Heated discussion about cannabis regulation

DPNSEE Executive Director Milutin Milošević participated in a TV debate about decision of the German parliament to lealise cannabis. Besides clarifying different aspects of that decision and informing about other modalities injurisdictions around the world, Milutin had to insist of some clear information about cannabis regulation and legal mechanisms for potential discussion and taking similar decision in Serbia.

The video from the debate (in Serboan) is available following the link bellow.


Germany legalised cannabis

The German parliament’s lower house has adopted a new law to allow the recreational use of cannabis. 407 parliamentarians voted in favor of the new regulation, 226 voted against and four lawmakers abstained.

Possession of up to 25g and smoking will be allowed in public spaces from 1 April 2024. In private homes the legal limit will be 50g. Smoking cannabis in some areas, such as near schools and sports grounds, will still be illegal.

From 1 July, non-commercial members’ clubs, dubbed “cannabis social clubs”, will grow and distribute a limited amount of the drug. Each club will have an upper limit of 500 members, and membership will only be available to German residents. Growing your own cannabis will also be permitted, with up to three marijuana plants allowed per household.

Germany is the third country in Europe – after Malta and Luxembourg – to legalize the drug for recreational use, removing cannabis from the official list of banned substances.


Mental Health Challenges Faced by Harm Reduction Staff

Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network (C-EHRN) published Civil Society-led Monitoring of Harm Reduction In Europe 2023 Data Report, dedicated to the well-being and working environment of harm reduction staff. The study focuses on the various challenges harm reduction workers encounter in their work and how those challenges affect them and their organisations, as well as coping mechanisms and organisational opportunities for support.

The participants in this study are identified as focal points within the C-EHRN. The network encompasses a diverse array of contributors, including grassroots and community-based organisations, service providers, drug user organisations, and research entities. Within this network, focal points act as hubs for collecting data and information on a broad range of issues related to harm reduction in the cities they work.

The report is available following this link>>>.


A new action plan in the field of addiction in Croatia

The Croatian Institute for Public Health, together with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Interior, presented the new Action Plan in the field of addiction for the period up to 2026. In order to achieve the priorities and special goals defined by the National Addiction Strategy for the period up to 2030, the Government of the Republic of Croatia adopted in January 2024 the first Action Plan (out of two that will accompany the implementation of the National Strategy).

It was pointed out that the trends speak in favor of the fact that in the last few years there has been an increased prevalence of the use of addictive substances, especially drugs, and new challenges are also brought by behavioral addictions (gambling, betting, playing video games, excessive use of the Internet and social networks).

The plan puts special emphasis on providing support in the implementation of scientifically based preventive programs, implementing recovery and rehabilitation programs, strengthening the competences of experts through systematic training on scientifically based prevention and treatment practices and current international and EU standards, creating guidelines, standards and protocols for ensuring quality implementation of interventions. In addition to the above, significant efforts are focused on timely detection and monitoring of the emergence of new psychoactive substances and associated health risks through the national Early Warning System.

To access the Action plan (in Croatian), follow this link>>>.


Call for the Regional Youth Partnerships Network Members

The Belgrade Centre for Security Policy opened the Regional Youth Partnerships program aimed to develop the next generation of changemakers by providing exceptional opportunities to learn, create, share, and connect through a wide range of activities, such as:

  • Large and small Network meetings on a range of different topics, the first of which is the Regional Peacebuilding Academy scheduled for April 21st – 26th
  • Community-based collaborative projects as a foundation for ongoing Network engagement
  • Small-scale research initiatives and analyst exchanges between Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Serbia
  • High-level regional conferences and meetings with local and foreign stakeholders.

The program is seeking applications from young, civic-minded professionals who want to meaningfully connect across the Western Balkans region. Sixty-six young professionals between the ages of 19 and 32 will be selected. These professionals should be residents of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Serbia (equally represented, 22 people from each).

Deadline for applications is 29 February 2024.

More information are available following this link: https://bezbednost.org/en/open-call-for-the-western-balkans-regional-youth-partnerships-network-members/.


Amsterdam Manifesto Dealing with Drugs

The Cities and Drug Challenges Conference took place on 26 January, on the initiative of the Mayor of Amsterdam Femke Halsema. At this historic conference, global mayors and drug experts argued it would be more effective to regulate drugs like cocaine than the current state of prohibition and law-enforcement.

Mayor Halsema told that regulation of drugs such as cocaine was the only way to reduce social damage. “If we continue to fight drugs and drug users, we will remain caught in a never-ending war on drugs,” she said, opening conference. “If we want to fight crime and the violence associated with the drug trade, we need to take the drug market away from the criminals. Not by creating a free market, but by taking a controlled, responsible approach. This will reduce drug-related crime, improve public health and the general wellbeing of our citizens and relieve our criminal justice system”.

The outcome of the conference is the Amsterdam Manifesto – a catalyst for a global coalition advocating comprehensive drug policy reform. The Manifesto is based on the following guiding principles:

  1. Effectiveness as policy compass
  2. Regulatory alternatives and risk mitigation
  3. Public health, social policy and addressing underlying issues
  4. Cautious implementation

The Manifesto pledges for:

  1. Strengthening a global movement
  2. Charting the course with scientific evidence
  3. Harvesting global knowledge
  4. Embracing courageous decision-making

To read and support the Manifesto, follow this link>>>.

A Global Initiative for the Prevention of Drug Use

From the Dianova news

Addiction prevention is one of the pillars of drug demand reduction policies. At present, however, this area has not received the attention it requires, in terms of drug policies, public investment, research, etc.

In June 2023, some twenty international experts met at a consultation organized by the Proyecto Hombre association in the Spanish city of Oviedo. The consultation focused on the various addiction prevention strategies (including drugs and non-substance related addictions) and the challenges to be met in this area. The consultation led to the notion of promoting an initiative aimed at raising the profile of these initiatives and putting forward concrete recommendations to strengthen the field of prevention worldwide.

Following the creation of an ad hoc working group, a draft declaration was produced, with the collaboration of over 150 experts participating on a voluntary basis.

The “Declaration of Oviedo” has recently been published, and civil society organizations have been given the opportunity to sign and support the initiative. The declaration will be officially presented at the next annual session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in March 2024. It should be emphasized that the greater the number of signatures in support of the declaration, the greater its impact will be. We therefore encourage civil society organizations to read and sign the Oviedo Declaration and disseminate it to their contacts and networks.

You may find all the information, the declaration in several languages, as well as the endorsement form, on the Declaration’s official website: https://www.oviedodeclaration.org/

Together, let’s support more effective drug prevention that reaches as many people as possible!

Download the Oviedo Declaration (.pdf document) in: English, Castellano, Français.


World Drug Report 2023 analysis

The World Drug Report 2023 presents – as ever – an impressive array of largely accessible and user-friendly data and analysis of what the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC or Office) continues to refer to as the ‘world drug problem’. In so doing, readers can identify many familiar and predominantly alarming trends regarding the growing scale and increasing complexity of the illegal drug market.

Sylvia Kay (Transnational Institute) with contributions from Marie Nougier (IDPC), prepared an independent analysis of the World Drug Report. It is available following this link>>>.


Global HCV elimination efforts through point-of-care testing

The International Network on Health and Hepatitis in Substance Users (INHSU), in collaboration with the Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination (CGHE), FIND, The Kirby Institute, UNSW, and Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), announced the release of a comprehensive report stemming from the INHSU Hepatitis C Point-of-Care Testing Forum, held during the Global Hepatitis Summit in Paris in April 2023.

Despite advances in treatment, an estimated 57 million people are living with chronic hepatitis C infection globally, with 290,000 people dying from HCV-related cirrhosis and liver cancer each year. Scaling up testing and utilising innovative testing methods are integral if the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2030 elimination targets are to be met.

The Barriers and solutions to increasing access to point-of-care HCV testing report, developed in response to the urgent need for effective strategies to combat the global burden of HCV, explores the underutilised promise of point-of-care testing in simplifying diagnosis, improving access to treatment, and ultimately reducing the prevalence of HCV.

The report underscores the urgent need for action to address challenges in these five key areas and provides practical solutions for implementation alongside real-world examples of successful Point-of-Care programs from Catalonia, Iran, Denmark and more.  It is a valuable resource for policymakers, healthcare professionals, and organisations committed to advancing global HCV elimination goals.


European civil society consultations

To facilitate meaningful civil society contributions to the 2024 high-level segment of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), the Vienna & New York NGO Committees on Drugs (VNGOC & NYNGOC) in cooperation with the UNODC Civil Society Unit organised a series of regional civil society consultations in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the Americas. In addition, a global online survey was launched in November 2023 to further solicit broad input. The outcomes of the regional consultations in preparation of the 2024 mid-term review will feed into the global civil society contributions towards the 2024 mid-term review and will be presented to Member States in February 2024.

The European Civil Society consultations were conducted in partnership with the Civil Society Forum on Drugs in the EU (CSFD). They consisted of a series of online consultations as well as a hybrid consultation held on 16 January in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

DPNSEE Executive Director Milutin Milošević participated and contributed to this event in person.