The book “is based on solid research and it is argued in an imaginative yet realistic fashion…. We need to change our way of thinking and acting on this matter. New policies must be based on empirical data, not on ideological assumptions and dogmas.”
Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former President of Brazil.

 

Cannabis Policy: Moving Beyond Stalemate clearly shows that prohibitionist policies not only fail to meet their objectives but have inflicted significant social harms in the process.

Criminalisation has not acted as a deterrent, whereas with a regulated market the product could be labelled for strength and chemical composition, thereby making it safer. Government could also control and tax its sale which would provide extra funding for education and treatment.” Amanda Feilding, Director of the Beckley Foundation.

 

“It is time for governments around the world to readdress cannabis policy and consider trying approaches that build on growing evidence that criminalisation of use is a minor deterrent and that it is necessary to develop responsible ways of managing supply rather than creating large illegal markets.” Peter Reuter, Professor of public policy and one of the book’s five co-authors. 

 

“The report of the Global Cannabis Commission convened by the Beckley Foundation is a valuable contribution to our thinking on the thorny subject of illicit drugs. It is based on solid research and it is argued in an imaginative and yet realistic fashion. The failure of the ‘War on Drugs’ strategy is quite evident around the world, but the alternatives are not easy to grasp. A paradoxical condition prevails, where prohibitionist laws coexist with a growing diversity of real life alternative practices.

“In Latin America, […], we can no longer afford to look the other way. The human and the institutional costs are too high. We need to change our way of thinking and acting on this matter. New policies must be based on empirical data, not on ideological assumptions and dogmas. The notion of focusing on cannabis, as proposed by the Beckley Commission, is a key contribution to the debate. It points towards more efficient and more humane methods of dealing with this matter.” Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Former President of Brazil.

 

“I agree with the conclusions and recommendations of the Global Cannabis Commission Report. In India, historically and culturally, associations with psycho-active substances have never been a cause of social concern. Because of the nature and self-regulating systems of our society, India has never really needed any externally imposed ‘rules’, or even ‘management’ of its production, consumption or ceremonial and ecclesiastical intake. Such activities, never ‘hidden’, were and are accepted as cultural norms, restricted only by society’s restraints. Consequently, cannabis, opium and similar natural products remained free of any ‘underground’ dealings – until, that is, ‘control and commerce’ arrived.

It was the British East India Company that first made opium a commercial commodity, leading to the Opium wars with China of 1839 and 1856. Legislation inevitably followed, but this marginal legislation, as introduced by the British, had no impact for instance on Rajputana, which continued to live by its own ancient social and cultural mores. We still do.

After independence in 1947, as part of its ‘modernization process’, India adopted the Western or US method of drug control, signing the Single Convention of 1961, and enacting the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1964 which, ignoring the cultural specificity and plurality of the Indian situation, committed India to eradicate ‘all cultural usage’ of cannabis within a 25-year time span.  Cannabis (which, in India can grow anywhere) and opium products were made illegal.  Sadly, we in India had not even publicly debated this important legislation, nor had we researched it well enough before adoption. This legislation has changed the nature of our drug trade. Traditional farmers were replaced as suppliers by criminal networks. The sale of cannabis and opium became as risky as selling modern psychotropic drugs, so the emphasis shifted to selling ‘chemicalised’ hard drugs with higher profit margins. This became a permanent shift.

Politically unsettled conditions in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and many parts of India has seen the involvement of several militant groups in the drug trade.

Fortunately, rural India still stands largely unscathed, and India’s cultural norms remain. But for how long will this constructive, culturally organic solidarity last in our rural hinterland? I have no answer to this troubling thought and question.”  Jaswant Singh, Leader of the Opposition in the Upper House, India

 

“During my 45 years of service in the police, from sergeant to Chief Constable of The Hague, and chairman of the EU-Police-Chiefs, I have been a privileged witness of the war on drugs. I saw in the 1960s the decline and fall of the post-war approach of authoritative maintenance of public order. I saw how the older generations wrestled with the completely different attitude of the baby-boomers in the 1960s and 1970s. The consumption of stimulants became more and more widespread, with negative effects for the addicts themselves, and for their relations with society.

I was pleased by the introduction of the more realistic, sensible approach of regulating the availability of cannabis for consumers, and the harm-reduction programmes for users of other stimulants, such as methadone programmes, needle exchange, user rooms, etc.  The majority of my colleagues in the police were also in favour of the new policies, even if it was not always easy to cope with the conflicting interests of drug-users and law-abiding citizens. But in the end, the policy worked to the advantage of both the individuals and society. I am astonished by the ongoing world-wide pressure, from the early 1980s to the present day, to continue and to intensify the war on drugs, instead of turning to a system of regulation and control. Huge investments in eradication and crop-substitution (as in Columbia and Afghanistan), huge investments in enforcement, in investigative powers and manpower and criminalisation of users have had little effect on drug production and consumption.

But now it is time for change! The Beckley Foundation has had the stamina and endurance to bring about the Global Cannabis Commission Report, Moving Beyond Stalemate. The outstanding scientists who composed this report point the way ahead – to a world that is not taken hostage by a misconception of human behaviour towards stimulants, and a world that is not terrorised by organised criminals whose only interest lies in expanding the war on drugs, because it is the real source of their profit. The time for change has come.” Jan Wiarda Former Chairman of European Police Chiefs.

 

 

The Cannabis Commission in the Media

A glowing review of the Beckley Foundation’s book “Cannabis Policy: Moving Beyond Stalemate” has been published in POP News (here), the newsletter for the Canadian Institute of Population and Public Health, one of 13 Institutues that comprise the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The review was written by Dr Brian P Emerson.

Mexico Legalizes Drug Possession
The New York Times, August 21, 2009.

Lessons from the Dutch
by Prof. Peter Reuter in Room for debate blogs, The New York Times, July 2009.

City trying to ‘hash out’ pot issue
Denmark.dk – the official website of Denmark. Republished by the Transnational Institute.
7th July 2009.

“Beckley Foundation issues Global Cannabis Commission Report”
by Amanda Feilding and Jonathan Hazell, WestCoastLeaf, Summer Issue 2009.

Drug Policy in the Americas: At last a Debate
The Economist – 25th June 2009.

The drugs do work, for a lot of people
by Claudia Rubin head of policy and communications for drugs charity ReleaseThe Guardian, 4th May 2009.

Marijuana and cocaine should be legalised, says Latin American Drugs Commission
by Duncan Campbell, The Guardian, 28th May 2009.

Comment: Get real, drug czars
by Robin Room, The New Scientist; 20th May 2009.

Tripping Over Red Tape
by Katrina Megget, Chemistry World; May 2009.

The Challenges in Developing a Rational Cannabis Policy
by Wayne Hall and Michael Lynskey, Current Opinion in Psychiatry, May 2009.

The War on Pot Is an Abject Failure … Now’s the Time for a New Approach
by Jag Davies, AlterNet, April 2009.

“Cannabis Laws Cause Harm”
Sky News, March 2009.

“Beckley Cannabis Commission Side Event to UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs 2009”
Presentation by Amanda Feilding, Lady Neidpath and Profs. Robin Room and Peter Reuter, reporting live from the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, March 2009.

La ONU revisa la eficacia de la guerra contra las drogas
Interview with Amanda Feilding by Fernando Peinado, El Pais, Madrid, March 2009.

Drogas: Diferentes Estrategias
Redaccion BBC Mundo, March 2009.

How to stop the drug wars
The Economist, March 2009.

The Global Drug Charade
by Mike Trace, The Guardian, March 2009.

Decriminalise?”
Semana International, February 2009. Former Latin American presidents Cardoso, Gaviria and Zedillo told the United States what it didn’t want to hear: that their fight against drugs has failed and that it’s time to seek another approach.

“The Big Question: Is it time the world forgot about cannabis in its war against drugs?”
by Michael McCarthy, The Independent, October 2008.

“Sense on Drugs”
by Jeremy Sare, The Statesman, February 2009.

“Cannabis & Crime”
Letter to the Editor by Amanda Neidpath, New Scientist Magazine, February 2009.

“Radical Alternatives Proposed for Cannabis Controls”
by Andy Coghlan, New Scientist Magazine, December 2008.

“Beyond experimentation”
by Duncan Campbell, The Guardian, October 2008.

“Report Urges Regulated Market for Cannabis to Replace Prohibition”
by Duncan Campbell, The Guardian, October 2008.

“Dagga less harmful than alcohol or tobacco”
Cape Times, October 2008.

“Se la Scienza boccia il Proibizionismo”
by Grazia Zuffa, Fuori Luogo, October 2008.

‘Un estudio dice que el cannabis es menos daino que el alcohol y el tabaco”
by Walter Oppenheimer, El Pais, Spain, October 2008.

“Alcohol, Smoking Worse than Pot: Report”
Yahoo 7 News, Australia, October 2008

“Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol”
Sky News, October 2008

Radio Interviews

Radio New Zealand Interview Jeremy Sare is a Cannabis reform expert and former head of Drug Legislation and Classification at the Home Office in the UK and is a consultant of the Beckley Foundation. February 2009.

Drug Truth Network, Dean Becker, October 2008

City Talk – Duncan Barkes, October 2008

NEAR90fm, Community Radio for Northeast Dublin, Michael Fitzgerald, November 2008

Northside Tonight – Amanda Feilding of the Beckley Foundation tells Michael Fitzgerald about the purpose and the objectives of the Global Cannabis Commission.
Near 90 FM, Dublin, April 2009.

Cultural Baggage Radio Show, Lady Neidpath, Amanda Fielding, director of the Beckley Foundation on drug research in the UK, is interviewed at the UN drug conference in Vienna by Michael Krawitz.