CND intersessional: 24 January 2017 – Evolving reality, trends and existing circumstances, emerging and persistent challenges and threats, including new psychoactive substances

Operational recommendations on Cross-cutting issues in addressing and countering the world drug problem: Evolving reality, trends and existing circumstances, emerging and persistent challenges and threats, including new psychoactive substances, in conformity with the three international drug control conventions and other relevant international instruments

Angela Me, UNODC. There are many aspects of drugs that we need to research. I will be introducing my colleagues so that they can share how we can work together in this area. There is an issue of data, indicators, ARQs to collect data and conduct reviews. I will discuss tomorrow because it is an issue on international cooperation that goes beyond chapter 5 to show how CND could take some steps.

CND Chair. I think this is a good moment to brief you on New York on the substantive dealings we’ve had on statistics. This was a meeting with ECOSOC chair and most subsidiary bodies. The focus of the discussion was about how we can contribute within our different mandates to deliver on the SDGs. For the CND, there were special briefings and dialogues with the CSW – I want once again to thank the Mexican Ambassador for chairing the event in December. It was a best practice event to show how we can work together. One of the conclusions from this half day meeting was that all the subsidiary bodies had to see how they could, in concrete terms, measure their delivery on the SDGs. Looking back at the presentations yesterday, especially the one from Belarus, how they were able to reduce HIV transmissions and save lives by redirecting funds. One high civil servant from the UN said that if we only have aggregated data, you don’t really want to do anything about the issue. If you want to do something for people, you need the underlying strict data to do that. I mention this because all subsidiary bodies will want to demonstrate how to deliver on the SDGs. We can’t deliver on health goals if we don’t focus on PWUD. This is key for us and this morning we have seen how the work UNODC is doing is a counter-force to delivering on the SDGs. Funds are being diverted, activities undermine institutions and increase violence. So these aspects are very key. This is a core point of discussions in New York and was a central theme. There was a reference to the very important statistical meeting in Cape Town. Let me give you two data: of 193 UN member states, 100 countries miss data on births and deaths. Of all children under 5, 1 in 5 is not registered anywhere. I’m illustrating this – if you want to do something on children or populations you need to have statistics.

UNODC. The NPS problem continues to grow, we have gone beyond 110 at the moment. Over the past few years, we’ve known the problem is diverse, it is heterogenous, some have seen 2 NPS, others have seen 100s. Some can leave the market, others are transient. We must come up with practical recommendations. Put all these numbers aside, what matters most is the increase in the number of fatalities. One problem came out clearly – perhaps not all these NPS are as dangerous as we think they are. Perhaps we must start prioritising the most harmful and persistent NPS for international action. UNODC, INCB, WHO, regional bodies like EMCDDA and some countries have worked to prioritise the most harmful and prevalent NPS for international action and give you evidence for informed scheduling decisions at CND. Some progress was made in 2016 CND and considerations to be made in 2017. But there are challenges we have to address as member states and UNODC to prioritise these substances. Interventions at national level for law enforcement or health, need to be done after we’ve identified substances – this is the top priority. All our monitoring systems are only as good as data you feed into it. Until we can get detailed data it will be difficult to prioritise substances and give you the evidence base you need. What if after CND decisions there are no plans to implement these decisions on scheduling, these substances stay on the national markets. We need to remedy this.

Let’s look at what we can do as member states to address prioritisation. We must improve monitoring and analysis of data on NPS, by empowering law enforcement officers and forensics laboratories, promote early warning systems, improve sharing of information at bilateral and international levels. Some countries have done a lot since the UNGASS document came out and have established early warning systems. But we must link these national systems to regional networks and UNODC advisory tools. Finally, the conventions are all about the health and welfare of mankind. It is important to share experiences we have at country level in addressing the health harms of NPS. In the next few months, we have plans to support this work. At the end of last year, we sent questionnaires on NPS, this will be fed into the work of WHO. Thank you for those who participated, but we need more data. In terms of platforms for bilateral exchanges, we have events planned: next week we have a regional meeting for the Western Hemisphere to share information on substance prioritisation in Bogota; two weeks later with partner with INCB in Bangkok for an event on precursors. For prioritisation, we must focus on the most harmful substances. We will launch a report on toxicology and forensics at CND 2017 to determine which substances are most harmful, and we will have the usual UNODC/WHO expert consultation to review progress on prioritisation on substances.

Chief of drug research section, UNODC. I will address two of the recommendations listed in the outcome document. Firstly, request for reliable data, sharing of best practice and lessons learned with CND. At the UNGASS, and in recent years, we’ve seen that illicit drug markets post significant challenges, most of all because of diversification in products, trends, spread of NPS, and in the more traditional drugs, as well as in the modus operandi of traffickers and diversification of smuggling routes, and in the consumer market with the emergence of new markets along the trafficking routes and new destination markets. There is another element – that of globalisation with less relevance of national borders for traffickers and consumers alike. We need a holistic approach to understand these dynamics and consider all global elements in the market. The threats of opiates, cocaine, have not vanished. There are impacts in terms of economy, security, governance and public health. There is a need to support, through sharing of knowledge and data, an analysis of a market that is truly global and systemic, covering both supply and demand – not only drug trafficking routes.

Secondly, at UNGASS and elsewhere, there were mentions of the need to invest in ‘new’ drug research areas where there has been less investment. There is a need to share information on human rights, gender, development, and transnational organised crime, corruption, terrorism and illicit financial flows. In many areas, research methodologies are still under development. There is a need to share knowledge and expertise in those areas. We also need to support national drug monitoring systems, especially when these are not in place. Sharing expertise from places where this is already in place is important.

Another recommendation is for CND in collaboration with other UN bodies to develop guidelines on certain areas of research. One technique is the waste water analysis or sewage drug epidemiology which estimates how much of a drug was used in a population using water treatment plans. It is less expensive than a population survey and triangulated with other methods this can give accurate and reliable information. We should also share existing practices and develop common guidelines on indicators and measures that are already in use, and new ones that should be developed for monitoring illicit financial flows and the SDGs. I want to mention here the new interagency group on drug epidemiology co-led by UNODC and WHO and includes international organisations such as UNAIDS and regional entities such as the AU, EMCDDA and OAS. This structure or technical group should help review different measures and indicators on drug use and its consequences, and help align practices and improve comparability and reliability of data.

Precursors Control Section, INCB. I want to bring you back to the issue of precursors and pre-precursors. The outcome document includes much recommendations based on international cooperation with industry, identification and sharing of incidents (seizures of laboratories and transhipments between countries), monitoring mechanisms and making use of INCB tools, which are all voluntary mechanisms. It also asks INCB to provide platforms like project PRISM, or project COHESION. More recently, a new platform was created with ION on NPS, providing the infrastructure for real time information sharing and collaboration on incidents involving these chemicals. They are involving officials from law enforcement or health, and many others. They have helped cooperation at national level. The projects have proven that success can be achieved when governments work together and engage in joint action.

With a view to the future, in particular the upcoming CND, I want to repeat some concrete proposal INCB has made in the past to control non-scheduled substances that should be prioritised and others that are harmful on the market. On the precursor side we also need to deal with many substances and chemicals that are not controlled. From INCB’s point of view, we need to share information with a focus on ‘actionable’ information, that other countries can act on. This can be informing other countries of activities so that there is cooperation or similar measures undertaken between neighbouring countries. We should also have information sharing on legitimate uses. This morning there was a discussion and contribution from Singapore on specific drugs – this should be shared so that others can use this to know which substances have no legitimate use.

This information should be centralised somewhere. Another area is voluntary cooperation between industries: chemical pharmaceuticals, courier services, etc. at all levels. Again, sharing information and mechanisms in place when there is suspicion on a substance, the group will go elsewhere, so it is critical that we share information so that this criminal group doesn’t have access to the requested substance elsewhere. Another element would be to explore twinning activities for capacity building to ensure that those who want to learn from those with more developed systems can do so via mechanisms already in place. Diversion attempts and sharing information can also prevent it happening elsewhere. It is clear that we cannot schedule all substances – we cannot rely on international controls. For precursors, INCB continues to tackle those, but other mechanisms would need to be established such as ‘reversal of burden of proof’ and ‘chemical structure’ tools. We look at something specific but these are important aspects of our work. These proposals are complementing what has been said and what is necessary, but they are effective in areas where drugs are not under international control. The 3rd conference on NPS will be an occasion to explore these issues further.

Malta, on behalf of the European Union.

Chair,

Once again, in regard to items 44 to 46 of the remarks of H.E. Ambassador Pedro Moitinho de Almeida, which in effect are a proposal for a way forward, the EU and its Member States fully support the three recommendations pertaining to, action that could be taken by the CND to support Member States in the implementation of the UNGASS operational recommendations, reviewing the work of the UN subsidiary bodies in order that they are able to better support the implementation of operational recommendations of the outcome document at regional level, and finally, to strengthen the use of the CND post UNGASS website.

The EU and its Member States have a system in place to assess new psychoactive substances appearing on the market and in the coming months, the legal tool to control such substances, if deemed necessary. The key to the success of the system is the use of toxicological data on the health harms of the new psychoactive substances and their inclusion in the database that may be accessible to all.

Understanding the extent of the NPS challenge, the EU is working to have in place a more rapid system for scheduling the most dangerous new psychoactive substances that appear on the EU level and cause significant public health and social harm.

Information plays a key role when speaking about new psychoactive substances. Therefore we would like to express our support for the inclusion of toxicological data on the health harms of new psychoactive substances as is the case in the Early Warning System in the EU Early Warning Advisory database, which would contribute to addressing the evidence gap in the health harms of new psychoactive substances.

The World Health Organisation plays a crucial role in addressing new psychoactive substances and this may be facilitated by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction in a more formal way. It should enhance its surveillance of new psychoactive substances that cause concern and regularly update its surveillance list. Sharing this information with Member States and other relevant actors is of major importance – issuing voluntary public health alerts where there is sufficient evidence that a substance poses a significant risk to public health and safety would also be a positive development. In the European Union, the use of public health alerts issued by our Drugs Agency proved to be a useful tool to provide a more targeted response to the new psychoactive substances.

The EU and its Member States appreciate the importance of the work done by the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence. The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction already plays an important role in supplying the WHO Expert Committee with extensive data on new psychoactive substances, collected from the whole European Union. In this process, we consider that Member States should be provided with the opportunity to contribute to the process for prioritising substances for review on an informal, voluntary basis. The EU and its Member States also support the actions of the INCB in the area of new psychoactive substances.

We also consider that CND website could be used more proactively for sharing relevant information on the substances and deliberations of the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence as well as on the substances proposed for the review. Needless to say it is of great importance that once CND decided to schedule NPS, effective actions would follow to implement these decisions. In this respect we support the UNODC work done to facilitate the implementation of the CND scheduling decisions including providing reference standards on substances controlled under the UN drug conventions, and delivering identification and detection training for law enforcement and laboratories.

Thank you, Chair.

Russia. To prevent the spread of NPS, we must create a dedicated space within ION and IONIX so that detection of new substances and effect will also allow for exchange of research purposes. This will include scientific methods for testing of substances, publications and training materials, markings and packaging of drugs. The importance is enhanced control. Russian law provides for criminal penalties for trafficking in substances but also for trafficking in derivatives and equivalents of psychotropic drugs and substances. There is a need to address the sale of new types of drugs over the internet and with electronic payments. Last November, we saw a mass distribution of drugs using Viber and WhatsApp. Russia adopted legislation on the use of internet prohibiting the use of internet resources prior to a trial. We need to coordinate our efforts in fighting NPS. We support UNODC’s SMART monitoring analysis and trends programme, we need to adapt the early warning system in the boom of dangerous substances for international control. We welcome the involvement of toxicologists who help evaluate the harms of these substances. We want to inform the CND that Russia signed a decree expanding the control of drugs prohibited in Russia. The schedule now includes synthetic cannabinoids and NPS. It’s important to have cooperation with industry and producers of precursors. We encourage furtherance of INCB projects to strengthen public-private partnerships in this regard.

Peru. We must strengthen national and regional measures. Bearing in mind new trends to address the challenges of NPS. The growing threat posed by ATS and their impact on health, we must also address the harms of precursors and abuse for non-medical purposes of drugs including psychotropic components. We must strengthen cooperation among national and regional agencies, we must enhance monitoring mechanisms. Moreover, we deem it important to provide technical assistance to member states for analysis and control of chemical precursors, making available expertise and tools. We need evidence on new trends, challenges and threats, to identify measures to tackle the problem, including NPS and chemical precursors. We should also promote an exchange of information to get a diagnosis of NPS.

UK. NPS are a global problem. There are now over 700 unique substances reported over 110 countries and there is growing evidence of their public health harms. Member states agreed a series of recommendations on this issue and we must now turn to implementation. Two elements will be taken forward – a resolution to CND this March taken by UK and the setting up of international working groups on NPS to draw forward the implementation of the UNGASS outcome document as it relates to NPS. Many of the principles of effective treatment for NPS are the same for established drugs, but their particularity may need a tailored treatment response. We have a project that has developed clinical guidance based on the systematic review of evidence in treating NPS harms. We value the work of the UNODC early warning advisory. Our resolution will seek to strengthen this mechanism to enhance our joint response to these substances. The WHO’s evidence based reviews of substances helps us control the most harmful substances – we must strengthen this role to alert states swiftly to emerging threats. We plan to circulate a draft and consult you ahead of March. As well as implementing the outcome document, the CND should monitor this implementation – the international working group on NPS is a good forum to do so and are preparing a report on the matter. It will be a contribution to progress made at UNGASS and will be shared ahead of the CND in March. The international community has made significant progress on NPS but much remains to be done. We look forward to work further together.

On the work of the CND in the post-UNGASS process, we are keen to ensure that the CND approach adds value and is cost effective. The focus should be on implementation of UNGASS outcomes rather than on new potential meetings in the future. As we begin to discuss the future work of CND in the post UNGASS process, we should be mindful of research already being conducted by UNODC such as the world drug report and reports on the 2009 political declaration and the ARQs. We should look to these tools as we monitor the UNGASS outcome document. CND should look at how the work of the subsidiary bodies can help in implementing the outcome document. A cost effective approach should ensure that existing HONLEA meetings can provide expertise and open discussions.

Hana Gabrielová, NGO Konopa. In 1961, the plenipotentiaries stated in article 28, §2 that the new Convention on narcotic drugs « shall not apply to the cultivation of cannabis plant exclusively for industrial purposes (fibre and seed) or horticultural purposes. » Besides the medical and recreational uses that are well known, cannabis plant has been used by and served humankind for thousand of years as agricultural crop for fiber, cloth, ropes, paper, and for seeds for food. All of these uses of the Cannabis plant fall under “diversion” and “non-medical uses” under the International drug control regime. This existing circumstance (the broad range of uses that some scheduled drugs can have) is too often forgotten in the debates of this Commission, although constituting an emerging and persistent challenge in addressing the world drugs issue.

Under a social and economical scrutiny, hemp industries continues to create jobs and work opportunities. Under a broader focus, 55 years of evidences have shown that hemp can be part of the solution for many environmental issues, and should be acknowledged in particular for its potential for economical development and for the fulfillment of the goals of the Conference of Parties on Climate Change and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development :

  • Hemp crops store CO2 emissions,
  • it produces renewable material which can sustainably replace trees in making paper,
  • it can be turned into biodegradable plastic
  • hemp can be used instead of concrete for building,
  • and the rich seeds of hemp represent a meaningful nutritional contribution to address the world hunger.

When the international community scheduled cannabis as a narcotic drug, we didn’t know so much about cannabis plant from scientific point of view. But since 1965, more than 120 thousands publications about cannabis and cannabinoids were inventoried by the respected “Web & Science“ page. And meanwhile, fields of hemp kept growing around the globe, and the demand for hemp product increased. But hemp farmers and manufactures are still too often getting into trouble because of the lack of clear legal regulation regarding growth and uses. No industrial activity can ever get stability without legal regulations. In 80’s cannabis become back to the market as industrial hemp crop but since that The Single Convention hasn’t been updated on this issue.

To conclude, the inclusion of non-psychoactive cannabis within anti-drug strategies has created devastating effects on large segments of our society all over the world. This must change, and Hemp products should be available worldwide and regulated by the international community through evidence-based, reasonable, modern and clear laws. Therefore, we ask the State Parties of the 1961 Single Convention to fully implement its Article 28, paragraph 2, and take their responsibilities to rectify at the national level one of the biggest mistakes in the history of mankind. We also ask the Commission on Narcotic Drugs to acknowledge this cross-cutting issue, and encourage its members to undertake the relevant national regulations allowing the growing and development of hemp crops and related manufactured, to help improve the quality of life of their citizens.

Canada. The number of NPS poses a problem for Canada. We need to respond quickly to this threat. As highlighted previously, we are facing an opioid crisis. It’s difficult to give exact figures, but there were about 700 deaths because of use of fentynol and this is growing. The profit margins are high and criminal organisations will continue to sell these products. We encourage the international community to take action to share information on existence, prevalence and harms. We call on CND to schedule ANPP and NPP into the conventions and we offer our support for this proposal. We also encourage the CND to highlight the risks associated with NPS and their harmful effects and share information among law enforcement and health authorities such as what will happen in Bogota and Bangkok.

Argentina. We want to share with you information on NPS. We are also starting to feel the impact of increased consumption of NPS. It is not the main drug use, but is increasing. The key lies in building capacity at national level, compile relevant information with all stakeholders involved and international community. National studies have revealed issues on supply and demand in NPS. This is a patters among many member states. The national observatory carries out studies which have shown high levels of modification, varieties of blends and mixtures and information should be rapidly made available. We have established an early warning mechanism based on research by other countries and entities. At international level we cooperate with a number of tools available, such as the PIX platform and the COHESION platform. We intend to participate in all encounters on this respect, including meetings to be held in Bogota and Thailand. It would be timely to maximise to the upmost all the instruments available to us through UNODC and CND and other member states based on international cooperation.

Indonesia. The manufactory, smuggling and use of drugs continues to be a major threat. The trend is moving away from cannabis, and towards ATS and 36 types of NPS, of which 33 are regulated under control of the MoH. Organised crime has targeted Indonesia as a potential market for NPS. It has penetrated all levels of society. To gain more profit and target young people, they are using the internet to sell NPS and narcotics. Children are now targeted through online sale. The problem is complicated by the numerous legislations and jurisdictions involved. A firm law enforcement approach against groups and individuals is necessary and critical.

China. We want to make the four following points. Scheduling must be strengthened for NPS. For now, it lags behind. China is in favour of strong scheduling. We are in favour of openness and impartiality. We must conduct a review in a comprehensive and inclusive manner. Scheduling NPS prevents loopholes in international laws. International monitoring of NPS must be strengthened. All agencies should strengthen international cooperation to improve early warning, monitoring and reporting of NPS. Sharing information of technical cooperation and legislative amendments and synchronised work in all areas of trafficking and abuse. International exchange of information should be further strengthened. Trafficking is an international issue which is difficult to rely on one individual country. We call on a balanced approach and shared responsibility to share information on NPS abuse and improve the capability of law enforcement to detect NPS cases through means such as training. States should focus on strengthening control of precursor chemicals. It will be almost impossible to put these all under control. It is also impossible to ask all countries to put chemicals under control. We have always taken the need to schedule chemicals. We call on all countries to abide by the 3 drug control conventions to take concrete actions and strengthen law enforcement cooperation and deal with non scheduled chemicals.

Marie Nougier, International Drug Policy Consortium. Thank you Mr. Chair for giving me the opportunity to make this intervention. My name is Marie Nougier, Senior Research and Communications Officer at the International Drug Policy Consortium. IDPC is a global network of 170 NGOs that come together to promote drug policies based on human rights, human security, social inclusion and public health.

Chapter 5 of the UNGASS outcome document is broad-reaching, so I will focus my intervention on three main issues: firstly, the need to strengthen the role of the World Health Organisation in reviewing substances for international scheduling; secondly the need to review targets and indicators to measure global drug control; and thirdly an assessment of new challenges to the UN drug control regime.

Firstly, the unprecedented rise in the number of NPS available in the illicit market has generated a regulatory panic – and the issue of NPS features prominently in the outcome document. Here at CND, the recent attempts to schedule substances such as ketamine against the expert advice of WHO undermines its treaty-mandated role. We therefore welcome the call, in paragraph 5.f, to strengthen the capacity of WHO. We hope that the role of the WHO’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence in scientifically reviewing substances for scheduling will be better promoted, fully respected, and adequately funded. The decision to conduct a pre-review of cannabis is a positive step in this regard.

Secondly, paragraph 5.v asks for the intensification of ‘efforts in the context of long-term and sustainable development programmes to address the most pressing drug-related socioeconomic factors’ linked to involvement in drug-related crime. This is a welcome addition as the intersect between involvement in illicit drug activities and poverty, inequality and social marginalization have gained visibility as a result of the UNGASS.

The post-UNGASS process is a strategic moment for member states to consider developing better targets and indicators that meaningfully measure the impacts of drug policies and strategies. Experience worldwide has repeatedly showed that focusing exclusively on achieving a drug-free world has led to numerous human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings and prison overcrowding, without any evidence that such strategies reduce the scale of drug markets and their associated harms.

The Sustainable Development Goals offer a comprehensive human rights-based framework, and include various indicators that can truly assess the effectiveness of drug policies against the objectives of protecting health, improving access to justice, achieving gender equality, or reducing corruption and violence.

Monitoring progress towards these new targets would require a revision of the Annual Reports Questionnaires. In 2010, an expert group was established to update the ARQs to reflect the contents of the 2009 Political Declaration. In Resolution 53/16, the CND adopted the revised questionnaire, further deciding that it should be ‘periodically reviewed’ by UNODC. The Post-UNGASS period is a key opportunity for UNODC to conduct a new revision of the ARQs, to reflect each of the seven pillars of the UNGASS outcome document, as well as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Finally, it is disappointing that paragraph 5 of the outcome document fails to mention the legal regulatory frameworks which have recently been established for substances like cannabis, coca or NPS – and the resulting tensions this is posing for the global drug control regime. As more and more jurisdictions are turning towards legal regulation, member states cannot keep delaying or avoiding an honest debate on the issue and the possible avenues available to address these tensions. The 2019 process will be a strategic moment to conduct this assessment, and consider all options available to ensure that drug policies are truly grounded in the principles of human rights, health and development. Thank you for your consideration and your continued commitment to the meaningful participation of civil society.

Chair. Lets start. We will continue with Chapter 5. I will give the floor to Colombia. Madam you have the floor

Colombia. Evolving reality and implementation of cross cutting approach requires ongoing innovation. We would recommend. That CND INC UNODC establish standing mechanism to develop indicators in light of operational recommendations. Secondly, in line with omnibus resolution UNODC provide tech assistance and capacity building for compilation of reliable date. Finally, two recommendations regarding new substances. Exchange of information in safe real time manner. Share intelligence info. Secondly, we recommend that INCB develop additional strategies to contain precursor substances.

Chair. I now give floor to japan

Japan. Thank you very much Mr facilitator. Welcome operational recommendations. Japan concerned about rapid spread of synthetic drugs, including NPS and APS. Vital to enhance international cooperation. Common and shared responsibility of international community. Japan values work of UNODC and INCB in tech assistance, especially global smart program. Recognise further strengthening necessary. CND should encourage state to increase international cooperation.

Chair. Thank you. I now give floor to Switzerland.

Switzerland. Thank you ambassador. Chapter 5 addresses use of internet for drug related activities, paragraph 5t. Internet also sued for provision of counselling. Prevention activity implemented by Swiss governmant, called Safe Zone. Internet prime channel of communication for drug prevention. Online platform, brings together different tools. Embraces comprehensive approach, provides information and counselling and on all issues of addiction, like addiction to the internet. Threshold is very low, users can choose how they get in touch. Remain anonymous, provided free of charge. Team of experts stands ready. Linked for quick reference. Safe Zone does not replace traditional counselling services, complements them. Formally launched in June 2016, it is the Swiss way of implementing resolution 5t

Chair. I now give floor to the USA

USA. Thank you very much chair. Welcome increase of scheduling of NPS, improvement of information sharing for NPS. Encourage CND to look for further way to strengthen NPS voluntary measures. Appreciate UNODC and INCB efforts for USA proposal to schedule fentanyl precursors.  To promote best practices.

Chair. Now give floor to Dr Kubu from the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Association.

Pavel Kubu, International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Association. It is a honour for me to address this meeting on behalf of the International Medical Cannabis Patient Coalition (IMCPC), which brings together organizations of medical cannabis patients from 39 countries in 5 continents. IMCPC was established in Prague in March 2015 where we also adopted a Declaration requesting all States taking part at the UNGASS on Drugs in 2016 to support the rights of patients that require medical cannabis preparations for their treatment. As you know, the access of patients to cannabis as medicine is prohibited in most countries and severely curbed in many others.

In our Declaration we have identified that the obsolete scheduling status of cannabis under the 1961 Single Convention represents the main obstacle for its medical and scientific use. We have requested that UNGASS addresses this problem. We very much welcomed that the document confirmed the commitment of States to adequate access to controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes and expressed the wish of States to address all existing barriers including legislation and regulatory systems. Patients in need of cannabis for their medical treatment should be included among these medications. Some Governments have already acted accordingly and opened or extended the access to medical cannabis to their patients. We are happy to note the recent legislative changes in Germany and we invite other countries to follow such progress.

A major step in the right direction, in line with requests in our Declaration of March 2015 and the CND’s Resolution 52/5 from 2009, was also the decision of the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence at 38th meeting in November 2016 to pre-review cannabis at ECDD meeting dedicated to cannabis to be held within the next eighteen months from the decision. It is important that this pre-review process is followed promptly by a critical review. This can happen before UNGASS 2019. Most information that WHO needs for the objective evaluation of cannabis is already available. In March last year, with the support of our co-founding member organization the “Americans for Save Access”, a group of international experts prepared Cannabis and Cannabis Resin Critical Review Preparation Document which was peer-reviewed and adopted at the International Conference on Harmonization of Global Cannabis Policy, in Washington D.C., in March 2016. IMCPC provided this document to the Director-General of WHO and to the ECDD.

Mr. Chair, under agenda item in chapter 5 of the outcome document, we encourage the Commission to explore cannabis treatments as a strategic tool to combat misuse of strong opioids in countries such as the US. As the practical experience from some US states implicates, the access to medical cannabis significantly lowers the levels of medical use and misuse of opioids. Mr. Chair, a revision of the current scheduling status of cannabis under the 1961 Single Convention would be a major step towards implementation of the UNGASS outcome document. We request the WHO to address this issue as priority and we invite all States and international bodies, such as CND, INCB and UNODC, to support WHO in this regard. We would like to assure Governments and WHO that IMCPC members are ready to provide all information at our disposal to WHO and Governments, in order to facilitate and speed up this process.

Chair. I now give the floor to Pakistan.

Pakistan. Thank you very much. 4 quick points. Need to focus domestic control on precursors. operational challenge at national level detection and identification of psychoactive substances. We request CND to emphasize relevant equipment and training.

Chair. Thank you I now give floor to Ecuador.

Ecuador. Thank you Chairman. Regarding paragraph regarding use and availability of data, we are preparing baseline to identify strategies. At same time, developing information into socioeconomic cost of drug phenomenon. Very difficult to better understand socioeconomic impact. Government has undertaken actions as well as private sector to reduce demand of drugs. Aims of study to gage econ impact of drug use. Identify socioeconomic costs of drug use. And to provide technical guidelines of effective policies. This study assesses 4 types of costs. Direct governemnt costs. Public and private direct costs in terms of health. Public and Private direct costs in terms of losses. Public Private costs in terms of loss of productivity. Ecuador is implementing emerging intervention strategy. In order to reduce availability of drugs. To conclude my country, suggest that CND include in report information about emerging realities in our countries based on scientific evidence.

Chair. I now give floor to Uruguay.

Uruguay. Thank you facilitator. For Uruguay issue of evolving realities require significant participation. Uruguay highlights establishment within omnibus resolution, which calls for interagency cooperation. In order to effectively tackle need to broaden understanding of drug policies. Must continue to support cooperation between member states. As well as cooperation between entities to keep mandates. Establishment of new indicators, leaving behind supply focused approach, these understood in a broader action. In this regard my country proposes that ARQ questionnaire includes HR, SDG and access to medication. For Uruguay, implementation and follow up of recommendations of outcome document fundamental. Also encourage UNODC to share information among member states in order to implement outcome document.

Chair. This was last MS to ask for the floor. Ask secretariat to show us on screen San Patrignano foundation.

Monica Barzanti, San Patrignano Foundation. I am Monica Barzanti and represent the San Patrignano Foundation, in Ecosoc Status since 1997. Founded in 1978, San Patrignano Community has provided over 25,000 people with a home, medical and legal assistance, education and job training, social reintegration, completely free of charge. 72% of those who completed the program, fully reintegrated into society, remain drug-free. We also welcome people with special needs: offenders in alternative sentencing, as well as minors, pregnant women and mothers with kids.

Over the last decades most countries have experienced an increase in the use of cannabis, cocaine, prescription drugs and new synthetic substances, while the use of heroin remains stable or increases, as it is happening in US, which is facing an heroin epidemic.  It is necessary to find solutions to the social, economic and cultural threats that this new trend constitutes, as it affects all social classes, highly advanced countries as well as developing countries, particularly impacting poor and marginalized populations, making them poorer and more marginalized. The complexities surrounding the global drug problem requires an equally complex approach, based on public health, with a human rights perspective: individuals, families and societies need help to reduce the impact that problematic drug use has on them.

We suggest these Actions Points:

  • Treatment services should provide a full and complete range of opportunities
  • These opportunities should be provided to all and everyone, free of charge or at an affordable cost
  • Special attention should be devoted to those serving prison sentences, fostering the opportunity of an alternative to incarceration, in full respect of human rights
  • Best practices should be identified through the research, and made available to Governments, Institutions and NGOs working in this field.

We totally support the UN Conventions, the relevant international human rights conventions and charters, and the UNGASS 2016 Outcome Document that reads: “We reaffirm the need to address the key causes and consequences of the world drug problem, including those in the health, social, human rights, economic, justice, public security and law enforcement fields, in line with the principle of common and shared responsibility, and recognize the value of comprehensive and balanced policy interventions, including those in the field of promotion of sustainable and viable livelihoods”.

Chair. Thank you. If there are no further interventions, now continue with chapter 7. Thank experts for being here and for their interventions.

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