1 From Repression to Regulation: Proposals for Drug Policy Reform José Carlos Campero Horacio Barrancos Ricardo Vargas Eduardo Vergara Daniel Brombacher Heino Stöver Maximilian Plenert Hans Mathieu Catalina Niño Guarnizo / Editors
3 José Carlos Campero Horacio Barrancos Ricardo Vargas Eduardo Vergara Daniel Brombacher Heino Stöver Maximilian Plenert Hans Mathieu Catalina Niño Guarnizo / Editors From Repression to Regulation: Proposals for Drug Policy Reform
4 Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), Regional Security Cooperation Program Calle 71 nº Bogota-Colombia Telephone (57 1) Fax (57 1) Commercial use of all media published by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) is no permitted without consent of the FES. First edition Bogota, May 2013 ISBN Editorial coordination Juan Andrés Valderrama Design and layout Ángela Lucía Vargas Cover photograph Lucas Rodríguez Translation Silvia Varela Ian Mount Matt Chesterton Printed by Mavarac The opinions expressed in this volume are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the thinking of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.
5 Table of Contents FOREWORD / Hans Mathieu 19 INTRODUCTION A FEW ASPECTS OF THE CURRENT SITUATION WITH ILLEGAL DRUGS Hans Mathieu / Catalina Niño The failure of prohibitionism: A growing consensus 21 The international drug control regime 23 Negative impacts of the current policies in Latin America 26 A few innovative proposals 29 Drug policy models 37 Destigmatizing the debate 38 The current situation 40 Conclusions: Our proposals 53 References 58 ALTERNATIVES TO CURRENT DRUG POLICY AT THE PRODUCTION STAGE José Carlos Campero / Horacio Barrancos Introduction 63 Background considerations related to the production and commercialization of coca and cocaine 64 5
6 6 From Repression to Regulation: Proposals for Drug Policy Reform Paradigm shift: From prohibition to regulation 79 Guarantees and benefits of a regulated market 88 Critical aspects of regulation 91 Conclusions and recommendations 92 References 95 Annex. Bolivia Case Study 97 TOWARDS A MODEL FOR REGULATING DRUG SUPPLY Ricardo Vargas Meza Introduction 113 What is the purpose of a policy to regulate the supply of drugs? 114 Trafficking 121 Models for regulating drug supply 137 The non-medical use of coca/cocaine and derivatives: Scenarios and management 139 Proposals for the management of cannabis 148 Concepts and foundations for a proposal to regulate international availability 151 References 159 Appendix 1. An index ranking drugs according to risk 164 PROPOSALS TO REGULATE THE RETAIL SALE AND CONSUMPTION OF PLANT-BASED DRUGS Eduardo Vergara Introduction 171 Consumption: Costs, legislation and actors 175 Small-scale drug dealing: Costs, laws and consequences 196 Elements to be considered in proposed regulation: The importance of regional cooperation 216 Utilities for users and drug dealers 217
7 Table of Contents 7 Benefits of regulation 221 Costs associated with the regulation of use 230 Governance and democracy as necessary pre-conditions 230 Recommendations: Public policies for regulating and controlling the use and retail sale of plant-based drugs 237 References 246 ILLEGAL DRUG CULTIVATION AND LEGAL REGULATORY OPTIONS IN THE UN DRUG CONTROL FRAMEWORK: COMPARING COCA AND OPIUM POPPY Daniel Brombacher Introduction 253 The status quo: Coca cultivation between legality and illegality in the Andean Region 254 More than just drugs: The impact of drug cultivation on development and security policies 266 Excursus: Legal utilisation options for opium poppy and coca 276 The fundamental conditions in Turkey and India compared with the Andean countries 281 Three approaches to drug cultivation as a fixed variable 283 Bibliography 289 POLICY OPTIONS FOR DRUG CONTROL WITH REFERENCE TO TRADE AND CONSUMPTION IN GERMANY AND EUROPE Heino Stöver / Maximilian Plenert Introduction 292 Outline 293 Fundamentals 296 The Drug-Policy Status Quo in Germany 302 Status Quo Worldwide and Regional 329 Alternative Policy Approaches Implemented in Europe 335
8 8 From Repression to Regulation: Proposals for Drug Policy Reform Framework Conditions 343 Normative Bases for Control Models in Germany 345 Drug Control Scenarios with reference to Trafficking and Consumption 349 Effects on the Other Pillars of Drug Policy 363 Recommendations for Action 365 Literature 365 Annex 1. ANNEX Public policy scenarios, differentiated by type of illicit drug: Hard and soft 373 Annex 2. Legislation on drugs in Latin America 375 Annex 3. Summary of legal frameworks for coca leaf and cocaine 380 AUTHOR BIOS 381
9 Índex of Tables, Figures and Maps 9 Index of Tables, Figures and Maps INTRODUCTION A FEW ASPECTS OF THE CURRENT SITUATION WITH ILLEGAL DRUGS Figure 1. Comparative development of the number of terms used to describe penalized drug-related behaviors 27 Figure 2. Table 1. Comparative development of the highest minimum sentences for drug-related offenses 28 Average price of illicit substances in Portugal in Euros, by year and type of drug, Figure 3. Illicit coca bush cultivation worldwide, (hectares) 41 Figure 4. Potential cocaine production in the Andean region (metric tons) 41 Figure 5. Potential production of oven-dried opium, (tons) 42 Figure 6. Illicit poppy cultivation worldwide, (hectares) 42 Figure 7. Evolution of marijuana and hashish production worldwide, (tons) 43 Map 1. Cocaine trafficking worldwide, Map 2. Heroin trafficking worldwide 44 Figure 8. Distribution of value added along the cocaine production and trafficking chain in Colombia, Figure 9. Dramatic decline in domestic cocaine prices despite increasing spending for overseas drug suppression efforts by the United States, Figure 10. Change in estimated heroin price and purity in the context of the increasing annual drug control budget in the United States, Figure 11. Average estimated heroin prices in Europe, Figure 12. Average annual wholesale price of cocaine of unknown quality in Peru s production areas, Figure 13. Mean harm scores for twenty substances 49
10 10 From Repression to Regulation: Proposals for Drug Policy Reform Figure 14. Annual prevalence of illicit drug use at the global level as a percentage of the population aged Figure 15. Illicit drug use at the global level, late 1990s-2010/ Table 2. Dimensions of risk of psychoactive drugs: Risk of addiction 52 Table 3. Table 4. Dimensions of risk of psychoactive drugs: Crime and persistence of addiction 52 Dimensions of risk of psychoactive drugs: Risks of harm associated to drug use 53 ALTERNATIVES TO CURRENT DRUG POLICY AT THE PRODUCTION STAGE Table 1. Comparative prices in the coca-cocaine production chain 66 Figure 1. Microeconomic features of the coca leaf markets in Peru and Colombia 70 Figure 2. Microeconomic features of the coca leaf market in Bolivia 72 Figure 3. Evolution of demand for coca leaf 73 Figure 4. Evolution of price and production area for coca leaf in Bolivia, Figure 5. Microeconomics of eradication and interdiction of coca leaf production 75 Table 2. Tax collection opportunities in the coca-cocaine chain 88 Table 3. Potential uses of new state resources 88 Figures in Annex Figure 1. Links in the coca-cocaine production chain 100 Figure 2. Production and price of coca leaf, Figure 3. Production value of coca leaf, (thousands of USD) 104 Figure 4. Area and production of coca leaf,
11 Índex of Tables, Figures and Maps 11 TOWARDS A MODEL FOR REGULATING DRUG SUPPLY Figure 1. The paradox of prohibition 117 Table 1. Map 1. Figure 2. Table 2. Laboratories with different functions in the production of paste/base/cocaine in Europe that were dismantled between 2008 and Vectors linking South America and the United States in the cocaine transportation zone, Drug seizures at the Southwest border compared with those in the rest of the United States, fiscal year United States: Total cocaine seizures, in kilos, fiscal years Figure 3. Annual prevalence for cocaine use in South America (most recent data) 130 Figure 4. Modeled prevalence: Heavy users vs. occasional users 141 Figure 5. Modeled consumption: Heavy users vs. occasional users 141 Figure 6. Drug consumption in the United States among people aged 50-60, Figure 7. Price and purity of cocaine, January 2007-September Figure 8. Use of drugs in the United States among people aged over 12 in the last month (in the respective poll), Table 3. Access to cannabis: Purposes, production and regulation 149 PROPOSALS TO REGULATE THE RETAIL SALE AND CONSUMPTION OF PLANT-BASED DRUGS Figure 1. Three scenarios for cannabis purchases in Chile 179 Table 1. Prevalence of cannabis use in countries in the Americas 183 Table 2. Prevalence of youth cannabis use in various countries in the Americas 184 Table 3. Prevalence of cocaine use in some countries in the Americas 186 Table 4. Cannabis prices in various countries in the Americas 203 Table 5. Cannabis prices in Chile, January
12 12 From Repression to Regulation: Proposals for Drug Policy Reform Table 6. Table 7. Cannabis prices in Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico, January The price of cocaine in various countries in the Americas (by gram and kilo) 209 Table 8. Prices of cocaine in Chile 210 Figure 2. The relationship between spending on drugs and crime 213 Table 9. Maximum possession amounts for personal and immediate use 214 Figure 3. Utilities of drug use 218 Figure 4. Elasticity, kinds of use and demand 219 Figure 5. The decision to participate in the sale of drugs 220 Figure 6. Prohibition and drug use in the shadows 222 Figure 7. Distribution via tobacco shops versus illegal sales 223 Figure 8. Figure 9. Cannabis and cocaine use and support for democracy in various countries in Latin America 233 Cannabis and cocaine use and purchasing power parity in some Latin American countries 234 Figure 10. Cannabis use and the level of life satisfaction in various Latin American countries 235 Figure 11. Quality control as a form of regulation 240 POLICY OPTIONS FOR DRUG CONTROL WITH REFERENCE TO TRADE AND CONSUMPTION IN GERMANY AND EUROPE Figure 1. Harm potential of drugs in terms of total points scored 304 Figure 2. Harm potential of drugs for society in terms of total points scored 304 Figure 3. Harm potential of drugs for the individual in terms of total points scored 305 Table 1. Prevalence of the consumption of illegal drugs in Germany 305 Table 2. BKA (2012): Police Crime Statistics and federal situation survey (Bundeslagebild) narcotics 2002 and Table 3. Data from the Police Crime Statistics
13 Índex of Tables, Figures and Maps 13 Table 4. Table 5. Table 6. Table 7. Proportion of intravenous drug users and persons with infectious diseases associated with drugs in German penal institutions and in the general population 310 UN estimates of annual drug consumption in the period Prevalence of cannabis consumption in the general population (temporal framework of production) 338 Main characteristics of harm reduction in the basic model (Bundesamt für Gesundheit 1991) 348 Figure 4. The paradox of prohibition 359 Table 8. Scenarios at a Glance 364
14 14 From Repression to Regulation: Proposals for Drug Policy Reform Acronyms ACCU akzept e.v. ALBA AUC BtM BtMG BverfG BZgA CBD CDT CEDE CICAD CSC DBDD DEA DGS DHS Peasant Self-Defense Groupe of Córdoba and Urabá (Autodefensas Campesinas de Córdoba y Urabá, Colombia) Federal Association for Accepting Drug Work and Human Drug Policy (Bundesverband für akzeptierende Drogenarbeit und humane Drogenpolitik) Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América) United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia) Narcotics (Betäubungsmittel) BtM Narcotics Act (Betäubungsmittelgesetz) Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) Federal Centre for Health Education (Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung) Cannabidiol Commission for the Dissuasion of Drug Abuse (Comissão para a Dissuasão da Toxicodependência, Portugal) Center for Studies on Economical Development (Centro de Estudios sobre Desarrollo Económico,Universidad de los Andes, Colombia) Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (Comisión Interamericana para el Control del Abuso de Drogas) Cannabis Social Club (Clubes Sociales de Cannabis, España) German Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (Deutsche Beobach tungsstelle für Drogen und Drogensucht) Drug Enforcement Administration German Society for Addiction Medicine (Deutsche Gesells chaft für Suchtmedizin) German Centre for the Control of Drug Abuse (Deutsche Hauptstelle für Suchtfragen)
15 Acronyms 15 DHV DIGCOIN EBDD ELN EMCDDA ENACO ENCOD ESA ESPAD EU EUV FAC FARC FES GAO GBA GHB GIZ HCL HCl IDUS INCB IVD German Hemp Association (Deutscher Hanf Verband) General Directorate of Coca Leaf and Industrialization (Dirección General de la Hoja de Coca e Industrialización, Bolivia) Europäische Beobachtungsstelle für Drogen und Drogensucht [European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction] The National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional, Colombia) European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction National Coca Company (Empresa Nacional de la Coca, Perú) European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policie Epidemiological Studies (Epidemiologische Suchtsurveys) European Project of School Survey on Alcohol and other Drugs (Europäische Schülerstudie zu Alkohol und anderen Drogen) European Union European Union Treaty (Vertrag über die Europäische Union) Federation of Associations of Cannabis Users (Federación de Asociaciones de Personas Usuarias de Cannabis, España) The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) Friedrich Ebert Foundation (Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung) Government Accountability Office Joint Federal Board (Gemeinsamer Bundesausschuss) Acid 4-hidroxibutanoic German Society for International Cooperation (Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit) Cocaine hydrochloride Freebase cocaine Intravenous Drug Users International Narcotics Control Board (Junta Internacional de Fiscalización de Estupefacientes, JIFE) Intravenous Drug Users
16 16 From Repression to Regulation: Proposals for Drug Policy Reform JES LSD Junkies, Former Junkies, People in Substitution Programmes (Junkies, Ehemalige, Substituierte) Lysergic Acid Diethylamide MDMA MERCOSUR MPU NAS OEDT OMS PBC PCP PREMOS PSB REITOX RKI SWP THC TNI 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine Southern Common Market (Mercado Común del Sur) Medical and Psychological Assessment (Medizinisch-Psychologische Untersuchung) Narcotics Affairs Section (United States) European Observatory for Drugs and Drug Addiction World Health Organization Cocaine base paste Phencyclidine Predictors, Moderators and Outcomes of Substitution Treatment Psychosocial Care (Psychosoziale Betreuung) European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (Réseau Européen d Information sur les Drogues et les Toxicoma nies) Robert Koch Institute (Robert-Koch-Institut) German Institute for International and Security Affairs (Stiftung Wissens chaft und Politik) Tetrahydrocannabinol Transnational Institute TRANSFORM Transform Drug Policy Foundation TUE ÜB 61 ÜB 71 ÜB 88 UN European Union Treaty Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 (Einheitsabkommen über die Betäubungsmittel von 1961) Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971 (Konvention über psychotrope Substanzen von 1971) United Nations Conventions against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of (Übereinkommen der Vereinten Nationen gegen den unerlaubten Verkehr mit Suchtsto ffen und psychotropen Stoffen von 1988) United Nations
17 Acronyms 17 UNICRI UNODC VfD VHC VIH VRAE WOLA United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Drug Policy Association (Verein für Drogenpolitik) Hepatitis C Virus Human immunodeficiency virus Valley of the rivers Apurimac and Ene (Valle de los ríos Apurimac y Ene, Perú) Washington Office on Latin America
19 Foreword The War on Drugs has failed. The strategy implemented for the past few decades has not met its goals. Drug use has neither ceased nor declined. On the contrary, new drug consumption markets have developed in emerging countries, such as Brazil, or transit countries for illegal drugs, such as Central America s northern triangle. Moreover, the strategy itself, focused as it is on the repression of supply, has introduced an element of violence into illegal drug markets. In Colombia and Mexico, for example, this violence has reached alarming levels and has had enormous costs in terms of human life, despite the vast resources invested in the fight against the cartels, illegal crop eradication, interdiction and anti-money laundering efforts. States repressive measures have usually focused on eradicating crops and eliminating the heads of major criminal groups, which has led the former to move (balloon effect) and the latter to break up into smaller groups and clash violently over control of routes, territories and markets. Further, the illegal nature of the drug trade, added to the constant demand for drugs, has made it a very lucrative business. This has at least two negative consequences. First, it makes drug trafficking a very appealing option, especially for many young people who have few legal employment or earning prospects, in spite of the risk of being prosecuted by the authorities or murdered by competitors. Thus, there are always volunteers willing to replace those who fall in clashes between drug trafficking groups or with the state, which is a vicious circle that challenges public policies that attempt to tackle this phenomenon. Second, the vast profits obtained by criminal groups give them enormous power to corrupt and intimidate, which they use extensively to ensure their activities proceed unhindered. These groups ability to penetrate and corrupt public institutions in the states where they operate threatens democratic governance in those countries, as is already happening in Guatemala, for example, where Mexican criminal groups such as the Zetas and the Sinaloa cartel have relocated as a response to pressure from the Mexican government s war strategy. 19
20 20 From Repression to Regulation: Proposals for Drug Policy Reform The inability of the prohibitionist regime to reduce the harm caused by drug consumption to users and third parties, and the violence associated with the activities of organized crime force us to consider new policy options. In the present context, it is reasonable to suggest that any strategy to combat drug trafficking should aim to reduce and minimize harm caused both by drugs and current drug control policies to users and non-user third parties; substantially shrink the profits that organized crime and other illegal actors currently obtain from the business; and maximize the income that the state would obtain from drugs, in a manner consistent with the above aims, to finance prevention and public health policies and the fight against illegal crime. With these goals in mind, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation s Regional Security Cooperation Program hired experts from three Latin American countries to present alternatives to current policies across three links of the drug supply chain: production, trafficking and consumption. Their proposals were premised on the notion that a regulated activity can be controlled through clear mechanisms that enable us to know its actual size and scope, the organizations and people that participate in it, its costs and income, and even allow us to tax it. This volume gathers the documents presented by those experts, their analyses of the current phenomenon and their proposals to modify the policies implemented to date in order to improve their effectiveness in pursuit of the above objectives. It also includes essays by two German authors, who present their approach to drug production, trade and use from a European perspective. Through the studies published in this volume, we aim to contribute ideas and proposals to the emerging debate that will enable us to move forward in a discussion that is long overdue in Latin America and the rest of the world. We need more effective strategies than those we have implemented thus far. We believe that the countries most severely affected by drug trafficking should develop a common approach, based on reliable information, to allow them to promote this discussion seriously and coherently. We hope this publication will contribute to that effort. Hans Mathieu
21 Introduction A Few Aspects of the Current Situation with Illegal Drugs Hans Mathieu / Catalina Niño * THE FAILURE OF PROHIBITIONISM: A GROWING CONSENSUS In the last few years, the debate on illicit drugs long dominated by voices that favor repressive and punitive policies framed by prohibitionist strategies has broadened and gained new momentum. It is no longer only academics who criticize the socalled War on Drugs; today, commissions of former presidents and other personalities are calling for a revision of current drug policies and for a global debate to search for more effective alternatives. Even incumbent presidents have put the issue on the table: Uruguayan president José Mujica (2010-) has even proposed specific changes to national policy on the production and commercialization of marijuana, the use of which has already been decriminalized in Uruguay. Thus, in 2009 the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy, established in 2008 under the leadership of three of the region s former presidents, Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil ( ), César Gaviria of Co lombia ( ) and Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico ( ), published a report that highlighted the urgent need to revise the strategy, since it had not yielded the expected results. The Commission proposed that drug use should be treated as a public health issue to be addressed through information and prevention, and that repression should be focused on organized crime actors. Later, in June 2001, the Global Commission on Drug Policy (GCDP), an expanded version of the above-mentioned Latin American Commission that included such figures as former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and former US Secretary of State George Shultz, alongside former Latin American presidents Cardoso, Ga- * We wish to thank Christine Bawaj, Laura Schmitz and William Treherne, interns at the Friedrich Ebert Foundation s office in Bogota, for their contributions to the preparation of this text. 21
22 22 Introduction. A Few Aspects of the Current Situation with Illegal Drugs viria and Zedillo, published a report that begins with the following statement: The global War on Drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world (Global Commission on Drug Policy, 2011: 2). This new report broadly agrees with the findings of the Latin American Commission s report, suggesting that repressive measures should target violent organized crime instead of consumers, retail drug dealers or the peasants who cultivate currently banned substances. Moreover, the report argues that non-problem drug use should be decriminalized, problem users should be offered treatment rather than incarcerated and alternative substitution therapies, such as methadone, and harm reduction measures, such as needle exchange programs, should be sought, all of this based on a human rights approach to drug users. Further, the report underlines the need to correct existing misconceptions about drugs, their markets and consumers and encourage experiments in legal regulation that safeguard the health and security of users while reducing the power of organized crime, which currently controls the business. Shortly after the report was published, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos declared in an interview published in The Guardian: The world needs to discuss new approaches ( ) [that] should try and take away the violent profit that comes with drug trafficking If that means legalizing, and the world thinks that s the solution, I will welcome it. I m not against it (The Guardian, November 12, 2011, online version). His remarks surprised many, since Colombia, a staunch ally of the United States, has implemented the prohibitionist policies dictated by Washington for decades. Santos even said that, provided there was international consensus on the issue, he would consider legalizing more than just marijuana, and he pointed out the contradictions in the fact that this substance is legal in some places, while others penalize the use of cocaine. I would never legalize very hard drugs like morphine or heroin ( ) I might consider legalizing cocaine if there is a world consensus because this drug has affected us most here in Colombia. I don t know what is more harmful, cocaine or marijuana. That s a health discussion (The Guardian, November 12, 2011, online version). In terms of political discourse, it is very significant for an incumbent president of a country known for having suffered the negative effects not only of drug trafficking, but also of anti-drug policies for decades, to suggest the need to review such policies and seek more appropriate alternatives. Although Santos qualified his statements by saying that he would not spearhead a movement of this sort, his openness to a broad discussion of the prevailing approaches to drug control provoked similar reactions from other presidents in the region, among them Guatemala s Otto Pérez Molina and Mexico s Felipe Calderón. While many analysts have criticized the president s proposals for their lack of specificity and his lack of political will to lead the debate, these declarations led to the
23 Hans Mathieu / Catalina Niño 23 issue being debated for the first time in the context of a continent-wide presidential political dialogue, the Summit of the Americas, which was held in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, in April Although only limited progress was achieved at that meeting, member states commissioned the Organization of American States (OAS) to write a report reviewing the results of the War on Drugs and exploring new alternatives to strengthen it and make it more effective. The presence of US President Obama at the Summit was significant, given his country s decisive influence in the formulation and implementation of anti-drug policy in Latin America and in the development of the current international drug control regime. And while the US is clearly still reluctant to talk about far-reaching changes to the current policies, in several of its states one can see a tendency toward change, at least with regard to the treatment of marijuana users. In November 2012, Colorado and Washington voted to legalize the sale and recreational use of marijuana, adding to the other eighteen states in which its medical use is legal, subject to harm-reduction regulations. 1 Meanwhile, in November 2012, in an interview with The Economist, then-outgoing Mexican President Felipe Calderón ( ) defended his war against the cartels, although he clearly stated that the purpose of the public security strategy was not to end something that it is impossible to end, namely the consumption of drugs or their trafficking (The Economist, November 22, 2012, online version). Clearly, the discussion about drug policy has gathered pace recently, and diverse voices from academic, policy and social circles are uniting in a growing consensus about the failure of the prohibitionist strategy that has prevailed for years, driven by the United States and by the context in which international conventions on drug control were developed. THE INTERNATIONAL DRUG CONTROL REGIME The regime on which traditional policies are based was established over the course of six decades, and has become increasingly restrictive. The 1948 Protocol laid the formal basis for prohibitionism by determining that controlled substances could only be used for medical purposes and scientific research, that is to say it fully banned any ritual, experimental or recreational use, as well as potential industrial uses of drugs. The Single Convention of 1961 reaffirmed the ban on the use and production of 1 See The Economist. Tax, and tax again. 9 March 2013.
24 24 Introduction. A Few Aspects of the Current Situation with Illegal Drugs controlled substances, and it established four lists that determine how each should be treated. The Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971 added a large number of synthetic substances for controlled medical use to this list. The 1998 Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances focused on curbing international trafficking through cooperation mechanisms between countries as a means to address the growth of drug trafficking and the increasing strength of trafficking organizations. It established controls on chemical precursors, for the first time it included the need to combat money laundering and it ordered that everything to do with illicit drug trafficking be classed as serious crimes, among other things cultivation, production, trafficking, sale and money laundering. Further, the Convention made it mandatory to penalize the possession of drugs for personal use though not necessarily to criminalize it, leaving it to each country to decide the gravity of the offense (Thoumi, 2011: 5). Given the bureaucratic nature of the international system, introducing changes, however small, to the system s instruments, which are mandatory for signatory countries, is a slow and difficult process. For example, in March 2009 the Bolivian government asked the United Nations to remove coca leaf from List 1 of the 1961 Single Convention, thus allowing the traditional practice of coca chewing. The request was turned down, which led Bolivia to formally withdraw from the Convention, arguing that the Convention contradicted Bolivia s constitution, in force since 2009, and begin the procedure to return to the convention with a new reservation allowing for the traditional uses of coca leaf. 2 This re-adherence was subject to the approval of the States Party to the Convention, that is, no more than a third of the 183 member states could object to it (UNODC, January 2013). Finally, by January 10, 2013, the deadline to raise objections, only fifteen countries had done so and Bolivia is once again a member of the Convention, with the above mentioned reservation. However, this change, which took four years and prompted heavy criticism against the Bolivian government, does not mean that coca leaf has been removed from List 1, or that chewing it is legal in every country in which it is traditionally practiced. It simply means that international legislation allows coca leaf chewing in Bolivian territory. The Global Commission has questioned the international drug control regime s lack of flexibility; its report recommends reviewing the conventions and the rectifying their mistakes regarding the classification of substances such as cannabis, coca 2 This is the established procedure for a country that has signed the Convention to modify the terms of its adherence.