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UN World Drug Report 2006 "Full of Scientific Insults"

  1. Powder_Reality
    UN World Drug Report 2006 "Full of scientific insults"
    by Trans National Institute (28 Jun, 2006) The UN Report is "biased and unbalanced".
    In its 2006 World Drug Report the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) struggles to fabricate success stories about the effectiveness of the global drug control regime. Flawed comparisons are constructed with higher opium production levels a century ago, with higher prevalence figures for tobacco, and biased claims are made about cannabis.

    Martin Jelsma, coordinator of the Transnational Institute’s Drugs & Democracy Programme, after a quick read of the report today, considers it to be “full of scientific insults”.

    TNI is an international research institute with a decade long history of being a watchdog of UN drug control agencies. Tom Blickman, a researcher of the programme, adds: “if UNODC was a commercial company with stockholders, it could be sued for fraud for conscious distortion of the future prospects of its enterprise.”

    The report claims “Humanity has entered the 21st century with much lower levels of drug cultivation and drug addiction than 100 years earlier.” This ‘100-year success’ story, however, cannot be attributed to the multilateral drug control regime. It was related to specific developments in China and to new pharmaceutical products replacing the medicinal uses of opium.

    Another questionable claim of success in the World Drug Report is the comparison with tobacco. “To argue that it is thanks to the drug control system that the use of illegal drugs has not spiraled out of control to similar massive prevalence levels as tobacco has no scientific basis whatsoever”, according to Martin Jelsma.

    ‘Containment’ - a term used in the report - fits reality better and that recognition should lead to emphasize policy measures that reduce the harms of current levels of drugs consumption. Unfortunately, says Martin Jelsma, “harm reduction policy developments are nowhere to be found. This means that the real existing success stories from the past decade, such as reduced numbers of overdose deaths and lower rates of HIV transmission due to harm reduction efforts, are left out completely”.

    UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa claims that the world is experiencing a devastating “cannabis pandemic”. His strong language is at odds with other sections of the report that, according to Tom Blickman, recognize that “much of the early material on cannabis is now considered inaccurate, and that a series of studies in a range of countries have exonerated cannabis of many of the charges leveled against it. The report is biased and unbalanced. The use of inconclusive scientific evidence to demonise cannabis is identical to the preceding mistake that resulted in scheduling cannabis at the same level as cocaine and heroin".

    “The report suffers from the tension between UNODC policy makers who want a strict control regime maintained - and who are under huge US funding pressure - and the experts willing to open an honest debate about the effectiveness of outdated aspects of the current policy framework,” he says.

    With a view to the upcoming 10-year evaluation of the 1998 UNGASS, if anything, the 2006 World Drug Report shows that a genuine evaluation process is needed more than ever and that the UNODC cannot be relied upon to perform that task in a transparent, objective and balanced way, without the help of independent experts.

Comments

  1. Powder_Reality
    Found another article about the 2006 Drug Report. This one's an editorial from the Ottawa Citizen.

    CN ON: Editorial: The Real Dope On Marijuana
    (29 Jun 2006) Ottawa Citizen Ontario
    By peddling alarmist nonsense about marijuana, the United Nations' drug-control office has undermined its own credibility, which is bad both for the UN and for health officials seeking to draw attention to the truly bad drugs.

    In a written statement accompanying the UN's World Drug Report for 2006, the executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime let loose: "Today, the harmful characteristics of cannabis are no longer that different from those of other plant-based drugs such as cocaine and heroin," wrote Antonio Maria Costa.

    Well, they are a little different. Cannabis can't kill you with an overdose and doesn't provoke physical addiction, and the price is generally so low that few users resort to crime to feed their habits. That's all admitted, grudgingly, in the study from Mr. Costa's office.

    The rest of an extended section on cannabis tries to whip up fear, uncertainty and doubt about the drug. It cites empty statistics about the number of times someone goes to an emergency room in the United States and marijuana gets "mentioned" on his or her chart. The number went way up between 1995 and 2003, but it doesn't really mean anything: if a fraternity brother drinks 10 beers and shares a joint and then falls off a porch, marijuana will be "mentioned" by the doctors treating him, though it really says nothing about the dangers of marijuana use. The UN itself admits that "in 72 per cent of the cases when cannabis was mentioned, other drugs were also mentioned." So maybe the real scourge is the other drugs, or the mixing of drugs, not marijuana itself.

    Smoking marijuana isn't good for you, but the UN can't show that it's worse than smoking tobacco. The UN notes that amid all the evidence, only a single study shows a link between smoking marijuana and getting cancer. Along the way, another inconsistency: The UN says that cannabis smokers "who smoked an average of only a few joints per day showed the same degree of airway injury as that detected in tobacco smokers who smoked 20 to 30 cigarettes per day." Here, "only a few joints per day" is considered damaging; a few pages before, five joints per week is defined as heavy use.

    Fudging and dishonesty permeate the report's section on marijuana, casting serious doubt on the usefulness of the other information the UN provides, particularly about opium and heroin emanating from Afghanistan and cocaine in Europe.

    This same overreaching has destroyed the U.S.'s credibility in its war on drugs: when some mild drugs ( alcohol, nicotine ) are legal but others ( marijuana certainly, perhaps ecstasy ) are discussed in the same apocalyptic tones as heroin and crystal meth, there's no way to tell what's true and what's not. Ordinary people of all demographics have enough first-hand experience with marijuana, either because they've tried it or know someone who has, to recognize that all the rhetoric and policing and arrests and life sentences are not connected to any rational goal and deserve scorn, not respect.

    The United Nations should be above such deceit. Instead, its credibility is taking yet another self-administered hit.
  2. Lunar Loops
    UN drug report unintentionally argues against prohibition

    And this from the Vancouver Sun (http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/editorial/story.html?id=d190a4e8-09e1-419b-931e-4f81c3653e0d) :

    UN drug report unintentionally argues against prohibition

    Vancouver Sun

    Published: Wednesday, June 28, 2006
    The 2006 World Drug Report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime will, no doubt, convince many people that we haven't been diligent enough in prosecuting the war on drugs, that we have to step up our efforts to eradicate illicit drugs, particularly marijuana.
    But the report actually confirms that the war on drugs has been a dismal failure, that it has failed to decrease marijuana use and it has placed users in greater danger.
    So great is the threat from marijuana, the UN report authors believe, that they included a separate chapter titled Cannabis -- Why We Should Care, in its annual report.
    The chapter explains that 162 million people, or four per cent of the world's adult population, use cannabis annually, and that the number of users worldwide has jumped by 10 per cent since the late 1990s -- a larger increase than for any other drug. Further, the report notes two developments that it thinks should cause policy-makers to rethink their position on cannabis.
    First, marijuana potency has "increased dramatically in the last decade" in "the three countries at the vanguard of cannabis breeding and production technology" -- the United States, Canada and the Netherlands. This first development might be a cause of the second, which is that, according to medical evidence, "there has been an increase in acute health episodes" related to marijuana use.
    Consequently, the report suggests that many countries have been mistaken in making marijuana a low priority for enforcement.
    Now let's look at this evidence more closely. Clearly, we can't blame the rise in marijuana use on a laissez faire attitude toward the drug in Canada -- which, according to a Vancouver city council report, saw the cannabis offence rate rise by nearly 80 per cent between 1992 and 2002 -- or in the U.S., whose tough anti-drug measures need no further comment.
    But we can blame the rise in marijuana potency directly on the war on drugs. As the 2002 Senate report, which was ignored by both the current Conservative government and the former Liberal one, explained, growers produce the strongest pot possible because it's easier to trade. As more draconian laws were passed and enforcement was stepped up, it became more profitable to transport smaller quantities of potent drugs than large amounts of mild ones.
    The report even admits that "cannabis breeders in North America and Europe have been working to create more potent cannabis," but it seems unaware that this is a direct result of the criminalization of the drug.
    Since marijuana use and potency have both increased during the all-out war on drugs, it's abundantly clear that the war has been a failure. Indeed, the only way to control the purity of the product -- and thereby protect the health of the user -- is through the regulation of the growth and sale of marijuana. But don't expect to hear that from the UN agency any time soon, because it has been repeatedly bullied by the United States into promoting a prohibitionist ideology toward all recreational drugs.
    Regardless of what the agency says, its evidence its clear: The war on marijuana has failed to decrease drug use, and has increased the dangers faced by users.
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