Wednesday, 3 March 2010

INCB Arrogance Sparks Anger ... and Bwrian Slams MSIC Again

Is it time for the INCB to close it’s doors? Considering the criticism they received about their latest annual report and recent barrage of mindless media announcements, it appears they are long past their due by date ... 1962.

A previous article here focused on a media statement from INCB board member, Brian Watters. We asked why several media statements had suddenly appeared from the INCB and we discovered that they have just released their annual report. This has prompted them to address several issues from their annual report in the media. As expected, the INCB hammered home Zero Tolerance policies and criticised any country that has grown disillusioned with the "War on Drugs" by modernising their drug laws.

The Board notes with concern that in countries in South America, such as Argentina, Brazil and Colombia (and in countries in North America, such as Mexico and the United States), there is a growing movement to decriminalize the possession of controlled drugs, in particular cannabis, for personal use. Regrettably, influential personalities, including former high-level politicians in countries in South America, have publicly expressed their support for that movement. The Board is concerned that the movement, if not resolutely countered by the respective Governments, will undermine national and international efforts to combat the abuse of and illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs. In any case, the movement poses a threat to the coherence and effectiveness of the international drug control system and sends the wrong message to the general public.
-International Narcotics Control Board (INCB)

Medical Marijuana
One issue raised by the INCB was medical marijuana especially in Canada. The INCB said Canada is operating outside international treaty rules. The accusation that medical cannabis violates the convention is not based on the assumption that member states cannot decide to legalise medicinal, (or even personal non-medical use) of drugs. Rather, it is based on a clause of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotics, which Canada has signed, and says the government must be the sole distributor of the otherwise illegal substance. Canada has more than a 1000 licensed growers who supply the medical marijuana market.  

So, these “breaches” of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotics regarding medical marijuana in Canada is not related to cannabis use at all but who supplies the product. Very sneaky.

The UN's International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) annual report released today pointedly criticizes Argentina, Brazil and Mexico for moving to decriminalize the possession of drugs for personal consumption, autioning that such moves may "send the wrong message." The INCB report expresses concern over "the growing movement to decriminalize the possession of controlled drugs" and calls for this movement to be "resolutely countered" by the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and the United States."
-TNI/WOLA Drugs and Democracy Email Forum (Read at Mark Haden Blog)

That’s it? The regularising of medical marijuana “sends the wrong message to other countries". It’s worth noting that the US federal government has regularly denied it has any plans to decriminalise or legalise cannabis. It’s the states that worry the INCB and the comments are directed discreetly at them with the blessing of the federal government, DEA and the UN.

Latin America
If the INCB were going fruity over medical marijuana, imagine their reaction to the Latin American countries that were decriminalising all drugs albeit for small amounts. 

The INCB told Bolivia very politely that they are breaching an international convention and that the use of the traditional coca leaf in their country is an "illicit" activity. This had led to accusations that the INCB are overstepping their mandate and attempting to over-ride national sovereignty. This is because article 3, paragraph 2 of the convention makes clear that the decision to criminalise personal use of any substance is subject to each member nation’s constitutional principles and legal system. But the report, released Wednesday, drew strong criticism itself by nongovernmental agencies that are calling the INCB's criticism of Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina an overstepping of the organization's mandate. The report's words for the Latin American countries constitutes "unwarranted intrusions into these countries' sovereign decision-making," said the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and the Transnational Institute (TNI) in a joint statement 

The INCB report expresses concern over "the growing movement to decriminalize the possession of controlled drugs" and calls for this movement to be "resolutely countered" by the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and the United States. According to the Transnational Institute (TNI) and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), the criticisms leveled today clearly overstep the INCB's mandate and constitute unwarranted intrusions into these countries' sovereign decision-making. TNI and WOLA are non-governmental organizations with expertise in both the UN drug control system and Latin American drug policy developments.

Bwrian Watters (again)
Adding to the recent statements from the INCB, Brian Watters under the title as International Liaison Officer for DFA, has once again dismissed the success of one of his pet hates, Sydney’s Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC). 

MSIC only operates because of a loophole in the UN treaty that allows it to be classed as scientific research. After 10 years of continually being renewed as scientific research, there is growing pressure on the NSW government to make MSIC permanent. Supporters point out that it has saved 3,000 lives, cut down ambulance call rates in Kings Cross by 80% and reduced discarded syringes by 50%. It has also referred 8000 users for treatment. But saving lives is not high on the agenda for Brian Watters when the process is not of his moral standards. In other words, drug use is evil and any treatment that is not abstinence based is not legitimate. Watters even once said that drug addiction is a sin. He claims that no major treatment centre he knows of has received a single referral from MSIC but goes on to say that they have probably been referred to substitution programs like methadone maintenance which he doesn’t consider being treatment. Watters makes the wild claim that most methadone patients use other drugs as well ... and therefore, not treatment. Yep, he is one of seven who basically dictate drug policy worldwide.

Much of this article is based on a email comment from Paul Dessauer - Outreach Coordinator, WASUA.


Anonymous said...

OMG i'm so tired of those right wing konservative idiots. They are completely against everything that isn't explicitly abstinence only "just say no" drug propaganda. They're immune to any scientific research.

Doesn't matter how many lives are saved. As long as something isn't abstinence only it's bad.

For them ANY drug is evil and that's it, the discussion is over.

Terry Wright said...

Thanks Mina

How right you are. The damage these people cause is breathtaking. In a perfect world, they would be tried as criminals.