On July 6th 2021, our close friend, colleague, and world-renowned addictologist Tomáš Zábranský left us. This text, written by his friend and well-known cannabis activist Jindřich Bayer, is dedicated to him. It asks the question, how did it all start? What was the context for Tomas’ decision to contribute to reforming drug policy on a global level?
Drug Policy and Law
Drug laws in most countries of the world follow the principle defined by the three international drug conventions (1961, 1971, 1988), that is, they prohibit the non-medical and non-scientific use of some mind altering drugs. This principle is not only outdated but it has become anachronistic: the reality is that millions of people use mind altering substances for recreational purposes and most of them do not experience significant harms from drug use. What is more, many harms people do experience are directly connected to the war on drugs, which created a lucrative black market that only benefits criminal organisations. A drug-free world is an illusion, drug policies should be aimed at reducing the harms of drug use and drug policies instead. We believe that drug use should not be punished and drugs should be regulated as legal products, adjusted to the specific characteristics and risks of those drugs.
The lives of people who use drugs mean death, prison, disease, stigma and discrimination, lack of access to treatment and employment, destroyed families, and children taken away. This is the story of human rights activists and RuNPUD (Russian Speaking Network of People Who Use Drugs) from the Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) region, from the series of “People by Right” videos.
The Maltese government launched a public consultation on a White Paper, proposing the full decriminalisation of the possession of up to 7 grams of cannabis. In this episode of Drugreporter Café, we discuss the chances of cannabis reform with Cyrus Engerer, a Member of the European Parliament, a politican representing the Maltese Labour Party, and Andrew Bonello, the president of ReLeaf, a cannabis reform NGO from the island.
While the Czech parliament discusses the amendment to the Criminal Code that would effectively decriminalise drug use, the Constitutional Court has repealed part of the law concerning small amounts of cannabis and ‘magic’ mushrooms.
The Colombian government announced that it will restart is controversial aerial fumigation program to eradicate coca fields. But does it provide any alternative livelihood to coca farmers? Did it fulfil its promises to support poor rural communities? And what do we know about the risks of forced eradication on public health and the environment? Watch this next episode of Drugreporter Café learn the answers to these questions from our two guests, Isabel Pereira (Dejusticia) and Elizabeth Dickinson (International Crisis Group).
What can we learn from the failures of repressive drug laws? How can we convince the people that they are failed? What are the alternatives of punitive drug policies? A group of NGOs launched a campaign to mark the 50th anniversary of the Misuse of Drugs Act in the UK – and the 100th anniversary of the drug law in Belgium. We discuss lessons learnt with Ester Kincova from Transform and Stéphane Leclercq from Fedito Brussels.
The Mayor of Amsterdam is planning to ban tourists from buying cannabis in local coffee shops to reduce “over-tourism”. But are cannabis users the real problem? Is a ban effective to stop street nuisance? We discuss these issues with Joachim Helms, a coffee shop owner and cannabis activists, who has alternative ideas about how to improve public health and safety in Amsterdam.
A citizens’ initiative in Finland aiming to decriminalise cannabis gathered the required 50,000 signatures at the end of 2019. Read this article by a Finnish activist, Aleksi Hupli!
On February 10 the deputies of the Russian parliament adopted, in the third and final reading, a bill to increase the sentence for “inciting use of drugs” on the Internet to 15 years.
Recent large drug seizures and arrests don’t show that so-called drug supply reduction works. The system is broken but we don’t dare to ask the right questions.