Impressions from the Encod delegation at the UN CND in Vienna
16 march 2012
Vienna UN event was a fascinating lesson of the International Drug Policy real politics and an understanding of the dynamics of power of the “war on Drugs”, our relative strength (or weakness) and current positions among NGO’s and world’s governments on drug issues.
First I wish to thank our Austrian friends who helped organise the demonstration (small but important), and the Press conference, to the Rototom folks who helped with the music truck, the Italian delegation who showed up in force and to all those who helped in the event.
The time in Vienna was excellent opportunity to finally meet ENCOD’s steering committee co-members and have the opportunity to strategize with them on tactics and strategies related to our issues. Farid, Fredrick and Enrico, Frantik – thanks and love to your direction.
I will not go into too many details but the impression from within is that there are ways (albeit difficult) to influence drug policy after you learn the power structures and the interaction between the players.
Most work should be directed to national level representatives who have the power to suggest changes and amendments on specific issues to drug resolutions. For example – the Israeli delegation, in collaboration with the Czech Republic (the EU sponsor) offered a resolution (that was adopted) to reduce overdose related deaths among heroine/opiate IVDU with Nalaxone. Nalaxone is an opiate antagonist that brings addicts out of OD (if used in the right time) by blocking the opiate receptors and antagonising the analgesic effect of the opiates. It can be injected by a friend and it should be distributed not just to hospitals and emergency crews but also to addicts who usually hang out in small groups.
We were able to directly challenge the top people of the CND (council of Narcotic Drugs) and UNODC (UN office of Drug Control).
In the “dialogue with NGO’s” the Spanish chair-women Carmen Buyan Friere was asked by me something like this “When you talk about collaboration with NGO’s you must expect that there are plurality of opinions among the NGO’s. We ask therefore to include the minority opinion in all papers involving NGO’s in order to reflect plurality of opinions on the issue of drug policy and avoid the dictatorship of majority of opinion”. She was a bit positive and said they will consider it – I am not sure if they will incorporate the change but we put it on the table.
We also were able to ask the Russian chairman of the UNODC the following question:
“in UNODC’s discussion paper from January 2011 titled “Ensuring availability of controlled medications for the relief of pain and preventing diversion and abuse” its written on the severe lack of availability of controlled medications for pain (opiate based). Few rich countries consume the vast majority of opiate based medications and 50 million people a year have no access to any type of pain medication.
Therefore I suggested to him that medical cannabis could be used as a pain medication for cancer and other types pain”. The chairman said that the UN conventions allow the for the medical use of scheduled drugs but must maintain a balance to prevent diversion.
In order to make medical cannabis available for those who cannot access opiate based medications on a global scale, WHO should recognise the medical use/value of Cannabis plant (not just single or multiple cannabinoids). For WHO to study the issue, a country or a few countries, signatories to UN drug conventions, should send a request to WHO to do so.
After a study by WHO, they would recommend CND to adopt measures to allow access to medical cannabis under controlled programs, as currently being implemented in a number of countries.
I have approached already officials in the Israeli Medical cannabis program for Israel to lead the way and request WHO to submit a request for study in order to start an international dynamics to resolve this great misery of many poor people around the world. I do hope they will cooperate in this important, life saving issue.