Updates from the Commission on Narcotic Drugs

The UNODC likes to work in semi-secret, so you won’t see video or transcripts of their proceedings. The only real way to get a glimpse is through the fine live-blogging done by CND blog (a project of the International Harm Reduction Association).

These entries are paraphrases of what goes on in the sessions by a writer, so that must be taken into consideration when judging a country’s statements, but still it can be interesting.

One that really stuck out for me was Sweden’s bizarre distortion of the definition of rights in their opening statement. As you may know, one of the criticisms that has been directed at the UNODC is the fact that human rights is a core principle of the U.N. (in fact, all other activities of the U.N. are supposed to take a back seat to human rights) and that the drug war is a prime violator of human rights.

Sweden turns all logic upside down by claiming that protecting children from drugs is a human right

[…] Sweden remains a strong supporter of UNODC’s activities in addressing the world drug problem and as a guardian of the Conventions. […] The ultimate aim is abstinence and reintegration of dependent users.

There is no contradiction between drug conventions and human rights and fundamental freedoms. One of the most important elements is the protection of children from illicit drugs. Our children are most vulnerable to drug abuse. We have legally binding obligations under international law to protect children of their rights and give them good living conditions. We must ensure that children do not become victims of illicit drugs. Last year, a resolution was adopted on children’s rights. States should take measures to protect these rights. States should raise awareness among the general population and among children (article 33 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child). Protecting children from drug abuse, production and trafficking, is an obligation.[…]

After the break, I’ve posted the drugged driving discussions.

There was a roundtable with the following topic: “Addressing key public health and safety issues such as addictive behaviours of youth and drugged driving.” Because of the mixed theme, the live-blogging recaps don’t necessarily make an easy read, but you get an idea of the things that they’re discussing. And it’s pretty easy to tell that nobody really knows what they’re talking about. Lots of posturing.

United States

A significant increase in drug-driving has occurred not just in the United States, bu globally as well. We also know that its a key issue that effects key shipping routes in the developing world and the US has has set a limit of a 10% prevalence by 2015. We are also delivering resources to civil society organisations to help tackle these issues and alongside Canada, we are holding a further meeting later in the year to further explore these growing issues.

They don’t know anything about this. It’s just an agenda being pushed.


We believe we need to generate a consensus around this topic and how to we deal with
A, alcohol and drug driving
B, and how we deal with these substances in the public space.
The realities of substance use need to be addresses in public spaces however we believe we need to accept that degradation of the public space is decreasing.

We believe in keeping public spaces open for all, and do not let them become denigrated through negligence. Therefore, police have to enforce legislation and social workers need to discuss with marginalised people inappropriate behaviour.


China agress with the Swiss and US representative. With regards to drug driving, countries seem to be naive to drug driving and nation states need to develop further legislation on this matter. Education also needs to be strengthened.

However, we need tougher measures as well for those guilty of drug driving and enforcement needs to strengthened. Better screening also needs to be developed.

A further issue that needs attention is the way we provide HIV/AIDS treatment. Many countries underfund and fail to support those with AIDS and HIV and I encourage my colleagues to provide better support to these people. We should share the best practices at the CND in how we deal with this problem.

Czech Republic

There are a number of keys problems with facing these issues
– There are too few statistics on drug driving and we should share greater resources.
– Scientific evidence is under developed
– different countries have different policies and this is complicating the issue
– The issue of prescription drugs. Some drugs significantly impact behaviours and effect drug testing results and these issues need to be made.
– Drug testing needs to be expanded and be made more universal. A further issue is how we reach drug users who may be isolated from traditional media.


European union countries are seeking to tackle these issues of drug driving through the DRUID research project. It seeks to provide recommendations on issues of prevention, screening devices and so on… It will evaluate prevention, legal enforcement, training measures, it will create a classification system and all these will be presented to the European Union.

International cooperation will be important in this research and future action should respect physical integrity on the person being tested, will need to be proportionate and any results will have to abide by data protection legislation.

United States

The USA has supported and asked for the department of transportation to begin a study. It is an accurate national sample, done through volunteers and provides much information on drugged driving. The other question, about the level of prescribed drugs allowed, this will require a lot of work. Public and education and awareness campaigns would be an important first start.

UNODC Secretariat

This issue is really about youth at risk. Young people’s attitudes are changing fast over the world. These involve young people in both low and high income countries. When we see dangerous driving, I always think about what there is behind, and 4 elements affect young people’s behaviours:

1- Extreme behaviours
2- Impairment of interpersonal communication
3- Difficulty in coping with stress
4- No perception of one’s future.

We need to look behind ‘addictive behaviours’, look at all the interpersonal relationships, young people’s day per day lives. Drugs are no more what the CND is imagining. We are moving away from heroin or cannabis to other drugs. Science gives us some predictions about these dangers: low education, unemployment, etc. We need to tackle these issues first. We cannot take any shortcuts here, we must start working with children, at the family level, at the school level. We need to make the dream about the future. We need to differentiate the aggregation of opportunities.


We need to look at why are so many people (especially young people) taking drugs and alcohol? We need to look at our own ability to impose our laws and why their are these patterns of behaviour.

One of the things we need to consider is about how to raise awareness and how we can bring together health and development.


We would like to explain our experience in Sudan. In our country, drug and alcohol abuse, especially when driving, is a criminal offence. It is not just drivers who are offenders, sportsmen also take drugs. Sometimes, drug taking can even result in death. These substances can also be found in certain drinks and result in addictive behaviours. Traffickers try to push these substances. Many offences are perpetrated under the influence of drugs (70% of crimes committed in Sudan can be attributed to drugs and alcohol). Domestic violence can also often be attributed to drug taking. Certain kinds of legal chemicals have the same consequences and this is even worse.


What we need is a robust response to the underdevelopment issue that is common is Africa. In Africa, the most common drug that is abused is Cannabis however Heroin is a developing issue. The African Union is promoting capacity building and specifically we need further evidence and research which we can then use in developing future policies.


Countries need to think about the importance of developing early warning and intervention screenings when driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. In Chile, we are focussing on school level education and byb taking a holistic approach. We are also developing greater levels of resources.


In Mexico, we don’t know whether drugged driving is the reason for dangerous driving. We ask the UN for some standardised methodology about how to measure the level of drugged driving.

Finally. Someone asking how you know it’s a real problem and how you measure it.


Canada has supported a number of research activities on data collection. Study revealed that 33% of drivers killed in a crash had drugs in their blood. Surveys were set up in parking lots in 5 locations in British Colombia, by the police.

Canada, with US partners, will be hosting an international conference in July for information sharing on best practices.


We are thinking along the same lines as Chile, and we also believe in a holistic approach. Our greatest problem is with alcohol and its acceptance and legitimacy in society.

We should be thinking about greater advertising regulations as well as licensing regulations to try to counter some of the overriding legitimacy alcohol has in our society.


Referring to an earlier question about prevention, we need to target prevention at the earliest age possible. We are using web-based anonymous campaigns which have been very successful.


Norway supports the US and Swiss proposal. In Norway, we have a lot of research on which we base our national laws. We have several studies that indicate that 1.5% of drivers in Norway use drugs or alcohol. Since 2010, the police has the right to make a test without any suspicion. Legislative limits have been set up for substances other than alcohol. This autumn, we will conclude that work. We have a list of 20 drugs which are similar to alcohol limits. We will also make prosecution easier. We are happy to share our research and data to interested parties. We do not know of any country that has come so far in setting such limits.


Australia has some data about road accidents and alcohol and drug use. Alcohol remains the main drug, but other drugs are becoming concerning. We have an experience of 30 years on alcohol driving prevention. Strategies need to be broad, with highly visible law enforcement, a high probability of detection, and wide ranging public information in media and social marketing campaigns. We have also introduced drug testing. Young people are particularly vulnerable to drugged driving. We use electronic media to reach them. This can be damaging when not used properly, so we need to be very careful.

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25 Responses to Updates from the Commission on Narcotic Drugs

  1. denmark says:

    When will they ever shut up about the children?
    Gag me with a shovel.

    • Duncan20903 says:

      The argumentum ad liberi fallacy makes me want to puke my guts out. That has a lot to do with this message I got from my parents when I was a wee lad, that there are things reserved for adults only, and their not for children. Then I grew up and the stuff that I couldn’t enjoy as a child because it’s for adults I’m not supposed to enjoy as an adult, because it’s not for children.

      Does anyone recall getting any messages from politicians when they were children? Any messages at all? The first message I recall getting from a politician was send me some money and give me your vote. That was in 1980 when I started trying to figure out the voting thing. You know, upon further reflection I’m not sure if I recall getting any other stripe of message from a politician.

  2. yang says:

    Surreal… This reminds me of the South Park episode where they find that a headless chicken is directing American economic policy.

    China, China… How dare they mention HIV prevention in a prohibitionist convention when so far some 100 different AIDS/HIV organizations from around the globe(including the Beijing Aizhixing Institute) are going to come out in the 2012 International AIDS conference in favour of decriminalization and ending the drugs war?

  3. vicky vampire says:

    It is indeed Surreal,the whole thing and UNODC Statements on Extreme young teen behavior:PLEASE I dare you define normal behavior for me these days under political correctness insanity terms anyway. and what could be more insane than raiding homes and throwing people on ground out of there wheel chairs and confiscating there Medical Cannabis and IV’E heard they had sniffer dogs at a school to check for peanut butter allergy violations at schools don’t have Link but, how crazy is that,yes I know some kids can become sick from it but does everything in America include police and police fucking action these days good lord what the hell have we come to. sorry for Tirade but reality on this commission yes totally Surreal and yeah South Park though I think its damn vulgar gets the point about the craziness and hypocrisy out there in such wonderful hilarious way.

  4. more wheel spinning to create a problem where there is none.

  5. Ben Mann says:

    Where is Portugal in all this?

  6. Hope says:

    The United States

    “We are also delivering resources to civil society organisations to help tackle these issues…”

    They mean they’re giving more money, taken directly out of the bank accounts of taxed citizens, to worthless, elitist, back riding, and biting, prohibitionist organizations and delivering more prepaid government “enforcers” to aid assist specialist law enforcement, bureaucracies, and local governments to keep the citizenry in line with the precepts they adopt… in spite of the wishes of a vast number of citizens.


  7. stevo says:

    They want to scare everyone with the idea of drugged driving. If we are terrified enough, they reason, we will be willing to submit to their attempts “protect” us from this menace. In fact, some will demand it. I fear these attempts will come in the form of mandatory roadside drug testing checkpoints for everyone, regardless of suspicion. That way, they can get a lot more money from taxpayers and begin harassing the drug users who don’t cause problems as well as the ones that do.

  8. vicky vampire says:

    I heard last night on radio news. police are not happy that there are apps for your phone that warn way ahead of time on location of Alcohol check points. They police say its just not fair will make it dangerous, Oh cry me a river. Please.

  9. Duncan20903 says:

    Vicky, I read a few months ago some police from Alexandria VA were upset because there’s an app to monitor their communications and burglars with iPhones are able to escape rather than getting arrested. Yes, there’s an app for that,

  10. Pingback: Updates from the Commission on Narcotic Drugs | Translogistics

  11. ezrydn says:

    “In Mexico, we don’t know whether drugged driving is the reason for dangerous driving.” Well, there went the keyboard again. I can’t believe they don’t know why Mexicans drive so crazy.

    First off, NO ONE reads the “rules of the road” booklet. Anything they memorized to pass the written was quickly forgotten. Signs are totally disregarded.

    Driving here, you quickly understand that the mentality you’re facing is “It’s MY road, not yours. Rules aren’t for ME, they’re for YOU! Speed limits? Sorry, I’m in a hurry (all Mexicans were born “5 minutes LATE” and they’ll never catch up).

    While drugged driving may be evident, it’s nothing compaired to the total disregard of the public for others on the road. And NO amount of Prohibition will fix that!

    When I took the written, the first question was “How many persons can safely ride in the rear of a pickup?” I thought it was a trick question when I saw the first answer was “all of them.” I went through, leaving that one, til I finished. I felt good about the written so I went back to that first question and decided to have a good laugh and pick the first answer.

    It was CORRECT! Need I say more???

    • Pete says:

      I took that to mean that they see no proof that “drugged driving” is a problem, and that is the correct answer. Don’t just show me that people have drugs in their system. Prove that it’s causing dangerous driving — as you note, there are likely to be many other things that are causing more danger.

      I saw the Mexico answer is a bit of a rebuke to our Drug Czar, but that’s just the way I read it.

      • strayan says:

        Having residual drug metabolites in your system is not evidence of impairment. We’d all be arrested for having a coffee on the way to work if it was.

        Impairment is evidence of impairment and that is what they should be testing for – IMPAIRMENT.

        What is wrong with these jokers?

  12. Tim says:

    Sweden does the same thing with regards to the sex trade, claiming even voluntary participation is a ‘human rights violation’ against the ‘victim.’

    In fact, I have a lot of sex-positive feminist allies whom I have educated about the twisted Swedish attitude towards human rights, explaining this long-standing misinterpretation of rights.

  13. TrebleBass says:

    One positive thing said was from Norway: “Legislative limits have been set up for substances other than alcohol.” I didn’t like the rest of what Norway said, but that was good. Obviously, it also depends on how scientifically they relate those limits to impairment; if the levels are too low it defeats the whole purpose. But at least they’re saying that there are supposed to be limits for each drug, which, other than an impairment test per se, I think is the best policy.

    But then, also, you have combinations of drugs, and how do you set up scientific limits for those? The best way would really be to have a reliable impairment test.

    • strayan says:

      They already have a pretty reliable impairment test. It’s called the Standardized Field Sobriety Test. It doesn’t discriminate between drugs (like oral fluid tests do) and doesn’t need a per se limit.

      There is a danger testing someone for the more popular drugs and getting negative readings. The police may conclude a driver is unimpaired despite being high on [say] nutmeg. It fosters laziness among police – “he tested negative, so send him on his way” – therefore he’s okay to drive. They need to test for impairment, not just the presence of some drugs.

      • DdC says:

        “THC’s adverse effects on driving performance appear relatively small”
        ~ U.S. Department of Transportation,
        National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
        (DOT HS 808 078), Final Report, November 1993

        FIT 2000 Series
        PMI has developed a unique technology to measure human impairment. It’s proprietary technology can assess whether a person is significantly impaired by fatigue, legal medications, illegal drugs, alcohol, sleep deprivation; alone or in combination.

        One In Five High Schools Piss Taste Students

        “Soon after Drug Czar Carlton Turner left office, Nancy Reagan recommended that no corporation be permitted to do business with the Federal government without having a urine purity policy in place to show their loyalty. Turner became a rich man in what has now become a huge growth industry: urine-testing.

        What feds might do to counter states legalizing pot

        The ACLU said that the federal government spent $11.7million to test nearly 29,000 workers in 1990. Only 153 employees flunked, putting the cost of finding each user at $77,000, according to the ACLU. Citing several academic and other studies, the ACLU says that drug users are not any more likely than their nonuser counterparts to have workplace accidents.

        CannabisNews Drug Testing Archives

        “If I instituted drug testing at Cypress,
        I would get a brick through my windshield,
        and I would deserve it.”
        ~ T.J. Rogers,
        President, Cypress Semiconductor

      • DdC says:

        Pot DUI Bill Advances in Colorado House
        Colorado March 22, 2011
        The measure would allow prosecutors to charge drivers with DUI if they test positive for a THC level of 5 nanograms or more per milliliter in their blood, a level that has angered some medical marijuana users but that would the most liberal in statute in the country. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

        Stoned Driving Bill Advances in CO Legislature

        Marijuana DUI Bill Advances In Colorado House
        The bill faces one more vote in the House before heading to the Senate.

        Commission on Narcotic Drugs
        Under Article 17 of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, the Commission has power to amend the Schedules by a two-thirds vote and “may consider all matters pertaining to the aims of this Convention and to the implementation of its provisions, and may make recommendations relating thereto.”

        The United Nations General Assembly has power to modify the Commission’s decisions, with the exception of scheduling decisions.

        Anslinger Targets the United Nations
        Propelled by his success in criminalizing marijuana and adding teeth to drug laws, Anslinger set his sights higher and went to the U.N. In 1961, Using the then-considerable influence of the United States, he convinced over 100 countries to consolidate their drug agreements into a single convention that would make marijuana illegal around the world.

        Anslinger, 1962-1963:
        US Representative to United Nations Narcotics Commission
        “The primary reason to outlaw marijuana
        is its effect on the degenerate races.

  14. TrebleBass says:

    And then there’s also so many other things that can cause crashes. I’m not sure about legalizing duis (or cell phone laws, etc), but i’ve thought about it. It might be the only objective way of holding people responsible. No laws would pertain to what you’re doing while driving or to what you’re high on, but if you cause an accident you are held responsible for the damage caused.

  15. hennesato says:

    A Criminal Justice Degree from “United Forensic College” led me to a point in life I thought I would never reach.

  16. yang says:

    “NGOs: In some countries where drugs have been decriminalised, drug use has not increased. This is a clear disproval of the theory of drug prohibition, the basis of the whole UN drug control system. What is the position of UNODC’s on the growing idea that the theory of drug prohibition has been disproved?

    Fedatov: I have no heard anything of the sort from member states. On the contrary, they wish to focus on demand. But I am prepared to work on this issue, prepare a discussion paper and discuss it with you. Mr. Gerra knows a lot on the issue.”

    What kind of bubble can you keep yourself in in this day and age?

  17. ezrydn says:

    Sometimes, I have trash IN my house. I’d guess that would mean I run a Dump…according to the “per se” rules.

  18. kyler says:

    this whole website is bullshit, and needs to get reviewd, obviously false statements.

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