News from WFAD

‘Interview with a Partae Girl’ presents a candid and insightful interview with teenager Jenna, who reflects on her own journey with drugs. Jenna started smoking at age 14, and her drug use spiralled out of control over the coming years, with Jenna using increasing amounts of both legal and illegal drugs to cope with life.

Partae - Interview with a party girl
A STUDY GUIDE BY FIONA HALL
On December 3, WFAD arranged the first regional conference in South Amerika.

Many South American countries are nowadays undergoing suffering and poverty because of problems related to drug production, increased use and trafficking. The Board of WFAD therefore decided that it would be important to have the first WFAD South American Conference in Buenos Aires with the aim to spread methods and knowledge around which interventions that work for a comprehensive drug policy.

A Coordinating Commission was established, headed by WFAD Board member Prof. Mina Seinfeld de Carakushansky, a Brazilian who was the first Special Secretary for the Prevention of Drug Addiction in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Prof. Seinfeld de Carakushansky has also been the International Coordinator of the Program Forging Leadership for Drug Demand Reduction in Latin America. Mina has been keeping frequent and close contact over more than 15 years with many Latin American organizations and individuals working with the same aim: educating families and official authorities regarding the perils to society caused by drug use, building a network of strong ties with many outstanding professionals and institutions of the continent.
Argentina 1

The knowledge generated and spread by some of those professionals and their institutions has made them renown in many countries of the American continent, from North to South. Dr. Juan Alberto Yaria, General Director and Dr. Roberto Baiestrocchi, both from GRADIVA, were the main articulators locally, with the help of some other members of the Commission such as Jose Luis Viale, Diana Gomez and Carlos Peres Ulloa.

The number of participants was limited to 250, among the many others who also desired to participate in this Conference. Two excellent auditoriums were provided, free of cost, by the Barcelo School of Medicine, with all the necessary equipment regarding sound, image, professional translators, and technicians to care for all that, as well as the coffee-breaks.

The event, in one day, Dec. 3, 2014, resulted in a very dense conference, from 8AM to 7PM, where the main speaker was WFAD’s president, Sven-Olov Carlsson, explaining clearly what is the world scene regarding drug issues nowadays and what are the main principles which the WFAD has set for dealing with this very important and urgent subject.

All other speakers were carefully chosen among professionals who are leaders in their specific field of work and are sensitive and strive for a world with no drug use.

Since time was so precious, each speaker had only about 10 minutes to deliver his/her message and main thoughts. With no false modesties, it can be said that those speakers, because of their clear understanding, scientific knowledge and experience in the field, represent la crème de la crème of his/her own field of work. As examples of this statement, can be highlighted names such as “Father Pepe”, a Catholic renown Argentinean priest who is the Head of the Pastoral de Drogas and an advisor to Pope Francisco (who is Argentinean). Padre Pepe works with huge portions of Argentinean youth population who live in the slums. He is an inspiration and an example of spiritual effective work. Other speakers included Presidents of Associations (from Medical, Business, Education, etc.)

Also worth of highlighting among all the participants are Congressman Aurelio Elorrio and Maria Rosa Marcone de Pagano, who head the political party in Cordoba called “Encuentro Vecinal” (Neighborhood Encounter) who are organizing many youth seminars to teach the younger generations the risks of drug use and form the leaders of tomorrow. Dr. Jorge Gentile, a Supreme Court Judge, also from Cordoba and the President of Instituto Maritain and a high level lawyer in the field of finances who is determined, together with other leaders, to tackle more seriously and effectively the problem of drug trafficking.

The enthusiasm of working together for a common cause instilled hope and optimism that together we are stronger than by ourselves.
The next day, in a closed coordination meeting with WFAD President, the coordination group decided to aim at having an even bigger event in 2015 and invite more international speakers.
World Federation Against Drugs will participate in a high-level meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina on December 3, 2014. The International President, Sven-Olov Carlson, will be the central figure at the high-level meeting at the Barceló University on drug prevention, treatment and enforcement, leading professionals from Argentina, Brazil and several other South American countries will also participate. 

A round table will open the event where the region's main problems regarding drugs and their possible solutions will be presented. Among the speakers will be Professor Mina Seinfeld de Carakushansky, WFAD Board member and President of BRAHA - Brazilian Humanitarians in Action; Calvina Fay, Executive Director of DFAF - Drug Free America Foundation; Jorge Jaber, President of ABRAD - Brazilian Association on Alcohol and Drugs; Jorge Gentile, renown Argentinean Judge and author; Neuza Amaral, Drug Prevention Secretary of Volta Redonda, Brazil; as well as the local Coordinators of the event including Juan Alberto Yaria, Director of Gradiva and Roberto Baiestrocchi of Barceló University; Claudio and Luis Viale from Mariten Foundation; and Diana Gomez, in addition to many other high representatives from universities, religious, political, social and family associations.

For more information contact WFAD board member This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Thank you Ambassador Shaama.

Distinguished Representatives of the members states,

Colleagues form the NGO sector,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I speak on behalf of San Patrignano, World Federation Against Drugs, European Cities Against Drugs, European Action on Drugs, Drug Policy Futures and Recovered Users Network

We welcome the support of the member states to a meaningful and inclusive participation of the Civil Society in the preparation for the special session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem to be held in 2016.

We congratulate the Chair for the non-paper on the thematic discussions that should be addressed at the UNGASS meeting, and in this regard we would like to highlight the following thematic areas that we believe should be addressed by the member states with special attention:

-          Drug prevention

-          Recovery oriented treatment, including effective social reintegration

-          Enhanced cooperation between the Criminal Justice system and the Health system, Alternative sanctions empowering people to become drug-free, crime-free and integrated members of society

We would like to have the broad spectrum of civil society represented in the discussions we therefore support the creation of the Civil Society Task Force and we look forward to contribute to the Task Force.

In summery we put forward the following principles as an input to the UNGASS preparations:

-          Drug policies should prevent initiation of drug use.

-          Drug policies must respect human rights, for users and non-users alike, as well as the principle of proportionality.

-          Drug policies should strike a balance of efforts to reduce the use of drugs and the supply of drugs.

-          Drug policies should protect children from drug use.

-          Drug policies should ensure access to medical help, treatment and recovery services.

-          Drug policies should ensure access to controlled drugs for legitimate scientific and medical purposes.

-          Drug policies should ensure that medical and judicial responses are coordinated with the goal of reducing drug use and drug-related consequences.

All the above mentioned points are to be considered in full respect of the existing UN drug conventions, which we fully support in their current form.

Thank you for your attention! 
The marijuana legalization tidal wave continues to roll across the United States with many groups advocating for a variety of more permissive marijuana laws. The goal of these policies is the commercialization and regulation of marijuana similar to the models of alcohol and tobacco. The tremendous funding of these political initiatives comes from the pro-drug lobby, made up of groups that seek to legalize all drugs of abuse, beginning with marijuana.

In the November, 2014 election, advocates for marijuana legalization made progress in passing ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana in the states of Alaska and Oregon and in the District of Columbia. These victories were not landslides. It is encouraging that the public in these areas were divided because it means that there remains opposition to marijuana legalization, despite the immense amount of money pouring into states to pass these initiatives.

Over the past decade, the pro-drug lobby has lost far more of these initiatives than it has won but the media picks up only those that succeed, with the implication that these initiatives are easily sweeping the country. The pro-drug lobby is utterly undeterred by its many losses. It returns to each election cycle with more money, better strategies and more target states for the legalization of both “medical” marijuana and recreational marijuana.

The recent creation of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and the tireless work of its remarkably skilled co-founders Kevin Sabet, Ph.D. and former Congressman Patrick Kennedy has provided steady, on-the-ground, national leadership in the resistance to the pro-drug lobby’s campaign of mounting ever more effective counterattacks.

The ensuing disastrous consequences of marijuana legalization in Colorado, while still largely ignored by the media, as well as the similar disaster of “medical” marijuana in states with broadly open access and dispensaries like California and Colorado, have the potential to wake up the sleeping American majority. A new Gallop poll shows that support for marijuana legalization in the US has declined 12 percent from 2013 to 2014. This change provides evidence that marijuana legalization is not inevitable.

A swing away from this disastrous policy may already be underway. We are seeing a backlash to marijuana legalization. In this election, five cities in Colorado banned marijuana dispensaries and the “medical” marijuana initiative in the state of Florida did not pass. I remain optimistic about the eventual outcome of this political struggle for the future of American drug policy.


Robert L. DuPont, M.D.
President, Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc.
Board Member, World Federation Against Drugs
Former Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse (1973-1978)
Former White House Drug Chief (1973-1977)

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World Federation Against Drugs recognizes that the fundamental goal of drug policy is to reduce the nonmedical use of drugs of abuse because nonmedical use of these drugs is harmful, and often fatal, to drug users and for society as a whole. Sound drug policies must be affordable, practical and consistent with contemporary values. The legalization of currently illegal drugs for nonmedical use will increase their use, and thus drug legalization is inconsistent with the public health goal of reducing drug use.

WFAD supports many good new ideas to reduce nonmedical drug use including promotion of effective prevention strategies and using the criminal justice system to promote prevention, treatment and recovery.

The Global Commission on Drug Policy released their latest report with recommendations for drug policy on September 8, 2014. The World Federation Against Drugs, WFAD, welcomes an open and honest debate around drug policy especially in light of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs, UNGASS, that will be held in 2016. WFAD is guided by the 1961, 1971 and 1988 UN drug conventions and the resolution resulting from the UNGASS-meeting of 1998. We believe that the UN conventions provide the necessary platform for international cooperation to reducing non-medical drug use, a major global epidemic with serious public health and public safety consequences.

WFAD also adheres to Article 33 in the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child that states: “ States Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislative, administrative, social and educational measures, to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as defined in the relevant international treaties, and to prevent the use of children in the illicit production and trafficking of such substances.”

In the foreword, the Global Commission on Drugs Policy asks that the political declaration from the UNGASS 2016 not aim at solving the drug problem. The Commission reiterates that the international community needs to come to terms with the reality that easy answers to the drug problem do not exist. WFAD would like to remind the Commission that the preamble of the Single Convention recognizes that “addiction to drugs constitutes a serious evil for the individual and is fraught with social and economic danger to mankind”. Illicit drugs are a threat to the health and welfare of mankind. Recognizing this threat, the global community must work toward the goal of a drug-free world, very much as it works toward the goals of a cancer-free, poverty-free and crime-free world. The ambitious drug-free goal is neither utopian nor impossible. The Commission settles for lesser goals, which inhibit more effective solutions. Big goals produce big and well-targeted efforts. Small goals lead to small increments only.

We must strive for a drug-free world, not because it is easy but because it is hard!

WFAD agrees with the Commission that public health, community safety, human rights and development should be at the center of drug policy. We welcome the emphasis that the Global Commission puts on ensuring access of essential medicines. Too many people live without access to essential medicines and removing obstacles to these medicines should be of priority for the member states.. This is also one of the aims of the drug conventions; therefore WFAD encourages member states to ensure that the conventions fulfill their purpose, to ensure the availability of controlled medicines to the whole world.

WFAD also welcomes the debate around human rights in drug policy. We support the abolition of the death penalty for drug related crimes. [1] Unfortunately the respect for human rights is not universal and violations on human rights should be fought in every case. Treatment should be guided by human dignity, human rights and be evidence-based; an even more important aspect if the treatment is compulsory. The respect for human life and human dignity is highlighted in the three drug conventions, and there is nothing in the drug conventions that stand in contradiction to human rights; they are written to be a complement. We therefore welcome a debate in UNGASS 2016 on how the respect for human rights can better be followed by member states and welcome as an outcome from the meeting the recommendation of proportionality which allows for treatment, education, aftercare, rehabilitation or social integration as an alternative to conviction or punishment from the meeting.

In contrast to the Global Commission on Drugs, WFAD sees no contradiction between the criminal system and the health system. Seeing the future of drug policy as a choice between the criminal justice system and the health system is not only false, it fails to recognize the complementary nature of these two vital systems. Together they can achieve goals that neither can achieve alone.

The Commission suggests that different models of regulation of drugs should be applied to reduce social and health harms and disempower organized crime. The Commission recognizes that use of drugs can be increased if drugs are legalized but claims that the totality of associated social and health harms is likely to decrease. The Commission claims that lessons should be learnt from the experiences with alcohol and tobacco, which they claim are drugs that are produced and transited largely without problem.

Overlooked in the report is the fact that worldwide 3.3 million people die every year due to the harmful effects of alcohol [2] and tobacco kills nearly 6 million people every year[3]. The World Health Organization, WHO, states that tobacco use is responsible for the death of about 1 in 10 adults worldwide. [4] It is estimated that around 500.000 children are working on tobacco plantations around the world, in direct violation of the children’s right to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous, as stated in Article 32 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. [5] Over one quarter of exported cigarettes disappear into the illegal market. [6]

According to WHO, the production of alcohol for export is concentrated to the hands of a few companies mostly based in developed countries. These companies spend heavily on marketing to stimulate demand for alcohol beverages. With the decrease of demand in developed countries they have intensified their marketing towards establishing new markets, for example low-income countries, women and young people who traditionally abstained or consumed very little alcohol. The new markets are recognizing alcohol for its revenue-generating profit but the substantial costs of alcohol-related problems are uncounted. [7] Despite a strict regulation of alcohol and tobacco, as for example in Sweden, most minors have access to alcohol and tobacco. There is no reason to believe that a regulated market for cannabis, heroin and cocaine will be any more successful to limiting these products to adults.

The essential question that must be asked is if the most effective way to reduce the extensive harms of illicit drugs is through legal regulation as suggested by the Commission. The global experience with alcohol and tobacco demonstrates that they are not examples of great success of regulated functioning markets. There is no data to support that a regulated market for cannabis, heroin and cocaine will be any different from alcohol and tobacco. If lessons should be learnt from alcohol and tobacco it is that legalization of drugs will increase supply of drugs, create an extensive black market and that companies will market drugs to minors and within developing countries.

The pathway towards an enlightened drug policy cannot be achieved through legalization of drugs; instead it must harness the criminal justice system to reinforce prevention, thwart drugs markets, and facilitate entry into treatment – while restricting prolonged incarceration to egregious and repeat offenders. The criminal justice system plays an integral role in drug use prevention by protecting public safety, reducing the availability of drugs and discouraging drug use and leveraging people to treatment.

There is much work to be done globally to solve the world drug problem, but if not aiming to solve the problem, there is little evidence that we will come closer to reaching this goal.

To summarize WFAD supports the following principles to serve as a platform for the drug policy debate:

· Drug policies should prevent initiation of drug use.

· Drug policies must respect human rights (for users and non-users alike) as well as the principle of proportionality.

· Drug policies should strike a balance of efforts to reduce the use of drugs and the supply of drugs.

· Drug policies should protect children from drug use.

· Drug policies should ensure access to medical help, treatment and recovery services.

· Drug policies should ensure access to controlled drugs for legitimate scientific and medical purposes.

· Drug policies should ensure that medical and judicial responses are coordinated with the goal of reducing drug use and drug-related consequences. [8]



[1] http://wfad.se/papers/4989-statement-of-the-congress-of-world-federation-against-drugs

[2] http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs349/en/

[3] http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs339/en/

[4] http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs310/en/index2.html

[5] http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx

[6] http://www.who.int/tobacco/communications/events/wntd/2004/tobaccofacts_nations/en/

[7] http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/publications/en/globalstatussummary.pdf

[8] Drug Policy Futures principals can be found in full here: http://drugpolicyfutures.org/about/

World Federation Against Drugs Release in response to The Report of the West African Commission on Drugs urging West African Countries to Decriminalize/Legalize Drugs

A Report titled, “Not Just in transit Drugs, the State and Society in West Africa” prepared by a group of ex-public servants and some Civil Society activists under the auspices of the West African Commission on Drugs (WACD) has been brought to the notice of the World Federation Against Drugs (WFAD).

After perusing the said Report, WFAD wishes to highlight the following facts pertinent to the Report with a view towards putting the intention and objectives of its sponsors and originators in proper perspective.

  1. WACD was established in 2013, soon after some of its principal financiers, the Kofi Annan Foundation and the Open Society Institute had declared their support for the global decriminalization/legalization of drugs. WACD appears to have been set up to champion the quest by its financiers for decriminalization/legalization of drugs. The purported assemblage of ‘experts from across the continents’ to prepare The Report, a Report for which WACD was set up for, clearly has not been above board.
  2. The entirety of The Report is spiced and garnished with carefully selected data and statistics from territories, foreign and distant from the West African sub-region, with little, if any, socio-cultural and geo-political similarities to the sub-region. As such, the relevance of such data and statistics as foundations for a fundamental reversal in drug policies is highly doubtful.
  3. The Report, whilst recognizing the importance of treatment and rehabilitation services and facilities in addressing the drug scourge plaguing any territory, and as a component aspect of the decriminalization/legalization of drugs, fails to acknowledge the near total absence of such services and facilities in the West African sub-region. Any attempts to dabble into decriminalization/legalization of drugs in the absence of well-structured and efficient treatment and rehabilitation programs will certainly spell doom for the sub-region.

    The call for decriminalization/legalization of drugs, as contained in The Report, is in direct conflict with the provisions of various international protocols and conventions on narcotics/drugs. West African States, which are all State parties to these international conventions would, be in breach of their commitments as responsible members of the international community if they were to heed the request for decriminalization/legalization of drugs being championed by WACD.

  4. By not factoring in any measures to protect the millions of children (who constitute well over 50% of the population of West African countries) from the harmful and debilitating effects of drugs, the gist of the Report by WACD encourages non- compliance with Article 33 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in addition to running afoul of the provisions of a multiplicity of international conventions on narcotics and psychotropic substances. Article 33 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child provides: “ States Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislative, administrative, social and educational measures, to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as defined in the relevant international treaties, and to prevent the use of children in the illicit production and trafficking of such substances”.
  5. A natural progression from the postulations contained in The Report that decriminalization/legalization of drugs would reduce the ‘enormous’ burden the war on drugs has placed on the sub-regions Criminal Justice System, particularly in terms of the number of persons incarcerated for drug-related offences, would be to also assert that the decriminalization/legalization of theft/stealing would be to any society’s best interest as it will lead to a decongestion of prisons – obviously not a very sound proposition.
  6. As one of the cardinal arguments for decriminalization/legalization of drugs, The Report places repeated emphasis on the impact of ‘Drug Trafficking’ as a factor that greatly undermines already weak States and a tool for political instability across the West African sub-region – lavishly citing the example of Guinea-Bissau. This argument is at the very least tenuous, but most likely, deliberately mischievous.
  7. Pervasive large-scale corruption, endemic in the West African sub-region, which has served to weaken State institutions and ensure continuing widespread poverty and maladministration in the sub-region, rendering the countries in the sub-region increasingly incapable of meeting the needs of their populations, is the bane of West Africa. Would a solution to the scourge of large-scale corruption be, as suggested by The Report with regards to the scourge of drug abuse, be to decriminalize/legalize large-scale corruption?
  8. 9. The weak public health infrastructure of the West African sub-region is presently, totally overwhelmed by the high prevalence of infectious and communicable diseases, grapples with Malaria, Cholera, poor maternal and infant mortality rates and certainly would do well without the added burden of an explosion of drug abuse- related ailments that would ensue following the decriminalization/legalization of drugs.
  9. 10. A trite and constant fact in addressing the problems of drug abuse in any jurisdiction is that preventive education and public enlightenment programs about the consequences of substance abuse are several times more cost effective than interdiction, treatment and rehabilitation strategies as tools for tackling the drug problem. WFAD is extremely worried, that despite the weak state of the economies of all West African countries (most of which rank amongst the 20 poorest countries in

    the world by World Bank figures), there is a near total discountenance and non- mention of Prevention as a tool for addressing the drug problem in the Report produced by WACD.


In the light of the foregoing, WFAD finds it extremely difficult to associate any altruistic motives concerning the quest for drug decriminalization/legalization being advanced by The Report released by WACD. 

WFAD would thus enjoin all the States in the West African sub-region to discount and decline the efforts at decriminalization/legalization of drugs.




Eze Eluchie
,President, African Center for Health Law and Development, Nigeria, Board
Member of WFAD



Rogers Kasirye
,Executive Director, Uganda Youth Development Link, Uganda, Board
Member of WFAD

George Ochieng Odalo, 28 years old, social worker from Kenya and the founder of Slum Child Foundation.

As a street child in the slums of Nairobi George met the same reality that he meets today and felt the same feelings.

- I became a street child when my father died. But I survived; someone saw my potential and introduced me to a person who paid for my schooling.

In 2008 George founded the Slum Child Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works with street children in Nairobi.

- I want to fight for other children, says George Odalo who is at the World Forum to learn. Among the children I work with, one out of three uses drugs and a lot of people has died from illicit drugs in my home country.

What has been the most interesting at the Forum?

- The lecture with the American judge about Drug Treatment Court in the US is one of the best lectures I have been to. When I come home I want to engage the President and our Supreme Court and the chairperson of the Board for Control and Substance Abuse. I want to investigate if we can implement the system in Kenya. The Kenyan society needs to be more respondent towards people who use drugs. Today they are afraid of the police, but if we can have a system that can provide treatment if they are arrested we can step by step create a society where people feel safe.

What does this event in Stockholm mean to you?

- The Forum makes a big difference, especially around the issue of marijuana which is a big problem back home.

How is the situation around illicit drugs in your home country?

- Cannabis is the biggest problem. We Africans like to imitate western countries and now there are for example cookies with marijuana, just like in the West. The influence of the Rastafarian culture increases and it leads to more abuse of cannabis. The corruption is widespread and several high officials and prominent persons are involved in the trafficking of drugs.

A lot of young Kenyans have president Obama as a role model and George often hears “you say that cannabis is bad but Obama wants to legalize it. He is our role model, he comes from our country and we follow in his footsteps. He says it is good, who are you to say that it is bad?”

Is the drug issue prioritized in Kenya?

- No, the government of the country tries to discharge the issue. The government needs to do something but they are not willing to take the fight. If the government would prioritize the issue more our organization could do a lot more.

What do you think about the legalization wave around the world?

- The long term effects of legalization will be difficult. With the challenges that Africa faces, like for example poverty, legalization can hit the continent harder than even malaria and hiv have done. In the Western countries you have treatment possibilities, but in Africa poverty is the biggest problem and it is not possible to prioritize treatment. Food for the day is the most important for many people.

What do you say to the youth you meet in order to get them to stop with cannabis?

- I tell them that those who take drugs end up in the mental institution, is shot by the police, quit school, stop having dreams. That is the life I describe for them. They have to stay away from drugs if they want to have a good life. Follow in my footsteps and it will be ok. If you take drugs you will not live any longer, you days are numbered and it ends up with you dying, says George.



Pernilla Rönnlid, Drugnews

Interview made At the World Forum Against Drugs by Drugnews, the original text can be found here: http://drugnews.nu/2014/05/20/george-jag-var-sjalv-ett-gatubarn
Translated by Linda Nilsson, WFAD

 



Rima Saade Turk, 48 years, Secretary General at Nusroto Assiciations, drug and rehabilitation center, Cenacle Centre of the Son of Man, Lebanon

Why are you here?

I am here because my organization is member of the World Federation Against Drugs and because I am nominated to be the representative of Asia in the board of WFAD. I want to share experiences with other grass-root organizations and I want to increase our knowledge on drugs and treatment.

What has been the most interesting at the Forum?

The judges from Belgium, the US and Jamaica who talked about Drug Treatment Courts. We don’t have Drug Treatment Courts in Lebanon. The addicts there often end up in crowded jails where the situation is terrible.

How is the drug situation in Lebanon?

It is poor. There are many who use drugs and a lot of trafficking of drugs. Drugs are everywhere – on the streets, night clubs, in schools and university. Right now we have a lot of refugees from Syria and many of them are addicted.
Heroin, Cocaine and Captagon tablets are usual, the problem is increasing. The use of illicit drugs increased from 2005 to 2013 with 47 per cent. Lebanon needs a strategic plan to fight drugs, we need alternatives and capacity - we have nothing. All the grass-root organizations, especially ours, have a difficult task.

What do you think about legalization of cannabis?

I hope that they realize the danger with cannabis. The drug is killing the capacity of our youth. I am so happy because I see that everybody here at the Forum is against legalization of cannabis. Together we can take a powerful stand against legalization.

What is your best argument against cannabis?

Cannabis kills the IQ of our youth.



Anton Resare, 18 years, works at a bowling arena in Strängnäs, Sweden
 

Why are you here at the Forum?

I am a member of Smart Youth and I heard that volunteers were needed here. We help visitors and delegates and we give out diplomas to the speakers.

How is the drug situation in Strängnäs?

I don’t think there is that big problem, relatively. Sure I have friends who have tried and a lot of teens drink alcohol. But never me – I have never smoked tobacco or drinken alcohol, my mother is a nurse and my big role model. I don’t want to destroy my body.

What is your best argument against cannabis?

We don’t need another legal drug to add to alcohol and tobacco. There are a lot of myths around it, for example that cannabis is a medicine. Cannabis is not safe, it damages the whole body. I want to enjoy life to the fullest.



Faustin Onyango, 27 years, Mapambano Centre for Children Rights, Mkurangi, Tanzania

What is the most interesting with the Forum?

To meet participants from all over the world, to be able to share experience and knowledge. It is the first time I am outside of the African continent, exciting!

How is the drug situation in Tanzania?

We have a growing drug problem unfortunately, almost every family have at least one member with an addiction. Alcohol is the most common, we have a lot of locally produced beverages that can be toxic and are sold cheap. Among the illicit drugs cannabis is the most common, but we also have problem with cocaine and heroin. My organization works with preventative interventions and information towards youth and parents.

Is legalization discussed in your country?

No, most of the people are totally against drugs. But there is a lack of equipment for the police and customs to stop the trafficking via our airports and harbors. Khat and cannabis is grown in the corn fields illegally. We are concerned. Marijuana is not good, especially for vulnerable youth and the risk for psychic damage is big.



Mariana Hede, 40 years and Ammie Karlsson Pye, 55 years, Coordinates of drug and alcohol prevention in Västerås, Sweden 

Why are you here?

Mariana : To get more and enhanced knowledge about the drug situation in both Sweden and in the world and to hear what kind of prevention actually works.

Ammi : We want to listen to those who actually done the studies about cannabis, like Madeline Meier, and not only hear it second hand.

What has been the most interesting?

Mariana : Professor Bertha Madras was great. She underlined the role of parents. We are right now working with a program to support parents.

Ammi : To hear about the Dunedin study (one of the studies that show that you get a lower IQ from cannabis) makes it easier for us to go out and talk about this. We have better knowledge after this lecture.

Do you think the Forum will make a difference?

Mariane : Yes, even if we work in different ways and to some extent also with different things we have the same goal. I fell the global atmosphere when people from the all over the world work for the same aim. It is super cool!

Ammi : We just heard a presentation about Malawi. It is good that they bring attention to a small country who tries to change even though they don’t have any money to work with the issue. One person in the audience came up to them after and started to suggest different projects. Then I got the confirmation that the conference is important from a global viewpoint. It is exciting to be part of that.

What do you think about the wave of legalization that moves around the world?

Mariana : It is horrible and we must work actively against it. Yesterday we heard a Dutch speaker talking about the consequences of a more liberal policy.

Ammi : The Colorado experience is not positive either; yesterday we heard that the traffic accidents have increased. The trial in England where they allowed cannabis for personal use was stopped after two years. There are many examples that legalizing another drug is not good.

What is your best argument against cannabis?

Mariana : That it lowers your IQ and it is enough that you use cannabis before pregnancy for it to influence your future child.

Ammi : The IQ argument is good both to youth and professionals. It seems like an argument that reaches out.



Maria Fava, Malta, Mayor, represents 68 municipalities 

What does World Forum means for you?

I think it is important to find out what other countries do to lessen the problem with drugs around the world, how they work with prevention. Here we can exchange information and get ideas that maybe can be implemented in Malta. World Forum Against Drugs is a very important forum for us who are engaged in this issue.

How is the drug situation on Malta?

Ecstasy is very common on Malta; it might have to do with the wide spread night club tradition. The most common drug besides form alcohol is cannabis. The trafficking of drugs has increased and the demand has increased. The authorities do a pretty good job to keep the smugglers and profiteers away, recently the police took down a couple of big networks.

What is your best argument around cannabis?

Legalization is not going to solve any problems; the black market will be there anyway. In the end it is always criminals who make money, they are one step ahead. But we can work more to reduce the use of drugs, we must involve parents more and invest more on education of youth already in an early age.



Eva Skärstrand, Public Health Agency of Sweden 

What is the most interesting here in your opinion?

The most interesting here is, in my opinion, that many different speakers in an excellent way succeeded to capture my attention. They came from different parts of the world and talked for example around treatment.

How is the drug situation at home?

The drug situation in Stockholm is under control in my opinion. We have a small decrease of the use of cannabis in general. But a small increase among young boys between 16 to 20 years. Drug issues are given priority in Stockholm, and a lot is about how much resources are provided in order to keep the use down.

What do you think about the legalization debate?

I don’t like the international legalization debate around cannabis since I take part of reports that clearly show how dangerous cannabis is for a growing brain. There is no reason to legalize another drug; we already have tobacco and alcohol.



Maj-Inger Klingvall, 68, Stockholm Sweden, former minister and ambassador, today chairperson of WOCAD
 

What at the Forum is most interesting for you?

The most interesting here is the amount of people from a lot of prominent organizations from basically the whole world. To get the possibility to participate in the discussions and listen to the speakers has been very productive. The Forum is an important arena against drugs.

What is your opinion about the drug situation?

The increase of the New Psychoactive Substances among young people is the scariest; the use of cannabis among young people is also worrisome.

And your comments about the legalization debate?

There has been a special focus on the wave of legalization that is spreading around the world. I became very upset and angry when I heard about the strong economic power that lies behind the demand for legalization. For them it is all about the money. It is our responsibility to provide facts and information and educate the youth about these issues.


 

Pernilla Rönnlid
Sven Liljesson
Bruce Clark

The interviews are translations from Drugnews article, the original in Swedish can be found here: http://drugnews.nu/2014/05/20/roster-vimlet-pa-world-forum/
Translation made by Linda Nilsson, WFAD

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