News from WFAD

Speech at the Inauguration of the 6th World Forum Against Drugs, Monday, 14 May 2018, Gothenburg, Sweden
Mr. Sven-Olov Carlsson, International President, World Federation Against Drugs Sven-Olov Calrsson 2
 
Your Excellencies, Honored Guests, Prominent Speakers and Moderators, Distinguished Delegates and Friends,
 
Ten years ago, 2008, the first World Forum Against Drugs took place in Stockholm, Sweden.

One of our major goals with the Forum was to reach out to non-governmental organizations on all continents and invite their members to a world conference where they could share experiences and talk about a vision of a drug-free world.

The Forum was a success.

One of the outcomes of the first Forum was that The World Federation Against Drugs (WFAD) was established 2009 as a global non-governmental organization. In 2010 World Federation Against Drugs organized the 2nd World Forum Against Drugs. Every second year thereafter we have organized World Forum Against Drugs 2012, 2014, 2016 and now 2018, the 6th World Forum Against Drugs here in Gothenburg take place.

I would like to thank Her Majesty Queen Silvia in particular for her willingness and support in being the patron for this 6th World Forum Against Drugs as well as the Forum’s we have organized before. Her Majesty’s support is very important and is highly valuated. I would also like to extend our sincere thanks to the Swedish Government, Ministry of Health and the City of Gothenburg for their financial support to enable this Forum.

The World Federation Against Drugs (WFAD) is a global multilateral community of non-governmental organizations and individuals. The aim of World Federation Against Drugs is to work for a drug-free world. The members of World Federation Against Drugs share a common concern that illicit drug use is undercutting traditional values and threatening the existence of stable families, communities, and government institutions throughout the world.

We have since 2009 built a global network of non-governmental organizations and individuals and today we have more than 200 member organizations from all over the world. The members are different in size, areas of work, political priorities but they all support the vision of a society free from the non-medical use of narcotic drugs.

The work of the World Federation Against Drugs is built on the principles of universal fellowship and basic human and democratic rights. We believe that working for a drug-free World will promote peace and human development and dignity, democracy, tolerance, equality, freedom and justice. WFAD supports and is guided by the 1961, 1971 and 1988 UN drug control conventions as well as the UNGASS outcome document from 2016.

WFAD regards the non-medicinal use of narcotic substances, including cannabis, as a severe public health problem that creates significant problems for individuals, families, communities, nations and the society at large. Cannabis is an addictive and impairing drug that and can cause both physical and mental health problems. The discussion on cannabis should therefore be around how we can reduce the non-medical use of cannabis.

Instead of this public health approach, we see a worrying trend to move towards legalizing cannabis for non-medical or recreational purposes.

Legalizing cannabis will result in more cannabis use, an outcome not in line with the intentions of the conventions. Increased cannabis use will result in more people suffering from adverse health and mental problems from cannabis. Prevalence of cannabis use disorders will increase. This is in part because legalization invites the creation of a commercial for-profit industry – Big Marijuana – that is incentivized to cultivate life-long cannabis users.

I have no doubt that Big Marijuana like that of Big Tobacco or Big Alcohol will find efficient distribution channels and marketing strategies to reach users of all ages of their addictive products. Efficient distribution will increase availability of the drug, its social acceptability, and as a result, increase its use.

Although frequent cannabis users are in minority, they consume the majority of the cannabis used. The growing cannabis industry is dependent on frequent users to make high profits, and as a result will target the most vulnerable populations in their marketing.

An important statement that needs to be said at every meeting, and repeated over and over again while discussing the world drug problem is that the World’s poorest communities are the most vulnerable to the harms of drug use and trade.
Experience tells us that a balanced and restrictive drug policy limits the problem of drug abuse. The key to success is to prevent the problem, the success of treatment is rather limited although treatment must be a part of a balanced policy.
The strength of the international drug control system is its universality. But drug policies are too important to be left to drug experts and to governments alone. It is a society-wide responsibility that requires society-wide engagement.

- This means working with children, starting from parents and teachers, to ensure that they develop self-esteem.
- This means supporting family-based programmes because prevention begins at home.
- This means advocacy.

As non-governmental organizations we can play a crucial and a very important role in this matter.

The future of an improved drug policy is not to legalize intoxicating, abusable drugs, including cannabis.

It is in the development of a balanced, restrictive drug policy that prevents drug use, and that intervenes with drugs users to provide them with a path to life-long recovery. Instead of legalizing drugs, an enlightened drug policy can harness the criminal justice system to thwart drug markets, facilitate entry into treatment and restrict incarceration to egregious offenders. The criminal law against illegal drug use is a major public health strategy to reduce drug abuse and the many health, safety and productivity losses imposed by drug abuse.

These are the elements of a successful drug policy. This drug policy makes clear that drug use is unacceptable.

Thank you for your attention!
On May 7, 2018, INCB held a meeting with representatives from the civil society on the topic of medical and non-medical user of cannabis. 

WFAD was one of the representatives that was invited to share our opinion on the use of cannabis for medical and non-medical use. 

Below is the statement that was delivered by Linda Nilsson. 

The Use of Cannabis for Medical and Non-Medical Purposes

Dear board and secretariat of INCB, dear colleagues form the civil society,

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak to you today and give our input on the use of cannabis for medical and non-medical purposes. I welcome this discussion and the inclusion of civil society as a vital part of the discussion.

I represent World Federation Against Drugs, an umbrella organization consisting of over 200 member organization from all over the world. The members of WFAD are different in size, areas of work, political priorities but we all support the vision of a society free from the non-medical use of narcotic drugs.

WFAD supports and is guided by the 1961, 1971 and 1988 UN drug control conventions as well as the UNGASS outcome document form 2016. As the monitoring and supporting body of the UN international drug control treaties, INCB has an important task to assist member states to implement the conventions in the best possible way. I will do my best to raise some of the voices from our membership on this topic. The majority of WFAD members are from the global south. I will focus my remarks on the consequences of legalization and commercialization of non-medial cannabis for vulnerable populations.

WFAD regards the non-medicinal use of narcotic substances, including cannabis, as a severe public health problem that creates significant problems for individuals, families, communities, nations and the society at large. Cannabis is an addictive and impairing drug that and can cause both physical and mental health problems.

The discussion on cannabis should therefore be around how we can reduce the non-medical use of cannabis.

Instead of this public health approach, we see a worrying trend to move towards legalizing cannabis for non-medical or recreational purposes. Legalizing cannabis will result in more cannabis use, an outcome not in line with the intentions of the conventions. Increased cannabis use will result in more people suffering from adverse health and mental problems from cannabis. Prevalence of cannabis use disorders will increase. This is in part because legalization invites the creation of a commercial for-profit industry – Big Marijuana – that is incentivized to cultivate life-long cannabis users. I have no doubt that Big Marijuana like that of Big Tobacco will find efficient distribution channels and marketing strategies to reach users of all ages of their addictive products. Efficient distribution will increase availability of the drug, its social acceptability, and as a result, increase its use.

Although frequent cannabis users are in minority, they consume the majority of the cannabis used. The growing cannabis industry is dependent on frequent users to make high profits, and as a result will target the most vulnerable populations in their marketing.
An important statement that needs to be said at every meeting, and repeated over and over again while discussing the world drug problem is that the World’s poorest communities are the most vulnerable to the harms of drug use and trade.

Addiction affects all people the same. But without protective factors in place, the most vulnerable are more likely to become addicted. It is harder for these populations to get the help and support they need for treatment and paths to recovery within a society lacking resources. Worldwide, only one in six people suffering from addiction is able to get treatment. This is a deeply worrying fact that we need to deal with today -- not taking policy actions like legalization of marijuana that will increase the number of people in need of treatment.
When the rich countries of the world today are unable to adequately address the problems associated with drugs, including cannabis, how
can we expect the poorer countries to do so?

Another question we need to ask us is if changing cannabis policy is where we should allocate our resources in a society that needs resources to provide school and basic health care to the population. Taxes from legal cannabis products will not be the answer to this, simply because there are no taxes to collect in poorer communities. Even in rich countries, taxes made off legal drugs (alcohol and tobacco) are obscured by their public health costs. We can already see the problems with regulating the alcohol industry in vulnerable communities. I see no reason to think that it will be easier to regulate the profit-seeking cannabis industry. Once unleashed, the marketing and advertising of cannabis will be hard to push back.

Individuals from upper and middle classes are the ones pushing for cannabis legalization, but the most vulnerable individuals and communities are the ones paying the price.

I urge you to take this into consideration when discussing non-medical use of cannabis. Legalizing and promoting the use of drugs, including cannabis, do not help the vulnerable communities. These actions harm them.

I also want to stress one more obligation we have: the need to protect children. This is one of the most important duties of society, they are our future. It is why the Convention on the Rights of the Child is one of the most widely ratified human rights treaties. 
It is also why Article 33 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child requires states to take all appropriate measures to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and to prevent the use of children in the illicit production of such substances.

Protecting children from illicit drug use is hence not an option for states; it is an obligation.

The recommendation of WFAD is therefore to use the knowledge and science we have today with a clear aim to reduce the use of cannabis for non-medical use. We must not accept and promote more non-medical use of this drug.

To be able to do that we need to focus on prevention. We know what works. UNODC and WHO released an updated version of the international standards on prevention during the CND in March. It is possible, but we need action and determination to do it. We therefore urge the international community to mobilize communities to prevent the non-medical use of cannabis. We also urge INCB to continue to monitor and support member states’ compliance to the international drug conventions. The conventions are the cornerstone of the international drug policy. And they should be implemented with full respect for the human rights.

I therefore urge you to put health first, for the whole world and not just for the ones with enough protective factors around them to be able to cope with increased availability of cannabis. We, as adults and part of the rich world need and have an obligation to protect the children and the other vulnerable populations.

Finally, I would like to remind you that alcohol and tobacco cause more suffering, costs and death, simply because they are more available. It is both greedy and without innovation to put profit first and to add another substance to this list of legal drugs.
Thank you.
 
Click here to read more and register!

The City of Gothenburg and the World Federation Against Drugs have the honor to invite you to the 25th ECAD Mayors’ Conference and the 6th World Forum Against Drugs, two important events that will take place jointly on May 14-15 in Gothenburg, Sweden. International cooperation on drug policy faces many challenges. The UN Drug Conventions are clear on what goals drug preventive work must have. Still, there are different views on how this work should be carried out in practice.

The Gothenburg events will go in-depth on the best practices and strategies for implementing the updated international standards for prevention. More specifically, we will learn more about recovery as a goal for treatment, how the criminal justice system can work with providers of treatment and other services for drug users, why it is important to take gender aspects into consideration when providing treatment – just to mention some of the topics. We look forward to seeing you all in Gothenburg.

Ann-Sofie Hermansson
Mayor, City of Gothenburg

Sven-Olov Carlsson
International President, World Federation Against Drugs



National conference in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Recovery from substance dependence – shift in drug policy and practice

Choose Recovery is a project with three WFAD members in the Balkan region; Celebrate Recovery from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Izlazak in Serbia and Preporod in Montenegro. The project will be implemented during three years with overall project objective to strengthen the society’s responses towards people who use drugs and people affected by drug abuse and thereby improve their position in society.

One of the problematic issues identified in the region is the lack of cooperation between different actors dealing with the problem of addiction. The project is therefore gathering all the actors in the field to discuss the possibilities and obstacles for people to recover in the region. On December 11th the project partner in Bosnia and Herzegovina invited all relevant actors in Bosnia and Herzegovina to the conference “Recovery from substance dependence – shift in drug policy and practice”.

The conference was hosted by the Ministry of Security in the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The conference gathered over 80 participants from 44 different governmental and non-governmental organizations from Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region.

The participants and the guests were welcomed by Ognjen Zekic from the Ministry of Security Department for Drug Abuse who highlighted the importance of cooperation. A new National Drug Strategy has been drafted in Bosnia and Herzegovina and is now in the process of being approved in the Parliament. The Strategy has been developed together with the civil society and one of the partners has been the project partner Celebrate Recovery.

The chair of Celebrate Recovery, Boro Goic, presented the project “Choose Recovery” addressing problems and the possibilities in the society to enable recovery. Within the project a survey has been done in all three countries on the public opinion on addiction and recovery. The survey shows that too big portion of the public in the three countries doubt that it is possible to recover from addiction and fully integrate into the society. The project aims to continue work on the public opinion and also on the practical tools in the society to enable recovery.

The Croatian office for combating drug abuse was also present at the conference to share the Croatian model of reintegrating into society. The model has been implemented for the last ten years and offers social support for people in recovery to find employment. Over 1000 persons have been taking part in the project and over 500 have completed their education through this program. The Croatian government is very pleased with the results, both in personal development of the individuals involved in the program but also with the resources they save in getting people back as contributing members of the society.

All speakers at the conference stressed that detox and treatment for drug addiction is not the goal, it is rather the beginning and more resources are needed for the social support to enable people to return to society. Hence there is a good foundation for the continuation of the work to be done on the local level in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
 
 
Save the date for the 6th World Forum Against Drugs!

The 6th World Forum Against Drugs will be held in Gothenburg Sweden, May 14-16, 2018 under the patronage of H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden.  MG 4871

The World Forum Against Drugs is a biannual arena for exchanging knowledge and experience, an arena to describe new research and to inspire to new methods of prevention. It is a meeting place for people around the world who work to prevent illicit drug use through grassroots efforts, on a voluntary basis, professionally or as policymakers.

The 6th Forum will be held together with ECAD’s 25th Mayors Conference. This will enable us to do a bigger event, attract more people and also attract the best possible speakers.

We hope to see many of you in Gothenburg next year. More information about the program and practical information will come!

 MG 5122
Intervention by WFAD's board member Ezekwesiri Eluchie at the CND Post-UGASS thematic Intersessional Meeting, Vienna. 

November 16, 2017

In my capacity as Representative for Sub Sahara Africa on the Civil Society Task Force on UNGASSS 2016, during the build up to UNGASS 2016, I undertook a series of consultations in 8 Sub Sahara Africa countries (Ghana, Senegal, Kenya, Malawi, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Nigeria) with Civil Society Organizations, Government agencies and intergovernmental/international donor agencies to gauge their responses and towards addressing the substance abuse situation in the region covered. Sequel to the release of the UNGASS 2016 Outcome Document, I have likewise continued to maintain consultations and communications with the various stakeholders in the countries earlier visited across Sub Sahara Africa on best practices towards implementing and facilitating the intendments of the said Outcome Documents.

A critical and fundamental problem highlighted in all the countries evaluated in the course of the Consultations was the dearth of data and statistics relating to the substance abuse and a corresponding lack of human capacity to sustain requisite interventions in all facets of the substance abuse situation across Sub Sahara Africa, ranging from Prevention, Treatment, Care and Rehabilitation, and Interdiction and Supply Control. Though there was a palpable problem with regards to the substance abuse situation in all the countries evaluated, the dearth stated above made it near-impossible to understand, with any real exactitude, the scope and extent of such problems and which areas to best deploy the scare resources available to record a higher Return-on-Investments.

There is unanimity of purpose amongst the countries evaluated, that the foremost area requiring specialized, targeted, effective and sustainable technical assistance would be in building the domestic human capacity in the areas of collating and maintaining reliable statistics and a data base of information on substance abuse situation. The unique role and outreach potentials of civil society and community based organizations as vehicles to penetrate hard-to-reach populations in Sub Sahara Africa, places such organizations in a unique vantage position to best utilize such technical assistance.

The paucity of financial resources available in the region and the fact that the region is generally weighed down by such basic health challenges as Infectious diseases, High maternal mortality and Childhood killer diseases, and Immunization concerns making less funds available for addressing secondary and tertiary health care concerns makes the prioritization of evidence based prevention strategies and practices inevitable. Financial assistance towards translating time-tested and experience-based substance abuse prevention strategies and practices in the region into scalable domestically generated evidence based practices was paramount to succeeding in addressing the substance abuse situation in the region.

The need for countries in the Sub Sahara Africa region, in view of the proximity in their situations, to increase collaboration and exchange ideas as to what works best within their respective countries was agreed as a panacea to the continued reliance on ‘evidence-based’ prevention practices sourced from countries far removed from the situation of African countries (South-South collaboration).  North-South collaborative programs should not be restricted only to interdiction and supply control approaches but also cover prevention and demand reduction strategies and practices.

On our part, our organization, People Against Drug Dependence & Ignorance (PADDI) has concentrated on building local, national, regional and Africa-wide network of CSO’s/NGO’s with a view to ensuring that when resources are pooled together, the scarcity of resources for which the African continent and its constituent countries are notorious for, can be converted into a pedestal for cooperation, shared responsibilities and mutual benefit towards addressing a common Drug abuse problem.

In collaboration with WFAD and under the patronage of H.E Pierre Bou Assy, Minister of Social Affairs in Lebanon, Nusroto Al-Anashid Association organized an international convention on Drugs  at Monroe Hotel in Downtown - Beirut,Lebanon on May 3rd & 4th, 2017.

The conference aimed to:
Raise awareness in Lebanon around strategies for drug prevention and their implementation in the educational system;
Discuss the most deceloiped types of treatment and rehabilitation; 
Educate and promote healthy options for a drug-free environment;
Exchange and share experience and knowledge.

The opening day was attended by the Minister of Social Affairs, Mr. Pierre Bou Assi, representatives of the Ministers of Justice, Health, Interior and Education, MPs and Ministers, including former Minister of Social Affairs Dr. Salim Sayegh, President of the World Federation Against Drugs, Mr. Sven-Olov Carlsson, , Head of Law Enforcement in Lebanon, Head of the Customs Office, Ambassador Graziella Seif, President of the International Ambassadors Association in the United States, Ambassador Aftab Khokher, Raúl Madrigas charge d’Affaire for the Cuban Embassy, the Mayor of Zahle, and the Bishops, Judges, Lawyers, heads of parties, Media, Priests, civil society figures and specialists such as psychiatrists, professors and therapists. The conference was attended by specialists from Sweden, Austria, Pakistan, Tunisia, Cuba, Africa, Saudi Arabia and Syria.
The conference of "Drugs:  Prevention and Treatment" highlighted about a dangerous file that results in cases of disability and death. The Lebanese Minister of Media Melhem Al-Riachi told the audience that from the platform of the Nusroto-Association Conference he will protest drugs through the Lebanese state radio, to allocate special awareness programs on the Drug  problem as well as on the official  television channel of Lebanon. He also has the right to oblige other media institutions to publish what he deems necessary.

President of the WFAD Mr. Sven-Olov Carlsson said: "We believe that working for a drug-free world will promote human development, dignity, democracy, tolerance, equality, freedom and justice,", also focusing on the importance of disseminating prevention strategies that solely protect future generations from the scourge of drugs, noting the great work and efforts implemented by Nusroto Association in Bekaa region. Minister Al-Sayegh presented the importance of the role of non-governmental organizations in dealing with drug addicts. MP Joseph Maalouf gave a lecture on the reasons for the amendment of the drug law, which deals with the subject of drug legislation, saying that the Lebanese state is not ready for it.

Father Marwan Ghanem, President of the Nusroto Association, who spoke at the opening session about the conference's objectives: to help patients with drugs at all levels of life, to identify action plans to spread the culture of drug risk awareness, and to develop human resource capacities in the fight against drugs. Father Ghanem ended the conference by highlighting the roles of this conference and Nusroto-Al-Anashid Association in the fight against drugs. Also he has promised to issue a book about  the conference, summing up the sessions and making important recommendations to the legislative and governmental authorities.
 The vice president of the Nusroto Association and the representative of the Asian continent at the WFAD , Mrs. Rima Saade Turk, who directed and organized the conference, spoke about Marijuana in the countries of Asia, she focused on trading this kind of drugs in Lebanon, which is profitable despite its illegitimacy.

The recommendations made by the conference were presented to the Excellency President of Lebanon.

Photos from the conference can be found here.

In collaboration with WFAD, Nusroto Al-Anashid Association under the patronage of H.E Pierre Bou Assy, the Minister of Social Affairs in Lebanon, are organizing an international convention on Drugs  at Monroe Hotel in Downtown - Beirut,Lebanon on May 3rd & 4th, 2017

The theme of the conference: “Drugs: Prevention and Treatment”.

The conference will include Ministries Speakers: Ministry of Social Affairs, Ministry of Interior and Municipalities, Ministry of Media, Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Education and Higher Education, professional speakers from Europe and Asia specially from Sweden,Austria, Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon, and other countries as well as the International president of WFAD (World Federation Against Drugs) in Sweden.

The conference will also include presentations and lectures on the most updated drug treatments, rehabilitation, and prevention. Attendees will be from political, religious,military and civilian authorities.

http://www.nusroto.org/index.php/conference-2017/registration

Statement submitted by World Federation Against Drugs to the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs Sixtieth session, Plenary, tenth meeting, Vienna, 13-17 March 2017

Madam Chairman, Distinguised Delegates, Ladies and gentlemen,soc 60

Drug use is a risk factor for a wide range of negative outcomes including mental and other illnesses, school dropout and academic failure, road accidents, unemployment, low life-satisfaction and relationship problems. Drug use and other social and health problems are intertwined so that drug use is associated with and commonly exacerbates other problems.

The first task of a public health-oriented drug policy is to prevent drug-related problems from occurring. Environmental strategies that discourage drug use and reduce the availability of illegal drugs are a central element of prevention. Community-based strategies that promote drug-free environments and supportive social norms are shown to reduce the use of both legal and illegal substances. Environmental strategies should be supplemented by education and evidence-based prevention as well as more targeted interventions that reach high-risk groups and problem drug users.

Drug use is particularly harmful to youth. Drug use usually begins in adolescence, making youth the major target for prevention. Drug related harm affects all regions of the world.

Drug use does not only affect the drug user. Often, family and friends are the first to experience the problems caused by drug use. In addition drug use has serious consequences for society as a whole, e.g. in the workplace, schools, on the roads, in the criminal justice system and in the health and social services.

There is a need for a comprehensive approach to drug-related harm, with a strong focus on prevention and early intervention, as well as control measures, health services, treatment and rehabilitation for users.

Drug problems are particularly intractable in the nexus of mental health problems, crime, deprivation and social exclusion. Problem drug users often need comprehensive services including health, housing, education and work. The essential point here is that drug addiction is not only a health problem nor only a crime problem.

World Federation Against Drugs believe that recovery is the best way for individuals who have developed drug-related problems to minimize their risk of further consequences, to enable them to function effectively in society, to take part in education, work or other activities, to mend the relationships with their families and to empower them to take control of their own lives.

Alternative sanctions that require enforced abstinence, but also reduce the use of imprisonment for drug-related offenses should be developed, e.g. Drug Treatment Courts. Instead of being an obstacle to recovery, the criminal justice system should become a powerful engine of recovery. Alternative sanctions should empower people to become drug-free, crime-free and integrated members of society.

To promote public health and public safety it is essential that governments adhere to the three main drug control treaties of 1961, 1971, and 1988, as well as the Convention of the Rights of the Child. We believe that the UN drug treaties provide the best framework for reducing nonmedical drug use and its many negative consequences.

World Federation urges all member states to recognize that these treaties create a solid foundation on which to build future drug policy innovations. Yes, we need alternatives, but we don't need to create a public health and safety disaster through legalization.

Sven-Olov Carlsson
International President
 
WFAD is part of the network of Drug Policy Future, a platform for drug policy based on health. DPF believes in engaging in open dialogue about the strengths and weakness of the global drug policies. DPF advocates for evidence based strategies to promote public health, safety and the wellbeeing of society, including those addicted and their drug families.

On March 15 The Drug Policy Future launched four position papers at a lunch held for member states at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting in Vienna. The papers are action oriented, we wanted to provide input to the implementation of the UNGASS outcome document, "Our join Commitment to Effectively Addressing and Countering the World Drug Problem".

The four documents with recommendations on the way forward can be found here:

Ten steps for Successful National Action on Drugs
In Spanish: Diez pasos para una acción nacional exitosa sobre drogas

Effective prevention methods are ready for implementation
In Spanish: Los méthods eficaces de prevención están listos para la implementación

Recovery and Social Reintegration

Proportionality in reactions to Drug Related Crimes

2017-03-15 13.43.32


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