Call for a global convention on psychoactive drugs

Call for a global convention on psychoactive drugs – a coalition of the willing to re-legalize and control

The entire war on drugs and drug prohibition are a US fabrication. Drug prohibition was imposed to the rest of the world when it was forcibly attached to the 1919 Treaty of Versailles at the end of WWI.

Decriminalization wouldn’t do much to solve the biggest issues created by prohibitionism in the big world: the violence, corruption and destabilization brought about by narco-trafficking, which is itself the unavoidable consequence of prohibition. While the US is not likely to re-legalize any time soon, Latin American countries are becoming increasingly restive as the time of blind obedience to US diktats is fading into memory. I, for one, am pushing for a coalition of the willing, led by Presidents Calderon and Santos, and regrouping Latin-American, European and Asian countries, to initiate controlled legalization of production and trade of all psychoactive substances. The principal objective of such a convention should be to remove the production and commerce of currently illicit drugs from the control of organized crime, and to bring it back under the control of legitimate international and national organizations. The secondary objective should be to reduce harm throughout the entire supply chain, from the producers to the users.

I do not think that such a coalition is as far-fetched as most American would like to believe. The American century is over; it ended under G.W. Bush. The world is now a vastly different place.

A growing number of retired heads of state and high-level officials are denouncing the failure of the War on Drugs and calling for a paradigm shift in drug policy. But we need heads of states and high-level officials to take a stand while in office and actually initiate profound and real drug policy reform while they are still in office.

No other heads of state on the world scene can lead and unite a coalition of the willing with the credibility and the stature of a potential Calderon-Santos alliance. Both presidents have repeatedly expressed their support for alternatives to the current highly disruptive policies.

But neither President Calderon nor President Santos are likely to make a move without strong popular support behind them.

Thus, I invite all of you to support and diffuse the Calderon-Santos Initiative, calling for Presidents Calderon of Mexico and President Santos of Colombia to take the lead of a global coalition for legalization and control of currently illicit drugs. Check, as well as the attached files. Sign the open letter to Presidents Calderon and Santos, spread the word.

Drug Policy Reform World Brief

Drug policy reform in the making


Residents of Switzerland and the Basque Region of Spain can legally grow MJ for personal use since January 1st, 2012.

Denmark: The City Council of Copenhagen voted for legalizing marijuana. In the proposed scheme, cannabis products would be available in restricted quantities in government-run specialized stores. The government would also regulate production.

Poland: On December 9 the new Polish drug law came into effect and liberalized the drug policy. According to the new rules, the prosecutor will be able to dismiss the criminal charges if the offender possessed only small amount of drugs for personal use and he finds that punishment is not necessary.

Poles were asked about the idea of legalizing marijuana possession for personal use. On December 12th 2011, 67% of respondents answered yes, while only 32% said no – and about 1% of respondents were undecided. These results show that the public attitudes to drug policy liberalization are changing rapidly in Poland.

In the US:

Four states have asked federal officials to reclassify marijuana (Washington, Colorado, Vermont and Rhode Island.

MJ legalization initiative will be on the ballot in 2012 in Colorado, Washington, and probably California.

UK: The widely respected “The Lancet” published on January 6, 2012 a three-part Series of articles on drug use and addiction:

According to the Lancet, estimated 149—271 million people used an illicit drug worldwide in 2009. To give you a better idea, if drug users were a country, it would be the 5th largest country in the world.
Some of its key findings:

  • The international drug control system has not ensured adequate medical supply of opioids, particularly in low-income and middle-income countries, but also in some high-income countries.
  • The system has not effectively restricted the non-medical use of controlled drugs, and illicit drug production, manufacture, and use is now a global issue. Illicit drug use accounts for a substantial and increasing global burden of disease.
  • The system’s emphasis on criminalisation of drug use has contributed to the spread of HIV, increased imprisonment for minor offences, encouraged nation states to adopt punitive policies (including executions, extra-judicial killings, imprisonment as a form of treatment, and widespread violations of UN-recognised human rights of drug users), and impaired the collection of data on the extent of use and harm of illicit drugs, all of which have caused harm to drug users and their families.
  • The international system precludes policies that are more aligned to the risks of drug use and the adverse consequences of prohibition, such as the regulation of producers, consumers, and the conditions under which drugs are used.
  • Policy experimentation requires changes to the international treaties, which are possible in principle but unlikely in practice. Other options include renunciation of the treaties and re-accession with reservations, or adoption of a new treaty.

Rant of the day

I personally don’t care one way or another about pot. That’s not my point anyway with “World War-D”. My point is that people will use drugs, whether we like it or not, so leaving organized crime to manage drugs is pretty stupid. Of course, organized governments often behave like organized crime, but that’s another story.

I also think that the medical MJ crap is mostly a scheme. Yes, it benefit a handful of people, but let’s face it, most people using medical MJ do so to get high. I actually don’t see what is wrong with that anyway. Alcohol has some medicinal value, but the vast majority of people drink alcohol for the buzz, whether it is to relax and feel good, or to get totally zonked out.

Not to mention that it seems totally silly to ban an entire industry, from ropes to clothes to shampoo and body lotion, not to mention food and construction materials, just to prevent (without any success whatsoever) pot heads from getting high.

Bottom line on medical MJ

Bottom line on medical marijuana: prohibition is the worst possible form of control and create immense collateral damage. Medical marijuana has been a welcome relief — and a diversion, whose limits are sticking out more and more everyday. It also created a grey marketplace were some flourished.

All psychoactive substances, whether legal (alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, etc), prescription or illegal work the same way. Our neurons don’t read labels and couldn’t care less about legal status. Patterns of use are similar for all psychoactive substances: a small percentage will abuse while the vast majority use responsibly, and regular moderate use is often good for health (true for caffeine, alcohol, coca leaf, some prescription drugs, and probably MJ or opium). Moderate use of opium was the general rule for thousands of years as opium was one of the basis of medicine (and still is, ironically – opiates still are the best pain-management tools around).

The war on drugs is also a cultural war, touting alcohol, the dominant psychoactive  substance of Western civilization, against the dominant psychoactive substances of Andean or Eastern civilization: coca leaf, cannabis and opium; meanwhile, the western-dominated pharmaceutical industry is flooding the planet with a new generation of psychoactive substances in its (so far very successful) attempt at medicalization of normalcy. This, by the way, is one of the dominant theme of my just released ” World War-D: the case against prohibitionism. A roadmap to controlled re-legalization.”

The only viable long-term solution to the drug issue: global re-legalization under a multi-tiers “legalize, tax, control, prevent, treat and educate” regime with practical and efficient mechanisms to manage and minimize societal costs.

Far from giving up and far from an endorsement, controlled legalization would be finally growing up; being realistic instead of being in denial; being in control instead of leaving control to the underworld. It would abolish the current regime of socialization of costs and privatization of profits to criminal enterprises, depriving them of their main source of income and making our world a safer place.

D.E.A. Launders Mexican Profits of Drug Cartels

Fast and Furious revisited – during the laundry, the killing continues…

In the New York times today, an article about undercover money-laundering by the DEA in Mexico. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the DEA is involved in money-laundering. This, after all, has been going on for decades in other parts of the world.

And what for? Here is the conclusion of the NYT article:

“It is not clear whether such operations are worth the risks. So far there are few signs that following the money has disrupted the cartels’ operations, and little evidence that Mexican drug traffickers are feeling any serious financial pain. Last year, the D.E.A. seized about $1 billion in cash and drug assets, while Mexico seized an estimated $26 million in money laundering investigations, a tiny fraction of the estimated $18 billion to $39 billion in drug money that flows between the countries each year.”

Considering that it is very unlikely that the next MX president, to be elected in July 2012, will follow Calderon’s harsh anti-drugs policies, 50,000 people (don’t believe the official count – most observers put the count over 50k), many innocent by-standers, will have died for nothing.

There is an alternative: check the Calderon-Santos initiative for a Global Protocol for legalization and regulation of the production, trade, and consumption of currently illicit drugs.

Meth Labs in America Heartland

‘Nightline’ Investigates Rampant Meth Abuse in Kentucky

So it looks like meth labs are popping up like mushrooms in Kentucky. Yet another illustration of the futility of the hopeless War on Drugs.

I refer you to the sub-chapter of World War-D:

Technological innovations and the next wave of diseases of excess

We have seen that various technological innovations have profoundly altered the psychoactive landscape throughout the ages, often leading to epidemics of “diseases of excess.” The invention of beer and wine played a critical role in the launch and expansion of Western civilization around 6,000 years ago.[1] Industrial-scale distillation produced a wave of alcoholism in the 18th and 19th century in Europe and the US. Advances in chemistry leading to the production of morphine, heroin and cocaine generated a first wave of addiction by the end of the 19th and early 20th century.

Three technological innovations are in the process of dramatically altering the global psychoactive landscape and have the potential to overwhelm the War on Drugs.

The Internet is revolutionizing the way we access and process information, allowing instant and widespread access and dissemination of information on virtually any topic. The Internet also transforms the way people interact. Virtual networks can be easily created, connecting people throughout the world. At the same time, subculture can spread at viral speed throughout the web.

Hydroponics is the second technological innovation drastically affecting the psychoactive landscape, allowing virtually anybody with spare space and an Internet connection to start hydroponic production of marijuana in his or her house, apartment or backyard. He or she can get all the necessary information and supplies from the Internet, including detailed instructions, seeds and clones. Indoor cultivation allows year-round production with three or four crops per year, and a controlled environment yielding consistent results and often higher-quality products commanding a higher price. As marijuana grows wild or semi-wild in most emerging countries, cannabis and its derivatives are now widely available in most parts of the world thanks to indoors or outdoors cultivation.

The proliferation of indoors cultivation is giving rise to cottage industry with lots of independent producers supplying small networks of acquaintances, some of which they may have met through the Internet. Criminal organizations are also getting in the business, setting up large-scale indoors or outdoors production. In the US, outdoors production is often done on remote public land. According to a state report, marijuana is now a $14 billion industry in California, and its number one cash crop. It represents over 50% of the economic activity in Mendocino County.[2]

Thanks again to the Internet, “kitchen counter chemistry” allows anybody with some chemistry background to produce synthetic drugs, ATS (amphetamine-type stimulants), ecstasy/MDMA, and LSD, LSD being admittedly the most difficult to manufacture. Formulas and know-how can be easily downloaded and most supplies can easily be purchased over the Internet. While independent labs are not by any means as widespread as marijuana plantations, their production capacities are much larger and the profit potential is astronomical as costs can be as low as a few pennies per dose, with retail prices ranging from $10-$50 or more. Asian gangs often control the production of synthetic drugs in Asia itself and in Canada, the US and EU through their diaspora. They also control its distribution, mostly through the club scene, especially for MDMA/ecstasy. In the US, biker gangs seem to be involved in ATS production and, to a large extent, control their distribution. Mexican gangs dominate the distribution of Mexican amphetamines. Missouri and Tennessee at the center of America’s heartland lead the pack in meth production in the US, with a whopping 2,082 meth lab busts in 2010 for Tennessee,[3] overtaking Missouri at 1,960. There were over 13,000 meth labs busts in Missouri over the past seven years. Sherriff Tommy Adams from tiny Carter County, MO, in the Ozark Mountain foothills with just 6,000 residents, was busted for meth trafficking in April 2011; his chief deputy was charged with burglary for stealing a gun from the evidence room.[4]

To further compound the problem, new psychoactive substances are continuously popping up like mushrooms. 2010 was a bumper year with over 40 new synthetic drugs appearing in the EU market, pulverizing the 2009 record of 24.[5] Such drugs are marketed over the Internet as legal substitutes for cocaine, heroin, amphetamine or ecstasy until they are banned and promptly replaced by yet newer and largely untested substitutes, spreading at viral speed through social networks and forums.

The synthetic drug market is hard to trace as production takes place near the main markets. Distribution networks are volatile and informal, raves, clubs and the dance scene being the most common marketing venues. Dealers and users are mostly mainstream, average young adults in search of hedonistic satisfaction and glamour with the thrill of forbidden fruit. Organized crime might get more involved in this fast growing market in view of the huge profit potential and greatly diminished risks. In the EU and US, the use of synthetic drugs now surpasses the use of heroin and cocaine combined. It is growing by leaps and bounds in all parts of the world, especially in Asia and the Middle East.

These technical innovations – the Internet, hydroponics, and kitchen counter chemistry – are game changing and have the potential to overwhelm the War on Drugs in developed countries. Many countries have already pretty much given up on trying to control cannabis consumption, but most experts agree that cannabis is a fairly innocuous drug, probably less harmful than alcohol. More worrisome is the spread of production and consumption of synthetic drugs. Amphetamines in particular can be extremely addictive; abuse leads to violent, dangerous, unpredictable, and perturbed behavior. As the entry barrier to production lowers to the point of being virtually nonexistent, and as distribution networks become increasingly informal and diffuse, it is hard to figure out how these trends can be addressed within the current prohibitionist policies, short of adopting even more intrusive law enforcement policies that are increasingly incompatible with democratic societies.

[1] See Chapter 8 – Alcohol.

[2] Matt Baume, “Pot Crushes Wine Vineyards as Cash Crop,” Oct 21 2010.

[3] “Tennessee Overtakes Missouri in Meth Lab Busts,” Associated Press, March 01 2011.

[4] “Sheriff faces meth charge in state ravaged by drug,” Associated Press, April 18 2011.


The War on Drugs moves to reality (TV that’s it)

Two new reality TV shows feature the war on drugs:

The Discovery Channel launches “Weed Wars”, featuring Harborside Health Center, the  largest medical marijuana dispensary in California (and probably in the world). Premiere today, Thursday 10 p.m. on Discovery.

DUI (two 30-minute episodes) focuses on “the disastrous financial and personal losses that come for everyday working folks arrested for DUI.” Premieres Thursday at 9 p.m. on TLC. DUI starts with a grandmother busted because the passengers of her car were smoking weed while she was driving.

For more details, check the Washington Post article

or the Mercury News article


“Nut” Gingrich on the War on Drugs

While he admits to smoking pot in college, Newt Gingrich in an interview with Yahoo 2 days ago wants death penalty for Mexican drug dealers and mandatory testing for any kind of federal aid, including unemployment benefit. He would also crack down on medical MJ. Click here for the full article, just in case you had any doubt left on the mental sanity of “Nut” Gingrich, and just in case you were entertaining the idea of supporting him.

Here is an excerpt from “World War-D” dedicated to this dangerous nut:

“Newt Gingrich deserves a special lifetime award for hypocrisy. He has repeatedly tried to push legislation requiring the death penalty for drug traffickers (which incidentally is prohibited under international law) and went as far as proclaiming “I want a World War Two style victory plan – a decisive, all out cataclysmic effort to break the back of the drug culture.” But he admitted to smoking pot in the 1970s because it “was a sign that we were alive and in graduate school in that era.” “See, when I smoked pot it was illegal, but not immoral. Now, it is illegal AND immoral. The law didn’t change, only the morality. That’s why you get to go to jail and I don’t. Any questions?” Yes, does he really believe his own bullshit?”