------------------------------------------------------------------- Re: Reader's Digest May cover story, "Australia's Methadone Mess" (An Australian physician specializing in drug treatment who has authored a book on methadone criticizes the biased American publication's "poor quality, sensational journalism, riddled with inaccuracies and misconceptions.") Date: Sun, 3 May 1998 13:02:48 EDT Originator: firstname.lastname@example.org Sender: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org To: Multiple recipients of list (email@example.com) Subject: FWD: UPDATE - Reader's Digest May cover story "Australia's methadone mess". -- Begin Included Message -- Date: Sun, 03 May 1998 09:42:11 +1100 From: Andrew Byrne (firstname.lastname@example.org) To: ADCA Listserve (email@example.com) Subject: UPDATE - Reader's Digest May cover story "Australia's methadone mess". Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Dear Colleagues, This month's Reader's Digest has as its leading cover story "Australia's Methadone Mess". It is poor quality, sensational journalism, riddled with inaccuracies and misconceptions. The header states that methadone is "condemning many to a life of misery and even death". The message seems to be that tired old notion that 'methadone is just replacing one bad drug with another bad drug and that must be bad'. It ignores the 30 years of research which consistently shows reduced mortality, fewer serious viral infections, improved employment, better family life and other benefits. It also ignores the large numbers of patients who successfully complete methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) each year. The very case history they choose to start and finish with almost certainly owes his life to his methadone treatment after 20 years of addiction. Very few heroin addicts live that long without treatment. Salvation Army spokesman, Brian Watters is quoted as saying that methadone for a heroin addict is 'just like a bandaid'. He advises an 8 month rehabilitation program in preference which he states has a 12 month abstinence rate of 33%. He does not explain how tens or possibly hundreds of thousands of young Australians could be accommodated in such treatment which currently only takes small numbers. Neither does he tell us what we should do with the other 66% who continue to use drugs. His 'bandaid' analogy may not be so bad - methadone is also familiar, cheap and readily available. It covers a nasty injury and it enables the person to be functional while natural healing occurs. Specialist Dr Aidan Foy and pharmacist John Malouf also state their unsupported opinions that methadone treatment has been over-rated and problematic. By whom and compared to what? I wonder if the very many young Australians who are alive today thanks to MMT would agree with them? Or those who have avoided HIV and/or hepatitis(?) Do they have any better ideas to reduce the rising death toll from heroin? So why does Dr Foy prescribe methadone and why did Mr Malouf dispense it? They represent extremely small minorities in their professions. This article is real 'terrorist' journalism ... with the same potential to kill and maim. Based upon a few negative observations amongst the multitude of documented benefits from this treatment, it is a biased piece of writing, possibly emanating from some boardroom in middle America. No objective or informed person could see methadone in such an unfavourable light. All independent reviews of methadone (including 2 recent ones in NSW) have found that the treatment is successful and should be more widely available. It does not suit every heroin addict and, like other treatments, is not 100% successful. To suggest that there is a massive methadone industry is ludicrous. It is probably one of the smallest and most carefully scrutinised 'businesses' in the country. Confusingly, the author also advises Australia to drop the 'harm minimisation' approach to drug use and 'follow the lead of the Northern Territory'!! She quotes 'Drug Watch International' (whoever they may be) as saying Australia is isolated in this policy. [We may also be unique in having a rate of HIV among injectors as low as 1% compared to over 40% in many other countries.] The author also omits to mention that in recent years, MMT has been introduced into almost every country in the western world as well as much of the eastern and third world. France has made buprenorphine (an effective alternative) available on prescription from any doctor. We are told that MMT costs taxpayers millions, but not how it saves much, much more as shown by every study which has been done. We are also not told that most patients (at least in NSW) pay up to $40 per week for their own treatment. Author Siobhan McMahon and research editor Elizabeth Craig should not sleep soundly until they have redressed some of the harm their work may do. Ms Craig, who called me prior to publication to check some 'facts', said that their company policy was 'zero tolerance' and that it did not approve of methadone treatment. It is unfortunate that there was no statement to this effect in their article which purports to be a genuine assessment of the treatment. It must be unusual for a publishing company to have a policy about a life-saving medical treatment, especially a traditional one that has been thoroughly researched over 30 years. Most of my dependency patients will recognise that this is a work of no substance, driven by a misguided loathing of addicts, drugs, doctors or some other factor. It is unfortunate that more impressionable people, including parents of heroin addicts may be persuaded that this proven treatment is actually a fizzer. You will not find the Reader's Digest in my waiting room! Comment by Dr Andrew Byrne .. *** Dr Andrew Byrne, General Practitioner, Drug and Alcohol, 75 Redfern Street, Redfern, New South Wales, 2016, Australia Tel (61 - 2) 9319 5524 Fax 9318 0631 Email email@example.com *** author of: "Methadone in the Treatment of Narcotic Addiction" and "Addict in the Family". *** Date: Sun, 3 May 1998 14:07:10 EDT Originator: firstname.lastname@example.org Sender: email@example.com From: "Barrington Daltrey" (firstname.lastname@example.org) To: Multiple recipients of list (email@example.com) Subject: Re: FWD: UPDATE> Reader's Digest May cover story "Australia's me I am a bit puzzled by the support for methadone programs on this list. I don't know the specifics, but here are two things that trouble me: First, there is a good article from Libertarian Party (UK) that goes into detail about heroin, and indicates that heroin itself has few side effects and little long-term effects for its users. (I don't know if it is true, just parroting what I read). The second point is that a friend's daughter-in-law recently had a heroin addicted baby. The mother was given methadone and the baby was given maintenance heroin until it was withdrawn from the substance. When I inquired why the baby would be given heroin, the answer was that heroin was safer for the baby and it was easier to get the baby "off" heroin. The methadone was less safe and more addictive. Based on that information, methadone seems to me to be a political solution and not a medical one. (The mother, by the way, used both -- methadone from the clinic and heroin from wherever, when she could get it.)
------------------------------------------------------------------- Drug Users Blamed For Crime Surge (The Sydney Morning Herald, in Australia, quotes Police Commissioner Peter Ryan saying the big increase in robberies involving knives and firearms in New South Wales, revealed in official figures released Thursday, is being fuelled by increased "heroin use and drug use generally.") Date: Fri, 01 May 1998 23:52:41 -0500 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (trikydik) Subject: MN: AUS: Drug Users Blamed For Crime Surge Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Newshawk: Ken Russell Pubdate: Fri, 1 May 1998 Source: Sydney Morning Herald (Australia) Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.smh.com.au/ Author: Bernard Lagan and Les Kennedy Subject: AUS: Drug Users Blamed For Crime Surge DRUG USERS BLAMED FOR CRIME SURGE The big increase in robberies involving knives and firearms in NSW, revealed in official figures yesterday, is being fuelled by the rising numbers of drug users, the Police Commissioner, Mr Peter Ryan, said. Knife-point robberies, the majority in Sydney, have increased by 77 per cent and gunpoint robberies by more than 33 per cent over the two years to December 1997, the figures show. Sydney had about 3,000 robberies last year involving a weapon other than a gun - mostly knives - compared with fewer than 1,700 the year before. There were about 1,000 armed robberies compared with about 700 in 1996. Commenting on the figures, Mr Ryan said: "I think there is an increase in heroin use and drug use generally and the only way people can manage to buy drugs is to steal, break into houses, break into cars and to rob people in the street. "The root cause of the majority of crimes of this nature are drugs and drug abuse and we need to be tackling that as an issue as well." Mr Ryan's remarks on heroin users were echoed by Dr Don Weatherburn, director of the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, which compiled the statistics from crimes reported to police. "Given a lot of involvement by heroin users in robbery, I think the best bet is that it is heroin which is driving it," he said. Mr Ryan said the increase in knife-related crime was not because it was now harder to get guns, but because there was a "determination among many people just to carry knives" - not for offensive purposes but because they thought they were going to be robbed. The media's portrayal of violence was at least partly to blame for the crime levels, he said. "What really worries me is the way that violence is portrayed on our televisions. "The way that the media portray the solving of disputes with violence - use this knife, use the gun - the hero is the man who uses the gun and there's no questions asked." Dr Weatherburn said the rising numbers of fatal heroin overdoses and increases in the numbers of people seeking treatment for heroin addition pointed to an increase in the number of users. The surge in knifepoint and firearm robberies was "an abrupt and dramatic change" because from the beginning of the decade to 1994 the number of robberies had been stable. The figures were released as the State Government is introducing new measures to combat knife attacks, including wider search powers for police, increased penalties for carrying prohibited knives and a ban, from today, on the sale of knives to those under 16. But Dr Weatherburn had doubts about whether these measures would deter drug users with knives. "Somebody who is desperate for a fix of heroin is not necessarily going to be deflected by the thought that someone might search them." He said knifepoint robberies could be reduced by police concentrating on known hot spots - a move Mr Ryan said later would be implemented. The Minister for Police, Mr Whelan, said the figures showed fewer crimes were on the increase and it was clear that under Mr Ryan "the police service is getting back to basics - fighting crime".
------------------------------------------------------------------- Experts Will Speed Up Work On Cannabis (The British Medical Journal notes physicians in the UK will continue their alchemical quest for a way to separate beneficial cannabinoids from herbal cannabis.) Date: Fri, 1 May 1998 16:15:21 -0800 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: Olafur Brentmar (email@example.com) Subject: MN: UK: BMJ: UK Experts Will Speed Up Work On Cannabis Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Newshawk: email@example.com (R D Winthrop) Pubdate: Fri, 01 May 1998 Source: British Medical Journal (UK) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.bmj.com/ Author: John Warden, parliamentary correspondent UK EXPERTS WILL SPEED UP WORK ON CANNABIS Research into the clinical use of cannabinoids is to be put on to a new basis in Britain with the formation of a committee of experts who will draw up guidelines for good practice. The working party on the therapeutic uses of cannabinoids is being set up by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain and will be headed by Sir William Asscher, a former chairman of the government Committee on Safety of Medicines. The aim is that the guidelines will encourage the Home Office to approve research licences which are currently being delayed. The development was reported by BMA witnesses to a House of Lords subcommittee inquiring into the use of cannabis and its derivatives for medical and recreational purposes and into whether any relaxation of the law is appropriate. Last year the BMA report Therapeutic Uses of Cannabis concluded that cannabis is unsuitable for medicinal use but that cannabinoid derivatives should be considered. Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of the BMA's professional resources and research group, and Professor Heather Ashton, consultant writer for the BMA report, gave evidence to the Lords subcommittee last week. They reported a meeting last month with the chief medical officer at the Department of Health to discuss further action in moving forward clinical trials of cannabinoids. It was agreed that a new independent body to conduct such trials was required. Dr Nathanson welcomed the Royal Pharmaceutical Society's working party as a means of producing better research and development of cannabinoids so that the least possible delay occurs before clinical trials are started. Concern had been expressed, she said, over Home Office delays in issuing research licences, with about 14 applications pending. The new research protocols might help the Home Office to compare licence applications with a set of guidelines and decide which should be licensed. In a written submission, the BMA said that individual cannabinoids have a therapeutic potential in several medical conditions in which present drugs are not fully adequate. The long term effects have not been studied, but present evidence indicates that cannabinoids are remarkably safe. The accumulation of scientific evidence has been hampered by regulations restricting the use of cannabinoids to one clinical indication--as antiemetics in chemotherapy for cancer. The BMA wants a high priority given to carefully controlled trials of cannabinoids in patients with chronic spastic disorders that have not responded to other drugs. In the meantime there was a case for the extension of the indications for nabilone and ê-9-tetrahydrocannabinol for use in chronic spastic disorders unresponsive to standard drugs.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Turkey and Drug Traffic (A letter to the editor of the Irish Times from a Turkish diplomat disputes the newspaper's claim that his country is a main producer of illicit drugs. He says Turkey is just a transit country.) Date: Sun, 03 May 1998 10:44:25 -0400 To: email@example.com From: Melodi Cornett (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: MN: Ireland: LTE: Turkey and Drug Traffic Sender: email@example.com Newshawk: firstname.lastname@example.org ((Zosimos) Martin Cooke) Pubdate: Fri, 1 May 1998 Source: Irish Times (Ireland) Contact: email@example.com TURKEY AND DRUG TRAFFIC Sir, - I read Jim Cusack's report on illicit drug trafficking (The Irish Times, March 10th) with keen interest. However, I think it needs some comments. As he rightly puts it, the heroin travelling to Europe is produced in refineries in many countries, but not mainly in Turkey. The local production and consumption of drugs in Turkey is negligible. Turkey is actually a transit country on the route from Far East-Central Asia to Europe. Regarding the production sites, as there exists no country as "Kurdistan", I think he was referring to the production places controlled by the Kurdish terror organisation PKK (namely as Kurdistan Workers' Party). This organisation, which fights against the territorial integrity of Turkey, has many production facilities in Northern Iraq and the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon (under effective Syrian control). Let me also give some figures to complement Mr Cusack's report. The amount of heroin seized in Turkey in 1996 makes up 64 per cent of the total seized in Europe and 40 per cent of the global total. In other words, 4.5 tonnes of the total 11 tonnes of the heroin seized in the world and of the 7 tonnes seized in a total of 28 European countries have been captured solely by the Turkish police forces. That is why the Turkish drug enforcement agencies have gained a praiseworthy reputation. They are currently hosting 21 drugs liaison officers from various European countries and have many of their own in Europe. However, even though Turkey has successfully carried out many joint drug or drug-related money-laundering operations with the US, Italian, Spanish, Danish and Dutch drug enforcement agencies (a total of more than a dozen in 1996), it cannot be argued that it is receiving full international co-operation. There are many examples of this. But worst of all is the chemicals route, which, just like the one between the Golden Triangle and Europe, never stops. The crucial chemical substances such as acidic anhyditrin vital for heroin production are mainly produced in European Union countries. Although the production of those materials are strictly prohibited under the relevant UN charters, the production and transportation of those materials stemming from Western Europe fuel the vicious circle. Furthermore, there are some European Union countries still not willing to put a stop to PKK activities in their territory. - Yours, etc., SELCUK UNAL Third secretary Embassy of the Republic of Turkey Dublin.
------------------------------------------------------------------- World Cities Against Drugs - A Global Perspective, May 12-13 in Stockholm, Sweden (A list subscriber says the conference sponsored by European Cities Against Drugs, ECAD, is expected to attract representatives from 500 cities around the world who will hear about the "success" of Swedish narconazism.) Date: Fri, 01 May 1998 23:01:14 +0200 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: mario lap (email@example.com) Subject: CAD publicity blurb ECAD publicity blurb: The City of Stockholm has the honour to invite you to take part in the global conference, 'World Cities Against Drugs - A Global Perspective', May 12-13, 1998. The conference is hosted and arranged by the City of Stockholm in cooperation with the European Cities Against Drugs (ECAD). At the conference, a 'Global Declaration on Drugs' will be launched, agreed upon in advance by signatories to the Declaration. The Declaration will be presented to the Secretary General of the United Nations at the UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs in June 1998. *** [John Yates writes:] Representatives from 500 towns and cities from across the world will be gathering in Stockholm to hear of the 'success' of Swedish narconazism. They will regail foreign journalists with propaganda about 'The Swedish Model' to be dutifully reported around the world. What they will not say is that their repressive policy is collapsing as drugs and drug related crime escalate out of control. >From Swedish TV news today, May 1: "A Stockholm man was was gunned down today in what police described as a settlement between drug gangs. The 27 year old man was shot in the stomach in front of his family while playing football. He is in a critical condition in Karolinska hospital. His assailant was overpowered and arrested. Stockholm police spokesman Evald Wigger said the hitman was sent by a drug gang to collect drug debts" Yeah, prohibition works. John Yates ** The drugtext press list. News on substance use related issues, drugs and drug policy firstname.lastname@example.org
------------------------------------------------------------------- The Development of Drug Abuse in Sweden (A translation of an article by Leif Lenke, a lecturer in criminology at Stockholm University, in Oberoende, the official magazine for the Swedish National Organization For Help to Narcotics and Drug Addicts, critically examines the official version of the history of drug abuse in Sweden.) Date: Sat, 30 May 1998 11:20:01 -0800 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: Sweden: The Development Of Drug Abuse In Sweden Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Newshawk: Jan G. Quarfordt (email@example.com) Pubdate: May 1998 Source: Oberoende (Sweden) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.rfhl.se Translation: Jonas Thorell and John Yates Author: Leif Lenke, Lecturer in criminology, Stockholm University Note: The "Oberoende" is the official magazine for RFHL (National Organization for Help to Narcotics and Drug Addicts). THE DEVELOPMENT OF DRUG ABUSE IN SWEDEN Drug abuse in the form we observe it in society today began in earnest during the 1960's. Sweden was actually one of the first countries in Europe to develop an epidemic of intravenous drug abuse. The rest of Europe has since followed suit. Drug abuse has played a major role in the control policy debate and has had great effect upon criminal statistics and criminal policy. Narcotics are also the most common reason given for intensifying police co-operation in Europe. Forms Of Abuse In Sweden Characteristic of heavy drug abuse in Sweden is the large scale injection of amphetamine that began amongst Swedish abusers. This is in contrast to other countries where heroin became the dominant drug of heavy abuse. Amphetamine differs from heroin in that it is a stimulating and activating drug and not numbing and sleep inducing. Another difference is that heroin, but not amphetamine, cause strong withdrawal symptoms. This has the effect of making heroin more dominant in the lifestyles of its abusers as they need maintenance doses approximately every four hours. Amphetamine addicts on the other hand must stop their abuse after a few days as the drug no longer has any effect and tiredness begins to take over. Why amphetamine became so dominant amongst Swedish abusers has not been thoroughly investigated. Abuse began amongst bohemians and artists in Stockholm during the 1950's and spread from there to the criminal underworld. As a result, new recruits to drug abuse were persons connected with institutions such as prisons and juvenile delinquent reform schools. From the middle of the 1970's, heroin abuse enters into the picture but has so far not constituted more than one third of the total of heavy drug abuse. Heroin abuse seems however to be increasing its share of heavy abuse over time. During the whole period since the beginning of the 1960's the most common form of drug abuse has been the smoking of cannabis. This is still so today despite the introduction of newer drugs like ecstasy and cocaine during the 1990's. The Official Picture Of The Development Of Drug Abuse The overall picture of the development of Swedish drug abuse has long been unclear. The official version can be summed up by saying that the liberal narcotics policies of the 1960's and 70's resulted in steadily increasing problems until a shift in policy in the direction of tougher laws around 1980 pushed back drug abuse on a scale that lacked precedent in Europe. The figures quoted are based upon two types of statistics. The first and most important concern the frequency with which young people have tried drugs. Statistics from the Institute of Public Health (1993) which have been presented to the rest of the world show that experimentation with drugs amongst young people dropped drastically with the policy shift of 1979-80. From the assumption that reduced experimentation with drugs automatically leads to a reduction in the development of heavy drug abuse, the conclusion has been drawn that recruitment to heavy abuse has decreased along with the reduction in drug experimentation. This hypothesis is also said to have support in the fact that the proportion of younger heavy abusers was lower when statistics of the heavy abusers of 1992 were compared with those of 1979 A critical examination of the official version of the development of abuse. In Swedish drug policy there are differing opinions on two crucial points. These differences concern cause and effect in regard to policy and the development of abuse. There are different opinions regarding time context, that is to say, when developments went in one direction or the other and to what extent this can be linked to differences in policy between the different periods. Some facts are clear. For instance the peak in the Swedish drug epidemic, according to all sources, occurred at the beginning of the 70's. That is 5-10 years before the new policy, which took all the credit for the dramatic decrease even though drug abuse was decreasing before the new policy had time to take effect. Another fact is that the decline that is used as evidence of reduced new recruitment to heavy drug abuse occurred abruptly at the end of the 1980's. That is more than five years after the new policy achieved full effect. This conclusion can be drawn from the fact that it is only amongst the absolute youngest that a reduction can be seen to have occurred in the statistics of 1992 compared with those of 1979. One question that needs to be asked is that if there are not other explanatory factors at work than an increase in law enforcement involvement in narcotics policy. It has been possible to show that not only a reduction in experimentation with narcotics occurred in the 1980's. There was also a decrease in alcohol consumption and that cannot be attributed to the police or to the effects of narcotics policy. This is even more true of sniffing which also shows a similar downward trend. Regarding the reduced proportion of young heavy drug abusers in the figures for 1992, two factors are worth taking into consideration. One is that youth unemployment in Sweden during the 1980's was at its lowest ever at around 2 %. Compare that number with the average for the European Union at the same time of around 10-30 %. The connection between youth unemployment and the level of drug abuse, especially regarding heroin, has been shown in a comparative study between several member states of the European Union. The fact that the decline occurred during the last years of the 80's also indicates that the HIV epidemic, which was given much attention around 1985, can have had an effect upon the prevalence of abusers. It has been shown that this epidemic caused panic among swedish abusers. A similar decline can also be found in the development of heavy drug abuse in Norway at around this time Epidemic Vs Trend The founding father of "The drug free society", Nils Bejerot, introduced the term epidemic as a way to illustrate how drug abuse develops. This was met with some justifiable criticism, since the introduction of this medical term implied that abusers infected innocent people and especially young people with their abuse. The epidemic model is accepted within the social sciences to describe fads and other social phenomenon. Characteristic for such "epidemics" is that they tend to rise sharply then decline and not uncommonly to more or less die out. The development of the Swedish amphetamine epidemic could be interpreted as such a phenomenon since abuse and especially new recruitment diminished to only a fraction of its original size within just a couple of years and with only comparatively modest measures taken by the authorities. On the other hand, when the authorities at the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 90's turned the thumbscrews on drug abusers, no noticeable positive effect on abuse was observed. Drug use was criminalised in 1988 and was intended to give "clear signals" to young people that experimenting with drugs was not only unacceptable and deplorable but criminal as well. As can be seen in diagram 3, this did not accomplish anything. Nor was anything accomplished when the law was tightened in 1993 by introducing prison into the scale of punishments as well as carrying out tens of thousands of urine tests in order to detect drug abusers early and either frighten them or force them into compulsory treatment programmes. If we examine another side of the "new" Swedish drug policy, forced treatment has not either been able to show positive results. Instead, Sweden has what is perhaps the highest mortality rate in the western world amongst heroin addicts. Narcotics related deaths are also continuing to rise in Sweden. It is also significant that now, as the figures for drug experimentation amongst young people have risen dramatically for five successive years, this is suddenly no longer regarded by the authorities as an indication that hard drug use is also rising. Instead this abuse is attributed to "party drugs" and fads etc. The fact is however that the greatest increase is in cannabis abuse and this is still most commonly found amongst young persons of low education living in larger cities. It is a bad omen that behind the increasing drug use, in which smoking heroin is beginning to play an increasing role, there are again rising trends of alcohol abuse and sniffing amongst young people. And not least a persistent and alarmingly high rate of unemployment.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Abolish the Slogan "A Drug Free Society" (A translation of an article by Henrik Tham, a professor of criminology at Stockholm University, in Oberoende, the official magazine for the Swedish National Organization For Help to Narcotics and Drug Addicts, criticizes Sweden's fanatical war on some drug users.) Date: Wed, 27 May 1998 16:54:58 -0800 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: Sweden: Abolish The Slogan "A Drug Free Society" Sender: email@example.com Newshawk: Jan G. Quarfordt (firstname.lastname@example.org) Pubdate: May 1998 Source: Oberoende (Sweden) Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.rfhl.se Translation: John Yates (firstname.lastname@example.org) Author: Henrik Tham Prof. Criminology University of Stockholm Note: The "Oberoende" is the official magazine for RFHL (National Organization for Help to Narcotics and Drug Addicts). ABOLISH THE SLOGAN "A DRUG FREE SOCIETY" A couple of years ago, Swedish Television showed a film about South Africa. The film was about the love affair between a white man and a coloured woman. The couple knew of course about their country's laws against this type of relationship, and they did everything they could to conceal it. They never went out together, they only met at night, she used the backdoor to his house and was very careful not to keep her possessions in his apartment. But the police were onto them. During a raid on his apartment the police found, at the bottom of his laundry basket, a pair of panties which were sent to a laboratory for forensic analysis. In the final scene the woman is seen lying in the gynaecologist's chair with her legs apart while a male doctor puts on his plastic gloves. The final evidence of their crime would be found inside the woman's vaginal canal. The crime the couple committed against South African law did not have any actual victims. Therefore the crime was difficult to prove, no one had reported anything, no one was hurt (beside the couple), no one risked getting hurt. And yet at the same time the government insisted that whatever the cost - measures were to be taken against this crime. The consequences were inevitable, the state literally had to penetrate this woman in order to determine through her bodily fluids if she was a criminal. This South African administration of justice shocks us and yet at the same time, the same way of thinking has become part of Swedish narcotics policy. Consumption of narcotics is illegal and punishable in Sweden. Surreptitious use, which is not directly visible through harmful actions, is seen as a particular danger to society. Evidence can only be secured when the government uses force to take blood and urine samples from its citizens and thereby determine if any crime has been committed. It has not always been like this in Sweden. During the 1970's Swedish drug policy had a relatively humane attitude towards drug users. At the beginning of the 1980s this policy changed direction. The abuser was now regarded as the only irreplaceable link in the drug supply chain and if he could only be stopped from using drugs then inevitably the whole chain would collapse. Efforts were concentrated on the user in the form of criminalisation of consumption, frequent raids and forced treatment. The was to be, according to the official slogan, "a drug free society". Well, it might be objected, hard drug abuse is a problem both for the individual and for society, and a harder and more repressive drug policy could be accepted if such a policy resulted in a decrease in the damage caused by drugs. However any such result is difficult to ascertain. The number of drug users increased by 40% between the late 1970s and early 1990s. And even if there was a fall in the numbers of those being recruited to drug use in the 1980s, the numbers dropped even more during the so called "piss-liberal" 1970s. The costs of the harder drug policy however are obvious and include disregard for principles of justice, introduction of forced treatment and increased use of imprisonment. A rise in drug related deaths cannot be excluded either. Sweden criminalised, in contradiction with Swedish legal practice, the actual use of narcotics in 1988. In an internal investigation by the Department of Justice of the introduction of punishment for personal drug use, it was stressed that "it is in principle wrong to criminalise acts which are directed towards ones own person". The same investigation maintained that blood and urine tests are "deep violations of the integrity of the person". Despite this, in 1993 the police were given authority to perform these tests and up to the end of 1997 39.000 blood and urine tests have been taken. During the 1980's special laws were passed in Sweden allowing forced treatment for adult abusers. Such treatment has never been shown to have any positive effect on drug abuse. On the other hand Sweden is relatively unique from an European perspective in having such laws. Imprisonments for narcotics related offences have tripled since the late '70s. The long prison sentences together with application harder narcotics laws has contributed to the worsened situation in prisons. The number of drug related deaths are high seen from an European perspective. This is particularly notable as the higher mortality rates are mainly found amongst heroin addicts and this group is limited in Sweden compared with other countries. The high and rising death toll should be considered alongside the official Swedish claim of a successful narcotics policy. Against this background the question must be asked if the Swedish restrictive narcotics policy, by neglecting harm reduction, is not actually contributing to the high death toll. Despite this control policy, Sweden has not become "drug free". Quite the opposite, developments during the 1990's point in the other direction, at least in regards to occasional drug use. But what then, are the reactions? Proposals for even more of the same medicine. Telephone tapping has been introduced and used previously mainly in regards to narcotics related crime. Now proposals for the use of bugging are foremost in the investigative process. Once again narcotics legitimise the introduction of "unorthodox measures". The thousands of blood and urine tests taken by the police to prevent narcotics use are not considered enough. Organisations and employers now demand compulsory tests in schools and workplaces. The police want the power to give drug users emetics in order to prove narcotics crimes. And the countries largest opposition party now demands life imprisonment for serious drug crimes. To these existing and planned control costs should be added the direction the policy debate is taking. Swedes cause friction with their European neighbours by conceitedly marketing the superiority of their narcotics policy while at the same time avoiding listening to the experiences of other countries. EU parliamentarians from other countries who propose decriminalisation of cannabis are described as narcotics Mafia in Sweden's largest evening paper. Legal heroin and clean needle distribution programmes that could reduce the suffering of addicts are dismissed from the debate by pointing out that "society has to underline its rejection of drugs". Young people are alienated from adult society when the rave culture is defined as a narcotics problem that the police have to solve with top priority. And the Prime Minister's adviser in criminal and drug political questions, member of parliament Widar Andersson can, without any politic criticism say: "The freedom of speech should be limited for those who overtly or covertly spread drug propaganda". The slogan "a drug free society" is a fundamentalist slogan. It is an expression that means we have to eliminate something whatever the price. The demand for a drug free Sweden becomes the demand for a drug user free Sweden. Every addict becomes one addict too many and the costs to achieve this goal never become too high.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Drug Wars and the Open or Closed Society (A translation of an article by Leif Lenke, a doctor of criminology at the University of Stockholm, in Oberoende, the official magazine for the Swedish National Organization For Help to Narcotics and Drug Addicts, criticizes Sweden's unsuccessful war on some drug users as the vehicle for bringing about a repressive, close-minded society where an open and honest discussion is impossible.) Date: Wed, 27 May 1998 16:50:01 -0800 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: Sweden: Drug Wars and the Open or Closed Society Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Newshawk: Jan G. Quarfordt (email@example.com) Pubdate: May 1998 Source: Oberoende (Sweden) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.rfhl.se Translation: John Yates (email@example.com) Author: Leif Lenke, Doctor of Criminology at the University of Stockholm. Note: The "Oberoende" is the official magazine for RFHL (National Organization for Help to Narcotics and Drug Addicts). DRUG WARS AND THE OPEN OR CLOSED SOCIETY In 1984 Nils Christie and Kettil Bruun published the book "The Good Enemy". In it they describe how a powerless group of drug addicts were singled out as enemies by a society in need of scapegoats. The war on drugs and drug users was presented as a ritual and collective purification process in which society drove out evil symbolised by drug addicts. Fourteen years later the war continues with unabated enthusiasm, although, judging from available statistics, without any success. The authors, Christie and Bruun, limit themselves in their description of the drug war to drug users, but they are not the only ones who have been defined as enemies. The other enemies are dissenters in the drug-political debate. They seem to constitute nearly as great a threat to society as the actual drug addicts. Dissenters are regarded as traitors to the well being of the nation, sometimes they are decried as advocates of the devil. In war, descriptions of the enemy must be simplified and derogatory so that hate and the will to fight can be mobilised. There is no room for nuances, everything is either black or white, good or evil. Drug addicts are described as "drug fixated crime machines" while dissenters are maligned as "drug liberals" or "the apologists of legalisation". In the political debate surrounding Swedish narcotics policy the war is ever present: "Are you for or against the Swedish model? Are you with us or against us? Are you friend or enemy?" Politically Correct A body of politically correct perceptions has developed around drug questions. The politically correct perception is built upon a moral order where narcotics are singled out as the evil drugs and where the lifestyle of drug users is seen as a threat to conventional society. From a scientific perspective we can see that cigarettes and alcohol are a much greater threat to health than narcotics. However, the politically correct position is not built upon knowledge and rational argument, but upon morality and dogma. There are many risks involved in not identifying with the politically correct position in narcotics policy. For politicians it means reduced credibility and less votes. Civil servants in national and local government risk losing their jobs or seeing their careers go down the drain if they express ideas contrary to the official policy. In the same way the careers and subsidies of researchers are threatened if they publish reports or articles that contain criticism of the politically correct position. Vaccination Campaign The authorities often speak of the importance of "vaccinating" young people and parents against drug misuse. According to available statistics, this vaccination has not been particularly successful, at least not in the way that was intended. The vaccination campaign has however "succeeded" in another area. It has got politicians and officials to think nearly identically in a very complicated and composite question. In the name of the drug war, the controlled society has been imprinted into its citizens and made them resistant to their own freedom of thought. This resistance can result in an unwillingness to know of other models than the self proclaimed successful Swedish model of limiting abuse and treating addicts. Is the drug wars threat to freedom of thought and expression a sign that we are distancing ourselves from what Carl Popper called the open society? In the open society it is permitted to publicly propose and to criticize proposals for solutions to social problems. Open and critical discussion then lays the ground for the implementation of reforms. Open and critical discussion is also necessary for citizens to control authority. But in order for public discussions to take place, says Popper, there must be institutions that guarantee freedom of thought, speech and demonstration as well as there being a certain level of education. The Closed Society What happens to democracy and open and critical discussion when researchers, politicians and officials are silenced? According to the newspaper Kommun-Aktuellt, civil servants dare not criticize their employers or side with the 'wrong' opinions. They are scared of losing their jobs. Is the drug war an indication that we are moving towards a more closed society where there is no room for doubt or critical opinion? The closed society is characterised by a magical and irrational clinging to traditions and habits instead of a rationally guided and critical questioning. But Popper warns us that the more we try to suppress rationality and truth and instead strive for the ideals of the closed society, all the easier it is to create inquisitions and secret police. In this context it can be mentioned that Sweden's own 'Drug Czar', Widar Andersson, has written a document together with K-A Westerberg where he says that "Limits should be placed on the freedom of speech of those who covertly or overtly spread drug propaganda". But who is it in the end who profits from the suppression of open and free discussion of narcotics questions? One thing is sure, it doesn't favour the clients. In sociology it is said that the old political opposites of left and right, capitalism and communism have been dissolved and that we need new opposites and areas of contention if history is not to end. The open or closed society where pluralism is opposed to fundamentalism is such a new pair of opposites. The German sociologist Sebastian Scheerer wonders if not the drug war is the cultural arena for that developing conflict. So at a basic level the drug war is about what sort of society we are to have - a pluralistic and open society or a fundamentalist and closed.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Closing Ranks, the Lost Opportunity of UNGASS (A translation of an article in Italy's Narcomafie about the United Nations General Assembly Special Session June 8-10 in New York, dedicated to promoting the world war on some drug users, says a commercial will soon appear on televisions around the world in an attempt to rally public support.) Date: Wed, 03 Jun 1998 00:58:16 -0400 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (MAPNews) Subject: MN: GE Italy: Closing Ranks, The Lost Opportunity Of Ungass Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Newshawk: Martin Jelsma Pubdate: May 1998 Source: Narcomafie - N. 5, Anno VI (Torino, Italy) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.arpnet.it/abele Author: Martin Jelsma Note: Published in Italian under title: "Serrare i ranghi!" CLOSING RANKS: THE LOST OPPORTUNITY OF UNGASS An elderly cleaning lady enters the huge empty UN aula in New York with her polishing cart, to get the venue spic-and-span for an important upcoming meeting. A voice in the background explains: `here, in this room, on the 8, 9 and 10 of June world leaders will join forces to confront the drug problem.' As the lady dusts off a globe, in the swaying movement, a roaring helicopter appears spraying herbicides, followed by a fast sequence of other images like burning drug crops, heavily armed soldiers and a farmer processing coffee. The voice ends with the slogan: "A drug free world - We can do it!" The commercial will soon appear on national television around the world in an attempt to rally public support for the "United Nations General Assembly Special Session to Counter the World Drug Problem Together". Advertising agencies are experts in capturing in a nutshell the content of a message, and the commercial makes perfectly clear what the UNDCP (United Nations International Drug Control Programme) hopes will be the outcome of UNGASS. In 60 seconds the proclaimed "balanced approach" is rapidly turned into what it really comes down to: a global attempt to close ranks in support of a "war on drugs". Although UN agencies usually carefully avoid using controversial military metaphors in articulating their anti-drug strategies, Mr Pino Arlacchi, UNDCP's Executive Director, didn't hesitate to invoke the image at a press conference in Vienna at the end of a week of preparatory meetings for UNGASS. "The `war on drugs' has not been fought and lost," he said. "It has never started." BACKGROUND The original impetus for convening a global meeting on drugs came from Mexico back in 1993, when she proposed to hold a real Summit on the issue. The idea was to facilitate a world-wide reflection on the efficiency and viability of anti-drug strategies over the past decade, in order to improve and adapt them with a view to strategies for the next century. After many deliberations and conflicts, the initial idea has since been narrowed down to a Special Session on the issue. The focus is on how to strengthen and expand current drug control policies ten years after the adoption of the 1988 UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. In November 1996, the General Assembly formally decided to convene a special session, which should "be devoted to assessing the existing situation within the framework of a comprehensive and balanced approach that includes all aspects of the problem, with a view to strengthening international cooperation to address the problem of illicit drugs". It assigned the task of preparing the session to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, with its seat in Vienna, Austria. Acting as preparatory body for UNGASS, the commission met five times over the past year. A battle that was more or less lost at the very first `PrepCom' meeting (March 1997) centred on the proposal to have an "independent evaluation" of the efficiency of existing conventions. The idea was to commission independent experts to conduct such a study and prepare a document on the basis of which 'new strategies' could be proposed for the next century. The US, Great Britain and some others objected to an "independent" evaluation, with the result that the recently installed committee consists of the full chairing bureau of the PrepCom itself, plus some national delegates. "The main aim of their work will be to recommend how to strengthen future international cooperation against illicit drugs, and to identify measures aimed at reinforcing UNDCP's activities in the field of drug control." Independant evaluation is nowhere to be found. UNDCP Executive Director Arlacchi urged member states to send government leaders to attend the Special Session in New York. Many heads of state and ministers will be included in the national delegations, politicizing the debates. In the case of the drugs issue, this is generally a disadvantage. There is a growing gap between the drug experts on the one hand, where many of the deficiencies of the applied strategies are recognised, and the political level on the other hand, where fear of looking "soft on drugs" is paralyzing genuine reflection. Amongst politicians it seems to be conventional wisdom that the reason force has not worked, is that not enough has been applied and that the logical response, therefore, is escalation _ not re-evaluation. Absentees in UNGASS are the people most directly affected by drug policy: citizens of developing countries in which drugs production is taking place, and drugs consumers. In spite of numerous declarations of good intentions about the importance of including civil society in this global debate, direct non-governmental participation in the official meeting will be close to zero. However, some facilities will be available for parallel NGO activities. Many organisations are already planning to air critical views inside and outside the UN venue. AGENDA SETTING When the agenda-setting for UNGASS started, several delegations stressed that the upcoming global event should mark the end of the "era of finger-pointing" in the international drug policy controversies. The old dichotomy between producer and consumer countries should give way to the principle of 'shared responsibility' as the cornerstone of international drug control. The agenda, therefore, should reflect a balanced approach which includes all aspects of the drugs problem, and should focus on those points which have been underexposed in the existing conventions.The agenda is now clearly defined and does indeed reflect criticism emanating from developing countries over the past decade. Several issues currently emphasise the responsibility of the western world: demand reduction, chemical precursors, amphetamines, and money laundering. The PrepCom approved the following documents for the General Assembly in June: 1) a Political Declaration, to reaffirm and strengthen the international community's commitment to the slogan "A Drug Free World - We can do it!". 2) a document outlining the 'Guiding Principles on Drug Demand Reduction'. It will constitute "the very first international agreement whose sole objective is to examine the problems, both individually and collectively, that arise because a person might or does abuse drugs." 3) an 'Action Plan against Manufacture, Trafficking and Abuse of Amphetamine-type stimulants' (like XTC and speed); 4) `Control of Precursors', containing measures to improve international control of chemicals used in illegal drugs manufacture; 5) `Measures to promote international judicial cooperation', like extradition, mutual legal assistance, transfer of proceedings, etc.; 6) `Countering Money-Laundering', a document that reaffirms international commitment to the 1988 Convention provisions on proceeds of crime, and establishes principles upon which further anti-money laundering measures should be based; 7) a `Draft Action Plan on International Cooperation on Eradication of Illicit Drug Crops and on Alternative Development.' SCOPE Under the item `Eradication and Alternative Development', the UNDCP is trying to squeeze into the UNGASS agenda, its already highly controversial `Strategy for Coca and Opium Poppy Elimination' (SCOPE). SCOPE calls for a "balanced approach" between law enforcement, alternative development and demand reduction, to rid the world of "the scourge of heroin and cocaine" within 10 year. By the year 2008 the UNDCP wants to have rooted out the problem at source - crop production. Alternative development is intended to receive the bulk of the nearly US$ 4 billion budget: 74%. Law enforcement is alloted 20% and demand reduction 2%. The UNDCP itself doesn't have innate funds, so it has appealed to the international community to commit itself to SCOPE to provide the necessary funding. The strategy focuses on eight key countries in three regions: Bolivia, Colombia and Peru in Latin America; the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar (or Burma as the surpressed democratic opposition prefers to call their nation) and Vietnam in south-east Asia; and Afghanistan and Pakistan in south-west Asia. The supply of illicit opiates and coca derivatives today originates in these "limited number of well-defined geographical areas", according to the UNDCP in summing up the favourable factors for this ambitious programme. Secondly, says the agency, "after three decades of experience, the international community is now equipped with tested methodologies and the know-how to tackle the problem in the producing areas. The strengthening of the drug control mechanisms in the regions concerned has paved the way for full-scale interventions and most producing countries have adopted well-defined national strategies and action plans that are ready for implementation." "At the same time," continues the plan's summary, "it is possible to monitor the areas at risk in order to prevent the `balloon effect' from nullifying the overall impact of elimination programmes." The "balloon effect" is the movement of cultivation to previously untouched areas as a result of increased enforcement in presently cultivated zones (while you squeeze one part of a balloon, the air simply moves to another part without reducing the total amount of air). The last favourable factor cited is the expression of a "clear political will and the adoption of a common agenda on the part of the international community". The Special Session "offers a historic opportunity for all positive forces to converge", according to the UNDCP. FUELING THE FIRE The UNDCP's attempt to convince the PrepCom to recommend that the Special Session endorse SCOPE didn't quite succeed. Delegations felt overwhelmed by the detailed elaboration of SCOPE, received shortly before the final PrepCom on 16-21 March. The Dutch delegation diplomatically called for "feasible goals" both "in substance and target dates" and added that "quantative benchmarks should not be an end in itself". Mexico sarcastically said it expected an equally detailed plan from the US to illustrate their intention to fully eliminate drug consumption over the same 10-year period, and proposed 2003 as target date for substantial demand eradication. Executive Director Arlacchi not only has to face scepticism from the delegates, but within the UNDCP he is considered a recently appointed outsider who overruled critical assesments of SCOPE by the agency's specialists. In Vienna corridors, he is nicknamed "El Ni=F1o", a kind of human equivalent of the meteorologic phenomenon which creates havoc world-wide. But UN Secretary General Annan says that the "renowned Italian crime fighter" has brought vitality and credibility to the UNDCP in its fight against drugs. Observers comment that the Executive Director has "considerable political support", which is clearly true from the US side. Arlacchi played an important and brave role in fighting the Mafia in Italy, but coca bush and opium poppy is something else, and the small peasants involved in its cultivation are no criminals. In his noble drive to deny organized crime an important source of income, he is also irresponsibly putting the onus for the problem on the shoulders of the relatively innocent growers of the raw material _ those who depend on these crops to survive _ who risk losing their livelihoods as the fight escalates. Although several PrepCom draft declarations call for respect for human rights, saving the environment, and active participation by local groups in the planning of alternative development projects, most peasants have had very negative experiences with drug control programs over the past decade, precisely with these issues. With SCOPE, Arlacchi risks fueling the fire of already heated social tensions in drug crop areas around the world. SCOPE relies heavily on partly existing national plans for its operationalisation, while intending to provide an integrated global framework and a multilateral legitimacy. Colombia serves as a good example to illustrate what the consequences in practice might be. COLOMBIA Currently, operations in Colombia to suppress illicit crop production consist primarily of chemical fumigation. Last year, 48.000 hectares of coca and poppy crop were eliminated through the aerial spraying of herbicides. Satellite monitoring shows, however, that the total area under drug-crop cultivation expanded 10 percent. The fields were simply moved to other areas - the `balloon' effect. These fields will be sprayed again next year -with a stronger granual herbicide- and cultivation (which in itself is not particularly friendly to the ecosystem) will again move to other regions. A vicious circle, leading to more and more health complaints among the local population and contaminating ever-increasing areas, is set in motion. There is grave concern about the long-term effects of the massive spreading of these chemicals in the vulnerable ecosystem of the Colombian Amazon tropical rainforest, where coca cultivation is concentrated. The Guaviare and other coca growing regions of Colombia were the scene of widespread social protest in 1996. An estimated 241,000 people participated in massive marches and roadblocks -one of the largest peasant mobilizations in Colombian history-to protest aerial eradication, lack of government support for economic development and the increasing presence of the Colombian military. In the violence that ensued, twelve people fell victim to extrajudicial executions and seven disappeared. A number of protest leaders subsequently received death threats and seven were later murdered. The UNDCP - for now - does not directly support fumigation projects in Colombia or elsewhere. The financial support and technical assistance (helicopters and training) is provided by the United States. The agency does support alternative development though, which, jointly with the forced eradication programmes, shape the counter-narcotics strategy of Colombia - the PLANTE (Plan Nacional de Desarrollo Alternativo) presidential programme. The counter-strategy of the Colombian government, says SCOPE in describing the future country plan to eliminate illicit cultivation, "is based on two distinct, but complementary courses of action: the carrot and the stick". This complementarity principle also underlies Arlacchi's plan, according to which alternative development gains in effectiveness when it is backed by "consistently applied disincentives through law enforcement and eradication". "As the plan progresses, the importance of eradication will grow," notes SCOPE, both to stop cultivation attempts in new areas and resurgence in areas where alternative development has been implemented. To complement "tedious manual eradication", SCOPE includes a research and development plan for "environmentally safe" herbicidal chemicals and biological control agents. Uzbekistan is to be the site of the first experiment with a pathogenic fungus which kills the opium poppy, an agent that "should be safe, suitable and available for all poppy growing areas, especially in Central Asia." CONCLUSION Inherent in SCOPE's underlying logic lies a risk of increased repression, in spite of its proclaimed emphasis on alternative development methods. The complementarity principle combined with a deadline make escalation almost inevitable upon the year 2008 drawing closer. Without a very careful tuning into realistic estimations of results of prevention and demand reduction strategies, any strategies aimed at `elimination' of supply are unrealistic and may well be even undesirable. Such perilous illusions, encapsulated in the UNGASS slogan "A drug free world - We can do it!", might win broad and high-level political affirmation in New York, if critical voices have not been heard and delegations do not have the political courage to question them publicly. So far, UNGASS seems to offer very little hope to -and in fact is likely to heighten concerns for-the main victims the international community should be worrying about: the problematic user groups and the peasants caught up in the illegal economy. The world is likely to lose an historical opportunity with this UNGASS, which should have been devoted to evaluating the past decade and learn from its many failures, to analyse the colateral damage wreaked by the war on drugs, and to put on the table alternative strategies more consistent with the laudable original goals of defending human well-being and pursuing policies which protect people rather than cause more harm. The manifesto `for a just and effective policy on drugs' around which many organisations worldwide are uniting, lays out the basic principles for such an alternative strategy. Martin Jelsma Transnational Institute (TNI - Amsterdam) more information on UNGASS can be found on TNI's website: http://www.worldcom.nl/tni/drugs -------------------------------------------------------------------
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