On Friday, 17 May, in Bogotá, Colombia, Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General José Miguel Insulza will present Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos with the groundbreaking outcomes of a high level drug policy review. Mandated by 34 heads of state – including the US – at the 2012 Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, this report marks the first time in history that a high level multilateral agency has given serious consideration to the failings of current policies and potential alternative approaches, including decriminalisation and legal regulation.
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A Federal Legislative Guide
This comprehensive report contains 75 broad and incremental recommendations for federal legislative reforms related to civil rights, deficit reduction, law enforcement, foreign policy, sentencing and reentry, effective drug treatment, public health, and drug prevention education.
Advisors say no serious rise in consumption is likely if possession of small amounts of controlled drugs is allowed
A six-year study of Britain’s drug laws by leading scientists, police officers, academics and experts has concluded it is time to introduce decriminalisation.
The report by the UK Drug Policy Commission (UKDPC), an independent advisory body, says possession of small amounts of controlled drugs should no longer be a criminal offence and concludes the move will not lead to a significant increase in use.
The experts say the criminal sanctions imposed on the 42,000 people sentenced each year for possession of all drugs – and the 160,000 given cannabis warnings – should be replaced with simple civil penalties such as a fine, attendance at a drug awareness session or a referral to a drug treatment programme.
They also say that imposing minimal or no sanctions on those growing cannabis for personal use could go some way to undermining the burgeoning illicit cannabis factories controlled by organised crime.
But their report rejects any more radical move to legalisation, saying that allowing the legal sale of drugs such as heroin or cocaine could cause more damage than the existing drugs trade.
Drug Policy Question of the Week – 9-29-12
As answered by Mary Jane Borden, Editor of Drug War Facts for the Drug Truth Network on 9-29-12. http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/node/3945
Question of the Week: As a multiple part series on drug control models, the question for this week asks, What is drug decriminialization?
In the last segment, it was noted that decriminalization is often confused with depenalization. They are similar because they reduce the reliance on incarceration in drug control, but they differ according to the involvement of the criminal justice system.
The Global Commission on Drug Policy confirmed that,
“decriminalisation is the elimination of a conduct or activity from the sphere of criminal law, while depenalisation is simply the relaxation of the penal sanction provided for by law.”
In its 2005 report, the King County Bar Association cited Canadian drug policy expert Mark Haden’s definition of decriminalization as,
“The removal of criminal sanctions for personal use only. This does not provide for legal options for how to obtain drugs, so there is still unregulated access to drugs of unknown purity and potency.”
Haden went to define “defacto decriminalization” as,
“Collectively agreeing to ignore existing laws without changing them. For many years the Netherlands have maintained the laws prohibiting the possession and sale of marijuana while allowing both of these in practice.”
In 2001, Portugal successfully adopted a system whereby offenses involving the consumption, acquisition and possession of drugs for personal use are referred to a commission instead of the criminal justice system. Recently, Rhode Island made possession of up to one ounce of marijuana a civil violation.
Still, scholars with the Rand Corporation asserted that decriminalization
“is not a distinct drug control model … but rather, a form of low severity prohibition.”