Plenary Item 5. Implementation of the international drug control treaties (continued)

(d) International cooperation to ensure the availability of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances for medical and scientific purposes while preventing their diversion

Russian Federation: Access is ensured systemically. Control whilst preventing diversion in compliance with Conventions and recommendations of INCB. Patient registers, including paediatric to ensure access and safety. If a registered drug is unavailable in the country, based on prognosis, drug imported by the state. Narcotic drugs and psychotropic medications are funded by federal and regional budgets. Patients receive the drugs free of charge. Physicians are able to select between different medical formats and doses allowing for correct prescription for adults and paediatric patients. Training and prescription capacity building on this are organised for practising physicians by training centres across the country. The Ministry of Health with patient associations and civil society bodies provides for oversight over the availability of analgesics and medications under control. One such oversight measure is the analgesic availability hotline, open for 7 years now. Detailed case by case analysis gives us a clear understanding on where we should be directing our efforts. Following INCB recommendations, we identify medication requirements and approved federal needs estimation procedures for these patients are used as a control metrics to monitor availability. Despite the pandemic, 89% of those in need are provided with controlled medication, as expressed in monthly treatment courses. This year we plan to transition to a new calculation method based on bimonthly courses as recommended by WHO. Concluding, thank INCB for training and guidance.

Australia: Apologise for technical issues experienced yesterday and thanks for your flexibility. We acknowledge the importance of CND continuing to consider and address barriers to access to controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes and preventing diversion into non licit uses and illicit markets. We also welcome the INCB report. Australia has a long term commitment in providing access to medication for the relief of pain. We encourage and support efforts to facilitate cooperation internationally as the world drug problem is best addressed in multilateral settings. The UNODC, INCB, WHO are key partners. Global disparity in access to controlled substances remains a concern for Australia, amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as humanitarian emergencies disrupting access and viability. Since the beginning of the pandemic, WHO has identified shortages in over 20 medicines; 4 controlled substances used in the treatment of COVID cases. INCB Learning has supported Pacific Island countries to enhance access. Barriers remain. These include lack of training for health professionals. Complex regulatory systems. Societal attitudes. Which is why it’s fundamental to have government proactive work on this. UNODC announced an expanded programme on the matter which now includes Indonesia and Fiji.

(e) Other matters arising from the international drug control treaties

Indonesia: We maintain our commitment to implement the drug control treaties through a balanced approach. We highlight: on changes in the scope of control of substances, we took note regarding the control of substances as suggested by WHO ECDD. Domestically, Indonesia in 2021 has regulated ethylone as 1st category narcotics – only for scientific purposes. We didn’t find evidence of the other two substances in our country, so they are awaiting discussion by the national commission. We have also participated in the questionnaires on the three fentanyl precursors. We continue to assess the relevance regarding the changes in the scope of control of substances nationally. We continue to collaborate to ensure the availability of narcotic drugs and controlled substances for medical/scientific purposes whilst preventing diversion. Including participating in ARQ. The Ministry of Health participates in ensuring the availability of narcotics, psychotropic and pharmaceutical precursors for legitimate uses. Domestically, in line with the three conventions, we implement control mechanisms of substances to avoid diversion. NPS are identified by the narcotic central laboratory of the National Narcotics Board which communicates about changes in scope. Indonesia has discovered 87 NPS of which 75 have been registered through regulation of Ministry of Health. ON the changes to narcotic classifications, the Commission is assessing. Efforts apace to counter illegal drugs and abuse.

Russian Federation: Cease politicising the work of the Commission. This is contrary to the CND’s mandate. We should focus on our agenda. On this item, Russia is attached to unwavering upholding of our commitments under the UN Conventions, the cornerstone for the drug control regime. In recent years, that foundation has been chipped away at by various countries. Some countries are consciously undermining the basic rules on the use and production of drugs only for medical and scientific purposes. THe INCB has a mandate to monitor implementation of legal obligations and has stated numerously that legalising cannabis for so called recreational purposes violates the conventions particularly article 4 of the Single Convention. Hypocritical approach of one country which has a selective approach to international law. During this session, that country under politicised pretence accused Russia of violating the Convention of 1988. It’s important to understand this country has systematically violated the principles of the Convention, legalising recreational cannabis in an increasing number of states within their borders. Ridiculous to hear the federal government is against but states do whatever they want. That is not the only case. In 2018, the legislation to legalise recreational use of cannabis was adopted by Canada. Some EU countries, which tries to have a single policy on drugs, have also embarked upon this hazardous path; some have a liberal approach and some uphold the conventions. Russia has pointed to the unacceptability of legislative initiatives that undermine the drug control regime. This reserves the CND’s closest attention, which however prefers to deliver on any other issue than that issue, which is key and crucial to addressing the world drug challenge. Significantly, despite the clear provisions of INCB with respect to violations to the Conventions, it is somehow wrong to call these countries by their names. Many refrain from entering substantive comments on this according to the Vienna spirit because discussing countries is not . But these countries use a double standard because they name other countries for other issues. Countries like us, have the moral right to participate in CND because we are bona fide abiders to the conventions. Are we ready to destroy CND or not?

Green Crescent: We work on addictions such as tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. We conduct preventive and rehabilitative work and advocacy with a global vision. We are well-aware that illicit drugs pose challenges to achieving the 2030 agenda. The impacts of the COVID19 pandemic are long-lasting. The pandemic has created increased economic hardships and mental health conditions for many. Therefore, we are observing an alarming trend of drug use globally. Besides, the youth population is growing. We need to do our best. To discuss all potential and risks of drug, please ensure that youth have access to services without disruption and stigma. The UN is reflecting evidence-based approach in its scheduling. Some are areas such as ATS remain a challenge when it comes to scheduling. Methamphetamine is sometimes used in conjunction with opioids. All of these dynamics mean that joint coordinated effort including INGOs are needed. The cross-border collaboration of states and the speed sharing of information is essential to address and counter the world drug problem. In short, ensuring the cooperation and collaboration of NGOs is essential. CSOs have extensive knowledge and experience in emerging threats. We are working to make sure that future generations’ lives are as happy and healthy as possible. We are more than ready to provide more input to the UN system and collaborate to ensure that prevention treatment and rehabilitation are accessible to everyone.

International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care: The World Drug Report and the Joint Call to Action we heard on Monday told us that medicines are still unavailable, inaccessible, and unaffordable in more than 75% of the world. Patients are living and dying with preventable pain. This situation would have dismayed the original framers of the conventions. They could not have foreseen the development of medical developments and hence the conventions are not good enough on this subject. However, the Commission and INCB have kept track and made good recommendations – it is now for policymakers to implement them. We know that there is fear of an epidemic of addiction to opioid, but evidence on the field show that this is not an inevitable outcome, as it is linked to captured regulators. Partnerships with academics, civil society, and well function public procurement are key to achieving the right approach. Ensuring that budgets are patient rather than profit centric can effectively ensure that access to medicines exist for everyone.

Fields of Green for All: After centuries of cannabis being used across Africa, South Africa had the dubious distinction to be the first country to ban cannabis. British colonists disliked the use of cannabis by the Indian labourers they brought to the country. We see cannabis laws and the proposed regulation for decriminalisation as a cut and paste progression based on racism, not on evidence. The Constitutional Court granted to all of us right to cultivate for private use. This has done nothing for traditional growers who are the backbone of our economy. We will continue to fight the right to continue trading cannabis as we have done for centuries. The time for using the conventions against us is over. Many provisions in the convention are contrary to human rights. In 2007 the UN adopted the declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples. South Africa is well placed to be one of the pioneering countries in cannabis producing across the world, and the government is starting to listen to civil society. Our cannabis regulations may end up being the most liberal and human rights centred across the world. Other countries would do well to follow suit.

Smart Approaches to Marihuana: Drugs such as cannabis and now moving on to psychedelics are promoted by multinational for-profit corporations in order to increase their profit and harm public health. In the US we have more than 10 years of legal cannabis. The experience we’ve had is not good. We have seen an increase in young people use, in particular in high-THC marihuana. We are also seeing increase in impaired driving, and costs are borne in the situation. US is not alone in flouting the conventions. We are not calling for an increase in incarceration, we just need to call for an increase in health intervention and treatment. Even if the drug-free world is not an attainable goal, it should still be our goal. We are against overly punitive policies, but we are also against liberalisation. That is what a balanced approach means. We are seeing how legalisation is moving to psychedelics, and also even to heroin with the concept of safe consumption rooms. We should not be encouraging drug use. We want countries to reaffirm their commitment to prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. We remain committed to being a resource for all of you.

DRCNet:

Mr Chair, Excellencies, dear Delegates,

During this Commission, as in previous years, many delegates have expressed concerns about the legalization of non-medical cannabis based upon the need to maintain  treaty compliance.

After considerable study and consultation we now firmly believe that  it is possible to comply with the Single Convention, while legalizing non-medical cannabis.

This Commission negotiated the draft of the Single Convention for a full 10 years. The Convention is not a prohibition treaty: it is a drug control treaty.  It establishes a licit market for drugs in different contexts: medical use, scientific use, and industrial use –defined in the convention as “other than medical and scientific purposes.”

The broad consensus of this Commission, among all the regional groups, was to rule out any mandatory prohibition; and any measures that would have reduced the sovereignty of Member States were methodically deleted from the Single Convention draft.

The Single Convention is often misquoted. There are 7 words in Article 4 that always seem to be omitted. These words are important, because they explain that the Single Convention does not limit cannabis to medical and scientific purposes. Instead, the Convention actually establishes this limitation as subject to an exemption. An exemption that applies to cannabis used in non-medical industry.

Yes, the Convention allows Member States to prohibit cannabis. But also yes, Article 2 paragraph 9 of the Single Convention allows countries to legalize their non-medical cannabis industries, in good faith, while reducing harm and while reconciling all obligations under international law,  in other words, in compliance.

Both interpretations are possible. Both interpretations are legitimate.

However, one interpretation is more sound and better aligned with the consensus in 1961 as well as the text of the treaty in 2022, it is the interpretation recognizing the exemption of non-medical cannabis under Article 2 paragraph 9.

Article 2 paragraph 9 lays down two conditions. If these two requirements are met, it is ok to produce, manufacture, export, import, trade in and possess cannabis for other than medical and scientific purposes.

The two conditions are:

→ subparagraph (a) → countries must avoid cannabis harms and, by appropriate means, reduce the risk of abuse –this equates to an effective prevention of cannabis use disorders and harm reduction.

→ subparagraph (b) → countries must report the amount of cannabis used for non-medical purposes to the INCB every year.

What about the rest? No other drug control requirements are required… As was the will of the drafters, countries are free to regulate as per their national priorities, strategies, and constitutional principles.

The treaty Commentary is crystal clear: fulfilling these conditions renders legal (and I quote) “the non-application of the full narcotics regime prescribed by the Single Convention.” (end quote)

This is the international legal regime for non-medical cannabis.

Cannabis “commonly used in industry for other than medical and scientific purposes” is exempted under Article 2, paragraph 9 of the Single Convention on narcotic drugs.

A thorough legal analysis backing up this interpretation was just published this Monday. It is titled “High Compliance”, and is available through open access (https://faaat.net/highcompliance). We have requested the Secretariat post the link on the Commission’s website to facilitate sharing of the information with all delegations interested in this less conflicting and more consensual approach.

Amidst difficult times where the respect of international law is underscored by all Parties as quintessential, this rediscovery of the text of the Single Convention and its purposeful exemptions for non-medical and industrial purposes is more than timely.

Organization for Poverty Alleviation and Development: The uncertainty coming from the Taliban’s taking over in Afghanistan has pushed up prices of opium. Incentives for cultivation has risen as prices have increased, particularly as poverty extends. Under Taliban control, the expansive trade in drugs leads to narcoterrorism. The production and trafficking of heroin and meth is the Taliban’s largest source of income. The threat of the escalating heroin and meth trade extends well beyond South Asia, as does the threat of terrorism. The previous temporary ban on opioid cultivation implemented by the Taliban shows the duplicitous nature of the government. The inhumane treatment of addicts sent to so-called treatment centres that do not provide appropriate health responses needs to be addressed.

CND Chair: Agenda Item 5(a) will be discussed this afternoon. Let’s move now to the last interventions under Item 3.

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