A call for evidence-based policies on illegal drugs

One of Canada’s chief medical officers has added his voice to the case for drug law reform. Writing in the peer-reviewed journal of open medicine, Dr Kendall and his co-authors argue a strong case for evidence based drug policies. They conclude: In light of the persistently widespread availability and relative safety of cannabis in comparison to existing legal drugs, as well as the crime and violence that exist secondary to prohibition of this drug,4 there is a need for discussion about the optimal regulatory strategy to reduce the harms of cannabis use while also reducing unintended policy-attributable consequences (e.g., the organized crime that has emerged under prohibition). In a media interview with The Sun, Dr Kendall states that: “The fact cannabis is illegal doesn’t diminish access rates. The so-called war on drugs has not achieved its stated objective of reducing rates of drug use. It’s universally available in B.C. and the supply is controlled largely by criminal enterprise,” Kendall told The Sun. “It should be regulated just like alcohol and tobacco. It [cannabis] is less addictive than either of...

Measuring the Illegal Drug Economy of Australia

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has made an estimate of the size of the illegal drug economy in Australia. They report: Results for the 2010 year suggest Gross Value Added (GVA), Household Final Consumption Expenditure (HFCE) and Imports for the illegal drug economy is 0.5%, 1.0% and 0.4% of total Australian GDP, HFCE and Imports respectively. This paper has applied the OECD recommended methodology to estimate the value of the illegal drug economy in Australia. Please note that these are not to be regarded as official statistics. The report can be found by clicking...

Joint Statement Against Compulsory Treatment

UNESCO on compulsory drug detention: United Nations entities call on States to close compulsory drug detention and rehabilitation centres and implement voluntary, evidence-informed and rights-based health and social services in the community The continued existence of compulsory drug detention and rehabilitation centres, where people who are suspected of using drugs or being dependent on drugs, people who have engaged in sex work, or children who have been victims of sexual exploitation are detained without due process in the name of “treatment” or “rehabilitation”, is a serious...

War on Drugs debate

Be sure to tune in: Misha Glenny Journalist and author of bestseller McMafia: Seriously Organised Crime Geoffrey Robertson QC Leading human rights lawyer VS Antonio Maria Costa Former Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Eliot Spitzer Former governor of New York, lawyer and political...

The decriminalisation (or even legalisation) of drugs by Chris Berg

A few excerpts from Chris Berg’s great article on drug policy: The decriminalisation (or even legalisation) of drugs by Chris Berg. It doesn’t take more than a moment of thought to recognise that the rulings on which drugs are legal or illegal are governed by no particular logic. No theory from medicine or philosophy or psychology demands alcohol, tobacco and caffeine must be legal while marijuana, cocaine, and heroin must be prohibited. […] Whether a drug is illegal is nothing more than an accident of history. Drug laws were not written dispassionately by a panel of the best medical and ethical minds in the world. The laws bear no relation to the damage those drugs could cause or their danger to society – they were not written to minimise harm or protect health. Quite the opposite: the current schedule of drugs in the Western world has been driven by politics, expediency, prejudice, and sometimes outright racism. […] But the biggest cultural barrier to such reform is the current status illegal drugs have. In the sort of circular reasoning that only popular discourse can manage, the prohibition of drugs is mostly justified by their pre-existing legal status. Why are certain drugs prohibited? Because they are illicit drugs. But that status has been set by politics and moral panics, not dispassionate evidence-based risk assessments. Drug prohibition carries the legacy of the ugly politics of the past. Once we realise that, we may start to rethink the justice of a war that is, in truth, not against drugs, but against drug...