Executive Training on gender dimensions in drug policy

Pompidou Group – the Council of Europe’s drug policy cooperation platform – organises an Executive Training on gender dimensions in drug policy. The purpose of the training is to assist managers responsible for the implementation of drug policies and programmes to effectively integrate gender perspectives and dimensions into all aspects of their work from planning strategic tools, developing normative standards, designing and delivering thematic and regional programmes and working through the project cycle.

The training is tailored for managers from governmental or other institutions and organisations responsible for developing and/or implementing drug policies and/or coordinating related programme implementation, service delivery and cooperation with stakeholders and representatives from civil society organisations working in various sectors of drug field.

The training course consists of the two modules that are conducted during two in-residence seminars:

  • 1st Module: Seminar – Setting the scene, to be held 2 – 4 April 2019 in Amsterdam
  • 2nd Module: Seminar – From practice to reflection, scheduled for 25 – 28 June 2019 in Israel

The application deadline is 10 February 2019. To apply for the Training, please contact the Permanent Correspondent of your country or the Secretariat of the Pompidou Group.

A brochure about the training is available following this link>>>>

If interested, have a look at the video bellow

LGBTQ online safety guide

On the basis of a survey in which they asked 695 LGBTQ+ people worldwide about their experiences online, vpnMentor prepared a Guide to help this population to stay safe online. This guide aims to empower them and give them the tools to protect themselves online.

Some of the key findings of the survey indicate that:

  • 73% of all respondents in all categories of gender identity and sexual orientation have been personally attacked or harassed online.
  • 50% of all respondents in all categories of gender identity and sexual orientation have suffered sexual harassment online.
  • When it comes to sexual orientation, asexual people feel the least safe online, and gay men the safest.
  • When it comes to gender identity, transgender women feel the least safe online, and cisgender men the safest.
  • Transgender women are the most likely to be outed against their will online, while cisgender men are least likely.

The Guide which is available following this link>>> offers a lot of practical advices on finding community online, cyber bullying on social media, cyber bullying on online forums, controlling identity, tips for parents, etc.

A lot of this content may also be used by the people who use drugs and other related marginalised populations.

DPNSEE working visit to Greece

Members of the DPNSEE board, Ana Lybenova and Vlatko Dekov visited Athens from 28 to 30 November 2018. Aim of the visit was to meet with major stakeholders in the field of drug policy and obtain information about the situation, problems and viewpoints of civil society and government actors. It was the final visit to the countries of the region in the process that started in July 2016.

Lybenova and Dekov visited DPNSEE member organizations from Greece Positive voiceDiogenis and Centre for Life. The host of this working visit were: Marios Atzemis, the DPNSEE board member and member of Positive voice and Nikos Stergiou from Diogenis.

During the three – day delegation visit, DPNSEE board members visited CheckPoint Athens, Kethea Needle exchange service, Red Umbrella Athens, National EMCDDA Focal Point, NGO STEPS, NGO Praksis and activists at the mobile unit for HIV & HCV rapid tests.

Based on the general information that were collected on this visit, the main problems were identified for the possible areas for advocacy of DPNSEE network.

To see the full report from this visit follow this link >>>

The right to privacy of using cannabis

At the beginning of the year, The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) published the news about the right to privacy of using cannabis. The news indicate that in 2018 the highest courts in countries across three continents have asserted that state intervention in the private life of their citizens who wish to (grow and) use cannabis is not always justified. EMCDDA reports about three countries: Georgia, South Africa and Mexico.

Georgia

In Georgia, on 30 July, the Constitutional Court decided that punishment of use of cannabis in private without a doctor’s prescription was in breach of Article 12 of the Constitution, which states ‘Everyone has the right to the free development of their personality’. The court found that the aims of protecting public health or public security could not justify state punishment of cannabis use in private. Penalising cultivation and possession for personal use were not contested in this case and therefore not considered.

South Africa

In South Africa, on 18 September, 10 judges of the Constitutional Court ruled that it was not reasonable to penalise an adult who cultivates, or uses, or possesses cannabis for personal consumption in private. The laws were incompatible with Article 14 of the Constitution, which states that ‘Everyone has the right to privacy which includes the right not to have […] their possessions seized’.

Mexico

In Mexico, on 31 October, the Supreme Court gave its fifth judgement since 2015 stating that penalising private cultivation, possession and use of cannabis (and tetrahydrocannabinol) was unconstitutional, against the principle of free development of the personality. Other courts are obliged to follow Supreme Court judgments once five similar rulings have been delivered.

All three courts emphasised that any private use of cannabis should not be in the presence of children.

The courts also commented on trends in international developments in cannabis policy and use. The Georgian court noted the increasing application of human rights law in modern legal standards, and the South African court ruled that such state interference is not justified ‘in open and democratic societies’.

In the 1988 UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, Article 3(2) states that a country should criminalise possession and cultivation for personal use ‘subject to its constitutional principles’. The court in Mexico stated that it upheld the constitutional principle of free development of personality and considered it was still in line with the Convention.

The European Convention on Human Rights, Article 8(1), states that “Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence’, with limits, and the ‘private life’ has been interpreted to include the right to develop one’s own personality.”

Bosnian version of the Glossary

With the support of our member organisation Margina, DPNSEE produced the Glossary of terms used in drug policy in Bosnian.

The Glossary is prepared with the aim to contribute to better understanding the drug problem in more emphatic manner. Glossary is an alphabetical list of terms with definitions.

This is the fourth language in which the Glossary is published, after the original version in English and those in Spanish and Serbian.

To download the Glossary in Bosnian, follow this link>>>>

Council of Europe’s recommendation on protection and promotion of the civil society space

At their 1330th meeting, the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers adopted a Recommendation CM/Rec(2018)11 on the need to strengthen the protection and promotion of the civil society space in Europe and encouraged member States to continue their efforts in this respect.

The Recommendation calls on CoE member states to comply with the principles that it sets out, to ensure its wide dissemination among competent authorities and stakeholders and to examine its implementation five years after its adoption, within the Council of Ministers.

In particular, it sets out recommendations in four sections:

  1. National legal framework and political and public environment to protect and promote civil society space
  2. National measures to protect civil society space
  3. National measures to promote civil society space
  4. Support from Council of Europe bodies and institutions

The Council of Europe Recommends that the governments of member States:

  1. Ensure that the principles set out in the appendix to this Recommendation are complied with in relevant national legislation and practice, and evaluate the effectiveness of the measures taken;
  2. Ensure, by appropriate means and action – including, where appropriate, translation – a wide dissemination of this Recommendation among competent authorities and stakeholders;
  3. Examine, within the Committee of Ministers, the implementation of this Recommendation five years after its adoption.

To download the Recommendation, follow this link>>>>

Potency and price of cannabis in Europe doubled in last 11 years

The first study to investigate changes in cannabis across Europe showed that cannabis resin and herbal cannabis have significantly increased in potency and in price. The study was published on 30 December 2018 in the journal Addiction by researchers from the University of Bath and King’s College London. It draws on data collected from across 28 EU Member states, as well as Norway and Turkey by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

The findings show that for herbal cannabis, concentrations of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (‘THC’ – the main psychoactive constituent of cannabis) increased by a similar amount each year, from 5% in 2006 to 10% in 2016.

For cannabis resin, THC concentrations were relatively stable from 2006 to 2011 (from 8% to 10%) but then increased rapidly from 2011 to 2016 (from 10% to 17%). The price of cannabis resin also increased, but to a lesser extent than for herbal cannabis.

Cannabis resin typically contains cannabidiol (CBD) in addition to THC. CBD has recently attracted considerable interest due to its potential to treat several medical conditions including childhood epilepsy syndromes, psychosis and anxiety. But, when present in cannabis, CBD may offset some of the harmful effects of THC such as paranoia and memory impairment.

Cannabis-containing higher levels of THC and/or lower levels of CBD has been linked to greater long-term harms such as the development of cannabis dependence, and an increased risk of psychotic illness. New resin production techniques in Morocco and Europe have increased levels of THC, but not CBD.

Leader of the research team Dr Tom Freeman indicates that “CBD has the potential to make cannabis safer, without limiting the positive effects users seek. What we are seeing in Europe is an increase in THC and either stable or decreasing levels of CBD, potentially making cannabis more harmful. These changes in the illicit market are largely hidden from scientific investigation and are difficult to target by policy-makers. An alternative option could be to attempt to control THC and CBD content through regulation.”

The research is available following this link>>>>

Glossary of terms translated into Serbian

Drug Policy Network South East Europe prepared the Serbian version of their Glossary of terms used in drug policy with the support of the Office for combating drugs of the Republic of Serbia.

The Glossary of terms was first published in English version and then in Spanish at the beginning of 2018.

This publication aims to contribute to better understanding the drug problem in more emphatic manner. Glossary is an alphabetical list of terms used in a domain of drug policy, with the definitions for those terms. It contains explanations of concepts and terms related to the field of drugs and relevant related matters.

The glossary should serve firstly to member organisations in a way that will help in process of harmonization of opinions and attitudes. This material will also serve a wider range of groups of people including policy makers, stakeholders, activists, the media, police, judiciary and others to understand drug problem and drug policy in a better way.

DPNSEE also plans to prepare versions in various local SEE languages. The Glossary will be updated from time to time. If you find difficulties in understanding some other terms used in drug policy, please don’t hesitate to contact DPNSEE and we shall be more than happy to find a definition and add it to the Glossary.

To download PDF version of the Glossary of terms on Serbian follow this link >>>

Reducing the problems of the dependency

The annual Press Conference “Activities on the field of reducing the problems of the dependency” was held on 20 December 2018 in the EU info Centre in Belgrade. Speakers at the Conference were Nebojša Đurasović, President of the Association Prevent, Milan Pekić, Director of the Office for Combating Drugs of the Government of the Republic of Serbia and Milutin Milošević, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Network South East Europe. Representatives of the institutions and organisations with whom Prevent and DPNSEE cooperate participated in the Conference.

Nebojša Đurasović presented activities which Association Prevent conducted in scope of the project “At Risk Youth Social Empowerment” and other projects realised in 2018. For a good work, Prevent deserved the award “Responsible attitude and work with vulnerable young people” offered by the city of Novi Sad. Đurasović also spoke about extending the programme of needle exchange to Belgrade and draw attention to the issues of drugs in Serbia including raising number of overdose deaths in young population.

Milan Pekić presented the co-operation between the Office for Combating Drugs and civil society organisations in Serbia as an example of good practice, especially in the process of designing the new Action Plan for implementation of the Strategy for drug prevention.

Milutin Milošević presented a situation in the region of South East Europe, activities in 2018 and plans of the Drug Policy Network South East Europe for the future. His comments on new psychoactive substances and change of culture of drug use raised a special attention.

Representatives of institutions and organisations that co-operate with Prevent and Drug Policy Network SEE were attended the Conference and took discussion on several topics, especially about discrimination.

The open discussion that followed was mainly focused on the issue of discrimination of drug users.

Two news publications were presented at the Conference: Prevent published the one on “Empowering against the discrimination of youth at risk“, while DPNSEE prepared the Serbian version of their Glossary of terms used in drug policy with the support of the Office for combating drugs.

Videos from the Conference are available in following this link >>>

Two member organisations joined DPNSEE

At the DPNSEE General Assembly, held on 10th December 2018, in The Palace of Serbia, in Belgrade, Serbia, two new member organizations were accepted into the DPNSEE Network: Timok Youth Center (TOC) from Serbia and Center of Human Policy, from Bulgaria.

Both organizations were accepted by a unanimous decision of all present member organisations representatives.

Timok Youth Center (TOC) is a non-profit organization registered in Zaječar 2004. and operating on the territory of Zaječar, Timok region and the South -East Serbia. TOC agrees with the mission and vision of the DPNSEE and wants to actively promote the objective and open debate on the effectiveness, direction and maintenance of national, regional and international political drugs, and to promote constructive policy recommendations that lead to the adoption of human and effective drug policies in SEE.

Timočki Omladinski Centar

TOC is ready to actively engage with the creators of political and decision-making bodies in Serbia and in the region of Southeast Europe.

Timok Youth Center is an organization that is recognized at the local as well as at the national level when it comes to the fight against addiction, and above all the fight against drug abuse. Preventive programs that are implemented, and which concern addiction diseases, are mostly oriented towards young people, especially with youth at risk. TOC think that the young people from 15 to 30, as a sensitive category of the population, are especially affected by the problem of drug abuse. The research that we have conducted on the territory of Zaječar district, in the last few years has shown that young people in most of these years most often try one of the drugs. Also, in the period from 2007 to 2014, TOC is an organization that worked within the Global Fund for Reducing HIV/AIDS in South East Serbia and developed a volunteer program dealing with this issue. They believe that intersectoral and partner cooperation in prevention programs and harm reduction programs are very important and we have good cooperation with local municipalities and ministries. TOC’s work has been recognized by the The Office against drugs of Republic Serbia, with which we have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation.

Center for Humane Policy was created in 2016 by leading experts in drug addictions and drug policy field in Bulgaria. The main goals of the organization are to promote, facilitate and support development of effective, evidence based methods and policies in the field of public health, social care and education.

The organization is a member of the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) and the chair of the Center is also co-chair of the Steering committee of the network. Center for Human Policy is very good in understanding the importance of working together with organizations from different countries to improve the drug policy situation in the region.

During the last year the organization focused their efforts on the implementation of “Preventure” in the country. It is a school-based intervention aimed at reducing adolescent drug and alcohol use in high-risk teenagers.

Nowadays Center for Humane policy relies on two experts, trained in Canada by the inventor of the Preventure methodology – Patricia J Conrod from the University of Montreal. Also the organization has personal support of professor Conrod to implement the intervention system in the country.

Center for Humane policy also builds networks with the authorities to ensure the sustainability for fereb=nt implementation of good practices, and they have the support of the Secretary of National Council on Narcotic Substances and the Vice-Minister of Ministry of Health.

Together with these activities, the organization prepares statements, reports and analyses regarding the efficiency of Harm reduction, Opioid Substitution therapy, HIV and drug treatment policies.