Know the Facts - Change the Law

Know the Facts - Change the Law
Life - Liberty - Pursuit of Happiness

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Argentine Federal Court Declares Prohibition of Personal Posession of Ganja UNCONSTITUTIONAL

In a move that mirrors statements made by both Argentina and the director of the United Nations Office of Drug Policy, an Argentine federal court has ruled in favor of decriminalizing personal posession of ganja.

Also worth noting is that many of the statements by the court mirror the situation here in the states. Laws that were said to originally be about going after "drug kingpins" end up arresting and incarcerating 88% of the people for small, personal posession amounts.

Argentina Court Rules for Decriminalization of Cannabis Possession

Buenos Aires, Argentina: In a ruling on Wednesday, a federal court in Buenos Aires ruled that the criminalization of the possession of personal amounts of cannabis and other drugs is unconstitutional, according to the Argentinean newspaper El Financiero. The case stems from the conviction of two teenagers arrested for possession of marijuana cigarettes and ecstasy at a rave in May of 2007.

The Argentinean Supreme Court still must review the case before it becomes law.

Should the Supreme Court rule in accordance with the lower court, it would pave the way for the striking of the convictions of thousands of Argentinean citizens for minor marijuana possession offenses, which would ultimately result in the suspension of their sentences and their release if still imprisoned.

The law, when drafted, was based on the concept that the arrest of drug consumers attacked the base of a chain that led to narcotraffickers. However, in its ruling, the court stated that the law had generated "an avalanche of cases targeting consumers without climbing up the ladder of drug trafficking."

The ruling is in accordance with the political views of Argentinean president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who favors decriminalizing the consumption of drugs. Last month at a UN meeting in Vienna on drug laws and enforcement, Argentina’s Minister of Justice, Anibal Fernandez, said that the policy of punishing drug consumers was a "total failure."

In contrast, Thomas Shannon, US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, said that cooperation on fighting drugs is an area of converging interest for the United States and Argentina after meeting with President de Kirchner earlier this month.

For more information, contact NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre at (202) 483-5500.

UNODC Director Declares International Drug Control System Is Not 'Fit For Purpose' Is he condoning drug use or facing the FACT that prohibition is a mean-spirited failure?

In a major blow to unthinking adherence to ganja prohibition, Mr. Costa, the director of the United Nations agency has called for a complete revamping of international drug control law. His report, which will repurpose the commision, calls for a commitment to base reform on empirical evidence and not ideology.
This will prove problematic for those who are vested in moralistic attacks on cananbis consumers, since there is empirical evidence on ganja that shows that compared to other common activities, cananbis consuption is relatively safe, and for suffering people it is a beneficial and valuable medication that may be the only one that works for many people.

Just as important, Costa's report shows that prohibition law is responsible for creating and maintaining a violent back market where prices have been inflated 100 times the actual value of ganja.

In an extraordinarily candid report, the head of the UN agency responsible for overseeing the international conventions on drugs, describes the multi-lateral drug control system as not 'fit for purpose'. He also explains how the international regime has created significant unintended consequences.

The report, "Making Drug Control 'Fit For Purpose': Building On The UNGASS Decade" was made available, but not widely disseminated, at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna earlier this month. (The report is available in scanned PDF at the Transform website.)

It states:

"There is indeed a spirit of reform in the air, to make the conventions fit for purpose and adapt them to a reality on the ground that is considerably different from the time they were drafted. With the multilateral machinery to adapt the conventions already available, all we need is: first, a renewed commitment to the principles of multilateralism and shared responsibility; secondly, a commitment to base our reform on empirical evidence and not ideology; and thirdly, to put in place concrete actions that support the above, going beyond mere rhetoric and pronouncement." (p.13)

"Looking back over the last century, we can see that the control system and its application have had several unintended consequences -- they may or may not have been unexpected but they were certainly unintended." (p.10)

"The first unintended consequence is a huge criminal black market that thrives in order to get prohibited substances from producers to consumers, whether driven by a 'supply push' or a 'demand pull', the financial incentives to enter this market are enormous. There is no shortage of criminals competing to claw out a share of a market in which hundred fold increases in price from production to retail are not uncommon". (p.10)

"The second unintended consequence is what one night call policy displacement. Public health, which is clearly the first principle of drug control was displaced into the background". (p.10)

"The third unintended consequence is geographical displacement. lt is often called the balloon effect because squeezing (by tighter controls) one place produces a swelling (namely an increase)in another place" (p.10)

"A system appears to have been created in which those who fall into the web of addiction find themselves excluded and marginalized from the social mainstream, tainted with a moral stigma, and often unable to find treatment even when they may be motivated to want it." (p.11)

"The concept of harm reduction is often made into an unnecessarily controversial issue as if there were a contradiction between (i) prevention and treatment on one hand and (ii) reducing the adverse health and social consequences of drug use on the other hand. This is a false dichotomy. These policies are complementary. (p.18)
"It stands to reason, then, that drug control, and the implementation of the drug Conventions, must proceed with due regard to health and human rights." (p.19)

Danny Kushlick, Transform Drug Policy Foundation Director said:
"This report is a welcome contrast to the politically motivated rhetoric that has dominated much of the Commission on Narcotic Drug's deliberations in the past. Mr Costa is to be congratulated for clearly stating what many in the drug policy reform movement have been saying for decades. That, for all its good intentions, the international drug control system has created unsustainable negative consequences and that its fitness for purpose in the modern world, and possible reforms, must be fundamentally explored.

"It is to be hoped that the issues that the Director has raised are seriously debated by and amongst member states in the coming year of review for the UN drug strategy. Despite the positive words from the UNODC director this substantive debate has clearly not begun yet."


Contact: Danny Kushlick, Director +44 (0) 7970 174747 -- Steve Rolles, Information Officer +44 (0) 7980 213943

Notes for Editors:
"Making Drug Control 'Fit For Purpose': Building On The UNGASS Decade" is available in full on the Transform website (scanned pdf -- 3 megs). It has not been made publicly available along with the documentation on the UNODC (as of this writing)
In its review of UK drug policy of 2002 the UK Parliamentary Home Affairs Select Committee made 24 recommendations including:
"That the Government initiates a discussion within the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of alternative ways -- including the possibility of legalisation and regulation -- to tackle the global drugs dilemma." (recommendation 24)
In 2003 the UK Government published the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit report on drug policy, demonstrating that global supply side enforcement was responsible for many of the harms associated with the trade and use of heroin and cocaine. Full report available here -- Transform briefing on the report here )

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  1. Maybe you could move to argentina cause ganja sure ain't legal here.
    see below

    A 28-year-old Ogletown-area man was arrested Wednesday as he allegedly prepared to sell marijuana to a potential buyer, county police said Thursday. , of the first block of , included two counts of possession with the intent to deliver marijuana, maintaining a vehicle for keeping a controlled substance and resisting arrest. He was committed to Young Correctional Institution after failing to post $23,000 bail. County police said undercover officers approached car, parked in the Apartments in Ogletown about 10:20 p. m. and uncovered a quarter-pound of marijuana inside. was taken into custody after a brief struggle. When police got a warrant and searched s home, officers found another quarter-pound of marijuana, drug paraphernalia and $470 in cash.

  2. wendy is demonstrating what is known as superstitious thinking. wendy is under the delusion that just because something is the law that the law is right, and should be the law because it is the law. Correct my if I've stated your position wrong, wendy.

    The RIGHT thing to do is to change the irrational law that is based on lies to not only reflect science, but the will of most people, not make assinine suggestions that people who want the law changed should move. Wendy seems to miss this point.

    Nonethless, I think I'm pretty safe from arrests, as are most ganja consumers.

    The illustrated arrest wendy provides is about one hundredth of a percent of the ganja that is avaialable in the state at this very moment.

    I also want to point out that this arrest is illustrative of the only way cops can catch people with ANY drugs. No actual police work took place; they literally stumbled on this. That shows either how most cops do not care about ganja, or how smart ganja smokers must actually be.

    For those keeping score, this arrest brings the total ganja related arrests this year to approximately 260. With over 250,000 ganja consumers (according to DEA/FBI/DAWN report statistics) that means that cops have been able to catch a whopping .01% of all ganja consumers in the state. Great job, way to be effective, cops! Well worth the 50 - 60 million the state has spent on ganja law enforcement this year! What a geat way to spend limited tax resources!


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