Plenary Day 1: Statement from the USA

Some aspects of our approach need to change. We have been historically reliant on incarceration, too slow to build a prevention system, not provided support for those in need of recovery and employed harsh rhetoric. We now want to develop a new strategy that sees addiction as a disease, and tries to break the cycle of crime associated with drugs. Addiction is a disease, people can recover, and a new strategy is needed to address addiction and associated crime. Intervention is particularly needed at the early stage of addiction, and is more cost effective.

It has not been the conventions that have blocked or delayed us from launching evidence-based interventions, because the conventions provide enough flexibility and lay the ground for a sophisticated approach to a complicated problem. We have learned over the past few decades that legalisation is not the answer, it is because we recognise drug addiction as a public health issue that we do not support legalisation. For example, the abuse of prescription drugs is a big problem and one of the leading causes of death in the US. I ask those who seek to dismantle the drug conventions to join us instead in updating the conventions according to scientific information, believing that human rights are an integral part of drug strategies. Children using illicit drugs must have their human rights protected.

Let’s do better and work together to modernise policies that reduce drug use and protect the health and safety of our citizens.

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