President’s Annual Report 2010

Drug law reform changes are slow to occur. Last year I reported on decriminalisation changes in some countries and the report by the UK based organisation TRANSFORM. Individual states in the USA have moved to change laws in respect of cannabis. Although some have not succeeded, people in that country have been engaged by the debate.
In the UK in some respects backward steps have been taken by the government but there are strong individuals such as Prof David Nutt who, sacked by the government, has found funds to continue his good work (see editorial Nov Newsletter).
In Australia the medically supervised injecting centre has finally been moved from the status of a trial to that of legitimacy as a treatment service and in the ACT momentum is building for a first needle and syringe program in the new AMC prison.
At the UN level the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime has moved from a drug free world mantra and is showing some acceptance that alternate approaches need to be tried. There appears to be only one organisation, the International Narcotics Control Board, that is holding to the old position.
Even the UN General Assembly has recognised that change is needed. In a report of special rapporteur Anand Grover the General Assembly heard criticisms that the current drug system focussed on creating a drug free world relying almost exclusively on law enforcement and criminal sanctions despite the mounting evidence that such an approach has failed because it does not recognise the realities of drug use and dependence.
Grover’s report recommends inter alia that:
• all harm reductions measures be made available,
• possession and use of drugs be decriminalised
• repeal or reform laws inhibiting the delivery of essential health services to drug users
• review law enforcement initiatives to ensure compliance with human rights obligations.
This report may have escaped the attention of Australian governments and it would be a useful task for next year to bring this report and its implications to the attention of our governments.

Read the full report