Throughout the infamous “war on drug trafficking” in Mexico, both international and local media have regularly referred to the missing and the dead in statistical terms that fail to capture the enormity of human tragedy the war left in its wake. Moreover, coverage of drug barons like El Chapo Guzmán, head of the Sinaloa cartel, has seriously overshadowed the stories of the conflict’s victims.
Little attention is paid to the bereaved the day after a violent event, or communities that have learned to live with daily pain. Every corpse, every bone found in each of the hundreds of clandestine graves, is the testimony of countless parents, sons and daughters, friends and spouses, who harbour wounds that may never heal.
Georgia’s draconian laws against narcotics are in the spotlight, as activists take to the streets and demand an end to the criminalisation of drug users.
There are angry crowds in Tbilisi again. On International Human Rights Day (10 December), protesters gathered outside Georgia’s parliament building to call on the government to “decriminalise!”. The event ended in a confrontation with the police, as protesters obstructed the main road. Nobody doubts that protests will continue; Georgia is fighting a war on drugs, and activists of the White Noise Movement are on the front line.
The decriminalisation of marijuana has been a real issue in Georgian politics since 2011. The country has a particularly repressive no-tolerance policy towards drug users, which has endured (with a few changes) since the Soviet period.
Many Australians agreed with Greens party leader Richard Di Natale recently when he called for an end to the war on drugs. The Greens is a minority party that supports conservation, responsible environmental management such as climate change action, and social justice. It also advocates a more independent foreign policy for Australia.
The country’s politicians, policy makers and health professionals have been arguing for years over recreational drug strategies — ‘Just say no’ versus ‘harm minimisation’, and tough law enforcement versus decriminalisation are well trodden warpaths.
The massive enforcement of laws criminalizing personal drug use and possession in the United States causes devastating harm, Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said in a joint report released today. Enforcement ruins individual and family lives, discriminates against people of color, and undermines public health. The federal and state governments should decriminalize the personal use and possession of illicit drugs.
The 196-page report, “Every 25 Seconds: The Human Toll of Criminalizing Drug Use in the United States,” finds that enforcement of drug possession laws causes extensive and unjustifiable harm to individuals and communities across the country. The long-term consequences can separate families; exclude people from job opportunities, welfare assistance, public housing, and voting; and expose them to discrimination and stigma for a lifetime. While more people are arrested for simple drug possession in the US than for any other crime, mainstream discussions of criminal justice reform rarely question whether drug use should be criminalized at all.
The DEA has announced the scheduling of Kratom, a southeast Asian plant used extensively in traditional medicine, to Schedule 1 beginning 30 September. According to the DEA website, “Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”
Kratom, a plant native to Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, has long been used in traditional medicine. Advocates claim the substance has great potential to mitigate the effects of opioid addiction and in the treatment of chronic pain, which is typically treated now with opioid drugs like Oxycodone.