We are a network of professionals and volunteers working in the areas related to the drug production, drug use and drug policies in various countries around the world. We associate doctors, politicians, social workers, former and current law enforcement officers, human rights activists, lawyers and others whose work is akin to wide spectrum of drug problems.
United Nations legislation
The present global drug policy is based on three United Nations conventions: Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs [SCND] of 1961, Convention on Psychotropic Substances from 1971, and United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988 (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime [UNODC], 2013). These acts, together with their amendments, require parties to criminalize ‘cultivation, production, manufacture, extraction, preparation, possession, offering, offering for sale, distribution, purchase, sale, delivery’ of any substance scheduled under conventions (SCND, 1961). Besides promoting criminal law-approach, these acts also cover the topic of drug treatment, pointing at drug free method as the most effective one (SCND, 1961). The conventions have strongly influenced domestic drug laws of signatory countries, as visible in similar substance scheduling systems (Misuse of Drugs Act, 1971) or in the rationales of some domestic legislations.
Global drug situation
A few years ago, the then in-charge director of UNODC Antonio Costa argued that the present global drug policies were working, resulting in stabilization of global drug supply and demand (UNODC, 2007). Although we can observe a stabilization of the prevalence of drug use in high-income countries of North America or Western Europe, both hard data and expert opinions show that the number of drug users and overall drug consumption in other regions has soared. Between 2007 and 2011 the perceived drug use in Africa rose by 50%, in Asia opioids use prevalence rose by 100%, including 100% rise in general number of registered drug users in China, cannabis and cocaine use in South America rose by 100% (UNODC, 2007; 2013). These rates combined show that global prevalence of drug use has risen in the past seven years by: 15% for cocaine, 130% for opioids, 2.6% for cannabis (i.e. 20 million more users), 16% for amphetamine type stimulants, and 100% for ecstasy (UNODC, 2007; 2013). Yet these numbers still do not include the vast increase in the use of new psychoactive substances, which in the recent years have gained huge popularity around the world and outnumbered substances scheduled under UN conventions 251 to 234 (UNODC, 2013).
In the decade after mid-1990s, several Central European and South American countries experienced significant economic growth, joining the club of developed nations. Simultaneously, however, they have also reached the developed countries’ drug use levels, which have remained stable to the present (UNODC, 2013; EMCDDA, 2013; Miguez, 1999; Junta...