UN Drug Policy in the Dark Ages

Two recently-released reports show that global drug policy is in the dark ages, and that the UN shares the blame for it.

One was the UN’s own World Drug Report, an annual product of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), analyzing illicit drug use, production, and trafficking. One of the phenomena discussed by UNODC each year, of course, is cultivation of coca, the plant from which cocaine gets derived. Coca is grown in the Andean nations of Bolivia, Colombia and Peru.

The big news — sort of — was that Peruvian coca cultivation has surpassed Colombian growing for the first time since 1997. This happened because Peruvian growing has increased the last several years, while Colombian has decreased. UN drug chief Antonio Maria Costa had this to say about the Colombians: “The drug control policies adopted by the Colombian government over the past few years — combining security and development — are paying off.”

But paying off for exactly whom? For Peruvians in the coca business, among others. Because once again, the main effect of the coca fight has not been to reduce the size of the crop — total growing only declined by five percent last year, an amount easily accounted for by changes in demand or other fluctuations — but to shift it from place to place.

The uploaded graph here tells the story. From roughly 1990 to 2000, coca cultivation in Bolivia and Peru dropped dramatically. But Colombian growing increased just as dramatically. Demonstrating that supply will fill demand, when the kind of money is available to be made as the cocaine trade has to offer, total world growing of coca stayed roughly constant despite enormous shifts from country to country. The years 2003 to 2009 in a more gradual way show the same thing in reverse. And even the apparent drop shown from 2000 to 2003 is not what it seems, as 2001 saw the introduction of new, high-yield coca seeds. As the report noted, “[D]espite radical changes within countries, total cocaine output has been fairly stable over the last decade.”

Of course it was: Prohibition doesn’t work. We’ll put the illicit drug trade out of business when we legalize drugs; in the meantime we won’t.

The other report was written by colleagues of mine at the International Harm Reduction Association(IHRA). The report, about which my own organization published a feature story in our own newsletter last week, details the continued resort to the death penalty for nonviolent drug offenses — in some countries, like Iran, a phenomenon on the increase. While it is Asian and Arab countries that are doing this, as IHRA noted and as I have on occasion, at the UN and in western nations we effectively have some of the blood on our hands too, through the funding our governments provide to their law enforcement agencies, and through the intelligence sharing and other cooperation our own agencies have with them. Our money and police power indirectly contribute to sending some number of nonviolent offenders to other countries’ executioners.

UNODC had favorable comments to make about the report, telling Britain’s Guardian newspaper it raised “legitimate concerns” about how global drug prohibition enforcement “may indirectly result in increased convictions and the possible application of the death penalty,” and that UNODC had taken “concrete steps” to include human rights assessments as part of “all drug enforcement activities.”

But while those words may have been meant by the people who spoke them, what officials at the UN and in relatively rights-respecting countries around the world have yet to say is that they are going to stop funding governments to track down nonviolent drug offenders if they subsequently might kill them. And the problem is by no means new news. China, for example, has for years marked the UN’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking with mass public trials and executions. Yet the UN continues to hold this annual “Day” despite seeing year after year the bloodshed it is prompting by some governments.

I submit that the UNODC’s “human rights assessments” are not coming close to getting the job done. And I submit that a program which merely moves production and trafficking of drugs from place to place is not a program that actually helps people. UN drug policy needs to move out from the dark ages, and for that to happen, officials need to start facing not only facts, but the implications for policy that those facts have.

– Article from The Huffington Post.



  1. Anonymous on

    “… But, I suppose you’re technically right, I don’t have any constitutional right to be drugged up on illicit substances….”


    the parade of stupidness here is absolutely astounding..
    we suspected there was the occassional brick brained dope zombie
    out there, but wow! nobody ever imagined they were out there
    in such vast numbers. And some of them even _know they are assholes,
    but are powerless to do anything about it. Thats pretty sad

    All we can say is, looking back it was a good thing
    we allowed Marc Emery to operate all those years
    without interference because he acted like a magnet
    to bring every scrap metal stoner into one place
    so they can be swept up and properly disposed of

    One look at the average stoner’s brain waves on these forums
    and its easy to see why legalization of pot will never ever happen.
    Not Canada not California, not _nowhere.

    Meanwhile.. back to the ” Whatever Show ”

  2. Anonymous on

    We both know you are just making stuff up as you go
    no insight, no experience, no data, no facts
    just your science fiction doped up brain’
    squirting out irrational vague sentences
    that you pull out of your arse

    how un-amazing

    and this is your best shot?
    that was an easy victory
    you dumb stoner.

    the legalization movement
    is where it is today
    because of people like you

  3. moldy on

    You need help.

  4. one12alpha on

    “Drug Culture is a massive violation oF everbody elses peace and freedom
    You have no tight to be drugged up on illicit substances-
    see what happens when you try”

    Right…and when I turn the TV on Sunday, that’s a violation of my peace and freedom right? Or does that only apply to the cock pump commercials that came on just before the evangelist? Or to Half Baked that came on before that? Or maybe Mexican culture is in violation of the peace and freedom of the rest of the world? Your argument is illogical there. But, I suppose you’re technically right, I don’t have any constitutional right to be drugged up on illicit substances….so I guess I’ll do every thing I normally do on Marijuana, instead on alcohol. After all, its not illicit… Bet you’re hoping I’m not a doctor about now, or maybe a school bus driver, a cop, or…you get it.

    “No body is perscecuted for their beliefs,because we don;t really care
    But on the other hand Assholes are prosecuted for criminal acts such as drug production & trafficking- see what happens when you try”

    Which is why the Mexican drug cartel’s act in such a way. Because they don’t really care…About your stupid laws that make things a criminal act. About you, your family, your beliefs, your “just doing my job”. They don’t care at all, and since they basically answer to themselves, they will kill you just as fast as you will harass me.

    “re: overthrowing the US govt,- see what happens if you try ”

    I don’t have to. They’ll do it to them selves…

  5. Anonymous on

    lol i really pity this guy so full of hate…poor subject.bet he was rejected by the pigs. cheer up man you can still become a mall cop, hey, taser man, better than nothing… :)

  6. Interested Observer on


    It’s a waste of time trying to get through to the cop trolls who like to posts their rants here. They are C students with 8th grade educations who are angry that they weren’t smart enough to go to college. They like to express that anger by venting their spleens on this site and others like it. Let’s face it, you have to be pretty stupid to love Nazi ideology and all the malevolent actions that spring from it. I initially responded because I thought the poster actually understood the Declaration of Independence and was simply confused into thinking the issue was about getting high. I now realize that’s not the case. I see now that this person’s limited education prevents them from understanding the meaning of the document and its significance as a statement of principles. Like a parrot, they can say the words without a clue as to their meaning. And like a parrot, they tend to say the same thing over and over again.

    “See what happens when you try”
    “See what happens when you try”
    “See what happens when you try”

    Polly want a cracker?

  7. Anonymous on

    there’s a first time for everything
    even for wonderful people like you

  8. Derrick Stromhauer on

    I think you really need to watch your fucking mouth around here.

  9. Derrick Stromhauer on

    That son of a walrus Richard Nixon was the fartknocker who devised the CSA.

    This man, the only American President to have actually had to leave office prior to the end of his term is still haunting the entire world over thirty years later!

    I say when a President is forced from office, every single bit of legislation signed into law by that individual must go under heavy scrutiny and review.

    In this case, the Shafer Report, commissioned by Richard Nixon himself, states that, “On the basis of our findings, discussed in previous Chapters, we have concluded that society should seek to discourage use, while concentrating its attention on the prevention and treatment of heavy and very heavy use. The Commission feels that the criminalization of possession of marihuana for personal is socially self-defeating as a means of achieving this objective. We have attempted to balance individual freedom on one hand and the obligation of the state to consider the wider social good on the other. We believe our recommended scheme will permit society to exercise its control and influence in ways most useful and efficient, meanwhile reserving to the individual American his sense of privacy, his sense of individuality, and, within the context of ail interacting and interdependent society, his options to select his own life style, values, goals and opportunities (http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/library/studies/nc/ncmenu.htm (1972)).”

    So, basically, “Nixon himself, based on his zealous personal preferences, overruled the commission’s research and doomed marijuana to its current illegal status. This newly revealed information comes from declassified tapes of Oval Office conversations from 1971 and 1972, which show Nixon’s aggressive anti-drug stance putting him directly at odds against many of his close advisors (http://www.annieappleseedproject.org/nixtapshowwh.html (2002)).”

    We got rid of Nixon once, let’s once and for all destroy the legacy that man left behind, terrorizing our citizens, and shaping identical policies for the rest of the world.


  10. Derrick Stromhauer on

    You cannot even possibly be serious right now. Seriously?

  11. Anonymous on

    “…The “War on Drugs” is a MASSIVE human rights violation..”

    Drug Culture is a massive violation oF everbody elses peace and freedom
    You have no tight to be drugged up on illicit substances-
    see what happens when you try

    “..persecuting people for their beliefs..”

    No body is perscecuted for their beliefs,because we don;t really care
    But on the other hand Assholes are prosecuted for criminal acts such as drug production & trafficking- see what happens when you try

    re: overthrowing the US govt,- see what happens if you try

    you are just another over heated stoner jerk
    who will never do anything but add to your rage pile

  12. Interested Observer on

    You just don’t get it, do you? It isn’t about the right to get high; it’s about the right to be free from governments dictating what we can and cannot do in the privacy of our own homes. You’d be singing a different tune if they decided to have a “War on Masturbation”. Then, every time you took your cock in your hand, you’d be looking over your shoulder and worrying about squads of armed goons kicking in your door to haul you off to jail. I’m guessing you’d be worried a lot of the time. Paramilitary police forces don’t give a shit about your Safety or Happiness, just like the don’t give a shit about the principles espoused in the DoI or even the constitution.

    The “War on Drugs” is a MASSIVE human rights violation, persecuting people for their beliefs. The fact that the UN is party to it just shows what a bunch of self-serving hypocrites they all are. And, if you actually read all of the Declaration of Independence, you can see that the US government has met all the requiremnts listed in the document to justify its abolishment. But, since power grows from the barrel of a gun and the US government has the most, the biggest and the best guns, there is no chance it’ll be overthrown anytime soon.

  13. Anonymous on

    You are a stoner ass clown
    who thinks whatever quickie
    electrical fart your brain bubbles
    is cosmic truth.
    Were you stoned when you wrote that?
    How about consider your basic central cortex
    is somewhat damaged from dope.

    Play the Vancouver dope game
    in many other world countries’
    and you will get … executed..

    The fact we don’t shoot you here
    shows we have a lot of restraint
    and sympathy for stupid people like you

    You have your right to speak,
    and we have the right
    to laugh at you
    we don’t have the right to execute you
    but you can join Marc Emery
    in heroland if you want

  14. plink on

    You think the right not to be executed or put in prison or discriminated against for using illegal drugs is a poor demand? I don’t see how it makes a difference whether it’s legal or not. It seems you’re the one with the demands.

  15. Anonymous on

    “…Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes;…”

    that would be stonerism

  16. Anonymous on

    the US Declaration of Indie has nothing to do
    with the demands drug addicted zombie citizens or alcoholics’
    or perverts or criminals or anarchists..
    get a grip stoner dickhead

    How do you explain the stance Governments in the rest of the world
    where the Dec of indie has no standing?

    Note they are all against legalization of party drugs
    6 billion other people think you’re an asshole
    So next time you get in the mood
    to drop and drag
    maybe read it first

  17. Anonymous on

    The federal gov’t must be abolished because it is interfering with peoples’ pursuit of happiness through Cannabis. They can’t justify it by blaming the UN conventions. Trust me, if the US urged the UN to modernize their Cannabis regulations they would not just tell them to screw off. The US is probably the one responsible for it in the first place. Where else would the UN get a crazy idea like that?

  18. Anonymous on

    I remember reading something about the particular problems we face at the moment. OH, here it is….

    “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,[71] that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

  19. Anonymous on

    No kidding open your eyes and realize that all the world’s people are run by corrupt governments who only have eyes for whats in their pocket.Governments are kept in place by army and police.The UN is a mirror image of all the corrup governments of this world with extreme right and conservative ideologies.Look what happens at the G20. People are not even allowed to demonstrate.We live in a police state where Tasers and tear gases are the rules.Open your eyes and dont expect the UN to help you legalize marijuana.
    They are just too short sighted to even understand what is a molecule. Dont ask them to comprehend what THC molecule is and much less cannabinoids.

  20. Adam on

    Congratulations, you made the problem worse.
    With research like yours it’s no wonder we let the U.N. run the world.
    Or did you think about the problem at all?

  21. Anonymous on

    The UN hasn’t made any revisions in its scheduling of Cannabis since the 1960s. Apparently, the UN has been locked in a concrete vault for the last 50 years and hasn’t heard yet that Cannabis is not synonymous with heroin. What a joke the UN is. Why should any country bother to follow their stupid, vastly outdated drug control policies? Those regulations would never stand up to modern scrutiny in any court, even the World Court. I guess we need a World Supreme Court now to overturn all the stupidity of the UN drug control conventions.