Drug Policy Conference – Saturday Afternoon

Workshop: Beyond Prohibition: Describing a Drug War Exit Strategy

Alex Wodak, Australia
Fredrick Polak, Netherlands Drug Policy Foundation
Steve Rolles, Transform, UK
Moderator: Roger Goodman, Seattle
Maria Lucia Karam, retired Judge, Brazil
Eugene Oscapella, Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy
Cliff Thornton, Efficacy
Note: This is a very abbreviated post, just listing some points that were made, without full details.

  1. What does “regulation” mean?
  2. How do we get there?

Alex Wodak: Reduce and minimize the costs
Six principals of effective drug policy

  1. Must be evidence-based
  2. Treat drug problems as social and health problem
  3. Respect Human Rights
  4. Must hear the voice of those who use drugs
  5. Respect the international treaties (including human rights conventions)
  6. Preventing further social marginalization

Polak: Drug policy should also protect children. Today’s does not.
Goodman: Five principles

  1. Protecting families and children
  2. Make wise use of scarce public resources
  3. Reduce public disorder and Crime
  4. Promote personal and public health.
  5. Civil Rights

Maria Karam:
– Additional principle: FREEDOM
– We’re exchanging freedom for security. And when we do that, we exchange democracy for totalitarianism and we lose our freedom, but do not gain security.
– There must be respect for all people, including drug users and drug dealers.
– We must bring back this notion of liberty.
Eugene Oscapella:
– We’re trying to prevent death
– We’re trying to reduce social disfunction
– We need the objective of reducing police and government corruption
Goodman: We don’t have to re-invent the wheel. We have tons of regulation models in place that can be used (alcohol, explosives, pharmaceuticals, and on, and on). First step is get rid of Schedule 1, which is nonsensical — perhaps the other schedules would still be workable.
Rolles: Definition of regulation: Important to note that: Some activities would remain prohibited (ie, sales to minors). Different regimes would be in place for different drugs in different environments. Implementation would be phased over a number of years. You’d probably start with stricter models of regulation. Don’t dictate — lay out a series of options and let local areas choose their approach.
Goodman: Why can’t we just give doctors information about heroin and let them prescribe it?
Eugene: We need to help people understand the difference between drug use under prohibition and drug use under legalization.
Eugene: To what extent do we allow commercialization? Advertising?
Goodman: Suppose Cannabis growers were licensed by the state, sell it to the state, but not allowed to advertise.
Another principle: Legal supply has got to go a long way to meeting strong demand. (not necessarily all the way, but most of the way)
– Sensible approach for marijuana is to tax and regulate like alcohol and tobacco.
– Advertising ban would be good, but problem in the U.S. because of first amendment.
Goodman: The future world of drugs beyond prohibition, reduces the harm by reducing the toxicity of drugs.
Maria: Criminal justice control system sells the false notion that everything will be OK if you arrest people, and this is not true. Eliminate the false control of criminal justice, the social control will come more easily than now. We are not prepared to think about all the forms of control that will certainly appear when prohibition ends.

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