Facts Change Minds
International Drug Control Conventions
The current international legal regime dealing with illicit substances is governed by a number of treaties and related instruments:
- United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988.
- List of Narcotic Drugs Under International Control, Yellow List, in accordance with the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, as amended by the Protocol of 25 March 1972 amending the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, (51st ed, 2012), International Narcotics Control Board.
Drug Policy Reports & Information Sources
Roadmaps to Reforming the UN Drug Conventions – Report by The Beckley Foundation. The three UN Drug Conventions of 1961, 1971 and 1988 currently impose a ‘one-size-fits-all’ prohibitionist approach to drug policy, throughout the world. This report, released December 2012, explains in detail how the Conventions could be amended in order to give countries greater freedom to adopt drug policies better suited to their special needs. In particular, the report details the treaty amendments that would be necessary if a country (or a group of countries) wished to experiment with either of the following options:
- clear and explicit decriminalisation of the possession of one or more currently controlled substances for personal use;
- the creation of a regulated, non-medical market in one or more controlled substances.
The report’s editor and lead author is Professor Robin Room, one of the world’s leading experts on drug and alcohol policy. The report also includes contributions from lawyer Sarah MacKay, who puts forward and methodically analyses a series of specific treaty amendments that would give effect to the proposed reforms in those countries that signed up to them.
The Final Report of the Inquiry Into the Supply and Use of Methamphetamines, Particularly ‘Ice’, in Victoria - A comprehensive report on the Ice problem in Victoria by the Law Reform, Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee of the Victorian Parliament, was tabled in Parliament in September 2014. The Victorian Government has until March 2015 to respond. The Terms of Reference of the enquiry were:
- examine the channels of supply of methamphetamine including direct importation and local manufacture of final product and raw constituent chemical precursors and ingredients;
- examine the supply and distribution of methamphetamine and links to organised crime organisations, including outlaw motorcycle gangs;
- examine the nature, prevalence and culture of methamphetamine use in Victoria, particularly amongst young people, indigenous people and rural areas;
- examine links between methamphetamine use and crime, in particular crimes against the person;
- examine the short and long term consequences of methamphetamine use;
- examine the relationship of methamphetamine use to other forms of illicit and licit substances;
- review the adequacy of past and existing state and federal strategies for dealing with methamphetamine use;
- consider best practice strategies to address methamphetamine use and associated crime, including regulatory, law enforcement, education and treatment responses (particularly for groups outlined above).
Harm Reduction Research Connections (HRRC) – a free, bi-monthly, online newsletter published jointly by three of Australia’s leading drug and alcohol research centres: the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) in Sydney; the National Drug Research Institute (NDRI) in Perth and Melbourne; and the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA) in Adelaide. HRRC covers the latest research and publications, as well as news and events from the three centres, with a focus on the translation of research into policy and practice. It also provides commentary and opinion on current issues of importance to the alcohol and other drug fields.
Drug Policy Modeling Program at the University of New South Wales – this is a fantastic source of research relating to drug law reform, specifically relating to Australia.
The Illicit Drug Data Report (IDDR) 2011–12, published by the Australian Crime Commission – provides a snapshot of the Australian illicit drug market. The report brings together illicit drug data from various sources, including law enforcement, health organisations and academia. The IDDR is the only report of its type in Australia and provides an important evidence base, to assist decision-makers in the development of strategies to combat the threat posed by illicit drugs.
2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey Report (2011) Drugs Statistics Series No 25, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare – A comprehensive survey of the use of different types of drugs in Australia, covering tobacco, alcohol and all forms of illicit drugs.
Licensing and Regulation of The Cannabis Market in England & Wales: Towards a Cost Benefit Analysis. A Report by the Beckley Foundation, that addresses the economic argument for the decriminalization and regulation of cannabis in the United Kingdom.
After The War on Drugs – Tools for the Debate – A report by Transform Drug Policy Foundation that comprehensively canvasses arguments for and against the prohibition of drugs:
A Comparison of the Cost-effectiveness of Prohibition and Regulation of Drugs (2009) by Transform Drug Policy Foundation:
After the War on Drugs – Options for Control – A 2006 Report from Transform Drug Policy Foundation that canvasses various options for decriminalizing drugs whilst retaining regulatory control.
After the War on Drugs – Blueprint for Regulation – A more in-depth policy document by Transform Drug Policy Foundation that details how a regulatory system for drugs might work.
Effective Drug Control: Toward A New Legal Framework State-Level Regulation as a Workable Alternative to the “War on Drugs” (2005) by the Seattle-based King County Bar Association Drug Policy Project.
What can We Learn from the Portugese Decriminalisation of Illicit Drugs? by Caitlin Elizabeth Hughes and Alex Stevens, (2010) 50 British Journal of Criminology 999-1022.
The Effect of Drug Decriminalization in Portugal on Homicide and Drug Mortality Rates (2011), by Daniel Yablon, University of California, Berkley.
Royal Commision Into Non-Medical Use of Drugs, South Australia, Final Report (South Australian Government, Adelaide, 1979). Although the Royal Commission initially stated, in its first Discussion paper The Social Control of Drug Use, that “the criminal law, which has limited value as a deterrent and is difficult to enforce, should make an ‘orderly withdrawal’ from the field”. Its Final Report retracted this position because “such a proposal is too easily misunderstood, and that the community is not ready for such reforms.” The reports are not online, but a review in the University of New South Wales Law Journal is available here .
It is also available at many university and state libraries.
Legislative Options for Cannabis Use in Australia (1994) Australian Institute of Criminology, Monograph No. 26. A comprehensive report that discusses the options for cannabis law reform.
Marijuana Australiana: Cannabis Use, Popular Culture, and the Americanisation of Drugs Policy in Australia 1938-1988 (2004). PhD Thesis by John Jiggens, Centre for Social Change Research, Queensland University of Technology.
Evaluating drug law enforcement interventions directed towards methamphetamine in Australia, (2009) by Alison Ritter, David Bright, Wendy Gong funded by the National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund, An Initiative of the National Drug Strategy.
“What can Australia learn from different approaches to drugs in Europe including especially Portugal, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden?” (2012). A Background Paper for an Australia21 Roundtable Melbourne, Friday 6th July 2012, by Dr Caitlin Hughes and Dr Alex Wodak.
Alternatives to Prohibition illicit drugs: How we can stop killing and criminalizing young Australians (2012). The Report of the second Australia21 Roundtable on Illicit Drugs held at The University of Melbourne on 6 July 2012. Authors Bob Douglas, Alex Wodak and David McDonald.
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