Check it out Chasers! Finally the Brits get chasing foil legalised

After years and years of fighting and debating and hassling and writing and discussing and persuading, the Home Office in the UK has finally accepted foil as legal under the provision of drug paraphernalia, meaning it is no longer illegal to be found with it and, more importantly, it is now legal for needle and syringe services (many who have been doing it discreetly for years anyhow) to possess it; which means it gives smokers a reason to pop in to their local service to ask for some and thereby make some contact for the future.

It’s been a long time coming – many smokers have been left out in the cold when it comes to whats on offer at NSP, but with more and more smokers getting involved at these services, there will be more and more reasons to develop services to suit a chaser. So well done to ALL those who have never ever given up on this. I have to make a special mention to Exchange Supplies make such neat and perfectly formed foil that one doesn’t have to ‘burn’ off first (that’s only cooking oil btw to stop the rolls of foil sticking together). So here it is, the final bloody statement!….

 

Written ministerial statement on the government’s acceptance of Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs advice on the lawful provision of foil. 4th July 2013

This written ministerial statement was laid in the House of Commons by Theresa May and in the House of Lords by Lord Taylor of Holbeach.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Theresa May): The government has accepted the advice of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) to allow for the lawful provision of foil by drug treatment providers subject to the strict condition that it is part of structured efforts to get people into treatment and off drugs.

The government’s 2010 Drug Strategy, Reducing demand, restricting supply, building recovery: supporting people to live a drug-free life is ambitious in its aims and takes a balanced approach. At its core is recovery – enabling individuals to live free from drug dependency, enabling them to re-build their lives and address the criminality and health issues associated with drug abuse.

The available evidence shows that the provision of foil can encourage people to take their first steps into treatment, reducing the immediate harm and facilitating the onward journey towards recovery and abstinence. By lawfully providing foil under strict conditions, we also tackle the significant health risks associated with injecting behaviours, including the transmission of dangerous blood borne viruses.

The government will introduce legislation to ensure foil is only offered by drug treatment providers as part as part of structured efforts to get individuals into treatment, on the road to recovery and off of drugs. We will also put in place mechanisms to carefully monitor and evaluate take-up, implementation and adherence to the conditionality over the next year.

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/drug-paraphernalia

 

Foil: pack of 20 sheetsTo get your foil, ask your local needle and syringe service or buy it direct at Exchange Supplies

RECOVERING FROM RECOVERY RANT

…Help, someone, anyone, gimme something to get that taste out of my mouth!

I’ve just been mooching around the British recovery policy arrow . That all want us to RECOVER. They all want us to hurry along off that awful substitute drug methadone or whatever dulls your senses, and step into real life, the good life, the real shiny happy coloured world.

I’m seeing David Cameron, sitting there in his living room, talking intensly about ‘how to deal with this country’s drug problem’ about how Labour just left us all sitting on methadone by a policy drafted and financially driven ‘bums on clinic seats’ kinda approach (amongst other things).

In a way, it worked. EVERYONE got a ‘script. EVERYONE who went near heroin got a methadone or Suboxone (in fashion pharmaceutically with the Gov these days) prescription and got off the crazy merry go round of hunting for dope 24-7.

But I could go on and on about what I thought of the last governments policies and where we went wrong and right – and we definitely did – for the first time ever – make some right decisions with the drug users welfare in mind -and occasionally involved in that as well! Movement!

But my RANT for today……

I am soooooo sick of the way we are supposed to go to ‘health professionals’ for ‘recovery’. More money thrown at them (for us you understand).

They pull out their research statistics -most of which are dubious (we could tell you that if we were ar these meetings or were there designing the research with you).

RECOVERY has become religious. Like a light we have to follow to ‘come and accept the truth and waljk through the recovery door into the light…..’

STOP! WE are making a mistake! support us if you must -but support us to be a community – to support each other, to decide for ourselves what kinda warm and fuzzy workshops we want to attend on the way to our new life….I mean please! We are all individuals. WE need what everyone needs to make it;

We need a purpose.

We need love and support

We need community, family, bridges healed, bridges left behind.

We need to be able to deal with anxiety, pressure, deadlines, responsibility without always using drugs. Sometimes it might be appropriate but we need to know when that is and when that isnt. A joint in bed after a mental nites work -what the fuck is wrong with that?

We need to feel like we are contributing to something useful, that we are giving something useful to our community. We need to focus on these things – not be held up like a ‘recovery champion’.

Its embarrassing, its patronising, it is demeaning; it makes the service feel good. Especcially when they have their big ‘event day’.

‘Here we are, look commissioner, look at our guy/girl -and hear their story of where they have come from (the gutter of course) to how, with the help of their drug service, they are a new person, they have their lives back and even their children. We all well up, stuff a chip in our mouths, drink the free wine (oops, no alcohol at these kind of events), network, and everyone feels good and wants to know how they too can replicate this service.

Why dont we ever learn? Why dont we acknowledge those who really need some serious support, practical and emotional and help them to help themselves. Support them to support each other. Peer support works well — but not run like a church with a bloody door and light at the end of the tunnel and youve never really made until you get there. drug free.

Im so sick of it all. And now london is haveing the biggest ‘RECOVERY EVENT’ in the world in January????!!! Please god!

The Top 10 Most Startling Facts About People of Color and Criminal Justice in the United States

The Top 10 Most Startling Facts About People of Color and Criminal Justice in the United States

A Look at the Racial Disparities Inherent in USA’s Criminal-Justice System

SOURCE: AP/ California Department of Corrections

Eliminating the racial disparities inherent to our nation’s criminal-justice policies and practices must be at the heart of a renewed, refocused, and reenergized movement for racial justice in America.

A harrowing article by the Centre for American Progress, written by  Sophia Kerby | March 13, 2012

This month the United States celebrates the Selma-to-Montgomery marches of 1965 to commemorate our shared history of the civil rights movement and our nation’s continued progress towards racial equality. Yet decades later a broken criminal-justice system has proven that we still have a long way to go in achieving racial equality.

Today people of color continue to be disproportionately incarcerated, policed, and sentenced to death at significantly higher rates than their white counterparts. Further, racial disparities in the criminal-justice system threaten communities of color—disenfranchising thousands by limiting voting rights and denying equal access to employment, housing, public benefits, and education to millions more. In light of these disparities, it is imperative that criminal-justice reform evolves as the civil rights issue of the 21st century.

Below we outline the top 10 facts pertaining to the criminal-justice system’s impact on communities of color.

1. While people of color make up about 30 percent of the United States’ population, they account for 60 percent of those imprisoned. The prison population grew by 700 percent from 1970 to 2005, a rate that is outpacing crime and population rates. The incarceration rates disproportionately impact men of color: 1 in every 15 African American men and 1 in every 36 Hispanic men are incarcerated in comparison to 1 in every 106 white men.

2. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, one in three black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime. Individuals of color have a disproportionate number of encounters with law enforcement, indicating that racial profiling continues to be a problem. A report by the Department of Justice found that blacks and Hispanics were approximately three times more likely to be searched during a traffic stop than white motorists. African Americans were twice as likely to be arrested and almost four times as likely to experience the use of force during encounters with the police.

3. Students of color face harsher punishments in school than their white peers, leading to a higher number of youth of color incarcerated. Black and Hispanic students represent more than 70 percent of those involved in school-related arrests or referrals to law enforcement. Currently, African Americans make up two-fifths and Hispanics one-fifth of confined youth today.

4. According to recent data by the Department of Education, African American students are arrested far more often than their white classmates. The data showed that 96,000 students were arrested and 242,000 referred to law enforcement by schools during the 2009-10 school year. Of those students, black and Hispanic students made up more than 70 percent of arrested or referred students. Harsh school punishments, from suspensions to arrests, have led to high numbers of youth of color coming into contact with the juvenile-justice system and at an earlier age.

5. African American youth have higher rates of juvenile incarceration and are more likely to be sentenced to adult prison. According to the Sentencing Project, even though African American juvenile youth are about 16 percent of the youth population, 37 percent of their cases are moved to criminal court and 58 percent of African American youth are sent to adult prisons.

6. As the number of women incarcerated has increased by 800 percent over the last three decades, women of color have been disproportionately represented. While the number of women incarcerated is relatively low, the racial and ethnic disparities are startling. African American women are three times more likely than white women to be incarcerated, while Hispanic women are 69 percent more likely than white women to be incarcerated.

7. The war on drugs has been waged primarily in communities of color where people of color are more likely to receive higher offenses. According to the Human Rights Watch, people of color are no more likely to use or sell illegal drugs than whites, but they have higher rate of arrests. African Americans comprise 14 percent of regular drug users but are 37 percent of those arrested for drug offenses. From 1980 to 2007 about one in three of the 25.4 million adults arrested for drugs was African American.

8. Once convicted, black offenders receive longer sentences compared to white offenders. The U.S. Sentencing Commission stated that in the federal system black offenders receive sentences that are 10 percent longer than white offenders for the same crimes. The Sentencing Project reports that African Americans are 21 percent more likely to receive mandatory-minimum sentences than white defendants and are 20 percent more like to be sentenced to prison.

9. Voter laws that prohibit people with felony convictions to vote disproportionately impact men of color. An estimated 5.3 million Americans are denied the right to vote based on a past felony conviction. Felony disenfranchisement is exaggerated by racial disparities in the criminal-justice system, ultimately denying 13 percent of African American men the right to vote. Felony-disenfranchisement policies have led to 11 states denying the right to vote to more than 10 percent of their African American population.

10. Studies have shown that people of color face disparities in wage trajectory following release from prison. Evidence shows that spending time in prison affects wage trajectories with a disproportionate impact on black men and women. The results show no evidence of racial divergence in wages prior to incarceration; however, following release from prison, wages grow at a 21 percent slower rate for black former inmates compared to white ex-convicts. A number of states have bans on people with certain convictions working in domestic health-service industries such as nursing, child care, and home health care—areas in which many poor women and women of color are disproportionately concentrated.

Theses racial disparities have deprived people of color of their most basic civil rights, making criminal-justice reform the civil rights issue of our time. Through mass imprisonment and the overrepresentation of individuals of color within the criminal justice and prison system, people of color have experienced an adverse impact on themselves and on their communities from barriers to reintegrating into society to engaging in the democratic process. Eliminating the racial disparities inherent to our nation’s criminal-justice policies and practices must be at the heart of a renewed, refocused, and reenergized movement for racial justice in America.

Andrey Rylkov Foundation’s website shut down in Russia

Here is an article from our friends at Harm Reduction International, writing about a truly appalling situation (another one) to emerge from Russia -affecting our dear friends and peer activists at Andrey Rylkov Foundation.  This courageous HIV/AIDS, drug and human rights organisation has consistently raised their head above the parapet (in a country where it can be literally be beaten off), and given people much needed health and harm reduction information in a climate of fear and intimidation.  One can only imagine what that must be like, to work every day knowing that you could be arrested, imprisoned, fitted up on a trumped up charge (which has happened repeatedly to other HIV and human rights activists) while thousands upon thousands of people are desperate for the sterile syringes that you give out, and the HIV information you impart. Last World AIDS day, December 1st 2011, ARF were instrumental in supporting us at BP (and INPUD) to coordinate the global Russian embassy protest, an attempt to shame Russian officials about their inaction and lack of response to the HIV catastrophe unfolding in their country. We are deeply concerned at this latest attempt by the Russian government to silence anyone or any organisations that discuss methadone in what is an ” ongoing assault on HIV prevention” taking things to the “next level by moving to silence public health advocates whose only infraction has been to spread life-saving information online and to criticize the government for its own failures.” We will keep you posted of developments. Catch ARF on facebook, and join to keep up to date with what is looking to be a highly charged time in Russian life and politics.

 

 

 

Authors:  

Vladimir Putin wrote a recent column praising the potential for “internet-based democracy”. But the Russian government adopts rules allowing for websites to be shut down on a

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin's iron grip on power continues to circumvent free speech in Russia, as yet again, HIV & drug organisations like ARF are targeted.

whim, and has used those rules to close down HIV prevention sites.

He talked about free medical care being one of the priorities of Russian citizens. But that care denied to millions of Russian people.

While Prime Minister Putin spoke glowingly of digital democracy, his anti-drugs agency is censoring websites for writing about WHO essential medicine.

“[It’s over] methadone, plain and simple” said Anya Sarang, President of the Andrey Rylkov Foundation, which had its website shut down over the weekend.

The government’s anti-drugs agency, FSKN Moscow Department demanded that the Andrey Rylkov Foundation’s service provider block their website, utilizing new rules adopted last year. The notification states it was due to “placement of materials which propagandize (advertise) the use of drugs, information about distribution, purchasing of drugs and inciting the use of drugs”

What the Foundation was doing was spreading the word about basic HIV prevention measures and commenting on the Russian government’s policies.

Amidst pro-democracy protests, the Russian authorities have taken what is an ongoing assault on HIV prevention to the next level by moving to silence public health advocates whose only infraction has been to spread life-saving information online and to criticize the government for its own failures.

Russia is home to one of the biggest populations of injecting drug users, and one of the fastest growing HIV epidemics in the world. It is estimated that there are just under two million injecting drug users in Russia. In some regions, more than 80 percent of people living with HIV in the country contracted the virus through injecting with contaminated equipment.

According to the World Health Organization, methadone is an essential medicine, for treating heroin dependence and for preventing HIV transmission by reducing the practice of injecting. Multiple scientific studies back this up.

But the Russian government’s ‘zero tolerance’ approach to illicit drugs is well known and has resulted in the outright denial of methadone (or ‘opioid substitution therapy’). It is illegal in Russia.

The net result of these policies is a massive increase in the number of people living with HIV in the country over the last decade.

According to UNAIDS, “In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, there was a 250% increase in the number of people living with HIV from 2001 to 2010. The Russian Federation and Ukraine account for almost 90% of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region’s epidemic. Injecting drug use remains the leading cause of HIV infection in this region”.

“People all over the world take this medication for granted” says Sarang, “but here in Russia it’s central to our struggle against HIV and it’s banned. Now, even our speaking about it seems to be banned.”

This is not the first time Russia has attempted to censor civil society voices for public health. At the UN General Assembly talk on HIV last March the Russian delegation tried to stop a Ukrainian drug user from speaking about HIV prevention. Fortunately, others were not happy with such censorship and the effort failed.

“The right to information is essential to realizing the right to health,” said Agnes Callamard, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19, in a statement. “A government agency such as Federal Drug Control Service should not have the ability to ban websites at the whim of a bureaucrat. This is particularly so when considering the impact of censoring discussions relating to drug addiction or HIV/AIDS.”

For years, human rights advocates like the Andrey Rylkov Foundation have argued that Russia’s colossal failure to provide vital services is a breach of its obligation under international law to respect, protect and fulfill the right to health. The government’s latest crackdown against public health activists has turned the matter into an issue of freedom of expression.

Mr. Putin says that democracy needs “efficient channels for dialogue… communication and feedback,” while the government’s actions silence people fighting to raise issues the government is refusing to face. This silences the spread of information. It silences the democratic process.

Source of publication: http://www.huffingtonpost.com

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Dec 1st Russian Embassy Protest -Be there!

The Red ribbon is a symbol for solidarity with...

WORLD AIDS DAY

On Dec 1st, 2011, World Aids day, people in 8 countries around the world will descend on Russian Embassies -To protest at the criminal treatment of people who use drugs – in the biggest catastrophe in the history of HIV in recent times. (See below for where and when).

In Russia today, we are bearing witness to one of the biggest, avoidable catastrophes in the history of HIV – the lack of response to the epidemic in Russia. We must point directly to the specific responsibility that Russian medical and public health officials bear for creating and sustaining this disastrous situation. Of particular concern are Russia’s, brutalising drug policies and its recently revised Total War on Drugs, which has resulted in further pushing people who use drugs into hiding, prison, and enforced detention, and severely compromising efforts from the international community to revert the trajectory of HIV/AIDS. The world is approaching a crossroads; a strong and decisive downward trajectory in the epidemic is possible in all countries -but it will only happen if the people who are most vulnerable to infection are supported and their human rights realised. Governments have legal obligations to act. Indeed, the implementation of harm reduction measures is consistant with and required by states obligations under international human rights law. 1,2.

Injecting drugs with contaminated equipment is driving Russia’s HIV epidemic, now the fastest growing in the world and it is reflected in the numbers; as many as 80% of new infections are occurring amongst people who inject drugs (PWID), in a total HIV positive population of approx 1million. With this in mind, recent projections forecast an additional 5 million people could become infected with HIV in the near future, unless Russia transforms the way it is dealing with its HIV pandemic.6

Russian authorities have repeatedly come in for fierce international criticism over their policy towards the treatment of drug dependence, which relies almost completely on the promotion of abstinence to the exclusion of harm reduction.  Russian officials claim, incorrectly, that the effectiveness of opiate substitution therapy (such as providing methadone and buprenorphine) has not been adequately demonstrated, and as such it is prohibited by law. Yet, despite the addition in 2005 of these two drugs to WHO’s list of essential medicines, and multiple position papers by international experts calling for substitution treatment as a critical element in the response to HIV (IOM, 2006; UNODC, UNAIDS, and WHO, 2005), methadone or buprenorphine remain prohibited by law in Russia and promotion of its use – punishable by a jail sentence.
Compare this legitimate injection kit obtained...

Sterile needles and syringes are proven ways to prevent the spread of HIV

With over 30,000 people dying from drug overdoses every year, numbers that can be shown to markedly reduce with the implementation of OST, and 150 becoming infected with HIV each day (2/3rds of which are injecting drug users), also evidenced to drastically reduce with the roll out of Needle and Syringe Programmes (NSP), it is upon everyone who cares about humanity, to demand an immediate transformational shift in Russia’s approach to HIV prevention and its treatment of drug users.  Access to NSP and OST is in itself, a human right;  UN Ruman Rights Monitors have specifically stated harm reduction interventions as necessary for states to comply with the right to health. 5)

Consistent evidence from around the world shows that treatment for opiate dependence works most effectively when the exclusive goal of abstinence is widened to foster multiple outcomes – including reduction in use of illicit opiates, exposures to blood-borne infections such as HIV and hepatitis, reduction in drug overdoses, better management of existing health problems etc. Evidence has repeatedly shown the clear benefits to the individual and society as a whole when drug dependence is viewed as a public health issue, as opposed to a criminal one. Evidence also shows OST, combined with a range of harm reduction measures such NSP, leads to a drastic reduction in the spread of new HIV infections in countries across the globe; none of this more clearly demonstrated today, than in Netherlands, a world leader in harm reduction where in 2010, only ONE injecting drug user contracted HIV. In the UK, another country that has harm reduction at the centre of its HIV prevention strategy, prevalence of HIV amongst drug injectors is at 1.5%, this against a Russian HIV prevalence backdrop of 30-35%. The evidence on harm reduction has been in for years. Why does Russia continue to turn its back?
The Russian government‘s estimated annual expenditure related to drug law enforcement) equal approx 100 million US  dollars. 7. This amount does not include the money spent on detention and imprisonment. In stark comparison, only 20 million US dollars was allocated to HIV and hepatitis B and C  prevention combined, among all population groups in 2011. By 2013, amounts spent will be three times less. Considering the context and tendencies in the development of the HIV epidemic in Russia, clearly such policies are not leading to any positive results. No money at all is allocated towards HIV prevention among the injecting drug using population.6Such punitive and torturous approaches to tackling drug use are not only fuelling the HIV epidemic in the region, but also the stigma, hate and ignorance of drugs, and of people who use drugs.  The insistence by both the Russian government and medical profession to treat drug users as criminals that need imprisonment at worst, and at best – enforced detention, has meant harm-reduction programs, including needle exchange, are officially accused of propagandizing drug use and activists have been arrested, harrassed and imprisoned for promoting harm reduction measures. Demonstrators who have protested and spoken out against the Russian response to HIV/AIDS are also regularly arrested and detained, including HIV positive people calling for access to ARV’s (drugs to treat HIV) and an end to treatment interruption fuelling drug resistant strains of HIV.This World Aids Day, December 1st 2011, we will echo the urgent voices of Russian drug users who are living and dying in the grip of an HIV and TB pandemic with almost no recourse or chance to engage in or promote an effective response.  . We will gather at Russian embassies around the world to demand Russia to change it current course towards death and disease. We want to see inappropriately aggressive, state sponsored hostility to drug users replaced by enlightened, scientifically driven attitudes and more equitable societal responses” 3 We demand our own countries to apply pressure wherever and whenever they can, voicing publicly our concerns about human rights abuses in the Russian response to drug use and HIV.
Sound, evidenced based and cost effective harm reduction solutions stand at the forefront of what has been shown to effectively prevent HIV infection in the drug using community. The personal narratives of people who use drugs and their allies on the front line of human right struggles must be recognised and remain a key part of today’s growing evidence base. People who use drugs must be seen as central players in the search for solutions rather than being framed and targeted as the problem.
Nothing About Us Without Us  www.inpud.net
Dec 1st at Russian Embassies in London, Stockholm, Berlin, Bucharest, New York, Sydney/Canberra, Spain (?), and Toronto. Dec 1st
 for times and locations follow updates at http://russianembassyprotest.wordpress.com or (add your email/website)

1) UNIDCP Flexibility of Treaty positions as regards harm redcution approaches, decision 74/10 Geneva UN 2002 ,
2) UNODC World Drug Report Vienna 2009
3) Lancet July 2010 HIV in people who use Drugs
4) The right to the highest attainable standard of health; Article 12, comment 14  International Covenent on  Economic, Cultural and Social Rights 2000
5) Barrett D et al;  Harm Reduction and Human Rights, the Global response to drug related HIV Epidemics. London, HRI, 2009
6) News Release, Oct 7th 2011, Risk of HIV Hitting Catastrophic Levels; from the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network; Eurasian Harm Reduction Network; Harm Reduction International;
7) Articles 228-233 of the Russian Criminal Code

Latest Update on Floridas War Against People using Drugs

Finally some sense from Florida -as  Judge Scriven calls ‘unlawful and unconstitutional’ and may violate people’s right under the Constitution to lawful search and seizures, as the USA’s fourth Amendment states people must be suspected before any ‘warrant’ can be issued.

Governor Rick Scott’s plan to strip the welfare benefits of anyone testing positive for drugs, including parents (although other ‘clean’ adults would be able to apply on the children’s behalf) has already been implemented for 4 months however on 32 people have been ‘caught’ -most from smoking cannabis.  Florida is the first state since 1999 to enact this law, following Michigan, however this year as times get tougher, over 36 more US states are also trying to implement very similar acts.

The law cannot be overturned unless someone decides to file a complaint, which in Florida’s case, turned out to be a brave single dad, currently attending University whilst caring for his 4 year old son and disabled mum, who refused to have the drug test and filed a complaint.

For some background on this from BP, click here for our previous post when Florida was trying to launch the scapegoating law.

Florida law requiring people seeking welfare benfits to take a drug test has been blocked by a US federal court.

Full Article from BBC (24th Oct 2011)

The judge ruled that the law was unconstitutional and infringes a ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.

Since the law was introduced in July, nearly 1,600 people have refused to take the test, according to reports.

Under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families scheme those who pass receive $180 (£113) a month, while a family of four receives $364 a month.

While 32 people have failed the test, some 7,000 have passed since the testing began in mid-July, the Associated Press reports.

Marijuana suspicion

Judge Mary Scriven ruled on a complaint filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of Luis Lebron, a 35-year-old Navy veteran and single father who applied for the welfare benefits but would not take the drugs test.

He applied for benefits while attending university and cares for his four-year-old son and disabled mother.

Applicants are not required to say why they refuse to take the test.

Supporters of the measure say applicants are avoiding the test because the results would have been positive.

The Florida Department of Children and Families says the majority of those who failed had tested positive for marijuana.

Applicants are required to pay between $25-$35 (£22) to take the test, but only those who pass are reimbursed by the state.

Florida Governor Rick Scott has said the measure could save the state as much as $77m, although it is not clear how the number has been calculated.

The ACLU says Florida is the first US state to enforce such a measure since 1999, when Michigan enacted a similar law.

A judge halted the law five weeks later and it was deemed unconstitutional after an ensuing four-year lawsuit.

Charlotte Walsh – Untapped Possibilities of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971

Photo of the psychedelic drug 2C-C on blotting...

Blotting paper tabs of psychedelics (God, where do you get those these days??!)

A really interesting presentation on the untapped possibilities of using the misuse of drugs act 1971., focussing on the story of Casey Cardison, arrested for the production of psychedelic drugs in his home laboratory. In court, Casey stood up for ‘cognative liberty’ the right to alter ones mental functioning as one see fit – and tried to to hang a human rights based argument on this, based around Article 9 of the Human rights act which protects freedom of thought. Although the Judge would refuse to allow him to mount this type of defense, Casey proceeded to focus on what it means to be truely free in our society. And Although Casey received 20 years, he pursued his right to appeal framing a really interesting defence. However, his appeal was denied but he continued to delve then into the Misuse of Drugs Act’s ‘incorrect interpretation’ to fight for further justice.. Charlotte Walsh goes on to state that the home secretary‘s role continually misinterprets the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. She asks ‘Does the act Mandate prohibition? Or is the home secretary confusing control with prohibition? She believes so, citing the recent reclassifications of the harms drugs cause ( a paper in the Lancet by Professor Nutt and colleagues) which put alcohol and tobacco at the top of the list of harms caused by drugs used in society today..In this case, Alcohol and tobacco could be brought under the control of the misuse of drugs act, indeed it is within its jurisdiction. If so, Charlotte tells us that the Misuse of Drugs Act could act to regulate and control these substances, giving us real hope that regulation of less harmful drugs (as Professor Nutts reclassification states) is the next obvious move, and could be made possible by joining together to call for the correct interpretation of the Act -(in particular section 7, 22 and 31)which in effect allows the public to get an accurate idea of the harms caused by drugs, alcohol and tobacco whilst allowing for their continued use. If alcohol and tobacco were brought under the acts and subsequently ‘regulated’ then it would pave the way for other, less harmful drugs to be regulated also. A fascinating discussion and legal argument on the need for a closer look into what we have got as part of our legal system that could create adequate reform rather than wasting additional energy reinventing, or indeed hoping society will accept, a new regulatory system. Well worth a watch!
Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

Mat Southwell – 7 pillars of reform: how drug policy and practice could be transformed today

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Update on the banning of foreigners from Netherlands Coffee Shops

Video streaming by Ustream

Many of us have been listening with trepidation as our favourite pot smoking friends on the continent -the Dutch – the ones who gave us sanctuary in the form of a safe place to buy dope when abroad, and a friendly environment to smoke it in, without the fear of getting busted, deported, imprisoned or ripped off are now slowly being forced to close their doors to us. Yes, that’s right- the foreigners who have appreciated being able to sample a well produced product, toked, eaten or vapourised in a chilled out, social environment – have always been grateful for the civilised and pragmatic way the Dutch have shared with us their wares. A welcome relief from the persecution and harassment many of us experience at home around ‘soft’ (and ‘hard’) drug use.

It never ceased to amaze me when visiting Holland that it was always the milder varieties of dope that were the biggest sellers to the Dutch people, they just didnt feel like they had to get smashed at every opportunity. They knew where the dope was, it wasn’t going anywhere, they could get the stronger stuff any time they wanted it in fact, which it turned out, was not that often.

A giggly smoke, some great conversation, a serious munch out on the way home and voila, gone is the image we have in the UK of smoking skunk that  always too strong, sitting catatonic in front of the TV, curtains drawn, paranoia setting in indoors coz its illegal to go outside and just be social with a spliff…

However, due to surrounding countries still not budging with their own punitive cannabis laws, it is inevitable that many of us in neighbouring countries – or as far afield as Australia and the US, feel compelled at times to skippity hop across the border to stock up on some of the good stuff, in a relaxed and hassle free exchange. But those who’ve been keeping an eye on the Dutch developments around both the shrinking the availability of Coffee Shops, as well as the drive to freeze out the pot smoking foreigner, will know that the first door, in the first city of Maastricht, has been firmly slammed shut.

The city of Maastricht, which is about 130 miles south of Amsterdam (towards the German border) is the first place – (though unlikely to be the last) which has just begun to expell what it sees as the boisterous drug tourists who clog up the streets,  engage in street dealing and petty crime, and regularly cause traffic jams. Determined to prevent them from accessing Maastricht’s coffee shops, hi-tech security scanners have been set up to check passports and ID cards, and police will carry out random checks.

In an effort to bring the coffee shop owners themselves on board with the governments cunning plan, only the Dutch, the Belgians and Germans will be permitted to cross the smokey threshold due to the fact that they make up the largest part of the 6000 customers who  pop in to light up every day.  The irony here is of course that if the vast majority of the 6000 smoking tourists visiting coffee shops in the Netherlands are indeed German and Belgian, how will this go any way to reduce the numbers of ‘drug tourists’ clogging up their streets? There is always more to these drug stories dear readers, so do check back to our earlier story on the Netherlands Coffee Shop ban to uncover a little more about the politics behind it.

However, what can be more easily deduced from this sinister exercise is that blackmarket sales of hash and grass will certainly increase, sold to the illegal alien up a back alley all because his passport won’t allow him to enter the smokey but safe environment of a Maastricht Coffee Shop. Let’s hope our British, Spanish or French friend doesn’t get ripped off, end up in a scuffle or get arrested – after all the cultivation and sale of ‘soft’ drugs is decriminalised – but not legal so one might well stilll end up in the boob.

With over 700 coffee shops across The Netherlands, correspondents say the Dutch justice ministry wants them to operate like members’ only clubs, serving only local residents. Yet despite  previous difficulties when trying to enshrine such an exclusive ban in law, The European Court of Justice ruled last December that Dutch authorities could indeed bar foreigners from cannabis-selling coffee shops on the grounds that they were combating drug tourism.

Check out the video above – it’s the lead story -and follow the link to NORMLs website, which is full of video debates, vox pops and discussions on the world of cannabis.

 

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