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Ending prohibition with a hangover?

Community Justice Portal 11th Annual Lecture, 22nd May 2014, Sheffield, UK.
by

Julian Buchanan

on 21 October 2015

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Transcript of Ending prohibition with a hangover?

legal medications
legal and
commercially promoted
substances not generally perceived as 'drugs' embedded in leisure, pleasure & occasion
legal
highs
'Drugs'
Lifetime prevalence of illicit drug use amongst school students in Portugal, Italy and the European Union, aged 15–16, 1995–2007
by drug type and country. Source: Hibell et al. (2009).
small increases in reported illicit drug use amongst adults;
reduced illicit drug use among problematic drug users and adolescents, at least since 2003;
reduced burden of drug offenders on the criminal justice system;
increased uptake of drug treatment;
reduction in opiate-related deaths and infectious diseases; increases in the amounts of drugs seized by the authorities;
reductions in the retail prices of drugs. P.1017
there are no signs of mass expansion of the drug market in Portugal ... The Portuguese evidence suggests that combining the removal of criminal penalties with the use of alternative therapeutic responses to dependent drug users offers several advantages. It can reduce the burden of drug law enforcement on the criminal justice system, while also reducing problematic drug use. ...
holds numerous benefits, principally of increased opportunity to integrate drug users and to address the causes and damages of [problematic] drug use. p.1018
‘the MDA should be reviewed to take account of modern developments in medical, scientific and sociological knowledge’ (Police Foundation, 2000, ch.3 para.7) however, the Labour government backed away from overhauling this seriously outdated law. Although following advice of the ACMD and the findings of the Runciman Report, the Government in 2001 decided to reclassify cannabis from Class B to C.'
However, the implementation was delayed until 2004 while the government introduced stiffer penalties for the supply of Class C drugs to ensure they matched those of supply of Class B drugs.

When cannabis became a Class C drug the maximum penalty for supply of any Class C drug was increased from 5 years in prison to 14 years.
Buchanan, J (2010) Drug policy under New Labour, 1997-2010: Prolonging the war on drugs, Probation Journal Special Edition, Vol. 57 No.3, pp250-262
Prohibition
NIXON LAUNCHES DRUG WAR
USA vc Netherlands: Cannabis Use

The mean age at onset of use was
16.95 years in Amsterdam
16.43 years in San Francisco
http://ar2003.emcdda.europa.eu/en/page018-en.html
Amsterdam effectively decriminalized marijuana use in 1976, and it is available for purchase in small quantities by adults in licensed coffee shops.
By comparison in the USA marijuana use carries stiff criminal penalties, and more than 720,000 people were arrested for marijuana offenses in 2001.
May 2004, Vol 94, No. 5 | American Journal of Public Health Reinarman et al. | Peer Reviewed | Research and Practice
Despite widespread lawful availability of cannabis in Amsterdam, there were no differences between the 2 cities in
age at onset of use
age at first regular use
age at the start of maximum use.
Either availability in San Francisco is equivalent to that in Amsterdam despite policy differences, or availability per se does not strongly influence onset or other career phases.
Ending Prohibition with a Hangover:
Global Perspectives

"The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and 40 years after President Nixon launched the US government’s war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed."

GCDP June 2011
NZ Psychoactive Substances Act 2013
Section 71
Personal possession of any ‘unapproved’ substance is an offence subject to a max penalty of $500.

A seriously retrogressive step that will do more harm than good. Responsibility and punishment for risky unapproved psychoactive substances should lie not with the user but with the supplier. There should be no penalty for possession
This Act provides an opportunity to deliver drug regulation for new psychoactive substances but also extends prohibition and punishment.

It has created an ‘approved’ and ‘outlawed’ legal high market, replicating the present failed division between commercially supported legal drugs (alcohol, caffeine & tobacco) and tough law enforcement and punishment against illegal drugs (cannabis, ecstasy and methamphetamine).
Promoted Legal Leisure Substances
Others
s.70
An individual supplying an unapproved substance up to 2 years prison.
Disproportionate and unnecessarily severe.

The UNICEF report identifies percentage of cannabis amongst adolescents across different countries.

Get access to the full UNICEF report on Child Well Being in 29 nations - here:
http://www.unicef-irc.org/Report-Card-11/
CLASS A
LEGAL
Email:
julian.buchanan@vuw.ac.nz
Twitter
: julianbuchanan

Institute of Criminology
School of Social and Cultural Studies
Victoria University of Wellington
Te Whare Wananga o te Upoko o te Ika a Maui


Associate Professor Julian Buchanan

Community Justice Portal
11th Annual Lecture
22nd May 2014

Bancroft 2009 p.8
Socially Constructed Distinctions
Buchanan 2009 p.114



A considerable amount of harm is caused by making certain 'drugs' illegal. Serious impact in seven areas....

“The Drug War is an effort to stimulate fear of dangerous people from who we have to protect ourselves. It is also, a direct form of control - of what are called "dangerous classes," those superfluous people who don't really have a function contributing to profit-making and wealth.”

“When you call for a War on Drugs, you know exactly who you're going to pick up: poor black people. You're not going to pick up rich white people: you don't go after them anyway. In the upper-middle class suburb where I live, if somebody goes home and sniffs cocaine, police don't break into their house.”


Noam Chomsky “The Drug War Industrial Complex" interviewed by John Veit High Times, April, 1998
http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/199804--.htm
http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/facts/alcohol/en/
In 2012, about 3.3 million net deaths, or 5.9% of all global deaths, were attributable to alcohol consumption.
S.77
Empowers the police to enter and search without a warrant on suspicion of supply, importation or manufacture of unapproved psychoactive substances.

An unnecessary breach of human rights. Such powers should only be granted when the risk to the wider public is
considerable
and it was in the public interest.

The threat posed by unapproved psychoactive substances does not justify this breach of human rights.
Harm Reduction
Human Rights
Gangsters
The State
BigBusiness
Drug Panics
“In the context of international drug control, "drug" means any of the substances listed in Schedule I and II of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, whether natural or synthetic.”

http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/illicit-drugs/definitions/

crack babies
Threats to Drug Reform

The problem is not simply that we've made an economic mistake of driving drugs underground into the hands of criminal underworld - so it will not be resolved simply by giving state commercial control.

We have a Drug Apartheid -a war between drugs and between drug users.

Drug laws have been used to control the poor, Black and minority ethnic communities - to devastating effect.









The commercial promotion of intoxication and use of legal ‘non-drugs’ is a serious issue - the state should concentrate its effort on curbing business exploitation of drug dependence.

The notion of drugs has to be coherent, scientifically informed and consistently applied not based on media populism.

There is a human right to self medicate.

A human right to ingest what you choose with your own body without threat, punishment or imprisonment.












The 'tyranny' of the State should be curbed by severely limiting state powers in respect of personal drug use.


Decriminalisation of all personal possession and decriminalisation of cultivation, production and manufacture for personal use may be a safer first base move.


The litmus test for drug policy is to what degree is it able to promote human rights and harm reduction.

Ending Drug Apartheid and the War Between Drugs
http://tinyurl.com/julianbuchananCJP
Good Drug Policy
(c) 2014 Julian Buchanan
Full transcript