Czech drug policy model preserved

A week ago, we posted a news with an urgent call to support the Open letter to the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic to preserve its successful drug policy model, as our colleagues from the Czech Republic informed the international community that the Prime Minister is intending to move the Secretariat of the Council for Drug Coordination and its monitoring centre from the Office of the Government to the Ministry of Health.

DPNSEE was among 407 signatures to support the Open letter. And it worked!!!

As a result of expert pressure, the Czech government decided to desist from the intended move which we all feared would threaten the interdisciplinary model of Czech drug policy and endanger the funding of harm reduction and social services.

The support from international as well as domestic experts and professionals has been overwhelming and, apparently, has (once again) helped to preserve the Czech drug policy model.

For more details, please see a press release of the Czech government announcing that they desist from the move. The English translation is below:

THE OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT DESISTS FROM MOVING THE DRUG AGENDA UNDER THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH
4. 7. 2019 16:43

Regarding the fact that according to the Competence Act, the Office of Government should perform tasks related to the expert, organisational and technical aspects of the work done by the Government of the Czech Republic and its bodies, it has been considered that as a part of making the Office of Government more effective, the Secretariat of the Government Council for Drug Policy Coordination would be moved under the Ministry of Health with the prime minister continuing to preside the Council.

This wasn’t an isolated step. During the last year, the Governmental Council for Coordination of the Fight Against Corruption was moved under the Ministry of Justice and the agenda of social inclusion will move under the Ministry of Regional Development. In line with this, moving the drug agenda was being considered.

Due to the expert opinion that the move could diminish the importance of the drug agenda and that the discussion about moving was still undergoing, the Office of Government has decided to desist from this step. Secretariat of the Government Council for Drug Policy Coordination, currently lead by the National Drug Coordinator, will stay under the Office of Government.

Join an open letter to the Czech Prime Minister to preserve its drug policy

Our colleagues from the Czech Republic informed the international community that the Prime Minister is intending to move the Secretariat of the Council for Drug Coordination and its monitoring centre from the Office of the Government to the Ministry of Health.

As explained in the Open letter to the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic to preserve its successful drug policy model, this would have a negative effect on the interdisciplinary nature of drug policy in the Czech Republic and lead to restricted funding for social and harm reduction programmes in the future.

We have had a good communication with the Czech Secretariat and its National Monitoring Centre and learned a lot from their successful drug policy model. For this reason, DPNSEE supported the petition.

If you want to read and supported the petition follow this link>>>

European Drug Report 2019

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) issued today their regular annual European Drug Report. The Report provides a comprehensive analysis of recent drug use and market trends across the European Union (EU), Norway and Turkey.

The 2019 report highlights in particular an increase in cocaine availability with seizures at a record high, amounting to 140.4 tonnes, double the quantity seized in 2016 (70.9 tonnes). Although the retail price of cocaine remained stable, its purity at street level reached its highest level in a decade in 2017.

The report notes the “Uberization” of the cocaine trade, where users and dealers use smartphones, messaging apps and satellite navigation to obtain the drug. Enterprising criminals have set up “cocaine call centres” across Europe to provide fast and flexible delivery services.

Heroin is still the most common illicit opioid on the drug market in Europe and is a major contributor to drug-related health and social costs. The quantity of heroin seized in the EU increased by over a tonne in 2017 to 5.4 tonnes, with an additional 17.4 tonnes seized by Turkey (some of which would have been destined for the EU market). Laboratories producing heroin from morphine using this precursor have been discovered in recent years in EU countries (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Spain and the Netherlands). Heroin purity remains high and the retail price relatively low.

Belgium has overtaken Spain as the hub of the fast-growing European drug market. Belgium is playing an enlarged role in both the distribution and production markets of cocaine, methamphetamines and other illicit drugs, such as ketamine and GBL. The report also shows that Belgium, together with the Netherlands, is one of the main production centres for MDMA.

The Report also explores the challenges associated with new synthetic opioids, the latest developments in the cannabis market and synthetic drug production in Europe. Production of synthetic drugs appears to be ‘growing, diversifying an The purity of methamphetamine and amphetamine is higher than a decade ago, with 0.7 tonnes of methamphetamine and 6.4 tonnes of amphetamine seized in the EU in 2017. d becoming more innovative’ with methamphetamine posing the “greatest challenge”.

Legal recreational cannabis markets in some countries outside the EU were leading to “innovative” new products that presented difficulties for detection and control when entering the continent. The report points to fentanyl as a problem drug in Estonia, buprenorphine in Finland and the Czech Republic and methadone in Germany and Denmark. 11 new synthetic opioids were detected in 2018, including six new fentanyl derivatives. Since 2009, there have been 34 fentanyl derivatives detected in Europe, the EU agency says.

One in five people entering drug treatment facilities for an opioid-related problem “now reports a synthetic opioid, rather than heroin, as their main problem drug; and these drugs are becoming more commonly detected in drug overdose cases”. Around 8.200 people died of an overdose in Europe in 2018, according to the Report, around 300 more than in 2017. Most of the overdoses were not due to cocaine or other drugs, but rather opioids (heroin-induced), which made up 78% of all deaths. Researchers say the number of deaths could be 20% to 30% higher due to potential underreporting by member states. The spread of HIV has decreased by 40% over the past decade.

Providing people who inject heroin, or other drugs, with greater access to prevention, testing and treatment for HBV and HCV is central to combating viral hepatitis as a public health threat in line with the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as they are the people with the highest burden of disease and at highest risk of transmission.

Mobile health applications are increasingly used in prevention, treatment and harm reduction.

To read full report in 24 languages follow this link>>>

Press releases with highlights in all EU languages are available following this link>>>

You can get the highlights of the report from the video bellow.

EU drugs agency and the Republic of Albania strengthen their cooperation

The Director of the The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) Alexis Goosdeel and Albanian Deputy Minister of the Interior Besfort Lamallari and Deputy Minister of Health and Social Protection Mira Rakacolli signed the document of the agreement to cooperate more actively on monitoring the drug phenomenon in future. The signing ceremony took place at the Delegation of the European Union to the International Organisations in Vienna, hosted by EU Ambassador Didier Lenoir, and in the presence of Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Commissioner responsible for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship.

The Working Arrangement originates in a request from the Albanian Ministry of the Interior to the EMCDDA Director in 2017 and follows the seal of approval of the European Commission and EMCDDA Management Board. While the agency has signed similar agreements with other third countries, this is the first request of its kind from the Western Balkans. The new agreement provides for the exchange of expertise between the entities concerned and will contribute to developing drug data-collection and reporting capacity in the country.

Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship in the European Commission, emphasised that “the Agreement will strengthen the cooperation to develop the right common policies to address drug trafficking in our regions and will pave the way for similar arrangements in the Western Balkans.”

emcdda

The EMCDDA began its cooperation with Albania in 2007 in the framework of EU-funded technical assistance projects designed to prepare Western Balkan countries for accession to the EU (and for participation in the work of the EMCDDA and its Reitox network. The EMCDDA and Albania are currently working together to consolidate Albania’s capacity to monitor the drug phenomenon through the use of evidence-based tools and knowledge built and promoted within the EU. They also exchange data on new psychoactive substances as well as expertise on establishing a national early-warning system.

While no formal national drug observatory has yet been established in Albania, along the lines of a Reitox national focal point, the EMCDDA has developed close working relations with the Ministry of the Interior and with the Institute of Public Health of the Ministry of Health and Social Protection. This cooperation led to the financing of the first national general population survey on drugs in Albania in 2014 as well as the production of a Country Drug Report for Albania in 2017 following EMCDDA guidelines.

Albania is one of six candidate and potential candidate countries to the EU currently receiving assistance under the EMCDDA IPA 6 project, which kicked off in July 2017 and will run until June 2019.

EMCDDA added 16 new programmes to online registry

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) has added 16 new programmes to online registry of evidence-based prevention programmes. Xchange, EMCDDA’s project, is an online registry of evidence based prevention programmes. At the moment, it contains 38 programmes, even if it is in pilot phase.

In addition to providing information on the effectiveness of programmes, the registry, available on the EMCDDA Best practice portal, also offers information on the experiences of professionals who have implemented these programmes in individual European countries. This enables decision-makers to assess the ease with which programmes can be implemented in different social, cultural and organisational contexts. It also helps prevention professionals to learn and interact with each other about their experiences with these programmes.

Five of the new programmes focus on substance use prevention and 11 on crime and delinquency prevention.

emcdda

The registry is the centre piece of a growing network of national registries. Through Xchange, an interested visitor can access additional details on a specific programme in the national language within a local registry, or access through a national registry the European implementation experiences of a given programme. A unique feature of Xchange is that it allows national high-ranking programmes to be promoted in this European registry and, inversely, allows international visitors to find more details about local adaptations in national languages.

The Council of the European Union’s Minimum quality standards in drug demand reduction in the EU demands that prevention professionals have access to knowledge on effective prevention programmes. A growing number of programmes are considered effective at reducing substance use and related problems under carefully controlled conditions. However, access to evidence‐based prevention programmes is still limited and they remain under‐utilised compared to prevention strategies with no empirical evidence for effectiveness. Xchange aims to address this challenge by providing access to such programmes.

To explore the new programmes 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.”

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>>>>

EU drugs agency publishes its first report on the medical use of cannabis

What is the evidence base for the medical use of cannabis and cannabinoids? What is the difference between cannabis preparations and medicinal products and why is this important? How is this issue regulated in the EU? These and other questions are explored in a new report published today by the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA): Medical use of cannabis and cannabinoids: questions and answers for policymaking. The report responds to growing interest in this topic as more European countries develop policies and practice in this area.

ʻMany EU countries now allow, or are considering allowing, the medical use of cannabis or cannabinoids in some formʼ, states the report. But approaches vary widely between countries, both in terms of the products permitted and the regulatory frameworks governing their provision. Understanding this variety of national approaches is important for an informed policy debate in this area in the EU.

The report aims to explore current practice in the EU regarding the provision of these substances for medical purposes and clarify some of the complex issues in this area in order to support science, policy and practice. The report notes that the terms ʻmedical use of cannabis and cannabinoidsʼ can refer to a wide variety of products and preparations that may contain different active ingredients and use different routes of administration.

The publication provides a state-of-the-art overview of evidence for the medical use of cannabis and cannabinoids. It concludes that more research and clinical studies are needed to fill ʻimportant gaps in the evidenceʼ.

The report highlights the challenges of decision-making in this area and summarises the multiple issues that governments may consider when deciding whether to make cannabis or cannabinoids available for medical use. These include: the types of product that patients will be allowed to use; the medical conditions for which such products can be used; and the type of medical and regulatory supervision under which patients are allowed to use them.

EMCDDA Director Alexis Goosdeel says: ‘In most countries, the provision of cannabis and cannabinoid products and preparations for medical purposes has evolved over time, often in response to patient demand or product development. This report seeks to provide an objective look at current evidence, practice and experience in this very fast-moving field and describe the complex patchwork of approaches adopted in the EU and beyond. Lastly, it points to the importance of developing a common language on this issue to help build a base for evaluation and assessmentʼ.

To read the report, follow this link>>>>

Two intense days at the CND

The event “got up steam” these two days. Here are some reflections and information.

Wednesday 14 March

Impact of life skills education programmes on prevention in schools: experience in southeast Europe and Latin America

Gilberto Gerra, Chief of Drug Prevention and Health Branch of UNODC welcomed participants, including diplomatic representatives from Bosnia Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. He underlined importance of civil society role and the success of the programme and thanked Lions Clubs International.

Matthew Kiefer, Manager of the Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence Programme presented the programme which is based on social and emotional learning. It incorporates the community and family through activities such as service learning. Since 2014 piloting was undertaken in Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro. In 2017 Bosnia Herzegovina was added and plans for this year are to start in Guatemala and Albania.

Miloš Stojanović, UNODC Regional DDR Officer for South East Europe emphasized the importance of collaboration between UNODC and Lions Club which gives excellent results. So far, more than 4.500 adolescents were involved in the programme. UNODC plans scaling up of programme results in SEE in 2018 and 2019. Melva Ramirez, UNODC Regional DDR Officer for Central America and Caribbean, presented the initial results of the programme in Guatemala. Wadih Maalouf, UNODC Global Programme Coordinator, presented impact among adolescent on prevention and substance use (specifically alcohol, tobacco and marijuana).

Representatives of Montenegro and Bosnia Herzegovina presented results of the work in their countries.

The urgent need for harm reduction funding: Scaling-up evidence-based interventions for people who use drugs

This event was organised by the Strategic Advisory Group to the UN on HIV and Drug Use, with the aim to highlight the latest evidence on the state of the harm reduction response around the world and explore challenges related to increasing financial and political support for harm reduction and the strategies to overcome them.

Chair of the event was Anne Skjelmerud, NORAD, Norway. Speakers were Dr. Gilberto Gerra, Chief, Drug Prevention and Health Branch, UNODC, Dr. Monica Beg, Chief, HIV/AIDS Section, UNODC, Aljona Kurbatova, National Institute for Health Development, Estonia, Valentin Simionov, International Network of People who Use Drugs and Fionnuala Murphy, Harm Reduction International.

Interesting points from the presentations include:

  • Anne Skjelmerud opened the event and presented Norwegian experiences with harm reduction. Today in Norway, HIV is not the key problem but HR is still an issue and programmes exist.
  • Anne Frodham from IDPC talked about the work of the Strategic Advisory Group to the UN on HIV and Drug Use which is comprised of various stakeholders coming from both governmental and civil society sectors.
  • Dr. Monica Beg presented facts about HIV and drug connection. Globally, PWID account for 8% of all new HIV infections. In EECA, they account for 65% of HIV cases. Average 33 needle-syringes are distributed per person a month, which is far lower than needed (200). UNODC supports some countries, none in SEE.
  • Aljona Kurbatova talked about harm reduction in Estonia.
  • Valentin Simionov presented history, aims and mission of INPUD. Death Penalty is still imposed in 32 countries. But, around 8 out of 10 drug related offences are for drug possession only. Only 8% of people in need get harm reduction services. 70.000 – 100.000 people die of opioid overdose annually. Stigma and discrimination are direct result of discrimination of drugs and drug users.
  • Fionnuala Murphy: overdoses kill more people than murders and traffic accidents together. Situation is critical due to donors withdrawal and lack of national funding.

Notes from this side event are available at the CND blog.

The future of drug prevention: How to personalize your strategy to be more effective

The event was organized by the Government of the Netherlands, UNODC, Treatment and Rehabilitation Section, and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

Speakers were Victor Sannes, Dr Lonneke van Leeuwen, Trimbos Institute, Dr Sandra Bukman, University of Applied Siencies, Utrecht, Gilberto Gerra, UNODC and Danilo Ballotta, EMCDDA.

Project run by the Institute and the University to understand the types of young people to be able to prepare personalised prevention. Which substance use-related subgroups of young adults were identified in earlier studies? Five groups were identified: no substance; alcohol; plus tobacco and marijuana; plus ecstasy, cocaine, amphetamine and hallucinogens; plus prescriptive medicines. The same research was done interviewing young people. This led to identifying 14 subgroups varying on preferred substance, reasons for use, context of use and intention to reduce or quit.

Gilberto Gerra: Personalisation of prevention is important because we need to see people as persons, not as a statistic number.

Danilo Ballotta: Especially for young people, effective prevention interventions cannot ignore personality traits and environmental context. EU adopted the approach that prevention is not substance focused. EU doesn’t have a programme for nightlife setting.

Other side events

Notes about some interesting side events are available:

 

Thursday 15 March

The criminal justice role in the implementation of drug policies in a human rights perspective

The event, organized by the Brazilian Harm Reduction and Human Rights Network presented a model of alternative measures offered to people who use drugs.

We heard about the project “REDES” – Social inclusion in crime and drug use prevention – which is a response to harsh situation in Brazil. Law enforcement structures launched “Custody Hearings Project” which ensures a quick presentation to the judge, a maximum 24 hours after the arrest. The Oswaldo Cruz Foundation was part of the partnerships that developed the project. It provides a support network: health, social assistance, human rights, personal identification documents, housing, work and others. Those who are charged for drug use pass through the process and are granted liberty. They are addressed to the social services providers. One of the most important results is improved sensibility of the judges.

Special event: Strengthening the global prevention response: International standards for drug use prevention – second edition, listen first campaign and stronger families programme

This special event was organized by the Governments of France, Norway and the United States of America, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Drug Prevention and Health Branch, and the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs.

The high-level representatives of organising institutions from France, USA, Norway and Mexico spoke about the role of evidence-based prevention in strengthening the global response and the role of civil society in supporting evidence based prevention.

Giovanna Campello, Officer in Charge, Prevention Treatment and Rehabilitation Section, presented the UNODC and WHO Second Updated Edition of the International Standards on drug prevention (LINK NA http://vngoc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Concept-note-2017-International-Standards-Update.pdf). Dr Virginia Molgaard and Dr Alaa Al Khani presented “Strong Families” – a new UNODC programme for families in low- and middle income families, including refugee families (LINK NA https://www.unodc.org/ropan/en/DrugDemandReduction/strong-families.html). The first 2018 video the “Listen First” campaign was released.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVvHNFeUlL8

HIV prevention, treatment care and support for people who use stimulants

This event was organized by the Government of Romania and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime HIV/AIDS Section.

Romania showcased their experience with stimulants, which they simply call new psychoactive substances. We think that it is not quite good connection. Other speakers, Monica Beg, Chief of the HIV/AIDS Section, UNODC, Judy Chang, Executive Director, INPUD, Brun Gonzales, Mexico and Ukrainian activist spoke more about actual new substances.

The right to science and freedom of research with scheduled substances

This interesting side event dealt with conventions and the current barriers regarding research with scheduled substances, as well as present cutting edge scientific research on the therapeutic use of scheduled substances, such as cannabis, MDMA, psilocybin and ibogaine, as treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and problematic substance use. The full video of the side event is bellow.

Other side events

Notes about some interesting side events are available:

VNGOC General Assembly

The Vienna Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Committee on Drugs (VNGOC) held its General Assembly on 15 March. A new Board was elected, with our good friend Jamie Bridge serving as the Chairperson. DPNSEE paid the membership fee and hope to complete the membership process soon.

 

Closing Notes

The 61st session, chaired by Ambassador Alicia Buenrostro Massieu of Mexico, agreed 11 resolutions on various topics among them enhancing international cooperation to combat the synthetic opioid crisis, removing stigma as a barrier to the availability and delivery of health, care and social services for people who use drugs, and on preparations for the planned ministerial segment at the 2019 session. The first ever resolution of stigma and discrimination of people who use drugs is a great step forward!

“Ministerial segment” refers to high level meeting of ministers – a very important meeting that will be held as part of the CND next year. Some very important fights and decisions are expected. This CND indicated that there will be a lot of disagreements between those who still believe in rigid repressive approach and those who think that modern and innovative solutions are needed. Civil society organisations were very active in promoting the later, working hard around the meeting to promote it.

The Commission also agreed to schedule six analogues of fentanyl, including carfentanil, under the international drug control conventions. Abuse of fentanyl, which is 100 times more potent than morphine, has led to thousands of overdose deaths around the world.

More than 1.500 participants from Member States, inter-governmental organizations, academia, civil society and the private sector took part in the session.

The CND was an excellent opportunity to meet with colleagues and partners. We used it to share with Alexis Goosdeel, Director of the EMCDDA, Daniel Wolfe, director of International Harm Reduction Development and Matthew Wilson, Global Drug Policy Program, Open society Foundations, Marie Nougier, Head of Research and Communications and Juan Fernandez Ochoa, Campaigns and Communications Officer, IDPC, Jose Queiros, Executive Director APDES, Portugal, Thomas Bridgen, Grants Coordinator, Elton John AIDS Foundation, Richard Elliott, Executive Director, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Framework, John-Peter Kools and Daan van der Gouwe, Trimbos Instituut, Dr Claire Mawditt, Secretary of Women and Harm Reduction International Network (WHRIN) and Matej Košir from Institute for Research and Development “Utrip”, Slovenia.

Interesting and important exchange was held with heads of national agencies responsible for drugs: Milan Pekić from Serbia, Željko Petković from Croatia, Ognjen Zekić from Bosnia Herzegovina and Catalin Negoi-Nita from Romania.

With our colleagues from Diogenis Thanasis Apostolou, Sofia Galinaki and Olga Pateraki, we had very good information share and some concrete agreements for future events.

Tuesday, 13 March – second CND day

Side events

Use of social marketing in promoting online interventions

The event offered by the Governments of Croatia and Finland, the Pompidou Group of the Council of Europe and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation Section.

Chair of the session was Elena Hedoux, Programme Manager of the Pompidou Group of the Council of Europe; opening remarks were given by Gilberto Gerra, Chief of Drug Prevention and Health Branch, UNODC and speakers were Mirka Vainikka, Executive Director of “Free from Drugs“, Thomas Kattau, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Pompidou Group of the Council of Europe and Marko Markus from the Office for Combating Drugs Abuse of the Government of the Republic of Croatia.

Interesting points from the presentations include:

  • Gilberto Gerra: Instead of selling something, companies work on changing behaviour. It doesn’t end with companies speaking only to customers, but customers start speaking with each other. We need to explore how to reach psychonauts 2 (an upcoming platform video game being built on the success of a classic action/adventure platformer; it is an example of a crowdfunding campaign to create a sequel of the success of the initial game)
  • Thomas Kattau: If you invest in on-line tools, you need to invest in marketing these tools. Companies have much more money to invest into (social) marketing than public institutions (not to talk about civil society – our comment).
  • Marko Markus: presented the work of the Office using a Facebook webpage and a special page drughelp.eu. He underlined that 90% of people who are in need never asked for help!

All presentations of the event are available following this link. More about the event is already available from a special web page prepared by the Office.

Drugs and the darknet

The Government of Bulgaria and the European Union hosted the event to discuss connection between drugs and darknet, a largely anonymous platform for trading a range of illicit goods and service. Chair of the event Svetoslav Spassov, Permanent Representative of Bulgaria to the UN introduced the issue reminding participants that it is estimated that around 2/3 of the offers on darknet are drug related. The accessibility and quick adaptability of on-line markets pose a growing threat.

Alexis Goosdeel, EMCDDA Director presented facts from the recent report which shows extreme growth of criminal actions on Internet and darknet especially. EMCDDA discovered in several cases that what was sold was what was promoted. There is a good system of rating the products and sellers. Most of the traffic are done in Germany, UK and The Netherlands. Most of the products are non-cocaine stimulants and new psychoactive substances. Alphabay grew very fast since creation in December 2014 and in two years traffic there was twice bigger than the one of the pioneer Silk Road (which was closed by law enforcement in 2017). Due to anonymity, there is no wholesale at darknet because of the risk connected.

Liamonas Vasiliauskas from the Operations Directorate, Europol confirmed that many vendors offer a variety of drugs. Monthly revenue of 8 major criminal groups on darknet is 10 – 12 million Euro. What Europol don’t know are drug sources, chemicals and equipment, money flows, role of organised crime, etc. Due to darknet, regular post package services grew significantly in recent years. Most of the EU countries don’t have a specific darknet investigation team – Europol designed a model of establishing one. FBI, DEA and Dutch Police closed two networks in operations Bayonet (Silk Road) and GraveSac (Hansa). Europol don’t have information if this seizure of networks caused decrease of traffic or the market quickly recovered.

Peter Mihoc from the European Commission added that one of the main issues is the knowledge gap. Another is lack of equipment needed for operations of law enforcement agencies.

Law enforcement and sustainable drug use prevention

The event was chaired by John Redman, Society for the Advancement of Global Understanding, while panelists included commander Juan Antonio Cano Carrasco, representative of the Spanish Army, Angelo Lange, local law enforcement in Milano, Italy, Dr Christian Mirre, biologist, Foundation for a Drug Free Europe.

Interesting points from the presentations include:

  • John Redman: Spoke about a success of fighting meth problem in Southern California in cooperation between law enforcement and people from communities, including those from Mexico.
  • Juan Antonio Cano Carrasco: They operate as the part of society – and respond to the needs of it. Army is included in the national action plan against drugs. All three Army (VID) are involved: infantry, navy and air forces and coordination is typical army one. Most efforts invest in prevention, working towards a drug free world. Drug tests are performed when joining the army but also regularly, both to officer and all the military (all army is professional). They also have a program of informing their military. They invest in creating a favourable environment so that they don’t get interest to use drugs. One element of the programme is cooperation with communities, on all levels, which includes training, information sharing and free time activities of the military.
  • Angelo Lange: Drug is being sold by people of all different kinds. Milano experienced a dramatic increase of cocaine traffic in 2007. National Police created a special unit, who were not in uniforms to fight the problem in every possible environment. They made a success thanks to anonymous reports from citizens and trust they built with people, including drug users. On contrary they do prevention in a social context. He published a book “Life in dust: drogues, fuck you” in 2010 and a year earlier he recorded a movie “Sbiri” (Caps, in slang). In 2016, a mural was created through a competition of teams reflecting on his book. Also, a theatrical play was set on the basis of his and another author.
  • Christian Mirre: 1.117 US Police departments adopted a partnership program on drug prevention. The same happened in the Czech Republic, South Africa and several other countries. They prepared a curriculum package material translated already in 17 languages.

Other side events

Notes about some interesting side events are available: