Live Report: Roadmaps to Regulation: Coca, Cocaine and Derivatives

Central America Map

March 14, 2016

Amanda Feilding, Beckley Foundation | In 2012, I was invited to advise President Otto Pérez Molina. Surprising that there is very little research on the legal regulation of the end product at the heart of such devastation, cocaine. I expected the report would do for coca, cocaine and its derivatives what Cannabis Policy: Moving Beyond Stalemate did for cannabis.

Dave Bewley Taylor, GDPO | Working on a historical overview of coca an cocaine in the Conventions. Five key themes that were important in the control of coca, cocaine and derivatives:

Path dependency: important to evaluate how they got into the system. important role played by the US. If we see the title of the ‘foundation treaties’ pre-UN, we observe that opium was the main aim. Some historians think the inclusion of coca and cocaine was an attempt by UK to deflect attention from India. A revisionist view thinks coca and cocaine were worrying the British colonies.

Once the new Conventions were created, the substances were just carried forward into them.

Unintended consequences: in the pre-UN era there was little international control. Non problematic market because no incentives to control a black market.

Disregard for evidence and censorship: The evidence based on coca was weak, and when its benigness was asssessed, the evidence was ignored.

TNI has demonstrated how the control of coca was arbitrary and impregnated by racist connotations.

The censorship around the WHO Coca project in 1994 also shows the constant censorhip of evidence.

Inconsistency and ambiguities within the system: For poppy, the plant is not actually controlled per se. Coca, on the contrary, is expected to disappear by the Conventions.

System challenges: the example of Bolivia is an example – withdrawal with reaccession. The possibility of inter se treatments or the approval of low-cocaine products are also suggested by some as a form of harm reduction.

Thomas Grisaffi, UCL | Negative consequences of forced eradication and aerial spraying. Conflict due to farmers depending on coca. Eradication does not disrupt the coca/cocaine markets.

Bolivia came up with the cato approach. ‘Coca Sí, Coca No’. Three pillars: legalised coca cultivation within limits; self-policing (farmers organisations control the limits); industrialisation.

Farmers usually live in areas with low levels of infrastructure.

How is it operationalised? 1) Social control manage to keep a cap on coca (they understand that limiting quantities keeps prices up; and they also realise that if the policy fails, repression comes back). 2) Development. Socioeconomic support to experiment new crops without abandoning coca.

Bolivia’s coca production has reduced ever since.

Gabriele Fischer, Medical University Vienna | A minority of users develop dependency and show poly-drug use. It takes a long time until we see a dependency. Extended use are related to significant cardiovascular, neurological and other negative consequences. Importance of vasoconstrictive effect of cocaine for its negative health consequences. Policy should target particularly at-risk populations (women users, sex workers, people with a history of mental health); it would save money and reduce the burden of disease.

Carla Rossi | In order to think about policy, it is necessary to take into account the market and patterns of consumption. ‘As long as there’s a demand of an illicit drug, the distribution will take place through cocaine’. The cocaine market in Italy and great part of Europe is organised by the N’Dranghetta. EMCDDA about to release a report recognising that illicit drugs are associated to profits that encourage the emergence of criminal organisations who want to reap the benefits of the illicit market. Very visible impact on violence and corruption. We all know what will keep happening if we keep implementing the same strategy. Cocaine prevalence might have declined slightly in North America but it’s increasing in the rest of the world.

Q&A |

Profits from cocaine? In Italy, Carla Rossi estimates, from €12 to €17 billion for the cocaine market.

Steve Rolles – Blueprint for Regulation: Need for a harm reduction response. Important to observe the NPS regulation model in New Zealand.

S. Rolles: Inter se treaty? Never been used before for drug policy but there are precedents.

This live report originally appeared on the Official CND Blog.