finance its offshore oil explorations (a statistic which still stands today), the serving British government implemented the Misuse of Drugs act. A law which would take away the cannabis plant from those that need it most, forever.Picture 12

Ever since, successive governments have told the wider population how bad cannabis is for us. Indeed the evidence delivered through a carefully crafted press campaign which spans almost a century, has been delivered with such force and magnitude, the very mention of the word ‘Cannabis’ these days brings about much sharp-intaking-of-breath, accompanied by lots of nudge’s and wink’s.

But does it really deserve the bad rap it gets in the press? Because the fact is, and whether the British Government, the police or even President Obama himself will admit it in public, the much maligned cannabis plant is the most often used recreational illicit narcotic in the world. And with regular user numbers reaching over 250 million around the world, and barely a ripple of adverse reactions to the active elements in the marijuana plant, it could also quite possibly be the safest substance in the world. According to their own statistics.

Now before all our Conservative readers change the channel I would like to present for you some evidence.

Legalize Cannabis? Not anytime soon
All around the globe the politics surrounding cannabis present us with mixed up, convoluted theories. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called it “lethal”, even though half of his serving Cabinet admitted using it whilst they climbed the political ladder from University to Whitehall. That’s a fact.

President Obama famously admitted not only to using cannabis, but also to inhaling..frequently, stating “Thats the point, right?”, when he was asked about his past drug use in the Presidential Elections in 2008 and rather than bore the pants off the long-suffering reader with a long and very well documented list of who inhaled, suffice to say enough people of influence and power have used cannabis recreationally, without any ill-harm coming to them, to push through a decision to decriminalize the substance if they so desired.

So its fair to assume no matter how much the lobbyists spend in communicating with the powers that be, due to how the political system actually works, career politicians can just keep causing delay after delay, keeping cannabis illegal pretty much as long as they want to, and regardless of what the electorate wants.

Yes we can? (Oh no we can’t!)
Which is NOT exactly the new democratic beginning we were promised when Obama was swept to power, is it? One of the primary arguments for NOT legalizing cannabis is its propensity to induce amotivational behavior – the tendency not to care, when you really should care.

But the list of politicians, actors, industrialists and sportsmen and women, including the Olympian with the largest haul of gold medals to date, (Michael Phelps) who admit to using cannabis disproves this theory out of hand.

Motivation
If you give a person the motivation to succeed a large majority of them will. So blaming cannabis for the failings of humanity is nothing more than a convenient cop out. And its a cop out which no longer holds any water.

United Nations
The health argument against cannabis is a campaign which is being orchestrated by the highest office within the United Nations. A global quango inspired by a political machine more set on finding ‘jobs for the boys’ than actually solving the worlds drug problems.

And the motivations behind such a steadfast campaign for an unrealistic pipe dream in which abstinence is the key word in a nations drugs policy can only be speculated, but one thing is for sure. You can bet its down to money somewhere along the line.

1937 Marijuana Tax Act
When the campaign against the drug which ‘makes blacks think they’re as good as whites’ was presented to US congress by Harry Anslinger in 1937, the resultant Act did not itself criminalize the possession or usage of hemp, marijuana or cannabis, but levied a tax equaling roughly one dollar on anyone who dealt commercially in cannabis, hemp or marijuana.

The Act did however include penalty provisions and a complex Regulation 1 codifying the elaborate rules of enforcement to which marijuana, cannabis, or hemp handlers were subject. Violation of these procedures could result in a fine of up to $2000 (a kings ransom back then) and five years’ imprisonment.

The net effect was to increase the risk for anyone dealing in the substance. It also signaled the start of the longest lasting conflict in the history of mankind. The drug war.

In 1937 its worth remembering the oil industry was still in its infancy. We simply didn’t have the convenience of rotary moulded plastics, and liquid resins with which to fit out a nations war machine, so when the US were drawn irresistibly into the second world war on December 7th 1941 with the devastating attack on Pearl Harbour, all of a sudden there was a materials crisis which needed the nations full attention.

Hemp for Victory
The American government’s answer to the crisis was to make a movie. But not just another old Ronald Regan movie. This was a film which was designed to encourage all of the farmers whose livelihoods had recently been removed by the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act, to step up to the plate and grow Hemp for Victory. Again.

The 1942 movie encouraged and taught farmers to grow variants of hemp suitable as raw material for hawsers used by the U.S. Navy and the Merchant Marine, prior to the adoption of Nylon rope – an oil industry by-product which was not yet widely available.

The hemp was also used as a substitute for other fibrous materials that were blocked by Japan. Materials for the construction of uniforms, webbing, canvas for tents, truck-backs and footwear (the list is endless) and it was quickly realized humanity was not yet ready to live without industrial hemp. Maybe we could live without it, but we couldn’t win a war!

Soon afterward every person with some spare ground was playing their part in the overall victory, by growing hemp.

Just how versatile IS hemp?
Hemp is used for a wide variety of purposes, including the manufacture of cordage of varying tensile strength, clothing, and nutritional products.

The long (hemp grows tall) bast fibers can be used in 100% hemp products, but are commonly blended with other organic fibers such as flax, cotton or silk, for apparel and furnishings, most commonly at a 55%/45% hemp/cotton blend.

The inner two fibers of hemp are more woody, and are more often used in non-woven items and other industrial applications, such as mulch, animal bedding, insulation materials and litter.

More recently a British company has found a lime/hemp mix which is ideal for building ‘carbon neutral houses’ cheaply and quickly.

Natural ‘Organic’ Plastics
The oil from the fruits (“seeds”) dries on exposure to air (similar to linseed oil) and is sometimes used in the manufacture of oil-based paints, in creams as a moisturizing agent, for cooking, and in plastics.

Many of these products which today we rely on the oil industry to produce for us.

Have I seen the movie? What movie?
Interestingly, before 1989, the ‘Hemp For Victory’ film was relatively unknown, and the United States Department of Agriculture library and the Library of Congress told all interested parties that no such movie was made by the USDA or any branch of the U.S. government.

But much to their chagrin, two VHS copies were recovered and donated to the Library of Congress on May 19, 1989 by Maria Farrow, Carl Packard, and the ‘Grandfather’ of hemp, Jack Herer.

We can only ponder why the US government would deny all knowledge of a film it made.

Hemp Nutrition
Hemp nutrition is also a hot potato at the moment. Due to it being able to give the human body an almost perfect ratio of omega 3, 6 and 9, its an ideal replacement which could help save our struggling deep-sea stocks.

Perhaps surprisingly this combination of essential fatty acids, (they’re called essential because we can’t make them ourselves), minerals and vitamins is delivered in its most rudimentary form. A seed.

But before we can actually get at it, we need to get the good stuff out, and we achieve this by cold pressing the seed, and harvesting the valuable hemp seed oil.

A New ‘Oil’ Industry?
Cold pressing hemp seed oil is a practice which can be traced back through time. The hemp seed has traditionally provided the entire oil requirements for many races, just as the Olive continues to do today.

Just over a decade ago a Canadian entreprenour called Mike Fata acquired some cold-oil pressing equipment and started supplying four local health food shops in Canada with fresh cold pressed hemp seed culinary oil.

11 years on and his company Manitoba Harvest is one of the most well-known hemp nutrition vendors in the world, with an annual turnover which is counted in the tens of millions of dollars. From little acorns…

Drill your own oil
As more people become aware of the benefits of a high hemp seed diet, so the markets require new products to furnish the demand. One British company to take advantage of the rise in hemp’s popularity has a particularly GOOD story to tell.

Good Oil
Henry Braham, is a Director of Photography, and Glynis Murray, a Movie Producer. They met around 15 years ago, when filming together.

Something they still do in fact – their latest film is Everybody’s Fine , with Robert De Niro, Kate Beckinsale and Drew Barrymore.

Soon after they met they found they had more in common than movies – both grew up on farms.

Henry & Glynis bought Collabear Farm in 1996, and started farming themselves.

Henry says that they never set out to produce a culinary oil, “like all the best journeys, we never had a specific destination in mind.”

They started by looking at options for sustainable farming.

Hemp had just been reintroduced to the UK – a crop that had been key to the economy in Northern Europe for centuries, but had fallen out of fashion in recent years.

It fitted their requirements perfectly. Hemp is hugely beneficial to the environment, and can be used in an impressive range of eco friendly products. It meant they could grow a crop that was both sustainable and profitable.

Henry and Glynis grew hemp successfully for fibre – used to manufacture the interiors of Mercedes and BMW 5 and 3 series cars. But it was only when they picked and tasted the seeds in the fields that they were inspired to develop a culinary oil.

‘They were delicious,’ says Henry.

‘And then we began to learn all about the incredible health properties of hemp seed. It is very high in essential fats, has about half the saturated fats of olive oil and is the most naturally perfect oil in terms of omega -3 and -6.’

But getting the oil to taste as good as the raw hemp seed wasn’t easy.

‘It took us ages to get it right,’ explains Glynis. ‘It was a question of trial and error. And, when you’re growing a crop, you do one trial, have your error, and then have to wait another year.’ It was 10 years before they perfected the harvesting and pressing of the seeds to produce an oil that tastes like the seed in the field. Hence why GOOD Hemp Seed Oil today tastes so GOOD!

But a great taste isn’t the only consideration. Hemp seed oil will run a power station just as readily as it will power a car engine or a domestic central heating system. And when you take into account for an investment of around £10,000 every community in Wales could theoretically own its own hemp seed oil press, the ramifications for the petroleum industry start to manifest a little more clearly.

Hemp in Wales
Imagine a farmer growing hemp on his own land, never having to buy fuel oil again for his machinery, or central heating oil to warm his farm house?

Electricity from a ‘green’ oil electricity generator is a not too distant option, making the entire farm self-sufficient power-wise.

As a one-off, as is the case of Henry Braham and Glynis Murray above to a degree, it makes for a novel tale. But if the concept were taken up on a much wider scale you can be sure the petroleum industry would have something to say about it.

Conspiracy Theory
So the government fans the flames of ambiguity by publishing this story or that regarding cannabis-the-drug.

Its a health risk. It could cause cancer. It could cause mental illness, and pressure-groups spring up, run by mothers who failed as mothers, and who “lost their children to cannabis”.

But the fact is the numbers of people who have an adverse reaction to cannabis are precious few in relation to how many actually use it.

In the meantime around 7 million UK citizens and in the region of 240 million others elsewhere around the world sit wondering what all the fuss is about.

Climate Change
Simply by deploying hemp in a number of situations which are currently fueled by fossil oils, we could substantially reduce the amount of CO2 we pump into the atmosphere every single year, so it comes as a huge surprise to hear not one global leader mention hemp playing a part in any of their plans to reduce Co2 levels.

The fact is the petroleum industry holds the world in its vice like grip, and any talk of further freeing up the industrial hemp plant would doubtless lead to sanctions from OPEC – The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. A powerful council indeed, and one which has in its power the ability to raise the price of crude oil from $65 to $140 per barrel in under a year, with the huge financial burden this would (and did) place on society as a result.

In the United Kingdom, when the oil industry and the government meet they do so not at the place of work of the government, in London.

The Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequor must fly to the far north of Scotland, to Aberdeen, to meet the oil men, and there are not many industries in the UK which have this financial hold over the government. One or two at the most.

Chicken & Egg
Going back to 1937 its fair to assume that when Harry Anslinger appeared before the US Congress, an appearance which brought about the implementation of the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act, he did so (as the story goes), to stop the influence of marijuana being brought in from Mexico with the influx of foreign workers which had traveled north in the hunt for work, as well as to escape Pancho Villa’s marauding revolutionary army.

At least, that’s how history will tell it.

However, the fact is, the move was motivated not by any great public health concerns, but by how much money a few wealthy men stood to lose from their infantile petroleum explorations.

Explorations which went on to create some of the wealthiest families on the planet and in doing so, could well have destroyed our fragile eco-system for good.

But all is not lost, and if we can disentangle cannabis-the-drug, and industrial hemp for long enough to attract some outside investment, who knows where that will end?

What we do know though, is the petroleum industry stands to be hit hardest, should cannabis, (and as a result industrial hemp) ever become legalized.

So don’t hold your breath waiting.

For everything you ever wanted to know about the fantastic hemp plant but didn’t know who to ask, please visit http://www.jackherer.com/

For more information about GOOD Oil, please visit their website which can be found at; http://www.goodwebsite.co.uk

Source.

June 27, 2009 – To quote Leonard Cohen, “Everybody knows” – and according to media reports, everybody knows Michael Jackson abused michael-jackson-neverland-foreclosureprescription medications – legal medications that most likely brought about his death. Was Michael a troubled soul? It appears so. Were laws bent or broken in providing his access to these drugs? Possibly. Recent news reports suggest Hollywood has a plethora of licensed medical doctors who provide and some say “push” prescription drugs onto celebrities.

Should we judge Michael harshly for choosing to use drugs to deal with his personal challenges? Of course not – we should mourn his loss, celebrate his creativity and feel gratitude for the gifts he gave us. However there arises a nagging question – as a caring community, did we fail Michael? Could we have done better? What can we learn from his tragic story?

As we shine our collective lights on Michael Jackson’s life not only do we see an extremely talented individual but we also see a man struggling to make good choices in his life. And like many millions of others of us who choose to medicate with drugs to deal with our life’s challenges – be they legal or illegal – Michael Jackson’s choice of powerful prescription pain killers reminds us that none are immune to getting lost on the path of life and making a fatal choice.

So what is society’s responsibility? How can we help others from meeting a similar end? One important tool we have at our disposal is our drug policies. An recent experience has taught us that implementing strict approaches like prohibitions and imprisonment don’t work. America already arrests one of its citizens every 43 seconds for illegal drug possession and incarcerates more of its people than any other country in the world. Recent reports inform us that now many more deaths occur in America from the abuse of legal prescription drugs than illegal drugs and in fact, prescription drugs are the second leading cause of unintentional death in the United States. These are drugs approved for sale and prescribed by medical doctors. In light of Michael Jackson’s death, how can we continue to differentiate between the abuse of legal and illegal drugs? Which issue is more important – the legality of the drug he used or the outcome of the abuse?

To this point, a recent U.N. Global Drug Report urges global leaders to stop viewing illegal drug abuse as a criminal matter – an approach that judges and vilifies those using drugs. Rather the report’s authors encourage us to view drug abuse for what it is – a health matter – one that can severely impact emotional, physical and psychological health. Impacts that became painfully obvious in the final years of Michael Jackson’s life.

The implications of the U.N.’s recommendations are dramatic. Rather than using our limited resources to wage war on our citizens, throwing them in jail for using illegal drugs to self treat their ailments, we need to shift those resources and our approach to addressing and treating the root causes and effects of drug abuse. This will not be easy.

America does not have a public health care system, so for many Americans access to professional advice can be very costly. This is partly why some people choose to access illegal drugs instead legal drugs in the first place. Furthermore, we need to appreciate that by making certain classes of drugs illegal we socially vilify and marginalize the populations of individuals who self-medicate with those illegal drugs – and consequently, even if they are able to afford it, they often do not seek the necessary medical services that could help them assess and manage their drug use.

It’s time for major change. Our communities are littered with too many sad stories and bad outcomes from untreated drug abuse. It’s time to stop differentiating between illegal and legal drug use and begin to see all drug users as people in need of health services and compassionate support. Michael Jackson’s death is a stark reminder that we in society can judge and marginalize even our most precious contributors. Let’s celebrate Michael’s life by approaching others facing life’s challenges with acceptance, compassion and support. Let’s face it – the absence of this compassion is likely at the root of why drugs are abused in the first place.

By Richard Sharp.

June 25, 2009 – Anything goes in the “war on drugs,” or so it seems. Governments around the world have used it as an excuse for unchecked human rights abuse and irrational policies based on knee-jerk reactions rather than scientific evidence. war-on-drugs-1This has caused tremendous human suffering. It also undermines drug control efforts.

That human rights abuses are widespread is no secret. Nor is frivolous rejection by many governments of proven, effective strategies to protect the health of drug users and communities. Both have been well documented.

In 2003, law enforcement officials in Thailand killed more than 2,700 people in the government’s “war on drugs.” More than 30 U.N. member states, including China, Indonesia and Malaysia, retain the death penalty for drug offenses — some as a mandatory sentence — in violation of international law. In Russia, untold thousands of heroin users cannot obtain opioid substitution treatment because the government has banned methadone, despite its proven effectiveness.

In the United States — and many other countries — prisons are overflowing because drug users are routinely incarcerated for nonviolent, low-level drug offenses. These prisoners often have no access to effective drug treatment or basic medical care. In Colombia, Afghanistan and other countries, crop eradication has pushed thousands of poppy and coca farmers and their families deeper into poverty without offering them any alternative livelihood and has damaged their health.

In China, hundreds of thousands of drug users are forced into drug detoxification centers, where they can be detained for up to three years without trial, treatment, or due process. In India people are dying in uncontrolled detoxification programs.

The “war on drugs” has distracted countries from their obligation to ensure that narcotic drugs are available for medical purposes. As a result, 80 percent of the world population — including 5.5 million cancer patients and 1 million terminally ill AIDS patients — has no access to treatment for severe pain. Strong pain medications are almost unavailable in most African countries. In India alone some 1 million cancer patients endure severe pain; most have no access to appropriate medications because of restrictions on prescribing them.

Such failure by the governments to ensure access to controlled medicines for pain relief or to treat drug dependence may violate international conventions proscribing cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Moreover scarce resources are being diverted from effective treatment to programs with no proven efficacy.

This is not only a human rights problem: It is bad public policy. Research shows that abusive drug control practices, including mass incarceration, are ineffective in controlling illicit drug consumption and drug-related crime, and in protecting public health. Scientific evidence has shown that more supportive “harm-reduction” programs prevent HIV among injection drug users, protect people’s health and lower future health costs. And for those with untreated pain, ignoring their needs removes them and their caregivers from productive life.

In March 2009, the United Nations met in Vienna to set new drug policies for the next 10 years. Sadly, the strategy adopted by member states contains scant human rights commitments. It congratulates the international community for what it says are successes of the past 10 years of drug policy, without mentioning its collateral damage. It proposes to continue those policies, with little change, for the next 10 years.

On Friday, the United Nations observes both the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. As the U.N. special rapporteurs on health and torture, we take this occasion to urge member states to end abusive policies and to create drug policies based on human rights that include harm reduction, access to evidence-based drug treatment and essential medicines, and protections against torture in law enforcement.

Too many lives are at stake for the current head-in-the-sand politics, and if the United Nations and member states continue to bury their heads, they will be complicit in the abuses. Source.

24 June 2009 – Amid an increasingly brutal struggle for a bigger slice of the $50 billion global cocaine market between Central American drug 24-06-2009drugscartels, the head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has warned that legalizing narcotics would be an “historic mistake,” in a call for a global boost in drug treatment and crime control.
UNODC Executive Director, Antonio Maria Costa, acknowledged that laws controlling narcotics have created a huge black market for illicit drugs that thrives on violence and corruption.

However, “a free market for drugs would unleash a drug epidemic,” said Mr. Costa, as UNODC launched its 2009 World Drug Report today in Washington, DC.

“Proponents of legalization can’t have it both ways,” he said. “Legalization is not a magic wand that would suppress both mafias and drug abuse.”

Mr. Costa stressed that attempts to remove drug-related crime by decriminalizing illicit drugs – as some have suggested – would be an “historic mistake” because of the danger narcotics pose to health.

“Societies should not have to choose between protecting public health or public security. They can, and should, do both,” he said in a call for more resources for drug prevention and treatment, and stronger measures to fight drug-related crime.

The international cocaine market is undergoing seismic shifts, with purity levels and seizures in the main consumer countries going down, prices on the rise, and consumption patterns in a state of flux, noted Mr. Costa. “This may help explain the gruesome upsurge of violence in countries like Mexico. In Central America, cartels are fighting for a shrinking market.”

Over 40 per cent of the world’s cocaine is seized, mostly in Colombia, compared to less than 20 per cent of opiates – opium, morphine and heroin – captured, according to the World Drug Report.

In West Africa, a major transportation hub for trafficking to Europe, a decline in seizures seems to reflect lower cocaine flows after five years of rapid growth, the report said.

“International efforts are paying off,” said Mr. Costa, who launched the report along with newly appointed Director of the US Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske. Yet drug-related violence and political instability continue, especially in Guinea-Bissau, he added.

“As long as demand for drugs persists, weak countries will always be targeted by traffickers,” said Mr. Costa, adding that if “Europe really wants to help Africa, it should curb its appetite for cocaine.”

The new UNODC study reported that opium cultivation in Afghanistan, where 93 per cent of the world’s total is grown, declined by 19 per cent in 2008, and Colombia, which produces half of the world’s cocaine, saw an 18 per cent decline in cultivation and a 28 per cent decline in production.

“The more opium is seized in Afghanistan’s neighbourhood, the less heroin on the streets of Europe, and vice versa, the less heroin is consumed in the West, the more stability there will be in West Asia,” said Mr. Costa who plans to bring the message to a Group of Eight industrialized nations (G-8) ministerial conference on Afghanistan later this week in Italy.

Mr. Kerlikowske said that US President Barack Obama’s Administration is “committed to expanding demand reduction initiatives,” adding that through “comprehensive and effective enforcement, education, prevention, and treatment, we will be successful in reducing illicit drug use and its devastating consequences.”

The Report provides a number of recommendations on how to improve drug control, including the treatment of drug use as an illness.

“People who take drugs need medical help, not criminal retribution,” said Mr. Costa, appealing for universal access to drug treatment with the argument that people with serious drug problems provide the bulk of drug demand and treating this problem would contract the market.

Mr. Costa also called for an end of what he characterized as the “tragedy of cities out of control,” pointing out that most “drugs are sold in city neighbourhoods where public order has broken down. Housing, jobs, education, public services, and recreation can make communities less vulnerable to drugs and crime.”

Government enforcement of international agreements against organized crime, such as the UN Conventions against organized crime and corruption, and greater efficiency in law enforcement with a focus on the large volume of petty offenders, would also help international drug control efforts, he said.

Mr. Costa noted that in some countries, five times as many people are imprisoned for drug use compared to drug trafficking. “This is a waste of money for the police, and a waste of lives for those thrown in jail. Go after the piranhas, not the minnows.”

Source.

June 24th, 2009 – In an about face, the United Nations on Wednesday lavishly praised drug decriminalization in its annual report on the state of global drug policy. In previous years, the UN drug czar had expressed s-POT-largeskepticism about Portugal’s decriminalization, which removed criminal penalties in 2001 for personal drug possession and emphasized treatment over incarceration. The UN had suggested the policy was in violation of international drug treaties and would encourage “drug tourism.”

But in its 2009 World Drug Report, the UN had little but kind words for Portugal’s radical (by U.S. standards) approach. “These conditions keep drugs out of the hands of those who would avoid them under a system of full prohibition, while encouraging treatment, rather than incarceration, for users. Among those who would not welcome a summons from a police officer are tourists, and, as a result, Portugal’s policy has reportedly not led to an increase in drug tourism,” reads the report. “It also appears that a number of drug-related problems have decreased.”

In its upbeat appraisal of Portugal’s policy, the UN finds itself in agreement with Salon’s Glenn Greenwald.

The report, released at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., also puts to rest concerns that decriminalization doesn’t comply with international treaties, which prevent countries from legalizing drugs.

U.S. Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske is scheduled to appear at the announcement of the report. (He has said “decriminalization” is not “in my vocabulary.”)

“The International Narcotics Control Board was initially apprehensive when Portugal changed its law in 2001 (see their annual report for that year), but after a mission to Portugal in 2004, it “noted that the acquisition, possession and abuse of drugs had remained prohibited,” and said “the practice of exempting small quantities of drugs from criminal prosecution is consistent with the international drug control treaties,” reads a footnote to the report.

The UN report also dives head first into the debate over full drug legalization. Last year’s World Drug Report ignored the issue entirely, save for a reference to Chinese opium policy in the 19th Century. This year’s report begins with a lengthy rebuttal of arguments in favor of legalization. “Why unleash a drug epidemic in the developing world for the sake of libertarian arguments made by a pro-drug lobby that has the luxury of access to drug treatment?” argues the report.

But the UN also makes a significant concession to backers of legalization, who have long argued that it is prohibition policies that lead to violence and the growth of shadowy, underground networks.

“In the Preface to the report,” reads the press release accompanying the report, “[UN Office of Drugs and Crime Executive Director Antonio Maria] Costa explores the debate over repealing drug controls. He acknowledges that controls have generated an illicit black market of macro-economic proportions that uses violence and corruption.”

Jack Cole, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and a retired undercover narcotics detective, objected to the report’s classification of current policy as “control.”

“The world’s ‘drug czar,’ Antonio Maria Costa, would have you believe that the legalization movement is calling for the abolition of drug control,” he said. “Quite the contrary, we are demanding that governments replace the failed policy of prohibition with a system that actually regulates and controls drugs, including their purity and prices, as well as who produces them and who they can be sold to. You can’t have effective control under prohibition, as we should have learned from our failed experiment with alcohol in the U.S. between 1920 and 1933.”

Source.

June 21, 2009 – In 1991, an editorial in the British Journal of Addiction condemned the inordinate amount of resources devoted to drug law enforcement, and compared the war on drugs to the witch hunts of the past.who

It’s an apt comparison, since drug warriors around the world are influenced more by myths, stereotypes and propaganda than by solid evidence. And when confronted by evidence that conflicts with the myths, stereotypes and propaganda of the drug war, the warriors seek to bury it rather than address it head on.

The 1995 Cocaine Project, a joint effort of the World Health Organization and the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, is a case in point.

You might never have heard of the Cocaine Project, and you might wonder why we’re discussing a report that’s 14 years old. The answer is simple: The WHO has never published the report, and even denied its existence, at least until last week when it was leaked to a Netherlands-based think-tank, The Transnational Institute.

This is unfortunate, given that the report sought the advice of experts from around the world, assessed cocaine use from Australia to Zimbabwe, and is the largest global study on cocaine ever conducted.

But a brief look at some of the study’s conclusions and recommendations reveals why it has been buried for the past 14 years.

For example, the report condemns the “over-reliance on law enforcement measures,” and recommends that “education, treatment and rehabilitation” programs be increased to re-balance our approach to problematic drug use.

Perhaps because the report was buried, this over-reliance on enforcement continues today, and many experts are saying the same thing the WHO said 14 years ago. But such recommendations don’t sit well with many drug warriors, who remain convinced of the seminal importance of law enforcement in decreasing drug use.

Reasonable people can disagree on how best to deal with drug abuse. But the facts are a different thing entirely, and what bothered the drug warriors the most wasn’t the report’s recommendations, but its statements of fact — that is, its findings about the effects of cocaine use.

The report notes, for instance, that health problems from “the use of legal substances, particularly alcohol and tobacco, are greater than health problems from cocaine use.”

If that weren’t enough, it states that “few experts describe cocaine as invariably harmful to health,” and that problems “are mainly limited to high-dosage users.” Indeed, “occasional cocaine use does not typically lead to severe or even minor physical or social problems . . . a minority of people start using cocaine or related products, use casually for a short or long period, and suffer little or no negative consequences, even after years of use.”

To top it off, the report states that the “use of coca leaves . . . has positive therapeutic, sacred and social functions for indigenous Andean populations” — a reference to South American aboriginals who have used coca leaves for thousands of years.

Now, however politically incorrect these conclusions are, they are either factually correct or incorrect. If they’re incorrect, they ought to be countered vigorously; if correct, they ought to inform our drug policy.

Instead, the WHO buried the report, largely as a result of pressure from the United States.

It’s interesting to note that in 2008, the WHO reported that the U.S. has the highest rate of cocaine use in the world. Interesting, but not surprising, for no drug control approach can be “proven” if it is the result of intentionally ignoring the evidence.

In fact, the U.S. provides a perfect example of the folly of attending to the evidence one likes, and ignoring the rest.

Now that the WHO report has been published by the Transnational Institute, it’s time for all countries to take a long, hard look at their drug policy, and at the evidence, and to ensure that the former is informed by the latter.