another cut&paste bulletin from the International Antiprohibitionist League

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Digit, May 19, 2003.

  1. Bulletin of the International Antiprohibitionist League on the world campaign for the reform of the UN Conventions on Drugs

    Special Number - 17 May 2003

    Sign the appeal to reform the UN Conventions on Drugs

    Drug reforms in Canada and around the world presented on April 29 press conference in Washington, D.C. with IAL President, Arnold Trebach, Canadian Senator Pierre Claude Nolin and MEP Marco Cappato

    While the eyes of the world were turned towards Iraq and the UN's role in that crisis, the International Antiprohibitionist League (IAL), was stepping up its campaign to repeal or sharply amend the three UN treaties that impose drug prohibition on the world. The signal for the heightened effort was the April meeting of the UN Commission on Narcotics to review progress in the war on drugs. In the IAL's view, and its parent body, the Transnational Radical Party, (TRP) that war is a continuing disaster. Drug reforms proposed in Canada lead to a press conference on April 29 featuring a leading Canadian senator and a prominent European Parliament member.

    Prof. Arnold S. Trebach, U.S.

    The event was organized and chaired by Arnold Trebach, President, IAL (U.S.), who in his remarks stated the following:

    Let me summarize three important points right at the beginning of this press conference.

    1. The u.s. has demanded for decades, whatever president was in the White House, that other nations follow its policy of rigid drug prohibition and a harsh war on drugs.

    2. Recently, Canada, like some other nations, has strayed from that rigid prohibition theology and is considering decriminalizing or even legalizing Marijuana. The result has been a harsh and irrational attack on Canada by leading us drug officials, especially Drug Czar John Walters, including threats to partially close the borders.

    However, I sustain that if the United States can declare that it believes in the freedom of the people of Iraq to choose a whole new government, than it damn well should declare that it believes in the freedom of the people of Canada to choose their own form of drug policy.

    3. The American press ought to live up to its responsibilities and constantly expose the destructive campaign against Canada, which is based mainly on outright lies and hysteria.

    Professor Trebach went on saying "as one of the early supporters and advocates of harm reduction, I remain steadfast in that position today. Over 10 years ago, however, I concluded that harm reduction was not enough. Not enough, in many ways. Not enough because it left in place one of the worst inventions of the human mind, those provisions of the criminal law in every known national code of laws that make criminals of people who possess substances for ingestion into their own bodies. Not enough because by providing humane aspects to a destructive system it tends to help preserve and perpetuate that system.... Whenever I or other reformers have openly advocated harm reduction measures, opponents often attempted to discredit us with the charge that we were secret legalizers, that we were part of the legalization lobby. That is the reason why the leaders of the main body of drug policy reformers do not want any of their members to even utter the L word. In fact until recent years there was not in reality a legalization lobby in America. Now there is and I am proud to be one of its leaders." Prof. Trebach went on elaborating the reasons why he had been working towards legalizing drugs for a number of years saying "only in this way can the system of prohibition be replaced by a new and more rational legal drug-control system. As I have said many times, this amounts to replacing the law of the jungle with the rule of law." Trebach also noted that a typical reaction by many is to almost scream "prohibition forever!", he explained that this reminded him of his earlier work in civil rights when opponents of desegregation shouted "prohibition forever!". He said that of course segregation was not forever: "of one thing I am certain, drug prohibition will not be forever. You can take that statement to the bank. In time, drug prohibition will only be a bad memory."

    Sen. Pierre Claude Nolin, Canada

    In his remarks, Senator Nolin of Canada presented the recommendations issued by the parliamentary commission established at the Canadian Senate in the year 2000, but also noted how Canadians and presumably Americans deserve national drugs policies that are global, effective and respectful of human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted on December 10, 1948 after the bloodiest war in the history of humankind. Clause 3 states, Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. Today Nolin said politicians, researchers, lawyers, police officers and medical physicians around the world are no longer afraid to say that the prohibition of so called illegal drugs which led to the war against drugs has been a manifest failure. After having had the honour and privilege of chairing the Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs (Link), I firmly believe, that for the preservation of life, public health, personal safety, freedom and democracy, this insidious policy, which has not had any beneficial long-term effects, needs to be dismantled. Sen. Nolin also stressed the importance of the argument underlying the Canadian Senate report, whish states that in a free and democratic society like Canada's, citizens ought to have the right to make informed decisions about their behavior, on condition that they do not cause undue harm to others, and the State must favour such autonomous responsibility. Cannabis use falls into this category. Members of the Committee concluded that this substance is no more harmful than tobacco and alcohol, both of which are legal. Why should it not be treated in the same manner? The Committee also recognized that, in the name of public health protection public intervention was needed, even though members said, we acknowledge that the excessive use of cannabis involves health risks, we found no valid reason to use criminal law, beyond repression of criminal trafficking, as a means of protecting public health in this case.

    Since the report's publication, the media and the U.S. administration have focused their attention primarily on the recommendation that proposes regulating the use and sale of cannabis. Some have accused us of brazenly promoting cannabis Nolin said particularly for young people, or eliminating societies last bastion against the risk of an apprehended increase in the use of this drug or other more harmful illegal substances. To such criticisms; Nolin added I would reply that our recommendation needs to be evaluated in the context of the other recommendations in the report. We don't encourage the use of cannabis or other psychoactive substances. The war on drug discourse is outdated and disrespectful; it's time to empower citizens, individually and collectively, on their responsible behavior. Sen. Nolin concluded his final remarks calling on the media for a more active role in our important endeavors, Unfortunately, he said, almost a century ago, the enactment of prohibition laws was made possible through public misinformation, in part due to some print media organizations voracious appetite for bigger circulation. The ongoing demonization of psychoactive substances through various films, advertising, news items and publications was the accepted norm without any or almost any manifestation of the traditional and expected scrutiny of the media. It is no w the time for you, members of press, nationally and internationally renowned and respected, to take place in that debate and play your much needed role. Be part of the solution.

    Hon. Moarco Cappato, Italia

    MEP Marco Cappato, a Radical of Italy, presented the activities conducted at the European Parliament together with the network of the Parliamentarians for Anti-prohibitionist Action. On December 13, 2002, a recommendation was introduced with the support of 109 MEPs (, the recommendation was instrumental in the presentation of a parliamentary resolution calling for an evaluation of the current international drug control regime. The resolution put to a vote on the eve of the 46th session of the UN Commission on Narcotics, was defeated by a 223 - 222 vote, a deliberation that did not reflect the views of the Dutch delegation of the Peoples Party that, apparently, was backing the idea of an evaluation but that erroneously voted against the document more news to come.

    At the outset Marco Cappato explained the meaning of the adjective radical saying "I am aware that in the U.S. the word "radical" is used meaning violent extremist, but the Latin semantic meaning leads us to the word "root". Being a radical means going at the root of a problem. For us, the roots of illicit drug-related problems are, more than drugs, drug prohibition. We fight to eradicate those roots, to repeal drug prohibition embedded in national laws and international drug treaties. Presenting our views, we call on scientific evidence, cost-benefit analysis and open debate. The extremists are in the other camp: they prefer moralistic propaganda and ideological commitment, not the objective facts. Moreover, they do not always disdain violence: violence of anti-drugs efforts against drugs users, and exploited peasants but also violence of dictators around the world who are using drug policies to curb political dissent with brutal methods.

    On the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Cappato said that the United Nations failed to face reality. Governments showed that they are more scared of an open debate than anything else. In fact, said Cappato, the final Joint Ministerial Statement stated: We are gravely concerned about policies and activities in favor of the legalization of illicit narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances that are not in accordance with the international drug control treaties and that might jeopardize the international drug control regime. These officials are making a destructive mistake Cappato continued We do not want to jeopardize anything. We want to reform, with democratic and non-violent tools. We do not want to insinuate de facto policies with a hidden legalization agenda. Our agenda is crystal-clear. Cappato also pointed out how the U.S. once prohibited alcohol but then it had the political courage, in the face of mounting Mafia organized crime and violence, to legalize it almost overnight. The mission of the International Antiprohibitionist League and the Transnational Radical Party Cappato emphasized is to legalize illicit drugs as the U.S. did for alcohol. If harm reduction policies are often accused of being soft on drugs, legalization proposals are usually smeared as being pro-drug. After almost a century of prohibition, the burden of proof is on the prohibitionists. Because of their destructive and repeated failure, we see the need to take illicit drugs from the hands of criminals and place them in the hands of the law, a whole new set of laws. We want to eliminate criminal profits and treat drugs users and abusers as citizens, not as criminals.

    Cappato also outlined the future of the radical anti-prohibitionist activities: We will go on following all the peaceful institutional paths he said parliamentary resolutions, public petitions and referendum. From our experience, the more the people are directly involved, the more the reform camp gets strong. In Italy the Radicals organized and won with 53% of the votes a referendum for decriminalization of marijuana in 1993. In Switzerland, Swiss people repeatedly backed the ten-year-old heroin prescription program. In the US, many ballots on marijuana got through, even if many have not. The anti-war-on-drugs movement is for sure stronger among the people than it is among elected officials representatives; and it is stronger among elected representatives than it is among government officials in international fora, as the split vote at the EP and the unanimous vote at the UN show us.

    Marco Cappato, who recently was jailed in Manchester for a direct civil disobedience on cannabis in Stockport, concluded stating that faced with continuing irrational prohibition, we are also aware that institutional tools cannot be enough. Mahatma Gandhi used to say that you have the duty to disobey unjust laws. Ancient Romans used to say: scandals are welcome. In the Radical movement we are disobeying unjust drugs laws, voluntarily submitting ourselves to the heavy legal consequences, for over 30 years ( now. Currently, there are around 40 Radical leaders and activists under trial or serving their sentence. To put at stake our freedom is just another tool to place out in the open and in the sunlight the consequences of prohibition where those consequences are covered under ideological clouds. The country of Martin Luther King, even if today it is leading the War on Drugs, is in a better position than others to understand our reasons and methods and to lead the path toward reform.

    The International Antiprohibitionist League (IAL) ( ) and the Transnational Radical Party (TRP) ( ) want to open up legal power for individual nations to repeal drug prohibition and to implement systems for the legal manufacture and control of drugs along the alcohol-tobacco models. Recently a number of countries have proposed or implemented departures from rigid prohibition, showing that alternative approaches are possible, those countries need to get together and work towards the creation of a general political climate to address the failures of 40 years of prohibition.

    At the end of 2002, the IAL and the TRP launched an international appeal to promote the legal regulation of drugs. As of today some 8000 citizens from 91 countries have signed the petition as well as 250 legislators from different countries. Parliamentary resolutions based on the appeal have been formally introduced in Canada, Colombia, Greece and New Zealand.

    To contribute to the international campaign to reform drug laws, click here


    Editor in Chief: Marco Perduca
    Director: Vincenzo Donvito
    Layout & Distribution: C.E.D. Roma

    The Liafax is published with a contribution of the Open Society Institute

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