Welcome to the SSDP International Organizing Committee’s first Monthly Bulletin! Here you will find updates on SSDP activities happening around the world, drug policy news from the United Nations and other countries, as well as calls to action. This month’s bulletin will cover news and activities from June 26th (the annual Support Don’t Punish Day of Action) through the end of July. SSDP’s International Organizing Committee (IOC) is dedicated to supporting youth-led drug policy activism all over the world. Any active member of SSDP or member of the Alumni Association is welcome to join. If you’re interested in getting involved, please e-mail Jake Agliata at email@example.com and he’ll put you on the IOC mailing list.
- A group of SSDP members attended the second intersessional meeting of the 61st Commision on Narcotic Drugs. These intersessional meetings are an opportunity for members of the Commission to discuss progress made on the resolutions & discussions that took place during the annual CND meeting in March. This intersessional meeting saw a lively discussion emerge regarding Canada’s legalization of adult-use cannabis. A number of member states, most vocally Russia, expressed opposition to the policy and called Canada’s policy a fundamental breach of the international drug control framework. Only one member state, New Zealand, expressed direct support for Canada, though a handful of other delegations (USA, Netherlands, France, and Germany) emphasized that the CND is not a place to single out the policies of one member state. Other topics discussed at the intersessional included a progress update on revisions to the Annual Report Questionnaire, a data collection survey filled out by member states each year, and updates regarding preparations for the 2019 High-Level Ministerial Segment. Check out the full takeaways of the SSDP delegation here.
- SSDP members in the United States attended the New York launch of the World Drug Report at the UN headquarters. This annual publication by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) contains research and data on drug use from all over the world. Yuri Fedotov, the Executive Director of the UNODC, made some introductory remarks where he called for member states to expand the availability of evidence-based treatment programs. Angela Me, the UNODC’s Director of Research, then presented some of the major findings of this year’s World Drug Report. One of the more notable findings was that reports of seizures related to cannabis use are dropping around the globe, indicating that the global attitude towards cannabis is shifting. In response to these findings, representatives from member states gave short talks to demonstrate their own local situations as well as their own goals in moving toward a safer world. Notably, Jamaica’s representative pushed for making information accessible and understandable to everyone rather than just those that are more educated than the majority of the global population.
- At the World Health Organization, an expert committee on drug dependence met in Geneva for a critical review of CBD, the first time such a meeting has focused on just one substance. Over 12 people gave video or in-person presentations, and 15 member states sent observers. The final outcome for CBD will come at the end of the summer along with a preliminary outcome for cannabis that could lead to a similar critical review.
Regional UpdatesLatin America
- EPSD México held an educational conference in México City for Support Don’t Punish that featured speeches on health and drug policy. Similar events were held in three other Mexican states.
- SSDP chapters in Ireland organized a Support Don’t Punish event in Dublin, where they talked to people in the streets about decriminalization. The event came at a great time as a working group has been set up by the government to talk about decriminalizing all drugs in Ireland.
- SSDP Nigeria participated in Support Don’t Punish by organizing marches and educational rallies in five different locations throughout the country. They were joined by representatives of law enforcement and the Ministry of Health at the Abeokuta event.
- SSDP Sierra Leone held a day long conference for Support Don’t Punish that was attended by the Minister for Youth Affairs, who called it “the most outstanding, popular and successful drug policy program ever organized in Sierra Leone.”
- Members of SSDP Nigeria, SSDP Ghana, and SSDP Gambia attended the 5th West Africa Executive Course on Drug Policy in Accra, Ghana.
- held a three-day workshop funded by our friends at YouthRISE titled “Harm Reduction, Drug Policies, and Advocacy for Human Rights in Drug Fields.” 22 people from all parts of the country participated, along with 10 journalists who covered one day of the event. The chapter also celebrated the Support Don’t Punish campaign in different parts of Pakistan, where they celebrated the work of young people raising awareness about drug policies and human rights. SSDP Pakistan
- SSDP and Akbayan Youth members in The Philippines worked with leaders of Sangguniang Kabataan (youth government officials) to execute a historic forum on harm reduction and public health as alternatives to the War on Drugs. Senator Risa Hontiveros was in attendance and discussed her opposition to Duterte’s drug war. The forum was well attended and got national media coverage. This is part of their strategy to go local in changing the narrative on punitive drug policies.