Tag: talking drugs

President Obama’s Track Record on Drug Policy

President Obama has made great strides in healthcare reform for people who use drugs, but his approach to criminal justice reform leaves a lot to be desired.

Obama recently granted clemency to 214 prisoners serving time for nonviolent drug crimes, bringing his grand total of commutations to 562 – more than those of the previous nine presidents combined. Obama has also achieved other relevant key policy aims, such as the expansion of addiction treatment, but he seems to have fallen short of securing permanent sentencing reform.

In 2004, four years before being elected, Barack Obama described punitive drug law enforcement as an “utter failure”. He made a significant attempt to combat this during his first term, as he signed the Fair Sentencing Act (FSA) 2010. This legislation effectively reduced the sentencing disparity between crack cocaine offences and powder cocaine offences, a disparity that was widely perceived to be racist.

A Brief History of North Korea’s Covert Drug Trafficking

The Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea (DPRK) regime is suspected of having produced and trafficked vast amounts of illicit drugs for decades, to the detriment of its population.

The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea claims that the DPRK regime has been ordering the production of illicit drugs since the 1970s. Although initial quantities were estimated to be relatively low, the country’s former supreme leader, Kim Jong-Il, is alleged to have initiated the country’s illicit drug-producing boom in 1998.

According to a defected government official, Kim ordered all collective farms to allocate space for the cultivation of opium poppies. Opium produced was then “sent to the pharmaceutical plants” where it was “processed and refined into heroin […] under the direct control and strict supervision of the Central Government”.

New Zealand’s Regulation of New Psychoactive Substances Doomed to Fail

What happened to New Zealand’s regulation of legal highs?

New Zealand’s much heralded regulation of new psychoactive substances (NPS) appears be at a complete standstill after its introduction three years ago, raising the question: what went wrong?

The 2013 Psychoactive Substances Act (PSA) sought to introduce a full regulatory system for NPS and take control of what was a burgeoning market in these drugs.

Thousands Held in Brutal Chinese Drug Detention Centres

China has consistently taken an incredibly hard-line stance against people who use illegal drugs. As the government enforces strict punishments, often in the name of rehabilitation, both human rights abuses and drug addiction rates are worsening.

There are an estimated 12 million regular drug users in China, and illegal production of methamphetamine and ketamine is surging in the country. President Xi Jinping has described illegal drugs as “a menace for society [that] severely harm health, corrupt will, destroy families, consume wealth, poison society, pollute the social environment, and lead to other crimes”. As a response to this perception, authorities are detaining thousands of people in squalid conditions for drug use or possession.

US Medical Marijuana States Shutting Out Experienced Growers

As the United States sees regulated medical marijuana models emerge across the country, a glaring paradox has arisen – many states require applicants for producer licenses to have experience in marijuana production, yet exclude those with convictions for producing marijuana.

A Buzzfeed investigation published earlier this year drew attention to six such US states that recently legalised medical marijuana. The restrictions in Connecticut, Maryland, New York, and Minnesota effectively welcome those with backgrounds in criminal activity, specifically in marijuana production, as long as they didn’t get caught and subsequently convicted.

New York’s stipulations for producer applications, for example, hold perhaps the most alarming contradictions: The system used for scoring applicants on the “ability to manufacture approved medical marijuana products” awards a full 36 percent of the total available marks just to product manufacturing. All drug felonies for which sentencing was completed within the last decade, however, are instant disqualifiers. This includes those for selling, and, yes, growing, cannabis.

Against the Evidence, Colombia Resumes Use of Glyphosate in Coca Eradication

Experiencing a rise in coca cultivation, the Colombian government has resumed the use of a potentially carcinogenic herbicide in its efforts to tackle the source of the cocaine trade, despite serious questions about the method’s efficacy.

Use of the herbicide glyphosate in coca eradication efforts was halted last year following publication of an International Agency for Research on Cancer report pointing to its potentially carcinogenic effects. Colombia had been utilizing glyphosate in aggressive aerial fumigation campaigns against coca — the raw ingredient for cocaine — since 1994.

However, a recent uptick in coca cultivation levels — and consequentially the amount of cocaine produced in the country — have apparently prompted the government to begin using glyphosate once more. The difference this time, though, is that it will be used solely in manual eradication, as confirmed by Defense Minister Luis Villegas who noted that authorities will spray on the ground in such a way so that it does not contaminate surrounding areas.