United States: On the supply side, global production of cocaine, opium poppy and synthetic drugs continue to increase, requires strategic and targeted domestic control measures. In addition to paying attention to these founding documents, we must pay attention to new realities, including grave threat posed by use of synthetic drugs, where our public health emergency is fed by synthetic opioids. There are more deaths due to drugs than anything else, including car accidents; 115 overdose deaths per day, representing an increase of 23% from the year before. Synthetic drugs are spreading worldwide. We want to coordinate global response as we implement the drug policy response in these founding documents. A balanced approach includes sustainable demand reduction strategies, including prevention, treatment and recovery. US developed measures such as prescription drug monitoring programmes, prior authorisations and prescription limits. We expanded access to naloxone, including to first responders and even family members. The health and justice sectors are collaborating to implement alternatives to incarceration measures. We also need to focus on dismantling the networks generating criminal profits, including targeting illicit financing through domestic enforcement and international cooperation. We need to enhance collaboration with UN agencies, in all the areas of supply and demand reduction based on the founding documents.
Morocco: We attach great attention to demand reduction which inevitably leads to supply reduction. That’s why we promote a humanist approach involving the interior ministry and civil society, and have pursued a constructive approach that seeks to work in the school environment and reached out to people about the dangers of using drugs, and reached out to family members about prevention measures. We also work on the re-socialisation of drug users. Public authorities have put in place a national centre for addiction referrals as well as a clinic for addicts and family members, with aim to provide care to users and prevent stigmatisation. Important that institutional players and civil society have a role in this. We are in line with the 3 international conventions, and 2009 Political Declaration and UNGASS outcome documents. They are mutually complementary. Our legislation to combat drugs translate our commitments to these documents. We are the country that have eradicated the most cultivation in terms of area, as reported in the INCB and UNODC. We work to dismantle criminal networks. We are facing problems with hard drugs as well. We are a transit and destination country due to our unique geographical location. In 2016, we seized 1 billion units of drugs smuggled across our eastern border, and frequently making large seizures of cocaine and tramadol. I recall that the security situation in the Sahel region continues to be a concern and reiterate the Sahel 5 force which combats transnational crime and terrorism.
Serbia: National survey results from 2014 show that around 8% of the adult population has used any illicit substance in their lifetime. With higher prevalence amongst young people between 18 – 34. Most users were under 44 years. The most frequently used drug is cannabis. MDMA and ecstasy is less used. Behavioural studies show that 20,000 people are intravenous drug users. In 2015, 2312 people received OST, mostly men aged 30 – 34 years, and women between 24 – 29 years. 343 people received OST in prison. HIV prevalence is decreasing, from 2008 – 2013 prevalence of HIV decreased from 4.7 to 1.5%. HCV prevalence decreased from 74.8 to 61.4% from 2008 to 2013. Emergency cases of overdoses amounted to about 300 from any intoxication. Half of them were caused by heroin overdosed. 16% were treated because of cannabis use. We had some cases from MDMA, cocaine and other amphetamines. Drug related deaths decreased from 2009 to 2015. Serbia provides many activities, in prevention and treatment. In prevention, we are supported by many international organisations, eg. with OSCE in 2017 involving ministries of health, education and sport and included pupils aged 10 – 11 years. All activities coordinated by these 3 ministries. Prevention activities supported by UNODC as well, eg. strengthening families, adolescence skills and programmes for migrant families. UNODC in Serbia will continue in field of prevention as well as amongst migrant families. Based on results from UNODC survey on addiction, the government adopted regulations to define system of primary and secondary health providers. We have online prevention tests, and a coordination body that coordinates all ministries in policies, strategies and action plans from 2018 – 2021. The new action plan will be based on the results of these evaluations, supported by EMCDDA. Our next strategy will be based on UN documents.
El Salvador: On demand reduction and drug-related social and health risks, and as part of El Salvador’s development plan, our government has designed a plan to meet the goals in this plan, eg. our health plan builds on reform of health services to ensure that addressing drug use will be tackled from a social angle, focus on human rights, social re-integration and include services that focus on care for people with addictions. Gender specific services are mainstreamed, and also focus on needs of families. Regulatory frameworks have been strengthened through mental health law. Care is provided through preventing harmful consumption of alcohol and other psychoactive substances, providing individual and family based programs, and through mental health facilities and drug treatment centres.
On supply reduction, in keeping with our national circumstances and constitution, we have launched the process bringing on board 11 institutions to set up new regulatory framework on drug related activities. We have carried out an analysis of case law, and saw that there was a need to adapt our laws to uphold sentencing decisions that had been deemed unconstitutional. We thank UNODC for their assistance including through the container control programme. This has made a real impact on organised crime. We have built domestic capacity of law enforcement. We thank UNODC, World Customs Organisation and Interpol for assistance in setting up joint airport interdiction taskforce, which has helped increase interdictions.
Indonesia: Reiterate that demand and supply reduction should be undertaken as part of comprehensive, balanced approach. First, prevention programs: in line with our national policy, the BNN has developed an anti-drug education model for students, workers, families and communities and was launched in a few provinces. We also produced animation programmes as part of prevention campaigns, and educated children on dangers of drug abuse. Second, community empowerment campaign: government has been working with Aceh to turn marijuana cultivation into licit production programmes. Third, rehabilitation programme: we have rehabilitated more than 18,000 people, and provided services to 7,800 former users. The government has set up centres for youth and to address women-specific needs. On supply reduction, drug trafficking rings have spread and infiltrated all layers of society even children. To tackle these crimes, Indonesia has taken strict measures including enforce the law, strengthening border communities, information gathering by mapping people, groups and areas where narcotics are based, step up surveillance of areas that are sources of marijuana including Aceh and North Sumatra, intelligence sharing especially amongst countries of origin and neighbouring countries. The President has launched national action against drugs and drug abuse to tackle precursor trafficking as well. From January to December 2017, BNN has disclosed 46,537 drug cases and 27 drug cases related to money laundering; more than 58,000 suspects were arrested and seizures of methamphetamine and ecstasy made. Law enforcement cooperation has helped to identify criminal syndicates. BNN has established 37 MOUs with other countries to combat illicit drug trafficking. Through such collaboration, success includes exposing drug syndicates and by conducting controlled deliveries.
Egypt: We carry out activities to eradicate drugs, prevent marketing of drugs, liquidate dens that promote drugs openly, as well as imposing strict control over precursor movement, remarkably effective legislative system that include standards of human rights. We pursue drug treatment and re-integration of addicts, and raise awareness through campaigns highlighting the dangers of drug addiction. We have messages through famous personalities including famous soccer star, and awareness-raising campaigns targeting students. We endeavour to promulgate legislation that aim to protect youth, but we identify fissures in international developments that add additional burdens on those agencies as capabilities of criminal networks improve. Egypt is a consumption country, we do not manufacture any illicit drugs, and we are a destination country for smuggling country. Therefore I call upon you to exchange information and strengthen regional cooperation frameworks to address and confront the scourge and remedy the dire consequences for our society. Individual controls might be successful locally but they will not bear fruit at international and regional levels. That is why it is up to us to protect the youth of the world. We firmly believe that intelligence about drug shipments are not the property of countries that possess them but property of humanity at large. There is necessity to strengthen cooperation, and highlight importance and effective role of CND, INCB, UNODC, WHO, to name but a few. Egypt fully cooperates with all the states along with competent authorities be they national or international to address the problem. We accumulate resources to help other countries to strengthen cooperation.
Palestine: World drug problem is a shared responsibility that must be pursued as a balanced, multi-dimensional and multi-faceted approach. We have implemented drug demand reduction approach and other measures to fight the scourge of drugs and tackle all aspects of supply and demand problems, in implementing commitments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Our government has set up a cooperation program with UNODC, as well as countries such as South Korea. We have been provided with kits for early detection of drugs, and assistance to strengthen capacity of drug control police. Drug services are provided by NGOs, governments, however the psychological services in Palestine are limited in scope due to the occupation of certain areas. We have set up a methadone treatment centre in 2015 that has served hundreds of patients. We have set up a forensic laboratory in 2016, in cooperation with UNODC, funded by Canada. We have also carried out a survey on drug use in cooperation with UNODC and health agency in Palestine, with the financial contribution of Korea. Our government committee on substance use prevention carried out regular training programme, and together with civil society developed programmes with law enforcement. We have taken international and regional steps to carry out rehabilitation and treatment. Despite these efforts we are still facing challenges, including poverty, affordable drugs, and our law enforcement agencies cannot control our borders due to the occupation. Many Palestinian territories under the control of the Israeli authorities, and the uncontrolled borders in these areas are the main reason for drug addiction which are near Israeli settlements. Why? Because of the occupation policies that turn a blind eye to Palestinians and their children. We need to strengthen capacity of treatment providers, and to address acute need for medicines. We call on UNODC for assistance.
UNDP: Thank you, Madame chair and congratulations, on your appointment as the Chairperson of the CND. Excellencies, Distinguished colleagues, ladies and gentlemen: I welcome this opportunity to share some of UNDP’s recent work to foster policy coherence in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and international commitments in human rights and drug control. My intervention will focus first, on the nexus between drug policy and the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and second, the role of human rights guidelines for drug policy. Nexus between drug policy and sustainable development. In September 2015, United Nations Member States adopted by consensus, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which encompasses 17 sustainable development goals or SDGs. In so doing, they committed to ‘leaving no one behind’. In the outcome document of the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session on drugs, UN Member States acknowledged that efforts to achieve the SDGs were “complementary and mutually reinforcing” to efforts to address the so called “world drug problem”. Illicit drug markets and efforts to address them cut across almost every one of the 17 SDGs. The most impacted include goals relate to poverty eradication, food security and sustainable agriculture, health and well-being, gender equality, decent work and economic growth, reduced inequalities, making cities and settlements safe, biodiversity, peaceful and inclusive societies, access to justice and inclusive and accountable institutions. Ensuring that drug policy and the sustainable development agenda are coherent is essential to the successful attainment of the SDGs by UN Member States. UNDP’s recently approved Strategic Plan of 2018-2021 highlights the importance of country platforms for integrated multisectoral development responses. Given its presence in 170 countries around the world and its breadth of expertise and partnerships, UNDP, together with UN and civil society, can play an important role in supporting countries to shape drug policies that promote the achievement of the SDGs. In June 2015, UNDP released a discussion paper elaborating further on these and other development dimensions of drug policy.1 A second paper, released in April 2016, described innovative alternatives to current drug policies that can be used to meet the SDGs. The case for human rights guidelines For more than two decades, UN Member States have affirmed their commitment to ensure that drug control efforts be conducted in full conformity with the aims and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In this context, UNDP welcomes the International Narcotics Control Board’s recent call to all States to implement international drug control conventions in accordance with their commitments to human rights treaties and the rule of law. Despite these commitments, there is little clear, comprehensive assessment of what it means to apply human rights to drug control policy. As a result, UN Member States, UN entities and civil society often struggle to meaningfully incorporate human rights into national policymaking or to systematically engage human rights issues in international fora. International guidelines on human rights and drug control would help provide guidance on how to systematically integrate a human rights framework into international drug control. It would strengthen accountability, assist with implementation at the national level and further implementation of the global development agenda. In adopting the 2030 Agenda, governments committed to “pursuing policy coherence and an enabling development at all levels and by all actors.” To this end, UNDP has supported the UN Secretary-General’s initiatives to strengthen system-wide actions to support implementation of the 2016 UNGASS on drugs’ recommendations on health, human rights and sustainable development. As part of these efforts, UNDP, with the generous support of the German, Swiss and Colombian governments, has partnered with the University of Essex, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and Harm Reduction International and UN partners to develop the guidelines. The process of developing the guidelines also involves close consultation with several UN Member States, international organisations, civil society and communities of people affected by drugs. In March 2019, the commitments made by the international community to address the world drug problem, including those in the outcome document of the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session, which represents the most recent consensus, will be reviewed and updated. Such guidelines will provide an important tool for governments to meet their commitments to address the world drug problem and to leave no one behind. Thank you Madame Chair.
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies: Mr. Chairman thank you for giving me the floor. My name is Massimo Barra; I am a medical doctor, Chairman of the Partnership on substance abuse of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent. As the world’s largest humanitarian network, Red Cross and Red Crescent mission is to prevent or mitigate human suffering in all its forms, wherever we see it, and independent of political bias.As I can testify from a lifetime of work with people who use drugs, this issue remains a major cause of suffering across the world, and among those who suffer the most, drug users are certainly the most discriminated. Drug users remain too often excluded from society, face social stigma, and in some countries, are punished and imprisoned rather than treated. For a very long time, we have been calling for a more humane approach to fighting drugs. This call was based on a strong sense of humanity, but most importantly, it was based on well-documented evidence. An encouraging development has been marked during the UNGASS held in 2016. For the first time participants and media focused more widely on the failure of the “War on Drugs”, the inability of the international community to win this “war” and the need for new approaches. In that regard, we strongly welcomed the Special Session’s outcome document called for the implementation of effective measures to reduce health risks that are people-centred and inclusive, to minimise the adverse public health and social consequences of drug abuse. The resolution also called for measures to uphold the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatments and to eliminate impunity. Now it is time to implement those commitments on the ground! Despite this, in many communities still exists negative perception and fears of drugs and of people who use drugs; this is reinforced by media and ignored by policies. All this make drugs and people who use drugs “easy targets”, that further supports their exclusion from society and limits their access to treatment and care. Still the problem is not yet acknowledged as worldwide humanitarian challenge that needs to be addressed with evidence-based approach instead of responses that are populist, punitive and dogmatic. For the Red Cross and Red Crescent, the most vulnerable groups including People Who Use Drugs are our constituents. We were among the first international organizations to call for humane, evidence-based, harm reduction policies. The IFRC and Red Cross Red Crescent Societies and other partners have significant achievements addressing health challenges of people who use drugs. We work closely with them providing psychosocial support and care and methadone substitution therapy. There is a strong evidence for the effectiveness of these treatments. We advocate for equitable access to treatment for everyone who needs it, including drug users, that are especially the vulnerable, the marginalized and the criminalized: those who are the hardest to reach are among the people who need our help the most.
Asociación Proyecto Hombre: Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) constitute a public health and security problem both in developed and developing countries. Nowadays, scientific evidence has established that SUDs are a multifactorial disorder associated with a variety of individual vulnerability conditions and social factors such as poverty, exposure to violence, crime and social exclusion. Strengthening prevention and treatment for people suffering from substance-abuse is an essential demand reduction strategy of critical public health importance. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) International Standards for the Treatment of Drug Use Disorders encourage all Member States to consider expanding the coverage and improving the quality of drug treatment programmes, interventions and policies on the basis of scientific evidence. The Standards recommend comprehensive and balanced approaches, and suggest scientific and human right-based treatment modalities such as outreach working, and outpatient and residential programmes. Therapeutic Communities (TCs) are one of the most common and widely available treatment models worldwide. The present statement aims at contributing to the sixty-first session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs with some proposals and remarks elaborated by the principal international associations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) representing a large part of the Therapeutic Communities presently in operation: (a) We firstly emphasize on the fact that we directly represent 905 organizations located in nearly all the regions of the world. These NGOs treat more than 700,000 affected people every year, counting on the workforce of 32,500 accredited professionals; (b) Nonetheless, there is a lot to be done. In recent reports, it is noted that four out of five substance abusers do not have access to treatment. Therefore, we urge the international community to ensure available, accessible, early and affordable drug treatment, focusing on the most marginalized populations, while sharing the concern regarding new emerging threats such as the proliferation of the amphetamine-type stimulants, the synthetic opioid crisis or the abuse of cannabis and new psychoactive substances; (c) It is of the utmost importance to inform you that, since their origins in 1958, Therapeutic Communities have been adapting their work to the needs of people with SUDs, especially when the latter and their families have to face adverse conditions, helping them through an ongoing, multi-dimensional process of change leading to improved functioning and quality of life on several domains, including substance use, physical and mental health, housing, employment, other meaningful activities and social participation, thus restoring their dignity and personal well-being and, as a result, while being able to promote healthier, more sustainable societies; (d) Therapeutic Communities are grounded in a not-for-profit, community-based treatment model that utilizes the bio-psycho-social approach in addition to mutual aid, professional guidance and an orientation towards social reintegration. Their work is developed in accordance with the UNODC-WHO Standards on the Treatment of Drug Use Disorders; (e) Therapeutic Communities assist a wide range of addiction profiles, with an increasing attention to specific vulnerable groups such as women, children, the homeless, people with HIV and other blood-borne diseases, co-occurring disorders, offenders, ethnic minorities and others. The interventions shall be adapted to the participants’ needs and their cultural, gender, economic, social and religious backgrounds. Nowadays, many NGOs are capable of aiding these heterogeneous groups through multi-service facilities with interdisciplinary professional teams;(f) We strongly demand that the social, health and criminal justice systems be supportive of long-term treatments. Recovering one’s health and social well-being requires time and dedication, and adequate rehabilitation requires most often than not that the person take steps forward and backward, while at the same time having to change their life habits and behaviours. In addition, we highly recommend aftercare services focusing on effective social reintegration. These follow-up programmes are crucial in reducing relapse episodes; (g) We should encourage families to be truly engaged in the person’s rehabilitation process. Several studies have shown higher treatment adherence and lower relapse levels when there is a higher participation of family members; (h) We invite Member States and UNODC to review the latest science of TCs models in the field of drug-dependence treatment and care, in order to transfer best practices to drug-demand reduction policies. Adequate research, outcomes measurements and evaluation of interventions must be unequivocally promoted. TCs are committed to developing more research in collaboration with UNODC-WHO, Member States and other governmental agencies, demonstrating the meaningful long-term outcomes of the TC model as well as its impact on society as a whole; (i) We believe it is necessary to put more reliance on grass-root NGOs, while enabling them to play a more active role with UNODC-WHO and the Member States in the formulation and implementation of drug-demand reduction policies. They may become true allies in achieving the crucial goals of the 2009 Political Declaration and Plan of Action, not to mention the plans to be prepared in the future. We need to work in partnership, complementing each other towards the same ends. Many NGOs are experienced, socially accepted organizations that are committed to working in their communities while destigmatizing drug-dependent populations. They have the capacity to raise funds and request partnerships from private sources, engage media or solicit volunteers. NGOs are used to dealing with a permanent lack of resources. Some studies have already highlighted the cost-effectiveness of the action plans implemented by NGOs based on the TC model; (j) In conclusion, we encourage the representatives of Member States and agencies to recognize the invaluable work of the Therapeutic Communities as an irreplaceable approach for the rehabilitation and social reintegration of people with SUDs. In some countries, Therapeutic Communities are neither sufficiently accepted nor adequately funded. Accordingly, the most marginalized populations are scarcely able to access proper treatment
Harm Reduction International (HRI): This week Harm Reduction International is releasing our 2017 Global Overview of the Death Penalty for Drug Offences. Our research reveals that between January 2015 and December 2017 at least 1,320 people are known to have been executed for drug-related offences. Overall, the number of executions has been steadily declining. Significant legal and policy developments relating to the death penalty for drug offences also took place last year in Iran, Thailand and Malaysia. At global level, political support for the abolition of the death penalty for drug offences is also gathering momentum, with 73 countries expressing strong opposition at the 2016 UNGASS on Drugs. Overshadowing these positive developments is the recent surge in extrajudicial executions. Between June 2016 and January 2018, more than 12,000 people accused of using and selling drugs were extra-judicially executed in the Philippines, and our report documents ripple effects in Indonesia. Harm Reduction International urges all states applying the death penalty to immediately halt executions, commute death sentences, and abolish the death penalty for drug-related offences as a first step towards full abolition. We call on the Government of the Philippines to bring an immediate and permanent stop to extrajudicial executions. Finally, Harm Reduction International recommends that the UN Office on Drugs and Crime operationalises and monitors the implementation of its 2012 human rights guidance document particularly in relation to UNODC programmes in retentionist States. We invite the Commission on Narcotic Drugs to request that the Executive Director reports on this matter at its 62nd session, and annually thereafter.
International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC): Your excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, civil society colleagues Thank you for the opportunity to address the 61st Session of the CND. I am making this statement on behalf of the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC). IDPC is a global network that promotes drug policies that are based on human rights, human security, social inclusion and public health. We are quickly approaching the end of the 10-year period of the 2009 Political Declaration and Plan of Action. Over the past decade, member states have worked towards the achievement of the targets set out in paragraph 36 of the 2009 Political Declaration to “eliminate or reduce significantly and measurably” cultivation, demand, drug-related health and social risks, production, trafficking and money laundering. As member states consider the process to “take stock of the implementation of the commitments made to jointly address and counter the world drug problem, in particular in light of the 2019 target date”, we would like to highlight that evidence from the UN itself shows that these targets are unachievable. The UNODC itself, states in the 2017 World Drug Report that the ‘drug market is thriving’. In addition, to this clear lack of progress towards the 2009 goals in the last decade, we can no longer ignore the devastating negative impacts that have resulted from misguided drug policies. 2008 is also the 10-year anniversary of the former UNODC Executive Director’s 2008 report on ‘Making drug control fit for purpose’. The ‘unintended consequences’ which were identified then are still relevant today, and little progress has been made to address them. These negative consequences are directly related to the focus on achieving a drug-free society, as promoted in the 2009 Political Declaration and Plan of Action on drugs. During this last decade we have failed to adequately address the HIV epidemic among people who inject drugs. The UN target to reduce by 50% new HIV infections among this population by 2015 was missed by a wide margin. Instead, UNAIDS reports that between 2011 and 2015, new HIV cases increased by 33% among people who inject drugs. In addition, in the last few years, there has been an alarming and unprecedented rise in the number of people dying from overdoses relating to the use of opioids – many of these deaths are preventable through scaling up rapidly interventions such as naloxone. It is well documented that criminal punishment for drug use fuels these significant health harms faced by people who use drugs. In parallel, the last decade is marked by many devastating and concerning human rights situations, including, but not limited to: – An escalating number of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions carried out in the name of drug control efforts – Over-incarceration with millions of people all over the world being imprisoned for minor, non-violent drug-related offences. In many countries, a disproportionate share of those incarcerated is poor and from the most marginalized groups such as racial or ethnic minorities. – With respect to subsistence farmers, in the absence of alternative livelihoods, forced eradication efforts deprive them of their only available means to live a life in dignity by driving them deeper into poverty. These are only a fraction of the widespread violations of human rights that have been documented in the context of drug control policies. The empirical evidence that underlines this point is extensive and damning. We welcome both the recent statement from the High Commissioner on Human Rights towards this end as well, and the INCB’s recent call on member states to implement international drug control conventions in accordance with their commitments to human rights treaties and the rule of law. 2019 is an important opportunity to re-orientate the direction of drug policies. We need to look forward and build on and consolidate the progress made in the UNGASS Outcome Document. In defining the next decade in global drug control, we call on member states not to re-state unrealistic and damaging ‘drug-free’ targets. Such targets are used to justify widespread human rights violations, and an overly punitive approach that directly undermines health, development, peace and security. It is time to ensure that international drug control meets the broader goals of the UN, as well as contribute towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, that is, in the areas of public health, human development, human security and ultimately human rights. Finally, in terms of civil society participation, we are calling for a civil society hearing ahead of the ministerial segment. We highlight that meaningful civil society participation will require opportunities to provide input to the review process as well towards the recommendations for beyond 2019 in addition to the proposed hearing. Thank you for your consideration and your continued commitment to the meaningful participation of civil society.
Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM): Today I am speaking on behalf of multiple organizations in the Drug Policy Futures network, including SAM, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, in opposition to some member states’ legalization of psychoactive drugs. These actions violate the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, and threaten international cooperation concerning drug abuse and trafficking. We stand firm in supporting goals of a drug free society, just as we do aims that focus on an AIDSfree society or a poverty-free society. That doesn’t justify the death penalty or extrajudicial killings or extremes in drug policy. We ask all member States to refer to the newly published WHO report on cannabis. This document is the result of dozens of experts from around the world, and clearly outlines the dangers of cannabis use. We also remind the state parties about the health and social impacts of nonmedical drug use as described by the World Health Organization; ü Growing evidence reveals that regular, heavy cannabis use during adolescence is associated with more severe and persistent negative consequences than use during adulthood. ü Regular cannabis use can develop dependence on the drug. The risk may be around 1 in 10 among those who ever use cannabis, I in 6 among adolescent users, and 1 in 3 among daily users; ü There has been an upward trend in the THC content of confiscated cannabis in the USA and some European countries, and there is not enough knowledge on whether cannabis products with higher THC content affect the adverse health effects of cannabis; ü There is a consistent dose-response relationship between cannabis use in adolescence and the risk of developing psychotic symptoms or schizophrenia. ü A substantial majority of citizens around the world do not agree with legalizing cannabis. Legalization is about one thing: making a small number of business people rich. If it were about ending the War on Drugs, recent policy changes would be limited to decriminalization. But instead, a host of business interests are getting involved with the legal marijuana trade in Colorado and elsewhere. They have set up private equity firms and fundraising organizations to attract investors and promote items such as marijuana candies and sodas, oils, and other products. And in Colorado, the effects have been negative. A new study we released yesterday has found that legalized states are leading the nation in past-year marijuana use among every age group. Among those states, Colorado currently holds the lead for first-time marijuana use among youth aged 12-17, representing a 65% increase since legalization. Young adult use is also highest in legalized states. Further, the number of young people arrested for marijuana use in Colorado saw an increase from 2015-2016. Not only are more young people being arrested for marijuana use in states that have legalized the substance, but Colorado has also seen an increase in the amount of youth on probation who have tested positive for the drug. This rise in youth use of marijuana is particularly frightening to see given the longterm implications involved with young people becoming addicted to marijuana Some supporters of legalization have argued that the relaxing of marijuana laws would lead to lower rates of alcohol consumption. The data prove otherwise. In the immediate year following legalization of marijuana, there was a clear drop off, but by year three alcohol consumption was at a multi-year high. Commercialization advocates have long argued that legalization will reduce black market marijuana activity in legalized states. However, criminal activity has only been amplified. In 2016 alone, Colorado law enforcement confiscated 7,116 pounds of marijuana, carried out 252 felony arrests, and made 346 highway interdictions of marijuana headed to 36 different U.S. states. The U.S. mail system has also been affected by the black market, seeing an 844% increase in postal marijuana seizures. Narcotics officers in Colorado have been busy responding to the 50% increase in illegal growing operations across rural areas in the state. One of the most common arguments prevalent amongst the promarijuana lobby is that the legalization of the substance will greatly assist communities of color. The study found that the common disparities among use and criminal offense rates continue among race, ethnicity, and income levels. The District of Columbia saw public consumption and distribution arrests nearly triple and a disproportionate number of those marijuana-related arrests occur among African-Americans. Finally, the study found a disturbing trend in that drugged driving and motor vehicle fatalities have increased in states that have legalized recreational marijuana. The number of drivers in Colorado intoxicated with marijuana and involved in fatal traffic crashes increased 88% from 2013-2015 and marijuana-related traffic deaths increased 66% between the four-year averages before and after legalization. The marijuana industry is actively working to become the next Big Tobacco. The use of THC candies and drinks are catering to young people and getting them into the drug at an early age. This doesn’t mean we want to saddle people with criminal records for using cannabis. We are not calling for mass imprisonment. We want to emphasize prevention, early intervention, treatment, and recovery. But to deny the addictive potential of cannabis or negative mental health effects is to deny the overwhelming scientific evidence available today. And our experience tells us that we should not welcome with open arms a new industry – like Big Tobacco – which will focus on commercializing and increasing the use of a drug far more potent today than it has ever been. Moreover, we stress that an international legal cannabis industry is likely to leverage bilateral and multilateral investment treaties to challenge public health regulations across the globe, as the tobacco industry has done. The legal actions tobacco companies have pursued have had an outsized impact on developing countries, and are often resolved through secretive international arbitrations rather than in domestic courts. We therefore request that member states follow the three international drug conventions and reiterate their commitment to the conventions, in connection with the debate around the legal status of cannabis. The use of cannabis for non-medical purposes is not a solution to existing challenges with drug control. Nor is legalization the only way to promote alternatives to incarceration of drug users. We also remind member states to implement the obligations from the three Drug Conventions and the Action Plan on Drugs, in order to implement effective prevention, treatment and rehabilitation measures. Legalization is clearly not allowed under the Conventions. Countries should not be able to legalize without consequences if our Conventions are to have meaning and credibility.
UNODC: Just to thank the United States and Thailand for their support.