Post-UNGASS Facilitator: I encourage the same level of active participation as we had yesterday, which was a good discussion. Please do ask questions of the panellists. On the panel today, we have the Colombian Ambassador, Angela Mae from UNODC, Gilles Fortes from WHO, Paul Griffiths from EMCDDA, and an NGO representative from the Golden Colombia Initiative.
Angela Mae, UNODC: Cross- cutting issues of data, analysis and information, and what we can do as CND to improve what we have today. We need quality data to monitor, including the 2009 targets to eliminate or reduce measurably five targets. Some things we can measure, but some we can’t. The SDGs have given us a solid indicator framework. You cannot improve what you cannot measure. Target 3.5 is the most relevant for us here, and these have already been approved by ECOSOC and so are a recognised international gold standard, and are a call for better information.
So what do we know? At the national level, some countries have better information than others to understand the threats and emerging threats. We know that we have healthy drug markets, which are increasing and producing unhealthy consequences. These markets are increasingly complex and are being changed by technology. Prevention and treatment practices can hardly keep up with these challenges. A decade ago, the profile of drug users was less varied. Drug markets are also becoming more linked with other threats and markets such as terrorism and organised crime. And we also know that corruption is a facilitator of drug markets. The World Drug Report finds an increase in cocaine production, and even more recent results from Colombia suggest this is an even greater expansion. For opioids too, we are in an expansion phase. The same for markets for synthetic drugs and NPS – based on data from seizures.
Knowledge gaps include knowing who is most at need for prevention and treatment programmes. The data we have are biased towards developed countries, as these countries have the capacity to produce data. We are missing data from large countries in Asia and Africa. Plus we do not know enough about specific population groups – youth, the elderly, women, migrants. We need to know more about where all of the opium from Afghanistan is going, as most of the opiates in North America are not from this market. The lack of information on drugs being used makes treatment ineffective – most services are geared up to tackle heroin use, but new approaches may be needed for other groups and drugs. We need to know what is being used, and where. Also, where does the drug money go? Not just the routes and geographical destinations, but who are the stakeholders – banks, buildings, etc? What are the drivers of illicit cultivation? We need to move forward together, as drug traffickers do not wait until we get our data in place. The basic data needs must not be forgotten either – these must remain.
Concretely, what can we do? We can look at the international data collection exercises and make them better through consolidation and innovation – learning from the gaps that we have and ensuring that we keep up with modern drug markets, dynamics and impacts. We can launch a new capacity building programme for member states on data collection – again looking at consolidation and innovation. You do not need to re-invent history, we can promote more effective and more affordable options such as the waste-water analysis method. UNODC already announced a new initiative on data collection, but the response was timid. We can learn from this and better understand the needs and commitments of member states, and can aim to launch this to improve drug information systems.
CND Chair, Norway: This discussion is key to the follow-up from CND Resolution 60/1. There are two key areas on how we can get better data coverage, and the element of moving together is the key. We must grasp the totality of the documents we have in front of us. We are now ready to move with some expert consultations, which will take place from the 29th to 31st January next year. They will be inclusive, covering different regions (invitations will go to all countries), and will address the different segments of all of our documents. Something will be coming from the Secretariat shortly and, with the help of some donor countries, we also have some financing to support participation to ensure a good geographical balance.
Comment from Pakistan: The importance of data collection and research cannot be over-emphasised. We need to invest more in research to assist us in tackling this complex challenge and improve our interventions. Whenever we get feedback from national authorities, there is an increasing desire at the national level to improve data collection – but there are also always capacity restraints. I would like to share my expectation for the UNODC capacity building programme, that attention is paid to most-affected transit states such as Pakistan. For the January meeting, we look forward to participate, but when we engage in a discussion on how to strengthen data collection we must not forget the need to also improve the response rate to the existing data collection tool (ARQs), which also needs to be kept in perspective.
Question from Russia: Can you provide more information on what we know about the internal drivers of illicit cultivation?
UNODC Response: The results of the survey we have done will be available in November. Internal drivers include insecurity, such as in Afghanistan, as well as drivers related to the rural nature of communities – the lack of infrastructure, market access, employment opportunities and other rural dynamics which depend on region by region. In the South of Afghanistan, with well irrigated land, the issue is more about insecurity. In the North, it is more about rural inequalities.
Colombia: Video from the Deputy Minister: Soon to be available on the CND website.
Julie Laroche, Associate Director of Drug Science and Surveillance, Health Canada: Canada’s challenges with regards to NPS include their rapid appearance and disappearance, and the absence of studies on longer-term harms and consequences, the use of the internet to promote supply, and the variations between what is advertised as the active ingredient and what is really in the product. Looking at police data from 2010 to 2016, you can see a lot of changes over time between different substances being seized. This includes the increasing number of fentanyl analogues appearing in analysis. The use of NPS, “legal highs” and research chemicals poses a major threat to health in Canada. So we initiated a pilot project taking a user-centred approach to generate information on the use of NPS in Canada, using a survey launched in October 2017. This will provide one more line of evidence. It also allows for the delivery of warnings about what kinds of substances people can expect to come across.
In terms of synthetic opioids in Canada, we have fentanyl and fentanyl analogues, with regional differences in their source (patch diversion versus illicit production). U-47700 is another opioid of interest, responsible for three non-fatal overdoses in 2016, and detected in at least 254 law enforcement exhibits. Canada has drugs legislation to protect public health and public safety, and this groups substances into one of eight schedules – the first four of which are controlled. The scheduling approach could be very narrowly tied to a specific substance, or very broadly covering an entire category of substances. In Canada, substances are listed by substance itself, by compounds or by chemical groups. We consider the chemical and pharmacological similarity to substances already scheduled. We also consider licit uses and value – commercial etc – as well as the risks to public health and safety. In its new approach, Canada has scheduled multiple NPS under our national law – several have been scheduled by compounds or classes of schedule. Last December, the Minister of Health announced a new drugs strategy, which restores harm reduction as a key pillar, and permitting a new temporary scheduling authority. This new authority enables us to temporarily schedule substances for one year, with possible extension for another year, if there is enough evidence of a threat to public health and safety, and if it is being imported or produced for no legitimate purpose.
In terms of the UNGASS outcome document Chapter 5, we are meeting many of the recommendations made. We schedule amphetamine-type stimulants as a chemical group under Schedule 1 (the strictest Schedule). We are using innovative online survey methods, and our new drug strategy reflects the innovation that is encouraged – taking a user approach to increase knowledge, developing a national early-warning system, and looking at class and analogue approaches to scheduling where possible.
Question from India: You mention that, under particular brand names, different chemical compositions may be found. Does this mean that fake products are being made?
Response from Canada: I meant that, on the illicit market, certain brands and product names are used – but the composition of these products will vary markedly.
Question from Russia: To what extent has the problem being faced in Canada been brought about by prescription practices for opioids? Also, we have seen that people who use synthetic drugs go on to use traditional drugs such as heroin – to what extent do you see this in Canada?
Response from Canada: On prescription drug abuse, yes this continues to be an issue and we are still trying to work out how to tackle this. In terms of the shift from synthetic drugs, this is a phenomenon we have heard of but we still have significant data gaps.
Question from Argentina: Regarding the temporary legislation, for how long can this be extended and what are the criteria to put a substance on this list? Can the scheduling of a substance be expedited?
Response from Canada: The initial period is one year, while a more thorough analysis is conducted. When adding to Schedule 5 – our temporary schedule – it is because we believe there is a risk to public health and safety, and being imported and distributed with no legitimate purpose.
Question from EU: Is the online survey targeted at professionals or users?
Response from Canada: The survey is targeted at users, using their own forums to get their experiences.
INCB Secretariat: Chapter 5 of the UNGASS outcome document includes many recommendations related to NPS, precursors and monitoring – relevant to the mandate and role of INCB. The current situation continues to change. Diversion is now most commonly from domestic distribution channels, the systems that monitor and prevent diversion at the international level seem to be working well and need to be continued. We have also seen the emergence of “designer” precursors that are made on demand, and have only a use in the manufacturing of NPS. We have also seen a big increase in the sophistication of this market – we are today talking about a technical know-how that was not there before. Before, we were talking about makeshift laboratories and garages – but now we are talking about manufacturing at the industrial level, both for NPS and precursors. This is why it is an evolving reality.
INCB supports governments in three made areas. We provide platforms at the intersection of licit and illicit transactions – such as the PEN online system, the PICS and IONICS. These are embedded in various projects and initiatives. It is important to share information, even about who approached an industry to try and procure these substances. We also provide a truly prevention tool and guidelines on cooperation with industry and domestic controls. There have been a series of meetings on industry cooperation, and plans to twin authorities together to strengthen systems. There is also an INCB learning project with trainings etc that include NPS and precursors, and also team up with UNODC on trainings and risk assessments. We also have a role in awareness raising and information sharing. In our reports, we continue to make recommendations and share the data that we have – including through a series of thematic chapters since 2011. Our role is not just monitoring illicit trade, but also in the overlap with licit trade.
Question from Germany: Our recent resolution on this issue also promoted the pre-export notifications system. Is this being used regularly by member states?
Response from INCB: It is a brief period since that resolution, but the PEN online system is used on a daily basis – but it is only for substances that are under international control. 24 substances (26 from tomorrow, as two more come under international control). But the seizure has already happened, and we need to learn from it to prevent something like it happening in the future. This is what we need to work on.
Question from the Netherlands: NPS by definition are not scheduled, and technically are legal, so how does this marry with the mandate of the INCB?
Response from INCB: There have been resolutions on this, and it is a small segment of the work we do – looking at the evidence for non-scheduled chemicals – and we needed a mechanism to address that element. But now we are talking about NPS too, this mechanism has proven to be effective, so it was extended under IONICS to look at NPS as well. This was done in response to certain resolutions. It is only the cooperation side of it, not the toxicology side which UNODC works on. There was already a global focal point network established, so it made sense to use this.
Comment from the EU: We are committed members of the INCB task force on NPS, and they should be commended for cooperating on this important work.
Dr Gilles Fortes, WHO (via video conference): One important area of our work is the Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD), which meets annually to make recommendations to the CND on the scheduling of substances. We have worked to strengthen the work of this committee, based on the 1961 and 1971 Conventions and also strengthened by the UNGASS outcome document and several recent resolutions from CND. We look at the risks to health from a substance, the risk of abuse, but also the therapeutic use of substances. It is a question of balance. We have worked to strengthen the evidence base and information upon which the ECDD can operate and issue recommendations. We look at whether substances are convertible into substances that are already scheduled, whether they may cause abuse and dependence, and the scale of the harm they might be creating. Our recommendations are based on this. The next meeting takes place on the week of 6th November. In the last three years, around 30 NPS have been reviewed. In 2018, there will be two ECDD meetings – in May on the pre-review of cannabis, and in November for any other substances prioritised by the ECDD. We have to prioritise as there are a high number of NPS on the market – our role is not to review them all, but to do a rigorous prioritisation to ensure that the ones assessed by ECDD are the most prevalence and the most harmful. This prioritisation is done with member states, EMCDDA and UNODC and others. We also work closely with more countries to use unpublished country-level data which has not been published in scientific journals. All of this information is extremely valuable. Next month, we will evaluate 12 new substances and 4 others – including a number of fentanyl analogues and some new stimulants and cannabinoids.
We have also embarked on a surveillance system based on CND resolution 59/8, as a compliment to the work of the ECDD. This means that communications of harms and risks can be done more rapidly, in between ECDD meetings. This system does not require the same level of data that a full ECDD review requires, so that we can react quickly. It is similar to existing mechanisms that we have for pharmaceutical medicines and counterfeit medicines. The role of WHO will be to carry out an analysis of the data uploaded by member states. The ECDD will then decide if the substance should be placed on the surveillance list, and whether or not a public health alert needs to be issued. The benefits of this is having a more proactive system and a more rapid response, and to raise awareness of potential risks – particularly countries which are not equipped to detect NPS themselves. We do need additional resources to do this work, in particular to strengthen the capacity at national level to collect data on NPS, and to maintain the database and issue the alerts.
Paul Griffiths, EMCDDA (Representing the EU): Our current EU analysis shows increases in availability and potency of most drugs – we now see a more joined-up and technologically advanced drug market. This is a challenge to our current response models, and we need to keep pace with these challenges. If we look at current monitoring capacity and tools globally, they are often ill configured to do this. For stimulants, we see common elements – increased production and importation of cocaine, greater chemical sophistication in extraction for cocaine and MDMA, greater product diversification, increase use of postal services and the internet, larger production runs – and we have to conclude that our surveillance capacity is too slow, too narrow and not matched to the needs. We need to look more at online activities, toxicology and forensic data, production trends, etc.
Technology has changed all aspects of the modern world, so it is no surprise it has affected drug markets. EMCDDA’s newest analysis on crypto-markets will be available in November, looking at the use of cryptocurrencies and other issues in this highly dynamic area. In Europe, we have had an early warning system in place for several years. We have seen a drop in new detections in 2016 (66 new substances) compared to 2014 and 2015. This suggests that some of our interventions are beginning to ‘bite’ in this area and reducing the incentives. We have also got a bit better in detecting these sorts of things, but also a shift towards more use amongst high-risk groups: homeless, prisoners. 32 new uncontrolled opioids have been reported to the early warning system since 2009 – 60% of these in the last 18 months. We have also seen outbreaks of deaths linked to these drugs. Fentanyl analogues are a growing challenge, and are a major concern in North America and a growing concern in the EU. They include fake medicines, or appearing as cocaine and analgesic drugs. They are potent, which in illicit trade makes it harder to control doses when being mixed or cut, and an increased risk of accidental exposure, and can make it harder to detect if the doses are smaller (small volume packages, etc). The drug market is increasingly connected and sophisticated and we need to match this in our responses, with information that is fit-for-purpose. This needs data collection that is low-cost and matches the needs. High-potency opioids are a valuable commodity for organised criminal groups.
Question from Russia: If precursors for the manufacturing of fentanyl within the EU are coming from industrial sources – is this within the EU or outside of the EU.
Response from EMCDDA: Most are coming from suppliers not based in the EU, although we do see some secondary production within the EU as well so it is a complex situation.
Question from Turkey: For online sales, do you have any specific statistics on the balance between online and traditional sales.
Response from EMCDDA: We have worked with EUROPOL to look at this, but I am not at liberty to release these estimates now as they will be released in November. The share of the online market remains small, but is growing quickly and has potential to continue to grow and become harder to monitor in the future.
Question from the UK: On synthetic opioids, these are easy to conceal by their nature – does this mean we need to look as an international community on how we do surveillance of these?
Response from EMCDDA: This an important point to realise. At the moment, the seizures are low in total size, but can be very high in terms of the numbers of doses on the street. We need to report on these substance accurately and on potency so that we can track this better. There are many future challenges we will face in this area.
Question from Canada: Do you see potential for these high-potency, low-volume drugs to take the place of traditional markets – are cocaine and heroin on their way out?
Response from EMCDDA: No, we are seeing a buoyant cocaine market, for example. We do need to be conscious of the experiences of North America, where these substances account for the largest share of drug-related deaths. But they do present advantages to organised criminal groups in terms of the logistics of the market, so we may see them taking a more significant role in the future.
Question from Slovenia: The EU surveillance systems are high-quality, but do we need to upgrade them and in what directions should we do this?
Response from EMCDDA: We are lucky in the EU, but we are still challenged by the pace of change in this area. We have created a reporting system configured to the problems of the past, and we need to make sure we can configure it to the problems of the future. Methods such as waste water analysis have a role to play, as does forensic data – in addition to our traditional tools. This needs to be done regionally and internationally.
Comment from International Association of Addiction Medicines: I want to reflect on the pessimism on this topic, but to reflect on the concerns among patients and users themselves – they can help to share and gather information. These patients are going to have to be part of the solution to this.
Response from EMCDDA: We do need to innovate and use the modern tools and techniques, and speak to drug users, to find out how to respond. This is also important for harm reduction and treatment purposes.
Øystein Schjetne, Golden Colombia Foundation (Civil Society): First of all, thank you for this opportunity to share the reality, in which we work, of excluded populations along the drug trafficking routes in Latin America. My intervention will focus on item 10 of the fifth chapter of the UNGASS outcome document: “to better understand the extent of adverse impacts […] of drug trafficking in small quantities in order to develop […] effective responses to counter micro trafficking;”
Last week when I got the message that I had been selected for this intervention, I found myself in a little village of coffee growers up in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta on Colombia’s northern coast, the world’s highest coastal mountain. This is where the Colombian drug history started. In the 1960s this region lived the bonanza marimbera – the marijuana bonanza that deforested 12% of this marvellous national park. A couple of decades later, the coca bush came to replace the marijuana plants, accompanied by horrific violence. But today the region is free from illicit crops and armed groups, and filled with happy farmers providing fruits for the local markets and coffee for the world market. They wanted no more of the problems the drug industry brought them.
An old man in the village has told me a story from those first years of marijuana crops: At night a caravan of up to 1000 mules would descend from the highlands to one of the ports at the foot of the mountain. Heading the caravan was the farmers’ leader, carrying a shotgun, and two bags over his shoulders filled with pesos bills to make sure they reached their destination. This was the early version of “plomo o plata”: led or silver. Today, the drug traffickers apply the same principle to reach the shores and frontiers of Colombia safely with their merchandise. But with way more serious consequences, especially for the young.
Drug trafficking – both in production, transit and consumer countries – invariably results in the spill over-effect. Services are paid for in product, and the drugs end up in the local markets. Also, the drug traffickers sometimes deliberately assist in the conformation of groups of young boys, “gangs”, to distribute their drugs, the so called “micro trafficking”. The reason being, on one hand, to maximize their revenue through national markets, but also to establish a social control in societies of importance to them. It can be major cities that serve as strategic hubs, or small villages along the drug trafficking corridors. Often the demand in these countries is low and must be created or stimulated, such as giving away drugs for free in the beginning. The scene is then set for these drug-selling street-gangs to protect their territories with violence and maximize the profit from their territorial control by other crimes, such as extortion of the population and small businesses. This criminal control obviously obstructs the development these marginalized and impoverished societies need, and that is of course in the best interest of the drug traffickers – enabling them to invest in other businesses such as illegal mining and human trafficking.
This micro trafficking and gang problem constitutes one of the worst social problems on the Latin American continent today. Since 2012 the percentage of Brazilian adolescents living in the country’s major cities being murdered, has risen by more than 30%. The number of drug users has increased by almost 50% in Mexico since 2011. 43 of the world’s 50 most violent cities are in Latin America – all of them in cocaine trafficking countries. The counter measures for avoiding such a development are relatively well understood. Both the OAS report on the drug problem in the Americas and the Colombian peace accord with the FARC emphasize the importance of creating resilient communities. Through initiatives such as, to quote the Colombian peace accord, “psychosocial support, self-esteem, conflict resolution, management of free time, strengthening of the family unit, promoting a commitment to education, healthy lifestyles, development of cultural and sporting skills and recreational activities”.
However, the drug induced political corruption that is particularly prevalent along the drug trafficking routes often obstruct such public initiatives. Funds are being usurped by politicians and Functionaries, and anyhow it is not in the interest of the drug traffickers that the living conditions of the excluded population – their cannon fodder – improve. This leaves an important responsibility with the international development community to help to bring about these changes, a responsibility that in any case should be a shared one when it comes to the global drug problem. And this is the main message of our intervention: the requirements that the international donor organizations increasingly are asking in terms of specific and measurable outcomes and short-term results and sustainability, are impossible for these excluded and impoverished communities to fulfil. Their level of development is often in such a precarious state that the risks the donor organizations perceive, in relation to their own goals, are way too high. The result is that the excluded communities that are most in need of international support are not receiving it, and instead are falling prey to micro trafficking and gang violence.
We have worked in and studied communities that over many years desperately have solicited support for educational projects and social development, and not received it. The arguments for turning down the applications have typically been of a more formalistic character: such as “since there are no formal civil society organizations in the community, there is no civil society to support”. The true reason for the rejections, however, seems to be the impossibility to guarantee positive outcomes and impact from a specific intervention in communities that are so severely underdeveloped, where everything is lacking and that are under heavy pressure from drug traffickers. The world’s development policies must consider that these precarious communities being affected by drug trafficking have special needs. A broader, long term approach is needed to pull them out of the conditions that make them so attractive for criminal actors.
The little village I visited in the Sierra Nevada celebrated the Fiesta of the colonies when I was there last week. The village was founded by refugees from the Colombian civil war in the 1950s and hundreds of children and adolescents from the village and the surrounding farms filled the streets in a lively parade wearing the traditional costumes from the regions their great grandfathers had come from. The parents obviously had been busy for weeks preparing this event for their children. This social cohesion and civic life is a prerequisite for the successful alternative development this community has achieved. Let it be clear that a similar civic event is utterly – utterly – unimaginable in the impoverished rural and urban communities that are currently being taken over by gangs and micro trafficking. That is precisely why an alternative development for these young people is so hard to achieve and will take a dedicated effort. These communities need the world’s urgent attention and assistance.
The Netherlands: I want to present two practical measures we have adopted in the Netherlands, which may be of assistance. We try to pull different groups that fight drug crime – the police, prosecution, revenue services and the local communities – and we try and get all of the information we have to see how best to tackle the specific case. We call this the barrier model, making the whole line from cultivation to transportation to sale, to identify people involved – usually from the licit economy, such as real estate businesses, money lenders, notaries, administrative officers, delivery personnel, electricians, car rental firms, etc. Arresting these people and showing it in the media may discourage others from following a similar path. This is effective to do, although production remains as long as there is a demand. We are now trying to establish such a regional expertise centre in the European Union. There is a lot of information available, but if you do not pull them together you cannot make a good case to break up these groups.
I also want to speak about the dark net, which is a small but growing part of the international trade. The Netherlands is number 5 in the scale of trading on the internet, and in July 2017 the Dutch police hosted an online drug market called ‘Hansa’ – we took it over without the customers and producers knowing, and used this opportunity to monitor what was happening on there – who wanted the drugs, and who was supplying it. The original founders, in Germany, were arrested. Working with colleagues in USA, Germany, Lithuania and EUROPOL, they allowed drug sales to continue for a while and switched off the encryption. All names, transactions and passwords were monitored and noted – but the police themselves did not sell any drugs! Then they put a warning on the site and closed it down, and arrests were followed.
Video from GRULAC: Mexico – Soon to be available online
USA: NPS are a drug trafficker’s dream – they are easier to produce, to traffic and are rapidly proliferating. Yet we are scheduling them at a slow rate of 10 per year. We commend INCB and WHO for their efforts. Many NPS used in the USA are manufactured outside of the USA and can be ordered online and shipped by postal services – this makes it much harder to stop. The most common NPS are cannabinoids and synthetic opioids. These drugs are often packaged with bright colours and cartoon characters, and sometimes even supplied as lollies. We are seeing large numbers of deaths linked to this, and the data are likely underestimated as fentanyl analogues are hard to detect in post-mortem investigations. Carfentanil will be reviewed by the ECDD at their meeting in November. We hope that they will recommend in favour of greater control. It is critical that the international community shares information and cooperates to ensure better awareness of new substances, their use and trends. The USA supports global programmes as critical tools to address NPS – such as Global SMART and its early warning system – to build capacity. We must also share specific information on suspicious shipments so that they can be stopped. We support and encourage expanded use of the tools such as IONICS, and we encourage member states to support WHO’s efforts to increase the frequency of ECDD meetings to review new substances. This is one of the biggest challenges we face as the international community. None of us are invulnerable to this threat, and we can address them together with the tools provided by UNODC and INCB. It is a priority from the UNGASS outcome document, so we must continue to press forward on this enormous challenge.
Venezuela: We participate in the initiatives held by INCB and the annual reporting requirements, and work with the UNODC.
Post-UNGASS Facilitator: We will start with interventions from UNODC and one NGO.
UNODC: When looking at the NPS situation, it is a game changer. What is different with NPS is the speed and diversity of the market and its emergence. But also, where they appear and disappear. UNGASS was very pragmatic in its five-pillar structure: early warning system (anticipate the threat and share information). You cannot intervene without detection and identification. This applies to law enforcement authorities and forensic laboratories. Research is also key. Finally, 760 substances, and counting. We are not in a position to deal with all of them at a go. On early warning systems, we received the mandate to create a global early warning system. We are 106 countries using this system, with over 1000 users. 14000 individual data points on 760 substances. This feeds into the work of the WHO-ECDD, the CND and a number of publications we produce for you. The system tells you about prevalence, persistence. But UNGASS underscored the importance of knowing which ones are actually worrisome. We are rolling out a ToxAlert system by the end of the year. It will allow CND to know which substances to worry about. Pick up issues like fentanyl. On Research, we’ve been fortunate to have a good relationship with the EMCDDA, who have been very active in providing information and sharing. We have also received a wealth of information from countries. Some of this data was presented in Chapter 4 of the World Drug Report. We also produce a Global SMART Update on fentanyl, to help you make informed decisions. Since UNGASS, we recognise that most countries are not in a position to identify NPS. With the ones we scheduled so far, very few countries can identify them. UNODC is delivering training in Latin America, Central Asia. We are doing more to get more countries involved in our capacity-building exercises: 235 laboratories from 74 countries to deal with NPS issue. Here, the problem becomes glaring. But many priority areas do not have laboratory and law enforcement support. When dealing with 750 substances, our law enforcement officers want something simple: newer technologies. UNODC is doing this actively, incl. infrared technologies. In terms of support to law enforcement: over 75 countries we’ve organised trainings at. We will continue with a lot of activities in Latin America and parts of Africa. There are outstanding issues. Early warning systems are needed to be better prepared. Identification and detection remain a big issue. Countries need capacity to identify and implement the Conventions. Also…research, research, research.
Question from European Union: On the UN interagency cooperation and coherence. The WHO just talked about a data surveillance tool and toxicology information collection, how are the projects by UNODC linked to this? Regarding statistics, we know several UN agencies collect data; how do you collaborate on this?
Response from UNODC: International cooperation and cost-effective measures are very important, and avoiding duplication. The UNODC early warning system appeared in 2013. We’ve worked with INCB, EMCDDA, etc. to get the data points we have. UNODC has a mandate to work on this. I do not have details on how WHO will go about this. In terms of moving forward and collaboration, next week we have the 4th UNODC-WHO expert consultation on NPS. It’s an opportunity to catch up on these issues and move forward.
Response from WHO: In terms of moving together. The UN Statistical Office has only provided support on standards, they do not do policy. In terms of the upcoming meeting mentioned by my colleague, it will have experts from regional organisations and national colleagues with expertise. Also with international organisations.
Chairperson of Karim Khan Afridi Foundation (Pakistan): I am a victim of drugs. I lost my only child in 2014 to the menace of drugs. To bring sense to my life, I decided to create this foundation to identify and manage emotions. KKWF is committed to breaking the taboo of serious drug problem in Pakistan and other places and initiate the dialogue. We are associated with counter-narcotics departments of Pakistan but work on our own on drug awareness. We implemented the EU Unplugged programme. We talk with parents about stress of academic performance pressure, apart from drugs. Medicines for attention are prescribed to young people starting a lifestyle of addiction. Many drugs in our society, destroying it. Prescription drugs are perceived to be less harmful and doctors overprescribe. This increases the dangers of drugs. Apps have been created to find the closest drug dealer. To aggravate this, club drugs formulas are available online. Our recommendations seek to control media and deglamourize drug use. They tell drugs are OK. We know the consequence of addiction for individuals, families and societies. All dark sides of society are influenced by drugs. Not enough efforts are about awareness and prevention. Most are about harm reduction, treatment, rehabilitation; after the harm is done. Grants for awareness programmes are basically non-existent, at least in Pakistan. Despite our best efforts, tackling this menace is increasingly difficult. Only one grant for prevention. We do not know who received it. Focusing on drug awareness we can reach the common goals of demand reduction programmes, which should cover all areas of prevention: prevent use and reducing negative health and societal consequences of drug abuse. Adolescents are a perfect target for drug dealers, which is why immediate action on prevention and awareness is important. Drug addiction is killing them morally, sociologically, psychologically and physically. Drugs are public enemy number 1. No mercy should be spared for people making money out of this tragedy.
European Union (represented by Estonia): Today we are more concerned with the emergence and spread of NPS than ever before. More than 600 substances monitored by the EU Early Warning System. Overall number of new detections was lower than previous years. Positive if sustained. Some European countries have introduced blanket bans, generic and analogs measures to counter this phenomenon. Control measures and law enforcement in China might have also contributed. Despite evidence of success, we are worried about new substances, mainly fentanyl derivatives. Overall, 25 new opioids have been detected in the European market. 9 reported for the first time in 2016. Including fentanyls. The market share of these substances is increasing. In 2016, the EMCDDA and EUROPOL launched special investigations on fentanyls. More than 50 deaths were reported, many attributed directly to these substances. The UN and Member States have adopted several new measures. Since 1997, detection, identification, develop evidence on risk and control. In the upcoming month, new legislation by the EU will cut by half the time needed to schedule a substance at the European level. From lessons in the past, we realise the successful management of NPS requires control and supply reduction, but also demand and harm reduction. The prevention of adverse harms and costs is important for the EU. We emphasise the need to increase research, health responses and related training. We welcome the adoption of Res 60/4, which requests UNODC and WHO and other relevant organisations incorporate data into the UNODC Early Warning Advisory Database. The EU and Member States acknowledge the importance to address the emerging challenges of the internet in drug related activities. The EU Drug Report identifies this issue as increasing. Finding ways to prevent and reduce drug use and offer counselling, treatment and risk and harm reduction in this setting seem a possible path to take. Internet based interventions have the potential to extend the reach and efficacy of these, especially for people who might not usually be in touch with services.
Russian Federation: We see an increase proliferation of contactless means to be involved in the drug market. Seriously compromises efforts to tackle these crimes. At the present time, the internet, particularly the darknet, is a key platform to marketing and selling drugs. Dealers are recruited, as well as users. Thematic forums offer information about where to buy drugs. Control of these is quite difficult. NPS are of particular relevance and we welcome the heightened importance given to it by the Outcome Document. NPS are a terrible threat to the global community. To confront this challenge, we need a new level of intergovernmental cooperation. The outline for this is in the Outcome Document. Time to flesh out these mechanisms to tackle this threat. We support this. Russia sees itself flooded with synthetic substances and narcotics. The most urgent challenge remains identifying new substances, getting information about them and getting a better handle of their proliferation. We have criminal prosecution for trading and dealing on derivatives and analogs of narcotics and psychotropics. We need urgent coordinate measures for NPS not to turn to the serial killer of our time.
Peru: We suggest that we start our sessions at the time signalled to make the most of the time we have. We thank the panellists this morning for the valuable information they provided. On Chapter 5, we are rolling out initial activities to implement and early warning system. Peru seeks to: identify new NPS, documenting the problem through interinstitutional reports; identifying new substances through seizures and forensic analysis; identifying manufacturing processes; understanding the chain of trafficking of NPS; responding to trafficking and crafting response on the basis of risk and consequences for the country while strengthening collaboration; measures to control; measures to prevent their abuse. We participate of the COPOLAD programme (EU-LAC) to promote key information exchange between countries of both regions, evaluate threats and exchange good practice and foster capacity building. We also participate of the SMART programme.
UNODC: At country level, we have two focuses: improve methodologies and provide guidelines and standards, evidence that is solid and agreed upon to understand how things evolve at various levels in time. If we try to identify key priorities: A) Drug demand: what is the use of illicit drugs and NPS at the country level. We try to consolidate methodologies on surveys and implement new methodologies (ex. wastewater models). B) Availability. C) Illicit financial flows. We still have gaps in reporting, which makes it difficult to understand what goes on at the global level. It is important to invest on improving methodology and data collection. (…) In terms of our global level activities, to improve data collection and processing, we have started to think how to improve our tools (create criteria and definitions, fill the gaps in data, etc.). We will have an expert consultation at the end of January, which will address this: how to support countries in producing data, and how to improve international system to collect and analyse this aspect. We will send a questionnaire to all member states to identify needs.
Question from Austria: You mention systems to estimate drug demand. Are you talking about demand in the market for illegal drugs or are there rules of thumb based on the demographics of a population to estimate the amount of drugs that could be used for medical purposes? Does this apply for precursors?
Response from UNODC: The phenomenon is always very complex. I think that there are some priorities and it’s important to know how many people and what people (age, sex, etc.) make use of certain drugs, illicit and those not yet under control. This is the basic information we need to monitor our efforts: less people using drugs. Some of the things you mention are relevant: how the market works, precursors, etc. Having a better understanding on the population in terms of what and how they are using would be good.
Response from INCB: I am not talking on the side of research, but the international precursor control is based on this, and there is information available for availability of precursor control, and our system is based on that. One country informs the importing country on expected shipment and the country can then check if the information matches what is expected. There are guidelines on the need for licit requirements. The research complements that side of activity. This is done country by country.
Pamela McColl, Real Women of Canada: I want to raise some concerns about what is happening in Canada and the fact that the pot industry has launched a new brand of cannabis products, which is very aggressive. They have export services for medical purposes outside of Canada. Given the level of abuse of cannabis, this should be of great concern to the states wishing to import cannabis. This should be looked at. The concern is that the arrival of big marijuana industry is that these companies are using internet for advertising and it’s hard to regulate. So for states that break the treaties to regulate marijuana will have a hard job regulating this. Uruguay is also importing into Canada so you see import/export of marijuana, leading to vulnerable countries in Africa and others unable to manage the import of marijuana. We’re not here to debate legalisation or prohibition, we have to control these drugs in civil societies. The drug conventions should be upheld. Canada taking legalisation in is of great concern, especially in the light of the right of the child. That’s what I wanted to say. The big concern is the pot industry. All these movements of pot come and go. But if you legitimise an industry like tobacco, it’s a lot harder to get it under control. This will dampen any efforts to public health to reduce use, they are a menace to health.
Pakistan: Chapter 5 of the UNGASS outcome document is important to address emerging challenges, including that of the opium market. All main drugs of abuse in Pakistan are opium and hashish. Law enforcement is aware of the threat of NPS too. There is a knowledge gap and capacity to respond. We need to exchange research and best practice, facilitate sharing of technology. UNODC should assist member states to develop appropriate tools to tackle NPS. There is now a curriculum on NPS in the law enforcement academy of Pakistan. The use of ATS is also on the rise among youth and in urban areas. We have seized amphetamines and methamphetamines. There are also labs for production of ATS and we have developed efforts to dismantle them. In terms of precursors and pre-precursors: we have developed a system on import/export. We are taking measures to avoid diversion. In 2016, 25 metric tons were seized. Measures to prevent diversion should be strengthened in places of production, and there should be more collaboration between importing and exporting countries. We should exchange good practices, research and capacity building. We believe that we don’t need policy paradigm shift. We need to continue implementing the international drug conventions, including recommendations to reinforce international cooperation based on the principle of shared responsibility.
Netherlands: I want to correct something the lady said on the Netherlands: the Netherlands does NOT export cannabis to other countries and have a very strictly controlled facility producing cannabis for medical reasons at the request of governments. I wanted to correct this, thank you.
Singapore: Thanks to the CND Chair, the Post-UNGASS Facilitator, the Secretariat and the panellists. The proliferation of NPS is a challenge affecting all of us. It is the source of concern for us. The large number of NPS entering the market due to the easiness to change their structure makes it hard to monitor them and fully comprehend abuse and repercussions. NPS are a danger to society as toxicity remains unknown. The EMCDDA has noted toxicity and abuse. But NPS are unknown. The strength of active chemicals is unevenly distributed, resulting in fatalities. Because of its evolving nature, it makes it difficult to control and prevent abuse. We should put in place effective legislations, build capacity to combat NPS and advance cooperation. Historically, we have carried out reviews of the substance before controlling it, but it takes time. NPS challenge this practice, with harms caused before the substances are brought under control, and other substances can come to the market to replace existing substances. We will prevent NPS from proliferating and put them under control while conducting scientific consultations. Once the consultations have been done, the substance will be brought under control. We have adopted a scientific approach based on structural similarities to ban similar substances. To date, we have listed 12 generic groups of NPS as class A drugs. One of the key challenges is how to identify and detect NPS. To be able to control NPS we must enhance our capabilities. The 2016 UNGASS outcome document calls for member states to share best practices and capacity building to counter NPS. Singapore and UNODC conducted a joint regional training programme in September 2017. It received participants from many nations to enhance knowledge of NPS, critical role of law enforcement authorities, share best practices in investigation by law enforcement, discuss national coordination, share best practices for effective coordination mechanisms. Experts in law enforcement from Singapore, USA, UNODC, Australia shared their experience with the participants. It also included visits to laboratories. NPS continue to pose a threat and the international community should come together to address this threat with support from UNODC.
Turkey: I underscore our full commitment to address challenges in the world drug problem. For 2016-2018, we focus strongly to this, through international cooperation. Our early warning system was established to identify new drugs. Generic classification was included in the law in 2015. As a result of 20 group meetings, 692 substances were included in our law. 276 of these substances were included via generic classification. We support activities conducted by INCB, UNODC and WHO on research and scheduling. But new rapid methods for scheduling should be developed to counter this fast-changing problem. The internet is also an issue. To put more effective policies in force, more technical cooperation and information sharing are needed. More research and analysis are also necessary to achieve tangible success.
UK: We support the intervention made by the representative of Estonia on behalf of the EU and would now like to make some comments in a national capacity with regards to new psychoactive substances. Significant progress has been made on tackling the emergence of new psychoactive substance in recent years, as demonstrated by the ambitious, concrete recommendations to address these substances agreed by Member States in the UNGASS Outcome Document. We would like to thank those Member States and international organisations who have helped drive forward action through the International Action Group on new psychoactive substances and we look forward to continuing to address the issues through this group.
At a national level, the UK has taken a number of steps to reduce the harms from NPS, which have created additional dangers to some of our most vulnerable groups including young people, the homeless and prisoners. The UK Psychoactive Active Substances Act 2016, has fundamentally changed the way we tackle the supply of psychoactive substances by placing generic controls on substances capable of producing a psychoactive effect.
The Act has been in force for over a year and the use of new psychoactive substances has fallen significantly. Hundreds of retailers have either closed down or are no longer selling psychoactive substances and the first offenders have been convicted.
The Act has lead to a concerted programme of action by law enforcement agencies:
- Border Force officers have been given powers to seize suspected psychoactive substances and disrupt their supply;
- Police have arrested suppliers;
- and action by the UK National Crime Agency has resulted in the removal of psychoactive substances being sold by UK based websites.
We have also developed a national Early Warning System which has facilitated the identification of NPS as part of normal police casework and ensures that domestic controls are placed on the most harmful substances. We will continue to share information on new substances internationally, through the EMCDDA and the UNODC – and the presentations from this morning demonstrate the importance in collecting and sharing this information.
In order to reduce the demand of these harmful substances, particularly in our most vulnerable populations, we have developed resource packs on NPS for educators and are working with the homeless sector to address the misuse of NPS among the homeless population. In addition, following an extensive review, we are increasing NPS prevention and treatment provision in prisons, where we are seeing a particular issue with synthetic cannabinoids.
The UK is continuously developing its treatment responses to ensure that we have targeted responses to the emerging threats of new psychoactive substances. In this respect, we have developed a new intelligence system to collect information about the harms caused by NPS and have established a clinical network to analyse the data coming from this to agree appropriate treatment responses. This will be a critical tool in developing our ability to responding to emerging threats such as synthetic opioids, the dangers of which have been set out during this morning’s presentations from the EMCDDA and Canada.
We encourage Member States to continue to collect and share information and best practice on NPS, in order to enrich our understanding on the emergence, use and harms of these substances and to support forensic identification. In this regard, we welcome the adoption of the CND resolution 60/4 on the health harms of NPS, which endorsed the ongoing work at the UNODC and the WHO to strengthen international data collection on the health harms of these substances. The ability to access health data from across the world will greatly enhance our joint response to these substances. The UK reaffirms its commitment to implement the operational recommendations in this chapter and will continue to lead work through the International Action Group on new psychoactive substances.
We would like to conclude by expressing our continued support for the UNODC Global SMART programme, the INCB and the World Health Organisation, all of which play a central role in the global response to NPS and their precursors, and ensuring international controls on the most harmful substances.
Belgium: I want to share with you recent practices in my country targeted at NPS. On NPS, on 6th September we adopted a royal decree with a new legislative framework to better address public health objectives to take on board our current health needs, including prescription of medicines. The customs police and justice system can take more effective action and will allow beginning prosecutions more effectively. A number of groups of NPS are covered by the law by their chemical structure, while others are named by name. This provides a broader legislative base to carry out seizures and prosecute offenders. We also want to highlight the importance of health. NPS poses a threat to the health of users and welcome the initiative of the UK. Our national public office for scientific planning launched a research project on ‘understanding NPS’. NPS use has increased recently. The scientific data we have on NPS, however, is limited. The scientific research just launched will address this to understand users, their needs, social and demographic profile. The project will make it possible for users to request a scientific analysis of the samples they use. We will also focus on prevention, treatment and harm reduction. An increasing number of health professionals will be involved as they are increasing coming into contact with users. This will show the kinds of approaches that are lacking and we will therefore produce recommendations.
Chloe Carpentier, UNODC: I want to address you today on research and capacity building. In recent decades the world has become more complex and interconnected, and the same has happened to the world drug problem. There is diversification in production methods, chemicals used, substances produced and sold in different markets, and diversification of drugs in more traditional areas. There is also diversification in modus operandi of traffickers, and the emergence of networks that are more resilient to law enforcement (dark net), and at the end of the market with the emergence of new markets along the trafficking route. We also see an expansion of new markets in emerging economies among middle classes. There is less relevance of national borders. We need to develop a holistic approach to understand the dynamics of the supply chain. At UNGASS, there has been mention of the need to invest in news research areas, including the SDGs, human rights, gender, but also organised crime, terrorism, illicit financial flows. The demand for research has also become more complex. There is a need to look at impacts in a more systematic way: health, governance, environment, etc.
For our drug research, we need to have an organisation under two main goals: 1- generate and disseminate information to improve data collection mechanisms, producing publications, thematic research projects, targeting specific audiences, producing actionable research in the form of professional briefs to support law enforcement and demand reduction professionals. 2- capacity building in the area of drug research: data collection, monitoring systems, strategic analysis at national and regional level (beyond data collection), and promoting exchange of knowledge. This should form the basis of a network of experts and analysts in member states to act as key experts for the production of global research.
What’s important is the links between the two goals in all their dimensions at national and international levels. We need a comprehensive global approach. But we also a mechanism to understand the complexities and new challenges to support evidence-based policies and strategies, while strengthening national capacity, to contribute to research and analysis needed at national, regional, and global level.
I want to mention the Afghan Opiate Trade Project, launched in 2008, which focused on understanding trafficking routes and patterns, as well as emerging trends. There are different reports on trafficking groups and others that are more technical. These have fed the policy debate with knowledge and analysis on trafficking routes in the region, but also in countries where trafficking has emerged as a threat. This project has conceptualised the concept of the southern routes. This project also includes capacity building, which has supported various countries in Central Asia and Afghanistan which produce their own analysis. This is an example of a programme that works.
We need to develop a similar programme on cocaine. There has been an increase in cocaine use and there are major impacts along the supply chain. There is a need to establish a monitoring of the cocaine market now, with sharing of data and knowledge that is global (not only centred in South countries), systemic (covering demand and supply dynamics) and collaborative (synergies with other programmes). We must make the most of existing structures (HONLEA) and work with other organisations like INTERPOL, EUROPOL, EMCDDA, OAS, African Union, etc. This programme will have a strong capacity building programme, supporting member states to take part in the mechanism, and is key to support drug policies in all their dimensions.
Brun Gonzalez, Colectivo Reverdecer Mexico (Civil Society): Ladies and gentlemen, my name in Brun Gonzalez, thank you for allowing us to raise the voice of people who use drugs. It is vital to expand and incorporate harm reduction strategies, concrete methodologies and develop interventions beyond HIV and the injection of opioids, that can be used to generate harm reduction. There are several substance analysis programs that provide help to prevent harm of new psychoactive substance and support evidence based decision making. Only with this type of programme we will help impede problematic situations in the global south and other nations.
Norway: Thanks for all yesterday’s presentations in which most relevant issues where address. Nevertheless, we would like to add some points. NPS are shipped by ordinary mail, authorities need to check normal mail. In order to increase efforts, customs have established a centre for information and analysis. The centre will provide more and better results. We don’t have a shared data base as Estonia, but we could still proceed for a common goal. Dark net is hard to investigate. We received information and intelligence from the US on a dark net server. This information led to a case, which led to the conviction of two persons on our first dark net trial. The precedent will help with bitcoin and crypto currencies and how they should be taken in a trial. As a conclusion, prosecutors have a long way to understand the involving dark net. We also have a challenge with fentanyls. My government decided to put all fentanyls as a whole group to facilitate prosecution. A new trend in Norway is the introduction of friendly food with THC and MDMA, like caramels and jelly candies. This could reduce the age barrier for first time users.
Philippines: Addressing the drug problems is crucial for the Philippines. We have developed the anti-illegal drug strategy a multifaced drug alliance to prevent drugs. As a holistic strategy treating supply and demand reduction, firmly based on evidence but adjusted to Filipino values and social and economic context. The Dangerous Drug Act provides access to new drugs to be prosecuted. Our Law Enforcement created a special task force to ensure sea port interdiction of prosecutors. The Philippines’ drug enforcement agency regulates de acquisition of regulated drugs. One of the key challenges is the emergence of NPS affecting young through the internet and the crypto currencies. Our president emphasis the fight against drugs is an investment for the future Filipino. There is also a need to respond rapidly to new NPS; for which we ask for international collaboration.
Mexico: Mexico supports information sharing and coordination to help provide a better respond. We also support international cooperation for an example that with the Mexican Federal Police to step up with open sources and dark net. The collection and analysis of relevant data are fundamental for improving the strategy. My delegation supports the efforts of the commission to share better practices in the subject. At the same time, we most drive better cooperation with the commission of statistics for existing guidelines and develop new guidelines. We recognize the concerns regarding building national information capacities for statistics bodies.
Zara Snapp, ATS Colombia (Civil society): Colombia is at an historic moment due to the signing of the peace agreements. The Colombian government and NGOs have look for ways to implement the UNGASS document and the peace agreement. ATS is taking action on the section five of the UNGASS document, particularly on harm reduction with people who use drugs. We have implemented a survey to understand consumptions habits to include the learnings in risk prevention and harm reduction strategies. Identifying risk factors is a key part of this work. We develop policy scenarios for the incoming changing years including fair trade, public health and human rights. ATS currently runs needle exchange programme. We have identified the bazuko substance in our analysis and research as a cheap substitute for cocaine. We cannot allow recent events in Colombia, related to deaths due to forced crop substitution, to continue. This conflict does not respect fundamental rights. Without properly measures, probably regulation, this consequence cannot be avoided. Eradicate use of force and guns in this process. Until coca regulation exists, stability and peace won’t happen. Regulations is the way forward. We cannot ignore individual freedom and economic reality. Reduce the power of illegal market.
Suriname: Suriname is a young state with middle income. For decades the focus was on the countering of cocaine. Most of these efforts are concentrated in ports. The quantity of seizures have raised. NPS are a new emerging challenge. The shortage of know affects how we face the existing and new challenges. In a response to NPS, the government established a new department to focus on precursors. We also have a drug observatory and early alarm system. Over 2016 and 2017 dependence centres said coca and marijuana use increase. Ecstasy use increased just moderately. We have no evidence of NPS use. We continue to create and be one of the most safety societies in the Americas.
Slovenia: Support of the EU countries statement. NPS have surprised on the global and national level. NPS are creates in small quantities, are easy to transport and accessible to all social classes. NPS can be sold by internet and have them home delivered. NPS are growing rapidly and their effects are unknow. They are complicated to detected in blood and urine; therefore, therapy is only symptomatic. We have established an early warning system 2014. NPS are collected at dance event and analysed at the national forensic laboratory. The information and research on them and their effect are published on its website and pamphlets. Website is updated and provides information for safe consumption. We’ll soon have a new mobile laboratory to test substances on dance events. We are also preparing for an increase use of fentanyl. It seems that modern society has not find a successful approach on NPS. We need new and more successful approaches,
Uruguay: Thanks to all the panellist. Uruguay created the narcotic body to harmonize the law. We established an early warning system to detect new drugs and their chemical composition. The system allows us to analyse trends on use and trafficking. It also meets the information requirements for the international community. Uruguay believes on creating evidence based interventions that promote the responsible implementation of drug policies. Drug policies must be pinned on public health to ensure coexisting. Uruguay champions an approach based on human rights, people and community.
George Ochineg Odalo, Slum Child Foundation, Kenya (Civil Society): Our organization is targeting on the slums. In Africa obtaining health and employment is a challenge due poverty. We cannot be implement international positions while facing these gaps. In Kenya, this organization works to bring international drug policies to the grassroot level. We give the opportunity to understand the UNGASS documents and what the policy means for young people. We give and opportunity to understand in their own small language in school about drug and substance abuse and how international organization think of the grassroot.
UNODC: Thanks for the opportunity on data collection, technical assistance, and the pressing issue on the NPS. Next week we’ll meet with academic to organise a conference on NPS, the opioid crisis, synthetic cannabis, legislation and prevention treatments. Member states are welcome to attend.
VNGOC: Micro trafficking and gangs are now hitting Scandinavian countries like in Latin America. On the positive note we now have a common problem. Part of the solution will be traditional inclusion but might prove insufficient in the age of robotics. It is very likely that NGOs will have a crucial role to play.
The Netherlands: It has been a pleasure to be here. We can learn from coming here by discussing with each other our experiences. We should consider not to use the words ‘War on Drugs’ anymore. It implies using any type of arm against it. We need to remember they are still persons. Honesty, human rights and the rule of law should be our basis.